Try Before You Die – Macabre Festival Lets Japanese Try Out Coffins and Funeral Makeup

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Trying out a coffin while you’re still alive can be a rather unnerving experience. But the Japanese seem to love it!  They even have a creepy ‘try-before-you-die’ festival where people can lay down in coffins, try out funeral garments and even get a morbid makeover.

Called ‘Shukatsu Festa’, the unique event has become very popular in recent years. In fact the whole ‘shukatsu’ trend, which translates as preparing for one’s end, has become really big in Japan. Apparently, people no longer think it’s bad luck to prepare for their death. Participants can choose their funeral outfit, put it on, slip into the flower-filled casket they like and have a picture taken. That way, they get to know exactly what they’ll look like on the day of their funeral. They can even have funeral make-up applied on their faces for a deathly pallor. They can also choose to be covered with white blankets have have the attendants softly close the lid.

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Chinese Farmers Can Grow Gourds into Virtually Any Shape

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Looking at the detailed sculptures in the photos below, You’d be tempted to think they are made of wax, but believe it or not, they’re actually gourds! Enterprising Chinese farmers are able to grow these veggies into any shape they want. The most popular one is Chairman Mao, but there are many others as well – Buddha, Jesus, Santa Claus, babies, old men, monks, dragons, and pretty much anything else that attracts people’s attention.

You might think there’s some complex bioengineering or agricultural science going on behind these gourd-sculptures, but in reality, they’re just grown in simple plastic molds. It all started when a man named Xie Lyu Zhi visited the Thousand Year Temple in Sichuan Province. He claims that during the visit, a Buddhist monk told him about a dream he had about a gourd shaped like a deity.

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Guy Claims He Has Tamed a Japanese Giant Wasp, Keeps It on a Leash

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The Japanese giant hornet is known as one of the world’s largest and most aggressive insects. It is two inches long with a quarter-inch stinger, can fly at speeds up to 25 mph, and is feared for its powerful, poisonous stings that claim at least 40 lives in Japan every summer. So when a Japanese man made an outlandish claim that he had actually tamed a hornet, no one really believed him.

But Twitter user Mikuru625’s has been trying to convince everyone that he actually has a pet giant hornet by posting photos of it. He said that he had captured the hornet with a butterfly net and held it with tweezers while he removed its sting and poison sacs. He then put a string around its thorax, so that the insect follows him wherever he goes. “He does bite occasionally but it doesn’t hurt,” the owner says.

Dead Stinger For A Pet Causes Debate in Japan

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The Infamous Rainbow Grapes – Are They Real?

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With digital software like Photoshop being used ever so often to alter things so perfectly, it’s hard to tell what’s real anymore. Take these photos of the so-called ‘rainbow grapes’ that have been doing the rounds online for about a month. They’re about the coolest-looking fruit I’ve ever seen, but are they real?

Well, yes and no. Rainbow grapes do exist, but they are just regular grapes photographed in a ripening stage known as Veraison, or the ‘onset of ripening’. “When grapes go into the final stage of ripening, the young immature grapes have a very dark, opaque green color and a very hard texture, like little rocks,” said Larry Stone, master sommelier and restaurateur. “And then when they go through veraison, the skin goes through coloration. If they’re white grapes, they go from a dark green to a kind of yellowish green color, and they get more and more transparent. A red grape will go from a green color to a red color.” The shade of red depends on the variety of grape.”

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Man Sets Guinness Record for Earlobe Rings So Large You Can Put Your Hand Through Them

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Kala Kaiwi, a tattoo and body modification artist from Hawaii, recently set the Guinness Record for the largest non-surgically made earlobe rings in the world. Also known as ‘flesh tunnels’, the earlobe stretches measure a whopping 4.3 inches in diameter – so large that you could fit your hand right through them!

It’s not just the lobes – Kaiwi has modified almost every part of his body. He has silicone horn implants in his forehead, stretches in his nostrils, tattooed eyebrows, studs all over his face, and bolt holes on his forehead with spikes screwed in. He also managed to split his own tongue using dental floss.

Kaiwi trained in body art in Las Vegas in 1999, before he moved back to Hawaii to open his own business called the Sin City Body Modification and Tattoo shop. But he started with the really extreme stuff only a few years ago.

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Small Japanese Village Turns Rice Paddies into Awe-Inspiring Works of Art

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Inakadate village, located near Hirosaki city in Japan’s Aomori prefecture, is one of the few places in the world where farming and art go hand-in-hand. The village is renowned for its unique form of landscape art created in paddy fields. These artistic paddies are so popular that they attract over 200,000 tourists a year.

For centuries, farming has been the main source of income for the people of Inakadate. The amount of farmland available to the relatively small population of 8,000 villagers is massive. Paddy fields make up over fifty percent of the entire village land. The soil in these lands is so fertile that the yield from the rice crop has consistently been higher than any other village or town in Japan.

In the early 1990s, archeologists discovered that the rice strains of Inakadate were over 2,000 years old. To celebrate this fact, and to make the village more attractive to visitors, the local tourism office hatched a plan – to make use of their abundant production of rice to attract more tourists. And that’s how their amazing rice paddy artworks were born.

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Man with Real Balls of Steel Works Out by Hitting his Crotch with Hard Objects

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While most elderly men go to the park for a leisurely stroll, retired railway worker Zhou Chengli prefers a more ‘hardcore’ workout. The 70-year-old practices a nut-crushing routine of hitting himself repeatedly in the crotch with hammers, metal weights and bricks. He doesn’t flinch, even for a second, as he pounds on his ‘balls of steel’.

Zhou, who hails from China’s Hubei Province, says that he has been practicing the ancient art of ‘iron crotch qigong’, which is one of the rarest and most difficult disciplines of Shaolin kung fu. The practice involves daily exercises that train men to sustain severe blows to the groin area.  Locally known as ‘Tie Dang Gong’, iron crotch qigong is a secret Daoist technique taught to only the most trusted disciples. Once mastered, it is believed to make a man invincible in the battle field.

The exact technique is still largely unknown; it has been carefully guarded for fear of misuse and only passed on from teacher to student in utmost confidence. A few rare photographs show masters using their crotch to lift heavy weights. Some of them can be seen taking hard kicks and hammer-blows to their privates without batting an eyelid.

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Artist Specializes in Sculpting Nature with a Chainsaw

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Mark Tyoe is a talented chainsaw artist and the co-owner of Wintergreen Knoll Chainsaw sculptures in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. He runs the business along with his wife Linda; together, they sell Mark’s unique chainsaw carvings that he’s been making since the 1990’s. Mark is really good at transforming a solid block of wood into a beautiful sculpture, using nothing but a chainsaw.

“Everything I do on my carvings is with a chainsaw,” he said. “I’m kind of a purist about using one tool.” A chainsaw is hardly the ideal tool for artists, so it’s really a wonder that Mark manages to use one to create such delicate details. He doesn’t grind or sand, and he doesn’t use screws, nails or paint.

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Grieving Daughter Travels the World with Cardboard Cutout of Her Late Father to Show Him the Places He Always Wanted to Visit

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25-year-old Jinna Yang lost her father to stomach cancer two years ago. Although completely devastated by the loss, she decided that it was not too late to travel the world with her dad. So she set out on the biggest trip of her lifetime, accompanied by a life-size cardboard cutout of her father’s image, to show him all the places he had wanted to visit during his lifetime.

After her father’s passing, Jinna found it hard to cope with her regular life as a corporate employee in New York. “From the outside looking in, I seemed to have it all,” she wrote on her blog. “What people didn’t see was the toll the combination of life events took on every inch of my body, heart, mind and soul.”

“I had reached the point where I lost the will to live,” she wrote on her blog. “I gave up my dreams. I shut myself off from my loved ones and close friends. I developed alopecia and lost my hair at an alarming rate.” Jinna realized that she deeply regretted the fact that her father sacrificed his dreams of traveling and playing golf to provide for the family. For almost two years after her father’s death, she never truly dealt with her feelings.

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Company Celebrates National Jerky Day with Meaty Mount Rushmore

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Jack Link’s, a popular manufacturer of beef jerky, came up with a grand way to celebrate National Jerky Day this year. They organized the construction of ‘Meat Rushmore’, an all-meat replica of the popular American monument, Mount Rushmore. The 13 foot by 17 foot structure was unveiled in New York City on June 12, as a part of the Jerky Day celebrations.

The humongous meat mountain took 1,400 hours to assemble – it is covered in over 1,600 pounds of beef, pork and turkey jerky. If you were to lay out all the meat used in a single line, you’d end up with close to 10 kilometers of jerky. The core of the sculpture was hand carved using foam, and then each layer of jerky was individually applied over it. Over 20 staff members worked on the project, supervised by art director Alex Valhouli.

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Tennis Ball-Size Hail Leaves Nebraska Town Looking Like a War Zone

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Earlier this month, a ferocious hailstorm wreaked havoc throughout the American Midwest. Several cities were badly affected, but perhaps none as much as Bray, a small town in Nebraska. The hailstones that hit Bray were unbelievably large, roughly the size of tennis balls. Naturally, the town was completely battered – the storm left it looking like a war zone with houses and vehicles almost completely destroyed.

Large chunks were ripped out of houses and the paint was torn off the walls. The cars in the town looked as though they had been through a gang war – with the windscreens and windows completely smashed in. Although tornadoes were reported in the region, the hailstones did the most of the damage, wreaking havoc among the locals. Over 20 people from Bray were injured as well; they were rushed to the emergency room, but none were seriously hurt.

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Can You Believe This Gorgeous Dress Is Made Almost Entirely Out of Toilet Paper

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This white wedding dress is so elaborate  and stunning that you’re never going to believe what it’s made of – toilet paper. The one-of-a-kind dress was created by art student Olivia Mears, from Asheville, North Carolina. She used only 11 rolls of toilet paper, 100 ft. of tape and lots of glue to put the whole thing together.

The dress was made for a local event called the Annual Cheap Chic Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest, sponsored by Charmin, a toilet paper company. “I learned about the contest with only a few weeks to prepare the dress,” said Olivia. So she worked on the project for about 20 hours, and came up with a real winner.

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Kung Fu Master’s Finger of Steel Can Puncture Coconuts, Imagine What It Could Do To Your Skull

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Kung fu master Ho Eng Hui doesn’t need any fancy weapons, because nature has given him a pretty awesome one – his index finger. His incredibly powerful finger can pierce coconut shells, releasing a burst of sweet water from inside. He proudly declares: “This finger of mine actually helps me raise my family.”

Ho has been performing his amazing ‘finger feats’ twice a week at a special spot on Jonker Street, in the Malaysian State of Malacca. The government assigned him this spot in the year 2000, and he has been entertaining tourists and locals alike, ever since. Every Friday and Saturday, he travels to the spot from his home in Johor Baru city, to perform between 8 and 9 pm. Prior to his gig at Jonker Street, between the years 1991 and 1995, he performed at Bugis Street in Singapore.

Over the years Ho has been setting records and breaking them himself. On Feb 2, 2001, he made it to the Malaysia Book of Records, by piercing three coconuts in 1 minute and 10 seconds. In June 2009, he pierced four coconuts in 30.81 seconds – a feat that earned him a Guinness World Record. And in 2011, he broke his own record by piercing four coconuts in 12.15 seconds flat. Ho is mentioned as one of the highlights of the Jonker Walk Night Market, in the Lonely Planet guide.

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Nature’s Wonders – Amazonian Butterflies Drinking Turtle Tears

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Deep in the western Amazon rainforest, live butterflies that drink turtle tears. That sounds like a line straight out of a fantasy novel, but it’s one hundred percent real life! It’s an unusual sight – swarms of butterflies flocking at the eyes of yellow-spotted river turtles, trying to get a sip. The poor turtles keep ducking or swatting, but the butterflies persist until they’ve had their fill.

According to Phil Torres, a scientist at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru, the butterflies are attracted to turtle tears because the drops of liquid contain sodium, a mineral that is scarce in the western Amazon region. While turtles get plenty of sodium through their carnivorous diet, the herbivore butterflies need an extra mineral source.

Torres explained that the western Amazon rainforest is over 1,000 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean – a prime source of salt. The region is also cut off from the mineral particles blown towards the west from the Andes Mountains. Most of these windblown minerals are removed from the air by the rain before they have a chance to reach the western Amazon. These factors contribute to the extremely low levels of sodium. So the butterflies have to turn to the best source available to them, and that include turtle tears, animal urine, muddy river banks, puddles, and sweaty clothes.

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Forget Facelifts, Engagement Ring Selfies Spark New Hand-Lift Craze

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It’s stories like these that make me truly worried for the future of the human race. First we heard of people getting plastic surgery for the picture perfect selfie, and now, in a bizarre new trend, engaged women are getting hand jobs (no pun intended), to achieve the perfect ‘engagement ring selfie’.

It’s the latest thing on social media – as soon as the man pops the question, women click pictures of the ring on their finger, posting it online for the world to see. But not all women are happy with shape of their hands, so they turn to image altering tools like Photoshop to make them look better. Only now they have a new solution – cosmetic hand-lifts.

The procedure involves an anti-aging treatment called Juvederm, which is an injectable form of hyaluronic acid. Doctors use it to convert aging hands with visible tendons and veins into youthful, plump hands worthy of showing off a stunning diamond ring. Usually used on the face to fill in lines and wrinkles, Juvederm works wonders on the hands too, if the ‘before’ and ‘after shots are to be believed.

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