This Japanese Restaurant Chain Is an Introvert’s Paradise

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If your idea of a good restaurant experience includes a nice conversation and interaction with the waiting staff, then Ichiran Ramen is probably not a place you want to visit. The popular Japanese chain is all about solo dining, taking extraordinary measures to ensure that patrons avoid human interaction as much as possible.

Manabu Yoshitomi, the founder of Ichiran Ramen, came up with the concept for his famous restaurants when he was just a high-school student, after seeing his female friends attempting to cover their mouths when eating ramen. After asking them about it, Yoshitomi discovered that their reluctance to being watched by other people as they slurped noodles was actually a huge barrier to them visiting ramen shops. This information inspired the young man to open a tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen restaurant that offered almost total privacy instead of human interaction.

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Sweden’s Charming Sourdough Hotels Take Care of Your Bread While You’re Gone

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Home made bread has become very popular in Sweden over the last few years, so popular in fact that the country has its very own dough hotel – a place where people can drop off their precious sourdough knowing that it will be cared for properly until they return. No it’s not a joke, such a place actually exists.

Sweden’s first sourdough hotel opened in 2011, at the Urban Deli bakery, in Stockholm. For a fee of 200 Swedish kroner ($22) a week, they offered to take great care of your sourdough, if you couldn’t do it yourself. “We were just sat talking and thought of the idea of a nursery for sourdoughs. Then we took it further and came up with the hotel idea. It was just for fun really, we didn’t think it was going to get this big,” Åsa Johansson of Urban Deli said in an interview, five years ago.

They didn’t get too many paying customers during the first few months, but thanks to a collaboration with Josefin Vargö, a student at the University College of Arts and Crafts and Design (Konstfack) who started a sourdough archive for her master project, they did get to host a collection of dozens of sourdoughs, some of them as old as 130 years. That’s the thing about sourdough, if you take care of it properly, it can last for several generations, probably even indefinitely. And that’s what these uniquely Swedish dough hotels promise to do – keep the dough alive by “feeding” them water and flour, as well as treat them to regular massages.

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Japan’s Unique Museum of Stones Shaped Like Human Faces

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Chinsekikan, or The Hall of Curious Rocks is a unique museum in the Japanese town Saitama, just outside Tokyo, where visitors can admire close to 1,000 rocks that resemble human faces.

This outlandish tourist attraction is the work of the late Shozo Hayama, a rock enthusiast who spent 50 years of his life collecting strange-looking rocks, and especially those that resembled human faces. His only requirement was that nature be the only artist, and believe it or not he actually put together a collection of over 900 human-looking rocks, some of which resemble famous people, like rock’n roll legend Elvis Presley or Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

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Hong Kong’s Unique Sanctuary of Discarded Deities

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In Hong Kong, when people damage their statues of deities or simply replace them with newer ones, they don’t throw them away. Instead they leave them on the side of the road for people to worship or take them home. One man has been picking them up for over 17 years, and today his colorful collection is one of the island’s most impressive tourist attractions.

85-year-old Wong Wing-pong, a retired butcher, looks after thousands of unwanted statues of deities, including Buddhas, Taoist deities, local gods and Christian icons. They are all perched on a rocky slope in a park near the waterfront in Wah Fu. Legend has it that he picked this spot because it already had a statue of Tin Hau, the patron goddess of fishermen, and he believed it would make it easier for people to come see both the Buddhas and the goddess at the same time. However, he recently told news reporters that it was simply the place where he found the first discarded statues, a few dozen of them, 17 years ago.

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French Florist Spends 15 Years Decorating His Shop with 800 Water Cans

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Bruno Geyer, a passionate florist from the quaint village of Rougemont Le Chateau , in the Franche-Comté region of France, has been decorating his flower shop with water cans for the last 15 years. He currently has around 800 of them hanging from the walls and roof of his shop, and even covering a nearby hillside.

It’s hard to miss Bruno Geyer’s unique shop when passing through Rougemont Le Chateau. If the colorful flowers and climbing plants outside don’t give it away, the hundreds of hanging water cans definitely will. They are virtually everywhere and make the place look like it came out of an Alice in Wonderland illustrated book. And with new additions being installed every few days, you could say it’s a work in progress.

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The Unlikely Story of How a Small Barbershop Became One of the Coolest Live Music Venues in Dublin

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Abner Browns barbershop, on Rathgar Road, Dublin, is considered one of the most interesting places to visit in all of Ireland. The old-school barbershop charm plays a role in its insane popularity, but what really sets it apart from any other barbershop in the world is the fact that it doubles as a live music bar.

Abner Browns has been in business for 17 years, but its incredible transformation occurred three years ago, when owner Dave Judge decided to work in the barbershop full-time, after losing a lot of money he had invested in property during the financial crash of 2007-2008. While redecorating the place, he bought an old leather couch for about €30, and after setting it next to some guitars and music posters that served as decorations, he told his wife that it would be cool to get someone to play on it. A few days later, Canadian singer/songwriter Blair Packhem walked into Abner Browns for a haircut and Judge asked him if he would play a few songs on his new couch. Patrons loved the idea, and as news of the spontaneous gig spread around the city, Tim Fernley, a friend of Judge’s and member in a number of local bands, asked if he could play in the barbershop. And it just snowballed from there.

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The American Town Where the Dead Outnumber the Living by a Thousand to One

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Colma, a quiet Californian town of roughly two square miles is home to 1,700 living residents and over 1.5 million dead ones. Most of the town’s forever-silent population are people who lived and died in San Francisco, but, just like most of today’s living residents, couldn’t afford to spend their afterlives in the expensive metropolis.

In the year 1900, San Francisco was a city crowded by the dead. During the gold rush, gold miners, merchants and immigrants from all around the world  flocked here in search of a better life, bringing with them disease, and as the death toll rose, the 27 cemeteries filled to the brink of overflowing. They were considered a health hazard, but most importantly, they were taking up a large chunk of prime real-estate, so in 1902, the City and the County Board of Supervisors banned further burials in the city and forced larger cemeteries like Laurel Hill and Calvary Cemetry to move their residents outside the city. The fight to keep the dead in their original resting places lasted a few decades, but by 1942, only two cemeteries remained in San Francisco – The San Francisco National Cemetery and the Mission Dolores Cemetery. They are still around today, but neither is accepting new burials.

Over 150,000 dead bodies were moved from San Francisco to the small town of Colma, a small community established in 1892, when Archbishop Patrick Riordan decided to create a new necropolis in a valley five miles south of The City. The small field of potatoes that he blessed as the site of the new Catholic Cemetery would go on to become the world’s only incorporated town where the dead outnumber the living.

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Japanese Bar Replaces Seats and Tables with a Giant Ball Pit

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If you ever feel like connecting with your inner child while sipping on your favorite alcoholic drink, the Ball Pool Bar Dive in Osaka, Japan, is probably the best place to do it.

Kids love ball pits, and the masterminds behind Ball Pool Bar Dive seem to think adults do too, so they got rid of the usual bar furniture and instead turned the place into a giant ball pit filled with over 20,000 colorful plastic balls. But there’s nothing remotely childish about the drinks menu, as you can order pretty much any alcoholic drink served at a regular bar, only instead of drinking yourself unconscious at a table, you get to do it buried up to your neck in balls, while other intoxicated patrons dive in all around you. What’s not to like?

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This Swedish Eco-Lodge Offers Tourists the Opportunity to Escape Modern Life

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Modern life has its perks, but if you feel like taking a break from it all and going back in time for a few days, there’s a unique tourist facility in Sweden that offers you the opportunity to live in a wooden charcoal-burner hut located in the middle of a forest, cook your own food over an open fire, chop wood and clean your dishes in a nearby spring.

The Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge Hotel is not for everyone. If you can’t even fathom the idea of living without electricity, running water, or a modern toilet, then the rustic charm of this place will probably not appeal to you. But for anyone trying to escape the pressure and busy life of the big city or take a break from the internet and other modern gadgets, this place is paradise. Located 1 km south of Skärsjön Beach, in the middle of a pristine Swedish forest, Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge consists of 12 charcoal-burner huts with nothing but two sheepskin-covered wooden beds, and a wood stove that uses wood chopped by the guests themselves.

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Pyongyang Cafe – A Small Piece of North Korea on the Spanish Coast

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Entering North Korea is not the easiest or safest thing to do for foreigners, but curious tourists can now experience a small piece of North Korean culture in the Mediterranean city of Tarragona, where a small bar founded to promote Kim Jong-Un’s totalitarian regime recently opened.

Alejandro Cao de Benos, the founder of Pyongyang Cafe, is the only Westerner to occupy a post in the North Korean regime, even if it is only honorary. A firm believer in communism, he became interested in North Korea after the fall of the Soviet Union, which coincided with meeting some North Korean families in Madrid. He started traveling to the isolated Asian country, managed to meet with the late Kim Jong-Il, and in 2002 he was appointed special delegate for international cultural relations by Pyongyang. The title is not official, but he has taken his mission very seriously. Cao de Benos, a.k.a. “Cho Sun-il” (which translates as “Korea is one”) went on to found the Korean Friendship Association which currently has delegates in 30 countries around the world.

As someone who regularly appears in the Spanish media to defend North Korea against what he calls Western propaganda and manipulation, Cho Sun-il decided to open Pyongyang Cafe as a way to offer people an authentic North Korean experience. “We want to break with all the myths, manipulation,” he says. “And as not many people can go to Korea, because it’s complicated and far, they can come to our cafe.”

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Shoyna – The Russian Village Fighting a Losing Battle against Sand

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Shoyna, a small Russian village located on the edge of the arctic circle is often referred to as the world’s northernmost desert. The sand covers everything as far as the eye can see and the few people living here never dare shut their front doors at night, for fear of being buried alive by the ever-shifting dunes. But it wasn’t always like this…

Shoyna was settled in the 1930’s by fishermen drawn to the coast of the White Sea by the abundance of fish in the area. In just two decades, it had grown into a bustling fishing port with a population of around 1,500 people and a fleet of roughly seventy fishing boats. However, it wasn’t long before excessive trawling decimated the fish colonies and the fishery collapsed. The dozens of vessels lining the shore stopped coming and many of the families that had thrived in Shoyna slowly moved away. Today, the official number of inhabitants is 375, most of whom survive on unemployment benefits and pensions. Hunting is also a way to make ends meet, thanks to the large number of barnacle and Brent geese that use Shoyna as a stopover on their migration course, but the most lucrative job in the village is definitely that of bulldozer driver, as everyone needs their house dug up from the sand at one point.

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Chinese Businessman Turns Boeing 737 Airplane into a Restaurant

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China’s very first airplane restaurant was recently unveiled in Wuhan. Named “Lilly Airways”, the unique eatery is located in the cabin area of an old Boeing 737.

Businessman Li Liang acquired the aircraft from Indonesian airline Batavia Air, in May 2015, but then had to go through six months of exhausting custom procedures in order to get the aircraft into China. “Demounting, port, shipping, business license, trade declaration…all these procedures were never done by anybody before, which means I had to go through them one by one,” Li said, adding that the Boeing 737 had to be disassembled a total of eight times in its four-month journey from Indonesia to Wuhan, China. Getting the plane split into parts that then had to be packed in around 70 containers and shipped multiple times apparently cost the eccentric businessman a whopping 3 million yuan ($452,325). Add that to the 5 million yuan ($5.28 million) he paid for the plane itself and you have one of the most expensive restaurants in the world.

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The Spanish Village of Witches Cursed by the Catholic Church

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Nestled in the foothills of the Macayo Mountains, in Aragon, Spain, lies a quaint village plagued by a curse so strong that only the Pope can lift it.

Trasmoz was once a bustling settlement with a population of around 10,000 people, but today it numbers only 62 inhabitants, of which only 30 live there permanently. For many, the downfall of Trasmoz has a lot to do with the curse placed on the village by the Catholic Church centuries ago and the stigma associated with witchcraft. Its history is riddled with legends of witches and pagan rituals, and even the ruined castle at its center is said to have been built in a single night by a magician called Mutamín. How many of these stories are true, and how many are simple rumors spread by the Church to justify its actions is left to interpretation.

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Fishing with Fire – A Mesmerizing Tradition of Taiwan

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For hundreds of years, fishermen in Taiwan have been catching sardines with the help of fiery stick held over the edge of a boat. The fish are so attracted to the light that they jump out of the water and into the nets of the fishermen.

Fire fishing is as simple as it is mesmerizing. Fishing boats head out to sea during the night, and light up a bamboo stick covered with sulfuric soil at one end to create a bright flame. The sulfur dissolves in the water and the gas produced then flashes with fire. Drawn to the light spectacle, sardines jump out of the water by the hundreds at a time and end up in the fishermen’s nets. Sulfuric fire fishing was developed during the period of Japanese Rule and is now practiced only in the Jinshan sulfur harbor.

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Pablo EskoBear – The Legendary Cocaine Bear of Kentucky

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When it comes to weird tourist attractions, it’s hard to beat a stuffed black bear that died of what many people consider the worst cocaine overdose in history. Nicknamed Pablo EscoBear, the unique tourist attraction is currently on display at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, in Lexington.

On December 23, 1985, the New York Times reported about a 175-pound black bear that had apparently died of an overdose of cocaine in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest. Three months earlier, drug smuggler Andrew Thornton II had dropped large quantities of drugs from an airplane over that area, before jumping from it himself. Unfortunately, Thornton got tangled in his parachute and fell to his death in someone’s yard, in Knoxville, Tennessee. Before turning to a life of crime, Kentucky blue blood Andrew Thornton II had worked as a narcotics officer of all things, and then as a lawyer. It is believed that he had built his network of connections during his time on the right side of the law, before becoming a drug smuggler. He was on a coke-smuggling run from Colombia when he dropped 40 plastic containers full of cocaine in Chattahoochee National Forest.

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