Welcome to the World’s Most Controversial Pet Shop

NOAH: The Inner City Zoo is a Japanese pet shop condemned by animal activists for caging and selling penguins, meerkats, alligators, monkeys and other exotic animals.

Located in a cramped room, on the second floor of an office building in Yokohama, NOAH: The Inner City Zoo is hardly the kind of place you’d think of keeping exotic animals. But ever since 1999, NOAH (Nature Orientated Animal House) has been the go-to source for all kinds of unusual pets, from alligators to otters and cranes. Many of them are endangered in their natural habitats, but that doesn’t seem to raise any red flags with Japanese animal protection authorities, and neither does the fact they are all being kept in tiny cages, with barely enough space to move around. The controversial pet shop’s clientele also seems to ignore the improper conditions, and spends thousands of dollars on unique pets.

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The Fragile Porcelain House of Tianjin

Zhang Lianzhi, a 50-year-old porcelain collector from Tianjin, China, has spent four years decorating an old house with hundreds of millions of ancient porcelain fragments and tons of natural crystals. It’s now known as the Porcelain House or Yuebao House.

The Porcelain House of Tianjin opened its gates to the public on September 2nd, 2007, onChifeng Street in Heping District. The old French-style building has a history of over 100 years. It was originally the home of a central finance minister in the late Qing dynasty, and was later converted into a bank, after the founding of New China, in 1949. But after the bank changed its location, the beautiful building was left deserted for several years, until porcelain collector Zhang Lianzhi bought it for 1 million yuan ($160,000). He then spent the following four years turning it into a unique edifice, decorated with porcelain dating from the Tang (AD 618-907) to the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Now the Porcelain House is the most eye-catching building in Tianjin, and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

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The Book That Can’t Wait Literally Disappears if You Put It Down

An Indie Argentinian publishing house has come up with an innovative concept, using disappearing ink that simply fades away in two months time.

Dubbed “El Libro que No Puede Esperar” (The Book That Can’t Wait), this interesting format was pioneered by independent Argentinian publishing house Eterna Cadencia, as a way to promote young authors, who “if people don’t read their first books, never make it to a second.” The intriguing books come sealed in a plastic wrapper, and once that is removed and the books cracked for the first time, the ink begins to age and in 60 days time readers are left with nothing but the covers and a bunch of blank pages. So if you want to get your money’s worth, you really can’t put one of these books down too often, after you’ve bought it.

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High-School Teacher Creates Whiteboard Masterpieces During His Lunch Breaks

Minnesota-based artist Gregory Euclide creates amazing impermanent artworks in just 25 minutes, during the lunch breaks at the high-school where he teaches.

As unbelievable as this might sound, Gregory Euclide actually washes away the whiteboard masterpieces he draws every day, to make room for new ones. In an interview with Minnesota Original, the art instructor says his unusual habit of drawing on whiteboards started as a way to release stress after teaching 38 students an hour, five hours a day, for 8 months. He was beginning to feel a little restless so he decided to give himself 25 minutes every day to finish sketches he enjoyed drawing. He would use sumi ink, brushes, spray bottles, erasers, paper towels and pretty much anything else he could get his hands on around his desk.

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Tiger Tug – Playing Tug of War with a Full-Grown Tiger

Visitors at the Busch Gardens Zoo, in Tampa Bay, Florida, are given the chance to test their strength against a mighty tiger, in a game of tug of war.

Zoos these days just aren’t what they used to be. Just last week, we had an article on Lujan Zoo, where guests are allowed to get in cages with all kinds of wild animals and pet them, and this week we have another one where people can play tug of war with tigers. Although the chances of beating a 450-pound Bengal tiger at tug of war are slim to none, there’s no shortage of human volunteers willing to test their muscles against the magnificent feline. The interactive zoo exhibit is called “Tiger Tug” and requires confident participants to grab on a thick rope, while the tiger facing them on the other side of two metal fences bites the other end. I’m not if the Bengal felines ever lost a game, but the humans seem to love it anyway.

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Coolest Finds of the Week #44

Robot Never Loses at Rock Paper Scissors (Geek.com)

US Woman Wins Toilet Paper Wedding Dress-Making Contest (YouTube)

Bird of Prey Faces Poisonous Snake (Environmental Graffiti)

Brazilian Prisoners Read Books to Shorten Their Sentences (Telegraph.co.uk)

Naked Shoppers Turn Heads at German Supermarket Opening (Digital Journal)

Witches Pardoned 385 Years after Being Burned at the Stake (The Local)

Flatulence Deodorizer Helps Hide Your Farts (Gawker)

Miss Holocaust Survivor Crowned in Israel (MSNBC Photoblog)

Herterochromia in Dogs – Pooches with Differently-Colored Eyes (Environmental Graffiti)

Van Gogh’s Starry Night Recreated with Thousands of Dominoes (YouTube)

Optical Illusions at South Korea’s Awesome Trick Eye Museums

Planting a kiss on Mona Lisa’s cheek, riding the legendary Pegasus and even getting peed on by a baby, it’s all possible at one of South Korea’s Trick Eye Museums.

I’ve never been to Korea, but apparently people there, like the Japanese, love to take photos of themselves with cool stuff, so it’s no wonder they’ve created a bunch of tourist attractions where people can immortalize themselves doing the craziest things. They’re called “trick eye museums” and feature various well-executed trompe l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye) artworks that either look like they’re coming out of the frame, or that you’re stepping in. If you manage to get a shot from the right angle, you can get some really cool photos of yourself interacting with the paintings. Judging by the photos I’ve found, these places are lots of fun.

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Digital Artist Creates Realistic Version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night

Ever wondered what the sky must have looked like when Vincent Van Gogh painted his famous Starry Night? Well, Alex Cruz has and he even created his own realistic-looking version of the post-impressionist’s masterpiece, using Photoshop.

“I’ve often wondered about how the night ski looked to Van Gogh when he painted Starry Night,” Ruiz said. “I wanted this piece to be somewhat magical and fantastic, not just a normal night painting. Hence the large moon, large stars, transparent clouds, etc., yet keeping a mostly realistic feel to it.” I don’t know how long it took the Dutch artist to finish his famous artwork, but Ruiz did his in just 7 hours, using matte painting techniques in Photoshop. Art sure has come a long way since the 1800s.

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The Future Is Now – China Opens Robot-Operated Restaurant

Well, it’s not exactly as advanced as you’re used to seeing in sci-fi movies, but China’s colorful robot-themed restaurant can be a sign of things to come.

They’re probably going to render us extinct one day, so we might as well enjoy their servitude, while it lasts. A unique restaurant, in Harbin, China’s Heilongjiang Province, has 18 different robots doing all kinds of jobs, from ushering in guests to waiting tables and cooking various dishes. All the robots were designed and created by the Harbin Haohai Robot Company. Chief Engineer Liu Hasheng, they invested around 5 million yuan ($790,000) in the restaurant, with each robot costing 200,000 to 300,000 yuan ($31,500 – $47,000). With an average cost per dinner of between $6 and $10, they won’t be recovering their investment anytime soon, but it is great advertisement for what the robot company can create.

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Mr. Kanso – Japan’s Weird Canned Food Restaurants

I bet you’d have never thought a restaurant that serves only canned food could ever become popular. Well, it can in Japan.

Eating cold food from  metal cans with plastic cutlery, is not everyone’s idea of a good eating out experience, but Osaka’s Kanso Restaurant has been offering this exact type of experience for a while now and has enjoyed great success. Things have been going so well that Clean Brothers, the restaurant and cafe company behind the bizarre diner, has begun franchising the idea throughout Japan, under the name Mr. Kanso. And I’m not talking disaster shelters or anything like that, but big cities like Tokyo and Nagoya. The original Kanso opened in 2002, and there are currently 17 branches, 14 of which are franchises, but the number of interested franchisees is growing steadily.

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Belgian Artist Creates Elaborate Dresses Out of Simple Sheets of Paper

Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave can use sheets of paper to create incredible garments many designers can’t really make out of fabric.

At first glance, Isabelle de Borchgrave’s creations seems made of expensive materials like silk, pleated cotton and damask, but in reality, her 18th century-inspired garments are made exclusively from paper. The Brussels-based artist painstakingly glues every “seam”, crumples, irons and fluffs paper to make it look like real lace and created buttons out of tiny rolls of paper, ultimately creating designer masterpieces you simply must see to believe they’re real. In her able hands, flimsy pieces of paper can become anything from ribbons to jewelry and feathers, a talent that makes de Borchgrave “unique”, according to French designer Hubert de Givenchy.

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Bovine Boarding at Pakistan’s Traditional Bull Races

If you think surfing and snowboarding are extreme sports, then you’ve probably never seen what happens in Pakistan, during traditional bovine races. It involves bulls, a board and dirt.

Tens of thousands of people gather whenever there is a bull race held in Pakistan. They are usually the highlight of festivals organized in rural areas of the Asian country, and attract lots of spectators due to their thrilling nature. Watching a bunch of oxen running alongside each other might not be your idea of a fun time, but add a man on riding a board on a dirty track trying to guide the animals, and things become pretty exciting. The traditional competition  attracts landlords and farmers from all around the province where the race is held, and they all bring their fastest and strongest bulls in hopes of gaining a reputation.

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Chinese Lamborghini Is 99% Identical to the Original, Costs Just $65,000

A brand new Lamborghini Murcielago LP64 would cost you over $400,000, but in China you can buy one that looks almost identical for only $65,000.

The Chinese love to build their own Lamborghini sport cars, probably because the original ones sold in China tend to break down a lot. The latest Lamborghini replica to come out of the rising Asian country is of the stunning Murcielago LP64, and is probably the best one yet. Refered to as the Shanzai Lamborghini, this impressive looking vehicle is said to be 99% identical to the original on the outside, while the interior is “only” 70% identical. Still, the price tag of 420,000 yuan ($65,000) is unbeatable for this kind of car. Only you’re not really buying a piece of Italian engineering, but a really well modified Toyota MR2.

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Awesome Mosaic Is Made of Over 1 Million Coffee Beans

Measuring nearly 30 square meters, The Awakening mosaic recently unveiled in Gorky Park, Moscow, set a new world record for the largest coffee bean mosaic.

It’s not very often that you get to see artworks as impressive as the one created by Russian artist Arkadi Kim. He and his team spent around two weeks working on the impressive mosaic, weighing the coffee beans, roasting them to achieve the desired color tones and placing them at just the right spot on the giant panel set up in Gorky Park. Believe it or not, this unique piece of art is made of 1 million coffee beans, weighing an impressive 180 kg (397 pounds). Entitled “The Awakening”, it shows the detailed visage of a girl and alluring coffee aroma making its way to her nose.

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Sleazy Avatar-Themed Nightclub Opens in South Africa

Somehow I thought Avatar-themed nightclubs would be kind of cool, but recently opened Avastar (I know, right?) proves they can be sleazier than you ever imagined.

Judging by the success of James Cameron’s Avatar movie, it was only a matter of time before someone used his fantasy world as nightclub theme. Only I think anyone could have done a much better job of it than Mike Basson, a South African entrepreneur who looks like one of the gangster Guy Richie uses in his movies. He came up with the “brilliant” name “Avastar” for his new nightclub in Rivonia, South Africa’s version of Las Vegas, slapped cheesy artworks of nude Na’Vi women on the walls, and described his idea as a mind-blowing combination of nature and technology. It’s also got some fancy chandeliers supposed to look like the Tree of Life and some fire-spitting volcanoes, fog machines and lasers, LEDs, pretty everything an Avatar fan dreams of finding in a nightclub themed after their favorite movie.

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