Japan’s Amazing Dekotora Trucks

Known as Dekotora, Decotora, or simply as Japanese art trucks, these incredible masterpieces on four wheels have become a symbol of Japan.

Dekotora is an abbreviation for “decoration truck”, and if you can say something about these trucks it’s that they are very decorated. That’s basically what defines the Dekotora art movement – adding as many decorations to your truck, as you possibly can, while keeping it operational. And making use of the ingenuity that defines the Japanese, they have been able to create some truly impressive rigs that blow your mind. Neon lights, flashy spoilers, manga and kabuki artworks are all part of a Dekotora artist’s arsenal, in his quest of creating the flashiest truck possible.

The Dekotora movement was born in 1975, when Toei released the first of its 10-movie series called “Trucker”, which featured a trucker who drove his overly-decorated truck all over Japan. The movie was a huge success, and people started tuning their own big rigs to resemble what they saw on screen. Dekotora truckers are very passionate about what they do, and money is no object when it comes to turning their vehicles into flashy masterpieces. They often form communities where they can show off their creations and interact with other art-truck enthusiasts. Most of them try to adorn the trucks with as many decorations as possible, while keeping them street legal, but there are those who go over the limit and create impressive Dekotora beasts that can only be admired in exhibitions.

There are three main Dekotora styles – Kansai, Kant and Retro, and starting with the late 1990s, the Gundam franchise has had a huge influence on the world of Dekotora. I guess the Japanese love robots and sci-fi,even when it comes to big flashy trucks.

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The Intricate Paper-Cut Maps of Karen O’leary

They may not be as helpful as conventional maps, when you need to find your way through a metropolis, but Karen O’leary’s hand-cut paper maps are simply stunning to look at.

Karen O’leary is definitely one of the most patient people on the planet. She spends most of her days cutting away at thick white watercolor sheets of paper, until she creates jaw-dropping replicas of conventional city maps. While you could easily mistake Karen’s hand-cut maps with laser-cut ones, the amount of time and patience she puts into every one of her works makes them unique masterpieces. For each one of her maps, the artist spends a great deal of time drawing it in detail, and only after begins the painstaking process of cutting.

If you’d like to own one of Karen O’leary’s intricate hand-cut paper maps, you can find a wide range of cities, from Madrid to Sydney, at her online Etsy shop. While the $1,100 price tag may seem a bit discouraging, judging by the amount of effort Karen puts into her art, you’ll find it’s a bargain.

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Khalid Nabi – Not Your Average Cemetery

The Khalid Nabi cemetery, in northern Iran has become a popular attraction for both locals and tourists, because of its strange tombstones shaped as male and female sexual organs.

Scientists say the bizarre cemetery is around 1,400 years old, and judging by the number of headstones, it’s the final resting place of at least 600 people, the most important of which is Khalid Nabi, a prophet born 40 years before Muhammad. You’d be inclined to be believe most people come to the cemetery as pilgrims to a prophet’s grave, but you couldn’t be more wrong; they actually come to see the penis and breast-shaped tombstones.

Nobody knows exactly what the 6-foot-tall columns shaped like phalluses and the smaller, cross like-headstones that resemble female breasts are meant to symbolize, but the mere fact that a wacky attraction like the Khalid Nabi cemetery gets this kind of attention, in a country like Iran, is weird enough. Some scientists say the weird tombstones could have been influenced by the phallic religion practiced in India and central Asia, but most of the visitors don’t even care, they just came here to see some funny penis-shaped rocks.

I’m just not sure who Iran is going to blame for this, but I’m sure they’ll somehow relate the phallus stones to some “capitalist pigs”.

 

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Real-Life Barbie Suite Is the Ultimate Girls’ Pad

If you’ve always wanted to be like Barbie and live in her pink dream-house, you’re about to get your wish. A hotel in the Italian Alps has opened a series of rooms decorated just like Barbie’s miniature pads.

The owners of the Grand Hotel Savoia, at the Cortina ski resort, thought they’d celebrate Barbie’s 50th anniversary by decorating some of their rooms with real-life furniture and decoration you’d normally only find in Matel’s play sets. That’s right girls, you’ll get the chance to live it up like Barbie for as long as you or your parents can afford it, surrounded by the popular dolls favorite clothes and accessories, including skirts, lace-up dresses, corsets, toy-like chairs and even a sunburst mirror made from Barbie dolls

Italian interior designer described the recently inaugurated Barbie rooms as “the ultimate girls’ pad with details celebrating Barbie’s love of pink.” Barbie fans can book their stay in one of these life-size Barbie homes until the end of next March.

Yesterday the news about a Hello Kitty theme park in Japan, now this…This just hasn’t been my week!

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Sharpie-Painted Car Looks Sharp

A Mazda Miata owner used a number of sharpies to give his favorite car some really cool-looking tattoos.

“Mighty” Mike Niemann of Team Miataka Racing spent 22 days and $100 in sharpies giving his 1992 Mazda Miata a radical new look. After carefully drawing the entire thing by hand, he added a clear coat so his impressive masterpiece doesn’t get ruined by the first falling rain drops.

Mike’s sharpie-painted Miata is definitely impressive, but it’s not the first sharpie-tattooed car. That probably goes to this gorgeous Lamborghini.

 

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Just What the World Needed – Hello Kitty Theme park Opens in Tokyo

As if the world didn’t have enough of their annoying icon, Hello Kitty, the Japanese thought they’d open a new theme park as well.

If you’re a regular visitor of Oddity Central, you probably already know I’m not the world’s biggest Hello Kitty fan. I’ve featured quite a few strange Hello Kitty stuff, from a pink assault rifle to a Hello Kitty-themed Ferrari. Now, it brings me great…honor to present to you Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise, a Hello Kitty theme park that just opened in Tokyo.

I guess the Japanese didn’t want to look bad, after their Chinese neighbors built a Hello Kitty castle, and a nice new pink theme park was just the thing. Located on Odaiba Island, Hello Kitty Kawaii Paradise opened on October 22nd, and hopes to attract as many as 700,000 Hello Kitty fans in its first year. While the despicable icon has tons of fans in Japan’s capital, not many of them bothered to check out the theme park, probably because Odaiba is quite a long way from central Tokyo, and many of them don’t care to make the long trip. Let’s just hope the place stays empty and they’ll be forced to close it down soon, because unless you’re the Pink Lady, human eyesight just can’t handle all that pink.

In case you’re interested, the 10,000 square-foot park features a big Hello Kitty shop, where you can find all kinds of accessories, toys and other pink junk, a Hello Kitty pancake restaurant, a small theater, a big statue of Hello Kitty and a whole bunch of other pink, girly stuff fans go crazy about.

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Meet the “Smartest” Man in China

With nine educational diplomas under his belt, Zhou Baokuan can definitely claim the title of “smartest man in China.”

When it comes to education, we all want the best for our kids, but I think Zhou Baokuan’s parents might have pushed him a little to far, when he was a child. I mean, the man started studying and even though he is now 53 years old, he has no intention of stopping.

In recognition of his incredible desire to study, an organization known as China World Records Association decided to award Zhou the title of “man with most diplomas in the world.” Over the course of 35 years of intense studying (sometimes without sleep) the man earned a total of nine diplomas, including three doctoral diplomas and two masters degrees. Zhou, a resident of Shenyang City, admits it wasn’t easy getting this many diplomas, and reckons he spent around 126,500 hours studying for them

Believe it or not, Zhou Baokuan is currently studying to get his fourth doctoral degree, at Fudan University.

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Prince Saint Vladimir – The World’s First and Only Chapel Boat

The Prince Saint Vladimir is basically an old boat converted into a floating church that could make the sacred relics on board accessible to people in remote areas along the Volga River.

This isn’t the world’s first floating church, communities living on water have built plenty of them all around the world, but the Prince Saint Vladimir (named after the saint who baptized Russia) is the world’s first self-propelled chapel boat. Built back in 2004, the unique church was designed to reach even the shallowest waters, so that all the people of the Volvograd region could have access to a church and priest. There were two other similar churches built before, but because they were practically converted barges, they could only be moved by tugboats. The Prince Saint Vladimir is, however, a self-propelled craft.

On September 13, 2010, the great river voyage of the Prince Saint Vladimir began. The floating church will travel around 3,000 kilometers along the shores of the Volga, from the river mouth, all the way to Moscow. It will make stops in both cities and small communities along the shores, allowing people access to relics of eight great saints from the era of the Undivided Church. Its voyage will take the sacred ship to areas that have suffered from drought and terrible wildfires, and the Russian Church hopes it will bring comfort to locals.

Along with the captain and ship crew, a priest will be on board the Prince Saint Vladimir at all times, and he will celebrate the Sacred Liturgy at every stop.

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Bridget Polk – The Rock Lady of New York

Bridget Polk is a New York resident who came to be known as the “Rock Lady”, by fellow New Yorkers who saw her amazing balancing rocks, on the banks of the Hudson River.

Polk, a 50-year-old personal assistant from the upper West Side, began experimenting with rock balancing about a year ago. The idea had been planted in her head a while ago, when a friend showed her the works of a rock balancing artist in Sausalito, and added that she probably couldn’t do it herself. Competitive by nature, Bridget took the comment as a challenge and began practicing rock balancing, on her daily walks along the Hudson River.

She soon found that she had a natural talent for the art of rock balancing, and that it inspired her and people who laid eyes on her works. And that’s understandable, because Bridget Polk’s rock balancing skills are truly remarkable, enabling her to stack rocks in seemingly impossible positions, with their wide ends in the air, balancing on a tiny tip.

When she sees photographers and passers-by admiring her rock balancing masterpieces, Bridget admits she’s tempted to walk up to them and say something like “I did that!”, but she prefers to just stand back and observe people’s reaction. Some of them knock down the rocks, to convince themselves they aren’t glued together, but most of them just try to add to her work or build rock stacks of their own. Regardless of their reactions, Bridget Polk says she feels happy about making any kind of contribution to their daily lives.

The Rock Lady of New York will soon be leaving the Big Apple, to live with her partner, in Portland, Oregon, but she has made sure her rock balancing legacy will live on even after she’s gone. She has been teaching some of her admirers the secrets of the art, and she’s certain that with a bit of practice, they’ll soon follow in her footsteps.

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The Wonderful Can Sculptures of Canstruction 2010

Every year, dozens of teams of architects and engineers compete in creating the most impressive can sculptures for the Canstruction exhibition.

This year, 25 teams did their vest to arrange around 100,000 cans of food into detailed sculptures that would ultimately win them the title of Canstruction champions. The intricate works of art are on display at the World Financial Center Garden, in New York City, until November 22, and visitors are encouraged to donate canned foods like tuna, beans or vegetables. Once the exhibition closes, all the cans are donated to the poor people of New York, by City Harvest.

Last year’s Canstruction winner was a piggy-bank sculpture made from 3.024 cans of salmon and 24 cans of tuna, but this year, judges have a tough decision to make. They have to pick between mosaics of Marylin Monroe and Super Mario, a can-made van and several other mind-blowing creations.

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T’Spookhuys – Probably the World’s Spookiest Restaurant

Known also as the “House of 1,000 Ghosts”, the T’Spookhuys Restaurant was designed to scare the hell out of its customers, with a truly creepy interior design and bizarre menu.

Located in the city of Turnhout, Belgium, T’Spookhuys was founded by Karl Hendrix and Bjorn Leys, as a place where people could experience the horrors of a haunted mansion. When it opened its gates to the public, on October 1st 1997, it shocked pretty much everyone with its creepy interior decorations, squeaky doors, smoke coming down from the ceiling, moving paintings, and other special effects. Soon everyone wanted to “dine in hell” and witness the weird spectacles and cameos that took part at the T’Spookhuys Restaurant.

Some of the foods on the menu included mud pie and spicy worms served in skull-shaped bowls, by waiters dressed as vampires and devil worshipers, but instead of driving people away, this incredibly spooky atmosphere brought in more curious clients. Not even the rumors about satanic rituals being performed on the restaurant’s upper floor didn’t scare anyone.

In 2008, eleven years after they opened this crazy establishment, the owners of T’Spookhuys decided to close down the place and open a whole new club, in the city of Zandhoven. To the joy of urban explorers, T’Spookhuys was left intact, allowing them to explore and take photos of what used to be probably the spookiest restaurant in the world. As you’d expect, there are dozens of stories of ghost and tormented spirits living in the abandoned restaurant, saying that they are the real reason the owners decided to close shop and move away, but no ghost sightings have been reported yet.

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Ben Wilson’s Tiny Chewing Gum Masterpieces

English urban artist Ben Wilson has made it his mission to make the streets of London more colorful, by painting every piece of old chewing gum he can find on the pavement.

Over the last six years, Wilson has been roaming the streets of London, looking for pieces of chewing gum to turn into miniature works of art. Spitting a piece of gum, rather than throwing it away in a bin, or at least using a tissue is definitely the wrong thing to do, but fortunately, an artist like Ben Wilson can turn the whole situation around, using his talent.

Wearing a paint-covered coat and carrying his trusty paint kit, Ben spends most of his days looking for suitable pieces of gum to turn into artworks. He needs them to be a bit old, so that they lack any moisture, then heats them up and applies lacquers. This makes a much better surface for his acrylic paints and hardens the piece of gum. He paints his own designs, but also gladly accepts commissions from passers-by or institutions like the Royal Society of Chemistry, who asked him to paint 118 themed chewing gum artworks, one for each of the known elements.

Each of his beautiful pavement masterpieces takes between a few hours and days to complete, depending on the level of detail. So far, Ben estimates he has painted around 8,000 pieces of gum throughout London, and he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, although his passion got him into trouble, a couple of times. He’s been arrested twice, but the charges were eventually dropped, since he wasn’t the one who threw the pieces of gum on the pavement, in the first place.

Ben Wilson’s chewing gum art have made him quite popular around London, and even in distant South Korea, where he was featured on a television show.

 

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The Hyperrealistic Paintings of Tom Martin

Tom Martin is a young English artist who  makes use of acrylic paint to create the most amazing paintings. Looking at them you could swear they are simple photographs, but in reality they are painstakingly painted by hand.

Hyperrealism evolved from the “photorealism” movement of the 1970s, and it’s dedicated to making artworks that are “more real than real”. Hyperrealists try not just copy a photograph with paint, but emphasize elements that were not evoked by the original. 23-year-old Tom Martin is already one of the most respected hyperrealist artist in the world, with works featured in art exhibitions all around the world.

Just have a look at his amazing super-sized paintings and tell me if you’d have known they aren’t simple photos or computer generated images.

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Lily’s Kitchen – A Dogs-Only Restaurant Opens in London

Lily’s Kitchen may not be the world’s first restaurant for dogs, but it’s certainly the coolest one right now. Dogs get to eat for free, have their bellies rubbed and can even listen to a nice story. What more could they ask for?

Lily’s Kitchen recently opened on Pimlico Road, in London’s upscale Belgravia neighborhood, and dog owners were quick to have their pooches test out the menu, for free. That’s right, your four-legged friends get to sit at one of the restaurant’s three tables and fill up their bellies with organic food served by a waiter, and you don’t have to pay for it. It sounds to good to be true, but this is just a clever way a dog food company has found to promote their line of organic foods.

During the six week period Lily’s Kitchen is open, dogs will get the chance to be the stars, for a change, while their owners relax or take care of their daily chores. The dogs are served their favorite dishes in paper bowls, by waiters who actually love serving canines, because they never complain about the food, check or stuff like that. After they’ve filled their stomachs, dogs have a wide range of pleasant activities to enjoy. They can have their bellies rubbed, snooze on a comfy sofa, have their aches soothed by a holistic vet, or even enjoy a nice story, read to them by members of the restaurant staff.

While there are always those who complain this sort of things are just stupid, many London dog owners are already in love with Lily’s Kitchen. It offers them the chance to carry on with their daily activities, knowing their dear companion is well taken care of. So even though Lily’s Kitchen is just a temporary establishment, a permanent restaurant for dogs could prove quite profitable.

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Avatar Mosaic Made Out of 4,000 Avatar Blu-Ray Discs

British mosaic artist Laura Hadland has created an impressive Avatar-themed mosaic, as a present for her film-fanatic husband.

A few weeks after creating an amazing toast mosaic for her mother-in law, for which she used 9,852 slices of toast, Laura does it again, this time for her beloved husband. Making use of 4,000 Blu-Ray discs, she managed to create a giant mosaic of a Na’vi. Located on the floor of the London Film Museum, the Avatar mosaic took the artist just a few hours to complete. No news yet on how Laura’s husband reacted to her fantastic gift, but I’m sure he was pretty impressed.

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