Adult Adoption – The Secret to Preserving Centuries-Old Japanese Family Businesses

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Japan has one of the highest adoption rates in the world, with over 80,000 legal adoptions recorded every year. Yet when it comes to adopting children, the Asian country is lagging way behind most developed countries. That’s because around 98% of Japanese adoptees are bright young men in their 20s and 30s.

At the same time, while studies have shown that family-controlled businesses are generally unsustainable over long periods of time –  mostly due to the fact that business acumen and intelligence are only partially inherited – it’s interesting to see that not only are a third of Japanese corporations family-run, but they are also clearly outperforming professionally managed companies in almost every way. Statistics show that family firms are more profitable, have a higher market valuation and increased sales compared to their rivals. Even more curious is that giants like Suzuki, Toyota or Matsui Securities have managed to keep it all in the family for over a hundred years, and other family businesses for even longer than that.

But what does the remarkable success of family business have to do with the high rate of adult adoption, right? Well, in Japan at least, these two curiosities are very closely linked. Prior to the Second World War, civil code in Japan decreed family wealth could only be passed down through male lines, traditionally to the first born son. So families with no male heirs or with sons deemed unsuitable to take over the family business turned to adoption, but not the kind most of us are used to. Instead of simply adopting a baby or a young boy, they adopted young men who displayed the intelligence and knowledge of business required to ensure that their name and legacy endured until the next generation. And while the law no longer prohibits people from passing down their fortune to female heirs, the age-old tradition of electing a ‘mukoyoshi’ (or ‘adopted son-in-law’) is still very popular in Japan.

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China’s Increasing “Bride Price” Makes Marriage Virtually Impossible for Poor Bachelors

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The shortage of women caused by China’s one-child policy, combined with the country’s economic boom over the last two decades have made marriage a grim prospect for poor men in rural regions. These two factors have bumped up the “bride price” to hundreds of thousands of yuan, sometimes even millions, obscene amounts that most men can’t hope of raising without taking a bank loan.

The bride price is a a centuries-old Chinese tradition that survived and even thrived in the Communist era. It’s similar to the Western tradition of dowry, only it requires a prospective groom to pay the family of the bride for permission to marry her. In the 60’s and 70’s, the bride price was paid in modest gifts ranging from a simple thermos to bedding. During the 80’s television sets and refrigerators were popular gifts offered as bride prices, but since the economy started to grow in the 1990’s, the payment switched to hard cash and the sums demanded by the family of the bride have been rising ever since.

But perhaps the best explanation for the ever-increasing bride price is the gender inequality in China. During the days of the one-child policy, the preference for males strong enough to work and later look after their elderly parents led to a huge increase in sex-selective abortion and even infanticide of female babies. As a result, Harvard researchers claim that today there are 118 men for every 100 women in China, and the proportion is actually worse in poor rural regions.

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Japanese Boutique Sells Jeans That Have Been Worn for at Least a Year

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The Onomichi Denim Project, a chic boutique in Onomichi, Japan’s Hiroshima Prefecture, is a popular destination for denim enthusiasts looking for a pair of truly special jeans. The shop is well-known around Japan and even abroad for selling premium jeans that have been worn by select members of the local community for at least one year.

Selling used jeans, or any other type of clothing for that matter, is not exactly a new business model, but Onomichi Denim Project is not your average second-hand denim retailer. Created in 2013, as a collaborative effort between local designer Yoshiyuki Hayashi, textile expert Yukinobu Danjo, and Discoverlink Setouchi, an organization that aims to supports local industry, the minimalist boutique aims to draw attention to the city’s top-quality craftsmanship and its people in a unique way. Plus, while used denim is generally sold at a discount, these particular jeans actually get about twice as a expensive after being worn by somebody almost daily, for at least a year.

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Adult Wrapping – The Japanese Therapy Craze That Recreates the Comforting Feeling of a Womb

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Otona Maki, or ‘adult wrapping’, is a Japanese therapeutic method of correcting posture and alleviating body stiffness by wrapping the human body in a large piece of cloth that emulates the comfortable feel of a mother’s womb.

Well-known for their long work hours, many Japanese people develop posture problems and body stiffness. For a long time, getting massages and stretching have been the most popular ways of dealing with these issues, but now someone claims to have come up with an even better solution. Otona Maki is a new and intriguing way of improving posture and making your body more flexible than ever, while at the same time helping practitioners relax by recreating the comfortable feel of a mother’s womb.

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China’s ‘Mistress Killer’ Helps Cheated Wives Deal with Adultery

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‘Mistress killer’, ‘China’s top ladies’ detective’ or ‘Terminator of extramarital affairs’ are just some of the nicknames that Zhang Yufen has earned during the 15 years she has dedicated to helping cheated wives gather evidence on their husbands’ affairs and helping them exact revenge on their mistresses.

Zhang Yufen’s war on adultery is fueled by her personal experience. During the late 90’s her husband, who worked in the district taxation bureau in the city of Xi’an, started having an affair and eventually told her that he was seeing someone else and didn’t want her anymore. He took their most valuable possessions, cleaned out their joint bank account and he was gone. The news was devastating and Zhang remembers curling up on the couch and crying for a week. But after the news finally sunk in, she decided that the only way to receive justice was to track down her husband and his mistress and gather evidence about their affair. Little did she know that she would spend the rest of her life doing the same thing for other cheated wives.

Zhang spent five long years tracking down her husband multiple times, as he moved to different locations every time he caught her snooping around. But in 2007, after gathering enough evidence about his infidelity, she was finally granted a divorce and became entitled to a payout from her former spouse. At that point, she had already made a name for herself as a detective helping other wives expose their cheating husbands and their mistresses.

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Inspiring Paraplegic Athlete Climbs 500-Meter High Mountain in His Wheelchair

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On December 9th, 2011, champion rock-climber Lai Chi-wai suffered a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. On the same day, five years later, he climbed Hong Kong’s iconic Lion Rock once again, this time in a wheelchair.

33-year-old Lai Chi-wai is a four-time winner of the Asian Rock Climbing Championships, but on a faithful day, five years ago, his promising athletic career seemed to be over, following a devastating motorcycle accident. “When I woke up, I was already in the hospital and had been operated on. The staff told me … I was paralyzed from the waist down and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life,” the young rock climber recalls.

For his family and friends, the tragic outcome of the accident meant that he could no longer do the one thing that truly gave him a feeling of fulfillment – climbing heights. But despite losing the use of his legs, Lai Chi-wai wasn’t ready to give up on his passion. After recovering from the accident, he took up wheelchair boxing, a relatively new sport that he claims improves mental focus and physical fitness of paraplegics and increases their confidence, but he also continued to train with his old mountain climber friends.

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Wealthy Businessman Donates 90 Houses to the Poor to Celebrate Daughter’s Wedding

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Ajay Munot, a rich businessman in Maharashtra, India, has recently built and donated 90 houses to the poor, instead of spending the money on a lavish wedding for his daughter.

Munot had been planning to spend Rs 70-80 lakh ($115,000) on his daughter Shreya’s wedding, but after consulting with a local politician, he decided there was a better way to spend all that money. Apparently, the grains and cloth trader realized that investing in a one day event, including booking hotel rooms for all the guests was unnecessary, especially with all the poor people in need of real help. So he asked Prakash Bamb, a family friend and member of the Legislative Assembly for advice on how best to spend that money.

They both agreed that providing slum dwellers of their town with their own houses was the best idea. Munot began constructing 108 houses on two acres of land, with the goal of completing them by the day of his daughter’s wedding. He only managed to finish 90 of them by the big day, and the bride and groom, who were very supportive of the businessman’s initiative, were the ones who handed the keys to the carefully selected beneficiaries.

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Nearly All Phones in Japan Are Waterproof Because People Need to Use Them in the Shower

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Waterproof smartphones are becoming more common in Western markets, but they are hardly the norm. In Japan however, almost all phones are waterproof, and have been for nearly a decade now. According to statistics, 90% to 95% of phones in Japan are waterproof, because people need to be able to use them while they are showering.

Japanese users are apparently so attached to their phones that they even bring them into the shower. Manufacturers were aware of this unusual habit early on and realized that in order to succeed in japan, they had to make their devices water resistant. The world’s first waterproof mobile phone, the Casio Canu 502S, was release in 2005, and was soon followed by a series of Fujitsu waterproof handhelds. Before long, every company looking to enter Japanese market had to make their devices waterproof.

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Chinese Zoo Puts Husky Dog in Wolf Pen

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A zoo in Dezhou City, east China’s Shandong Province, recently attracted criticism for placing a husky dog in a pen populated by a dozen wolves, as a way to create more fun for tourists.

Chinese animal lovers raised the alarm about the unusual member of the wolf pack after a video shot by a tourist at Dezhou zoo went viral on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. He explained that he happened to be visiting the zoo when he saw a strange-looking wolf limping around in a pen full of actual wolves. It didn’t take him long to figure out that the animal was some kind of Husky-Alaskan-mix canine.

“As we all know, wolves like living with each other and have a strong sense of territory,” the man, surnamed Huang, wrote in the post. “Don’t you think it would be miserable for the dog to live there?” He also mentioned that the dog was obviously wounded, as it was struggling to walk on just three legs. His video attracted a lot of attention, with the vast majority of commenters accusing the zoo for acting irresponsibly.

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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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Masked Speed Dating Hopes to Save Shy Japanese Singles

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A Tokyo-based dating service is trying to make it easier for shy Japanese singles to interact with the opposite sex by organizing masked speed dating effects where participants wear surgical masks to help them be more outgoing.

Surgical masks have been a big part of Japanese culture for many years. Some people wear them on the street everyday, be it to avoid catching diseases, to prevent hay fever and other allergic reactions, or simply to keep their faces warm. But the people at Def Anniversary, a popular dating service in Tokyo, have come up with a new use for the humble accessory – they’ve turned into a tool for konkatsu (marriage hunting). At their speed dating events, singles meet at various locations all over Japan, and spend a limited amount of time trying to learn as much about them as they can, but the catch is that everyone has to wear a surgical mask, so the focus is less on physical appearance and more on personality and character.

“In order to achieve marriage, it is important to provide chances to know a partner’s personality and values in the early stages,” said Kei Matsumura, head of Tokyo dating service Def Anniversary. “We chose surgical masks as an essential tool for that.”

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8-Year-Old Boy Puts on 11 Kilos in 2 Months to Save Dying Father’s Life

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Cao Yinpeng, an 8-year-old from Xuzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province, underwent a rigorous fattening up regiment, in order to qualify for a bone marrow transplant necessary to save his father’s life.

Earlier this year, Cao’s father was diagnosed with leukemia and doctors told the family that he needed a hematopoietic stem cell transplant to survive. Unfortunately, there were no compatible donors within the China Marrow Donor Program, the Asian country’s marrow bank. The man’s parents were a match, but had to be ruled out due to their advanced age, which only left 8-year-old Cao Yinpeng. China’s marrow donor program website states that donors should be between the ages of 18 and 45, but doctors do make exceptions in desperate situations such as this. But while they agreed to operate on the boy to harvest the life-saving stem cells, they did make it clear that he had to reach the minimum donor weight requirement of 45kg to qualify for the procedure.

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IKEA Store Can’t Keep Elderly Freeloaders Out of Its Cafe

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An IKEA store in Shanghai, China claims it has been forced to enforce special rules in order to keep elderly freeloaders from virtually taking over the place for hours at a time and engaging in blind dating sessions.

IKEA is very popular in China. Some people love the furniture mega-stores so much that they spend whole days in them without buying a single item. A few years ago we reported on a bizarre trend that involved people simply coming to IKEA and sleeping on the comfortable beds and sofas on display for hours, or just walking around and enjoying the free air conditioning. This kind of thing has been going on in China for the past 15 years, since the chain arrived in the Asian country, and it’s still very popular today. But it’s apparently not the only problem the Swedish retailer has been facing. Recently, an IKEA store in Shanghai has been dealing with a large group of elderly people that frequently spends hours in its popular cafe without buying anything.

Chinese media reports that dozens sometimes hundreds of elderly men and women meet up at the IKEA cafe in Shanghai every week, for long blind-dating sessions. They stay there for hours without buying any foods or drinks, and act like they own the place. According to a notice board put up by the Shanghai store, the group has been seriously affecting the cafe’s operations with their “uncivilized behavior”. Among the cited offences, the notice mentions “taking up seats for long hours, bringing outside food and tea, speaking loudly, spitting, and having quarrels and fights.”

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Indonesian Man Returns Home One Year after Being Confirmed Dead by His Family

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An Indonesian family got the shock of their life after their husband and father, 62-year-old Waluyo, just showed up at their doorstep one year after they had buried him. He was pronounced dead on May 15, 2015, after supposedly being involved in a car accident.

This bizarre story started last year, when Waluyo, from Suryoputran Panembahan village in Jogyakarta, left his home to work as a street cleaner in the city of Semarang, in order to support his family. It wasn’t long after his departure that his wife, Alim Eskatinah, got a call from the police who told her that Waluyo had been the victim of a serious car accident and was in critical condition at the emergency room. The whole family and even some of their neighbors rushed to the hospital to be by his side, but the injured man died after a few days. “In the hospital he was in a coma. Relatives and neighbors all visited him. He then died on May 7, 2015. Many came to his funeral, all the neighbors came,” Waluyo’s daughter, Anti Ristanti told Indonesian newspaper Detik.

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