Newly-Opened Chinese School of Arts Is a Real-Life Hogwarts

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Young Potterheads in China are in for a real treat – they have the chance to study at their very own Hogwarts! Well, it isn’t really a school of magic – the building is a part of the Hebei Academy of Fine Arts and will house the school’s animation students. But who cares as long as you get to spend hours inside a magnificent castle that strongly resembles Harry Potter’s famous school, right?

Images of the impressive school went viral as more and more netizens began to notice that its various turrets and towers are a lot like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But the designers of the structure insist that they weren’t inspired by J. K. Rowling’s magical world; they simply modelled the castle after European architecture in general. They actually prefer to call it ‘Cinderella Castle’, since it features a gigantic clock tower.

Sadly, there won’t be any shifting staircases or talking portraits inside the castle. But it still is a pretty awesome place for a college. “We want our students to be inspired and this impressive fairytale architecture is exactly what they need for working in a creative environment,” a spokesperson for Hebei Academy said. “It’s important for the students and for the staff that they feel part of something special, and that is enough magic to ensure what we have created is a fine institution for furthering interest in the study of arts.”

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Japanese Turtle Taxi Promises to Drive You as Slow as Possible

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Unlike most other taxi services, the Japanese Turtle Taxi caters to people who aren’t really in a hurry and prefer a leisurely ride. Surprisingly, there are many who enjoy a service that is deliberately slow – the unique taxi has been steadily growing in popularity ever since it started in December 2013.

The taxi service was created by the Sanwa Kotsu Group – they’ve designated 10 of their 500 cabs in Yokohama as ‘turtle taxis’, and specifically trained cab drivers to accelerate and decelerate as gently as possible. They’ve also been told to manage the ‘centrifugal forces’, to avoid making sharp turns.

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Philippines-Based Artist Harnesses the Power of the Sun to Create Amazing Pyrography Masterpieces

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Artist Jordan Mang-osan is a master of pyrography – an incredibly rare and beautiful artform that involves decorating slabs of wood with burn marks. While most other pyrography artists prefer to use specialized tools, Jordan prefers to harness the power of the sun with the help of a magnifying glass. Jordan uses the special technique to create beautiful landscapes and portraits on wood.

To create a piece, he starts off by sketching a design on to a piece of wood. He then uses a magnifying glass to concentrate solar heat on selected areas of the artwork. The heat etches permanent darkened lines into the wood, so intricate that it’s hard to imagine the artist’s hands never really touch the wooden canvas. The work is tedious, however – it takes several months of dedicated effort to manipulate the sun’s rays and etch each detail of the complex pieces.

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Japanese Reality Show Launches Girl Band That Fans Can Actually Date and Even Marry

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‘Happening Girls’ is a new reality TV show in Japan, featuring a girl group that fans can date and potentially even marry. The band currently consists of four girls who always wear bikinis or swimsuits in public. Male fans interested in dating the girls can apply to the producers of the show and take part in X-Factor style auditions and interviews for the chance of winning a date.

The four bachelorettes who currently make up the band are: Manaka, 20, Saaya, 22, Kaori, 26, and Eri, 25. If one of them gets married and leaves the show, her place will be taken by a new band member. The show’s producers are recruiting replacements under strict conditions – applicants must be between 17 and 30 years of age, living in Tokyo, and must have no objections to wearing bikinis in public at all times.

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Japanese Man Promotes Peace in Asia by Giving Strangers Free Hugs

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29-year-old Koichi Kuwabara has made it his mission to distribute ‘Free Hugs for Peace’ to as many people as he can – he’s been traveling across Asia for the past three years, hugging random people on the streets. His videos have gone viral on YouTube, garnering over 1.5 million views. He also has over 5,300 followers on Facebook and about 3,000 on Twitter.

Koichi, an aspiring school teacher, said: “I don’t want to just regurgitate theories written on textbooks. I want to tell the kids what I saw and learned first-hand from giving free hugs worldwide.”

He began his extraordinary adventure in August, 2011, just after he graduated from university. Since then, he has taken his Free Hugs initiative to several cities in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. At each location he visiyed, Koichi held up a sign that displayed the flags of Japan and the country he was visiting, along with the caption ‘Free Hugs for Peace’.

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Cambodia’s Miracle-Performing Baby Draws Thousands of Sick Pilgrims

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Kong Keng, a 2-year-old kid from Khnor village in Cambodia, is being hailed as a miracle baby with special healing powers. Thousands of people are traveling from as far as Laos and Vietnam, believing that even a glimpse of Kong will help cure them of their ailments. He appears to be the last ray of hope in a nation that doesn’t exactly have the world’s best healthcare system.

Hundreds of people throng outside Kong’s single-room wooden home every single day. It’s a motley crowd of handicapped people in wheelchairs, and ailing, dying patients on stretchers. Phat Soen, Kong’s 21-year-old mother, brings the boy out and places a row of eucalyptus balm bottles in front of him. She then guides his hand over each bottle – his touch is believed to transfer healing powers to the balm.

The toddler’s healing powers were discovered by an accidental healing ‘miracle’ that occurred a few months ago. “The miracle happened to my brother,” said Sung Bahn, Kong’s uncle. “He was paralyzed from the waist down after a motorcycle accident. Doctors couldn’t cure him and neither could the Kru Khmers (traditional Cambodian healers).”

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Nepal’s Worshiped Child Goddesses Whose Feet Cannot Touch the Ground until Puberty

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Nepal is a land of mysticism, where a select few pre-pubescent girls from the Newar clan are worshiped as ‘Kumari Devi’ or ‘Virgin Goddess’. According to tradition, Durga (the Hindu goddess of destruction) herself is incarnate in young girls belonging to the silver and goldsmith community. Until they attain puberty, Kumaris are worshipped as deities and deemed protectors by thousands of adoring Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal.

To prove that she is the chosen one, a prospective Kumari must go through over 30 tests. Initially, high priests choose girls based on their physical characteristics – with a slender neck like a conch shell, gentle eyes like a cow, and other special traits. In the next stage, the girl must pass through a series of unusual trials. In one test, she is placed in a darkened room with severed animal heads and hideously masked dancing men, while her reaction is observed. In another test, she must correctly identify the items worn by her predecessor (similar to the ritual used in Tibet to choose a new Dalai Lama).

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The Japanese Bar Where Waiters Are Princes, Customers Are Princesses and Everyone Is a Girl

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Japan really does have some of the most interesting bars and restaurants that cater to a large variety of customers with strange interests. We’ve heard of restaurants catering to airsoft lovers, offering great discounts to bald patrons, using monkeys as waiters, and even a bar run by a monk. Now we’ve found out about a cross-dressing Tokyo bar that caters only to a female clientele. The waiters are women too, dressed as dashing young princes, while the customers get to be princesses for the day.

The aptly named ‘Bar Prince’ is located in Tokyo’s Nakano ward. They have a strict women-only policy for the staff as well as patrons. The boyish-looking staff don ruffle-trimmed prince outfits and swept-over hairstyles – they’re all crossdressers. Their mission is simple – to make every woman who walks through their doors feel like a princess. They even have a special name for their customers: ‘o-hime-sama’, which, obviously, means princesses.

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Lack of Toilet Breaks Forces Thai Bus Conductors to Wear Diapers

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If you have access to a clean toilet at your workplace, you’ll probably appreciate it a lot more after reading this. We usually take common things like toilets for granted, without once thinking about how luck we are! Bus conductors in Bangkok, Thailand, don’t even get toilet breaks – they wear adult diapers instead, and are forced to answer nature’s call on the job.

That might sound gross, but it’s actually kind of sad. The story is the same in several parts of Thailand – blue collar workers aren’t even provided with basic amenities. Bus conductors have it the worst – without any work breaks to tend to their physiological needs, they have to wear adult diapers all day long . It’s no laughing matter – the diapers are actually making them ill.

One of those affected is Watcharee Viriya, a conductor who developed urinary tract infection because she spent several hours away from a restroom. So she started wearing diapers, which only made matters worse. “It was uncomfortable when I moved, especially when I urinated inside,” she said.

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South Korean Model Goes under the Knife to Look Like Supermodel Miranda Kerr

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It seems like the Koreans are always in the news for their outrageous plastic surgeries. The latest to get on board is young South Korean model Hong Yuh Reum, who completely changed her face to resemble her idol – supermodel Miranda Kerr.

Reum was recently featured on a Korean TV show called Alien Virus, which features all sorts of unusual guests. She admitted that Kerr was her only inspiration for going under the knife. “It really struck me when I first saw her in a magazine,” said Reum. “She has a baby face but she’s very sexy. I knew I wanted to be like her!”

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Korea’s Most Popular Fermented Fish Dish Smells Like a Public Toilet

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Fermented foods aren’t exactly famous for their alluring smell and flavor, but South Korea’s popular ‘hongeo’ has just got to be the worst of the lot. It’s definitely classified as one of the grossest foods in the world, even for ‘foodie daredevils’ who like trying out weird dishes.

What makes hongeo so bad? Well, for starters, it’s made from a fish called skate, which just like sharks, has no bladder or kidneys. Its digestive waste simply oozes out of its skin in the form of uric acid. That’s why sharks and skates need to be eaten fresh. But the Koreans seem to enjoy defying the norm in this case.

What they do is leave dozens of fresh skates (a cartilage-rich fish that resembles a stingray) stacked up in a walk-in refrigerator. Then they wait, sometimes as long as a month, for the fish to acquire a distinct ‘aroma’, reminiscent of a public urinal. When the smell reaches its worst, the skates are ready to be taken out, sliced up and served raw.

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Philippines Zoo Offers Adrenaline Junkies Snake Massage from Four Giant Pythons

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Everybody loves a good massage, but this snake massage at the Cebu City Zoo in Philippines is really something else. It involves 15 minutes of hardcore action, with four enormous Burmese pythons slithering all over brave participants.

According to zoo manager Giovanni Romarate, the free massages are a part of a new theme that encourages visitors to interact more with the animals. “We are going to change the zoo into an interactive one,” said Giovanni. “Everybody could have an experience and have a chance to hold and pet some of the animals here, including the snake massage that we newly introduced.”

The four snakes – Walter, EJ, Daniel and Michelle – are fed about 10 chickens each before the massage to avoid last minute hunger pangs. Obviously, the zoo authorities don’t want the reptiles snacking on their clients. The participants are given a set of safety instructions as well. According to tourist Ian Maclean, “They tell you not to blow air on the snake, because this is like being pinched on the bum. You can’t shout for help as the snake can feel your vibrations and thinks you’re a prey or a predator, depending on the environment.”

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For Some Strange Reason the Nurses at This Chinese Hospital Dress Like Flight Attendants

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A hospital in eastern China has decided to do away with plain white nurse uniforms. Instead, they have their nurses dressing up like flight attendants. The new initiative began earlier this month at the Lianshui Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital in Huai’an city. Their idea is to glamorize the otherwise thankless profession of nursing, and also provide patients with superior customer service.

Bu Haijuan, head of the hospital’s nursing unit, came up with the idea as a way to remind her nurses to improve their bedside manner. “If you think of all the professions of the world, which one comes to mind when you think of good customer service?” she asked. “It’s airline stewardesses, isn’t it? Nurses learn all sorts of technical skills at college but customer service can be easily overlooked. But flight attendants are specifically trained to have a good attitude and manners.”

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Man Sues Mother for Breaking Promise to Let Him Marry Her 8-Year-Old Daughter When She Came of Age

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A heartbroken Taiwanese man is suing a teenage girl’s mother for breaking a promise she made 11 years ago. The man, a 32-year-old school teacher at the time, had fallen in love with his 8-year-old student. He became so obsessed that he managed to extricate a promise from the child’s mother that he could marry her when she came of age. Believing that the mother would keep her end of the deal, he spent several years supporting the girl’s family financially. And now that she hasn’t, he’s taking the family to court.

Over the years, the man has spent over 900,000 Taiwanese dollars (that’s about US $30,000) on the girl and her family. He completely covered her tuition and living expenses, and took her out on various occasions. He also paid off the mother’s outstanding debts. Some news reports also provided photographs in which the girl and the man appear to be quite close. It looks like he truly considered her to be his future wife (although they looked more like father-and-daughter). But nine years later, when the man checked the 17-year-old’s Facebook profile, he was in for a very rude shock.

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Korean Plastic Surgeries Have Gotten So Extreme Surgeons Are Issuing Special Certificates to Prove People Are Who They Say They Are

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South Korean plastic surgeons are among the best in the world. In fact they’re so good that people from other countries like China and Japan are actually having trouble getting back home.

That’s sounds really crazy, but it’s true. When most people get a nose job or a lip job, they just look like ‘enhanced’ versions of themselves. But people returning from a plastic surgery vacation in South Korea are truly transformed. You’d have to look very closely at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs, and even then, it’s hard to make a connection. So I suppose you couldn’t really blame airport officials for stopping these tourists from returning home.

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