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82-Year-Old Japanese Woman Spends Her Days Making Dumplings and Her Nights Dropping Beats as a Nightclub DJ

82-year-old Sumiko Iwamuro runs a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo, where she spends her days making “gyoza” dumplings, but when the sun sets, she turns into DJ Sumirock, an energetic party-starter dropping beats in popular nightclubs around the Japanese capital.

Sumiko discovered her passion for techno music 12 years ago, while choosing the music at her son’s birthday party, and apparently found it fascinating enough to dedicate a whole year of her life to learning the tricks of DJ-ing at a school for disc jockeys. She then started making her own tracks, most of which consist of techno beats mixed with jazz, French chanson and classical music. These combination proved a hit with Japanese nightclub-goers and 82-year-old DJ Sumirock is one of the most popular disc jockeys in Tokyo.

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Chinese City Installs Automatic Pedestrian Gates to Prevent Jaywalking

Authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan have recently equipped busy intersections with automatic pedestrian gates that only open when the traffic light turns green. The measure is aimed at preventing jaywalking, which has become a serious problem in many urban centers across China.

Chinese officials have been cracking down on jaywalkers for years. Jaywalking in the Asian country, often referred to as “Chinese-style street crossing”, often involves pedestrians completely ignoring traffic signals and crossing busy streets and roads, usually in large groups. This contributes heavily to traffic jams and bottlenecks in busy Chinese cities, and fines haven’t proven as effective a deterrent as authorities had hoped.

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Artificial Intelligence Engineer Builds Himself a Robot Wife

Zheng Jiajia, a 31-year-old artificial intelligence expert from Hangzhou, China, recently made headlines after marrying 1-year-old Yingying, a “female” robot that he built himself.

Zheng graduated from Zhejiang University in 2011 with a master’s degree in artificial intelligence, and spent 3 years working for Chinese tech giant Huawei, before joining Hangzhou’s Dream Town, a base for internet and tech startups, to work on artificial intelligence. Last year, he started working on a smart humanoid robot that would end up becoming his wife.

Named Yingying, the female robot can allegedly say a few simple words, and is capable of recognizing Chinese characters and images. She weighs about 30 kilograms and is modeled according to the young engineer preferences in women.

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Vietnamese Man Hasn’t Clipped His Fingernails in Over 35 Years

Luu Cong Huyen, a 58-year-old man from Yen Giao, in Vietnam’s Nam Dinh province, has been growing his fingernails for over three and a half decades, and takes great care to avoid any activity that might cause him to accidentally break on of his keratinous treasures, even bathing.

If you’re hoping to find a good reason for why anybody would want to grow their fingernails for over 35 years, you’re not going to find one here. For Mr. Huyen it simply started out as a hobby that he never really got over. “Others like raising birds, planting trees or collecting old vehicles… I just like growing long nails,” he says. “Raising nails is more difficult than parenting. I must be very careful in every move to keep my nails.”

Huyen is not exaggerating one bit. His fingernails, the longest of which measures about 55 centimeters, may look thick and sturdy, but he claims they can break very easily, especially when wet. Which is why he avoids even touching water as much as he can, and rarely bathes. When it rains outside, he covers his hands with plastic bags, so that the water doesn’t reach his precious nails.

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Meet FORPHEUS, the World’s First Robot Table Tennis Tutor

An advanced robot developed by Japanese electronics company Omron has recently been certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s first robot table tennis tutor. FORPHEUS (Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized Automation with Sinic Theoretics) used machine learning to asses the skills of a human player, adjust its game accordingly and provide tips to help opponents improve their technique.

Unveiled at the Ceatec electronics show in Japan in 2014, FORPHEUS has come a long way in the last three years, especially after developers made a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Originally designed to showcase Omron’s sensor technology, the table tennis-playing robot has now become a Guinness-certified tutor thanks to machine learning. It analyzes data like the human player’s movement, the speed of the ball and the trajectory to determine his opponent’s skill level with around 90% accuracy. FORPHEUS then uses this information to adjust its play style – slow and and easy for beginners, faster and more unpredictable for advanced players.

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Honk Kong Supermarket Sells Individually-Packaged Strawberries for $22

Looking for an original Valentine’s Day gift? How about a special Kotoka strawberry hand-picked in Japan that comes pre-packed in a special gift box? It’s said to be very tasty, and it only costs $22.

City’super, a supermarket chain in Hong Kong, has come under fire recently for selling what many have called “the most expensive strawberry in the world”. Priced at 168 HK dollars a piece, these Kokota strawberries are apparently hand-picked to ensure that only the finest specimens hit the market, and flown in from Japan. They come individually packaged in plastic-covered paper boxes, complete with a straw nest and Styrofoam “sock”, to emphasize their exclusivity. Photos of the ridiculously expensive “designer fruits” have been doing the rounds on social media in Hong Kong and mainland China, with most people declaring themselves appalled by the display of decadence.

The supermarket, which advertises itself as a “mega lifestyle specialty store”, has responded to the negative feedback by saying that the retail prices of its products are based on a number of factors, including purchase price, transport costs, market conditions and product exclusivity. City’super representatives also added that the supermarket was merely trying to offer “more choices of premium fresh produce to Hong Kong customers”, and that the Kotoka strawberries were intended as special Valentine’s Day Gifts. After all, who doesn’t find a $22 strawberry romantic.

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Indonesian Mayor Shuts Down Luxury Cinema Because Bed Seats Promoted Adultery

Indonesian cinema chain CGV has been forced to shut down their Velvet Class venue in the city of Palembang because the ultra-comfortable seats made local authorities uncomfortable.

CGV Velvet Class cinemas are awesome! Instead of regular seats, or even reclining ones, they feature leather beds complete with pillows and blankets, for a ridiculously comfortable movie experience. They have been operating in Jakarta and around Indonesia for years now, with no problems, but recently a deputy mayor South Sumatran capital of Palembang decided that switching regular movie theater seats with comfortable beds was a very a bad idea.

Deputy mayor Fitrianti Agustinda visited the CGV Velvet Class cinema in Palembang, last week, after reportedly receiving complaints about it from the public. The local official was apparently scandalized upon seeing the beds, arguing that they could promote adultery and sexual misconduct.

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New Japanese Gym Lets You Work Out with a Cute Maid

Maid cafes have been a big part of Japanese pop culture for a while now, but the maid phenomenon is transitioning into other areas as well. For example, a new gym near Tokyo’s famous Akihabara district offers patrons the chance to work out while assisted by beautiful trainers wearing maid costumes.

Can you imagine pumping some iron with a cute maid spotting you and cheering you on? Well, apparently a lot of Japanese guys can and they’re loving the idea. So much so that they’ve helped successfully crowdfund the MID GYM project thought up by a couple of young Japanese entrepreneurs. With more than a month to go to the deadline, the campaign to make the unique maid gym a reality has already met its 700,000 yen goal, on Japanese crowdfunding site CampFire. It’s not clear exactly when the Mid Gym will open its gates, but it’s definitely coming soon.

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Vladimir Putin Calendars Are Very Big in Japan

You probably didn’t even know that a government-approved Vladimir Putin calendar actually existed, but even more surprising is the fact that it is incredibly popular in Japan, where hundreds of thousands of copies have been snatched up by fans of the Russian president, in the last few months.

The official 2017 Vladimir Putin Calendar is produced by a St. Petersburg company called Mednyi Vsadnik, with authorization from the Russian government. It features a manly photo of Putin for each month of the year, along with some of his most popular quotes. The calendar is written in eight languages, including English, and is obviously very popular in Russia. But while the calendar’s domestic success was to be expected, its massive popularity in Japan was certainly not.

Japanese chain franchise store Loft has been exclusively selling the 2017 Putin calendar since August last year, for around 90 cents apiece. News of the calendar being available at Loft stores apparently spread like wildfire on social media, with many fans of the Russian president scrambling to buy one for themselves or their friends. By October 2016, the Vladimir Putin Calendar, which comes in two sizes, was the the third and fourth most sold item out of some 3,500 different calendars.

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

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

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

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

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

‘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

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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