The Wacky Wooden Tub Race of Ito City

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Every year, since 1956, the Japanese city of Ito has hosted the wooden tub race on Matsukawa River, a fun event that draws competitors and spectators from all around the world.

According to the story, the Japanese women of Ito used wooden tubs and wash boards to clean their laundry at Matsukawa River. When these tools became obsolete, and were about to be replaced by modern washing machines, the people of Ito decided to hang on to their tradition, by starting a tub race along the river. The first wooden tub race was held in 1956, and it’s been organized yearly since then.

Hundreds of people gather on the banks of Matsukawa River, for one of the wackiest competitions in the world. Contestants have to steer the 1 meter in diameter, 30 cm deep, oval-shaped tubs along the 400-meter course, using oars or giant wooden spoons. It sound easy enough, but out-paddling the other contestants without falling out of the tub, is harder that you think.

Another cool fact about the tub race of Ito City is the contestants usually dress up in themed costumes, mostly as geishas and samurai

 

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Chinese Students Set New Ball Juggling Record

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Over 1,000 students from Yanbian University, Northeastern China, have set a new world record for juggling a football, with their feet, of course.

The record breaking event, called “Joy of football, top of the world”, took place on the football stadium of Yanbian University. A total of 1,209 people, all dressed in red t-shirts, managed to juggle a football on their feet, for 10 seconds, at the same time, thus setting a new Guinness record. The previous ball-juggling record was set on July 13, 2009, by 792 participants.

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The Mysterious Scissors Dancers of Peru

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Performed in the central and southern highlands of Peru, the Scissors Dance is a traditional event that tests the physical and spiritual strength of the participants.

Westerners usually regard “La Danza de las Tijeras” as a physical test where two men have to prove their dexterity and resistance to pain, but to the people of the Andes, this dance is a sacred ritual. The dancers, called danzaq, perform difficult stunts and leaps, called atipanakuy, accompanied by the music of a violin, a harp and the sound of the scissors they each hold in their hands. So much about not playing with scissors, right?

The origin of the danzaq and their Scissors Dance is shrouded in mystery, but some anthropologists believe they appeared in 1524, during the rebellion against Spanish colonial rule. According to old Spanish chronicles, Huancas (pre-Hispanic deities) possessed the bodies of indigenous young men, allowing them to perform an impossible-looking dance signaling the return of the Old Gods to vanquish the Christian God of the Spanish. As we all know, that didn’t happen, but the tradition of the Scissors Dance was kept alive by the Andean people.

It’s almost impossible to believe someone can accomplish this kind of acrobatic moves, while handling a pair of scissors made out of two individual sheets of metal, 25 cm each, but the danzaq do much more. To show spiritual superiority, they go through a series of challenges that include sticking sharp objects through their bodies, eating glass or walking on fire. The Scissors Dance is sometimes performed continuously for hours, until one of the competitors proves his superiority.

The best Scissors Dances can be witnessed in Ayacucho, Apurimac, Arequipa, Huancavelica and Lima.

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Shaolin Monk Performs Famous Kung-Fu Flight on Water

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Shi Liliang, a monk from the Southern Shaolin Temple in Quanzhou, has performed the popular kung-fu walk on water.

If you’re a fan of old Chinese kung-fu movies (I know I am), than you must have seen the kung-fu flight on water at least once. A kung-fu master would cross vast stretches of water by making long leaps and barely touching the surface of the water with the tip of their feet. It seemed impossible, and it actually is, but that didn’t stop a Shaolin monk from trying it in real life.

Shi Liliang has been practicing his flight on water for years, and last year he even set a record for the longest walk on water. Using a number of thin planks, loosely tied together, Shi Liliang beat his own record and moved 28.7 meters by quickly running on his toes. Unlike what you see in the movies, he eventually ended up in the water.

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Lithuanian Village Holds Goat Beauty Contest

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Ramygala, a Lithuanian village 150 kilometers from the capital Vilnius, hosted a weird beauty contest to crown the most beautiful goat.

On July 5th, the inhabitants of Ramygala gathered on the outskirts of the village to watch the traditional goat beauty contest held to commemorate the 640th anniversary of the village, which is this year’s capital of Lithuanian culture.

The goat has been the symbol of Ramygala ever since medieval times, and it’s still valued by the locals. A total of 13 goats entered the beauty contest, but only one of them claimed the title of “most beautiful goat in Ramygala”. Grazyolyte, a good-looking white goat, was crowned the winner of the event and made his owner proud.

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Guy Gets Pierced 1,091 Times, Sets World Record

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Aryan Hopkins, a piercing enthusiast from Roseville, California, has set a new world record for the highest number of piercings in one session.

Before you start calling this guy all sorts of things, you should know Aryan Hopkins made this bizarre attempt to raise money for the Shriners Hospital for Children, in Northern California. You have to respect that, if nothing else.

On Saturday, June 26, at the Abstract Ink Tattoo parlor, which Hopkins owns with his wife, piercing enthusiasts as well as members of the local media gathered to witness an attempt to break the highest number of piercings with an 18-gauge needle, in one sitting. The old record stood at 900, and after going through a lot of pain, Aryan Hopkins managed to push the number to 1,091.

That’s definitely an impressive figure, but Hopkins set out to reach 2,000 piercings, but the excruciating pain caused him to start shaking and losing feeling in his hands and arms.

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The Oxford Cardboard Boat Race 2010

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People brought their wacky home-made cardboard boats for the 22nd edition of the Cardboard Boat Race, on the Trend Avon river, in Oxford.

The Oxford Cardboard Boat Race is a family friendly event, organized by a group of local volunteers, known as “Boat Bums International” , with proceedings going to the Maryland Special Olympics fund. As you may have guessed, the challenge of this particular race is to build a human-powered boat out of corrugated cardboard capable of staying afloat long enough to finish the course.

But, with cardboard being so sensitive to water and all, many of the funny looking boats sink moments after they’ve touched water, but seeing boats sink is actually one of the highlights of the Cardboard Boat Race.

This year’s race took place on June 26th and, like every year, drew quite a crowd of eager paddlers, just waiting for an excuse to get away from the city on a weekend. Kids had the most fun, although adults didn’t shy away from proving their rowing skills on the 600-yard course. The entrance fee was $25 if you brought your home-built boat, and $100 for a rented one. Either way, the fun was guaranteed.

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The Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival

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Dating back to the year 1357, the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival is the oldest wrestling event in the world, attracting oiled up wrestlers from all over Turkey, and beyond.

Oil wrestling is one of Turkey’s most popular sports, and regarded by many as the manliest sport on Earth, so it’s no wonder over 1,500 oiled up Turks gather, every year, on a green field near Edirne, for a seven day event that decides the best oil wrestler in the land.

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Beauty Mud Cup 2010 Held in China

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With the eyes of the entire world on the Football World Cup, in South Africa, local authorities from Changsha, China had to come up with something better, yet related to current events.

And what’s better than football? Mud football, played by barely dressed gorgeous models, of course. So they set up a small football pitch, filled it with mud, brought in  models from various Chinese cities, and got the Beauty Mud Cup 2010 under way. In the photos below, teams from Hunan and Hubei go head to head, in one of the first matches of the competition. I don’t know the score, and neither do most of the male spectators who resumed to roars and cheers every time any of the girls kicked the ball through the mud.

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China Hosts World’s First Robot Olympics

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The World’s first International Humanoid Robots Olympic Games kicked off on June 21, in China’s Harbin’s Institute of Technology.

Two years after hosting a memorable edition of the human Olympic Games, China becomes the first country to host an Olympics dedicated to humanoid robots. Nineteen teams, from China, United States, Japan, South Korea or Germany have brought their best robots to compete in this historic three-day event.

To enter the competition, robots had to be less than 60 cm long, and have a human shape, with a head, two arms and two legs. Just like in the real Olympic Games, the sporty robots had to compete in multiple challenges, 24 to be exact, ranging from boxing, to weight-lifting, dancing, or sprint. But there are also some unusual domestic events, like cleaning or medical care.

The sprinting contest took place on the first day, with the winner running a distance of five meters in 20 seconds flat. Not bad for a small robot, I think. Check out the video at the bottom, to see these little guys sweating silicone at the Robot Olympic Games.

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Leaf Eaters Compete in Nettle Eating Championships

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Around 1,500 people showed up at the Bottle Inn pub, in Marshwood, Dorset, to see 61 contestants compete in the 2010 edition of the annual Nettle Eating World Championships.

The history of this bizarre eating competition can be traced back to the mid 1980s, when local farmers started the ‘Longest Stinging Nettle’ competition, to see who could grow the longest stem of nettles. Things went along just fine, until 1989, when Alex Williams presented a 15ft 6inches-long nettle, and claimed that if anyone could find a stem longer than his, he would it, As luck would have it, an American actually found a 16ft-long nettle, and Mr. Williams kept his word. From there on in, the competition evolved into the competitive eating challenge we now know as the Nettle Eating World Championships.

On June 19th, competitors were each served two-feet-long stinging nettle stalks, from which they had to pluck and eat the leaves. After an hour of eating, the bare stalks were measured and contestants who ate the most nettles, named winners.

In the men’s competition, first time participant Sam Cunningham managed to eat a whopping 74ft of stinging nettles, and claimed the title of king of the 2010 Nettle Eating World Championships. In the women’s contest, Laura Revell managed to consume 40ft of nettle, and win the title of champion.

Photos by REUTERS/Chris Helgren via Daylife

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Say Good-Bye to Austin’s Cathedral of Junk

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The 60 tons of junk that made up the awesome Cathedral of Junk, in Austin, Texas, are probably on their way to the recycling plant right now, leaving us with just photos and memories of the famous roadside attraction.

Vince Hannemann began building the Cathedral of Junk in 1988, just because he thought it would be cool. There’s was no real purpose behind it, just a nice thing to build in an Austin backyard. He was in his mid twenties when he started, and he kept adding do it over the years, until it grew into a 60-ton pile of junk. But it wasn’t really junk, it was just made of it. In reality, the Cathedral of Junk had long become one of the cities most popular attractions. Tourists were coming over just to give Vince something new to add to his masterpiece, but, sadly, that won’t be happening anymore…

After a safety complaint, fro one of his neighbors, real estate inspectors showed up at Vince Hannemann’s door, saying he needed to get a permit, if he wanted to keep his 33-f00t-tall cathedral, made of everything from bicycle wheels to old urinals, computers and lawnmowers. he tried to comply, and together with a team of volunteers, began altering the cathedral to meet required standards. But looking at his beloved creation being reduced to something he didn’t recognize anymore, Vince decided to tear it down. “It already isn’t the Cathedral. It might best be described as Junkhenge,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m not willing to get a permit for the little that is left.”

According to many, this was the work of real estate firms, who did everything they could to bring down the Cathedral of Junk. It’s a sad time for the Austin art world…

 

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Incredible Flower Carpets at the Genzano Flower Festival 2010

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If you’re a flower enthusiast, and you happen to be in Rome, in the second week of June, you just have to visit the small town of Genzano, for its world famous Infiorata.

The Genzano Infiorata is a flower festival that can be traced back to 1778. Every year, local artists cover an entire street (Via Belardi) with intricate flower carpets, inspired by famous artworks, religious paintings or geometrical shapes. The flower carpets are made by talented local artists who have to stick to a previously agreed upon theme, like ‘The Colors of Michelangelo’ or ‘The Designs of Bernini’.

The Infiorata of Genzano begins with the harvesting of millions of flowers, 2-3 days before the event. They are stored fresh, in caves around Genzano, while the artists draw their masterpieces on the pavement of Via Belardi, for the Saturday parade.

Preceded by a ‘mini Infiorata’, where children from local schools create the flower carpets, the Infiorata ends on the Monday of the third week of June, when children are allowed to destroy the colorful artworks, by playing on them.

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Soccer World Cup 2010 Held Behind Bars

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World Cup 2010 Behind Bars is a soccer competition, held in Bangkok’s Klong Prem Central Prison, between 18 seven-player teams, made-up of inmates.

On June 10, the opening match, between Mexico and South Africa, was played on a muddy soccer pitch, inside the Thai prison, under the watchful eyes of dozen guards. It ended in a 1-1 draw, but the prisoners on the sidelines enjoyed every minute of the rare spectacle. They cheered and banged cow bells for the entire match, showing their support for the teams.

The World Cup Behind Bars was also held in 2002 and 2006 and this year it features 18 seven-player teams, from 45 different countries, picked from the prison’s 1,000 inmates population. They can each represent whatever nation they want, even if it’s not their own, and free spots are taken by Thai prisoners.

The winners of the World Cup Behind Bars 2010 will receive a replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy.

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Germany Hosts European Mud Olympics 2010

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Over 500 contestants, from all over Europe, gathered at the Brunsbüttel dike, near Hamburg, Germany, for the 7th edition of the Mud Olympics, on June 6.

The event is unique on the North Sea coast, and features different wacky games, like mud football, mud volleyball, tug of war, or the eel relay race, all of which involved getting covered in mud, of course. And since playing in mud is apparently one of the most fun activities known to man, the 2010 European Mud Olympics drew in contestants from Italy, Switzerland, Belgium or Denmark, all looking to have a good time.

Prizes were awarded for winning the wacky events, as well as for the best team name, best team fans, or the funniest competing team. The good thing is participants to the Mud Olympics weren’t only fighting for themselves, but also for a good cause: the proceedings, over 100,000 euro, will be donated to the Schleswig-Holstein Cancer Society.

via Spiegel.de

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