Beware the Shadows, Ninja Day Is Coming!

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If you happen to be in Japan this Sunday, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot more ninjas than usual. That’s because February 22nd is National Ninja Day in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Although not yet an official holiday, Ninja Day has been getting a lot of media attention in Japan, ever since the cities of Iga and Koka started organizing ninja-themed events to boost tourism. Both historical ninja strongholds, they feature a variety of themed attractions, like ninja villages and schools, but authorities go all out on Ninja Day, to really bring out the spirit of the skilled assassins that once thrived there.

Ninja-Day

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Humane Bullfighting in Costa Rica – No one Can Hurt the Bull but the Bull Can Kill Anyone

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While the bullfights of Spain and Mexico generally don’t end well for the bull, Costa Ricans prefer to do things differently. Since cattle are revered as a source of income for thousands of farming families in the nation, they don’t consider it practical to kill bulls for sport. Although bullfights are a main event at Zapote – the annual Costa Rican bull festival – the bulls always leave the arena unscathed.

Corridas de toros (bullfights) are held all through the year in Costa Rica, but Zapote’s is considered to be the country’s grandest event. At the end of each year, cattle farmers from all over the nation haul their bulls and gather at the capital, for the much-awaited celebration. And instead of glorifying man’s power over the beast, the bullfights during Zapote celebrate bulls. The animals are never to be killed, only dodged.

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This College of Wizardry in Poland is as Close to Hogwarts as You’ll Ever Get

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The College of Wizardry, a recent event organised by Denmark’s Rollespils Fabrikken and Poland’s LARPing communities, gave Potterheads the opportunity to experience the world of Harry Potter by actually being a part of it. This, they claimed, was a whole lot more fulfilling and exciting than visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, in Orlando.

Through the event, they brought Potterheads from 11 different countries together to celebrate their love of the wizarding world. Close to 200 live-action role players (LARPers) participated in the first session of the fictional Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry – it was the largest and most intricate J.K. Rowling-themed LARP adventure in history. The LARPers played the role of teachers, students and other characters from Hogwarts.

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Rototiller Racing – A Rural Motorsport Like No Other

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Tilling a field is hard work, so it’s hard to believe that there are people who actually do it for sport. However, rototiller racing is actually a thing!  The world championship is held every year during the PurpleHull Pea festival in Emerson, Arkansas, where the world’s fastest garden tillers get together to compete for the highly coveted $500 prize.

“There is simply no other event like it,” the PurpleHull website declares. “Unique among motorsports, we like to say it is the highlight of the tiller racing season. ‘Course, to the best of our knowledge, our one-day event is the tiller racing season. Souped-up garden tillers from near and far come to compete in the world’s premier tiller racing event.”

The race begins with one competitor (a.k.a tiller pilot) per lane (200-feet-long), with the referees waiting at the finish line with their eyes on stopwatches. When the starter waves the flag, the racers are off, kicking up a huge cloud of dirt as they go. The fastest tiller is declared the winner.

rototiller-racing

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This Artist Is Literally Looking for a Needle in a Haystack

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Italian performance artist Sven Sachsalber is basing his latest work on an age old figure of speech. He’s going spend two whole days looking for a needle in a haystack. Well, people have been talking about it for so long, I say it’s about time someone actually gave it a try!

For two days this week – Thursday and Friday – 27-year-old Sven will be combing a stack of hay in search of that elusive pre-inserted needle, at Palais de Tokyo, a contemporary art gallery in Paris.

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Woodkopf – The Wacky Czech Sport You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before

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Woodkopf is a crazy new sport invented in the Czech Republic that’s been gaining quite a lot of national media attention lately. The popular sport involves a pair of opponents wearing two-meter wooden boards on their heads and trying to knock the other’s board down without dropping their own. As strange as it sounds, a rousing match of Woodkopf can be quite exciting to watch.

The wacky sport can be traced back to July of 1992, when it was practiced during a cultural festival of art school graduates in Prague. Woodkopf (which literally translates to ‘wooden head’) is popular partly due to the fact that the game is simple, inexpensive and requires no complex equipment, but also because it never fails to supply a good dose of humor.

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Man Trains for 14 Years to Set World Record for Most Consecutive Pinky Pull-Ups

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Indian weightlifting champion Maibam Itomba Meitei probably has the strongest pinky fingers in the world. The 26-year-old from Imphal city in the state of Manipur recently set the Guinness World Record for the most number of ‘pinky pull ups’ – he used his little fingers to pull his chin above the bar 16 consecutive times in 30 seconds.

Maibam broke the world record previously set by an American weight lifter, who was able to do only 16 pull ups in one minute. He completed the stunning feat quite comfortably during an event organised at the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy. The audience, consisting of several local politicians, was left speechless by Maibam’s display of sheer strength.

A specially designed iron bar was used for the performance – it had two small hooks for Maibam to insert his two little fingers. Once he laced his pinkies through the hooks, he was able to lift his body (weighing 51 kilograms) up with tremendous ease, bringing his chin all the way over to the bar.

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Theatrical Groups Serve Shakespeare with a Twist – The Stage is a Bar and All the Actors Are Drunk

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Alcohol-fueled productions of Shakespeare’s plays are the latest trend among theater circles in New York and other American cities. Several theatrical groups are experimenting with boozy versions of some of the brilliant playwright’s greatest works – with amazing results! Audiences seem to love watching drunk actors bungling lines at their favorite bars and pubs.

The Drunk Shakespeare Society is one of the groups at the forefront of the movement. Founded by Scott Griffin in New York, the team of actors perform Shakespeare’s plays while drunk, weaving improv comedy into the text. They proudly describe themselves as a ‘company of professional drinkers with a serious Shakespeare problem’. They routinely perform at various bars across the city, and they’re currently putting on a limited engagement at Quinn’s Bar & Grill near Times Square. Anarchy rules at these performances, as they invite the audience to drink along with them.

Griffin believes that audiences are drawn to the spontaneity of the act – these are anything-can-happen performances that simply cannot be replicated. “You can see so many amazing things YouTube and digital entertainment. What’s the point of going out to see live performance?” he asked. “You have to do things people can’t get at home.”

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Hundreds of Treasure Hunters Hit English Beach After Artist Claims to Have Buried Gold Bars in the Sand

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Late last month, German artist Michael Sailstorfer made a surprising announcement –  he said that he had buried 24-carat gold bars on the Outer Harbor beach in the town of Folkestone, in South East England, and that it was ‘finders-keepers’. In the wake of this unusual news, hundreds of people have been thronging the beach, hoping to uncover at least a small portion of the hidden fortune.

The eccentric artist said that the project was his contribution to the town’s art festival, The Folkestone Triennial, which began last Saturday. He named the installation ‘Folkestone Digs’, and described it as a unique project to get people involved in art. The event was funded by Bristol-based designers ‘Situations’.

As a part of the installation, Sailstorfer hid 30 gold bars of varying sizes – 10g and 20g – in the sands of Outer Harbor. It might not sound like much, but each bar could be worth hundreds of dollars, and people get to keep everything they find. Sailstorfer encouraged people to start their search a couple of days before the festival actually started. As expected, hundreds of diggers turned up at the beach with buckets and spades, hoping to strike gold.

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Try Before You Die – Macabre Festival Lets Japanese Try Out Coffins and Funeral Makeup

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Trying out a coffin while you’re still alive can be a rather unnerving experience. But the Japanese seem to love it!  They even have a creepy ‘try-before-you-die’ festival where people can lay down in coffins, try out funeral garments and even get a morbid makeover.

Called ‘Shukatsu Festa’, the unique event has become very popular in recent years. In fact the whole ‘shukatsu’ trend, which translates as preparing for one’s end, has become really big in Japan. Apparently, people no longer think it’s bad luck to prepare for their death. Participants can choose their funeral outfit, put it on, slip into the flower-filled casket they like and have a picture taken. That way, they get to know exactly what they’ll look like on the day of their funeral. They can even have funeral make-up applied on their faces for a deathly pallor. They can also choose to be covered with white blankets have have the attendants softly close the lid.

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Indian Priests Smash Coconuts on Devotees’ Heads in Bizarre Good Luck Ritual

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Every year, thousands of devotees travel to a remote village in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu to put themselves through a gruesome ritual that they hope will bring them good health and success. Believe it or not, men, women and even children willingly permit priests to smash hard coconuts on their skulls!

Breaking coconuts on a sacred stone as an offering to the deity is a common practice in South Indian temples. But breaking them on one’s own head is quite rare, and viewed as an extreme display of devotion. Several devotees squat on the floor in a line, waiting patiently as the temple priests approach with a sack of coconuts. One priest holds the heads firmly, while the other one brings down the coconuts without hesitation. The whole process is completed in a matter of minutes.

Some devotees can be seen wincing in pain as the coconuts come crashing on to their heads. Some massage their heads, while others promptly collect the broken pieces as holy offerings. Surprisingly, there are a few who don’t flinch at all – these people are often in a deep meditative state of prayer. Nonetheless, medical staff are always present to tend to serious injuries.

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Did You Know Japan Has a Quirky Shrine Dedicated to Curing Hemorrhoids?

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Weird shrines are not uncommon in Japan. In the past we reported about Karube Shrine, where people go to worship breasts, and the Shinto shrines where they bury broken needles in tofu. But the weirdest one we found so far has to be the Kunigami Shrine, in Tochigi Prefecture, that allegedly prevents and cures hemorrhoids.

So how does a shrine manage to cure a painful medical condition? Well, our guess is as good as yours. All we know is that according to an ancient tradition, people who wash their backsides at a nearby river and eat egg offerings are completely cured of hemorrhoids.

hemorrhoid-shrine

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Quirky Paper Bag Speed Dating Craze Lets Personality Take Center Stage

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While most people rely heavily on looks while speed dating, this new trend in London is forcing people to do the exact opposite – choose by personality. ‘Paper Bag Speed Dating’ doesn’t allow you to see the face of the person you’re talking with. It’s basically a looks-free hookup party, where participants place a paper bag over their head. You still get to make quick decisions just like with regular speed dating, but the deciding factor is personality, not physical appearance.

Paper Bag Speed Dating is the brainchild of the people behind a new London-based dating app called LoveFlutter. They organised the event as a part of their #SayNoToShallow campaign. “Could you get a date using just your personality?” they asked, challenging people to attend their paper bag dating event. 30 women and 30 men signed up. They were given a paper bag each and were asked to personalize them using various designs – they could add quirky personal messages to serve as conversation starters. Later, they had to wear the bags on their heads. Some people did beautiful drawings, while others wrote stuff like “I used to be a spy,” or “Does my head look big in this?” paper-bag-speed-dating ..

The Great Horror Campout – A Real-Life Slasher Movie Experience

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 The Great Horror Campout is a camping experience unlike any other. It’s basically the camping trip of your nightmares packed into a single night of spine-chilling fun, and it’s definitely not for the feint of heart

The horror campout is the latest project from Ten Thirty One Productions, the companythat previously created The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. According to their official website, “The Great Horror Campout is a 12-hour overnight interactive horror camping adventure.

The scary stuff begins at 8 pm and continues uninterrupted until 8 am the next day. During this time, campers are welcome to sleep, but they might experience ‘erratic interruptions’. The event comes with a disclaimer: “During Great Horror Campout, you may be forcibly handled, moved, bound, hooded, chained and subjected to simulated torture by our actors. You may witness strong verbal content, which may be considered offensive in nature. The content is part of the experience and is presented for entertainment purposes only.”

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The Brutal Yet Refined Art of Boat Jousting

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In Southern France, the medieval art of jousting is still practiced by modern knights, only with a big twist – they use no horses and face each other on water The sport is officially called Water Jousting or Marine Jousting and although the practice can be traced back to the ancient Egyptian civilization (as far back as 2300 BC), the French have embraced it as their own since the Middle Ages. Back then, water jousting tournaments were staged for a royal audience at local festivals. The sport is still taken seriously today, and is played on rivers and canals all over France.

The jousters fight as they balance themselves on long wooden boats, powered by 8 to 10 rowers and a helmsman. A wooden platform, called tintaine, extends off the boat about three meters above the water. The jousters stand on this platform at the back of the boat, while carrying a 28-inch wooden shield and a 9-foot lance. The liveries worn by the rival boats and teams are always red and blue – blue for bachelors and red for the married. At the stern of each bark, an oboist and a drummer sporting flat-brimmed straw hats play medieval tunes that help the oarsmen stay synchronized.

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