Japan’s Hardcore Minimalists Live in Virtually Empty Homes

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The minimalist lifestyle trend has been gaining popularity in the Western world for a while now, but we’re still far from the hardcore minimalism Zen-loving Japanese have adopted in their quest to achieve a stress-free life.

Space has always been an issue in crowded Japanese cities, so from that point of view it makes sense that people try to keep their homes junk free, but some are taking minimalism to such an extreme that they are virtually living in empty houses surrounded by only the barest of necessities. For them, minimalism is not just about de-cluttering their living space, but also about evaluating what material possessions truly bring to their lives and focusing on the things that they consider important. To Japan’s hardcore minimalists, less is more in every sense that actually matters.

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Would You Spend $60 on a Pair of Underwear That Has Been Hung in Hawaiian Air for Two Days?

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It’s a dumb question, I know, but that’s exactly what Japanese company Seiren is trying to find out with its limited-edition of Deoest cotton underwear called Hawaiian Breeze. Apparently, each pair of boxer briefs were hung on a clothesline in the U.S. island state for 48 hours before being packaged in a sealed glass container.

To promote its Deoest line of anti-odor men’s underwear, Japanese company Seiren has taken the effort of hanging 100 pairs of the new boxer briefs on a giant clothesline in Hawaii, where they were caressed by the gentle tropical breeze for two full days before being taken down and stuffed into individual glass containers. I get the idea – fresh air and anti-odor underwear kind of make sense together, so I guess it works for promotional purposes. What I can’t wrap my head around is why they thought selling these 100 pairs of Deoest Hawaiian Breeze for $60 was a good idea. Designers briefs from established brands like Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren usually cost around $30, so why would anyone pay double that? Because they were exposed to Hawaiian air, or because they come in glass jar?

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Japanese Boy Missing for Three Days After Parents Left Him in Woods as Punishment

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Rescue teams have been scouring the thick woods of northern Hokkaido, Japan, for the past three days in search of a young boy who had been abandoned there by his parents, as punishment for being naughty.

7-year-old Yamato Tano-oka was first reported missing on Saturday, when his parents alerted the police saying that he had become separated while they were out walking through the forest, looking for wild vegetables. However, a day later, during questioning, one of the parents admitted that Yamato had been left alone in the bear-infested woods on purpose, as a form of punishment for misbehaving. Although the police has yet to confirm the exact reasons for this punishment, local media reports that he had been throwing rocks at passing cars and people.

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Coca Cola Japan Launches “Sleep Water” It Claims Could Help You Sleep Better

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Capitalizing on the Japanese work culture that makes insomniacs of employees,  Coca Cola Japan has recently released a new beverage that the company claims can help people get a better night’s sleep. Aptly named ‘Glaceau Sleep Water’, the drink is perfect for those who have trouble nodding off every night and are desperate to experience deep, uninterrupted sleep.

Sleep Water is apparently enriched with a special ingredient called L-Theanine, an amino acid that is believed to decrease anxiety and stress while improving relaxation. Theoretically, this should result in better quality sleep, so it should work even for people who don’t have time for a full eight hours of slumber. The company claims that only a few hours of Sleep Water-induced rest are more than enough to feel rejuvenated the next morning.

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Japanese Home Gardening Pod Lets You Grow Vegetables Indoor

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Many of us living in tiny apartments can only dream about growing vegetables in our own backyards, but thanks to Foop, an ingenious home gardening pod developed by Japanese company C’estec, we can now grow veggies in the comfort of our own home.

Foop (a combination of the words ‘food’ and ‘people’) is a small-size hydroponic agriculture kit that allows users to grow plants in water instead of soil. Its designers claim that you can use Foop to grow small crops of popular vegetables, including lettuce, arugula, basil, parsley or shiso, all of which can be raised from seeds and will develop faster than non-hydroponic plants.

The elegantly-designed wooden frame of the Foop is is produced by craftsmen from Hida, in Gifu Prefecture, one of Japan’s most famous woodworking regions, but the device also comes with a clear acrylic cover that lets you check the progress of your crops. There are no buttons or switches visible on the Foop, because all the settings – temperature, humidity, light, water levels, etc. – are done via a smartphone app. The Foop will also regularly send notifications regarding the state of your indoor garden and alert you when the crops are ready to be harvested.

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Hikaru Dorodango – The Delicate Japanese Art of Making Perfect Shiny Spheres Out of Dirt

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Hikaru Dorodango, which translates to ‘shiny dumpling’, is a relaxing Japanese art that involves crafting shiny spheres from dirt. That might sound super simple, but it actually takes years to perfect and several hours to manipulate the dirt. It’s all worth it in the end though, because, in the hands of a true master, the end results are nothing short of mind-blowing.

To make a shiny Dorodango, you start by packing mud into your hand and squeezing out all the moisture. You then press into into the shape of a sphere and spend the next two hours rubbing on more layers of increasingly finer dry dirt. Once this is complete, you pack the dumpling in a plastic bag for three or four hours and later polish it with a cloth and varnish until it shines.

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World’s First Hedgehog Cafe Opens in Japan

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Tokyo is now home to the world’s first hedgehog cafe, the latest in a long list of animal-themed establishments in the city. Located in the Roppongi entertainment district, the cafe is named ‘Harry’ – a play on the Japanese word for hedgehog.

Hedgehogs aren’t native to Japan, but they’ve long since been sold as pets in the nation that’s crazy for all things cute. At Harry, 1,000 yen ($9) can buy animal lovers an hour in the company of the prickly yet adorable creatures. The cafe is home to 20 to 30 friendly hedgehogs of different breeds that you can spend time with and even take home. A chalk-written blackboard lists all the available hedgehog breeds available for purchase and their prices by sex. So if customers find it hard to part with the adorable rodents once their hour is up, they have the option to give them a forever home.

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Japanese Cafe Creates Delicious-Looking Salad Cakes to Make Dieting Less Depressing

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Japanese food stylist Mitsuki Moriyasu is on a mission to prove that salads can look much better than they taste. Last year, she introduced the world to the concept of the ‘Vegiedeco Salad’, an exquisite preparation of vegetables made in the likeness of a cake. The hybrid dish was initially featured on the menu of a bistro in Nagoya, but it got so popular that it is now being exclusively showcased at a brand new cafe in the city.

The savory dish consists of colorful layers of vegetables, sandwiched between two soybean-flour sponge and covered in a tofu or cream cheese frosting blended with vegetables for natural coloring. The end result is a sinful-looking salad-cake that is not just a visual treat but also packs a nutritious punch. Containing very little to no sugar, each salad also includes a good amount of roots and peels for fiber.

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Caring Husband Creates Giant Scented Flower Garden to Make His Blind Wife Smile Again

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Over 7,000 people visit this beautiful phlox moss garden in Shintomi Town, Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture on any given day in the months of March and April, drawn both by the beauty of this scented purple carpet and the touching story behind its very existence.

The story of this popular tourist spot can be traced back to 1956, when Mr. and Mrs. Kuroki, a newlywed couple, purchased a plot of land in Shintomi. They built a house and a dairy farm on it and worked hard for several years, tending to a herd of 60 cows. They hoped to take a trip around Japan when they eventually retired, but things didn’t quite turn out as they had planned.

At age 52, after 30 years of marriage, Mrs. Kuroki developed an eye condition and went blind a week later. Devastated at the prospect of living with a disability, the poor woman grew depressed and shut herself from the world, choosing a life of seclusion. Mr. Kuroki was saddened to see his normally cheerful wife in so much pain. Because she couldn’t travel across Japan as they had always planned, he wanted to find a way to bring the whole of Japan to her.

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This Japanese Restaurant Serves the World’s Most Outrageous Dishes

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Even if you’re into weird foods and like trying new and exciting things, you’ll still probably find the menu at this Japanese restaurant too hardcore. With dishes like cooked crocodile feet, grilled piranha and battered, deep-fried whole salamander, this place makes frog legs seem like baby food.

Located in Yokohama’s Noge district, Chinju-ya (rare meat monger) Restaurant is certainly not for the faint-hearted. In the six years he has been running the place, chef Fukuoka has taken pride in serving customers the rarest and most unusual meats from across the world. using his international connections, he can apparently get his hands on anything from axolotls and isopods to black scorpions and even camel meat. Their twitter feed [email protected]_chinjuya’ is frequently updated with their latest and greatest imports.

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Meet Tanu, the Japanese Raccoon Dog Taking the Internet by Storm

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The internet is going crazy over photographs of Tanu, an adorable dog that belongs to a canine species called tanuki, also known as ‘Japanese raccoon dog’. Most Westerners mistake the tanuki for a raccoon or badger, but it is in fact a canine breed.

Tanu became an internet celebrity after his owner, Twitter user @chibi_tori, started posting photographs of him. The pictures, which mostly show Tanu eating or sleeping next to a warm stove, were thousands of times over before Buzzfeed picked up the story. Chibi_tori told the popular entertainment website that he found the dog abandoned in June last year and has been raising it as a pet ever since.

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Japanese Taxi Drivers Report ‘Ghost Passengers’ in Area Hit by 2011 Tsunami

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In a chilling turn of events, some taxi drivers in Japan are claiming to have picked up ‘ghost passengers’ in the aftermath of the tsunami that devastated the nation in March 2011. As many as seven of the 100 drivers interviewed by Yuka Kudo, a student of sociology at Tohoku, admitted to having encountered phantom fares.

Kudo conducted the interviews as a part of her graduation thesis, traveling to the coastal town of Ishinomaki every week for a year to speak to taxi drivers waiting for fares. She asked over 100 drivers the same question: “Did you have any unusual experiences after the disaster?” Many of them ignored her, some even got angry, but seven drivers agreed to describe their strange encounters.

One driver recounted a particularly unsettling story – in the summer of 2011, a woman dressed in a coat climbed into his taxi near Ishinomaki station. She said, “Please go to the Mianmihama Station.” When he pointed out that there was nothing left standing in the district, she asked him in a shivering voice, “Have I died?” The driver immediately turned around, only to find the back seat empty.

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Japanese Professionals Put on Full-Body Lycra Suits to Escape Pressure of Everyday Life

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In a bid to de-stress and break free from the tensions of daily life, Japanese students and professionals are taking to a bizarre trend called ‘Zentai’. It’s a community consisting of people of all ages and walks of life, donning full-body lycra suits and meeting on internet forums, in clubs, at barbecue parties, and sometimes just on the street.

It’s ironical, but the tight suits are actually able to help stressed individuals loosen up, because such behavior is probably frowned upon in genteel circles. Many of the Zentai perceive the trend as a welcome break from the pressures of living in Japanese society that values conformity to tradition over individual desires.

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World’s Most Prolific Patent Holder Wants to Beat His Own Cancer by Inventing a Cure

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Meet Yoshinari Nakamatsu, aka Dr. NakaMats, a prolific inventor and Japan’s very own ‘Patent King’. With over 3,500 patents to his name, the 87-year-old had no plans to retire – his dream was to live to the ripe old age of 144 and eventually produce at least 6,000 patents. Sadly, there’s a serious obstacle to that goal now – he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer and isn’t expected to be around much longer.

But the eccentric mastermind and self-professed polymath doesn’t plan on going down without a fight. He’s been spending his last days doing the one thing he does best – inventing. Best known for licensing the floppy disk to IBM corporation in the 1970s, Dr. NakaMats has spent the past two years trying to invent a cure for his deadly disease.

The rare ductal prostate cancer was discovered in 2013, and his doctors told him he only had around two years left. However, Nakamatsu has been fortunate to make it into 2016 and he is still “investigating all kinds of therapy so people could live longer.” He is determined to continue doing so until the very end. “I’m going to discover a new treatment,” he asserted in a 2014 interview.

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Japan Railways Allegedly Keeps Train Station Running for Just One Passenger

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Last Friday, China’s CCTV News posted a heart-warming story on Facebook about how Japanese railway authorities are keeping a train station in a remote village open for the sake of only one passenger – a high school student.

“The Kyu-Shirataki-Shirataki train station is located in Japan’s north island of Hokkaido,” the post read. “Three years ago, due to its remote location and ending of freight trains, the Japan Railway (JR) decided to close it down. However, they changed their minds after they discovered a young girl used the station to go to high school every day.”

According to the report, the only two trains that stop at the station now are just for this girl, with a “unique timetable depending on when the girl needs to go to school and back.” Japan Railway apparently intends to keep the station open until March this year, when she will finally graduate.

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