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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Kokoro Scanner – A Japanese High-Tech Toy That Lets Others Know If You Are Lying or Telling the Truth

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The Kokoro Scanner (Heart Scanner) is a high-tech Japanese invention that can spice up classic party games such as ‘Truth or Dare’. It is a lie detecting device that is worn on the forehead and changes color to indicate the truthfulness of a person’s responses.

Created by Tokyo-based toy company ‘Takara Tomy’, the scanner works a lot like a polygraph machine – it monitors the pulse using infrared rays. So when you make a person wear it, it first monitors their heart rate to establish a baseline. Then, you ask them a question, the wearer responds, and the device monitors the heart rate once more to compare it with the baseline.

It then flashes green if the person’s pulse is normal indicating that they’re telling the truth, yellow if they might be lying, and red if they are lying for sure. Because the light is attached to the person’s forehead, they won’t be able to tell what color is flashing while they’re being interrogated with all sorts of embarrassing questions.

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Did You Know Deep-Fried Maple Leaves Are Actually a Popular Snack in Japan?

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They say everything tastes better deep fried, but who’d have ever guessed that also applies to maple leaves? Well, the dish is real – it’s called Maple Tempura and it’s a fall delicacy in Japan. Surprisingly, it isn’t just made by picking up random fallen leaves and frying them. There’s actually an elaborate process involved in making these sweet, golden snacks.

To prepare Maple Tempura, the leaves are carefully selected and preserved in salt barrels for over a year. Then, they’re removed from the salt and dipped in a batter made from flour, sesame seeds and sugar. These batter-coated leaves are then deep fried for over 20 minutes, until crisp.

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Eyeglasses Designed for Kissing Can Be Worn by Two People at the Same Time

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Eyeglasses are the bane of a good kiss, especially if both parties happen to be spectacled. Thankfully, Tokyo-based eyewear company Blinc Vase has come up with a great (albeit weird) solution – ‘Kiss Eyeglasses’ – specifically designed for those extra-long lip-locking sessions. These two-way glasses consist of a single pair of lenses that can be worn by two people at once.

How is that even possible, you ask? Well, it’s simple – the glasses have two pairs of arms facing opposite ways, allowing a couple (who would otherwise be wearing two pairs of specs) to get even closer to each other. Of course, an easier solution would be to just take both pairs off for a specs-free experience. But you have to admit, kiss eyeglasses sound way more fun. This way, even people with the worst eyesight can gaze at their significant other while sharing a kiss.

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Japanese Company Creates Creepy Hugging Chair for the Lonely

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Nothing compares to the warm hug of a real person, but when there’s no one else around, this nifty little Japanese invention can do the job quite well. It’s called the ‘tranquility chair’ – its back is shaped like a giant human doll with a friendly face and long arms that can wrap around you in an affectionate embrace.

The chair is the brainchild of Japanese company UniCare – they’re selling the product for 46,000 yen ($ 419) at the International Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo. “It makes you feel safe,” said a UniCare spokesperson. “Anyone can use it, but it is designed for older people.”

Given that a quarter of Japan’s population is currently over the age of 65, and the number is expected to rise to 40 percent in coming decades, the tranquility chair is really quite apt for the Japanese market. The company has come up with a host of similar products, like ‘Life Rhythm Dolls’ that are programmed to remind owners to take their medicine or go to the toilet.

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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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Meet Chibatman, Japan’s Real-Life Dark Knight

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The city of Chiba, in Japan, is home to a real-life superhero who looks almost exactly like the famous Dark Knight of Gotham city. He even wears Batman’s iconic suit and travels on a custom-made Batpod, but his mission is rather different – to bring happiness to the people of Japan.

‘Chibatman’, as our superhero has come to be known, prefers to keep his identity a secret. But we do know that he’s a 41-year-old local welder who likes to fight crime – or in this case, unhappiness – in his spare time. While his costume is store-bought, he built the three-wheeled ‘Chibatpod’ himself, with imported parts worth around $5,700.

Photographs of the caped crusader have been doing the rounds on Twitter for the past three years now. Everytime the citizens of Chiba catch a glimpse of their very own Chibatman, they immediately post a photograph or video of him on various social networks.

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Too Proud to Say You’re Sorry? In Japan You Can Pay a Specialized Agency to Do It for You

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It’s not easy to apologise, and most people would like to avoid it entirely if possible. Well, it turns out it is possible, if you happen to live in Japan. They have these ‘apology agencies’ through which you could simply pay someone to say sorry on your behalf.

I can see why these businesses are so successful – it’s really tough to face the person you’ve wronged and tell  them that you’re sorry. It’s a highly uncomfortable situation, especially if you’ve made someone angry or hurt their feelings.

By hiring an expert, not only do you get to avoid the discomfort, you also make sure that the person gets a proper apology. These agencies train their employees to handle things based on the gravity of the situation. These people are professionals, and it looks like they can get you out of all sorts of sticky situations.

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Mangetsu Man – The Anonymous Japanese Superhero Keeping Tokyo Clean

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Mangetsu Man is a likable Japanese superhero whose only superpower is the determination to keep the streets of Tokyo clean, especially the Roppongi district, which locals say is always in need of a dust sweep. As you might have guessed, his arsenal of super-weapons consists of a broom and a dust pan.

Donning a purple suit and a big yellow ball for a head, Mangetsu Man – which translates as ‘Full Moon Man’ – spends a considerable amount of time sweeping the streets of Tokyo. He also puts on hilarious skits, recites Buddhist Prayers, and uses his amazing basketball skills to spread his message of joy, happiness and peace to the world

According to his official website, Mangetsu Man sprang into action in October last year, with a mission to ‘beautify Earth’. He also hopes his actions will inspire others into helping the greater good worldwide.

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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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Hitofude Ryuu – The Japanese Art of Painting Dragons with a Single Brush Stroke

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The talented Sumie painters of Kousyuuya Studio in Nikko, Japan can paint the body of a dragon with a single stroke of the brush. The delicate technique is known as ‘hitofude ryuu’, which literally means ‘dragon with one stroke’, and it’s been around for four generations.

Watching these painters create a perfect dragon – with all the shades and scales – in just a couple of seconds is a true delight. It all looks so effortless, but there’s a lot of hard work and practice involved in getting the stroke right.

To create a single dragon painting, the Sumie artists first make the ornate head with various flourishes, using a smaller brush. Then, they dip a much larger sumie brush into the desired paint color and simply swipe it across the canvas in one swift movement. You really have to watch a video to realize the brilliance of the technique.

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Yet Another Crazy Facial Exercise Gadget from Japan

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When we wrote about the creepy Facewaver Exercise Mask last year, we thought we’d seen the worst of bizarre Japanese inventions. But now they’ve come up with an even weirder gadget – a silly-looking new product called the ‘Facial Fitness PAO’.

The PAO was designed by Japanese beauty company SHLAB – it consists of a round plastic mouthpiece with plastic paddle wings on either side. In order to use it, you simply hold the device firmly in your mouth and bob your head up and down to swing the paddles.

The company claims that performing this exercise for 30 seconds, twice a day, can significantly tone up facial muscles, making a person look much younger. They demonstrate its correct use in their two-minute advertisement, which is so absurd, I dare you to watch it with a straight face.

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Small Japanese Village Turns Rice Paddies into Awe-Inspiring Works of Art

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Inakadate village, located near Hirosaki city in Japan’s Aomori prefecture, is one of the few places in the world where farming and art go hand-in-hand. The village is renowned for its unique form of landscape art created in paddy fields. These artistic paddies are so popular that they attract over 200,000 tourists a year.

For centuries, farming has been the main source of income for the people of Inakadate. The amount of farmland available to the relatively small population of 8,000 villagers is massive. Paddy fields make up over fifty percent of the entire village land. The soil in these lands is so fertile that the yield from the rice crop has consistently been higher than any other village or town in Japan.

In the early 1990s, archeologists discovered that the rice strains of Inakadate were over 2,000 years old. To celebrate this fact, and to make the village more attractive to visitors, the local tourism office hatched a plan – to make use of their abundant production of rice to attract more tourists. And that’s how their amazing rice paddy artworks were born.

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Lonely Japanese Teen Turns Shower Head Creepy Girlfriend

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Most DIY projects are fun and interesting, but here’s one that’s downright disturbing – a lonely Japanese kid converted his shower head into a doll that he now claims is his girlfriend. He recently posted step-by-step pictures of his project on the popular Chinese social networking website Weibo, where they went viral almost instantly. Some of the photographs of the ‘girlfriend’ are actually pretty creepy, so viewer discretion is advised.

To create his bizarre mannequin-girlfriend, 19-year-old Kiyuu Oikawa first taped a human mask onto his shower head. He then attached a balloon-stuffed piece of lingerie for the body and made stringy arms out of packing tape and wire. He painted the face pink, threw on a wig, and his girlfriend was pretty much ready.

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Did You Know Late-Night Dancing Can Get You Arrested in Japan?

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Tokyo used to have one of the best nightclub scenes in the world, but all that has changed dramatically ever since the local police started enforcing a very old law that had been ignored for at least half a century. According to this law, commercial establishments cannot host dance parties unless they have a valid license.

In order to obtain such a license, venues must have at least 66 square meters of unobstructed floor space for dancing. They also need to make sure that all dancing stops at 1 am, which the law says is the curfew. Failure to comply with the rules could get club owners into serious trouble, including getting thrown in jail for weeks, or having their businesses closed down.

“Dancing is not a crime,” pointed out Ryo Isobe, a music writer from Tokyo. “But the current situation can easily make people believe that dancing is a crime. Under this law, there are almost no legal nightclubs in Japan. All-night dance parties are against the law.”

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