Tokyo Restaurant Will pay You $438 if You Can Eat This Giant Bowl of Ramen in 20 Minutes

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If you love ramen and want to get paid for eating lots of it, I suggest visiting the Umakara Ramen Hyouri restaurant, in Tokyo, Japan. They will pay a cool 50,000 yen ($438) to anyone who finishes their giant bowl of delicious ramen in under 20 minutes, Easy money, right?

Well, they don’t call these things eating challenges for nothing, so it’s definitely not a walk in the park. In fact, in the three years since the Japanese restaurant introduced the challenge, only nine people have managed to finish the gargantuan dish in the allotted time. Legend has it that they didn’t eat for a week afterwards and never spoke the word “ramen” again. Nine is not that many, but at least it’s doable right? And here’s an extra incentive: if you think that 20 minutes is just not long enough to gobble this delicious monster, Umakara Ramen Hyouri is also willing to pay $236 to whoever manages to eat it all in 30 minutes.

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This Japanese Restaurant Chain Is an Introvert’s Paradise

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If your idea of a good restaurant experience includes a nice conversation and interaction with the waiting staff, then Ichiran Ramen is probably not a place you want to visit. The popular Japanese chain is all about solo dining, taking extraordinary measures to ensure that patrons avoid human interaction as much as possible.

Manabu Yoshitomi, the founder of Ichiran Ramen, came up with the concept for his famous restaurants when he was just a high-school student, after seeing his female friends attempting to cover their mouths when eating ramen. After asking them about it, Yoshitomi discovered that their reluctance to being watched by other people as they slurped noodles was actually a huge barrier to them visiting ramen shops. This information inspired the young man to open a tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen restaurant that offered almost total privacy instead of human interaction.

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Japanese Skating Rink Freezes 5,000 Marine Creatures in Ice as Promotional Gimmick

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Japan’s Space World theme park sparked worldwide controversy after it froze 5,000 fish, crabs and other shellfish in the ice of its newest skating rink, aptly-named ‘Freezing Port–Ice Museum’.

On November 12, Space World, a popular theme park in the city of Kitakyushu, south-west Japan, opened its newest attraction – a skating ring embedded with 5,000 frozen fish, crabs and various other shellfish, as well as enlarged photos of larger marine creatures, like stingrays and sharks. It was advertised as the first of its kind in the world, and in the beginning, the reaction of the public was very positive. Space World officials said that since Freezing Port opened two weeks ago, they had an unprecedented number of visitors, but things went south very fast after the bizarre ice rink received coverage on a local TV station, on November 26. Inquiries and criticism started pouring in, and the Space World Facebook page was bombarded with negative comments.

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‘Magic’ Megaphone Automatically Translates Speech into Various Languages

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To help Japanese companies better deal with the increasing number of foreigners visiting the country, Panasonic has created an innovative megaphone capable of automatically translating Japanese into English, Chinese and Korean.

Remember that cool universal translator the crew of the Enterprise used to break down language barriers with alien species? Such technology is not yet available in real life, but if Panasonic’s ‘Megahonyaku’ is a sign of things to come, that universal translator doesn’t seem so sci-fi anymore. Megahonyaku is a pun on the Japanese words for ‘megaphone’ and ‘translate’, which actually makes a lot of sense because it’s a megaphone that can translate Japanese into several other languages in real time. When a user speaks Japanese into the megaphone, it recognizes and translates what is being said instantly, and outputs the phrase in English, Chinese or Korean.

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Nearly All Phones in Japan Are Waterproof Because People Need to Use Them in the Shower

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Waterproof smartphones are becoming more common in Western markets, but they are hardly the norm. In Japan however, almost all phones are waterproof, and have been for nearly a decade now. According to statistics, 90% to 95% of phones in Japan are waterproof, because people need to be able to use them while they are showering.

Japanese users are apparently so attached to their phones that they even bring them into the shower. Manufacturers were aware of this unusual habit early on and realized that in order to succeed in japan, they had to make their devices water resistant. The world’s first waterproof mobile phone, the Casio Canu 502S, was release in 2005, and was soon followed by a series of Fujitsu waterproof handhelds. Before long, every company looking to enter Japanese market had to make their devices waterproof.

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Japan’s Unique Museum of Stones Shaped Like Human Faces

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Chinsekikan, or The Hall of Curious Rocks is a unique museum in the Japanese town Saitama, just outside Tokyo, where visitors can admire close to 1,000 rocks that resemble human faces.

This outlandish tourist attraction is the work of the late Shozo Hayama, a rock enthusiast who spent 50 years of his life collecting strange-looking rocks, and especially those that resembled human faces. His only requirement was that nature be the only artist, and believe it or not he actually put together a collection of over 900 human-looking rocks, some of which resemble famous people, like rock’n roll legend Elvis Presley or Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

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Masked Speed Dating Hopes to Save Shy Japanese Singles

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A Tokyo-based dating service is trying to make it easier for shy Japanese singles to interact with the opposite sex by organizing masked speed dating effects where participants wear surgical masks to help them be more outgoing.

Surgical masks have been a big part of Japanese culture for many years. Some people wear them on the street everyday, be it to avoid catching diseases, to prevent hay fever and other allergic reactions, or simply to keep their faces warm. But the people at Def Anniversary, a popular dating service in Tokyo, have come up with a new use for the humble accessory – they’ve turned into a tool for konkatsu (marriage hunting). At their speed dating events, singles meet at various locations all over Japan, and spend a limited amount of time trying to learn as much about them as they can, but the catch is that everyone has to wear a surgical mask, so the focus is less on physical appearance and more on personality and character.

“In order to achieve marriage, it is important to provide chances to know a partner’s personality and values in the early stages,” said Kei Matsumura, head of Tokyo dating service Def Anniversary. “We chose surgical masks as an essential tool for that.”

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Patient’s Fart Sparks Serious Fire During Laser Surgery

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A report recently released by the Tokyo Medical University Hospital in Shinjuku Ward revealed that a patient suffered burns on most of her body after passing gas during laser surgery.

The incident occurred back in April, but has only made news headlines after a team of external experts conducted a through investigation and concluded that it was most likely caused by the gas passed by the patient, which was ignited by the surgical laser. The anonymous patient, a woman in her 30s, was undergoing an operation that involved applying a laser to her cervix, the lower part of the uterus, when intestinal gas leaked out and was set ablaze by the irradiation of the laser.

“When the patient’s intestinal gas leaked into the space of the operation (room), it ignited with the irradiation of the laser, and the burning spread, eventually reaching the surgical drape and causing the fire,” the experts’ report stated. Unfortunately, the woman was left screaming in agony after she suffered burns on much of her body, including her waist and legs.

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Japanese Magic Shop Sells Love-Granting Apples at a Premium Price

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If your special wish this Halloween is to have someone fall madly in love with you, making it a reality may be as easy as eating an apple. Not just any apple, mind you, but a special kind of love-granting apple sold by a magic shop in Japan.

The Poison Apples of Love’s Desire may look like ordinary fruit to the untrained eye, but they are actually enchanted apples imbued with the power to make the object of the buyer’s desire fall in love with them. They are sold by the Black Cat Magic Shop and come individually packaged in a beautiful black box which also contains instructions for an incantation that is supposed to enhance the magic power of the apples.

To take full advantage of the apple, buyers are instructed to first clean the apple and recite the included incantation while thinking about the person whose affection they so desperately crave. Then they, or this person must consume the apple, either raw or cooked as a pie or scone. Once that’s done with, all they have to do is wait for love to blossom.

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World’s Best Dressed Farmer Works the Fields Wearing Fancy Suit

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Kiyoto Saito, a young rice farmer from Kengo, Japan’s Yamagata prefecture, is trying to change people’s perception of agricultural work through his unusual attire. Whether he’s driving a tractor, or is standing up to his knees in the marshy rice fields, Kiyoto is always wearing an elegant suit complete with shirt and tie.

Kiyoto’s family has been cultivating rice in the fields around Kengo for around 400 years, but as a teenager he found the tradition boring, and moved to the city. He returned to his native town a few years ago determined to start a family and get involved in the family business, but decided to put his unique twist on it.

The idea of wearing a suit in the fields started as a joke. One day, at the dinner table, his brother joked about farming in an elegant suit, but Kyioto took it seriously. He viewed the idea as the perfect way to change public perception of agricultural work in Japan. “Most people think of farmers as ‘dirty all day’ and not making much money,” he told Zoomin TV. “I want youngsters to think ‘ farming looks fun’.

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Japan’s “Poop Man” Teaches People How to Not Give a Crap

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For the past five years, Akihiko Koseki, has been putting on his bright yellow spandex suit and trademark poo-shaped hat, and going out on the streets of Tokyo to put a smile on people’s faces and teach them to be happier by not giving a crap.

In the beginning, Poop Man was merely a cheap marketing tool. Akihiko Koseki is an experienced mobile game developer who a few years ago came up with an idea for a game called Poo Pride. He had no money to promote it and decided that turning himself into a walking billboard for his game was the cheapest and at the same time most effective way of raising awareness about his game. So he had a yellow spandex suit and poop-shaped hat made, plastered the Poo Pride logo on his chest and started walking around as Poop Man. He’s been doing it for the last five years.

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Japanese Sewage Trucks Now Smell Like Chocolate Thanks to Innovative Deodorizer Oil

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From now on, drivers in Osaka Japan will no longer have to keep their distance when driving behind local sewage trucks to avoid their foul odor. That’s because sewage trucks now smell like delicious chocolate.

Apparently, four Osaka-based companies recently joined forces to come up with a solution to mask the disgusting smell of vacuum trucks commonly used to collect sewage in the Japanese city. Five days ago, they announced that they had met their goal, and that moving forward, sewage trucks will emit a pleasant chocolate smell instead of the dreadful owner they were notorious for.

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Japanese Bar Replaces Seats and Tables with a Giant Ball Pit

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If you ever feel like connecting with your inner child while sipping on your favorite alcoholic drink, the Ball Pool Bar Dive in Osaka, Japan, is probably the best place to do it.

Kids love ball pits, and the masterminds behind Ball Pool Bar Dive seem to think adults do too, so they got rid of the usual bar furniture and instead turned the place into a giant ball pit filled with over 20,000 colorful plastic balls. But there’s nothing remotely childish about the drinks menu, as you can order pretty much any alcoholic drink served at a regular bar, only instead of drinking yourself unconscious at a table, you get to do it buried up to your neck in balls, while other intoxicated patrons dive in all around you. What’s not to like?

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App Gives Japanese Drivers Free Coffee for Not Checking Their Phones at The Wheel

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In a bid to convince drivers in Aichi Prefecture to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, a new Japanese smartphone app offers free coffee coupons to drivers who don’t check their phones for at least 100 km.

For the last 13 years, Aichi Prefecture has recorded the highest rate of traffic fatalities in Japan. Last year, there were 443,691 accidents that resulted in injuries or deaths, and 50,101 arrests involving the use of smartphones while driving. With handhelds becoming such a big part of people’s lives, there appears to be an increase in violations of this nature, and authorities have yet to come up with an effective plan to combat the problem.

Interestingly, a trio of Japanese company seem to think that an ingenious new app could incentivize drivers to restrain themselves from checking their phones at the wheel and reduce the number of traffic accidents. Toyota Motor Corporation, Komeda Co Ltd and KDDI Corporation have teamed up to create Driving Barista, an app that uses the phone’s gyro sensor to sense the tilt of the device, and the GPS to determine the distance driven. This allows it to calculate the number of kilometers a driver has traveled with the smartphone facing down.

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Meet the Japanese Cheerleader Troupe with an Average Age of 70

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Japan Pom Pom is a unique cheerleading troupe made up of 28 vivacious members whose ages range from 55 to late 80’s. These energetic grandmas have been engaging in their glamorous hobby for the last two decades and show no sign of stopping anytime soon.

84-year-old Fumie Tanako is the founder of Japan Pom Pom and an active member of the group. She says that she would not have had the confidence to pick up cheerleading in her youth, but became emboldened by major life changes that occurred during middle age. When she was 53, Fumie decided to travel to Texas to study. It was against her dying mother’s wishes, but her children supported her decision. Then, in her early 60’s, her relationship with her husband began to fall apart, and ultimately ended. It was around this time that she found her calling in life – cheerleading. Mesmerized by the impressive array of moves performed by professional American cheerleaders, she immediately rounded up five elderly girlfriends and started practicing. Two decades later, their troupe is still going strong.

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