Japan Is All Set to Introduce Robot Taxis Next Year

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Robot Taxi Inc., a Tokyo-based company, is gearing up to bring self-driving robot taxis to Japan’s roads early next year. They’ve invited residents to try out the taxi service in Fujisawa, in Kanagawa Prefecture. 50 people are all set to take part in the experiment.

According to Robot Taxi, the new cabs will take residents to pre-decided supermarkets about three kilometers from their homes. A company attendant will be present in the driver’s seat for safety reasons. The self-driving cars will be equipped with GPS, millimeter-wave radar, stereo vision cameras, and image analysis technologies.

The local government is fully supportive of the firm’s initiative, given that they’ve already tested automated cars on expressways before. But this will be the first time on local roads with residents. “This time, the robot taxi experiment will be conducted on actual city streets,” said government official Yuji Kuroiwa.

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Stressed Japanese Women Can Now Rent Handsome Men to Wipe Away Their Tears at the Office

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A cool new service in Japan is meant to help busy career women cope with the stress of their hectic lifestyles. For about 7,900 yen ($65), they can hire ‘Ikemeso’ – cute men – to wipe away their tears, quite literally!

Here’s how it works: You call the company and pick one of seven Ikemeso, who will then arrive at your workplace to help you release stress through crying. If you’re in tears already, the licensed “crying therapist” will simply wipe your tears away with the softest handkerchief and comfort you with kind words. If work-related stress hasn’t pushed you to tears yet,  the Ikemeso will play an emotional film meant to induce crying. After the video is over, he’ll wipe your tears away.

There are different types of guys you can choose from, depending on your taste – the little brother, the intellectual, the bad boy, the slightly older hot guy, and more. The service is all set to launch on September 24.

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“Black Widow of Kyoto” Arrested Again after Death of 8th Male Partner

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Although she looks harmless, 68-year-old Chisako Kakehi is probably one of the most dangerous women in the world. Nicknamed ‘The Black Widow of Kyoto’ by the media, she is believed to be responsible for the deaths of eight men who were romantically involved with her at some point in time.

Kyoto-based Kakehi is currently in police custody, for the fourth time in her life. According to Kyoto police, Kakehi has been in relationships with over 10 men, eight of whom eventually ended up dead. So far, she has been charged with the murder of a former husband in Kyoto and a boyfriend in Osaka, as well as the attempted murder of a man in Kobe.



Japanese Mad Scientist Creates Neon Noodles

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Neon udon noodles are the latest addition to Japan’s ever expanding list of bizarre foods. Taking their place among winners like poop-flavored curry, deep-fried maple leaves  and citrus-scented eggs, these psychedelic noodles hardly look appetizing.

Food writer and mad scientist Kurare Raku, who invented the glow-in-the-dark noodles, posted a couple of photographs on Twitter last week. One displayed neon pink noodles swimming in a neon green broth, topped with slabs of blue tofu. The other bowl had dark pink noodles topped with tofu that suspiciously resembled strips of Scotch Brite scrub pads.

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Gyotaku – The Traditional Japanese Art of Painting Fish with Actual Fish

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Back when there were no cameras for fishermen to record their trophy catches, the Japanese came up with a unique printing method called Gyotaku. Gyo means fish, and Taku means impression, and the technique involved just that – using freshly caught fish to make inky impressions on paper.

Hundreds of years ago, Japanese fishermen would take paper, ink and brushes out to sea with them. They would rub the fish they caught with the non-toxic sumi-e ink and then print them on rice paper. Most of the fish were then cleaned and sold in markets, but a few revered ones were released back into the ocean. In the mid-1800s, fishermen began to add eye details and other embellishments, giving rise to a unique art form.  

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Japan’s New Girl Band Has an Average Age of 84

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KBG84 is a one-of-a-kind girl band in Japan consisting of 33 singing and dancing grannies, with an average age of 84. The oldest member, Haru Yamashiro, is 97 years old!

The new band, based in the remote island of Kohama in Okinawa, is a huge hit in the country – so much so that the members are rather taken aback by their success. Their first single – titled Come on and Dance, Kohama Island – has made it to the top of the  charts, and they’ve just completed a sellout tour of Japan.



Bizarre Japanese Men’s Magazine Is Dedicated to Male Nipples

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Male nipples don’t really get much attention, mostly because a lot of people even consider them gross. But believe it or not, there’s a magazine in Japan that’s actually dedicated to ‘mipples’!

The magazine is a fan-made dojinshi, which is a Japanese term for self-published magazines, novels, or manga. Its title literally translates to “Everyone Loves a Man Nipple: Photobook.” And it stays true to its name – the cover carries a close-up shot of a male nipple, along with the names of all the nipple-models used in the issue. The inside is filled with nipple-shots too, clicked from every angle imaginable.

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Japanese Restaurant Serves Food That Literally Tastes Like Crap

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We’ve featured our fair share of bizarre foods on Oddity Central, right from jam-filled sausages to charcoal cheddar cheese, but this latest dish in Japan definitely takes the cake as the weirdest ever. A new eatery owned by Japanese adult movie star Ken Shimizu has actually chosen to serve poo-flavored curry!

The dish is meant to be a tribute to Shimizu’s debut film – he apparently made it big by eating poop in a movie. So he decided to make ‘unko curry’ (poop curry) the signature dish at the newly opened ‘Curry Shop Shimizu’. The curry is supposedly made of ‘healthy ingredients like green tea, goya(bitter gourd), and cocoa-powder. But it looks at tastes like crap – and to amplify the gross effect, it is served in a toilet-shaped bowl!

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The WalkCar, a Japanese Gadget Designed to Make Walking Obsolete

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Thanks to Japanese engineer Kuniako Saito’s new invention, walking could soon become a thing of the past. He’s created a portable transportation device called ‘WalkCar’, which he describes as the world’s first ‘car in a bag’.

The WalkCar is about the size of a laptop, and is somewhat similar to a skateboard in terms of functionality. According to Saito, the gadget is very easy to use – just stand on it and it starts, step off it and it stops. To change directions, users simply have to shift their weight towards the left or right. Uphill or downhill travel can be achieved by applying pressure forwards or backwards.



No Humans Allowed – Wacky Japanese Cafe Caters Exclusively to Stuffed Toys

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Joining the ranks of Tokyo’s eccentric pet cafés and restaurants is Yawarakan’s, a place that exclusively caters to stuffed animals. It sounds like a hoax – who would spend money on serving real food to a bunch of toys, right? Well, you’re wrong. This is actually a thing in Japan, and apparently business is going great.

According to the restaurant’s owners, 85 percent of Japan’s adult female population owns at least one stuffed animal. 60 percent of these women actually decorate their beds with the cuddly toys. So they decided to find a way to tap into this market. They figured, if people are treating stuffed animals like real humans, then why not send the soft toys on vacation? So they created a café along the lines of a bed-and-breakfast, where the customers are all toys.



Japanese Hospital Uses Miniature Sushi and Origami to Test Surgery Interns

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Instead of testing potential interns’ surgery skills on real patients, a Japanese hospital devised an innovative examination process that involves miniature origami and sushi!

The Kurashiki Central Hospital, in southern Japan offers one of the best surgical internship programs in the country, but medical students who want to secure a position here have to prove their skills in a series of bizarre hand-on challenges. First, they have to use surgical instruments to fold a piece of paper into an origami crane. That sounds easy enough for someone with a bit of experience in creating origami, but did I mention the piece of paper measures only 1.5 square centimeters?



Moss Viewing – A Strange Yet Increasingly Popular Japanese Pastime

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A lot of people walk by moss all the time, without even giving the time of day, but in Japan, they actually have this thing call moss viewing that involves going on trips to damp places and staring at moss for hours, as a means of relaxation.

According to Takeshi Ueno, a plant ecology expert at Tsuru University, the activity is particularly popular among women, because “they are rich in emotions”. “They can innocently enjoy changes in the shapes and colors of leaves, for example, so they are well-suited to moss viewing,” Ueno, who usually leads the moss viewing trips near Lake Shirakoma, added.

It all started in 2013, when Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel in Aomori Prefecture introduced a one-night program that included an observation tour of the moss colonies in a riverside forest. It was an unsuspected success, and after the Bryological Society of Japan named the area around Lake Shirakoma a ‘precious moss-covered forest’, moss-viewing became a regular affair. The event has become so popular among female travelers that it is held about eight times a year.

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Japanese Anti-Suicide Crusader Has Saved over 500 People in the Last 11 Years

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Yukio Shige, a retired police officer from Japan, has devoted the past decade of his life to preventing suicides. After foiling hundreds of suicide attempts in little over a decade, the 70-year-old has come to be known as ‘chotto matte man’. In Japanese, ‘chotto matte’ translates to ‘hold on, wait!’

In the last 11 years, Yukio Shigehas has managed to save over 500 lives – a significant number even in Japan, a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world. He patrols the Tojinbo cliffs, in Fukui Prefecture – a popular tourist site that is also notorious for suicides. He goes there every single day, with three other volunteers. Together they use binoculars to spot people who might be contemplating suicide, and try to talk them out of it.

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Japanese Hotel Lets You Rent an Alpaca as a Witness at Your Wedding

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The Epinard Nasu Hotel, in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture, offers a highly unconventional wedding service – newlyweds can rent a cute, fluffy alpaca from a nearby zoo to act as a witness to their wedding.

No one really knows when the hotel started using alpacas to attract customers, or how they came up with the unique idea, but judging from the number of photos happy newlyweds have been posting on Japanese social media lately, it’s definitely becoming popular. It’s not that alpacas are good luck charms, nor are they part of some obscure Japanese ritual, they’re just cute and a sure way to make a wedding memorable.

The alpacas are escorted down the aisle by a professional trainer who makes sure they are on their best behavior during the wedding ceremony. Still, somethings not even the most experienced trainers can prevent, so if you smell something funny during the proceedings, just ignore it. Usually they just stand there as the newlyweds exchange vows and declare their love for each other, kind of like human witnesses do.



Meet Ladybeard, the Bearded Crossdressing Australian Man Taking Japan by Storm

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When you think “kawaii” and “J-pop” the first image that comes into your head is probably not of a fit, hairy Caucasian dude wearing pony tails and tiny women’s clothes. Which is exactly what makes “Ladybeard” so unique and popular in Japan.

Richard Magarey hails from the Australian city of Adelaide, but moved to Hong Kong in 2006 to pursue a career in martial arts stunt career. Drama had been the only thing he was good at in school, and because he also practiced martial arts, he decided to pursue a career as a stunt actor. He worked as ‘Mirrorball Man’ for a while, a persona that required him to put on a giant mirror ball, go to clubs and get patrons grooving to dance music. As weird as that may sound, Magarey claims the gig changed his notion of what a performance could be. “I was in a costume and environment that stripped me of my usual physical, vocal and emotional expression,” he said, in an interview with Japan Today.

But it wasn’t until he got involved in wrestling and adopted a truly bizarre persona that the Australian entertainer discovered what destiny had in store for him. After training in a wrestling gym for over two months, Richard showed up for his first match wearing a skimpy Lolita dress and his hair tied in two childish ponytails. He still had his fuzzy beard and hadn’t bothered to shave his hairy body either. He remembers sitting backstage and thinking to himself “What am I doing? I’m wearing a dress, about to go do this thing that I’ve been doing for two months, in front of a bunch of people. What is wrong with me? Why did I make this decision?” But he eventually did it anyway, and everyone loved it. Ladybeard was born that night, and the rest, as they say, is history.



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