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Noodle Fan Has Tasted Over 5,600 Types of Ramen in the Last 20 Years

In his quest to discover the perfect instant noodle, Japanese ramen lover Toshio Yamamoto has tasted over 5,600 varieties from 40 countries, in the past two decades. He reviews every kind ramen he tries on his website and scores them on a scale of 1 to 5. The best rating he’s given out so far is a ‘4’.

On i-ramen.net, 55-year-old Yamamoto offers detailed information on each of the 5,600 varieties of noodles he’s tasted, including the country of origin, cooking time, sodium content, calories, texture, and flavor. The website is hugely popular with thousands of fans around the world, and has recorded over 1.4 million hits since 1996. Some of his fans even send him packages of noodles from overseas.

“When you finish eating the noodles, the content will be gone even though the packaging remains,” Yamamoto explained. “I want to keep records of the content.” He also produces video reviews of instant noodles that he puts up on YouTube – they’ve gotten millions of hits as well. And his book, titled ‘Sokuseki Mencyclopedia’, features info on packets of instant noodles from around the world.

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Japanese Monk Goes Nine Days Without Food, Drink and Sleep in Grueling Religious Ritual

Can you imagine going without food, drink and sleep for nine straight days and nights? It sounds impossible, but a Japanese Buddhist monk proved that it can be done, after recently completing a grueling ritual.

Last Wednesday, 41-year-old Kogen Kamahori, one of the “marathon monks” of Mount Hiei, a holy mountain that straddles Japan’s Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, became one of only 13 monks to have completed the endurance test since the end of World War 2. He emerged from a training facility, assisted by fellow monks, after spending nine days without eating, drinking, sleeping or even lying down. During this time, he was also required to chant sutras 100,000 times. Just keeping count under these conditions sounds like a superhuman task.

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Hamburgirl Z – Japan’s Hamburger-Themed Girl Band

When it comes to idol groups in Japan, good ol’ music just doesn’t cut it anymore. They’ve got to throw in an additional gimmick or two, just to standout among the massive competition. And Hamburgirl Z is doing just that – it’s the world’s only hamburger-themed girl band!

In the words of Japanese culture blogger Tofugu, the new West Japan band is a “group of cute, smiling girls dancing and singing in hamburger costumes. Their sole purpose is to serenade hamburger lovers, by singing only about, well, burgers.

The girls are dressed like different hamburger ingredients – there’s beef, lettuce, egg, tomato, fish, chicken, onion, pork/bacon, avocado, pineapple, and even eggplant. There are a total of 15 members in the band sporting 14 ingredients. They perform at a variety of events across West Japan, and sell merchandise after the concert is over.

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Japan Is All Set to Introduce Robot Taxis Next Year

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

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

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.

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Japanese Mad Scientist Creates Neon Noodles

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

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

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.

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Bizarre Japanese Men’s Magazine Is Dedicated to Male Nipples

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. Read More »

Japanese Restaurant Serves Food That Literally Tastes Like Crap

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

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.

WalkCar

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

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.

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Japanese Hospital Uses Miniature Sushi and Origami to Test Surgery Interns

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?

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Moss Viewing – A Strange Yet Increasingly Popular Japanese Pastime

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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