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The Photo-Like Painted Portraits of Yasutomo Oka

These lovely portraits may look like high-definition artistic photographs, or even the product of CGI, but they are actually oil paintings created by Japanese artist Yasutomo Oka

At just 34-years-old, Yasutomo Oka is quite obviously already a master when it comes to hyperrealistic paintings. The artist, who hails from Komaki, in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, spends up to a month working on one of these masterpieces, making sure that they turn out as realistic as possible, and the result is almost always awe-inspiring.

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Japanese Man Sets New Guinness Record for Spinning World’s Largest Hula Hoop

Yuya Yamada, a hula hoop street performer from Tokyo, Japan, recently managed to set a new Guinness record after successfully spinning a 5.14 m (16 ft 10 in) aluminium hoop using only his torso.

Also known as “Hoop Man Yu-Ya” in his native country, Yamada is famous for his hula hoop tricks. He can spin a hula hoop while running, spin it vertically using both his head and his backside and can also spin dozens of them at the same time. The guy has incredible coordination, which basically allows him to keep the hoops spinning with virtually every part of his body, but for his latest world record attempt, he needed a completely different approach.

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Japanese Artist Creates the Most Realistic-Looking Wearable Animal Heads You’ve Ever Seen

Whether you’re a passionate furry or just someone who appreciates cool headgear, you’re most likely going to love the incredibly realistic wearable heads made by Japanese modeler Kamonohashizokei (Platypus Modeling).

Looking at theses animal heads for the first time, you’re tempted to think they’re just that, creepy taxidermied heads, but in fact they are all synthetic hand-made renditions created by one of Japan’s most talented modelers. And the best part is that you can wear them on your head to freak people out.

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Japanese Public School Sparks Controversy After Adopting $700 Dollars Armani Uniforms

Ginza is known as the most fashionable district of Japan’s capital, Tokyo, and one public elementary school located there recently decided that it would be very fitting for children to dress accordingly. Thus Taimei Elementary School students will be donning $700 designer uniforms created by Italian fashion label Armani.

The school’s decision to replace its old uniforms without even consulting the parents has sparked outrage all over Japan, and was even discussed in Japan’s Parliament last week, with one opposition lawmaker noting that the 80,000 yen ($700) school uniforms were more expensive than most business suits. In a country where school tuition fees are already a heavy burden for most parents, Taimei’s decision to introduce luxury uniforms that cost almost three times as the old ones has been branded as unnecessary and elitist.

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Electronics Company Develops Smart Device That Cancels Embarrassing Toilet Noises

Japan is known as the most polite nation on Earth, and that extreme politeness extends to all aspects of life, including bathroom etiquette. Many public toilets feature a wall-mounted device that, when pressed, creates a sound that masks that of urination. However, electronics company Roland has come up with an improved version that drowns out embarrassing bathroom noises completely.

Before the technology boom of the 1980s, toilet users would either flush the toilet or turn on a sink to mask the sounds they made when relieving themselves. However, as this was a needless waste of water, a more eco-friendly solution was sought, and thus the concept of the toilet sound generator was born. The most famous of the resulting devices, developed and manufactured by toilet brand Toto, is the Otohime (literal translation – “sound princess”). These devices resolved the water waste issue but only partially efficient in making people comfortable in the toilet, because the sound they generated didn’t do a perfect job of masking the embarassing noises. Luckily, a better solution is now available to them.

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Japanese Inn Teams Up with Car Maker Nissan to Create Self-Driving Slippers for Its Guests

Japan has long been known for both its strong traditions and being on the cutting edge of technology, and  this new inn combining the classic Japanese surroundings with high-tech, self-driving slippers and furniture is a perfect reflection of this.

Nissan Motor Co. developed a system in which slippers park themselves at the entrance of the traditional inn, called ‘ProPilot Park Ryokan,’ waiting for guests to use them upon arrival. When guests have finished using them, the slippers will drive themselves back to their original position. Each slipper features two tiny wheels, a motor, and sensors to drive it across the lobby’s wooden floor using a simplified form of Nissan’s ProPilot Park technology.

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This Gadgets Lets Parents Share Their Babies Bowel Movements Online with the Touch of a Button

From the country that gave us the delightful classic children’s book ‘Everyone Poops,’ comes a new app that will let everyone know when you’re toddler goes potty. The Unko Button, made by 144Lab, is a small box with two buttons that, when pressed, instantly share the news that you’re little one has made a poo with a designated chat group on Line, popular messaging app in Asia.

“Unko” is the Japanese equivalent of the English word “poo,” hence the name of the gadget. The developers claim that the device is ideal for busy parents who need an easy way to record their infant’s digestive system but don’t have time to stop and write down each bowel movement. In addition to notifying the chat group, the Unko Button also records a series of details such as the exact date and time of the expulsion or whether the child pooped or peed. It even has options to record notes regarding color, consistency, and the baby’s mood. The connected app is also able to estimate the cost of diapers based on how often the child defecates or urinates.

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Japanese Yakuza Boss On the Run for 14 Years Caught in Thailand After Photos of His Tattoos Go Viral

A former Japanese yakuza boss who had been on the run for more than fourteen years was finally arrested in Thailand this month, after photos of his impressive tattoos began circulating online.

Thai police arrested 74-year-old Shigeharu Shirai last Wednesday in a province north of Bangkok, where he had been hiding for more than ten years to escape murder charges in Japan. Shirai was apprehended while out shopping in the central market town of Lopburi.

Japanese authorities had been seeking to arrest Shirai over his alleged role in the shooting of rival gang member Kashihiko Otobe, the deputy leader of rival Kamiya gang, back in 2003. He fled to Thailand before they could apprehend him, where he married a local woman and enjoyed a peaceful retirement. Shirai’s Japanese associates visited him in Thailand two to three times a year bringing him cash gifts to help sustain his life of leisure.

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Japanese Ex-Programmer Opens “Open Source Restaurant” Where Patrons Can Work for Their Food

An unusual restaurant in the Jinbocho district of Tokyo offers meals in exchange for 50 minutes of labor. This unique “open-source” eatery, called Mirai Shokudo, is the brainchild of former engineer Sekai Kobayashi, 33, who wanted to create a place for hungry people who otherwise couldn’t afford to eat out.

There is no permanent staff other than Kobayashi at the restaurant, which seats 12 at a counter. Customers can either pay for their meals or work one of two daily shifts to earn their meal. The lunch shift consists of serving orders, clearing tables, and other such tasks, while the evening shift, which starts after closing, consists mainly of cleaning. The shift can be exchanged for either a free meal or can be “paid forward” in the form of a voucher that is left at the front door for a hungry but broke patron. First-time customers must eat at the restaurant once before working a shift to familiarize themselves with the setting. So far over 500 people have opted to work for their meals.

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Japan Now Has a Cryptocurrency-Themed Idol Group

Cryptocurrency is still somewhat of a fringe phenomenon, and despite growing immensely in popularity over the past few years, it hasn’t taken off en masse yet. In Japan, a group of young women has set out to change that. Eight teenage girls have been chosen by the Japanese talent agency Cinderella Academy to join the new all-female idol group called “Virtual Currency Girls.” The company chose each member from an already established “zodiac constellation” idol group formed by the same agency.

Each member of the group represents a popular cryptocurrency in the Japanese market. 18-year-old Naruse Rara, the leader of the group, has the alter ego Bitcoin Cash (BCH). 16-year-old Hinano Shirahama represents Bitcoin (BTC), 22-year-old Suzuka Minami is neo (NEQ), 17-year-olds Kanako Matsuzawa and Koharu Kamikawa represent cardano (ADA) and nem (XEM) respectively, and 15-year-old Hinata Kozuki is ripple (XRP). Ami Amo and Momo Aisu, represent Ether (ETH) and monacoin (MONA) respectively.

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Japanese Farmers Develop “Incredible” Banana with Edible Skin

Fruit farmers in Okayama, Japan, have managed to make peeling a banana optional by developing a special variety with edible skin. The peel of their “Mongee Banana” is not particularly tasty, but it is considerably thinner and far less bitter than that of regular bananas, making it 100% edible.

To create the incredible Mongee – which is actually Okayama slang for ‘incredible – scientists at D&T Farm, in Okayama Prefecture, developed an innovative method called “Freeze Thaw Awakening” which involves recreating conditions from 20,000 years ago, at the end of the ice age, when plants would emerge from harsh winter temperatures to grow. They froze banana saplings to -60 degrees Celsius, planting them again as they began to thaw. This apparently activated an ancient part of their DNA, which not only allows the plant to thrive in Japan’s cool climate, but also accelerates its development. While tropical varieties of banana require two years to grow large enough for consumption, the Mongee banana needs just four months.

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Japan’s Most Popular Sake Maker Runs Full-Page Newspaper Ad Asking People to Stop Paying So Much for Its Sake

Corporations are in business to make money and being popular is good for business, which is why we have advertising to hammer brand names into our minds and keep us buying and buying. But sometimes along comes a company which loves its product so much that it’s willing to sacrifice some revenue to give more consumers the pleasure of using or tasting its creation. Asahi Shuzo, the Japanese brewer behind the extremely popular Dassai sake, has resorted to a full-page ad in the country’s most read newspaper to kindly ask of people not to pay so much for its sake.

The price of goods and services is dictated by the market demand for them. Dassai has become one of Japan’s best-selling sake brands, and retailers are trying to squeeze as much profit as they can from the drink. However, Asahi Shuzo boss Kazuhiro Sakurai was anything but happy with the price tag of Dassai in most retail stores, so he decided to take a stand by directly instructing people not to spend so much money on their favorite sake. He did id by running a full-page ad in the Yomiuri Shimbin newspaper that read “A request. Please do not pay a high price for our sake”.

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Tokyo’s “Rescue Bus” Picks Up Drunk Train Passengers That Fall Asleep and Miss Their Stop

During the holiday season, the Nishi Tokyo Bus Company operates a rescue bus called the ‘Nesugoshi Kyusai’ bus (overslept rescue bus)  to pick up inebriated passengers who fell asleep and miss their stop. It meets passengers at the final station and delivers them back to their regular stop for the relatively small fee – when compared to a hotel room – of 880 yen (7.85 USD).

The rescue bus was the idea of a Nishi Tokyo Bus driver who pitched it to the company four years ago and they have been offering the service ever since. During the 2016 holiday season alone 75 passengers utilized the rescue bus, including 32 on the busiest night. This year, the rescue bus will operate every Friday evening throughout the month of December, as that is when the majority of company end-of-the-year drinking parties (called “bonenkai” in Japanese) take place.

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Military-First Girls – Japan’s All-Girl Fan Club Dedicated to North Korean Culture

Relations between North Korea and Japan grow increasingly tumultuous by the day as the fear of nuclear war rises to a fever pitch. But despite the tense political climate, a group of Japanese girls fascinated by DRPK culture continue to profess their love for North Korean music, posters and fashion, by posing in military outfits and performing Pyongyang-inspired dance routines.

Sengun-Joshi, or “Military-First Girls”, is a girls-only fan club whose members model themselves after the DRPK all-female Moranbong band, dressing in replica military uniforms and performing intricate choreographies to the sound of North Korean music. Members claim that they are just like other Japanese girls interested in foreign cultures, like US or South Korea, and that they shouldn’t be judged simply because they fell in love with the culture of a country known for its totalitarian regime.

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You Can Now Smell Like Fried Chicken Thanks to This KFC Drumstick Bath Bomb

Ever dream of immersing yourself in a giant tub of used KFC cooking oil that would leave you smelling like your favorite fried chicken? Well, thanks to this fried drumstick-shaped bath bomb, now you can.

KFC recently teamed up with Japanese novelty retailer Village Vanguard to create one of its most outrageous products yet – bath salts shaped like a cooked drumstick that makes your bathtub look and smell like one of the fast food restaurant’s vats of used frying oil, and leaves you smelling like fried chicken after a bath. Who would want to reek of KFC chicken, you ask? Well, the fast food chain is really popular in Japan, and we all know how much they love crazy things over there, so the unusual bath bomb is practically a guaranteed hit.

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