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New Japanese Gym Lets You Work Out with a Cute Maid

Maid cafes have been a big part of Japanese pop culture for a while now, but the maid phenomenon is transitioning into other areas as well. For example, a new gym near Tokyo’s famous Akihabara district offers patrons the chance to work out while assisted by beautiful trainers wearing maid costumes.

Can you imagine pumping some iron with a cute maid spotting you and cheering you on? Well, apparently a lot of Japanese guys can and they’re loving the idea. So much so that they’ve helped successfully crowdfund the MID GYM project thought up by a couple of young Japanese entrepreneurs. With more than a month to go to the deadline, the campaign to make the unique maid gym a reality has already met its 700,000 yen goal, on Japanese crowdfunding site CampFire. It’s not clear exactly when the Mid Gym will open its gates, but it’s definitely coming soon.

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Vladimir Putin Calendars Are Very Big in Japan

You probably didn’t even know that a government-approved Vladimir Putin calendar actually existed, but even more surprising is the fact that it is incredibly popular in Japan, where hundreds of thousands of copies have been snatched up by fans of the Russian president, in the last few months.

The official 2017 Vladimir Putin Calendar is produced by a St. Petersburg company called Mednyi Vsadnik, with authorization from the Russian government. It features a manly photo of Putin for each month of the year, along with some of his most popular quotes. The calendar is written in eight languages, including English, and is obviously very popular in Russia. But while the calendar’s domestic success was to be expected, its massive popularity in Japan was certainly not.

Japanese chain franchise store Loft has been exclusively selling the 2017 Putin calendar since August last year, for around 90 cents apiece. News of the calendar being available at Loft stores apparently spread like wildfire on social media, with many fans of the Russian president scrambling to buy one for themselves or their friends. By October 2016, the Vladimir Putin Calendar, which comes in two sizes, was the the third and fourth most sold item out of some 3,500 different calendars.

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Adult Adoption – The Secret to Preserving Centuries-Old Japanese Family Businesses

Japan has one of the highest adoption rates in the world, with over 80,000 legal adoptions recorded every year. Yet when it comes to adopting children, the Asian country is lagging way behind most developed countries. That’s because around 98% of Japanese adoptees are bright young men in their 20s and 30s.

At the same time, while studies have shown that family-controlled businesses are generally unsustainable over long periods of time –  mostly due to the fact that business acumen and intelligence are only partially inherited – it’s interesting to see that not only are a third of Japanese corporations family-run, but they are also clearly outperforming professionally managed companies in almost every way. Statistics show that family firms are more profitable, have a higher market valuation and increased sales compared to their rivals. Even more curious is that giants like Suzuki, Toyota or Matsui Securities have managed to keep it all in the family for over a hundred years, and other family businesses for even longer than that.

But what does the remarkable success of family business have to do with the high rate of adult adoption, right? Well, in Japan at least, these two curiosities are very closely linked. Prior to the Second World War, civil code in Japan decreed family wealth could only be passed down through male lines, traditionally to the first born son. So families with no male heirs or with sons deemed unsuitable to take over the family business turned to adoption, but not the kind most of us are used to. Instead of simply adopting a baby or a young boy, they adopted young men who displayed the intelligence and knowledge of business required to ensure that their name and legacy endured until the next generation. And while the law no longer prohibits people from passing down their fortune to female heirs, the age-old tradition of electing a ‘mukoyoshi’ (or ‘adopted son-in-law’) is still very popular in Japan.

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Japanese Man Hasn’t Spoken to His Wife in 20 Years, Despite Living in the Same House

Despite living under the same roof and raising their three children together, a Japanese husband hasn’t spoken a single word to his wife in the last 20 years.

No marriage is perfect, and spouses sometimes give each other the silent treatment when they’re upset. But either they go their separate ways or try to patch things up and move on. But not Okou Katayama. For the past two decades he has only answered his wife Yumi’s attempts at making conversation with occasional nods and grunts. Their unusual relationship was revealed by their 18-year-old son Yoshiki, who appealed to a Japanese TV show to help him fix things, as he had never heard his parents talk to each other.

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Japanese Boutique Sells Jeans That Have Been Worn for at Least a Year

The Onomichi Denim Project, a chic boutique in Onomichi, Japan’s Hiroshima Prefecture, is a popular destination for denim enthusiasts looking for a pair of truly special jeans. The shop is well-known around Japan and even abroad for selling premium jeans that have been worn by select members of the local community for at least one year.

Selling used jeans, or any other type of clothing for that matter, is not exactly a new business model, but Onomichi Denim Project is not your average second-hand denim retailer. Created in 2013, as a collaborative effort between local designer Yoshiyuki Hayashi, textile expert Yukinobu Danjo, and Discoverlink Setouchi, an organization that aims to supports local industry, the minimalist boutique aims to draw attention to the city’s top-quality craftsmanship and its people in a unique way. Plus, while used denim is generally sold at a discount, these particular jeans actually get about twice as a expensive after being worn by somebody almost daily, for at least a year.

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The Unlikely 25-Year Friendship Between a Human Diver and a Fish

Tateyama Bay, in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, is the meeting place of two very unlikely friends – local diver Hiroyuki Arakawa and an Asian sheepshead wrasse by the name of Yoriko. The pair met 25 years ago and have been visiting each other ever since.

Arakawa has been looking after an underwater Shinto shrine located in Tateyama Bay for over a quarter of a century, also acting as a guide for tourist who want to visit it. During that time, he has become unusually close with a giant friendly fish who comes to greet him whenever he calls. All he has to do is call – by knocking with a hammer on a piece of metal – and the fish shows up. They’ve been friends for 25 years now, and Hiroyuki has even named the fish Yoriko.

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Adult Wrapping – The Japanese Therapy Craze That Recreates the Comforting Feeling of a Womb

Otona Maki, or ‘adult wrapping’, is a Japanese therapeutic method of correcting posture and alleviating body stiffness by wrapping the human body in a large piece of cloth that emulates the comfortable feel of a mother’s womb.

Well-known for their long work hours, many Japanese people develop posture problems and body stiffness. For a long time, getting massages and stretching have been the most popular ways of dealing with these issues, but now someone claims to have come up with an even better solution. Otona Maki is a new and intriguing way of improving posture and making your body more flexible than ever, while at the same time helping practitioners relax by recreating the comfortable feel of a mother’s womb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Read More »

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