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Dog Castle – The Coolest Dog House in Japan

Nanami,  a playful Japanese pooch can claim to be the only dog in the world to be living in a regular castle.

Built as a small replica of Japan’s famous Matsumoto Castle, Nanami’s castle stands 2.5 meters tall and features three rooms. At the front is the main hall, where Nanami can just lay on his belly and watch out for the mailman, while at the back he has a sand-floor room, for cooling down during the hot summer days, and a rear room to hide in during thunderstorms.

Located in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Nanami’s castle took his owner six months to complete, and cost 50,000 yen ($583). While it may not be as old and famous as the real Matsumoto Castle, built in 1504, Nanami can be proud of his new dog castle.

If you’re a fan of over-the-top dog houses, you’re going to love this veritable dog mansion.

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Sokushinbutsu – Japan’s Self-Mummified Monks

Sokushinbutsu were Buddhist priests who took their own lives in such a way that they became mummies and were revered for their spirit and dedication.

Popular in northern Japan, especially around the Yamagato Prefecture, the practice of becoming Sokushinbutsu is believed to a tantric ritual from Tang China, brought to the Land of the Rising Sun by the founder of Shingon Buddhism. Read More »

Kori no Suizokukan – Japan’s Frozen Aquarium

As a way of battling the summer heatwave that hit Japan this year, authorities have inaugurated a frozen aquarium that will keep visitors cool and entertained.

Kori no Suizokukan is located in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture and features around 450 specimens of around 80 species of marine wildlife, all captured at a nearby sea port. Visitors can enjoy a brief break from the scorching sun and admire all sorts of fish, crabs or octopuses, as well as unusual objects like action figures, bottles of sake, or flowers, all embedded in huge blocks of ice.

The Frozen Aquarium was inaugurated, in Kesennuma’s fish market, in 2002, and uses flash-freezing technology to conserve fresh specimens and keep them looking so good.

While the Frozen Aquarium is a welcome tourist attraction, visitors can only spend a few minutes inside. Because temperatures inside the aquarium reach -20 degrees Celsius, a special suit is needed to keep people from becoming freezing exhibits themselves. Without these special suits, visitors would start feeling severe pains in just five minutes time.


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The Architectural Experiments of Terunobu Fujimori

Some of his works may not even look like real houses, but Terunobu Fujimori is one of the world’s most acclaimed architectural designers. His unconventional works have been displayed all around the world, and, believe it or not, people actually want to live in his houses.

A historian by trade, Terunobu Fujimori started designing buildings late in his life, when he was 44. He was asked to design a history museum for a family from his local village, near Nagano, who had ancient ties to that place. He decided to build something completely uncobventional, in order to avoid being criticized for lack of originality, and his creation was a success.

Since then, Terunobu Fujimori has been delivering one fascinating house after another, at a rate of a house per year. Using his knowledge of Japanese architectural history and his designer talents, Terunobu Fujimori manages to create unique buildings that are ecologically sensitive and energy efficient.

The way Terunobu Fujimori designs and builds his houses is as unconventional as they look. He simply takes a tree stump and starts hacking away at it with a chainsaw, until he gets a rough model of what he plans to build. Then he invites his clients to his Too-High Tea House, standing 20 meters into the air, on two forked tree trunks, and shows them his designs. If they don’t like them, he simply shakes the house until he gets a positive answer. Galleries have offered to buy his tree stump models, but he always refused to sell them.

Although he relies on professionals for the structural and electrical installations on his houses, he handles most of the interior design, with a team of friends. He never pays them for their work, as that would be labor.

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The Wacky Wooden Tub Race of Ito City

Every year, since 1956, the Japanese city of Ito has hosted the wooden tub race on Matsukawa River, a fun event that draws competitors and spectators from all around the world.

According to the story, the Japanese women of Ito used wooden tubs and wash boards to clean their laundry at Matsukawa River. When these tools became obsolete, and were about to be replaced by modern washing machines, the people of Ito decided to hang on to their tradition, by starting a tub race along the river. The first wooden tub race was held in 1956, and it’s been organized yearly since then.

Hundreds of people gather on the banks of Matsukawa River, for one of the wackiest competitions in the world. Contestants have to steer the 1 meter in diameter, 30 cm deep, oval-shaped tubs along the 400-meter course, using oars or giant wooden spoons. It sound easy enough, but out-paddling the other contestants without falling out of the tub, is harder that you think.

Another cool fact about the tub race of Ito City is the contestants usually dress up in themed costumes, mostly as geishas and samurai

 

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Cat Prin – The Japanese Tailor for Cats

If you’re one of those pet owners who love think their pets actually need fashionable clothes to look even cuter, Cat Prin is the tailor you’ve been looking for.

Cat Prin is a real cat tailor who believes cats look even more adorable when they’re dressed in funny costumes. His models are indeed some of the cutest cats I’ve ever seen, but the weirdest thing about his Cat Prin is the English translation of his website:

1. You need to dress a cat.

2. If a family and a cat become fortunate, you will take a commemorative photo!

3. If it finishes taking a photograph, you will make it remove clothes from a cat immediately. You will say then, without forgetting the language of gratitude to a cat.

Apparently he’s trying to say his clothes are mainly intended for taking photos, and should be taken off shortly after, but that’s pretty tough to say in English, when you’re using Google Translate.

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Japanese Artist Makes Complete Crocodile Costume

Japanese artist Hisako Matsumoto created a crocodile costume, complete with helmet and boots, as her graduation piece.

Before going into PETA mode, you should know the costume is completely ceramic, with not a single piece of crocodile leather on it. But it does look like a genuine crocodile costume, and that’sactually the reason I decided to post photos of it on OC.

You’ll also find a photo of the artist, at the bottom. You have to admit, she’s pretty cute.

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Life-Size Gundam Is Back to Protect Tokyo

Remember that 60-foot RX78 Gundam mech that showed up in Tokyo’s Shiokaze Park? Well, the guys at Bandai pieced it together once more, this time in Shizuoka.

The truth is I missed the awesome-looking RX78, and I couldn’t understand why they had to take it down in the first place. But that’s not important anymore, because the Gundam statue is back, and this time it’s brought a cool saber that shines at night. The newly assembled Gundam will be officially inaugurated on July 24 and it will remain in Shizuoka until January 10 2011.

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Housing Estate N – An Eccentric World Built of Cardboard

Abandoned Housing Estate Number N” is a unique miniature city, made entirely from corrugated cardboard.

So far I’ve seen a city made of toothpicks, another one made of staples, but this is the first cardboard city, for me. Created by a Japanese artist whose name eludes me, Housing Estate Number N is an ever-growing project that started back in 2001. The paradox of this art installation is that although it’s mostly abandoned, it keeps growing and evolving, with each passing day.

Some of the rooms in the estate are lit and completely furnished, while others are dark and empty. There are even some eerie characters that look like haunting spirits. Though pretty bizarre, Housing Estate N is an inspiring project that will keep growing as long as its creator desires it.

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The Jizo Army of Chausudake Volcano

Located on the barren slopes of Chausudake Volcano, in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture, hundreds of small Jizo statues make up the eeriest spirit army I’ve ever seen.

One of the most beloved divinities in Japan, Jizo is seen as a savior working to ease the suffering of those serving time in hell, and answers the prayers for health, and success of the living. He is a friend to all, and Jizo statues are usually placed at intersections of roads, to help travelers pick the right way to go. He is extremely important to pregnant women and children, and statues are often adorned with tiny children’s clothes or bibs. Parents whose children have died place toys and offerings beside the statues, asking for protection of their child’s soul.

The Jizo statues of Chausudake Volcano offer a sight unique in Japan, and all over the world. Jizo representations can be found in many places around the Land of the Rising Sun, but the dark volcanic rocks, from which the statues have been carved, and the barren surroundings create an eerie atmosphere that’s hard to forget.

 

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Japanese Women Slash Away the Pounds with Samurai Swords

Once used as deadly weapons, to slash enemies apart, Japanese Katana swords are now used by Japanese white-collar women to slash away extra pounds and cut down stress.

The recently opened “Samurai Camp” gym, in Tokyo,  looks more like the training ground for modern amazons. More than 100 of them have signed up for this unusual fitness program that aims to help them lose 11 pounds in just one month. The inventor of samurai sword fitness, 31-year-old Takafuji Ukon, believed men would be more interested in the art of Katana wielding, but much to his surprise, women were the ones who flocked to the gym.

Ukon is not a martial arts expert, but he is a master of sword dancing, and knows just what moves to teach, so the women can shed the extra weight. Still, in order to avoid potentially deadly accidents, real swords were replaced with wooden ones, wrapped in tin foil.

Since we don’t live in an era where slashing people is allowed, Takafuji Ukon teaches his students to visualize fat and stress as the enemies, when they’re using the swords. And according to the clients of Samurai Camp, they appreciate the chance to get in touch with Japanese culture, relax, and lose weight, all at the same time.

Photos by AFP via ChinaNews

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Japanese Couple Wed by a Robot

Satoko Inoue and Tomohiro Shibata bothe looked amazing on their wedding day, but the spotlight was stolen by i-Fairy, the humanoid robot that replaced the priest.

Inoue, the bride, works for the company that produces the i-Fairy robot, and Shibata is a client, so it’s safe to say robots are the reason they began dating in the first place. At his beloved’s suggestion, the groom was more than happy to replace the priest with an adorable robot that rose to the challenge, thanks to some special programming.

The bride said she always felt like robots could play a big role in people’s lives, and she’s glad her experience showed the whole world just that. Representatives of the company that makes i-Fairy said they’re thrilled one of their products was the center of attention in the first wedding presided over by a robot.

Photos by REUTERS

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Bra That Grows Rice Showcased in Japan

Developed by Triumph, a company that has created other offbeat bras in the past, the rice bra reflects the interest more and more women show in agriculture.

The weird rice bra features two cups that resemble plant pots, made from recyclable plastic. They can both be filled with soil and rice seeds, and watered through a hose that doubles as a belt that goes around the wearer’s waist. The ridiculous concept also comes with gardening gloves, so women don’t get their hands dirty.

Acording to the latest statistics, Japanese people are becoming more and more concerned with food safety and environmental problems, and yearn for a carefree rural lifestyle. Online sales of agricultural home kits, for people who want to grow their own rice, have become increasingly popular, so Triumph thought the rice bra would be ideal for women interested in agriculture.

If, by any chance, you’re actually considering getting a rice bra, you’ll be disappointed to know it’s only a concept and will never go on sale.

via Telegraph.co.uk

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Cool Van Gogh Mosaic Made from Polo Shirts

A giant reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous self-portrait, made out of polo shirts, is now on display in the lobby of the Marunouchi Building, near Tokyo Station.

The 10 by 10 meters mosaic was created using 2070 polo shirts, of 24 different colors. The unique creation is part of a campaign by Onward Kashiyama Co, a Tokyo-based apparel maker, to use painting colors into shirt designs. The van Gogh mosaic will remain on display, until May 16.

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Karube Shrine – Where the Japanese Go to Worship Breasts

A shrine dedicated to women’s breasts may sound amusing to us foreigners, but for the Japanese, this is a truly sacred place.

Located in Soja City, in Japan’s Okayama Prefecture, Karube Shrine is dedicated to Chichigamisama, the Goddess of Breasts. She is believed to help with safe child births, the production of breast milk, and even curing breast cancer. Built in 1678, the shrine became famous due to a now dead weeping cherry tree, that grew nearby.

Most women come to Karube Shrine to pray for a safe child birth, abundant lactation and breast cancer healing, but there are those who ask the Goddess of Breasts for a bigger bust. Those boob-like things that decorate the shrine’s interior are Ema, small wooden planks, where worshipers write their prayers and requests, in the hope that the god receive them. They cost about $21, and can be ordered online, if you’re interested.

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