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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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Queen Elizabeth – Japan’s Most Famous Love Hotel

Love hotels are part of Japan’s tradition, and the Queen Elizabeth is regarded as the most popular of them all. It’s not because of the great service, but more because of its wacky design.

Shaped like the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, this weird-looking hotel is located in Kanagawa, not far from Tokyo. Apparently the rooms also have a naval theme, so guests feel more like they’re doing it on a real ship.

One of the funniest things about the recently reconditioned Queen Elizabeth Love Hotel is that it features statues of Jake and Rose, from James Cameron’s Titanic, doing the flying pose, on the ship’s bow. I fail to see the connection, but I guess a boat’s a boat, and…well whatever attracts more customers, right?

Photo source: TokyoTimes

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Japanese Game Character Receives Real Life Birthday Parties

I’m a big video-game fan myself, but I’d rather go out and look for a real date, than stay home and cook sexy Lara Croft a birthday cake.

Love Plus, a Japan-only video-game, for the Nintendo DS, takes the idea of dating a virtual character, a bit further than other relationship simulators. Very similar to that old pet simulator, Tamagotchi, the player must keep his better half happy, by taking her out on dates, talking with her in real time, holding her hand spending quality time together, and, apparently throwing her a hell of a birthday party, complete with cakes and presents.

On April 20, fans of Love Plus celebrated the birthday of one o the game’s most popular characters, Anegasaki Nene. As a video-game character, Nene is practically ageless, but that didn’t stop dozens of players from posting photos from the birthdays they threw for her, on a popular video-game forum.

Oddly enough, this isn’t the strangest thing anyone has done for Anegasaki Nene. Last year, player Sal9000 actually married her, and spent the wedding night in a Tokyo hotel, where they could see the city lights. And I thought Japanese neon fights were weird…

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Baby Crying Festival Held in Japan

No mother likes it when her toddler starts crying, but at the Naki Sumo baby crying contest wailing is actually encouraged.

Held every year, at the Sensoji Temple, in Tokyo, the baby crying festival is a 400-year-old tradition, believed to keep rug-rats in good health. Amateur sumo wrestlers hold the babies high in the air, and try to scare them into crying, while a sumo referee judges the match. The toddler who cries longest and loudest is considered the winner.

Japanese parents bring the babies to the contest, of their own free will, and truly believe the sumo induced crying keeps their children in good health, and wards off evil spirits. This year, 80 babies, all under one year old, participated in Naki Sumo. As you might have guessed, the whiniest contender won.

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Onbashira – Japan’s Riskiest Celebration

Held every six years, in the Nagano area of Japan, Onbashira Festival is believed to have continued uninterruptedly, for the last 1200 years.

Onbashira, literally translated as “the sacred pillars”, is a Japanese tradition that symbolizes the renewal of Suwa Grand Shrine. It consists of two phases: Yamadashi and Satobiki, the first held in April, and the second in May. Before Onbashira begins, 16 tree trunks, cut form 200-year-old Japanese fir trees are cut down. Each tree can be up to 1 meter across, 16 meters tall and weigh up to 12 tons.

Yamadashi is translated as “coming out of the mountains” and is the most popular part of the festival. Teams of men have to drag the logs down the mountain, to Suwa Shrine. At some points they encounter steep slopes where they must slide the tree trunks. In a ceremony called Ki-otoshi, brave young men risk their lives by climbing on the trunks and riding the all the way down the muddy slopes. It takes 3 days to move the sacred tree trunks, over 10 kilometers, to the shrine.

Satobiki involves placing the logs at the four corners of the four buildings that make up Suwa Grand Shrine. Using ropes, teams have to pull up the giant tree trunks in a vertical position, with young men sitting on them. Those still on the logs after they are positioned, perform all sort of feats.

On Sunday, during the 2010 edition of Onbashira Festival, a man was crushed to death by a tree trunk, during Satobiki. One of the ropes came loose and hit the 38-year-old man in the head. Several others were injured in the accident.

Photos via Daylife

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Make Your Own Edible Insects with GUMMIX

Produced by Japanese company Megahouse, the GUMMIX kit allows kids and grown-ups to make their own jelly insects, as pranks or food decorations.

GUMMIX is part of the Megahouse 2010 Shokking lineup, and consists of special gelatin powder and insect molds. It’s as simple as it is fun. Just mix the gelatin with fruit syrup, ketchup or soy sauce, depending on what you’re trying to achieve, and pour the mixture into the molds.  When the jelly starts to harden, attach the limbs with the included tweezers, and there you have it, an edible bug.

The GUMMIX insect kit comes with a mixing cup, recipe cards, and 4 moulds of a beetle, a crawfish, a stag beetle and a sow bug. It costs 3675 yen ($40) and you can purchase 3 extra moulds, for 1570 yen each ($17).

via Gigazine

Gummix-kit

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Japanese Invent Bionic Potato-Chip Grabber

Yup, leave it to the Japanese to invent something completely useless, yet totally cool. This time it’s a grabbing device for potato chips.

Potato chips may be delicious, but you can’t really enjoy them without getting grease all over your fingers and then the keyboard. Well the Japanese have finally come up with a solution to this pressing problem. Potechi ( a Japanese neologism derived from the English “potato chip”) is an ingenious device manufactured by Takara Tomi, that grabs potato chips, so you don’t have to.

Featuring groundbreaking technologies like NBCS (No Broken Clutch System), NTTS (No Touch Table System) and FECS (Finger Easy Cleaning System) allows you to gently pick up potato chips without breaking them. Simply press the button and let Potechi do the rest of the job for you.

The ingenious Potechi chip grabbing tool is available in japan, for just $7. Come on, a clean keyboard is worth at least that much.

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Temari Balls – Mesmerizing Artworks Made of Yarn

The folk art of Temari Balls began in China, but it was introduced in Japan roughly 600 years ago, where it flourished and evolved into a true art-form.

Legend has it, the first Japanese Temari Balls were made from old kimono threads, by mothers who wanted to make their kids something to play with. Silk strings would be wadded up to for a ball that would be wrapped in layers of string. In time, Temari makers started making intricate patterns and Temari slowly turned from a toy into a form of artistic expression.

Traditionally, Temari balls are given to children on New Year’s Eve, by their mothers. Inside the balls, women would put a small piece of paper with a written wish for the child. Since the kid could never find out what the wish was without him destroying the toy, the wish had a greater chance of coming true.

Also known as “gotenmari”, some Temari Balls have a variety of noise-makers inside, to make them more fun. They can be used in handball games and it is said the old Temari Balls were so tightly wrapped, they would bounce.

Temari-Balls

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World’s Fishiest Wedding Cake

I’m all for originality, but replacing a wedding cake with a smelly tuna seems a bit too much. But in a country like Japan, where people fight each other with neon lamps, anything goes.

A wedding-planning company in Kanagawa has been offering tuna fish instead of traditional wedding cakes for over ten years now. The couple you see below has opted for a 100 kg-heavy BigEye Tuna as treat for their guests, but clients have a wide range of packages to choose from, depending on the number of guests.

I don’t know about you, but I always look forward to the cake when attending a wedding, and this tuna doesn’t look very delicious.

via Japan Probe

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The PL Peace Tower – World’s Coolest Tower?

The PL Peace Tower in Tondabayashi, a town close to Osaka, Japan is by far one of the most “bizarre yet cool” buildings I have ever seen.

One of the many structures located in the PL Holy Land, the PL Peace Tower was built back in 1970, using the newest construction technique at the time. It belongs to the Perfect Liberty Church, a religious movement founded in 1924 that teaches its followers that “Life is Art” and they should express themselves in everuthing they do.

The shape of the PL Peace Tower, resembling a single finger pointing at the sky, symbolizes one of the church founder’s revelation that ” the truth is one”. It’s also an international symbol of world peace. Inside the Peace Tower you’ll find an unlimited list of people who lost their lives because of human wars.

The PL Peace Tower is 180 meters high and thanks to a low center of gravity (only 12 meters above ground), it can tilt up to 45 degrees and swing back to its original position. This makes it extremely resistant to earthquakes. Its strange but fascinating shape was achieved through the use of shotcrete, spaying concrete onto wire netting.

Photos via Juergen Specht

PL-Peace-Tower

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Giant Gigantor Unveiled in Japan

Two weeks after the Tokyo Gundam statue was dismantled, a new robot statue was unveiled in Kobe, Japan. This time it’s the Tetsujin 28-go aka Gigantor.

This mean looking machine was set up in Wakamatsu Park, Kobe and unlike the RX78 Gundam statue it will remain here permanently. The funds for the construction of Gigantor were not supplied by big-time corporations either. The approximately 1.5 million dollars were raised by local shop owners, in hope that it will bring commerce and people to Kobe.

The city of Kobe was seriously damaged by an earthquake, in 1995, and its population has decreased to around 80% of what it was before the cataclysm. Mitsuteru Yokoyama, a legendary manga artists, was born in Kobe and helped design Tetsujin 28-go.

via Mainichi

Gigantor

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Rice Field Art in Rural Japan

You may think crop circles are cool, but they nothing compared to the rice field murals found in villages like Inakadate, Japan.

Using purple and yellow-leafed rice, combined with the more traditional green variety, the villagers of Inakadate create true agricultural masterpieces. This all began in 1993, when people thought of doing something spectacular, to revitalize the area.

During the first nine years, people only created a rice representation of Mount Iwaki, but then started plating intricate models. Landowners in the area agreed to use their parcels to create a 15,000 square meters “canvas” and, using a computer to pinpoint where every rice seed would be planted, managed to create some extraordinary works of art.

This year, in the village of Inakadate, people could see Napoleon and a Sengoku warrior, both on horseback, coming to life in the rice fields. The artworks are invisible from ground level, so the curious have to climb the village’s mock castle tower to admire them.

More than 150,000 people visit Inakadate every year, to see its amazing rice field art. That’s an impressive number of people considering the village has a population of just 8,700.

via Daily Mail

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