Insane Synchronization – Japan’s Unique Precision Walking Routines

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The video of a 47-year-old tradition at Japan’s Nippon Sports Science University went viral in November last year. ‘Shuudan koudou’, which means ‘Collective Action’, is a unique routine where a group of students put up an amazing display of synchronized walking.

On November 14, 77 students performed before a crowd of 11,000 people at the university’s festivities. Their walking routine was similar to military movement exercises or synchronized marching band movements. But they were far more intricate and precise. Watch the video, and you’ll know just how precise. Seriously, the way they move is simply mind-blowing.

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Bread-Obsessed Japanese Artist Turns Loaves into Beautiful Lampshades

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Yukiko Morita, a 27-year-old corporate employee from Kyoto, has a unique hobby. She combines her love for bread and her love for art into a special product: Pampshades.“‘Pan (Japanese for bread)’ + ‘lamp shade’ = Pampshades,” Morita explains on her website. These lighting fixtures made from real bread and can light up a room, filling it with the warm tones of a fresh loaf.

“I think loaves are really cute,” says Morita. “I love their round curves. I wanted a bread display in my room so I could admire it all the time. That’s how I came up with this shape.” The idea for pampshades first came to Morita when she was a student at the Kyoto City University of Arts. She was working on a project in a studio one day, playing around with a French baguette. She pulled out and nibbled on the soft parts, leaving the hollow outer shell intact. When she held it up towards the sunlight and let it stream in, that was her ‘aha!’ moment.

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Have a Hoot at Japan’s New Owl Cafés!

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If you’re a cat person and you’re in Japan, you surely must have heard of the famous cat cafés. The concept is pretty straight forward: most people live in such crowded places that there’s hardly any room for a pet, so whenever you feel like getting a little love from a furry friend, all you have to do is go to one of these cat cafés. It’s almost like going to a domestic safari while having a cup of coffee.

If at first there was this craze with cats, now there’s a craze with owls. Yes, cafés with real live owls watching you with their big eyes as you quietly sip your drink. Of course, the entire theme of these cafés has something to do with owls, so the background and the menu complete the picture. The owl cafés are pretty crowded places. Customers are not allowed to get in the cafés at the same time and scare the birds, so queues are formed outside. Careful! The weekends are especially busy, so you might want to get up early if you want to have coffee with an owl. There are quite a few owl cafés to choose from, each with its own rules, but there are a few general guidelines that should be respected when entering these places. First of all, you have to find the café, because there won’t be any flashy lights, but merely a curtain, protecting these birds of prey. After you’ve pinpointed the location and managed to get inside, make sure you listen carefully to the personnel: don’t pet, touch or hold other owls than those indicated by them, don’t handle the owls by yourself, don’t use your camera flash and don’t record without permission. What happens if you don’t follow the rules? Imagine the racket created by a dozen freaked-out owls! Lastly, make sure you alert the personnel whenever you see an owl pooping. They really don’t give a hoot about you looking at them.

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Banana Tattooing, an Increasingly Popular Art Form

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Up until a few years ago, people rarely looked at bananas as anything more than delicious fruits, let alone as an art medium. But that was before artists started taking advantage of the banana peel’s oxidation process to create amazing artworks. Today, more and more artists are becoming specialized in banana oxidation art, also known as banana tattooing.

Banana peel may seem like a strange canvas too some, but it’s also one that can yield some pretty impressive results. Case in point, the amazing artworks of End Cape, a young Japanese artist who specializes in bruising bananas. Using a sharp tool like a simple needle or a thumbtack, he spends up to five hours puncturing the peel of the tropical fruit and creating breathtaking masterpieces inspired by popular anime, traditional Japanese art and famous landmarks. The process is very similar to that used by regular tattoo artists, only without the paint. In contact with air, the bruised sections of the banana turn brown, revealing artist’s designs. Apparently, the colder the fruit is, the faster it oxidizes. By controlling the density of needle holes, End Cape is able to create different textures and shades of brown.

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The Danbocchi – A $600 Cardboard Box for People Who Value Their Privacy

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You know those moments when you’re surrounded by a sea of people and all you can think about is being alone in a tiny room? Ok, maybe that’s just me, but he point is now you can isolate yourself from the world pretty much anywhere and anytime, thanks to the Danbocchi. This ordinary-looking cardboard box is is soundproofed up to 30 decibels, so as long as you do it in a low voice, you can talk to yourself, scream, or sing without worrying about people hearing you.

The Danbocchi might seem like the perfect accessory for hikikomori, Japan’s reclusive youth, but in fact, it was designed for ordinary people who want to sing karaoke or play video games at high volume without disturbing their neighbors. If you live in an apartment with really thin walls, you probably know how annoying loud neighbors are, particularly at night, but thanks to the Danbocchi sound-dampening box, noise is no longer a problem. Just step inside, close the door, and be as loud as you can. According to the Danbocchi official site, if someone is singing karaoke at 90 decibels inside the box, it only sounds like 60 decibels to people outside of it, which is about a normal speaking volume.

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Japanese Musician Plays the Most Amazing Hand Flute You’ve Ever Heard

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Mitsuhiro Mori is an accomplished musician best known for his hand flute skills. If you close your eyes and just listen to him sing, you ca swear he’s playing a flute or an ocarina, when in reality, all he’s really doing is blowing air into his hands.  Prepare to have your mind blown!

The talented Mitsuhiro and his college friend and pianist Keisuke Usuda formed the “Piano and Hand Flute Duo Childhood”, after Usuda was so impressed with his buddy’s hand flute skills and decided they should put it to good use. The unique duo have been entertaining audiences all around the world ever since, produced several albums and appeared on numerous television shows. You may have seen your friends do an impressive hand flute or maybe watched YouTube videos of people showing off their skills, but I can assure you you haven’t seen anything quite like this before. There are some pretty amazing hand flute players out there, but almost all of them agree, Mitsuhiro Mori is in a league of his own. He can reach any note he wants and can play really fast, which is incredibly difficult. It just goes to show you don’t always need expensive instruments to make great music.

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Send Your Toys around the World with Japan’s Stuffed Animal Travel Agency

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There comes a time in every plush toy’s life when they must leave the comfort of their homes and go backpacking through Europe and the US to learn about the different cultures out there. And it’s all possible thanks to a travelling agency from Japan called Unagi Travel. Their staff takes your toys around the world, shows them a good time and photographs them with popular tourist attractions.

Ms Azuma – who works for the agency, can send your beloved plush toy anywhere in Japan, Europe or the United States for a small fee. Your toy can take a complete tour of Tokyo for only $45 and see some of the country’s most famous onsen (hot springs) for $55. Any beloved stuffed friend is welcome as long as they don’t exceed 250 grams. To keep you updated on what your toy companion has been up to, Ms Azuma will also document the trip and immortalize every moment through videos and photos. One lucky pink animal visited the Schönbrunn Palace in Austria and a melancholic bear was photographed with her footprints on a secluded beach. Another lucky pair of toys was photographed at the Great Buddha of Kamakura, and guess what? Your beloved stuffed friend can be next.

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Japanese Company Creates Garlic-Flavored Dark Beer

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Here’s some interesting news: a Japanese company has combined its popular dark beer with the pungent, intense flavor of black garlic, thus creating the unique and rather bizarre Aomori Garlic Black Beer.

Featuring a sleek black label with elegant golden writing, the black garlic-flavored beer bottle – which costs 630 yen ($6.5) – looks very appealing to any avid dark beer lover. The first sip of Aomori Garlic Black Beer doesn’t taste very different from any other quality black beer, but as the dark goes down your throat and into the stomach, the potent black garlic flavor starts to take over your mouth. Incredibly, those brave enough to actually try the Aomori Garlic Black Beer say the spicy, potent aftertaste is very addictive, making you want to drink more and more of the strange beverage.

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The Adorable Sushi Roll Art of Takayo Kiyota

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Tokyo-based artist Takyo Kiyota uses sushi rolls as a canvas for her art. Believe it or not, she never knows exactly what her edible artworks are going to look like, relying only on visualization when expertly placing the colored grains of rice inside the roll.

Just like in regular makizushi, or “rolled sushi,”, the ingredients in Takayo Kiyota’s rolls are laid lengthwise, bottom to top, then rolled shut in a sheet of seaweed. The loaf-shaped piece of sushi looks unimpressive on the outside, but slicing cross-sections reveals amazingly detailed works of art. From edible replicas of famous paintings and popular character of Japanese anime to gadgets like the Apple iPhone and Facebook “likes”, it seems there’s nothing Takayo can’t replicate in her makizushi rolls. But getting every grain of rice in just the right place seems like an impossible task, and the artist herself admits the slightest shift of an ingredient or overly exerted force when wrapping can completely throw things off. “I never know what the inside looks like so I’m never sure if it will come out the way I imagined. And I can’t make edits once it’s done,” Takayo, a.k.a Tama-chan, says. “It’s always a special moment when I make the first incision to reveal the image.”

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Japanese 88-Member Pop Group Selects Lead Singers in Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament

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Japanese music group AKB48 currently holds the Guinness record for the world’s largest pop group, with an impressive 88 female members split into various teams. But fitting all the girls on a single stage is tricky, so every time they launch a new single, AKB48 members hold a knockout rock-paper-scissors tournament to select a limited number of singers.

AKB48 is the brainchild of producer Yasushi Akimoto, who wanted to create a girl band that, unlike other pop groups who are mostly seen on TV and hold concerts sporadically, could perform for its fans live, every day, at their own theater. The band debuted in 2005 with 20 members chosen from almost 8,000 girls. In April of 2006, another group of 18 girls were chosen to form Team B of AKB48, and there are currently four different teams making up the 88-strong all-female idol group, as well as various sister groups Japan and various Asian countries. The team concept of AKB48 was meant to take load off of its members, since daily concerts at the group’s theater in Akibahara, Tokyo, are performed by only one of the teams, and also allow the others to make appearances at different locations around the world. In the eight years since its inception, AKB48 has become a social phenomenon, with record sales of $226 million in Japan alone. The girls have become so popular that tickets for their daily performances are not even sold anymore, but distributed by lottery. Even their unique rock-paper-scissors tournament to select lead singers for each new single is a sold-out event held at the giant Nippon Budokan arena.

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Feelling Lonely? Rent a Japanese Middle-Aged Man for $10 an Hour

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Ossan Rental (or “Middle-Aged Guy Rental”) is the newest bizarre rental service in Japan. As the name suggests, it allows people to rent an average middle-aged Japanese guy for ¥1,000 ($10) an hour.

There are a lot of crazy people-renting services in the Land of the Rising Sun, from the now famous Soine-ya Prime rent-a handsome-boyfriend service, to simple rent-a-friend options and even a rent-a-bare-thigh advertising service. So we have hot young guys and girls for rent, but what about middle-aged folks, is no one interested in paying for their time? Surely there has to be a market out there for them, too, right? That’s probably what the masterminds before Ossan Rental thought when they decided to open the first rental service for middle-aged guys in Japan. The company currently offers only two options to choose from, either the 46-year old Takanobu Nishimoto, a college lecturer in fashion and styling from Osaka, or Mikio Sendou, a former baseball player and current sports commentator from Gifu Prefecture. They both seem like interesting dudes, and the company’s roster is only going to get bigger once the business gets off the ground.

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Japanese Guy Earns $10,000 for Three Months of Gaming, Playing for 12 Hours a Day

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They say the secret to a successful career is doing what you love, but paying monthly bills when the thing you love most is playing video games all day has got to be pretty darn hard. Not for Moru-chan, a Japanese gamer who is currently earning  a decent $10,000 for basically spending three months of his life playing a video game and broadcasting his experience online.

If you enjoy spending your free time playing massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) like World of Warcraft of Guild Wars, Moru-chan’s arrangement must seem like a dream job. Truth be told, there are probably thousands of gamers out there who do the same thing for free, but he is one of the lucky few who are able to support their livelihood by killing monsters, upgrading their virtual character and performing quests in a fantasy online universe. A long-time fan of online role-playing games, Moru Chans was chosen by the development team of Japanese MMO ArchAge to be the recipient of a ¥1 million ($10,000) check for spending three whole months cooped up in a one-room apartment provided by the company playing the video game and streaming it to Japanese video-sharing site Niconico. He spends all night in front of the computer, playing the game, and his days sleeping on a mattress on the floor, cooking in his very small kitchenette and doing the laundry.

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Japanese Social Club Cleans Public Toilets as a Weekend Hobby

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Most people would rather their bladder burst than walk into a public toilet to do their business, let alone to clean it, but the members of Tokyo social club Benjyo Soujer do it for free, with their bare hands, as a therapeutic hobby.

On Sunday mornings, a group of 35 adults and children gather at public lavatories around Tokyo, to clean them. They are members of Benjyo Soujer, a social club founded on Facebook, and their main mission is to clean themselves by cleaning cubicles. They start by mixing their own cocktails of cleaning agents, then huddle into the toilets spraying and scrubbing everything from the urinals and toilet bowls to the facility’s walls and floor. By the time they’re done, the place is as clean as the day it first opened its doors, maybe cleaner. The 35 members of the unique group don’t think of themselves as volunteers helping the local administration keep public restrooms sanitary, instead saying they do the work for themselves as a sort of spirit cleansing ritual similar to the ones practiced by Buddhist monks to find peace of heart. For some, it’s also also a fun way to blow off steam before the coming week.

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Fit for a Royal Behind – Hanebisho, the World’s Most Expensive Toilet Paper That Costs $17 a Roll

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If you’ve recently run out of things to spend your mountains of cash on, you may want to try the outrageously expensive Hanebisho toilet paper. It’s considered the most luxurious and most expensive toilet paper in the world.

From the $91,500 crocodile skin t-shirt to the $97,060 GRV goldRally car wax, we’ve featured some pretty outrageous things the world’s rich and famous like to spend their money on, but none as crazy as the Japanese exclusive toilet paper known as Hanebisho. For people who feel their derrière deserves the best money can buy, there’s simply no alternative to this beautifully adorned work of art. As you can see in the photos below, a three-pack of Hanebisho will set you back ¥5,000 ($51), while the eight-pack can be yours for ‘just’ ¥10,000($102), which means a single roll ranges from $13 to $17. That’s a whole lot more than what the average person spends on toilet paper, not to mention the darned thing is just 2-ply. At this stage, you’re probably wondering what on Earth makes Hanebisho toilet paper so special that people are willing to spend a small fortune on it? Where do I begin?

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Relaxing Pillows Shaped Like a Woman’s Lap Gain Popularity in Japan

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Designed to replicate the relaxing experience of resting your head on a woman’s lap, the Himazakura Lap Pillow is still very popular in Japan, years after it was launched.

On the popular online store Japan Trend Shop, the Himazakura Lap Pillow is described as” soft and elastic to the touch, and perfectly suited to lying your head on. You’ll be surprised at how comfortable and real it feels!” Shaped as the lap of a woman kneeling in Japanese style, the polyurethane cushion recreates the comfortable feeling of resting your head on a woman’s lap, be it your mother or your loving wife. Launched during the mid 2000′s by the Trane Corporation and advertised as a homesickness-healing accessory, the lap pillow was an instant hit with lonely shoppers, and it’s still proving a best-seller today. The item is sold out on both Japan Trend Shop and Amazon Japan, and it’s flying off the shelves of duty free shops in Tokyo and Narita International airports, where most people buy it as a novelty gift for friends.

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