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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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Japanese Company Creates Smart Fork That Cancels Out Noodle-Slurping Noises

In an attempt to battle “noodle harassment”, a Japanese company created a smart fork that can cancel out a user’s noodle-slurping noises.

Any ramen connoisseur will tell you that proper Japanese ramen etiquette entails slurping your noodles while you eat them, as doing so allows for aeration and full flavor development. This practice, however, can be
disturbing for Westerners and is officially referred to as “noodle harassment”, or “noo-hara” in Japan. The Japanese, however, have no intention of giving up this much loved cultural practice, and so an impasse has been reached. Enter Nissin, the 69-year-old Japanese company that invented instant noodles, and their revolutionary, albeit cumbersome, slurp canceling gadget the Otohiko fork.

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Japanese Man Invents Coffee Made Entirely of Garlic

When you think about coffee alternatives, garlic is probably one of the last things that comes to mind, but that exactly the ingredient that one Japanese inventor used to create a drink that looks and tastes like coffee.

74-year-old Yokitomo Shimotai, a coffee shop owner in Aomori Prefecture, Japan, claims that his unique “garlic coffee” is the result of a cooking blunder he made over 30 years ago, when he burned a steak and garlic while aiting tables at the same time. Intrigued by the scorched garlic’s aroma, he mashed it up with a spoon and mixed it with hot water. The resulting drink looked and tasted a lot like coffee. Making a mental note of his discovery, Yokimoto carried on with his job, and only started researching garlic coffee again after he retired.

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Japan Now Has a Cafe Dedicated to Female Thighs

If you enjoy staring at women’s thighs while you eat, there’s now a place that allows you to do just that, without looking like a pervert. Welcome to Japan’s new World of Thighs Photography Cafe!

It’s no secret that Japan loves themed restaurants and cafes, but if you thought airsoft restaurants and reptile cafes were a bit too much, you’re going to love this new joint that is “colored by the world of thighs”. Young girls’ thighs, that it. Designed as an extension of Japanese photographer Yuria’s artistic exhibitions, the newly opened cafe in Tokyo’s Ebisu district is decorated with photos of women’s  thighs from Yuria’s existing portfolio, as well as some never-before-seen pics from a recent photo shoot in Guam. If you’re unfamiliar with Yuria’s body of work, it’s pretty much centered around female thighs.

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Japanese Programming School Attracts Male Students with Cute Maids

It’s no secret that Japanese men have a thing for maids, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some businesses try to use their popularity as an advantage over the competition. Like this new programming school in Shibuya, Tokyo, that is trying to attract male students by having cute maids studying alongside them.

MadeInMaidFamily is one of many trade schools in Tokyo, so its founders knew that they had to come up with something special to give them an edge in a very competitive market. Their solution – cute maids to keep male students coming back and motivate them to hone their programming skills. The lessons are designed to encourage interaction between students with the maids asking and offering help to the guys.

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YouTuber Sells Shares in Himself Online, Makes $490,000 in One Week

On the surface, Japan’s newest stock exchange platform, Valu, may seem like an innovative game changer in that it allows users to sell shares in themselves. The goal of which, for many, is to raise money to start a business or work on personal/freelance projects within their profession. That being said, however, there is at least one kink the company still needs to iron out if they wish to take Valu to the next level – keeping stock buyers from being conned by those just looking to make a quick buck at others’ expense.

Which is exactly what happened this week when a Japanese Youtuber who goes by the name of Hikaru exploited one of Valu’s features to basically cash out on his popularity. While the concept of selling stocks in oneself may seem very similar to basic crowdfunding, Valu also allows the trading of tokens called “VA” between those who list them, and the tokens are also exchangeable with bitcoin. So Hikaru used his popularity to boost the price of his stocks, and then sold them at a huge profit.

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Japanese Homeless Comedian Makes a Good Living Renting Himself to People for 45 Cents a Day

It’s hard to believe that anyone could survive on just 45 cents a day, especially if they don’t even have a place to sleep, but Japanese comedian Kotani Makoto has been doing it for a while now, and claims that he’s happier and more successful than ever before.

But it’s not just that Kotani Makoto is doing better than ever on ¥50 (¢45) a day that’s intriguing, but also how he gets that money. Four years ago, soon after moving to Tokyo to make it as a solo comedian, Makoto found himself unable to afford his own place, so he moved in with a more established comedian called King Kong Nishino, for a reasonable ¥40,000 (~$400 USD) monthly rent. However, Nishino could only put up with his new roommate’s sloppy and messy lifestyle for a couple of months, after which he just shook his head and told him “”Starting today, you should become homeless. Your life will definitely be better that way.” Nishino took the advice to heart and claims it changed his life for the better.

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Japanese Company to Sell Robot Dog That Faints If Your Feet Smell Bad

A Japanese company has created an adorable robot dog that can tell you how bad your feet smell, by using a powerful sensor embedded in its nose. If your feet don’t have bad odor, “Hana-chan” will happily wag its tale, if it detects moderately smelly feet, it will start to bark, and if they really stink, it will just fall over like the smell caused it to faint.

Foot odor is a big deal in Japan, where it is customary for people to take off their shoes whenever they enter someone’s home. In fact, subjecting others to foul bodily odors can even be considered harassment in Japan, so it’s no wonder that some of the most brilliant minds in the country’s tech industry have been dedicating their talent to tackling this issue. Panasonic recently unveiled a high-tech deodorizing coat hanger, Konika Minolta developed a pocket-size device that monitors body odors and alerts the user when they start to smell, and, last year, gadget maker Thanko started selling clip-on armpit fans designed to keep people’s armpits nice and dry. Now, we have Hana-chan, a robot dog capable of telling people if their feet stink.

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In Japan They Use Motorcycles as Musical Instruments

If you’re into motorcycles, you’ve probably heard about Bōsōzoku, the Japanese rebel biker gangs often associated with outlandish motorcycle tuning. But what you probably didn’t know is that they like to use their bike to create really loud music.

Thrill-seeking Bōsōzoku gangs have been known to engage in a variety of dangerous and illegal activities, like racing through city streets, weaving through traffic and running red lights, or removing the mufflers on their bikes to make even more noise than usual. But ever since Japanese police started cracking down on illegal Bōsōzoku activities in the early 2000s, they’ve had to come up with new ways of passing time without breaking the law. That’s how they came up with “Bōsōzoku sound battles”, where participants compete in creating the most impressive dubstep tunes using the throttle and clutch on their motorcycles.

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