Would You Pay $600 a Month to Live in a Human Locker Room?

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It’s no secret that Tokyo is one of the most crowded cities n the world. It’s also got some of the smallest apartments in the world, but a recent news program showed this whole housing problem is getting ridiculous. People are paying huge rents to live in coffin-sized apartments.

Just looking at photos of these locker room apartments in the Tokyo’s Shibuya district is enough to make anyone feel claustrophobic. And yet there are people willing to pay as much as ¥55,000 a month ($586) a month to live in them. Granted, most of them are probably just young professionals who spend most of their time at work and outdoors, using these tiny accommodations just for sleeping, but still, the fact that someone would pay that high a rent for this kind of living conditions is baffling. Apart from the obvious lack of space, these so-called ”geki-sema share houses” are stacked on top of each other, and some don’t even have windows. The latest reactions to the video report show even Japanese people, who are used to small spaces, think these human locker rooms are insane.

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Young Japanese Women Rent Out Their Bare Legs as Advertising Space

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A good way to make sure your advertisement gets plenty of exposure is to place it where a lot of people are looking. With this important marketing rule in mind, one Japanese advertising service is offering brands a novel way to raise awareness to their business – placing advertising stickers on the bare thighs of young girls.

We’ve featured some pretty bizarre advertising techniques here, on Oddity Central. We’ve had people renting out their last names to the highest bidder, tattooing brand names on their faces, and even using animals as living billboards, But so far, women’s legs have been off limits. Well, not anymore; Japanese PR company Absolute Territory PR has begun paying young women to wear advertising stickers on their “absolute territory” – the part of their thighs between the edge of their miniskirts and their high socks. Apparently this area of the female thigh is very popular with Japanese men, as evidenced by the fact that it even has its own Facebook page. You’d think such a daring way of advertising would be frowned upon by most girls, but as of November of last year, over 1,300 girls had applied for the agency’s service, and their number is growing fast.
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Eat My Face – 3D Printed Face in Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

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Nothing says “I love you” like your detailed mug rendered in delicious chocolate. At least that’s what the Japanese at 3D-printing firm KS Design Lab and FabCafe, in Tokyo, are hoping you’ll think, as they offer patrons the chance to “chocolatize” their faces as gifts for Valentine’s Day.

Valenntine’s is big business in Japan. As we previously reported, a lot of Japanese chocolate companies record half their annual sales in the days before the romantic holiday. In the Land of the Rising Sun, only women offer gifts to men, usually in the form of chocolate sweets. Trying to stand out from the competition, 3D-printing firm KS Design Lab and Tokyo’s FabCafe, in the Shibuya district, have teamed up to offer a very original service to a group of women attending their workshop – 3D printed models of their faces in chocolate, to be given as presents on Valentine’s Day. Some of you may find them oishii (delicious), but I think they qualify more as kimoi (creepy). “We were brainstorming together about how the 3D-printing technology could appeal to consumers, when we hit on the idea of Valentine’s Day chocolates,” PR rep. Kazue Nakata explained.

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Women-Only Sleeping Cafe Opens in Tokyo

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Power naps – those short periods of sleep during the day – have been known to boost brain activity and increase productivity at the work place. Now a sleeping cafe in Tokyo’s Akasaka business district is offering hard-working Japanese women the chance to enjoy the benefits of the power nap, for a fee.

Stress and fatigue at the office are real issues in Japan, but for the women workaholics of the Asakara business district, in Tokyo there is a place where they can go relax and restore their energy – the Quska Sleeping Cafe. This ingenious concept offers patrons the chance to get a quick shut-eye either during their lunch breaks or in between their constant hours of overtime. It charges ¥150 ($1.60) for ten minutes of sleep in their comfortable facilities, but have even more affordable rates for clients looking to buy four-hour slots (¥3,120, around $33) or more. Now, you may think 10 minutes makes no difference if you’re ready to drop to the floor from fatigue, but various studies have shown that brief naps (10 -15 minutes) improve a person’s alertness and overall performance without the negative effects of sleep inertia associated with longer sleeping periods. Japanese companies are well-known for their productivity, and one of the reasons for this may be the power nap. For years, they’ve actually been encouraging their employees to take naps during work hours, and sleeping cafes like Quska provide the perfect environment.

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Japanese Restaurant Employs Masked Monkey Waiters

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Are you running a restaurant and can’t afford to hire waiters? Well, you could take a cue from this Japanese restaurant that hired monkeys for the job. And in an attempt to make them look more human, they even strapped masks on their faces. Not that they really fooled anybody.

The restaurant in question is Kayabuki, in the Miyukihoncho part of Utsunomiya, North of Tokyo. The place is a traditional ‘sake house’, which makes its choice of staff even stranger – a couple of monkeys named Yat-chan and Fuku-chan working as waiters (or waitresses, we’re not sure). 16-year-old Yat-chan is the older of the two, but he moves quickly between tables as he takes the customers’ drink orders. Fuku-chan gives diners a hot towel and helps them clean their hands before they order their drinks, as is the custom in Japan.  Believe it or not, the pair is actually certified by local authorities to work at the restaurant. The customers like them as well, so they get tipped with soya beans. One customer, Takayoshi Soeno said, “The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones.”

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Japanese Company Offers Valentine’s Day Insurance for the Lonely

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Valentine’s Day, the most romantic celebration of the year, is fast approaching, and while some people can’t wait to declare their love and shower their partners with gifts, flowers and chocolate, for others it’s just a day of painful loneliness. However, Japanese bachelors no longer have to worry about being the only ones at the office who never gets anything on Valentine’s, thanks to a new service called Valentine’s Day Insurance.

So how does this service work, you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. All a person has to do is visit the Valentine’s Day Insurance website, purchase the ¥500 ($5.50) policy and provide an address where their Valentine’s gift should be delivered. Once they’ve done this, they’re guaranteed to receive a package on February 14, containing chocolates and a personal message from a self-professed beautiful woman called Rieko. I know what you’re thinking, having to buy your own Valentine’s Day present is pretty lame, but for some Japanese men it’s a lot better than having to cope with the uneasiness of being the only ones who didn’t get anything. Well, them and every woman in the Land of the Rising Sun, because here only men receive presents from women, usually in the form of chocolate. In fact, so much chocolate is purchased for the occasion that some Japanese chocolate companies record half of their annual sales in the few weeks before Valentine’s Day.

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Insanely Complicated Maze Is Probably Impossible to Solve

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It looks like the street map of a really complex city of the future, but this intricate drawing is really a 30-year-old maze drawn by a Japanese janitor. His daughter posted photos of the complicated work on Twitter, which went viral almost instantly.

Just last year, we posted an article about the efforts of Joe Wos, a Pittsburgh-based cartoonist who was working on the world’s largest most difficult hand-drawn maze. He worked on it from July until the end of September, and estimated that a person would need approximately 40 hours to solve it. His doodle-filled maze is truly something to behold, but I doubt it’s more challenging than the one created by Twitter user @Kya7y‘s father. Drawn on an A1 sheet of paper measuring 35 by 23.3 inches, this multi-layered masterpiece reportedly took the artist seven years and several months to complete. ”Won’t somebody make it to the goal?” @Kya7y tweeted after posting the pics. And, believe it or not, there were actually plenty of people willing to waste several days of their lives trying to find the exit… If there even is one.

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Japanese Restaurant Uses Dirt as the Main Ingredient for Its Expensive Dishes

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While most chefs work hard to make sure no dirt winds up in their food, at French restaurant Ne Quittez Pas, in Tokyo, Japan, dirt is actually used as a key ingredient.

Mind you, this isn’t just any kind of dirt. It’s a special black soil from Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture, that’s actually been tested for safety, but it’s still the thing most people use to grow plants in. So how did dirt wind up on the menu of this respectable venue? Apparently, Chef Toshio Tanabe once won a cooking competition with his signature dirt sauce, and from that point on he put together an entire menu based on the unusual ingredient. Now the restaurant is offering dishes priced as high as $110 with Kanuma dirt in them.

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Okunoshima Island – Japan’s Rabbit Paradise

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Okunoshima is a small Japanese island, located in the Inland Sea of Japan, in the Hiroshima Prefecture. What’s special about this place is that it is completely crawling with rabbits – a bunny paradise of sorts. Nicknamed the Rabbit Okunoshima attracts thousands of animal lovers every year. Feeding bunnies can be one of the most relaxing pastimes, and people come here to do just that. The island is a popular day-trip and weekend holiday destination.

Okunoshima might be a place of natural beauty, but it has a dark, dirty past as well. In the early 20th century, it served as the base for the Imperial Army’s lethal gas operation. Over 6,000 tons of about 5 types of poison gas were manufactured on this very island between the years of 1929 and 1945. The mission was top secret back then, so Okunoshima was actually omitted from maps and workers were sworn to secrecy. Today, you can still see the ruins of these factories on the island. Given its history, there are several explanations of the unusually large number of rabbits in this place. Some sources say the furry animals were brought over during World War II, to test the effects of the poisonous gases. When the war ended, the workers are said to have released the rabbits into the wild. Other sources claim that a group of children were on a field trip at Okunoshima in 1971, when they left behind 8 bunnies. Well, we might never know how the first rabbits got on to the island, but they did their job well – copulating to make sure they left behind hundreds of their progeny to roam the island today. Hundreds might not sound like a lot, but on an island just 2.5 kilometers in circumference they make their presence felt.

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The Paris Syndrome – A Bizarre Psychological Condition Affecting Japanese Tourists?

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Among a host of first world problems is the mysterious Paris Syndrome – that horrible feeling you get when you realize the beautiful City of Lights isn’t all that you imagined it to be. And strangely, the worst to be affected by this bizarre condistion are the otherwise calm and collected Japanese.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Paris Syndrome is very real. Because of the way the city is represented in the media, especially the Japanese media, a lot of people labor under the misconception that Paris is a quaint, friendly little place with affluence reeking in its every corner. The women are imagined to be dainty and beautiful, the city is expected to smell like Chanel No. 5, parks filled with pigeons and waiters bursting into song at the drop of a hat. In fact, many Japanese really believe that Parisians are all thin, gorgeous and unbelievably rich. Inevitably, their bubble is burst on their very first day in the city.

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Eitaro – Japan’s Only Guy-sha

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Three years ago, Eitaro lost his mother, a dedicated geisha, to cancer. Ever since then, he and his sister have been carrying on her legacy, running a geisha house and overseeing a group of six other geishas.

26-year-old Eitaro first performed as a female dancer at age 10, at one of his mother’s geisha parties. He started taking dance lessons at the age of 8 and when he was just 11-years-old, he performed at Japan’s national theater. He was clearly a natural geisha, and a trivial thing like gender wasn’t going to stop him from following his calling.  Eitaro’s mother, a skilled and charismatic geisha, dedicate her life to reviving Tokyo’s geisha culture, after the last geisha house had closed its doors during the 1980′s Japanese real estate bubble. As a boy, Eitaro grew up watching her perform, and just like his sister, Maika, he was fascinated by her elegance. But, three years ago, they lost their mother to cancer, and it became their responsibility to carry on her legacy. Now, Eitaro is the master of an ‘okiya,’ a geisha house in Tokyo’s Omori port district, and together with his sister and a groups of six other geishas, entertain customers at geisha parties.

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Coffee Won’t Keep You Awake at Tokyo’s Hypnosis Cafe Colors

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Apart from a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, the menu at the Tokyo Hypnosis Cafe Colors, in Shinjuku Golden Gai, also features some offbeat items, such as Trauma Erasure or Past Life Regression.

Tokyo is known for its unique cafes, many of which have been featured on Oddity Central (Cuddle Cafe, Vampire Cafe, Hammock Cafe, etc.), and today I’m thrilled to add another one to our growing collection – the Tokyo Hypnosis Cafe Colors. As the name suggests, this intriguing venue uses the power of hypnosis to attract customers (and maybe trick them into coming back). Originally opened in the city of Sapporo, the hypnosis cafe moved to the Shinjuku district, in Japan’s capital city, where quirky establishments are becoming increasingly popular. Numbering just eight sits, all at the bar, the Hypnosis Cafe Colors offers visitors the chance to try out a number of hypnosis techniques, including reconnecting with your inner child, quit smoking suggestion, or trauma erasure. Simple hypnosis is performed by an expert who also plays the role of bartender and magician, and is basically free, but special techniques cost between ¥1000 ($12) and ¥50000 ($600).

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Japanese Rent-a-Boyfriend Service Caters to Lonely Women in Need of Cuddling

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Yes, Japanese women get lonely too, but luckily for them, there’s Soine-ya Prime, a dispatch service where women can hire a handsome young man to lay with her in bed for a night. Believe it or not there’s nothing sexual about it.

Two months ago, we posted about Tokyo’s popular Cuddle Cafe, where everyone could lay down next to a pretty girl for as little as $40. The joint had just opened in September, but it had such success that a second venue was recently inaugurated. But what about lonely women looking for attractive guys to cuddle up to? Sometimes you just want to crawl into bed and feel someone’s arms around you, without any other implications. But when you’re single that can be tough. Well, for some women, the need of a warm body next to them at night is so bad they’re willing to pay a total stranger. Created in 2011, Soine-ya Prime caters to the needs of Japanese lonely women by dispatching attractive men to sleep in their beds, without engaging in any kind of sexual activities. Clients are not allowed to kiss the men, touch them in any inappropriate ways or contact them without permission from the company. They’re to be used as pleasant company and nothing more.

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Aogashima Island – Living inside a Volcano

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Can you imagine yourself living in a giant volcanic crater? Well, for starters, you can forget about Starbucks. But it sure would be the ultimate destination to get away from it all. It’s not all that surprising then, that about 200 people actually inhabit the Japanese volcanic island of Aogashima, with only one school and a single post office.

Aogashima, a part of the Izu Archipelago, lies two hundred miles south of Tokyo, in the Philippine Sea. The island and its 205 inhabitants (as of 2009), are a part of Japan and governed by Tokyo. When I first saw pictures of this breathtaking location, it sort of reminded me of an inverted pudding on a plate. Or an oddly shaped donut. But Aogashima is really a volcano within a volcano. The island is quite well known for having a volcanic caldera within a larger caldera. So what you have is one big, giant crater, which is the island itself, inside which is nestled a much smaller version of itself. This gives the whole island a rather mysterious appeal, almost like something out of a fantasy movie. It’s hard to believe there are such places still left in the world, untouched by noisy human activity.

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Man Brings Virtual Girlfriend to His Real-Life Wedding, Bride Retaliates

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Talk about pushing your luck, right? As if having his future wife put up with a virtual girlfriend wasn’t enough, a Japanese geek actually had the nerve to invite his video-game lady and two of her friends to their wedding and even reserved seats for them. But the bride had some plans of her own…

For obvious reasons, the real names of the protagonists in this story were not revealed, but photos from their wedding were posted online by guests surprised to see three Nintendo DS handheld video-game consoles seated as guests. Their screens showed three different anime-like girls, one of which was revealed to be the groom’s girlfriend. Nene Anegasaki, Manaka Takane and Rinko Kobayakawa are characters from the hugely popular Konami video game, Love Plus. The addictive open-ended dating simulator has reportedly sold in over 250,000 copies in Japan, and stories of men caught by their girlfriends and wives while tending to their virtual partner’s needs began surfacing online a while ago. In 2010, we posted photos of gamers celebrating Nene’s birthday with cakes and candles and presents, just to show how popular the Love Plus character was. But this is probably the first time Nene attended a real-life wedding, as a guest.

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