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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Japanese Self-Confessed Geeks Attend Masked Matchmaking Event

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Japanese geeks, commonly known as “otaku”, too shy to go out and meet a potential date face to face attended a special matchmaking event where everyone wore anime character masks to conceal their identities.

The event called “Ota-konkatsu” took place in Kuki City, north of Tokyo, a “holy place” among anime fans. The city is home to the Washinomiya Shrine, which was a location in the 2007 television adaptation of Kagami Yoshimizu’s manga Lucky Star, a very popular anime series, and since then Kuki City has become a sort-of otaku pilgrimage site. Data shows the direct economic effect of Lucky star on the city is estimated to be about 100 million yen (US$1.22 million) over the past five years. So it’s no wonder why this location was selected for an otaku-oriented matchmaking event. Ever since 2009, Japanese geeks have attended matchmaking events in Kuki City, hoping to find like-minded partners, but organizers thought they’d be more successful if participants could get over their excessive shyness. So at this latest even, everyone wore anime masks to conceal their identity.

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Japanese School for Mascots Teaches Tricks of the Trade

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You know those over-sized furry creatures that entertain kids at theme parks and special events? They’re called character mascots and being a good one is apparently about more than putting on a costume and acting silly. For professional training, there’s the Choko Group mascot school in Tokyo, Japan.

Probably the only school for mascots in the world, Choko Group was founded in 1985, by veteran mascot Choko Ohira. Students that go here are taught everything from traditional dance, which helps with goofy mascot dancing, to various walking styles that help illustrate different ages when wearing the funny costume. Wannabe mascots also learn how to interact with children, project a friendly or scary aura and using gestures to communicate when users are unable to see the wearer’s face. Right now,there are around 25 students at the Tokyo mascot school. Their ages range from early 20s to mid 50s, and while some are attending Ohira’s courses for pure fun, some are interested in pursuing mascot careers, and are hoping to some day work at a big theme park.

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Japan Develops Shock-Absorbing Electric Car Covered in Airbags

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Hiroshima University-affiliated startup business Humanix has recently revealed a three-wheel electric vehicle, called iSAVE YOU, which is covered in covered with an airbag-like cushion material that springs back to its original form after absorbing impacts.

You hear that, auto-makers around the world? You’re doing it wrong, airbags go on the OUTSIDE of the not the inside! At least according to Japanese company Humanix, whose golf-cart-like vehicle, iSAVE YOU, is covered in airbags. Researchers from the University of Hiroshima formed the venture company to sell their innovative creation for 790,000 yen ($9,740 USD). Professor Tsutomu, president of Humanix, told Japanese magazine Sponichi Annex that “the car will be perfect for our rapidly aging society and that there are already many requests for it from the elderly and disabled.” The cushions covering the vehicle are made of a tent fabric and sponge, and will absorb shock waves in case of an impact, protecting both the passengers and pedestrians. The iSAVE YOU can run up to 30 km on a single charge and and can be recharged from any regular household electrical outlet.

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FINALLY! Japanese Company Develops Gas-Deodorizing Underwear

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Thanks to Japanese company Inodore, the days when passing gas in public was seen as a social taboo may  soon be behind us. If you can keep the noise level down, their odor-deodorizing fabric does the rest, absorbing up to 99% of gas smell.

I know what you’re thinking, fart-proof underwear have been around for a while now, but according to Professor Hiroki Ohge of Hiroshima University they didn’t do such a great job of neutralizing smells. Ohge first got inspired to work on this unusual type of underwear when he traveled to America to study how diseases could affect the smell of people’s flatulence. In theory, by analyzing the smell of gas, along with its main component, hydrogen sulfide, one could be able to tell if he was suffering from a disease without having to succumb to more complicated examinations. While researching in the US, the Japanese professor noticed stores were selling various cushions and shorts that used activated carbon and charcoal to deodorize body smells. After analyzing them he identified some flaws in their design and technology, and upon returning to Japan, he began working on his own improved smell-neutralizing fabric.

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Meet Asako Kanda, the World’s Biggest Hello Kitty Fan

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Hello Kitty has millions of fans around the world, but none are more in love with Sanrio’s iconic character than Asako Kanda. The 39-year-old receptionist from Japan has amassed a fantastic collection of over 4,500 Hello Kitty items.

Like many other girls of her generation, Asako’s fascination with Hello Kitty began during her elementary school days. At first, she just bought little things like pencils and erasers featuring the popular kitty, but by the time she turned 11 she was so obsessed with Sanrio’s creation that she made a Hello Kitty mug in her pottery class, and an embroided Hello Kitty apron for her home economics course. But she can’t be the only girl in the world who did this kind of stuff while growing up. But that’s the thing, while most other girls move on to idolizing boy bands or movie actors, Asako Kanda remained faithful to her childhood friend. “Kitty has always been with me, almost subconsciously,” she said in an interview a few years back. Some people call her infantile, other laugh at her bad taste, but none of this has ever affected her long-term love affair with Hello Kitty. She now holds the Guinness World Record for most Hello Kitty items, 4,519, as of August 2011.

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Prepare to Be Owned as Japanese Man Auctions Off Planet Earth

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We see crazy and bizarre items auctioned off on sites like eBay or Yahoo Auctions, every day, but this is the first time someone actually thought about selling our planet. The starting price was a measly ¥69 ($0.86), but since the auction went viral, the price has surged to ¥9,889,899,888 ($123,000,000). I still think it’s a bargain.

I know, this might seem like a joke to you, but it’s apparently no laughing matter to the seller. In the product description, it’s mentioned the Earth was bestowed upon the seller by God, who appeared to him in a dream. And since these are tough times, he decided to sell it to the highest bidder and improve his financial status. He lists our planet as “authentic” and warns bidders there is a “no return” policy on the item. So if you end up placing a bid and wind up owning the Earth and its inhabitants, you’re kind of stuck with us. You might feel tempted to post a prank bid on this, but the seller instructs all potential buyers to include a message expressing there serious intention to buy planet Earth, otherwise he will consider it a prank bid. And if there are too many prank bids he threatens to close the auction and start over at ¥69. In fact, he already did that once already, so please, be careful.

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The Fake-Head Waitresses of Japan’s Anime Cafe

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Maid cafes are a dime a dozen in Tokyo’s geeky Akihabara district, but Kigurumi Cafe t.t.t. one-ups them all by introducing waitresses wearing full-body suits and creepy plush heads to reallybring anime characters to life.

Wikipedia defines cosplay as a performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. You’ve probably seen cosplayers dressed as popular video game or anime characters at geeky events, or at least photos of them posted online. But few people know there’s an extreme type of cosplay known in Japan as Animegao or Kigurumi. It implies not only wearing a character’s costume, but also an oversize fake head complete with giant anime-style eyes to bring popular 2D drawn girls into our 3D world. If you’ve seen my post on Anna Amemiya, the half-human half-anime model, you already know what I’m talking about, if not, get ready to be freaked-out.

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Japanese DVD Lets You Go on a Dinner Date without an Actual Date

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Getting a girl to go out to dinner with you isn’t as easy as some people think. Luckily, now there’s a DVD that allows single men to experience a dinner date, without having to convince a woman to go out with them. It’s called “Amateur Dinner Time – Let’s Eat Together! -, and it’s hilarious.

Maybe you’re too shy to ask a girl out, or maybe you’re just too cheap to take her to a restaurant. Whatever your reason, you’re probably a bit curious about what it must be like to have a pleasant conversation with an attractive girl, over dinner. Now, thanks to a series of original DVDs released by Japanese media company K-NETWORK, you can (sort of) interact with cute girls from in front of your TV screen. Each of the three Amateur Dinner Time DVDs features a number of attractive ladies as they sit across the table from the camera enjoying their meal and engaging in small talk. They probably don’t answer your every question, or laugh at your stupid kokes, but hey, you can’t have everything, right?

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