Japan’s Lonely Youth Turns to Rent-a-Friend Services

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Making friends is not as easy as most people think, but it seems that for young men and women in Japan it’s really, really hard. According to a recent article published in the country’s biggest newspaper, some people are finding it so difficult to make people like them that they prefer to pay for rent-a-friend services.

According to surveys cited by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, more and more young people have problems making friends in the real world and resort to actually paying for rented friends in order to avoid being seen alone and labeled as loners by their peers. Tokyo-based company Client Partners offers a variety of unique services like hiring someone to take photos of you at an event, or paying a person to wait in line for you on a gadget’s release day, but one of its most popular is the “rent-a-friend”. For a hefty fee, you can choose total strangers (men or women) to accompany you and act as your friends. It’s not exactly the perfect scenario for a fun night out, but clients say it beats having to face your loneliness, dealing with rejection all the time or being looked down at by your peers. According to representatives of the company, Client Partners has tens of rent-a-friend requests per month, most of which come from lonely young Japanese who have lost all confidence.

rent-a-friend-Japan

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Pregnant Woman Lets Online Voters Choose Baby’s Name for $5,000

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A 26-year-old pregnant woman from West Los Angeles, California, has agreed to allow online voters to chose the name of her child, in exchange for $5,000.

Natasha Hill, a young art teacher from LA, is expecting a baby in September, but she had already started thinking about his/her name. She considered naming her child Katorah or Winter, but since she couldn’t make up her mind, she decided to enter a competition organized by Belly Ballot, a Austin, Texas-based startup that lets parents-to-be crowdsource their babies names with friends and family. According to the online company, voter will be presented with a list of 10 names – five boy names and five girl names – chosen by Belly Ballot and sponsors of the contest. The one with the most votes by the time the ballot concludes will be the name Hill’s baby will legally have, at least until he or she turns 18. Belly Ballot founder Lacey Moler assured participants brand names or names that are “too crazy” won’t be included in the 10 options.

Natasha-Hill-Baby-Ballot

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Man Wears Empathy Suit for Nine Weeks to Experience Pregnancy

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In a bizarre attempt to experience “the one thing unavailable to men as parents”, writer Benjamin Percy wore an empathy suit complete with a fake belly, for nine weeks. You’d think the efforts of a man trying to go through the hardships of pregnancy would be applauded by women, right? Well, no…

Although fully aware that he couldn’t go through all the stages of pregnancy or experience all the nasty symptoms, Percy thought that by wearing an empathy suit for a condensed pregnancy period of nine weeks would be “a way for me to alter my point of view, deepen my empathy, help me overcome my mouth-breathing-caveman deficiencies.” He may never be able to go through child birth, but he wanted to know what it felt like to carry carry one with him wherever he went. To aid him in this “pregnant man” project, the noted fiction and non-fiction writer used a special suit designed by the Japanese scientist Dr. Takayuki Kosaka of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology. It was made of thick nylon, had a fake belly and fake boobs, but instead of adjusting his wardrobe, Benjamin opted to wear the unusual accessory over his regular clothes. As the weeks passed, he added extra weight to the belly, to match the growth of his imaginary baby. It was a unique experience, but a lot of women aren’t exactly impressed with his stunt.

Benjamin-Percy-pregnancy

 

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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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Guy Is Suing His Parents for Not Loving Him Enough, Wants $200,000

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Bernard Bey, a homeless man from Brooklyn, New York, is suing his parents for not loving him and supporting him enough. He is actually asking for $200,000 in compensation. This is not a joke…

32-year-old Bernard Bey is an aspiring rapper from Brooklyn. He’s also homeless, and blames his parents for his current situation. In a recent interview, he says he ran away from home wen he was just 12 years old, because his family abused him both physically and verbally, and he’s been in and out of the shelter system for the last twelve years. He’s also spent time behind bars. And since he believes his parents are responsible for everything he’s been through, he’s just filed a lawsuit against them in Brooklyn Court, in which he accuses them of making him feel “unloved and beaten by the world”. In the self-written lawsuit, Bey is asking for $200,000 in damages and demands his family mortgage their brownstone in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, to help him open two franchises “like Domino’s Pizza”.

Bernard-Bey

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Finland’s Shouting Men’s Choir Will Make Your Ears Bleed

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Shouting is what some men do best. And when a group of such men get together, you can hardly expect to hear something musical. But that’s what makes the Shouting Men’s Choir in Oulu, northern Finland, so special. The men shout, and it becomes music.

The choir consists of 30 men who generally dress in black suits for their performances. Most locals consider the choir to be a product of long nights in a town with little to do, the north-Finnish sense of humor that borders on the absurd, and of course, a steady supply of vodka. Mika Ronkainen, a local filmmaker, made a documentary film with the choir and its founder as the subject, called Mieskuoro Huutajat. That translates to Screaming Men. It was the first Finnish film to be accepted at the Sundance Festival, and also the first to get international distribution. I saw a short clip from the film on YouTube, in which Petri Sirvio, the founder and director of the Shouting Men’s choir says that the best part of the group’s performance is the element of surprise. “I trained them quite well,” he says rather unabashedly.

Shouting-Mens-Choir

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Only Allowed to Whistle When Walking: The Quirky Story of the Portland Whistler

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Believe it or not, whistling can get you arrested. Robert Smith, better known as The Whistler, in the city of Portland, was actually thrown in jail for disturbing people with his constant whistling and has now been ordered by a judge to only whistle when walking, so he doesn’t annoy businesses and passers-by in any one area.

“It came from God — that’s where it came from,” Robert Smith says about the origins of his passion for whistling. “God is showing me what I’m doing is OK. He shows me every day with laughter.” He’s referring to the reactions of people who seem amused by his constant whistling. But, unfortunately for him, laughter is not the only reaction triggered by his almost daily habit. Businesses around Portland have been filing complaints about The Whistler’s behavior, and when they just kept piling up, the Police Department finally picked him up ant even took him to court for disorderly conduct for “loud whistling.” “It just got to the point last summer where the complaints just mounted,” said Trish McAllister, the city’s neighborhood prosecutor. “He’s so loud!” Apparently, Smith’s steady monotone notes are so strong they can be heard a block away.

The-Whistler-of-Portland

 

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Latest Fake in China – Concrete-Filled Walnuts

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China has long had a reputation for making counterfeit goods, but the practice in recent years the practice has been getting really extreme. After news reports of fake eggs and fake beek made of pork, it seems concrete-filled walnuts are the latest invention of ingenious Chinese food counterfeiters.

There’s a set of photos making the rounds on the Internet these days, but even though they recently went viral, they were actually released a year ago. They show a bunch of normal-looking walnuts that when cracked open reveal a very hard filling – concrete pebbles. According to Ministry of Tofu, these fake walnuts were bought by a certain Mr. Li, last February, from a street vendor in Zhengzou, Henan province. When he got home and started cracking them, he noticed that instead of a meaty seed, many were actually filled with concrete pebbles wrapped in tissue. But Li’s case is not an isolated one. Apparently, many Chinese walnut vendors try to maximize their profits by carefully cracking open the hard shell, taking out the nutmeat, replacing it with concrete and tissue so it doesn’t make a strange noise, and gluing it shut. This way they can sell the nuts and the seeds separately.

fake-walnuts-China

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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.
thigh-advertising-Japan

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Dangerous Hands – Ukrainian Hairdresser Cuts Hair Blindfolded

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Oleg Maksakov, a hairdresser from Sevastopol, Ukraine, has a very unique way of cutting his clients’ hair – wearing a blindfold and masterfully wielding two pairs of scissors at the same time.

Most clients visiting a hairdresser are worried they might get a bad haircut, but Oleg Maksakov’s customers are more worried about getting one or both of their ears sliced off. That’s because the young Ukrainian likes to cut hair with both hands and wearing a blindfold. He has been a hairdresser for 10 years, but only recently took up the dangerous challenge of cutting hair blindfolded. “I wanted to test my skill level,” he told TSN. First he learned to cut hair with his left hand, than with both hands at the same time, and finally, while blindfolded. “It’s kind of like meditation,” Oleg says. “Each haircut for me is extreme. The structure of hair, different people, it all goes a different way every time.” According to local media, Maksakov has become very popular after word of his special skills spread in Sevastopol, but his very first client was the person that trusts him the most – his mother.

Oleg-Maksakov

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Meet the German Family Who Lives without (Almost) Any Money

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29-year-old Rafael Fellmer and his family lead a very frugal lifestyle, one that requires them to spend almost no money at all. They get their food from organic supermarket dumpsters, “pay” their rent by doing all kinds of chores around the house and use a barter system to get the things they need. They only use money when they absolutely don’t have any other choice.

Rafael Fellmer was born in a good German family. His father is a successful architect and his mother an art therapist. He himself graduated in European Studies, in Hague, so there’s no question he could have gotten a good job, if he so wanted. But a few years back, Rafael realized there were things in this world much more important than money. He started gradually reducing his expenditures by doing things that didn’t require him paying anything. The economic crisis, the global food and water shortage, climate change, they all inspired him to live a frugal lifestyle, and made him realize that giving up money is a sure way to a more stable world order. Although there are those who consider him a “deadbeat” for not getting a proper job and providing for his family from supermarket dumpsters, Rafael Fellmer commands a lot of respect from those who share his views, and he is considered the leader of the life-without-money movement that is gaining a lot of popularity in Germany.

Rafael-Fellmer

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Golden Baba – Indian Holy Man Tells Followers to Live Frugally But Drapes Himself in Gold

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His real name is Bittu Bhagat, but his fascination with gold earned him the nickname “Golden Baba”. Claiming to be a living saint, this Indian holy man tells his followers to live in poverty, while he covers himself in gold clothes and accessories worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Golden Baba has apparently been in the sights of Indian tax officials for some time, but he also attracted the attention of the press when he made an appearance at the sacred Kumbh Mela pilgrimage with two young European beauties hanging on his arms and wearing dozens of solid gold accessories around his neck and on his hands. He looked more like a middle-aged playboy than a holy man preaching about the rewards of a simple life free of worldly possessions. But reports claim Bittu Bhagat tells his disciples they mush shun their material wealth, even their clothes, if they want to follow him, and investigators say he only accepts donations in solid gold. Formerly a simple tailor, this Golden Baba now allegedly has a fortune of several millions of dollars and travels around in a fleet of chauffeur-driven Mercedes, Bentleys and BMWs.

Golden-Baba-India

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Sleep as a Hobo at Sweden’s Homeless Experience Hotel

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It costs money to be homeless in Sweden. Well, only for a night though, at the Faktum Hotels. Located in Gothenburg, the hotel has no rooms but instead offers the complete homeless experience. Once you make a booking online, the hotel will lead you to a pre-determined place where the real homeless might spend their nights, one of 10 extraordinary locations they’ve handpicked for their guests.

A ‘room’ at the Faktum Hotels costs $10 a night and customers are free to choose their location from 10 options, including a spot under a bridge, in a derelict factory, a park bench, in forests, or even under seats at a football stadium. High quality images of all these places are available on the hotel website that actually make the experience look tempting. The descriptions accompanying the images are quite enticing and entertaining to read as well. Where else would you find an underpass described as: “Feel the city’s pulse from dawn to dusk at Gullbergsvass. This delightful dwelling is just a stroll from the romantic Dreamer’s Quay: a source of inspiration to musicians and artists alike. And all under the noble eye of the Skansen Lion from his centuries old fortress.”

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Ultimate Freedom – The Unlikely Story of a Man Who Chooses to Be Homeless

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It’s not the first time we’re hearing about someone who is homeless by choice. A while ago, we wrote about a man who lives with only 15 possessions and a college student who chooses not to live in a house. Minimalism is a concept that several people around the world are embracing, and Richard from England is one of them. What makes Richard’s story unique is how happy his homelessness has made him, in a world that sees it as a pitiable condition.

I found out about Richard from a video on Vimeo. Although it’s only about 4 minutes long, the video tells quite a powerful story, depicting Richard’s life in his own words. The young piano tuner says he used to live in an apartment with all the modern comforts, and yet that didn’t really make him happy. He had student loans and other debts that he hadn’t been able to clear for several years. And then one day, he realized how pointless it all was. “I remember specifically one afternoon I looked around my flat, looked at my LCD TV and I thought, ‘When was the last time I had time to watch that?’ And then I looked at my Playstation I had never even played. I still had this mountain of student debt, of bank loan debt which I was still scratching the surface of. And in the end, I just thought that the only thing I really value in the flat is the hot shower. Everything else, I can do without.”

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Homeless Man Has Been Living in a Grave for the Last 15 Years

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Bratislav Stojanovic, a 43-year-old homeless man from Serbia, has been living with the dead in a cemetery in Nis. He has made a grave his home and says he is more scared of starving and of the living than of his dead neighbors.

A former construction worker, Stojanovic has never had a regular job, and lost his home many years ago, after running up debts. For the last 15 years he has been sharing a tomb with the ashes of a family who died over 100 years ago, in Nis. He tried to make the place as cozy as possible, and claims he feels at home in it. “It is dry and it is warm,” Bratislav says. It isn’t a palace but it is more comfortable than the street.” He admits life in the cemetery was hard in the beginning, but now he’s more afraid of the living than he is of the dead. Most of Bratislav’s time is spent foraging for candles and cigarette buts around the cemetery grounds, but things have been pretty tough since the burial place went out of use and hardly anyone goes there anymore.

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