Japanese Students Compete in Making Earthquake-Resistant Toothpick Towers

A Japanese engineering university in Kumamoto is famous for holding a unique competition, challenging students to build toothpick towers that can resist a simulated earthquake.

As you probably already know, because of its location in the Circum-Pacific Mobile Belt, where there is constant seismic and volcanic activity, Japan is the world’s most earthquake-prone country. Even though Japan takes up only 0.25% of the land area on our planet, 18.5% of earthquakes in the world occur here. So I guess you can say that building earthquake-resistant architecture is paramount for the Japanese nation. To that end, one engineering school has been challenging students to come up with toothpick tower designs that can resist a simulated earthquake.

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Da Shuhua – The Art of Spraying Melted Iron to Create Fireworks

Known as ‘the poor man’s fireworks’, Dashuhua is a 500-year-old pyrotechnic ritual used in Nuanquan, China, to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

The small town of Nuanquan, in northwestern China’s Hebei province, is home to one of the world’s most dangerous yet mesmerizing fireworks displays. Although fireworks have been a part of Chinese celebrations since around the year 800 A.D., they haven’t always been as widely available and affordable as they are today. So about half of a millennia ago, local blacksmiths came up with a viable alternative that was cheaper, but just as impressive as conventional pyrotechnics – throwing molten iron at cold walls to produce a waterfall of bright sparks that are at the same time beautiful and dangerous.

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Alliance of Unpopular Men Protest Christmas in Tokyo

For most people, Christmas is a time of joy and love, but to the members of Japan’s Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men, the winter holidays represent everything they stand against.

For the past 15 years, the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men has been protesting all celebrations associated with romance, and this year’s Christmas was no exception. Dozens of members went out into the streets of Tokyo armed with banners and loudspeakers to make their disdain for everything romantic, including Christmas, known to the world. The alliance, which allegedly fights for the unpopular men of the world who can’t find a romantic date and are disappointed by romantic holidays, is on a mission to “crush” Christmas, Valentine’s Day and all other similar celebrations.

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Megavalanche – Probably the World’s Craziest Downhill Mountain Biking Race

Megavalanche is a unique enduro race that sees thousands of participants riding downhill on a glacier, 8,530 feet above sea level while trying to stay on their bikes and not get run over by the pack.

Downhill enduro racing usually involves a series of stages where competitors ride individually against the clock, trying to get the best time possible. The contestant with the fastest time on average wins. But Megavalanche, a monster of a race that has been taking place every year – except 2020 – since 1995, is different. It is the only endura downhill race with a mass start on a glacier, a detail that creates the ideal condition for the chaos and mayhem that Megavalanche is famous for. Imagine 2,000 bike riders setting off on a snowy track, reaching speeds of around 75mph, losing control of their mountain bikes, and trying not to get swept away by the human avalanche forming all around them. That’s the starting portion of Megavalanche in a nutshell.

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Traditional Stone-Pelting Battle Leaves 77 People Injured in Just 7 Minutes

Every year, hundreds of people from India’s Uttarakhand state engage in Bagwal, a brutal stone-pelting battle that often leaves dozens with severe injuries that require medical attention.

Bagwal literally means “fight with stones”, so it’s a pretty fitting name for a celebration that’s all about hurling big stones at the opposing side. Four clans gather in the Champawat district of Uttarakhand to take part in the unique event, despite the danger of getting seriously injured by the stones flying through the air. In fact, bloody wounds are the whole point of Bagwal as legend has it that the Hindu deity Barahi struck a deal with humans to rid them of demon invaders in exchange for a sacrifice in the form of blood.

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In This New Zealand Town, Easter Is All About Wiping Out Bunnies

In Christian countries around the world, the Easter Bunny is a beloved symbol of one of the world’s most popular holidays, but in one New Zealand town, bunnies are such a plague for farmers that locals spend Easter wiping them out.

In New Zealand, rabbits are an introduced species that threatens both the country’s biodiversity and its agriculture. They are essentially pests that have to be culled in order to minimize the damage they cause. The town of Alexandra, in Central Otago, has turned the mass culling of rabbits into an event known as The Great Easter Bunny Hunt, which attracts hundreds of hunters from all over the country. The local Alexandra Lions club has organized the event for the last 25 years, which has become popular both with hunters and the local population, including kids, many of whom take part in the “celebration”.

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Indian Village Ends Diwali With Massive Cow Dung Battle

The small Indian village of Gummatapura is famous all over the world for its unique way of ending the annual Diwali celebrations – a massive cow dung battle called “Gorehabba”.

Spain has La Tomatina, a famous battle with tomatoes, Italy has the traditional Ivrea Battle of Oranges, and India has Gorehabba, a cow dung battle to end the important Diwali festivities. That may seem like an insult to Indian festivities, but only to those ignorant to the importance and significance of cow dung in Indian culture. It’s held in such high regard that companies use it as an ingredient for beauty products, handcrafted art, and even radiation repelling devices. Some claim it can even ward off the coronavirus… So yes, hurling cow dung at each other is far from disgusting for the dozens who participate in Gorehabba.

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Company Gifts Employees 4,116 New Cars as Bonus for Surpassing Profit Targets

A Chinese steel production company recently made international news headlines for offering 4,116 of its employees brand new cars as bonus for surpassing profit targets for the fifth consecutive year.

On October 1st, Jiangxi West Dajiu Iron & Steel Corporation organized an epic event to celebrate its success and reward employees for contributing to its yearly growth. It was reported that the company had reported increasing profits for the last five years, and management wanted to do something special to thank the staff, so they decided to give each one of them a car. A total of 4,116 new vehicles – 2,933 Jiangling Ford Territory and 1,183 FAW-Volkswagen Magotan – were distributed in batches in the weeks prior to the National Day holiday.

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Only in Japan: Burning a Mountain as a Celebration

On the fourth Saturday of each January, the dead grass of Mount Wakakusa is set ablaze as part of a unique and impressive festival called Wakakusa Yamayaki (‘Wakakusa Burning Mountain’).

No one known exactly how the tradition of burning an entire 342-metre-high hill in Japan’s Nara Prefecture actually started, but one thing is for certain – it has been around for hundreds of years. Some say it began as a boundary dispute between the two greatest temples of Nara, Tōdai-ji and Kōfuku-ji, sometime during the 18th century. When mediation failed, the entire hill was burned to the ground, although no one quite remembers how that solved anything. Another theory claims that the annual fire originated as a way to eliminate pests and drive away wild boars. Today, it’s just an impressive sight to behold that attracts tourists from all over the world.

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Finch Sitting – The Controversial Sport Where You Sit on a Chair And Count Bird Calls

Sports are usually associated with skill and effort, be they physical or mental, but in Vinkensport or vinkenzetting (literally ‘Finch Sitting), a traditional animal sport practiced in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, it’s all about sitting down and listening to birds singing.

In Vinkensport, small cages are lined up in a row about six feet apart on the street. Inside each box is a single male chaffinch whose job is to produce as many bird calls as possible in one hour. Sitting in front of the wooden cages are their owners, the vinkeniers (“finchers”) who tally the bird songs with chalk on a large wooden rod. Each chalk line represents one complete bird call which ends in a characteristic flourish known as a susk-e-wiet. Judges walk along the row of cages to make sure no one cheats. The chaffinch with the most bird calls in an hour is declared the winner. Vinkensport is a very passive sport, some would even call it boring, but it is also a very controversial one.

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Coronavirus Pandemic Inspires Haunted House Drive-Through Experience

A haunted house tour operator in Japan has announced the world’s first horror drive-through experienced as a responsible way of providing horror enthusiasts with summer scares during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While restaurants remain the most affected business by the devastating coronavirus, haunted house attractions and events aren’t fairing much better either. It’s hard scaring someone out of their wits without getting up close and personal, but some companies are starting to adapt to the situation and trying out new things. Case in point, haunted house design company Kowagarasetai, which has created what it calls the world’s first haunted house drive-through experience.

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The Impossible Climb – No Dirt Bike Has Ever Made It Atop This Notorious Hillside

The Andler Hillclimb is an annual dirt bike competition that has dirt bikers from around Europe try to reach the top of a treacherous hillside course in Belgium. It’s been held every year for the last two decades, but so far no one has been able to reach the top.

The so-called “impossible climb”, starts out as rough gravel and then switches over to a washboard of rough cliff face designed to throw riders off and send them and their bikes tumbling back down to the base of the hill. It’s not the angle of attack that’s the problem, according to most riders, but the sudden change of ride surface that makes keeping control of the bike and reaching the top so damn hard. Some fly off their bike early during the climb, while others get painfully close the the finish line, but in the end they all succumb to the power of gravity before reaching their goal.

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Indian Girl Sets new World Record for Most Yoga Contortions in One Minute

Most yoga practitioners struggle to pull off the Niralamba Poorna Chakrasana contortion just once in their lives, but one 11-year-old girl recently managed to do it a whopping 21 time in one minute, setting a new world record.

On January 20, Riya Paladia, a gymnastics and yoga practitioner from the village of Gaulapar, in India’s Uttarakhand state, stunned a local crowd with her amazing flexibility and speed, performing the tough Niralamba Poorna Chakrasana yoga position 21 times in one minute. Described as one of the very hardest yoga contortions, the move didn’t seem to pose any problem to the 11-year-old girl who slid on her back with ease before rising up on her feet again, without using her hands as support. It almost looks like she is being pulled up by invisible strings.

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Festival of Exploding Hammers Ushers in Lent with a Bang

Every February, on the day before Lent, the small Mexican town of San Juan de la Vega honors its namesake saint with a loud tradition that has come to be known as the Festival of Exploding Hammers.

The origins of this bombastic festival are shrouded in mystery. According to one local story, Juan de la Vega, a wealthy miner and rancher, was aided by San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist) to recover gold stolen by bandits and residents came up with the exploding hammers to loudly commemorate their victory over the outlaws. Another story claims that “San Juanito” the patron saint of the town, was an outlaw himself, a sort of Mexican Robin Hood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, and that the today’s celebration is a reenactment of the fight between San Juanito and the local dons. Whatever the real origin may be, the explosive tradition is so popular in San Juan de la Vega that locals will risk life and limb to keep it going.

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World’s Scariest Haunted House Will Pay You $20,000 If You Can Make It Through a Tour

The owner of McKamey Manor, dubbed by many the world’s most terrifying haunted house, is promising anyone who can survive its scariest tour yet a prize of $20,000.

Many haunted houses claim to be the most terrifying, but there’s a general consensus among cheap thrill enthusiasts that  McKamey Manor is really the scariest of them all. And if its current reputation wasn’t enough, owner Russ McKamey is upping the ante by offering a prize of $20,000 to anyone brave enough to make it through a tour that can last up to 10 hours and takes participants to their physical and mental limits.

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