Global

The Wild World of Weird Wristwatches

Watches used to be unique in their blend of fashion and function. They were a necessary part of daily life, but also a way to express yourself.  This is a custom that may be dying out as mobile phones take more of a hold in our lives.  Personally I haven’t worn one in about three years.

With an ever shrinking market, watchmakers are having to come up with completely new, off-the-wall ideas to get people into their product.  The following is a collection of their results watchmakers, ranging from the beautifully exotic to the mind-bendingly weird.

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Public Transport Tactics: How to Deal with Shoulder Sleepers

Anyone who’s taken public transportation has had a run-in with shoulder sleepers, the people who sit next to you on the train, bus, plane and decide your shoulder is their next stop to dreamland.

Some people deal with this threat by taking up the neighboring seat with their bags. However justified that tactic might be, you’re left looking selfish to the rest of the passengers.

So you leave the seat open. And like clockwork some dude with pit stains plunks down next you, eyelids half-raised and wobbling like a drunk during an earthquake.

 Japan, having one of the most used public transportation systems in the world. knows a thing or two about people sleeping on your shoulder. The following is a collection of strategies posted online by Japanese commuters for shrugging off shoulder sleepers.

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“Blue Dragon” Sea Slug Reminds Us That the Ocean is Filled With Strange Creatures That Look Like Pokemon

The strange blue creature in the photo above may look like a monster from a Japanese RPG, but is actually a real animal—the Glaucus atlanticus sea slug, to be exact.

Commonly known as the blue dragon or blue sea slug, this beautiful little mollusk can be found off the coast of South Africa, Australia and Mozambique, floating on the surface tension of the water.

Glaucus atlanticus got quite a bit of attention on the internet in April after a stunning up-close photo was posted to imigur (above). While we only just stumbled upon the blue dragon today, the moment we saw it we had the feeling this wasn’t the first time we had seen a sea slug that looked like something out of a fantasy world.

That’s right! I choose you, thecacera pacifica!

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“And the Winner is…”: A Selection of Some of the World’s Fascinating No. 1s!

Everyone knows Mt. Everest is the tallest Mountain in the world!  It is named after Colonel Sir George Everest, a surveyor who surveyed Mt. Everest in the mid 1800s.  Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach its summit in 1953.

Here are some of the world’s most fascinating Number ones!  Some of them are familiar, others not.  All  23 are number one in one way or another.  Read More

Why do Foreigners Like Japanese Manga so Much? We Head to Comiket to Find Out!

While manga is ubiquitous in Japan — just ride the subway in any major city and you’ll see people from all walks of life flipping through a comic book — many Japanese people are surprised to hear how popular manga has become overseas. After all, aren’t Westerners only interested in macho superheroes or short comic strips?

Perhaps that was the case in America before, but in recent years many major bookstores have begun to reserve more space near the front of the store for Japanese comics and in some European countries like France and Germany manga occupies a large portion of overall comic sales.

But why?

Earlier this month, we sent one of our Japanese reporters to Comic Market (or “Comiket“), the world’s largest self-published comic book fair and otaku mecca, to interview real live foreigners and ask them why they like Japanese manga so much.

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Only 36% of Japanese High School Students Feel They “Have Worth as a Person”, MEXT Survey Says

According to a report published by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Japanese high school students have markedly lower self-esteem and self-confidence than students in America and other Asian countries.

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Award Winning Manga to be Freely Used by Anyone for Anything Anytime, Author Will Not Request Royalties

Shuho Sato, the writer of Burakku Jyakku ni Yoroshiku, which commonly translates to “Say Hello to Black Jack,” is planning to make the award winning, 10 million copy selling manga available for free “second use.”

This means that after 15 September anyone in the world will be free to novelize, televise, create merchandise, or in any way adapt the original work for either commercial or non-commercial purposes without having to pay royalties.  This is the latest move in the writer’s quest to find alternatives to the “outdated” model of intellectual property rights.

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First World Problem: Trying to Say Your Coffee Order, Becoming a Quivering Blob. Here’s an App to Help the Wannabe Coffee Connoiseur.

As we all know, part of Starbucks’ appeal is its big menu and many choices, which naturally lead up to customizable orders. Seeing people rattle off all the options that comprise their beverage of choice is almost enough to make you develop an inferiority complex for just wanting a plain coffee. Read More

Hello Kitty Sent on “Tour of Hardship”, Still Manages to Put on Brave Face

We’ve reported several times in the past on some of the unusual jobs taken on by Hello Kitty, including cosplaying as characters like Sonic the Hedgehog and Sadako (from the Ring series), or even getting baked whole into golden brown cakes.

Well, since Ms. Kitty, as we sometimes call her when she’s in business mode, is so willing to take on any job thrown at her, some people have apparently decided to send Ms. Kitty on a virtual “tour of hardship” to put her professionalism to the test, and we’ve found a collection of pictures showing some of the hardships she endures.

So, let’s see what torments our beloved Ms. Kitty has been going through! Read More

Overseas Edition of “Prince’s Proposal” Getting Turned Down by Fans: “Princes Look Disgusting”

Unlike American game makers, Japanese video game companies often sweat over every detail before selling their games overseas to make sure it fits the culture.  Although the sentiment is appreciated the results are often poor, as people in other countries enjoy those cultural differences more often than not.

Case in point is Prince’s Proposal’s (Ojisama no Puropozu) treacherous journey abroad.  Prince’s Proposal is an otome game where your character, a university student, has a chance encounter with six princes whom you must find romance with by making the right choices throughout the story.

Its recent westernized incarnation called Be My Princess, however, decided to replace the stylish anime princes and characters with rubbery, emotionless ones.

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Website Lets You Check if Anyone Was Murdered or Committed Suicide in Your Home

None of us wants to live in an apartment or house where someone was killed, also known as stigmatized properties. It’d be pretty creepy in the least.  However, in Japan the desire to not live in a place like that is so intense that you’d think Poltergeist was a documentary.

Oshima Teru is an up and coming website that also must be a real estate agent’s worst nightmare.  Its main purpose is to map out every property where unnatural deaths occurred. Originally only focusing on the Greater Tokyo Area, they have expanded into nearly worldwide coverage including North America and Europe.

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Horror Movies Recommended to Scare Away the Summer Heat! So, Which Horror Movies are Popular in Japan?

It’s a fact of life that summers in Japan are hot and humid, and the Japanese people have a long history of trying to find ways to cool down in hot weather. One tradition that has come about as a result is the telling of terrifying horror stories in the summer, for the purpose of getting “chilled with terror”. And right now with the summer in full swing in Japan, we are indeed in need of some “chilling”.

Well, to help those of us desperate to feel just even a little bit cooler, Japanese entertainment group Culture Convenience Club (CCC), which operates TSUTAYA, one of the largest Video/DVD rental chains in Japan, has released a list of the 20 most-rented horror movies in Japan over the past three decades (1983 to 2012 to be exact). So, let’s see which movies made the list! Read More

Why Do Foreigners Like Japan so Much? We Head to Comiket 82 to Find Out!

Many foreigners view Japan as some marvelous dreamland of technology and culture; a place where crazy is the norm and embracing fantasy in everyday life is acceptable.

But to Japanese people, Japan is just that place you were born. Everyone and everything is routine, and it’s often difficult to see why the rest of the world get’s so worked up about “Japanese culture.”

Earlier this month, we sent one of our Japanese reporters to Comic Market (or “Comiket“), the world’s largest self-published comic book fair and otaku mecca, to interview real live foreigners and ask them what it is they really think about this country.

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Possum Cat Plays Dead(?) in the Heat [Video]

Summer can be tough. Some days are so hot that it’s difficult to do much more than idly lie there as the heat drains you of your energy. And just imagine how bad it is if you’re covered in fur.

At first glance this kitty is just sprawled out on a sofa, but as the camera moves around (up and down, circling around, even going right up to the cat’s face), you’ll notice that it doesn’t even move its eyes.

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“All the World Has Been Waiting For You, Goku!” Fans Ecstatic Over News of New Dragon Ball Animated Film

We reported previously on a mystery countdown taking place on the website of the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, which hinted that the popular manga “Dragon Ball” may be making a come back on the magazine. Well, fans of the manga can rejoice! We’ve found out that Dragon Ball is indeed coming back, although not to the Jump magazine, but as a new feature length animated film! Read More

“Boxers or briefs?” “This Will Knock Your Socks Off.” No, no. “Bra Trouble During Historic Olympic Match!” (Yeah, That’s It!)

After 200 years since the first documented match, women’s boxing has finally become an official Olympic sport. The debut match occurred on August 5, and in almost no time at all, we witnessed our first wardrobe malfunction. The match in question was between 3rd ranked Jinzi Li of China and Brazil’s Roseli Feitosa.

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What’s The Best Thing You Ever Said To Your Teacher (To Make Them Completely Lose It)?

We’ve all had teachers with a variety of temperaments. Some were cool, mellow. Some awkward, or just characters. (But hey, teachers are human too and they have to put up with students’ quirkiness as well).

Have you ever said or done anything that pushed your teacher over the edge, even for just a second? Below are an assortment of such utterances taken from a 2ch thread titled “Tell Us Something You Said That Pissed off Your Teacher.” Some of them may sound weird, and you may be shocked at the violent reaction of some of the teachers, but you need to take into account that some forms of hitting are still considered acceptable in Japanese schools. Read More

What A Disgrace! Was This Olympic Boxing Match Fixed? Referee Expelled

In my career as a journalist, never have I seen such a debacle. The match in question was a bantamweight match, between Azerbaijan’s Magomed Abdulhamidovand Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu. On five occasions in one round, Shimizu knocked down Abdulhamidov, who also received a two-point penalty. The judges ended up awarding victory by judgment to his opponent, who was the one who spent more time on the canvas, and the referee didn’t stop the match as he would reasonably expected to during one of these downs, nor did he even start counting down a single knockdown. What exactly is going on with refereeing in the London Olympics? Read More

Samsung Fights to Expel Dr. Dre’s Headphones From the Olympics

It must be hard to be an Olympic athlete with all that pressure to perform with the eyes of the world watching you and asking you to do your very best in that one moment.  Not to mention that most of them are far from home in a strange land with strange customs.

For many, the best way to relax the mind and get reconnected to your homeland is by music.  And there’s no better way to deliver this acoustic tranquilizer than through a pair of the increasingly popular brand of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.  Unfortunately, electronics giant Samsung wants to take those away from the athletes.

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