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Google Street View captures view from top of Mt. Fuji, negates only reason to climb it

There’s a saying in Japan about Mt. Fuji that goes to the tune of, “You ought to climb it once, but only a fool would climb it twice.”

That’s because, as yours truly learned just last weekend, climbing Mt. Fuji is  a lot like spending up to eight hours repeatedly swinging a mallet into your knees as hard as you can. It’s also – at least this year, after having been declared a World Heritage Site – so crowded you’re guaranteed to be spending the climb with your face in dangerous proximity to someone else’s ass at all times.

Lucky for those that haven’t climbed it yet, Google Street View strapped some poor sucker with 100 pounds of weird Google robot gear, maybe gave him a bottle of water and some peanuts, and told him to walk right on up and take some pictures from the top. “It’ll be cool,” they probably said. “We promise.”

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We try shaved ice doused in Dom Perignon, feel like comically rich billionaires looking for novel ways to spend money

Reporters get a lot of unexpected perks. Occasionally, our editor will demand we interview a porn star or go stuff donuts in our faces on the company dime. That’s great, for sure. But truth be told, the greatest perk of being a reporter is that not only is it expected you’ll be drunk around lunchtime, it’s even encouraged!

And so it went that we were asked to sample some shaved ice doused in Dom Perignon, because everything is better doused in Dom Perignon. Go ahead, pour a bottle over your head and walk down the street. See if you don’t get a couple of phone numbers.

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Fukuoka Aquarium porpoises play relay with magical underwater bubble rings

Fukuoka Aquarium’s black finless porpoises proved themselves to be the true wizards of the sea earlier this month when they began blowing incredible bubble rings like Gandalf the Grey high on pipe-leaf, even passing them back and forth relay-style.

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Vietnamese Arsenal fan quite literally chases his dreams, is welcomed onto team bus

To achieve your dreams, you have to really want it. You need drive, determination and, if this video is anything to go by, a good pair of legs.

Taken in Hanoi by a member of English Premier League football club Arsenal, the following video sees one young Vietnamese fan chasing after the team’s tour bus for some five miles, waving and pounding the badge emblazoned on his chest with such vigour that the team eventually decides to welcome him on board for a once-in-a-lifetime private autograph and photo session.

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10 awesome ice creams available from convenience stores in Japan

The country may not be especially well known for its confection and frozen treats, but you’d better believe that Japan loves its ice cream. Whatever the season, there are hundreds of varieties to choose from, and chain stores like Baskin Robbins and Ben & Jerry’s attract enormous lines on a daily basis, constantly whipping up new flavours to appeal to the Japanese palate.

Today, we’d like to take you on a tour of the konbini aisu, or convenience store-bought ice cream, of Japan. They may not be quite as sophisticated as your top-of-the-range Häagen-Dazs offerings, but boy are they tasty, and since they’re available for just a couple of hundred yen each you can afford to treat yourself pretty much every day this summer. We hope you’re hungry!

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Can you bring yourself to eat the art on these awesome anime cakes?

A quick glance at the name of Japanese cake maker Priroll should tell you that they specialize in roll cakes. What might not be so readily apparent is that the “Pri” stands for “printing.” Customers can include a photo when ordering, which Priroll will then reproduce on the side of one of its desserts, making it a great choice for birthdays, graduations, or other celebrations.

Being able to reproduce any image on this sweet, spongy canvas, though, means that the folks at Priroll aren’t limited to using just photographs, though. If you want, they can also whip you up an anime cake.

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How to eat lunch in Tokyo for less than 300 yen

For students and professionals just starting their careers in pricey Tokyo, finding ways to economize is a must. Unfortunately, the cost of housing in the city means a lot of young singles end up in pretty cramped living quarters. In my old apartment, the only refrigerator I could cram into the place was so small there wasn’t enough room to keep both my beer and my drinking water chilled. For the record, it takes about two months to get used to drinking lukewarm H2O.

This lack of space also makes it difficult to stock up on groceries to use in cooking your own lunch to bring to school or the office. As a result, many people buy bento, boxed lunches with rice and some sort of side dish. You can get passable bento at any convenience store, and in recent years even some full-fledged restaurants have started selling them on the sidewalks of business districts in the afternoons.

Bento tend to be somewhere in the range of 500-1,000 yen (US$5-10) though, so the cost really adds up if you’re buying one a day. Trying to cut our expenses even further, we sent our reporter out with 500 yen and a mission: go get lunch, and bring back change.

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It’s lunch time in the Valley of the Wind with this Nausicaa-themed rice omelet 【Recipe】

Japan’s got kind of a thing for making its food look like other living things. Take for example the kids’ boxed lunch staple the tako wiener, a length of sausage sliced to look like a cute little octopus. Curry and rice shaped like teddy bears soaking in a bathtub are a mainstay of maid café menus.

At the same time, famed anime house Studio Ghibli’s fans also have a habit of artistically expressing their enthusiasm through food. Droves of chefs tweet pictures of their “Laputa toast” (basically a fried egg on a thick slice of bread) whenever the film is shown on TV, and we tried our hand at reproducing the herring and pumpkin pie from Kiki’s Delivery Service a few months back.

But the bar for Ghibli-themed food was just raised several notches by one lover of Nausicaa of the Valey of the Wind who created an edible version of the movie’s monstrous ohmu.

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Worldwide best seller The Zombie Survival Guide finally gets a Japanese release

Japan is facing a potential crisis. While the rest of the world has been readying itself for the zombie apocalypse for years now thanks to the likes of author Max Brooks and his The Zombie Survival Guide, the inhabitants of the land of the rising sun have been given precious little to prepare them for life after society has been torn to shreds by the flesh-hungry living dead.

Thankfully, with World War Z–a movie loosely based on Brooks’ 2006 novel of the same name–finally hitting Japanese cinemas on August 10, the powers that be have decided it is time to arm the nation with the knowledge it’ll need to survive. Arriving in bookstores next month, a Japanese language version of The Zombie Survival Guide might just keep the country going until we can start rebuilding society.

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This summer drink recipe is so easy even we were able to make it

After our extremely delicious hot steamed bun tip for keeping cool during the brutal Tokyo summer, we decided to follow up with an iced drink recipe to accompany those sweet, soft buns. We’re still talking about bread, right?

The only problem was we spent all day snacking on steamed buns and experimenting with other ways to keep cool and we had to hurry up and make something or risk missing happy hour. So we settled for the old standby of throwing a few things from the fridge together in a bowl. Would you believe it turned out great!

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Calling all retro gamers! 1,000 Nintendo consoles up for grabs on Yahoo! Auctions

Launched in 1983 in Japan, Nintendo’s Family Computer, or Famicom as it is more fondly known, quickly became a household name thanks to titles like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. Strikingly different in design to its Western counterpart, the NES, the Famicom’s low profile with its multitude of buttons and ridges and docking slots for a pair of gold and burgundy controllers is now considered to be an iconic piece of video game hardware, frequently bought and sold at auction or at used game stores.

While many gamers would no doubt quite like the idea of picking a Famicom up for themselves and reliving a few 8-bit classics, we’re not entirely sure how many people would be in the market to buy 1,000 of the things all at once…

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Hello, School Nurse! Japanese website lets you exchange emails with licensed youth caretaker

There are certain trappings to the ideal vision of high school in Japan. A schoolhouse with surprisingly lenient rooftop access policies is one. A bevy of beautiful, earnest coed equipment managers cheering you on in the big game is another. And no set of rose-colored school days is complete without a kind, patient, nurturing school nurse.

If you’re past your teens, most of these are now out of reach. Contrary to what anime and TV dramas have shown us, Japanese educational institutes don’t even let their own students eat lunch on the roof, much less some random guy trying to turn back the clock. Putting your grown-man strength to use in youth athletics is similarly out of the question.

Thanks to a new website that launched this month, though, it’s not too late to have another chat with that school nurse.

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No need to fear dark and stormy nights with this light-up umbrella

A common image of the Japanese city is a concrete jungle of towering skyscrapers, tinting the night sky with the vibrant light from countless neon signs. But while you definitely can find those urban landscapes in downtown districts like Tokyo’s Shinjuku and Osaka’s Namba, take a short train ride into the suburbs and things can be very different.

My own apartment is in the most populous ward of Japan’s second biggest city, but one block away from the shopping arcade there are no sidewalks to be found, and street lights are few and far between. Add in a storm that cuts down visibility even more, and a walk home from the station can be a little unnerving.

Thankfully, PC and cell phone peripheral manufacturer Century has a solution for both problems with their light-up umbrella.

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10 tips to help you survive the Japanese summer

Hot enough for ya!? Despite having enjoyed an extremely mild spring, summer in Japan has kicked off with the ferocity of a right-wing tiger with a bad case of hemorrhoids and a stinging mouth ulcer. If you’re from more tropical climes and currently living in Japan you’re likely wondering why everyone keeps moaning “atsuiiiii” (“It’s hoooot!”) and dabbing their faces with handkerchiefs like politicians struggling to explain cross-dressing photos published online. For the rest of us, though, summer is a sweaty nightmare than can not so much be beaten as endured.

Thankfully, we’re here today to help you out with 10 tips for getting through summer without melting into a sad little puddle. Read on, my sweaty friends.

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US$125,000 power suit lets you battle Kaiju, snack without getting Cheeto fingers

Meet the Powere Jacket MK3, an elaborate power suit clearly inspired by anime and hitting the market just in time to ride the wave of excitement over Guillermo Del Toro’s Kaiju Vs. Robots monster movie, Pacific Rim.

Though the power suit is far less impressive than the towering robots of the film, according to the below video, it lets you achieve all kinds of superhuman feats, including running at faster speeds, lifting heavy objects, and eating Cheetos without getting orange powder all over your fingers.

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China’s ancient oasis: The beautiful crescent lake of Yueyaquan

Just a nine days into the month of July and the majority of Japan is in the grip of a heat wave. With highs of 35 C (95 F) and stifling humidity, city workers are already wiping themselves down with deodorizing body paper at every opportunity and dodging from one area of shade to the next while outdoors. It’s at times like these that many of us dream of escaping to a hidden oasis of our own, enjoying an icy cold beer and listening to soft music as we doze in the shade of a tree. For those of us working in the city, though, a trip to a cheap izakaya or beer garden is about as close as we’re likely to come to making our daydream a reality.

Today, though, we’d like to invite you to come with us to Gansu Province, China, which is home to a natural oasis known as the Crescent Lake, where the thought of padding across its lush grass and dipping our feet in the pure springwater is already helping us feel cooler. Welcome to Yueyaquan.

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Anime-loving teachers spice up finals for their students

It’s the end of the first semester of the Japanese school year, and you know what that means: party time!

No, wait, sorry, it means kimatsu shiken, the end of semester tests. Man, what a drag.

Fortunately, some teachers at least have a sense of humor about it. Here are nine examples of anime-inspired attempts to spice up tests!

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Why settle for sand castles when you can make sand Aztec pyramids?

Sometimes, going to a neighborhood park as an adult allows you to enjoy it in a whole different way than you did as a kid. Grown-ups are much more likely to appreciate how certain flowers blossoming heralds the changing of the seasons, or to be soothed by the chirping of birds nesting in the trees overhead.

On the other hand, past a certain age other aspects are surprisingly depressing. The swings and slides that made you feel like a daredevil are a bit less thrilling once they only go as high as your shoulder, which can really hammer home the point that your childhood is a distant part of your past.

But an anonymous Japanese park visitor has shown us there’s one piece of playground equipment that can grow with you.

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【Cool find!】Special edition Coca Cola made with Okinawan water

Our reporter was strolling through Ginza one afternoon and found herself in an Okinawa specialty goods store. As she was browsing through the aisles, she couldn’t help but notice a brightly colored can of Coca Cola with a red shisa (lion dog) printed on the front. Upon further inspection of the can, she realized that she had stumbled upon Okinawa Coca Cola, made with the waters of Okinawa. How would this special Coke taste? She just had to buy one and find out.

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Honda’s cool new “Hands” video just made our day

It may be just a bit of clever PR, but this video released by Japan’s Honda Motor Company earlier this week, simply titled “Hands”, is one of the coolest shorts we’ve seen in a long time.

Beginning with the line “Let’s see what curiosity can do,” the video treats us to a look at some of the company’s creations past, present and future, all in the form of sleight of hand tricks, topped off with a generous helping of computer-generated magic. Check out the full video after the jump.

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