“World’s most beautiful Starbucks” gets a makeover in Japan, but is it still beautiful?

We visit the award-winning Starbucks to see if it’s still worthy of its title after a facelift. 

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Naked waterslide found in Toyama bathhouse, all-you-can-slide for $5

The freedom of naked watersliding may be fun in theory, but in practice…

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Deep-fried sushi exists in Japan, and here’s where to try it【Taste test】

Is this a country-fair style affront to Japanese cuisine, or a delicious idea we should have thought of sooner? Our reporter Meg finds out.

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Kobe set to light up “World’s Number-One Christmas Tree” in all its confusing glory

It’s soon to be official, Kobe will win Christmas this year, and with it, all of Santa’s gold.

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Japanese tourism poster with elderly man saying phrase for “I’ll have sex with you” puzzles Japan

It turns out he’s just following the local hospitality custom, though.

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New Japanese Sake Kit Kat developed by esteemed brewery and famous soccer player

A high-class Kit Kat said to be a cut above Nestlé’s previous sake-flavoured release.

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Ramen restaurant earns Michelin Guide approval even while outside bright lights of the big city

With no cosmopolitan cachet to influence gourmands’ minds, this ramen wins recognition purely for its flavor.

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Toyama man first person in Japan to be arrested for selling jailbroken iPhones

Authorities charging the suspect with “violation of trademark law.”

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We visit Starbucks location in Japan that’s been called the most beautiful in the world

We paid a visit to the unusual location to find out what makes this the world’s most beautiful Starbucks.

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Rolling like a samurai – Japanese coachbuilder’s car features centuries-old woodcarving technique

Does Japan’s Mitsuoka Motors count as a carmaker? It’s debatable. Yes, the company does have its own dealers that sell Mitsuoka-branded cars. Almost all of them, though, are Nissans or Mazdas with extensive cosmetic modifications. Even the company’s Orochi coupe, which has its own dedicated body, uses an engine built by Toyota.

So let’s ask an easier question: Are Mitsuoka’s cars visually unique? Unquestionably. The company has always made aesthetics the number-one priority in all of its vehicles, and that tradition continues with woodcarving so exquisite it wouldn’t look at all out of place in a Japanese castle, but which instead graces this Mitsuoka sedan.

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Restaurant raises the bar for customer service in Japan, will help you name your baby

In Japan, customer service tends to pretty amazing across the board, but perhaps nowhere more so than in the restaurant industry. Some restaurants may be boisterously friendly and others may be quietly courteous, but you can just about always be assured that everyone on the staff, from your server to the owner, is working hard to ensure an enjoyable dining experience.

But even by those standards, this yakiniku restaurant goes above and beyond the call of duty, with an extensive list of extra special services they’re willing to provide. Of course, courteousness is a two-way street, so the restaurant also has 10 unique requests it in turn makes to its customers.

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Toyama man awarded US$160,000 after being imprisoned for three years on false rape charges

Imagine you’re relaxing at home one day when there’s a sudden knock at the door. Before you know it you’re sitting in a police interrogation room with people trying to get a confession out of you for a crime you know nothing about. Soon after, you are sentenced to prison for three years for a crime you never committed, only to be released and regarded by society as a convicted sex offender for the rest of your days.

That nightmare scenario played out for Hiroshi Yanagihara, a man who, well after serving his full prison sentence, was found innocent of all charges. Following that, an understandably upset Yanagihara went after the people who initially arrested and convicted him, demanding compensation and criminal charges.

As a result, on 9 March Toyama District Court awarded Hiroshi Yanagihara 19.7 million yen (US$161,000) – apparently the value of five years of his life.

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Japanese constipation survey reveals the most and least poop-frustrated prefectures

There are certain topics that although you may be interested in, one just doesn’t bring up in polite company, the least of which being the regularity of a country’s bowel movements. But luckily our poop-curious friends over at Glico (as in the major Japanese snack company) recently completed a survey about constipation that gives us a very personal look at the health of Japan’s number two habits. The aptly named “Lifestyle and Constipation” survey has revealed which Japanese prefectures are keeping things downstairs regular and which ones are all clogged up.

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Toyama Prefecture treated to some hot rainbow action

On 20 July, Kita Nippon News was flooded with pictures and reports of high rainbow activity out of Toyama Prefecture. In particular was this shot of a rare rainbow cloud. Well, actually it was one of those artificial clouds left by aircraft called contrails, but it was still pretty cool.

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