Heartwarming Story of the Day: Six-Year Old Donates Piggybank Savings for Haiyan Relief

With his mother in tow, six-year old Shoichi Kondoh headed over to the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo with a determined mind and an open heart.  In an act of great generosity, he was there to personally donate his savings to response efforts in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

As stated by the Philippine Embassy, after seeing the extent of the damage on television, the Japanese pre-schooler “did not think twice about giving away his childhood savings (of JPY 5,000 or ~$50).”  With his donation, Soichi became the youngest cash donor at the embassy.  Consul Bryan Dexter Lao was there to receive the enveloped-donation.

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Soichi signs the condolence book at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and poses with Consul Bryan Dexter Lao. (Photos courtesy of the Philippine Embassy in Japan)

With damages costing an estimated $15 billion, a rising death toll and hundreds of thousands of people displaced, it is no question that relief and aid are needed.  Soichi’s act of “sincere generosity” is a reminder that every little bit counts.

If you are interested in donating to the continuing relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines, be sure to check out these Ruby Veridiano and Audrey-approved picks.

(Sources: 1, 2)

Five of Asia’s Most Breathtaking Locations

Yesterday, BuzzFeed released a list called “27 Surreal Places To Visit Before You Die.” The list has already gained over 180,000 likes on facebook and for good reason. All of the locations are undeniably breathtaking.

We were pleased to discover that five of these locations were in Asia and we decided to take a closer look at all of them.

1. Zhangye Danxia landform in Gansu, China

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The Danxia landforms are sandstone formations most known for, you guessed it, their vibrant color patterns.The are located in a remote region in northern central China. The mountains and hills retain such color because Danxia landforms are composed of red sandstone. Mineral deposits were compressed into rock for 24 million years thus gaining a colors ranging from deep red to yellow and green.

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2. The Hang Son Doong cave in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

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The Sơn Đoòng cave is currently the largest known cave in the world and is located near the border of Laos and Vietnam. It is five times larger than the Phong Nha Cave which previously held the record for being the biggest cave in Vietnam. Although it was created 2-5 million years ago, the cave did not become public knowledge until 2009. Inside, there is a fast flowing underground river as well as cave pearls the size of baseballs.

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 3. Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan

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This popular tourist destination has been given the nickname “flower paradise” because the 32,000 square metres of flowers look amazing all year long. With each passing season, a different variety of flower will blossom throughout the Hitachi Seaside park such as the Nemophilas. The popular, blue flower blossoms annually during springtime.

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4. Bamboo groves of Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan

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These Japanese bamboo groves, located in Northwest Kyoto, are a tourist favorite. The gorgeous line of bamboo not only looks beautiful, apparently it sounds beautiful too. Amusing Planet notes “The sound of the wind in this bamboo forest has been voted as one of ‘one hundred must-be-preserved sounds of Japan’ by the Japanese government.” The bamboo in this grove is still used to manufacture various products such as cups, boxes, baskets and mats in the area.

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5. Kelimutu crater lakes in Flores Island, Indonesia

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Kelimutu is a small volcano central Flores Island of Indonesia. It has gained popularity because the volcano has three craters- each contain a lake with a different color. The lakes periodically change colors from red and brown to turquoise and green, independent of each other. The lakes are named Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Tai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Sprits, or Enchanted Lake). The scientific explanation behind the colorful lakes  chemical reactions from the minerals in the lake triggers by the volcano’s gas activity.

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(Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Facebook Depresses Japan, Loses Popularity

Here at Audrey, we’ve known the dangers of facebook and social media for quite some time now. In our Fall 2013 issue, we pointed out that a 2013 study conducted by two German universities showed one in three people felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook.

Users felt envy, loneliness and isolation, with the most common cause of Facebook frustration stemming from others’ vacation photos. The second most common cause of envy was social interaction — feeling a “lack of attention” from having fewer birthday greetings, comments and “likes” compared to friends.

 

And it wasn’t just college students. The study found people in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness, while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness. After all, what is Facebook but an online brag book for all to see? A 20-something colleague recently summed it up when asked why she posted so much food porn on Facebook: “To make people jealous.”

 

The term “facebook depression” began in 2011 after the study Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking was published by sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge. The study showed that those who spent less time on facebook seemed to live happier lives.

Of course, the repercussions of facebook depression is not simply confined to the US. In particular, Japan seems to have finally become overwhelmed by facebook depression.

In 2008, facebook launched in Japan and seemed to head towards instant success. At the end of 2012, the Japanese facebook site had over 17 million users. However, five months later, the amount of users became 13 million.

So what could be the cause of this very sudden and large drop? According to RocketNews24, Japanese Psychologist Kouji Yamada claims Japanese facebook users are “developing an inferiority complex about their lonely, boring and unsatisfying lives.”

Apparently, we’re not just too sensitive over here. The facebook depression syndrome may actually be a global issue.

(Photo Source)

Japan Creates “Liberation Wrapper”- A Solution For Women To Eat Burgers in Public

Have you ever had to stop yourself from eating something in public because cultural restraints say it’s rude for a lady to open her mouth wide? Well thats exactly whats happening in Japan.

For years, Japanese culture has encouraged women to strive for “ochobo” which is described as small and modest mouths.

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As a result, it is considered rude for Japanese women to open their mouth wide. This rule even applies to women when eating out in public.

It’s no wonder that Freshness Burger noticed their “Classic Burger” was the least chosen option among their female customers. Simply put, that particularly large burger would require women to “rudely” open their mouths and lose their ochobo.

This is when Freshness Burger decided to “free women from the spell of the ochobo mouth.”

They created the “Liberation Wrapper” for their burgers. This is a large burger wrapper with the image of a women’s face. The wrapper is meant to hide women as they take a big bite of their burger and maintain the appearance of ochobo.

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While some argue that this does not necessarily fight against the cultural restraint of the ochobo, the “Liberation Wrapper” has clearly become a success. Freshness Burger has reported that sales of the large “Classic Burger” have gone up by over 200% and their invention is quickly spreading across news media and social media.

Watch the video below to see both the creation and success behind the “Liberation Wrapper.”

(Source 1, 2, 3)

My Melody Pop-Up Cafe in Toyko

There are a number of Hello Kitty cafes worldwide, but what about the other adorable Sanrio characters? Don’t they deserve some pastries in the shape of their face too?

Apparently Japan shared our sentiments. This time around, a My Melody pop up cafe is available for a limited time in Daikanyama.

My Melody is one of Sanrio’s most popular figures after Hello Kitty herself. The rabbit, who covers her ears with a pink or red hood, was released the same year as Hello Kitty. In 2005, an anime series based on My Melody was aired in Japan and My Melody also stars in a number of video games.

Now, My Melody is featured in a popular limited-time only pop-up cafe in Tokyo. The cafe was originally set to begin on October 10th and end on October 31st, but the popularity of My Melody has forced the cafe to extend this date. If you happen to be in Tokyo, you can catch this cafe until November 5th.

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Heartwarming Friendship Between Grandmother And Cat

Story by Taylor Weik.

It doesn’t get much cuter than this. After graduating from the Nippon Photography Institute in Japan in 2002, Miyoko Ihara began taking daily photographs of her grandmother, Misao, to document her life.

One day, Misao walked into her shed to discover a small white kitten with heterochromia –– one eye a warm amber, the other an ice blue. She named the kitten Fukumaru, and the pair have been inseparable ever since.

Ihara captures the growing friendship on camera as the duo work in the fields, munch on watermelon and take naps together. Although both Misao and Fukumaru are hard of hearing, Ihara is able to clearly portray their strong connection to one another. She has since compiled her photography into a book titled “Miyoko Ihara: Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat.”

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(photo source)

Why Japanese Youth Have Stopped Having Sex

Currently, Japan has one of the world’s lowest birth rates in the world. Although its population is 126 million, that number is dropping every year and it pales in comparison to the U.S. population of 314 million and China’s 1.35 billion. In fact, fewer Japanese babies were born in 2012 than any other year in history.

According to sex and relationship counselor Ai Aoyama, this number could drop dangerously low with the current views of the Japanese youth. Aoyama is hoping to cure Japan’s wave of “celibacy syndrome” which has young adults losing interest in both physical and romantic relationships. In fact, many do not see marriage in their future at all. In 2011, a study showed that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship and a third of people under 30 had never dated at all.

There are many speculations as to why Japanese young adults feel no need for human affection. The Guardian argues that Japan is “battling against the effects on its already nuclear-destruction-scarred psyche of 2011′s earthquake.” This scared mentality leaves Japanese citizens with the feeling that there is simply no point to relationships and no point to love.

Some of Aoyama’s patients are in their 30′s and have shut themselves off from the world. In fact, some of these individuals can’t even touch a member of the opposite sex and prefer other forms of intimacy. For instance, Aoyama describes one of her clients who “can’t get sexually aroused unless he watches female robots on a game similar to Power Rangers.” Aside from talks and tutorials with her patients, Aoyama uses therapy, yoga and hypnosis to try and help her patients.

The Guardian also argues another reason for this loss of interest. With Japan’s current lifestyle desire, marriage and relationships simply do not make sense. In today’s modern Japan, marriage is seen as a “grave” for career-focused women.The World Economic Forum ranks Japan as one of the world’s worst nations for gender equality at work. Promotions for women in the workplace is difficult as it is. Once a woman is married, it is seen as nearly impossible because of the assumption that the woman will have children. 70% of Japanese women leave their job after their first child since it is socially expected for mothers to stay home and raise their children.  Japan’s Institute of Population and Social Security reports 90% of young women believe that single life is “preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like”.

Men also seem to have no problem in the apathy wagon. The Guardian claims that men have become less career-driven and as such, do not want the responsibility of the traditional household role as the provider.

Despite the overwhelming lack of enthusiasm, Aoyama is determined to put human intimacy back on the map. Hopefully this task can be achieved soon. According to Kunio Kitamura, head of the JFPA, the issue is so serious that he fears Japan “might eventually perish into extinction.”

 

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Image of The Day: Japan Presents The Worst Underwear Idea EVER

Over the years, we’ve seen quite our share of interesting things arise from Japan. We’ve seen snail facialsJapanese commercials that don’t make sense, and even edible iphone cases.

We figured that by now we would expect the unexpected and not react when we heard about the new products and trends. Yet again, we were wrong. As much as we tried to understand this product we simply couldn’t figure out its appeal.

This product, I kid you not, is underwear which deliberately creates a camel toe. Now for those of you who don’t quite know what a camel toe is, Wikipedia defines is as  “a slang term that refers to the outline of a human female’s labia majora, as seen through tightly fitting clothes. Due to a combination of anatomical factors and the tightness of the fabric covering it, the crotch andmons pubis may take on a resemblance to the forefoot of a camel.”

Commonly, this is the sort of thing you avoid. In fact, there are a number of rather successful products which try to help women with this problem. Camelflage is a small insert in panties which guarantees that you will be camel toe-free.

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For whatever reason, this Japanese brand is embracing the camel toe and making sure it is part of our daily lives. Our verdict?

No, thank you.

*UPDATE: We were informed that this is speculated to be a gag costume for men. We’re crossing our fingers that it is indeed just a joke.

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Must-See Video | Welcome to The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Sure the 2020 Olympics is years away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be excited about it. Japan certainly seems excited to host the big event. Earlier in September, much to the excitement of Japanese citizens, it was announced that Tokyo would host the Olympic games in 2020. Of course, this decision was made after the Japanese prime minister flew in to reassure voters that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima power plant would not create a health risk.

“Here in Buenos Aires, we have received many voices of support and felt the passion from people in Japan,” says Tokyo governor Naoki Inose. “I am overjoyed to learn that our dream has come true.”

By hosting the Olympics in 2020, Tokyo will be the first Asian city to host the Olympics twice, having also hosted the 1964 Games.

In honor of the big event, World Order, a Japanese band which started in 2009, decided to create “Welcome to Tokyo.” The band, which was created by former mixed martial artist Genki Sudo, combines music, slow-motion moves and robotic moves.  The video has already gathered nearly 800,000 views and for good reason — its both hypnotizing and entertaining.

Be sure to check out their other visually stunning piece below:

 

Image of The Day: Japan Introduces The World’s Laziest Burger

See that? Doesn’t it look like it’s only two inverted buns with a sliver of ham between two slices of cheese? Well.. that’s because it is two inverted buns with a sliver of ham between two slices of cheese.

Next Friday, McDonald’s Japan will introduce the “McToast” to the public. From the looks of things, McDonalds has run out of ideas.

Although this sandwich looks tragically simple, it may not do so bad. The “McToast” holds quite a bit of resemblance to the French “Le Croque McDo” (picture below) which has done surprisingly well in Europe.

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“Le Croque McDo” has done well by focusing on its simplicity. The website openly states that it is merely two slices of melted Swiss cheese, a slice of ham and toasted bread. It then points out, “It does not take more to be good.”

Lets hope the simplicity, or laziness, of the “McToast” thrives just as well.

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