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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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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Meet Tama: The Japanese Cat Who Saved a Train Station

Walk into the Kishi train station in Kinokawa, Japan, and you’ll be greeted by a station master unlike any other.  She knows little about trains, doesn’t know how to speak Japanese (or any language for that matter)…and she’s a cat.

Tama, a Calico cat, is the adorable station master at Kinokawa City’s train station, and she has single-handedly revitalized the once desolate stop.

The Kishi station was once a financial black hole, with virtually empty trains and losing an estimated $4.7 million a year.  But that soon changed once the Wakayama Electric Railway appointed Toshiko Koyama became station manager.

In 2007, Koyama, who is Tama’s owner, decided to make his furry friend station master, with the simple duty of greeting passengers, a decision that has single-handedly revitalized the stop.  Thanks to the four-legged station official, the station has become its own tourist attraction, experiencing a boost of over $10.4 million, according to some reports.

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And it’s no wonder why folks are flocking to Kishi; Tama is an adorable sight to be seen when she’s on duty.  Decked out in a station master hat and badge, she spends her time in her ticket-booth-turned-office saying hello to the steady stream of folks who visit her during her working hours of 10am-4pm, weekdays only.

Her influence on the area has become so great, that her image has been utilized in every conceivable way possible.  The station has come to house a Tama-themed coffee shop, sells a variety of cat-inspired merchandise (think Hello Kitty, but Calico), runs a Tama train and, get this, has even been remodeled to be in the shape of a cat.

In 2010, she was named Operating Officer, thanks to her contributions in boosting ridership.

In January, her apprentice, Nitama (which translates to “Second Tama”) was named.  Nitama will become Tama’s successor and currently “proxies” for Tama on weekends.

Sources: 1, 2

(All images courtesy of Flickr, Google and The Guardian)

Real-Life Anime Locales That You Can Visit!

For many anime fans, visiting the real-life locations that serve as the setting of their favorite stories has become a new way to experience their most-loved animated films, graphic novels or television series, allowing fans to literally walk in their favorite characters’ footsteps.  These destinations are slowly becoming as popular as the series that placed them on the map, as fans pack their bags and travel to see these destinations first-hand.

The little town of Iwami cho in the Tottori prefecture of Southeastern Japan has been receiving much more attention lately with the airing of the Japanese anime series, Free!, a series focused on a revived swimming club.  However, we’re most amazed at how animators were able to accurately capture the water-front town’s charm, using virtually every aspect of the town, from the charming harbor to something as simple as an alleyway, as illustrative inspiration.

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Another town that has been placed in the spotlight, thanks to anime, is Oarai, in the eastern part of Ibaraki prefecture.  Oarai’s most famous and distinct landmarks, like it’s marine tower and dolphin statue, as well as less well-known sites, like local restaurants, are featured in the popular series, Girls und Panzer.  Locals have embraced their new found fame: pictures of the characters can be seen throughout the town and an event celebrating the anime was held earlier this year.

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Though not based on a real-life place, Studio Ghibli fans can visit the home of Mei and Satsuki from the beloved Miyazaki film, My Neighbor Totoro.  Located in Nagakute, Japan at the at the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park and designed by Goro Miyazaki, the house was constructed with such precision, detail and authenticity that visitors can feel as if the little girls could run in and out of the home at any moment.

In Japan, You Can Visit the Totoro House. For Real.

(Sources: 1, 2, 3)

Adult Film Actress Says Porn is Less Taboo in Japan

HuffPost Live recently hosted a roundtable discussion on whether a woman’s relationship with her parents can be a driving factor in her decision to work in the adult film industry.

During this discussion, plus-sized adult film actress Kelly Shibari agreed that her relationship with her mother played a role in her decision, but disagreed with the idea that this relationship made her turn to pornography.

Shibari explained that sex is much less taboo in Japan and, according to Shibari, people pick up strange fetishes simply because they’ve run out of things to do. At the same time, people are encouraged to embrace adulthood and make decisions for themselves. In this way, Shibari argued that her decision to become a porn star was not similar to the others in the discussion who turned to pornography out of rebellion or to prove a point to their parents. To her mother (whom Shibari asked permission before entering the porn industry), Shibari was simply taking control of her life as an adult, not because of some emotional or psychological void:

I was raised to behave like an adult, so even my current tenure in porn is full of me still making decisions. I don’t do every scene that is asked of me. I don’t do every sex act that’s asked of me. In my case, because I do a lot of plus-size porn, I don’t do things that perpetuate a negative stereotype with large women. I’ve turned down scenes where I’ve been asked to eat while having sex.”

 

And these strange fetishes Shibari’s talking about? We’re not completely sure what she’s referring to, but given the recent outbreak of eyeball licking amongst Japanese youth, we’re not sure we want to know.

To watch the entire HuffPost Live discussion, click here.

Osaka Mayor Remains Defiant Over Comfort Women Remarks

by Steve Han

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto asked that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors retract its condemnation of his remarks justifying Japan’s use of sex slaves during World War II.

In a letter sent to Osaka’s sister-city, the Japanese right-wing politician said his words were “misunderstood” by San Francisco’s equivalent to a city council as he never “legitimatized or defended” Japan’s institution of “comfort women,” a term used to describe sex slaves.

“My statements … have always been consistent with my concern for the protection and enhancement of women’s dignity and human rights,” he wrote.

Hashimoto came under scrutiny across the world in May, after he said that comfort women were “necessary” for Japanese soldiers during the war.

San Francisco criticized Hashimoto’s remarks on the city’s website in June, drafting a resolution that stated that the board “strongly condemns” the Mayor’s “attitude and statements” for “justifying the state-sponsored ‘comfort women’ system which forced hundreds of thousands of Asian women into sexual servitude for the Japanese military.”

The city board’s condemnation led to Hashimoto canceling his planned trip to San Francisco and New York in June.

Problematic Weight-Loss App: Men Insult You Until You Lose Weight

Last week, we were stunned to discover a residential facility where the cost of rent was dependent on how much the tenant weighed. The facility would deduct a certain amount from the tenants’ rent for weight loss or increase the rent for weight gain.

Intense? Yeah, we thought so too. That was, of course, before we discovered a Japanese weight loss app that blows the residential facility out of the park. Nenshou! For Girls is an app which will have “attractive” anime men encourage you to lose weight. And by encourage I mean these anime men will say verbally abusive things about you like, “Fat girl, do some more exercise, okay fattie?”

As much as we wish we were joking, we’re not.  RocketNews24 writes, “In “Nenshou! For Girls” three gorgeous guys will give you the old carrot-and-stick treatment to encourage you on your weight loss journey. While you exercise, you can also enjoy a burgeoning relationship with one of the cast of ikemen (hot guys) who has been so romantically insulting you.”

We’re not entirely sure why anyone would want to be verbally insulted by a fictional anime character that could potentially “start a relationship” with you if you lose weight, but apparently there is so much faith in this app that veteran voice actors Daisuke Namikawa (Mobile Suit Gundam 00), Ryouhei Kimura (Eden of the East), and Katsuyuki Konishi (Bleach, Hetalia) were asked to voice the “romantically insulting” men.

And if you think this is bad, it gets even worse. The app is based on Nenshou! which is a similar app, but aimed towards men. “Attractive” anime women encourage men to lose weight, but heres the catch: they actually use words of encouragement and compliment the app user.

Because that makes sense, right? The way to get men to lose weight is through encouragement and affirmation and the way to get women to lose weight is through insults. Because as women, we don’t already have enough pressure to be thin, right?

With more and more problematic approaches to weight loss, we can only hope that more people don’t fall into the already terrifying amount of women who will go through drastic measures to lose weight.

Tell us what you think about this phone app below.