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.

 

Problematic Idea of The Day: The Price of Your Rent Depends On Your Weight

From the time that we are born, we are taught that slim is in. We are given the belief as women that thin is beautiful and we must strive to get to or maintain that image. In the United States alone, nearly $35 billion a year is spent on weight loss products. Our obsession to be thin has become so extreme that companies have been thriving in the weight loss industry. There have been pills, workout machines, smoothies, and just about everything you can think of that focuses on weight loss.

In Japan, they’ve taken the idea of weight loss to an entirely new level. In what Huffington Post refers to as “one of the most unique weight-loss schemes of all”, the Lady Share House B&B in Osaka offers discounted rent price dependent on the tenants weight loss. The residential facility will deduct 1,000 yen (roughly $10) for every 2.2 pounds lost and inversely, the rent will increase for increased weight.

The goal of the residential facility, apparently, is to create an environment which supports and facilitates healthy living. In their defense, no one can say that Lady Share House B&B isn’t trying. In fact, their efforts are clearly done with good intentions. The building offers an exercise studio and even lecture on weight management. None the less, the building has still stirred quite the debate. The B&B was questioned for its unlimited snacks and sugary drinks offered to the tenants. Are these snacks really offered to encourage health living or was it a scheme to increase the tenants’ weight? They defended this act by claiming that the availability of the snacks was an effort to help their tenants learn to resist temptation. Questionable? Certainly.

While we are in full support of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are a number of problems that may arise from this rent tactic. In an effort to decrease rent, especially if one is in the position of financial hardship, one may go to extreme measures  to decrease their rent price. This added pressure may simply add on to the unhealthy obsession to be thin.

Additionally, with further research into the facility, it was discovered that the B&B was attracting many women who were not overweight at all. Will this B&B simply encourage women to be even thinner? Will this aid in the already problematic obsession of weight loss? Tell us what you think below.

(Source 1, 2)

Dream Destinations | Asia’s “Newest Wonders” & Its “Best Islands”

This past July, Travel & Leisure released the list of the “Newest Wonders of the World,” a list, compiled by UNESCO, of World Heritage sites, or places around the globe that have “cultural, historical and environmental importance.”  In addition, the well-known travel mag released their picks (with the help of readers) of the “World’s Best Islands,” complete with white-sand beaches and romantic get-aways. Seeing these lists will spark the travel bug in anyone, and we’re very happy to say that Asia is well-featured on the list.  Take a look below for the newest additions to our travel bucket-list in Asia.

The Newest World Wonders

Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, China
Located in southern Yunnan and over 1300 years old, the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces are a complex system developed by the Hani people to channel water from the Ailao Mountains to their as-equally sophisticated terraces and farms.

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Hill Forts of Rajasthan, India
Found in the Aravalli Mountains lies six forts that are “a standing testament to the power that Rajput princes enjoyed from the 8th to 18th century.” These series of eclectic forts utilizes the natural surroundings, such as hills, deserts and rivers, as defense while also using fortified walls to protect temples, palaces and other structures.

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Mount Fuji, Japan
Also known as “Fujisan,” Mount Fuji has become an icon of Japan, serving as an artistic muse as well as a site of sacred pilgrimage. As described by UNESCO, “The inscribed property consists of 25 sites which reflect the essence of Fujisan’s sacred landscape” including Shengen-jinja shrines, natural volcanic features, lakes and waterfalls.
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Kaesong’s Historical Sites, Korea
Located in the often-elusive DPRK and near the demilitarized zone, Kaesong is made up of 12 different sites that tell the story of Korea’s Koryo Dynasty.
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Xinjiang Tianshan, China
Taking up over 600,000 hectares and part of Central Asia’s Tianshin mountain range, Xinjian Tianshin is made up of a four geographically diverse components (Tomur, Kalajun-Kuerdening, Bayinbukuke and Bogda), ranging from snow-capped mountains to forests and meadows to wide-spanning deserts.
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World’s Best Islands
Palawan, Philippines (No. 1)
A favorite get-away of both local and foreign celebrities (including Mariah Carey, Pretty Little Liars’ Shay Mitchell, and Rachel Weisz), Palawan has a pure, almost surreal beauty that is something out of a movie.  When you’re there, go diving in the area’s warm waters and find yourself surrounded by natural coral reefs and abundant tropical fish or check out the world’s longest underground, navigable river.

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Boracay, Philippines (No. 2)
An hour’s plane ride away from the hustle and bustle of Manila, Boracay offers visitors white-sand beaches, crystal clear blue water and a well-developed nightlife scene.

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Bali, Indonesia (No. 6)
With its myriad of landscapes, ranging from rice terraces to rugged coastlines (not to mention to the world-famous beaches), Bali has become one of Indonesia’s largest tourist attractions, drawing in people from all over the globe for its “world-class surfing and diving, a large number of cultural, historical and archaeological attractions, and an enormous range of accommodations (Wiki).”
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Koh Samui, Thailand (No. 9)
This 13-mile wide island, referred to as simply “Samui” by locals, is a favorite of beach-lovers and backpackers alike with its numerous and beautiful natural resources, perfect beaches, clear water and coral reefs.

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Phuket, Thailand (No. 15)
The largest island in Thailand, Phuket is the Southeast Asian country’s most developed isle with world-renowned beaches, affordable (and more expensive) dining, fancy resorts and much more.  Be sure to make your way to the almost-undiscovered Mai Khao Beach or the visually stunning Phang Nga Bay.

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For more information on this year’s additions to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites as well as a complete list of all World Heritage Sites, visit UNESCO.

[All images courtesy of Google]

The Latest Beauty Trend | Japanese Snail Facials

You read that right, the latest beauty trend happening in Japan right now is the snail facial. Beauty salon “Ci:z.Labo” in Tokyo gives women the opportunity to clear their skin through a five minute treatment that consists of snails crawling on their face along with a massage.

Tokyo beautician Manami Takamura states that “The snail slime makes your skin really supple and removes dry, scaly patches. It’s also got great hydrating properties and moisturizes the skin.” It is believed that snail slime contains an anti-aging effect on human skin.

snailsAlthough some of us may see snails as pesky and slimy or even a delicious delicacy, Japan is definitely transforming the use of these creatures and women are paying a pretty big price for this treatment. One session costs approximately 10,500 Yen, which is about $107. Would you want to get the “Celebrity Escargot Course?” Let us know in the comments below!