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NSA conducted commercial espionage against Japanese government and businesses

New leaked documents published by Wikileaks show that the US spy agency conducted surveillance operations against Japan's top government officials, prioritizing finance and trade ministers, as well as the Japanese central bank and two private-sector energy companies. -

A crayon highlighter that'll never run dry


Staedtler makes a highlighter called the Textsurfer Gel that somehow congeals finicky, dry-out-prone highlighter ink into an everwet, enduring crayon that you'll be handing down to your grandchildren.

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Kitten + Owlet + Coffee equals cute

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Hukulou Coffee in Osaka has several owls, but Fuku the owlet and Marimo the kitten are the star attractions, as they have become very good friends.

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The posts below have some very cute recent videos.

Lots of great fan art on their Twitter feed, too.

Hukulou Coffee (Twitter)

Gorgeous animated pixel-art depicting everyday Japan

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Here's just two of the many beautiful, serene GIF animations depicting life in Japan, by @1041uuu. [via Hacker News & designmadeinjapan]

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Deformed mutant daisies photographed near Fukushima nuclear disaster site in Japan

Photo: @san_kaido


Photo: @san_kaido

These snapshots of “deformed mutant daisies” are making the rounds online this week, four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

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WATCH: A Japanese hermit's serene mountain retreat

Take a few minutes to let your stress melt away with this gorgeous film about a Japanese ascetic who pursues awakening via Shugendō in a secluded mountain retreat.

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Japan's population decline creates "housing glut"

japan-population Japan anticipates that falling birth rates and negligible immigration will result in population decline—as much as 1m a year. Millions of homes are already empty, reports Nomura Research, with a million in bad shape.

Financial Times' Robin Harding reports on the phonemenon of rural blight.

It is, on one hand, an unprecedented social problem. Whereas countries such as the UK are suffering a terrible housing shortage, Japan’s government has just passed a new law to tackle the glut of abandoned, decaying houses.

On the other hand, the akiya are an opportunity — and not just a business opportunity, but a chance to reimagine Japan’s postwar culture of disposable housing and suburban sprawl. The akiya are a symbol of decline, yes, but they may also be the path to a better future. …

“Our buyers are people who want a good house at a low price,” says Arai. “Perhaps they’re a first-time buyer in their thirties, living in a rented apartment, and their neighbours complain about the children’s noise. The houses we sell are often cheaper than renting — they cost Y30,000 or Y40,000 a month.”

“We see about 10 houses for each one we buy,” he says. “About half of those we reject [because] we can’t agree on price. For others, it’s because the structure is not sound, or it’s just too far out in the countryside. In some marginal villages the demand is basically zero.”

Photo gallery of people living in tiny rooms in Tokyo

Photographer Won Kim (Instagram) took these photos of people living in a "downscale version" of a Japanese capsule hotel. They are basically sleeping / privacy burrows for urban dwellers. I wonder how much they pay in rent?

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Meet Cinnamon, the cute character who is viciously bullied every day in Japan

“You look like a piece of soap, get diarrhea.”Read the rest

John Henry the samurai racing a tireless killer robot

Yaskawa celebrated its 100th birthday by pitting one of its Motoman-MH24s against a samurai in a sword-swinging contest, proving once and for all that if you need to chop bamboo into small pieces without having to walk around, you need a robot, not a human.

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Japan closes famous hot spring due to orgies

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Fudo no Yu, a famous hot spring (or, onsen) was closed after it was discovered that patrons were "indulging in group sex acts, filming adult footage and taking voyeuristic photographs of other unsuspecting bathers." The Tokyo Reporter identified the key participants as "14 or 15 middle-aged males and several young women" who made regular weekend visits to the hot springs.

Over the past year, regular complaints were lodged with the management of the Fudo no Yu hot springs and a local tourism organization about bathers repeatedly engaging in a number of lewd acts, some of which were filmed.

Fudo no Yu included an open-air bathing area that afforded an impressive view of a wooded near the Hoki River. On a typical weekend, up to 60 hot springs enthusiasts arrived to enjoy the baths.

Top Image: "It's getting steamy at the onsen" Shutterstock

Bottom Image: Sean Michael Ragan

Tokyo Roar: 3:47 compressed summary that tells its tale

Some cities are just high-resolution in ways that defy rational description: possessed of a level of detail and complexity that defines them as that city and that city only, not one of those unroofed shopping-mall no-places that seem to be a metastasized airport terminal.

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Watch a woman eat over 6 pounds of cup noodles

Famed YouTube trencherman Yuka Kinoshita is no fan of low carb diets.

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Video escape: Lantern-floating ceremony to honor the dead, Honolulu, Hawaii

From Boing Boing pal Ryan Ozawa, a gorgeous video of the 16th annual Shinnyo-En Tōrō Nagashi, or lantern floating ceremony, at Magic Island in the waters off Honolulu, Hawaii.

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1860s photos of the last Samurai

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Felice Beato photographed Samurai in the 1860s and hand-colored the prints. According to Getty, he "made hundreds of ethnographic portraits and genre scenes in Japan. He eventually opened a furniture and curio business in Burma." You can download high-resolution copies of his work at Getty.edu. Paul Gallagher of Dangerous Minds wrote about Beato and included several of his remarkable photos of Japan in a time of transition.

Among his first photographs were the portraits of the Satsuma samurais, who happily posed for him. In one group portrait, four samurais symbolically show their strength and ambition by presenting themselves with one standing samurai holding a red book of English literature and one seated with an unsheathed knife—highlighting their hold on western knowledge and their strength in Japanese tradition. As travel became restricted because of the civil war, Beato opened a studio back in Yokohama, where he photographed many samurai warriors and their courtesans.

A selection of Felice Beato’s rare hand-colored photographs will be on display at the London Photographic Fair 23rd-24th May.

Watch bunnies swarm a tourist on Japan's Rabbit Island

Ōkunoshima used to be home of several chemical plants, but now it's a tourist destination for those who love the wild bunnies who live there.

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WATCH: Japanese people who live in Internet cafes because they can't afford apartments

This short documentary is from a three-part series, "Japan's Disposable Workers."

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