Zentai: full-body masked spandex subculture from Japan

Zentai (short for "zenshintaitsu," Japanese for "full body suit") is a largely obscure Japanese subculture whose adherents go out wearing full-body patterned spandex suits that cover their faces. In a relatively unsensational article in the Japan Times, Harumi Ozawa talks to a few zentais about their hobby, and learns that for some proponents, being completely covered is a liberating experience. The zentais in the article describe the suit as an anonymizer that frees them from the judging gaze of society, which is a fascinating study in contradictions, since the suits undoubtably attract lots of judgmental looks, but these seem to adhere to the suit without penetrating to the wearer within.

Some zentais wear their suits in superhero fashion, and do good deeds in public, while others wear the suits for sexual kicks. They are often mocked in Japanese pop culture. One academic cited in the article believes that the wearers use the suits to hide their appearance in order to force others to deal with their "true" underlying identity.

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Miyazaki beer label


I could (and probably will) write an essay about all the ways in which the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo is amazing and totally different from the usual museum (shortlist: limited capacity managed through waiting lists instead of price-hikes; exhibits that are intended to be handled, even the fragile ones; no cult of personality for founders; emphasis on both wonder and production; modest and beautifully stocked shop; overall non-commercial emphasis; quirkiness that is commensurate with the actual films), but for now, I'll leave you with this: the beautiful Miyazaki-esque beer-labels from the hot-dog and ice-cream stand.

Miyazaki beer label, Ghibli Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese game-show asks celebs to eat household objects that may or may not be chocolates


Celeste writes, "Japanese sokkuri ('look alike') sweets are desserts designed to look like other, everyday things. This Japanese TV show showed contestants a room full of seemingly ordinary objects, and then had them guess which ones were sokkuri sweets by biting into them."

Some important facts about the Tex-Mex nipple-shields for men


Chantilly's Tex-Mex nipple-shields for men are not chili flavored, nor do they taste of tacos. They are for fashion (marathon runners, take note). There are no other flavors.

And now you know.

Tex Mex Nipple Shield for men, Tokyu Hands, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Just look at this crinkle-cut banana-slicer


Just look at it.

Crinkle-cut banana slicer ,Tokyu Hands, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Spaghetti flavored popsicles

Japan's Gari-Gari Kun ("Crunchy Crunchy Boy") popsicles now come in spaghetti flavor with tomato jelly -- they also do rice cake and bean-paste and corn potage stew.

Oh Goodness, Japan Is Getting Spaghetti Popsicles [Brian Ashcraft/Kotaku]

(via Oh Gizmo)

Cola-flavored soy-milk

Exactly what it sounds like: 46 calories per 200ml.

My head just exploded.

Just look at it. (Sugary sweet J-pop goes death metal) (via Mefi)

Cuddly giant isopod toy!


There's nothing quite so cuddly as a giant isopod plush toy. It has been encutified to make it even more adorable than the real-life version, with big, round, loving eyes. As the product description notes, these are "passionately loved" by some in Japan and are regarded as "mysterious and cute" -- one in Toba Aquarium has (allegedly) eaten no food for over 4 years.

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Parfaitzilla: the dessert that ate Japan


Last year, Mochihead posted this image of a magnificent parfait from an unspecified Japanese restaurant. It leaves me with only one question: What are the rest of you having? (via Pipedreamdragon)

Amazing sushi-roll art


Takayo "Tama-cha" Kiyota is a Japanese chef who specializes in makizushi art: artistic sushi-rolls that use cunningly arranged food to create illustrations in the rolls' cross-sections. Her work is improbably amazing. Here's a great article in Japanese on her methodology, and here's a good English summary.

She's even done a sushi dick pic, complete with pubes [NSFW].

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Gorgeous silver Star Wars rings


Jap does a gorgeous line of Star Wars rings in silver and gold. There's no pricing info and they date from 1999, so I fear they're long gone, which is a pity, as that R2D2 ring is particularly inspired (and there's also a seemingly extinct line of Alien vs Predator and Planet of the Apes rings).

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Homeless recruited to decontaminate Fukishima; paid less than minimum wage


The publicly funded, $35B cleanup of radioactive soil around Fukishima is staffed by homeless men recruited from Tokyo Sendai subway stations. They are preferentially sent to the most radioactive zones, and work for less than minimum wage. Mobbed-up subcontractors confiscate as much as two thirds of their pay in "fees." Everyone involved in sourcing the labor for the cleanup denies responsibility for the illegal practices, blaming sub-subcontractors or cowboy recruiters. The president of one contractor, Aisogo Service, defended the practice of not scrutinizing the labor force or the conditions under which it worked, saying "If you started looking at every single person, the project wouldn't move forward. You wouldn't get a tenth of the people you need."

Workers are also recruited from publicly funded homeless shelters. One man worked for a month for a total payout of $10. After this fact was verified and made public, the man disappeared. Workers are charged exorbitant rates for lodgings and food, and are docked pay for being too ill to work. As a result, some workers are in debt to their employers, a debt that deepens the longer they stay employed.

The decontamination project is two to three years behind schedule.

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Sperm Journey

An educational video for you, from Japan. [Video Link. Thanks, Heather!]

Mecha-inspired casemod is a diorama depicting a gritty, gorgeous battlescene


Hiroto Ikeuchi is a Japanese casemodder who builds spectacular dioramas into PC towers, turning them into dystopian, futuristic military battlescenes. The Raku-Taro Tumblr has some flat-out gorgeous photos of an Ikeuchi project that's on display at the Ars Electronica center in Vienna Linz.

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