Japan's "Weird Hotel," staffed by robots, in a Japanese theme-park

The Henn Na Hotel ("weird hotel") is staffed by robots: the Japanese-speaking check-in clerk is a vicious robot dinosaur, while the English-speaking one is humanoid; a robot arm stores and retrieves personal items from the guest lockers, and a chatbot serves as concierge. Read the rest

How to clear a road buried 60 feet in snow

Japan's Mt. Tateyama in the Hida Mountains is considered one of the snowiest spots on the planet. More than 125 feet of snow can fall on the region in a single year. Route 6 runs right through the Mt. Tateyama but just before you enter the tunnel, there's a 1/4 mile piece of highway called yuki-no-otani, or in English, Snow Canyon. The Toyama Prefectural Road Public Corporation is responsible for plowing the road after winter. It takes about a month. From Atlas Obscura:

At the Snow Canyon, the non-human star of the show is the HTR608, a rotary snow blower made by the Nichijo company—the 608 refers to the 608-horsepower engine. The HTR608 can plow through snow up to six feet high. The rotating bar helps pull snow into the machine, and a powerful propeller ejects it out of an aerodynamic pipe that can spray the snow nearly 50 feet high and half a football field to the side. But before this monster can even begin its job on the Snow Canyon, a series of prior snow-clearing events must take place.

Mt. Tateyama receives too much snow and is too remote to receive continual snow plow treatment, thus for much of the winter snow is allowed to bury the pass. Sometime in early March, a bulldozer specially equipped with both a GPS and a mobile satellite phone is sent up the mountain and over the Snow Canyon. The GPS and sat phone work in tandem to provide the driver a detailed video screen image of the dozer’s location in relation to the center of the snow-buried highway.

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Incredibly fast calculator fingers in Japan

"Before a finger leaves a key, the next key is already being pressed. She is making 9 keystrokes per second."

(From the Japanese TV series Begin Japanology)

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Two examples of excellence from Japan

Exhibit A: Calculator operation

Exhibit B: Apologies

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Spreadable coffee is coming to Japan

Snow Brand Milk will celebrate its 55th birthday by releasing "spreadable coffee" intended to be eaten on toast; it's a followup to an earlier "Edible coffee" product that appears to be basically coffee pudding. Read the rest

Cinematic Japanese tourism ad draws on martial arts traditions

Diamond Route Japan went all in on this gorgeous series of tourism ads. Their living samurai spirit ad taps into the romantic view of Japan depicted in their renowned epic period films. Read the rest

Wonderful 30-second Rube Goldberg videos from Japanese children's TV

NHK's children's show Pythagora Switch features fiendishly clever, astoundingly amusing interstitial segments with beautiful little Rube Goldberg machines, possessed of a Miyazakiesque whimsy and a Mujiesque minimalism. These are wonderful -- and at 30 seconds each, you can watch a whole ton of 'em. Read the rest

Disco trucks of Japan

This is dekotora (デコトラ), the Japanese maker culture that started in the 1970s of tricking out large trucks with garish lights, Gundam-inspired chrome mods, and eyeball-spanking paint jobs.

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The CPAC replacement speaker for Milo Yiannopoulos was a notorious Japanese cult-member

After his awkward endorsement of pedophilia disqualified Milo Yiannopoulos to be the hard right's token gay pal, CPAC needed a new speaker to fill his slot their conference, and the guy they chose was Jikido 'Jay' Aeba, a member of the notorious Japanese "Happy Science" cult, who helped the religion extrude a tendril into the political realm by founding the Happiness Realization Party. Read the rest

Haunting photographs of Nara Dreamland, a rotting Japanese theme park

We love and celebrate the people who sneak into derelict themeparks and photograph their ruins! Beijing, Orlando, Sichuan, South Carolina, Japan, Berlin, New Orleans, even Walt Disney World! Read the rest

Sidewalk kintsugi: repairing cracks with gold

Artist Rachel Sussman discovered the ancient art of kintsugi, repairing cracked vases with gold, and applied it to cracked pavement and flooring for her Sidewalk Kintsukuroi series. Read the rest

Trump blabbed about response to North Korean missile launch in the Mar A Lago dining room while diners listened in

After a day of engaging in the most irresponsible activity a president can undertake (according to Donald Trump, anyway), President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went to the Mar A Lago dining room with Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn, when Trump got a phone call about North Korea's missile tests. Read the rest

Otonamaki: wrapping oneself in cloth to ease pain

Otonomaki, or "Adult wrapping," sees the subject swaddled cosily, even tightly, in a muslin-like cloth. The aim is to "alleviate posture problems and stiffness," reports the BBC, and it's exploding in popularity in Japan.

"The reason why Otonamaki was invented was because some people were worried about babies struggling or feeling claustrophobic while being wrapped up," says Orie Matsuo of Kyoko Proportion, one of several companies that offer Otonamaki to its customers. "We thought if adults were rolled up like them, they could experience how good it feels." And if customer feedback is anything to go by, Otonamaki is certainly proving successful.

The psychological dimensions speak for themselves, whispering from within their calm white cocoon.

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What a new house in Tokyo looks like

Life Where I'm From has a tour of a 4LDK (4 bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen) in Tokyo. Cost is about $480,000. I love that magnetic door stopper, and the high tech toilet. Read the rest

Trump threatens to order 'additional security for our country' next week, 'very rapidly'

During a bizarre meet-and-greet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that ended with the weirdest diplomatic handshake ever, so-called 'President' Donald J. Trump ominously teased his intent to introduce some sort of heightened national security measures next week, and to continue fighting his losing battle with America's judicial system over the #MuslimBan.

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Modding a vintage Japanese pachinko arcade game

Pachinko machines are traditionally purely mechanical, so Ben Heck thought he'd mod one to include electronic lights and sounds. The 8-bit gaming sound program is a great option, but Ben's fart sound program may be the keeper. Read the rest

Unprecedented: Japan's population has declined by 1 million in 5 years

Rich countries have low birthrates (in part because they have more rights for women, and women who can control their bodies and fates choose to have fewer children on average than women who live in poor countries with fewer rights for women); Japan, one of the most xenophobic of all the rich countries, has the killer combination of a near-total ban on immigration from poor countries (where all the young people are) and a high standard of living. Read the rest

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