Japanese designers’ brilliant way to stop people forgetting their smartphones in public restrooms

Browsing while pooping is an internationally loved pastime, so here’s a clever way to make sure you never leave your phone behind.

Japanese highway rest stops are pretty awesome. Even if you’re not at one that’s designed to look like an Edo period samurai town or serving as the home of a giant anime robot replica, you can always expect them to have clean bathrooms, which would be a miracle in itself on the roadways of some other countries.

However, rest stop bathrooms can be the sites of sadness too, as sometimes travelers who’re making a pit stop leave their belongings behind by accident before getting back on the road. The Hokkaido branch of NEXCO, the organization that manages highways in eastern Japan, counted up all the time it had been spending taking care of lost-and-found-related issues, and found it was taking up average of 30 hours a month reuniting people with things they’d forgotten in bathroom stalls, with about 60 percent of them being smartphones, wallets, or other small items.

So to help people remember to take their belongings with them after they’re done dropping off their bodily waste, NEXCO came up with a clever solution, as seen in this photograph from Japanese Twitter user @picco_lo_.

Once you’re inside the stall, there’s a large, flat handle on the door’s interior side that you swing over 180 degrees to act as a lock. However, this also turns it into a secure parcel shelf, or “accessory tray” as it’s labeled in English. With a load capacity of one kilogram (2.2 pounds), it’s large and sturdy enough for you to place a phone or wallet on, or even a small bag or other small, handheld item that you might forget about if you set it on top of the toilet paper holder housing or a protruding section of the wall behind or next to the toilet.

Since the tray doubles as the door’s lock, you have to swing it back to its original position in order to get out, at which point your eyes will be drawn to whatever you had resting there if you’d forgotten about it.

NEXCO began installing the new locks last September, and currently they’re in service in 61 stalls spread over eight rest stops in Hokkaido, including the one in the town of Yakumo, where @picco_lo_’s picture was snapped. The organization says it reduced the amount of time spent monthly on lost-and-found problems from the previous monthly average of 30 hours all the way down to 12, and plans to add the new locks to more stalls in the future.

Now if only there was a way to make people remember to wash their hands.

Source: @picco_lo_ via Jin, Biglobe News
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Wikipedia/浪速丹治

Awesome Japanese rice porridge bread is just about the easiest thing to make in the world【Photos】

Okayu bread is so easy that its creator made it by accident.

Okayu, Japanese rice porridge, is just about the easiest thing in the world to make. All you need is some cooked white rice (the absolute easiest thing in the world to make) and water. Put the rice and water in a pot (somewhere around a one-to-five ratio is the most common), simmer until the liquid is mostly gone, and you’re done.

▼ This okayu has some greens sprinkled across the top, but the dish can also be eaten entirely plain.

Making okayu is so simple that it doesn’t even really feel like cooking, which brings us to the story of Japanese Twitter user @moe_getasan. Recently, @moe_getasan was making a pot of okayu. He turned on the lowest flame possible, placed a lid on the pot, and then went to do something else. Because of the nearly non-existent cooking process, though, @moe_getasan completely forgot about his okayu until about an hour or two later. Rushing back to the kitchen, he took the lid off the pot to find…

…he’d created an entirely new kind of food.

Though he accompanied the photo with a message declaring his tweet an “accident report,” he couldn’t help but mention that he’d made something that also looked pretty tasty, despite some singeing on the top where the mass of rice had bumped up against the inner surface of the pot’s lid.

Once the massive okayu bread had cooled down enough, he took a bite, and discovered that it tasted as good as he’d hoped. The outer layer was crisp and wafer-like, but inside was soft, moist rice porridge.

@moe_getasan’s unplanned innovation quickly attracted appreciative comments and watering mouths, with several commenters asking how exactly he’d done it. That, unfortunately, is a bit of a problem, since he didn’t make the rice porridge bread by design. As mentioned above, he knows he put the flame on his stove as low as it would go without extinguishing, and since he’d forgotten he was cooking anything in the first place, he didn’t stir the pot during the process. However, he’s not sure exactly how long it cooked for, aside from the ballpark estimate “between one and two hours.”

Logically, there’s a sweet spot where the rice has been cooked long enough to form a crispy shell, but not so long as to burn, so if you’re trying to duplicate @moe_getasan’s results, you’ll want to check on the progress periodically. Alternatively, if you’d rather make giant discs of delicious carbohydrates without using an open flame, there’s always the option of making a giant pancake in your rice cooker.

Source: Twitter/@moe_getasan via It Media
Featured image: Twitter/@moe_getasan
Insert image: Wikipedia/Opponent

Tokyo Tower Records store helps avert a wedding proposal disaster when it finds a lost love note

Klutziness can’t foil cupid’s plan, which is saved by clever employees.

If you work in retail and you’re tidying up your store, there are certain things you expect to occasionally find your customers have left behind, like phones, wallets, and handkerchiefs. The situation was a bit more dramatic at a Tokyo Tower Records, though, when the employees found a marriage proposal.

Framed by hearts and written in romantic red ink, the note simply said “Marry me.” However, there was no designated recipient, and so, heart aflutter, the official Twitter account of the Tower Record Diver City branch tweeted:

“We just found a piece of paper saying ‘Marry me’ on the floor of our shop. To the owner of the note, please contact us.

If we don’t hear from you by the end of the day, we’ll assume you want to marry our store staff. We appreciate your feelings, but we’d like to start as friends, and see where the relationship goes.”

Just 30 minutes later, the author of the note, Twitter user @____mttmy, came forward, cringing with embarrassment.

“It’s mine wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
Oh God I’m dying wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.”

“I put it in the glasses case I loaned to my friend, and my friend must have dropped it. Seriously, this is killing me. I want to get married.”

Then, almost immediately, the intended recipient, Twitter user @2OO3__O227__, joined in.

“I’m the one who dropped the paper. Let’s get married…

When @2OO3__O227__ opened the case in order to put on the glasses that were inside, the paper fluttered out, apparently undetected until it was found by the Tower Records staff. Now that they knew who it was really meant for, they turned it over to @2OO3__O227__, who came by the store to pick it up.

Both lovebirds offered sincere yet tongue-in-cheek apologies to Tower Records for getting their hopes up. The store took it all in stride, though, tweeting:

“We were able to return the proposal paper to its owner. We were sad to hear that our staff was not being proposed to, but we’re always happy when our customers’ feeling can reach the people, and artists, that they love.”

Don’t worry, Tower Records Odaiba. We’re sure you’ll find your soul mate someday.

Source: Twitter/@TOWER_Divercity (1, 2) via Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@TOWER_Divercity
Top image: Pakutaso

This Shinto shrine’s gorgeous glass gateways are the only ones of their kind in all Japan【Photos】

Torii gates always have an elegant allure, but none quite like this shrine’s.

Sometimes, visitors to Japan have trouble differentiating Shinto shrines from Buddhist temples. The easiest way is to look for a torii, a gateway of two pillars connected by two crossbeams. If there’s a torii at the entrance, you’re in a shrine.

Torii are usually bright orange or red, but some are made of unpainted wood, like the torii at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine. Sometimes you’ll also find torii made out of gray stone. However, there’s only one place in Japan where you’ll see a torii that’s practically clear.

▼ To the extent that you can see something that’s see-through, anyway.

That’s the entrance to Jintoki Inari Shrine in Kanoya, a city in Kagoshima Prefecture on the southwestern island of Kyushu. While construction of the shrine finished in March, it hadn’t attracted much attention until this week when Japanese Twitter user @DJ_HARABO snapped and shared a photo of its glass torii, which quickly went viral for its unique beauty.

@DJ_HARABO isn’t the only shutterbug to have visited Jintoki Inari this summer, though. Other locals and travelers have been posting their own photos of the glass torii, which has a faint blue-green tint to it that almost makes it look like it’s made out of water, or even light, in some pictures.

The shrine actually has two glass torii. One is at the entrance to the shrine grounds, while the other is further back, standing in a pool traversed by a bridge that leads to the shrine’s administrative office.

Since the shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of agriculture, rice, and commerce, statues of foxes, the deity’s messengers, stand next to the torii, much like the ones seen at Kyoto’s famous Fushimi Inari Shrine. Also like at Fushimi, there’s a long tunnel of wooden torii gates at Jintoku Inari, with roughly 100 of the structures leading from one of its glass torii to the other.

And if you’re thinking the whole place looks not only beautiful, but romantic too, you’ll be happy to know that Jintoku Inari is available as a venue for weddings and bridal photography.

As a matter of fact, Jintoku Inari’s glass gateway is so captivatingly elegant that we wouldn’t blame the shrine from anime Lucky Star, which is currently in the market for a new torii, if it decided to commission one for itself.

Shrine information
Jintoku Inari Shrine / 神徳稲荷神社
Address: Kagoshima-ken, Kanoya-shi, Shineicho 1771-4

Source: Twitter/@DJ_HARABO via Jin, Kagoshima Gourmet Tabearuki and Susume Spot, Togetter
Featured image: Twitter/@fumin_fuq
Top image: Pakutaso

Awesome fan-made stop-motion video using Gundam models is a Gundam fan’s dream come true 【Videos】

The scene is an exact reenactment of the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime, complete with CG special effects.

Gundam: one of Japan’s most iconic creations. The giant fighting robot that first emerged in an anime from 1979 has inspired dozens of series and hundreds of model kits, and even life-sized statues have been erected in their honor. Such a magnanimous franchise deserves great tributes, and what better way for a fan to express their love than to use actual Gundam models in a stop-motion video?

YouTube user Rihito Ue, an amateur filmmaker, put countless hours into reenacting scenes from the original Gundam anime using his own Gunpla Models in his fantastic fan-films, “One Shot Gunpla: The StopMotion Works”.

This incredible play-by-play rendition of a major scene from the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime is almost the perfect homage to the iconic franchise. While the model Gundams fight and shoot guns at each other, actual audio from the anime describes what is happening. In fact, the video includes shots from the anime, which is playing on a television in the background, while the models are shown replicating those scenes.

Ue has also made sure to include the explosions and laser weapons that are essential to any standard Gundam battle, in the form of CG special effects, which are slightly corny, but awesome nonetheless.

The video was shot using various methods to get the look that Ue wanted. While the battles between the models were made using stop-motion filming, the actual scenery of the house was taken with one shot. Mirrors were also used to give a more dynamic representation of what was happening around the room, which gives the filmography a kind of seamless feel.

▼ Ue has a “Making of” video that shows exactly how the film was created.

The first video is a little rough around the edges, but there are two sequels, and each one is better than the last. The quality of these films is surprisingly high for an amateur stop-motion video, and the overall storytelling is awesome, so Gundam fans will love these faithful reenactments.

Ue also has video tributes to classic Japanese monster films, like Gamera and Moguera, which are shot in the same style. Even if you’re not familiar with those characters, the reenactments are still enormously entertaining to watch, so hop over to his channel to check out what he’s got!

If you’re looking for something from a different franchise, Pokémon Go has been the subject of an outstanding (albeit gruesome) tribute, and a fan film of Dragonball Z has proven to be better even than Hollywood renditions. You’ll definitely want to check them out!

Source: YouTube/Rihito Ue via Japaaan Magazine
Images: YouTube/Rihito Ue

Time-lapse video shows the awesomely orderly efficiency of otaku lining up at Comiket【Video】

We can all learn from the extraordinary discipline exhibited by these otaku.

Comiket, the world’s largest anime convention, welcomes more than 500,000 attendees every year who’re eager to get their hands on rare manga, unique collector’s items or show off sizzling hot cosplays.

It’s not easy to manage such a huge crowd in a limited space, and if left to the attendees’ own devices, the entire convention would no doubt end up in utter chaos. Luckily, otaku in Japan are a disciplined bunch.

▼ Japanese Twitter user @Netiel shows us a time-lapse video
of attendees queuing to get into Tokyo Big Sight.

Throngs of people are ushered in orderly batches and lined up in neat rows like clockwork, an astounding feat considering that this year’s Comiket was also one of the hottest in recent years.

Temperatures soared close to 40 degrees Celcius (104 Fahrenheit) during the event’s three days, and it’s amazing how attendees could be so well-behaved even in the unbearable heat.

▼ This astonishing orderliness can be clearly observed in the 2011 Winter Comiket too.

It’s difficult to see what’s happening when you’re just one among many people on the ground, and Japanese netizens are quite impressed by the video’s perspective:

“That’s human Tetris!”
“Reminds me of that game, The Last Guy. Anyone agree with me?”
“Japanese people are quite awesome, eh?”
“Every Japanese citizen should participate in Comiket to train for emergency evacuation drills.”
“They look just like ants.”

Are anime conventions this neat and orderly in your neck of the woods? It’s incredible how Comiket attendees can keep calm and move as one with a single purpose of getting into otaku heaven, almost making us forget they were scrambling over one another in the Opening Dash before that.

Source, featured image: Twitter/@Netiel
Top image: Pakutaso

Japanese musicians create incredible music and visuals using open tape reels【Videos】

Open Reel Ensemble will blow you away with their internationally acclaimed musical style.

Nowadays music is easy to come by; you can just download it from an online store, hit play, and voila! You have your favorite tunes, kept safe forever in your cloud. Back in the old days we had to go to the store to buy cassette tapes, which were somewhat more fragile. If you weren’t careful, you could accidentally unravel the tape and ruin your favorite album for good!

But some creative musicians realized that the magnetic tapes in cassette reels could be used for more than just recording and playing music. Japanese musical group Open Reel Orchestra discovered that you can make intriguing electronic-style music simply by manipulating magnetic tapes and reels. Who would’ve though that they could used for making music, too?

Open Reel Ensemble is currently made up of three members: Ei Wada, Haruka Yoshida, and Masaru Yoshida. The group formed in 2009, and have released three albums as well as books and DVDs.

Their unique music and creative performances have received international acclaim, earning them spots at big international music festivals like Sonar in Spain and Ars Electronica in Austria. They have even produced music for Paris Fashion Week for four seasons in a row!

▼ Their performances show exactly what they do to make their sounds, which makes for a very interesting concert experience.

Various methods of manipulating the tape produce different sounds, which the musicians put together to make music. Some methods involve pulling the tape out of the reel and letting it slide back in, some involve controlling the turn of the reels either by hand or with computers, and some use sticks on the tape like drumsticks to make a percussion beat. It’s almost like being a DJ, but with tapes, instead of records.

Making instruments using the loose tape and the reels seems to be their specialty. One of their signature instruments is a hand-carved bamboo stick attached to tape, which is used to control the reels and make a specific melody while looking like an enormous violin bow.

They’ve even invented a sort of accordion using tape reels!

The group is very creative, as much of what they produce is visually artistic as well as acoustic. They often use avant-garde art to advertise their upcoming shows and albums, like in this video, “Toki Ori Ori Nasu -Falling Records-“, which was meant to advertise Ei Wada’s solo performance.

Open Reel Ensemble is one of many groups who show that you can make music with anything, so long as it makes noise. If you know how to put together, say, the sounds of iPhone ringtones, or the clacking and dinging of spoons and cups, then you can make real masterpieces. It’s truly amazing what these creative and talented musicians can come up with!

Sources: Open Reel Ensemble Home PageYouTube/Open Reel Ensemble via Laughing Squid
Top image: YouTube/Open Reel Ensemble