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

Tokyo’s Nakano district doesn’t just have an Obon Dance, it has an Obon Jovi Dance!

The west Tokyo neighborhood’s take on the centuries-old event is like bad medicine, and bad medicine is what I need.

As we have often covered in the past, mid-August is generally known as the Obon season in Japan. This is a time when tradition holds that the spirits of our ancestors return to the realm of the living to say “hi” and have a snack.

One of the cool things about Obon is that despite its longevity in Japanese culture, there isn’t a hard and fast set of customs that span the country. This means that spending Obon in one region can be completely different that another. For example, while people in one area enjoy making horses out eggplants, another makes Mad Max vehicles instead.

There are some threads of commonality, however, such as the Bon Odori or “Bon Dance” held during festivals. Like other customs of this holiday, the steps of the dance itself can vary widely from region to region but is generally done in larges groups using slow, easy-to-follow motions for participants both young and old. Here’s a taste.

Although there is no standard song for this dance either, it is usually set to an arrangement of traditional Japanese instruments like shamisen and taiko drums. But again, the highly flexible nature of the Obon season can sometimes yield some really interesting results.

For example, here’s a short clip from a festival held by Nakano Station in west Tokyo posted to Twitter by @hayatodelarossa.

Hopefully you had the volume up while watching that because then you’d be treated to the trippy sights and sounds of watching Japanese people do an age-old dance to Bon Jovi’s 1986 hit “Livin’ On a Prayer.”

However, the more you think about it, as the following commenters have, the more it kind of makes sense.

“That’s an Bon Jovi Odori!”
“I think “Livin’ on a Prayer” is a good match since the Bon Odori was originally a form of religious worship.”
“In Matsudo, we dance to ‘Gengis Khan.’”
“I thought it was Bon Jovi live on stage for a second. That would have really been something.”
“I think Bon Jovi should get automatic citizenship for that.”
“I like this modern style Bon Odori, anime songs work well too.”
“The Ebisu Bon Dance ends with ‘La Vie En Rose.’ It’s very cute with the hand movements.”

A classic song mixed with traditional Japanese culture and a dash of word play for good measure: What’s not to love? We can only hope that Japan’s recording industry copyright watchdog JASRAC was too busy shaking down barbershops playing obscure jazz on portable CD players to notice this one and let it slip by.

And so, it’s exactly the kind of adaptability illustrated above that has allowed this great piece of culture to thrive so many years since its inception. If you’d like to learn more about it, then please be sure to check out our other articles regarding Bon Jovi or visit your local library.

Source: Twitter/@hayatodelarossa via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Twitter/@hayatodelarossa

Adorable baby goat doesn’t know how to drink from a bucket, dunks whole head in【Video】

This kid is determined to get as much milk as possible, and it’s darn cute.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you just couldn’t go without it, but you didn’t really know how to go about getting it? I imagine that’s how this hungry baby goat felt when it saw a huge bucket of milk. It didn’t quite know what to do, so it just dunked its whole head into the bucket.

It must have been starving, because it really goes for it. At first it just dunks its nose in up to its eyes, which is already kind of alarming. Doesn’t it hurt to have milk in your eyes? But then it dunks its whole head in, eyes and all, almost up the ears!

As we watch this Bobby Goat (Get it? Because he’s bobbing?) voraciously drink from the bucket of milk, we can’t help but start to worry a little bit. Is it just a little over-enthusiastic? Is it a little dumb? Or does it truly have a death wish? Also, how long can it go without coming up for air?!

To our relief, after a good 20 seconds of having its head almost completely submerged in the milk while it’s gulping it down (how is it swallowing without air?!), it finally emerges, seemingly unphased. Unsurprisingly it’s dripping with milk, and it gives itself a little shake before trotting off cheerfully.

The user, @tokachiyagi, which seems to be the official Twitter for the farm where the goat lives, doesn’t explain why it’s going diving, but some netizens guessed that there’s something submerged in the milk that it wants. Another user said, “It’s looking for the mother’s udder that’s supposed to be beyond the milk.” We don’t know if that’s true, but we love watching it bob for milk all the same.

The goat is actually one of the many that enjoy a low-stress, free-range lifestyle at Tokachi Millennium Forest in Hokkaido. Their high quality of life allows them to produce high quality milk that is made into delicious cheese. The goats at Tokachi Millennium Forest are descended from goats that originally came from Switzerland, and the farm is one the few places left in Japan that are designated for raising goats, so the cheese and milk produced there are said to be quite special.

The farm is open to visitors, who can meet and interact with the goats and even see our little Bobby feeding at around 10 a.m. every day. It’s also part of a larger park, where horseback riding and Segway tours are offered, and visitors can learn how to make cheese. The park includes five gardens, a cafe, and a shop where you can buy the cheese, so there’s plenty to do there if for some reason you get tired of the goats (but really, how could you?).

Ideally you’d want to buy the cheese fresh from the farm after you cuddle with this silly kid, but if you want to try Tokachi Millennium’s goat cheese without traveling, you can also order it from their online shop. For other goat needs (like cuddling and petting), you can always rent a goat online!

Farm information
Tokachi Millennium Forest / 十勝千年の森
Hokkaido Shimizu-cho Haobi Minami 10-sen
Open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (April 28-June 30); 9:00-18:00 (July 1- Aug. 31),  9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (Sept. 1 – Oct 31)
Closed November 1 to April 28

Source: Twitter/@tokachiyagi via Hamster Sokuho

Solo-traveling Japanese woman gets romantic pep talk from Hawaii immigration officer

When the airport employee found out she was in the islands alone, he gave her a tongue-in-cheek romantic worksheet to finish before heading home.

With its beautiful scenery, balmy weather, and ample accommodation options, Hawaii is always a popular wedding venue, and when Naoko Tamura (@flaneur_fran on Twitter) had a friend getting married in the islands, she hopped on a plane from Japan to attend the ceremony. But even before she got out of the airport, romance was in the air…or at least the conversation.

Tamura was travelling by herself (Japanese wedding invitations generally don’t include a “plus one”), but her solo status surprised the older man working the counter at the Honolulu airport. “You came by yourself!?” he asked. “All the way to Hawaii!!?? This is a resort! That’s so lonely!!”

Wishing for her to have some companionship, he then handed Tamura a customs form, with some handwritten additions.

“Before you leave the country, make three boyfriends, and report back to us,” he said, having written blank lines on the paper where Tamura could inscribe the names of the three beauxs she’d been instructed to meet during her stay.

After passing through immigration, Tamura moved on to the customs checkpoint, where the officials chuckled while asking “Who wrote this?” but also giving her suggestions for fun date spots if she did in fact make a romantic connection while she was in town. “I learned a lesson: Don’t come to Hawaii by yourself,” Tamura tweeted in a follow-up.

Other Twitter users chimed in with their own stories of surprising styles of hospitality they’d encountered in Hawaii.

“I went to Hawaii as part of a group of three girls, and the immigration staff asked if we were going to be wearing bikinis during our trip. When we said no, their next question was ‘Aren’t you going to go to Waikiki Beach?’, and when we said no again, their response was ‘No way! That’s unbelievable.’”

“I was in Hawaii for business, and one of my coworkers left one of his English-learning notes out, with something like ‘Can you recommend a good bar?’ written in broken English. When he got back to his room that night, a hotel employee had neatly written he correct phrase on the paper for him.”

“When I showed my passport at the airport in Hawaii, the immigration officer kept looking back and forth between my photo and my face. ‘I took the picture a long time ago, back when I was young,’ I explained, but the officer just smiled kindly and said ‘What? No, you’re still young.’ Hawaii really is a friendly place.”

Mixed in with appreciative comments about the friendliness of the Hawaiian people were a few detractors who said the immigration worker who’d given Tamura the blank boyfriend form should have minded his own business. Tamura herself, wasn’t bothered by his actions in the slightest. “It was just a silly joke on his part, so it’s nothing to think that deeply about, and think it’s worth laughing about,” she tweeted, and considering she’s now got a successful career as an international business consultant, it doesn’t sound like the experience soured her on international travel.

Source: Twitter@flaneur_fran via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter@flaneur_fran
Top image: Pakutaso

Yu-Gi-Oh! brings anime battles into real-life with amazing fan-made dueling arena【Video】

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Strongest Imitator System is a major step in making those anime duels come to life.

Although I’ve never played any such card games in my life, I managed to get into the anime Yu-Gi-Oh! by chance and gradually developed an appreciation for its game in particular. However, I could never play it in real life because the anime had set my expectations unrealistically high.

Rather than having wizards and dragons emerge from our cards and start attacking one another, a real game of Yu-Gi-Oh! has little more to offer than a fiberboard table and bottle of orange soda to gaze at in awe while playing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’ve always hoped for the day would come when the duels depicted in the anime would become possible.

And now in this age of augmented and virtual realities, it looks as if that day might be on the horizon. Twitter user and evidently brilliant technician, Reo (@reoasxdtmgt) has come up with one of the best Yu-Gi-Oh! simulators to date called the “Yu-Gi-Oh! Strongest Imitator System.”

The video shows some projectors creating the duel arena on the surface of an ordinary table along with each player’s life points. As each player places their cards visual and audio effects occur seamlessly. If you look really closely at the cards in play, it looks as if the images are moving on them as well.

According to Reo the effects are controlled by the player’s smartphones, which he admits can be difficult at times, but also means you don’t need any fancy gear to run it (granted, a projector is arguably “fancy”).

Reo also says the result seen here came from a year of hard work. It clearly shows, however, and online praise was unanimous.

“That is so cool! I want to duel you!”
“This guy is a genius.”
“This is an OOPArt!”
“If this could work by speech recognition then we’d truly be living in the anime.”
“That was so good I don’t even know what to say.”

Indeed the Yu-Gi-Oh! Strongest Imitator System lives up to its name, but more work needs to be done to truly get humanity into the future promised to us by the anime so long ago. Sadly, I’m too old to start building a deck now, but when they finally do achieve full-sized dragons, I’ll at least have found an e-sport I can get behind.

Source: Twitter/@reoasxdtmgt, Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@reoasxdtmgt

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