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Innovative Japanese Preschool is Built to Encourage Puddle-Jumping

Creative architecture helps create a space where children feel free to play, and learn, at the exact same time.

image via (cc) flickr user sixybeast

As a small child, I was absolutely petrified of thunderstorms. I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly caused my phobia, but whenever a bad storm would roll through town, the first rumble of thunder would send me scrambling under the bed, fingers stuffed firmly in my ears, to wait until things settled down. But as much as I may have been afraid of the thunder and lightning itself, I loved what usually came next. As a “reward” for making it through the storm, my parents would coax me out from my hiding spot, take me outside, and let me loose for a few glorious minutes of uninterrupted, adult-sanctioned, puddle jumping. For me, as scary as the storm may have been, running free to stomp, tromp, and splash my way from puddle to puddle was well worth the fright.

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Why Robots Are the Future of Elder Care

From electronic monitors to mechanized bears, robots are increasingly becoming a part of everyday life for the world’s aging population.

Illustration by Tom Eichacker

It’s no secret that Japan is facing severe socio-economic pressures due to its aging, shrinking population. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of elder care. Many in the nation are aging out of their working years, without enough children born to replace them in the workforce. This means elder care will require an increasing amount of resources and workers out of a progressively smaller total pool. As of 2012, 22 percent of Japan was already over 65 and by 2060 the government expects the population to shrink from 127 million people to 87 million, as the over-65 demographic grows to almost 40 percent of the nation. In 2010, Japan already had 30 million elderly and infirm individuals in care facilities, but had substantially fewer than the projected 2 million caregivers needed to look after them—and turnover amongst those employees was already 17 percent per year.

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Japan's Mixed-Heritage Beauty Queen Is on a Mission to End Racism

Ariana Miyamoto draws upon her own experience with bigotry to open a national dialogue.

Photo via Miss Universe Japan's Facebook page.

Ever since being crowned Miss Universe Japan, Ariana Miyamoto’s legitimacy as a winner has been called into question by critics who say a “haafu”, or a mixed-race Japanese citizen, shouldn’t qualify for the award. Miyamoto, who is half black, is using the opportunity to open up a national dialogue about racism in Japan. In fact, her early experiences with racism as a child were what motivated her to join the competition in the first place—she had been bullied in school, and a mixed race friend of hers had recently committed suicide. In an interview with the AFP, Miyamoto says she wants to do for Japan what Naomi Campbell did for the modelling industry.

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Japan’s Underemployed are Forced to Live in Internet Cafes

Japan’s internet cafe refugees are a symptom of a larger labor issue.

A new documentary is shining a light on Japan’s “internet cafe refugees.” Since the late 1990s, underemployed workers with no means to secure housing have been choosing to live in these close, tight, ephemeral spaces. The phenomenon is a symptom of many larger issues with the country’s labor culture and laws.

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How Over 90,000 Photos Were Salvaged From the 2011 Japan Tsunami

Imaging and electronicS company Ricoh helped return 90,000 photos to their owners.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 caused a monstrous tsunami, the power of which the country had never before seen. The disaster completely devastated Japanese infrastructure and took almost 16,000 lives. To this day, families still continue to search for loved ones who went missing. When the dust cleared, victims of the earthquake went sifting through the rubble in search of salvageable belongings. But in a disaster zone, rescuable objects are prioritized by their utility, and sentimental items, like photos, seem a frivolous luxury when lives have been lost.

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Tokyo Without The Advertisements Is Hauntingly Beautiful

French Artist Nicolas Damiens created a series of GIFs that re-imagine a sign-less Japan.

Tokyo is known for its many flickering ads, recognizable in films ranging from Old Boy to American favorites Enter the Void and Lost in Translation. Now, one French graphic designer is trying to re-imagine the city of neon lights without all the visual clutter. Stripping away logos, slogans, brand signs and company names, artist Nicolas Damiens created Tokyo No Ads—a series of GIFs and images that envision an ad-less capital city. Though destinations like São Paulo have actually attempted to ban advertising IRL, we can’t image a city, especially Tokyo, without its vibrant signage. Check out some of the mesmerizing images (in GIF form!) below:

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