Japan

Carl Sagan and the Samurai Crabs

Legend has it that a variety of crabs contain the ghosts of a drowned samurai army -- and each bears a grimacing warrior face on their backs to prove it. But what can we really gather from this biological peculiarity? In the book and TV series “Cosmos,” Carl Sagan argued that it presented a case of artificial selection, but critics disagree. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a discussion of the Heikegani.

Sword of the Samurai

Appreciation for the katana cuts across cultures and genres, slicing into the hearts of history buffs, japanophiles, comic book fans and more. But what’s so special about the sword of the Samurai? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian discuss the science of this most skillful blade, the grisly test for its sharpness and its importance in Japanese culture.

The Self-Mummifying Monk

We tend to think of mummification as either an environmental event or a mortuary act perpetrated by others, but mummification can also occur as an act of ritualized self destruction. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian consider the Sokushinbutsu of Japan, who once engaged in a process of ascetic self mummification that spanned years of extreme body modification. Their purpose? To travel through time...

Higher Human Forms: The Self-Mummifying Monk

The practice lasted from about 774 C.E. until the 20th century, and aside from 19 mummified members of the 12th century Fujiwara clan, it constitutes the only mummification rite in Japanese culture.

Artatomical: Japan's 'Jintai-mokei' Body Puzzle

Sink-Toilets Help You to Wash and Go

For many of us, visiting the bathroom is a lot like visiting Las Vegas. What happens in there, stays in there. Several companies are hoping to change your habits in there though, most notably by inducing you to wash your hands on top of the toilet. Big deal. Sink-toilets have been hanging around highly efficient Japan for decades. The compact devices feature a toilet on the bottom and a sink mounted on the top in the spot where you might usually keep some well-thumbed reading material. Once your affairs are in order, you simply turn around and wash your hands, with the fresh water coming from the tap, trickling into the sink basin, politely bypassing the tank and traveling directly to the toilet bowl to refill it.

Deodorant Gum, Roller Girls and Fruity Musk

I spent all last week researching and writing about saunas, so it feels right that I should happen on a mention of Fuwarinka Functional Candy and Gum in a Mental Floss article. Here's the deal: eat this gum and your breath will smell like vanilla or citrus. An hour later, work up a sweat and you'll coat yourself in a fragrant glaze of vanilla or citrus perfume.

Robots Will Cook You Dinner

Earlier this month, Tokyo's International Food Machinery and Technology Expo became a regular Robo Kitchen Stadium. Who will win? Okonomiyaki Robot or Chef Robot?