The World Beetle Championships

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I never really understood why, but playing with beetles and crayfish has always been a favorite pastime for Japanese kids. I remember going to the park near my elementary school and watching the boys pick these things up with their hands and play with them.

But this the first I’ve heard of the Beetle World Championships. The tourny was held today in Tokyo, and kids like these put numbers on their favorite beetles, put them in a miniature fighting ring, and made them battle until one prevailed as the ultimate beetle champion of the world.

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Gentlemen, Start Your Enzymes

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It’s Saturday night, and I’m sitting on the couch watching ESPN. Guess what’s on? The 2007 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Now if you all have been following the news, you know that Takeru Kobayashi didn’t win this year, losing out to San Jose native Joey Chestnut. (Chestnut ate 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes; Kobayashi downed 63.) Chestnut’s been vying to beat Kobayashi in this competition—any competition, for that matter—for years, and now he’s finally done it.

Despite acute jaw pains that kept his participation up in the air until the day of, Kobayashi rolled up to the Coney Island contest grounds in a black limo with two big bodyguards and his wife/girlfriend/woman friend. Clearly, Coney Island was the place to be this 4th—thousands upon thousands lined the streets to see who was gonna take home the Mustard Belt.

Other contestants included Patrick Bertoletti, who beat Chestnut in a jalapeno-eating competition earlier this year; Tim Janus, who paints signature Xes around his eyes with face paint; two super-cute Asian women, Juliette Lee and Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas; Crazy Legs "Houdini of Cuisini" Conti; a 63-year old grandpa; and a vegetarian.

So what’s next on ESPN? The USA Rock Paper Scissors Championship. I’m serious! Next Saturday. I hope I have something better to do next Saturday then watch that shit, but if I don’t, I’ll post an update.

Chestnut didn’t win any money, btw—just a one year supply of hot dogs. Barf.

Froggy Lunch Wins Top Spot at Award Show

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You are looking at the winner of the Character Bento (Lunchbox) Contest, which was held in Tokyo yesterday. The lunch was titled: Even Rainy Days Are Fun!—timely, since rainy season’s about to kick off. As you can see, creativity thrives on this lunch plate, which features sausages cut like flowers and a red pepper designed to look like an umbrella.

The lunch was judged not only on aesthetics but on nutritional value. It’s true—not only does this look pretty, it looks healthy! Except I’d feel really bad about eating something that clearly took so much time to design…actually, I take that back. I’m hungry, and I’ll eat anything right now.

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Legendary Hot Dog Eater Has Jaw Arthritis

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Remember Takeru Kobayashi, the tiny little Japanese man who ate 97 hamburgers in 8 minutes last fall? Almost miraculously, the guy has evaded any gastronomical problems to date—but last week, Kobayashi claimed he was suffering from arthritis in his jaw, a result of misaligned wisdom teeth + his hard core eating skillz.

Kobayashi’s attendance will make or break the championship at the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating contest, which takes place in New York next week. He won the last six years by a landslide. He is currently on standby at a New York City hotel, waiting for his jaw to get better. Right now, he can only open his mouth about 2-3cm.

We’ll see whether he makes an appearance next week, July 4, to get his seventh title—or if a 3cm-wide mouth just isn’t enough to beat his competition.

For more on Japan’s "food fighting" industry, read this article.

James is the Design Contest Winner!

James_2 Guess what? James is the big winner of the Tokyomango design contest! The majority of you thought that his design was the awesomest, and I agreed. Even though everybody did a great job.

Pictured left are James’ sexy legs. He got those koi tattoos in Japan. Yeah, I know. There’s no leg hair. I wondered about that, too, but James insists it’s neither Nair nor Gilette:

"I do NOT shave my legs. I’m just naturally… more aerodynamic. ;)"

Interestingly enough, even though this is a Japan-themed blog and I am based in the U.S., most of the contestants were neither here nor there. We had 2 from Germany, 2 from Australia, 2 from Singapore, 1 from Argentina, 1 from Canada, and a couple of unknowns. But how rad is that? Thanks you guys! I’m sending all of you some Tokyomango swag courtesy of Strap-ya, so look out for it in your mailboxes in the next week or so!

Coincidentally, James—the winner—not only lives in San Francisco, but works in my building!! It was really weird when we found that out. He is a professional web designer (no surprises there), and we sat down together yesterday to brainstorm the final look of the new site.

So…Congratulations to James for winning, thanks to everyone who entered for their beautiful designs and thanks to everyone who voted for their 2 cents!!

And look out for a redesigned, new and improved Tokyomango in July!

Design Contest Top 3 Finalists

Guess what guys? We’re on the home stretch of the Tokyomango Design Contest, and we’ve got our Top 3 Finalists (based on your votes, sent to me both as comments and in emails). I know you guys voted already, so don’t feel like you have to do it again. But any comments, suggestions, etc. are always welcome. I’ll be announcing the winner on MONDAY.

Note: Designer James sent me 2 revised designs later in the week, so I’m subbing those in for his last 2, which got the most votes anyway.

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More Design Contest Entries: Your Vote Please!!

More awesomely talented readers have submitted design ideas for this blog, and I need your advice. Which one do you like?? Leave a comment or email me your pick this week, and I’ll announce the finalists over the weekend.

Don’t forget to check out all of them—there are 10 total, and if you don’t see them all here, click on the "Read more" link at the bottom to jump to the extended post.

1. Van’s design:

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Design Contest Update: Which One Do YOU Like So Far?

The Tokyomango.com design contest‘s still rolling (keep the entries coming! I’m loving your ideas), but I wanted to show you guys some of the entries I’ve gotten so far. Which one do YOU like, and why? Please leave a comment or email me your thoughts—feel free to ramble, I want to hear what you think—on these entries.

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Entry 1                                                                     Entry 2

Two more after the jump.

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TOKYOMANGO Site Design Contest Reminder

Just a reminder post to all web designers and creative types to submit entries for the Tokyomango site design contest!

1. Email me your entries
in PSD or JPG format.The layout has to accommodate all the stuff on the
current site, and be compatible with 1024×768 browser resolution. Also
include a note about your coding skillz please–as in, whether you are
able to theme your design yourself or if you need someone else to code
it.
2. In the next few weeks, I’ll post some of the top candidates
here for you guys to look at and vote on. Of course, my votes counts
the most, because it’s my site! But I want to hear what you all think,
too.
3. The winning design will replace this shitty Typepad template as the face of Tokyomango.com.

Prizes!! All legitimate entries will get a mini-prize, the top 3
will get fun gadgets from the Mango stash, and the winner will get the
mother or all prizes and street cred for designing an up-and-coming
blog with over 180,000 unique visitors per month, plus a blog entry
dedicated to whatever you want–whether it’s your awesome design skillz
or your favorite anime character.

Remember to get me your entries by the end of the month–or if you need more time, just let me know. Multiple entries are totally allowed and so is swearing. But no porn please, because Google might take down my ads again.

And many thanks to those of you who already sent entries!

Tokyomango Site Design Contest

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It’s been six months since I started Tokyomango, and I’m still using this sucky Typepad template. So I decided to have a design-my-site contest!

I’m looking for amateur or professional web designers who have grand ideas about what Tokyomango could be, but isn’t. Here’s how the contest will work:

1. Email me your entries in PSD or JPG format.The layout has to accommodate all the stuff on the current site, and be compatible with 1024×768 browser resolution. Also include a note about your coding skillz please–as in, whether you are able to theme your design yourself or if you need someone else to code it.
2. In the next few weeks, I’ll post some of the top candidates here for you guys to look at and vote on. Of course, my votes counts the most, because it’s my site! But I want to hear what you all think, too.
3. The winning design will replace this shitty Typepad template as the face of Tokyomango.com.

Prizes!! All legitimate entries will get a mini-prize, the top 3 will get fun gadgets from the Mango stash, and the winner will get the mother of all prizes and street cred for designing an up-and-coming blog with over 180,000 unique visitors per month, plus a blog entry dedicated to whatever you want–whether it’s your awesome design skillz or your favorite anime character.

Let all your web designer friends know about this, too, please. Thanks!

Deadline: End of the month. i.e. by May 30 07.

Announcing the Bomb Clock Contest Winner

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Last week, I held a contest asking what you would do if you only had half a day in Tokyo. Reading your answers gave me a random sampling of what people thought of when they thought of Tokyo. A lot of cosplay, porn, Pokemon, sushi, and karaoke!

And some random thoughts spawned from your answers:

– Peter, you said you’d look for a vegan restaurant. I’m curious if anyone knows of one in Tokyo? I once brought a vegetarian friend from the US here, and had the hardest time feeding her. I believe vegetarianism is a Western concept, and when you ask a waitress if they have eggs or beef broth in their cooking they just look puzzled.

– Harry, you said you’d take the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra out for karaoke and DDR. That’s awesome, man. If you ever do it, do let me know if they can sing and dance.

– I love the romantic "I’d kidnap my girlfriend and take her home to America with me" and "I’d look for a job so my wife and kids could be closer to the Japanese side of the family" ones. How sweet!

– My heartfelt regrets to Niko, who was hit by a taxi last time he was here. I once got my foot run over by a taxi near my parents’ house, too.

It’s really hard to judge whose ideal half day is the "best." But there was one that I felt grasped the full, real Tokyo experience in all its present-day quirks and beautiful traditions…

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Contest/Giveaway: Win A Bomb Alarm Clock

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Strap-Ya sent me a bunch of swag to give away to Tokyomango readers, and the first one I’m gonna offer up is this awesome diffuse-a-bomb alarm clock that will have you waking up with a pseudo-heart attack every morning!

The person with the best response to the following question will get this bad boy in the mail in about 2 weeks:

If you only had half a day in Tokyo, what would you do, and why?

Just imagine that money and transportation from Narita are not an issue, and leave your response in the comments (or email me if you’re shy about it). Be funny, be serious, be creative, be you. I’ll announce the winner a week from today on the site.

The I’m-Not-Bald-Anymore Contest

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Every year, Reve 21, a company that makes hair growth products for men (kinda like the Rogaine of the East, we could say) has a contest to determine the person who most successfully reversed the process of balding. This is no joke! I mean, the winner gets 3 million yen and the chance to show off his new ‘do–which is NOT a toupee like Donny Trumps–in front of the whole country. This year’s was the 7th annual, and as you can see, this man has a beautiful mane of thick black hair now. And a lot of cash.

(Thanks, Felicity!)

Crying Baby Contest

BabyEvery year, at the Saikyoji Temple in Nagasaki, dozens of babies gather together to have a crying competition. The object of the match is to get your baby to start bawling before the other baby.

As you can see in this picture from this year’s competition, held just this past Saturday, the babies are dressed in traditional Japanese festival gear, and it looks like, in this one, the little round baby boy beat the little round ponytailed girl.

In the case of a tie, the louder baby wins. The grand champion wins sedatives and free kiddy therapy.

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Announcing the Kami-Robo contest winner!

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Thanks to all of you who entered my Win a Kami-Robo Crafting Kit contest! While I’m sure each and every one of your imagined paper robot fighters would kick ass in a hot-and-heavy paperfight, my judging team and I have decided to award Unagi Fury for his a hot-headed nature, slippery tendencies, a phallic shape, and a big mouth. Hey Unagi, I wish I could see you and your tag team partner Pumice in action. Must be hot and heavy like your temper.

Congratulations, you’ve got a paper robot crafting kit coming your way.

Win a Kami-Robo crafting kit!

The holidays are coming up, and you probably have a little nephew who loves robots. What better gift than a robot crafting kit? You can re-create one of Kami-Robo designmaster Tomohiro Yasui’s original fighters, The Ole, by following simple instructions included with the parts. (It’s mostly illos, with some Japanese text. But hey, it’s a good opportunity to polish your kanji or your crafty intuition.) Upon completion, he will be 34cm tall and able to kick anybody’s ass.

Papercraft has a long tradition in Japanese culture; art forms like origami and kiri-e have been around forever, and washi paper is famous worldwide for how pretty and expensive it is. So it’s only natural that robots would come in an intricate, pulp version too.

So you can buy a kit for $22 here, or you can win my Kami-Robo contest and get one mailed to your door for free. To enter the contest, just answer this question:

If you were a paper robot fighter, what would your stage name be and why?

Results will be announced in a week!

Announcing the Golden Poop Contest Winners…

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Happy Halloween!

3 lucky winners of Lisa’s Golden Poop Contest will be getting a golden-poop-in-a-baseball-mitt cell phone strap, and they are:

– thebatya, who said: "poop joins mother with daughter, brother with sister, enemy with enemy, lover with lover from generations past and future for and from eternity." Holy crap. That’s deep.

– some dude, who said: "I made friends yesterday with a cabbie from England—we both get emergency poops. Except he’s ok with squatting. Under I-280. In Bayview. And getting spotlighted by the SFPD." Actually, some dude, the real winner is the cabbie from England. Can we send him the golden poop please?

– the anonymous commenter who said poop tastes like chicken. How the hell did you figure that?

If you haven’t already, e-mail me your address so I can send you your shit.

Japan’s first abalone race leaves spectators hungry and bored.

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October 21 was an important day at the Awa Museum in Tateyama. That’s because the first abalone race was held there that day. Several competitive abalone–including Awabi Impact, whose name is a parody of the champion racehorse Deep Impact–were given numbers and flags, then exposed to a sudden burst of light which would make them start racing to the opposite end of the 2-meter pool. Excited spectators–mostly grandmas, as you can see in the photo–gathered to witness, but the race was so frigging slow that most of them just got hungry. You can guess what they had for dinner that night. Full story here.

Lisa’s Win-A-Golden-Poop Contest

A lot of people e-mailed me asking how they can get a golden poop cell phone strap, too. Well, I have a secret to share with you all. I’m a closet golden poop collector! (Shhhh…don’t tell anyone…)

Anyway, I decided to give away some of my stash if you can answer this question:

Why in the world do Japanese people love poop so much??

Leave your response and contact info in the comments section under this post, and I’ll send a lucky few winners their very own poop.