Asako Kanda, Crazy Hello Kity Girl

Hello Kitty has millions of fans around the world, but none are more in love with Sanrio’s iconic character than Asako Kanda. The 39-year-old receptionist from Japan has amassed a fantastic collection of over 4,500 Hello Kitty items.

Like many other girls of her generation, Asako’s fascination with Hello Kitty began during her elementary school days. At first, she just bought little things like pencils and erasers featuring the popular kitty, but by the time she turned 11 she was so obsessed with Sanrio’s creation that she made a Hello Kitty mug in her pottery class, and an embroided Hello Kitty apron for her home economics course. But she can’t be the only girl in the world who did this kind of stuff while growing up. But that’s the thing, while most other girls move on to idolizing boy bands or movie actors, Asako Kanda remained faithful to her childhood friend. “Kitty has always been with me, almost subconsciously,” she said in an interview a few years back. Some people call her infantile, other laugh at her bad taste, but none of this has ever affected her long-term love affair with Hello Kitty. She now holds the Guinness World Record for most Hello Kitty items, 4,519, as of August 2011.

As you can imagine, almost everything in the house of the world’s biggest Hello Kitty fan is pink. Apart from the thousands of fluffy toys she has lying around everywhere, and the hundreds of posters, Kanda even has Kitty-themed appliances,  including a Hello Kitty toaster, a Hello Kitty electric fan and a Hello Kitty frying pan. She also has Hello Kitty costumes and hats, pillows, curtains, even handkerchiefs. Put simply, whatever an average person owns, Asako Kanda probably has a Hello Kitty version of. Truth be told, Sanrio, the company that created Hello Kitty, has made it pretty easy for her, releasing countless Hello Kitty themed products, from cheap marshmallows to a diamond-studded statue worth ¥10 million ($125,000). So does she ever feel tricked into buying all this stuff by Sanrio? ”Well, I sometimes feel like that,” she said, but also admitted she starts to feel antsy when she’s not surrounded by Hello Kitty stuff.

Luckily, Asako’s husband, Hiroyuki, keeps her in check so she doesn’t overspend on Hello Kitty items, but he can only do so much. For their wedding, in 2000, the dedicated collector asked her mother to make cuddly-toy versions of a Hello Kitty bride and groom for their wedding reception, because at the time Sanrio wasn’t into kitty-themed nuptial gear. Since then, Sanrio realized it was missing out on even more money so it entered this segment as well. Knowing for passion for Hello Kitty, many of their friends sent them kitty-themed telegrams of congratulations.

So, with over 4,500 Hello Kitty items under her roof, does Asako Kanda thing she has enough? Definitely not, in fact she has much bigger plans. Her biggest dream is to live in a Hello Kitty house with two giant ears sticking out of the roof, and her final wish will be to have a Hello Kitty-style funeral and a tombstone to match.



How they create mini hamburger in Japan

What’s the attraction of a miniature hamburger meal painstakingly assembled entirely from packets of dried ingredients?

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The packet came, with its unmistakeably Japanese garishness, its jarring colours, fonts, slashes and squiggles. Inside it lay the Kracie Happy Kitchen powdered hamburger meal: a new and unsettling miniature. Six foil sachets filled with powders, some plastic cutlery and plastic tubs. You open the box, slice along dotted lines, cut out the plastic tubs, get some water, mix the powders separately, spread stuff, microwave stuff, and gradually assemble a fast food lunch, or what such a lunch might look like if it was designed by an alien working to a five-year-old’s drawing of a Happy Meal.

I was in Japan recently for the first time, and experienced one of the most refined and elegant cuisines in the world. But much of it isn’t half strange. This is the country where someone – or, more likely, a group of people – decided that the best image with which to decorate a packet of Doritos was two men in wetsuits kicking each other in the balls.

This is the land of tinned bread, 80 different KitKat flavours, octopus ball crisps, candied squid on sticks, food that moves, and cuboid watermelons.

There’s a lot of rote and ritual around food, and there’s a love of small things – tiny fish eggs, little bowls of ozony sea-stuff. People obsess over presentation. And you can see these aspects in the powdered hamburger. Assembling it took me the best part of an hour. I couldn’t read the instructions, so I copied a YouTube video


“It tastes just like real hamburger”, a web comment had promised. I must demur. You start with the fries, whose powder was once conceivably related to a potato. You moisten this, mash it up, compress it to the ridged floor of one of the plastic tubs, microwave it for 30 seconds, then flop it out and cut it into slices. It smelled convincingly of stale chip shop fat and soggy tuber, and was the least offensive component by some way.

The “burger” was next. Though the meal contains pork and chicken derivatives, but no beef, when I stirred the wet powder the smell was horribly and insistently beefy, as if someone had moved an abattoir into a chemical weapons factory and set them both on fire. The colour was a spot-on Soreen brown, and even the texture under my plastic shovel reminded me of the gristly, white-flecked pulp of cheap hamburger. Into the pots went the pale bread powder and the floppy, granular cheese. When I took these three out of the microwave, I retched freely.

The painstaking assembly was fraught with creeping existential terror. When I’d finished, and fizzed the cola powder in the water, I took a photo. I stood back and contemplated. I gave the burger a tentative nibble.

I guess it’s fun, this sort of thing, and I’m sure some children – if their parents could stand it – might enjoy assembling the weird little packets. But you have to wonder at the strangeness of it all. Why go to such incredible effort (working out the precise makeup of the powders with endless testing, planning every stage meticulously, packaging it all in the most sensible way, pricing it keenly) to create such a revolting product? I don’t know the answer; I spat the food out immediately. The powdered hamburger is not even close to being as delicious as McDonald’s, but it does remind me of the chain in one way – the food looks nothing like the picture.

Chinese Company Knocks Off Entire Austrian Village

A Chinese metals and mining company has invested nearly 1 billion dollars into replicating an entire Austrian scenic village just an hour away from Huizhou city, in subtropical southern China.

Nestled deep in the breathtaking Northern Limestone Alps, the village of Hallstatt is one of Austria’s most popular tourist attractions. Featuring a rich culture and history dating back to prehistoric times, and gorgeous natural surroundings, this unique piece of heaven draws in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Did I say unique? I meant once unique, because Chinese company China Minmetals Corporation has recently completed a replica of the iconic Austrian village in a scenic location, close to the city of Huizhou. The cost of this knock-off project was around $940 million. The Chinese have always been known for their skill in creating knock-offs, from designer clothes to smartphones, and fueled by China’s economic growth, their projects are becoming even more ambitious. They started out by copying iconic landmarks from around the world, then they moved to whole districts inspired by western civilization  and now they’re building replicas of entire settlements. I’m betting they’ll be replicating entire countries pretty soon.

Original Hallstatt (left) and the Chinese replica (right)/Photo: Gizmodo

Most of the people in the original Hallstatt were irritated by their homes being copied in another country, but once they realized the potential marketing benefit of such an endeavor they had a change of heart, and many of them even flew off to Huizhou for the official inauguration. Still, they made it clear they weren’t happy with how the copying was done. Members of Minmetals Land staff were deployed in old Hallstatt, taking pictures and gathering data while mingling with tourists and raising suspicions among locals. No one was ever informed of the company’s plan, until one of the Chinese spilled the beans, by accident. ”They should have asked the owners of the hotel and the other buildings if we agree with the idea to rebuild Hallstatt in China, and they did not,” hotel owner Monika Wenger said ahead of the opening ceremony.

Chinese Hallstatt/Photo: BBC

Although it has exact replicas of Hallstatt’s church clock tower, and several private houses, as well as Disney-like photo spots, this Chinese knock-off isn’t nearly as popular as the original.  In 2005 it had only 50 visitors, and while that figure has risen to around 2,500 in recent years, it’s still not even close to the number of people who visit the Austrian settlement every year. Ironically, more Chinese tourists fly to Austria to see the original…

Chinese Hallstatt/Photo: DPA

Chinese Hallstatt/Photo: DPA

Original Hallstatt/Photo: chel1395

Baby Mop, Let Your Baby Mop Your Floor While it`s Crawling

A US company is combining babygrows with mops so that babies can polish the floor as they learn to crawl.

Website is hoping to clean up with its £25 invention which it calls the Baby Mop.

Inspired by a spoof Japanese advert for a similar invention, it promises to “teach your baby a strong work ethic early on in their life”.

And it adds that the baby “will get a nice workout, burn off energy, and do muscle toning. And sleep better too.”

Mike Parker from said: “We have sold about 100 in just one month since adding it to our site.

“So far all the feedback from customers has been very positive, however we get some negative emails surrounding the idea of the actual product.

“The idea formed to make the actual product from a Japanese commercial on the web.

“I believe the idea was submitted as part of a contest on ridiculous inventions in Japan but was never actually sold anywhere.

“But this is the real deal, it’s a legit product and is proving very, very popular.”

Foods That Fashion Has Totally Ruined

1. Chocolate


Has melted chocolate ever looked as unappetizing as when it’s coating a naked woman’s entire head?


Or is it grosser to imagine eating a piece of Karl Lagerfeld’s chocolate sculpture of his guy Friday, male model Baptiste Giabiconi? I’m really torn on this one.

3. The Cheeseburger

The Cheeseburger

At least this is a clever way to shove eight beef patties into one burger.

4. Steak


As if the meat dress and matching shoes weren’t enough, Gaga had to go and wear this Tarzan costume made entirely of beef for the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan.

5. Ravioli


No matter how attractive any man is, he should NOT wear ravioli boxer briefs.

6. Meatballs


DIY any stiletto!!!

Except, don’t.

7. Pasta in Tomato Sauce

Pasta in Tomato Sauce

8. Or, Italian food, generally.

Or, Italian food, generally.

Fashion editors have a real thing for making food from this part of the world look disgusting.

9. Obscure Mushrooms

Obscure Mushrooms

Well, these probably wouldn’t look THAT delicious not in dress form, but looking at this does make me want to eat them a little bit less.

10. Popcorn


Why do I get the feeling that Chanel serves the driest, lowest sodium popcorn ever? The only bags they need to be making are quilted ones.

11. Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake

I hope she didn’t go commando.

12. Paté


Definitely not a “hair down” look.

13. Bread


Has anything gotten more… stale than wearable food?

14. Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

Judging by the “price” on this magazine being “1 lb of cheese” we can safely assume it’s a photoshopped fake. But also an utterly genius commentary on the fashion world’s obsession with serving comfort food at parties (which, yes, is a real obsession — Anna Wintour loves to serve chicken pot pie and stuff like that to party guests).

15. Ice Cream

Ice Cream

Oh, the French.

And the British.

16. Baby Food

Baby Food

Let’s save this one for the youngsters with no teeth.

17. Lollipops


To be fair, these have never been that delicious anyway.

18. Fro Yo

Fro Yo

If you are next to Katy Perry right now MAKE HER COVER HER EYES AND KEEP SCROLLING!

19. Salad Greens

Salad Greens

Never needed to become thong underwear.

Indonesian Batang Villages Use Piles of Sand Instead of Mattresses

The residents of three small fishing villages in the Batang region of Indonesia prefer to sleep on piles of sand than on modern mattresses. This ancient tradition that’s still practiced today for its supposed health benefits.


Taking a nap on a sandy beach is pretty relaxing, but can you imagine going to sleep on a pile of sand every night? For the people of Batang-Batang, there’s really no comparing mattresses to their amazing sand beaches. As the only thing they have in abundance, sand plays a crucial role in the life of these coastal communities. It’s everywhere around their homes, cooling their feet on hot summer days, and keeping them warm during the night, and it even enters their houses as comfortable beds. Even the richest of residents prefer sleeping on sand than on mattresses, and even if some own conventional beds, they are mostly for decorative purposes. The villagers, most of them fishermen, believe the sand brought in from nearby beaches has medicinal properties that can help with a variety of conditions, from rheumatism to itches, although there’s no scientific proof of this. However, it’s a known fact that the sand in the area is highly adaptive to air temperature. When the air is hot, the sand offers a nice cooling retreat, and on cold nights, it keeps the villagers warm.




The Sand beds on Indonesia’s Batang region were a controversial subject during the 70s and 80s, when it was revealed women also use them to give birth, with only the most difficult cases being taken to local health centers. But despite public scrutiny, women carried on their tradition.  Villagers say only the cleanest and finest sand is used for beds.


Although most locals still prefer sand to conventional beds, this old tradition of dying out with the young population moving to the big city, in search of job opportunities.

Taiwan’s Carton Restaurant, Where Everything Except the Food Is Made from Cardboard

Located inside the Carton King Creativity Park, in Taichung City, Taiwan, the Carton Restaurant is a unique eatery where everything from the furnishings, to the decorations and even the plates are made from corrugated cardboard.

Unless you’ve actually been to Taichung, I assure you haven’t seen anything like the Carton King Restaurant before. Except for the food, the waiters and some cutlery, everything inside this place is made from cardboard and paper. It seems almost impossible, but you actually sit on cardboard chairs, sip drinks from cardboard cans, and eat your food out of cardboard bowls at a cardboard table. The food is pretty average, according to the reviews I’ve read, a bit on the pricey side, but that’s to be expected considering the amazing venue it’s served in. What’s great about this place is the recycling potential. In case anything breaks or becomes damaged, it’s simply recycled. That was actually the point of the whole Carton King Creativity Park, to show the real power of paper and cardboard, and convince people it can be used for a lot more than generic packaging.

The brain behind this amazing Taiwan attraction is Huang Fang-liang, founder and general manager of Chin Tang Paperware. After graduating from high school in Taichung County, he spent a few years working for paper and printing companies in around Taiwan to learn about  industry. In 1984, he returned to his hometown of Taichung to set up his own workshop.  Huang knew a small startup would be no match for the large companies manufacturing commercial and industrial paper products or for the older paper mills in Taiwan that dominated the market for craft and handmade paper, so he decided to give paper and cardboard packaging a try. This was also a very competitive sector, so he decided to focus on unique packaging items. ”Those who had been in the trade a long time said to me that they had seen more paper items than the number of grains of rice I had eaten,” Huang says. “They told me paper products were only good for printing, drawing and wiping up messes. I wanted to use paper in the same way as plastic or wood is used to create dimensional packaging, but to them it was pretty much a joke.” But while it took him longer to create his special kind of packaging than conventional ones, the ambitious entrepreneur made his customers happy and slowly built a reputation for his small business. With his creative outside the box thinking, Huang Fang-liang became the go-to man in the packaging trade, and Chin Tang Paperware one of the most respected companies in Taiwan. In 2007 he built the Carton King Creativity Park just to show the world what could be done with underrated materials like cardboard and paper.

And just in case you’re afraid those carton chairs are to frail for your Rubensian physique, here’s what Xue Sheng-yi, deputy general manager of Chin Tang Paperware, has to say about that: ”People often wonder if the tables or chairs are going to fall apart. We bring out our chef, who weighs more than 100 kilograms, to sit on a chair. Then one of the waiters sits on his lap. After that, there aren’t any more questions about how strong they are.”