New Chinese Trend: Female Armpit Hair Selfies

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Weird Asia News:

Adults naturally grow hair on certain parts of their bodies. However, many people make a habit of shaving off their body hair, for hygiene and other personal reasons.

But these ladies in China choose not to.

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Pictures of women’s armpit selfies in China have gone viral in social media. This trend of showing armpit hair by women has become the talk of the town for a couple of months.

Included have been a host of negative comments about it being “unladylike,” while others say that people don’t have the right to judge these women because it’s their bodies and nobody else’s decision or business.

Nevertheless, this “armpit selfie” trend is really weird.

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5 tips for staying healthy while traveling in Japan this winter!

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RocketNews 24:

 

I spent two winter seasons working in the hospital emergency room (as a translator) in Niseko, a popular Hokkaido snow holiday destination for foreigners. While we had our share of broken bones from ski and boarding accidents, what impressed upon me most was the number of people who get ill while on vacation. There were just as many sudden illnesses as snow-related accidents–everything from gastrointestinal disorders to ear infections and first-time asthma attacks which too many times put people in the emergency room.

The good news is that most of these illnesses can be avoided, but different cultures pose different health risks and knowing what to watch out for beforehand can be tricky, if not impossible. In this article, I’ll share some tips on how to stay healthy while traveling in Japan in wintertime, based on my experience working with hundreds of foreigners who ended up in hospital on their vacations.

By following some simple (but not necessarily so obvious) rules, we aim to keep our snow-loving Rocketeers out of Japan’s hospitals and flying down the slopes in all their glory instead!

Many foreigners who come to Hokkaido to ski or snowboard are coming to Japan for the first time. Since the foremost attraction for them is some of the most awesome skiing in the world (waist-deep powder, off-piste skiing–say no more!), it’s understandable that such guests may not have thought much about the actual culture they’ll be skiing into.

Let’s start at the beginning then, booking your accommodation.

 

 1. Japanese minshuku and ryokan

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Staying in family-run minshuku and ryokan is a quintessential Japanese experience that everyone should partake in. Such places have several advantages over a hotel room, including a traditional Japanese ambiance (tatami mat rooms, futons, etc), home-cooked meals, and witnessing Japanese hospitality at its finest.

But other than some top-of-the-line ryokan, most traditional style Japanese accommodation involves shared bathing and washing facilities. This is fine as long as you’re prepared for it. But if you’re not careful, these communal facilities (showers, sinks, etc) can be like a super highway for the spread of bacteria and viruses, least not when they’re being used by people coming from all over the world. Dr. Wuthrich, an American doctor who works out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming says that staying safe from viruses can be as simple as carrying antibacterial wipes with you. “Wipe down faucets, flush toilet knobs, and towel hooks before using them,” she says. “The antibacterial wipes won’t kill all the germs, but most of them.”

 

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But since many minshuku and ryokan are family-run (although not all), you’re subjecting yourself to the hygiene standards of the owners, not a professional cleaning staff.

 

▼I’ve never quite understood this, but communal body scrubbers can be found in accommodations throughout Asia, including Japan. No thanks.

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During my tenure in the Niseko emergency room, I had quite a few patients who had contracted the dreaded Norovirus. One of these patients told me, “I know exactly when I got it. I put down my toothbrush, turned on the water faucet, cupped the water and drank from my hands to rinse my mouth.” Unfortunately, the person who had used the sink before him had the virus. Within days, it had spread to over half the guests and the accommodation was shut down by the health department to be sanitized. Wow, right?!

I’ve never gotten sick at such a place myself, but if you catch colds easily or if you’re paranoid about getting sick, choose a studio apartment, rental condo or hotel room where the only people you share facilities with are those who you know don’t have a virus.

 

2. Asthma and respiratory illnesses

While in Niseko, I saw an inordinate number of cases of adults suddenly afflicted with asthma attacks, either on the slopes or while in their accommodation. When the doctor asked these patients if they had a history of asthma, most of them said they had had it as a child, but hadn’t suffered an attack since. A few patients said they’d never experienced an asthma attack before. What would prompt a sudden onset of asthmatic symptoms, or a recurrence, years later? The only thing I could see that connected these patients was that they were all staying in budget accommodation that wasn’t very clean. Maybe you know the places I mean–they haven’t changed the tatami mats in years, the bedding is ancient, the fusuma doors are stained and no one has bothered to wash the curtains or upholstery since smoking became prohibited in public places.

▼Avoid poorly maintained minshuku or ryokan.

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Old accommodation is fine as long as it’s clean,” says  Dr. Wuthrich, a previous resident of Japan. “Mites live in dirty bedding and carpet. Curtains are generally okay, but smoke and dust can still be a problem for those susceptible to asthma.”

Aging minshuku and ryokan are especially prevalent in Japan’s countryside but it’s surprising how many can still be found even in tourist areas. If you’re traveling around Japan on a two-week to one-month vacation and hit one of these places by mistake, it’s not as big a deal if you only have to suffer through one night. But on a ski trip, where people tend to stay in the same place for a week or longer, the monetary savings may not be worth the cost to your health.

 

Yep, if it’s dodgy on the outside, it’s probably dodgy on the inside too. Stained and torn fusuma doors.

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It’s easier to make this mistake than you’d think. I once called to make a reservation at aminshuku I had stayed at before, but since they were fully booked, they gave me the number of the only other place in town. Another time I unexpectedly ended up somewhere for the night and had to take the only place available. You get my drift, right? These places fill up last. Get your reservations in early so you’ll still have a choice of where to stay.

Rather than going for cheap, go for clean. Think of those ’60s-style motels with the neon signs along roadsides in the U.S. They’re cheap, they’re retro, but ..oh…um, well, maybe you shouldn’t stay there.

In situations like this, it’s probably best to follow the advice of the Japanese: You’re on holidays–treat yourself!

 

▼A rental condo and asthmatic’s paradise.

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3. Slippers are okay if…

Upon entering any minshuku or ryokan, you’re likely to be met by a line of slippers set out for guests to easily slide their feet into after having taken off their shoes. Yes, they’re plastic and yes, they’re yucky! Most foreigners envision nasty fungal spores living inside these slippers, eagerly waiting to attach themselves to our vulnerable foreign toes. But wait, it turns out their actually okay, according to Dr. Wuthrich, “…as long as you wear socks.” Socks will protect you from most of the nasties.

 

▼The dreaded communal slippers!

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Of course, the Japanese know this which is why its considered polite to wear socks when you go to someone’s house. So keep those feet covered, whether it be summer or winter.

 ▼Besides, with all the cute socks available in Japan, we can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be wearing socks even in summer.

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4. In the Onsen

Now that you’ve settled in to your nice, clean minshuku, ryokan, condo or apartment, and are lounging around in cute socks, it’s probably about time to hit the hot springs!

 

▼A typical Japanese onsen is heated to temperatures of at least 38 C (100.4 F).

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While everyone should try Japan’s legendary onsen hot springs, make sure you don’t dunk your head under the water. Not only is this considered rude, it can lead to ear infections and gastrointestinal problems (should you accidentally drink the water) and a week of lost skiing topped with a general feeling of misery. Japanese people would never put their heads under the water, but children getting into an onsen for the first time are likely to treat such a large body of water like a swimming pool. Also, do not enter the water if you have open cuts, sores, or lesions. And of course, bathe thoroughly using the showers before you get in.

 

5. Wash your hands

Yeah, we know. No, seriously, wash your hands!

Bacterial hand wash is everywhere in Japan. All public buildings have them and most places where money is exchanged will have a bottle sitting just ready to be squirted onto your filthy digits. Don’t just look at the bottles and marvel at how clean the Japanese are–use the hand wash! Use it before and after you handle money.

▼This hand sanitizer is sitting right next to the money tray (another admirable hygiene policy) , so you can’t miss it.

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Many Japanese wash their hands immediately after coming indoors just to make sure that any germs aren’t brought inside and spread around the house. Now that’s thinking!

 

  • Bonus tips for skiers and snowboarders:

In addition to the above, Dr. Wuthrich recommends that when at ski areas, use your gloved hands to open and close doors. If you have a choice, use sinks with sensor faucets. And if you really must touch a nasty curtain in that dirty minshuku booked by your spouse who hasn’t read this article, make a fist with your hand and slide the curtain to the side (or even use an elbow) rather than using your hands.

And lastly, she’s all for bowing rather than shaking hands.

Some of this advice may seem a bit extreme, but the worst that can happen by following it is–not getting sick. After all, this is your vacation, so treat yourself!

All photos © Amy Chavez/RocketNews24

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Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? It’s not always for health reasons

RocketNews 24:

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Like kimono and T-shirts with English writing (sometimes vulgar, sometimes comical, always unintelligible), the number of people you’ll see in Japan wearing surgical masks is pretty surprising. Sure, Japan is a hard working society, and the spread of productivity-sapping sickness is always a concern at schools and workplaces, but that doesn’t seem like reason enough for the proliferation of facial coverings that sometimes has Tokyo offices looking more like an operating room.

Health concerns are only part of the equation, though, as recent studies have revealed multiple reasons people in Japan wear masks that have nothing to do with hygiene.

Until recently, masks were primarily worn by people who had already come down with an illness. If you were feeling under the weather but couldn’t take the day off, common courtesy dictated that you cover your mouth and nose with a mask, so as not to breathe your germs all over you class or office mates or fellow commuters.

Things started changing in 2003, though, when medical supply maker Unicharm released a new type of mask specifically designed for hay fever sufferers. Until that point, most masks had been made of cotton, with an inner pouch into which gauze was placed. After taking off the mask users threw out the gauze, washed the cotton mask for reuse, and restuffed the pocket.

Unicharm’s anti-hay fever masks, though, were made of non-woven material, which was more effective in blocking pollen. They were also completely disposable and could be cheaply bought in bulk. This new type of mask was a game changer, and business research firm Fuji Keizai now says non-woven masks account for 86 percent of the market today.

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The introduction of these cheap, easier-to-use masks also made it more practical to wear one in order to prevent getting sick in the first place. Commuting in Japan often means spending an hour or more pressed up against your fellow passengers on a train or bus, and not everyone has the good manners to put down their smartphone and cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze.

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Sales figures show that use of masks has more than tripled over the last decade, with particularly large spikes caused by influenza outbreak fears in 2009 and worries over micro particulate matter following the earthquake and nuclear accident of 2011. Estimates for fiscal year 2013 value Japan’s mask market at 23.9 billion yen (US$229.8 million).

But as masks provoke less and less surprise, some people are using them for purposes that have nothing to do with physical health.

One 46-year-old mother, who herself wears a mask every day in the winter to prevent getting sick, says her high-school-age daughter wears one for a completely different reason. “She puts on a mask and sticks headphones in her ears so that people won’t bother her. It makes it harder for them to start talking to her.”

Juvenile psychologist Jun Fujikake has made similar observations. “When we deal with others, we have to judge whether to do things like smile or show anger,” he explains. “By wearing a mask, you can prevent having to do that. The trend of wearing a mask to prevent directly dealing with other may have roots in the current youth culture in which many of them are more accustomed to communicating indirectly through email and social media.”

▼ Kind of makes you miss the good old days, when kids didn’t need to rely on props or technology to show how sullen they were.

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But the recent surge in masks’ popularity isn’t entirely the result of a desire to give people the cold shoulder. On the contrary, an increasing number of people are using masks because of their desire for warmth.

Japan gets pretty chilly during the winter. Thankfully, the layered look is definitely in, and as the temperature drops, you can bundle up with tights, undershirts, sweaters, parkas, gloves, scarves, and caps. One thing that’s hard to do, though, is keep your face warm.

Granted, you could always pick up a ski mask at the sporting goods shop, but effectiveness aside, you’re going to get some strange looks wearing one anywhere other than on the slopes. But since Japanese society has already gotten used to people wearing surgical masks outside of the hospital, you can safely put one on to keep your nose and cheeks warm without attracting any attention.

▼ Having your glasses steam up is a small price to pay to keep your lips warm enough that you can move them.

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Not only have masks become so commonplace that wearers aren’t seen as unattractive, some people are finding fashion and beauty uses for them. One professional model interviewed by reporters says she often slips on a mask after washing off her makeup at the end of a photo shoot, in order to keep her au naturel face hidden from the public. Even women whose livelihood doesn’t depend on looking their best at all times are finding masks to be a handy for those times when they need to dash out to run errands and don’t feel like spending a half-hour putting on blush and lipstick first.

▼ This woman could have a moustache, for all we know.

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Some people even see masks as a fashionable accessory. An online search for masuku bijin or “beautiful masked girl” will bring up hundreds of results, and an increasing number of companies are offering masks with floral, polka dot, and even houndstooth patterns, not to mention jet-black ninja-style masks for guys.

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There’s even a mask whose seller claims it’ll help you lose weight. Cosmetics maker T-Garden has jumped into the mask arena with its Flavor Mask. Not only does it feature a pretty-in-pink design, each disposable mask comes infused with the scent of raspberry, which T-Garden says will boost your metabolism.

We’re not entirely convinced about the scientific soundness of their promise, and from an armchair psychology viewpoint, it seems like a food-based fragrance is going to do more to ramp up your appetite than your metabolism. Still, like any mask it should help prevent you from passing a cold around, keep your face a little warmer, cut off unwanted social interaction, and preclude the need to wear extensive makeup, none of which is necessarily diminished by its calorie-burning quackery.

▼ If you absolutely have to buy snake oil, you may as well get the nicest-smelling kind.

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Source: Yahoo! Japan

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Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? It’s not always for health reasons