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6 Odd Things Eaten in Japan

Because it’s surrounded on all sides by water, it makes sense that much of what the Japanese eat comes from the sea. We all know they eat whales and dolphins, but how about fish sperm and poisonous puffer fish? The short list below also includes a few specialties found on land that I just had to include. As always, if you’ve tried any of these, please let us know how they taste in the comments below.

1. Zazamushi (Aquatic Insects)

Zazamushi isn’t just one kind of insect; rather, a catch-all name applied to the larvae of insects that live at the bottom of rivers. The name “zazamushi” literally translates to “insects (mushi) that live in a place where the river makes the sound zaazaa as it flows.”

2. Fugu (Poisonous Puffer Fish)


The Japanese have been eating fugu for centuries, which means they’ve had plenty of time to figure out HOW to eat this poisonous fish. Fugu flesh is edible, but the skin, liver and ovaries contain lethal amounts of the poison tetrododoxin. If any of these elements are consumed, then the poison paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious, and eventually dies from asphyxiation. Good times. For this reason, it’s imperative that a special, qualified fugu chef prepares your meal.

3. Shirako (Fish Sperm)


Shirako, a common item found in most Japanese pubs consisting entirely of the male genitalia of fish still fat with seminal fluid.

4. Basashi (Raw Horse Meat)


While Japan isn’t the only country that eats horse meat, I believe it’s the only one that eats it raw, as sashimi.

5. Hachinoko (Bee Larvae)


This crunchy, maggotty bee larvae is served in pubs the way we serve beer nuts. Yum!

6. Shirouo no Odorigui (Dancing Icefish)

Shirouo are very small transparent fish that are eaten alive. They dance in your mouth - or rather do the odorigui (dancing while being eaten).

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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