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A man and woman looking over their bills. Representative image.

The United States is the second most expensive country in the world to give birth, after Japan. In Japan, it costs around $61,000 to have a vaginal delivery, although those costs can be offset by government health insurance.

In the U.S., it costs around $14,000 to have a child without insurance, although there are a lot of factors that affect the price, including where you give birth, the type of insurance you carry and if there are any complications.

While $14,000 is a lot of money for most people, Hanna Castle from the Columbus, Ohio, area received a $4 million hospital bill after having quadruplets and that didn’t even include the delivery. All 4 of the children needed to spend time in the NICU for lengths between 64 and 147 days.



Castle explained the costs in a video that has been seen nearly 8 million times.

That hurt 🤣 

@hannacastle

That hurt 🤣 #Quadruplets #nicu #america #healthcare

The 4 children, Atlas, Dominic, Magnolia and Morgan, were all born at 28 weeks via Cesarean section and were treated at separate NICUs. According to Investopedia, a stay in the NICU can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 a day in the United States.

The smallest child of the 4, Atlas, weighed just 1.5 pounds but had the shortest stay in the NICU of 64 days. His total bill came to $714,747.15. Next was Magnolia who stayed 74 days at a cost of $728,625.56. Morgan stayed 86 days for $976,415.69 and Dominic stayed the longest, 147 days, for $1,626139.55.

All in all, the total bill for the NICU for the Castle Quads was $4,045,927.95.

Commenters on the video couldn’t believe how anyone could pay such a massive bill. "To put this in perspective, it would take $500 a month for 675 years to pay this off," Gouda wrote.

The good news for the Castle family was that Medicaid of Ohio picked up the entire tab. Knowing that the babies would need extensive care after being born, the couple quit their jobs to qualify for financial assistance. "At 16 weeks pregnant, I decided to quit my job to get some of that assistance because there was no other way," Castle told Good Morning America.

"I moved my mom in with us to kind of help financially for the first year and see how the kids were going to be,” she added. In Ohio, adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level and children with a household income of 211% of the poverty level can qualify for Medicaid.

In a recent Facebook post, Castle discussed the tough challenges of being the parent of multiples in America.

“You can believe that you’ll have 1 full-term child, but every pregnancy is different. A lot of us do not believe in terminating healthy children because of finances. Things happen. No one wants to live off of government assistance just to be able to survive and frankly there’s a lot of shame behind it,” she wrote. “But other countries don’t even have to worry about that. Do they truly think that a 1-time tax credit per year is enough to get us to keep having children in this economy? With the type of medical bills we rack up here? With the lack of financial medical assistance we have here?”


Photo by Jaleel Akbash on Unsplash

Japanese soccer fans explain why they clean the stadium after a match.

Japanese fans at the World Cup tournament have been receiving praise for their admirable habit of cleaning up the stadium after their team's matches. It's commonplace to see Japanese fans, blue garbage sacks in hand, hanging back after the game to pick up the trash everyone has left behind in the stadium.

It's not the first time Japanese cleanliness has made headlines. Some schools in Japan don't even hire janitorial staff, as the students clean their schools themselves. Other than in specific educational programs such as Montessori (where practical skills and habits like cleaning and organizing the environment are incorporated into the pedagogy), that idea is practically unheard of in the U.S. But watching the Japanese fans picking up after a game, the automatic assumption that someone else is going to clean up after us feels like a mistake.

So what is it that compels Japanese fans to clean the stadium at the World Cup, despite the fact that there are people hired to do it already?

It generally comes down to one word: "atarimae."


Atarimae isn't easy to directly translate into English, but it basically means "natural" or "obvious" or "the norm." Japanese fans may be getting a lot of attention for their cleaning habits, but they're not trying to make some grand statement or gesture—for them, it's simply a matter of course that one would clean up mess wherever they are.

Al Jazeera's Sandra Gathmann interviewed several Japanese fans after their team's 2-1 victory over Germany to ask them about their stadium clean-ups. It was explained that the idea of cleaning and tidying up is ingrained as a part of Japanese culture from a young age and that it's atarimae—obvious, natural, the norm—to leave a place cleaner than they found it.

Watch:

@aljazeeraontiktok

Why do Japanese football fans clean up after a match? @Sandra Gathmann asks the fans #QatarWorldCup2022 #FIFA #WorldCup #Qatar #Football #Qatar2022 #WorldCup2022 #Japan #cleaning #fans

Imagine if everyone thought of cleaning up as atarimae. Wouldn't that be something?

Having lived in Japan myself, I can attest to how clean Japanese cities there are—despite being densely packed with people—due to this concept. The contrast between an average Japanese city and an average American city in terms of cleanliness is quite remarkable.

But being an American raising kids in the U.S., I can also attest to the fact that it's much easier to ingrain those automatic cleaning habits into kids when the entire society is living this concept. Parents in the U.S. are in an uphill battle trying to train kids to take responsibility for cleaning up in a someone-else-will-do-it society, and it would take a major cultural shift to make automatic cleaning a matter of course for Americans. I would certainly love to see it, though.

In Qatar, the Japanese are showing what's possible when a habit is culturally embraced and are setting a wonderful example the whole world can follow. Perhaps before the World Cup is finished we'll see people from all nations taking trash bags into the stadium and running with the idea that cleaning up after an event without being asked is simply … atarimae.

The Gomi Hiroi Samurai.

Welcome to Tokyo, where street cleaning meets street art, thanks to the litter-collecting Gomi Hiroi Samurai.

If you happen to be roaming the streets in Japan, you might find this group sporting ceremonial kimonos and dishing out some amazing moves as they gracefully pick up cans, cigarettes and any other piece of trash along their path, collecting it all in stylish wicker baskets.

The ancient Samurai were once known for their deadly yet beautiful fighting skills, used for justified defense. That same principle applies … this time with a modern-day, conservationalist twist.


Wielding tongs instead of swords (most of the time, anyway) and shouting “moral no nai kokoro wo seibai!” (“punish hearts with no morals!”), the Gomi Hiroi Samurai know only one enemy: rubbish.

@gomihiroisamurai テーブルクロス引きかッ✋💥#ゴミ拾い侍 #ゴミ拾い #pickuptrash #ポイ捨て ♬ なにをやってもあかんわ (WM night out mix) - 岡崎体育

The epic way of shooting makes these TikTok videos feel more like something out of a Kurosawa film. Everything from the dramatic profile angles delivered by professionally trained actors, to the percussive battle drum music, to the ULTRA ultra closeups, it’s pure grade entertainment.

@gomihiroisamurai もしかして、スパイダー〇〇❓#ゴミ拾い侍 #ゴミ拾い #pickuptrash #スパイダーマン #spiderman ♬ オリジナル楽曲 - 【公式】ゴミ拾い侍(一世一代時代組)

Someone was clearly channeling their inner Scorpion from Mortal Kombat here. And it was indeed a flawless victory.

@gomihiroisamurai なんでこんなに酷いのぉ。#ゴミ拾い侍 #ゴミ拾い #pickuptrash #ポイ捨て ♬ なにをやってもあかんわ (WM night out mix) - 岡崎体育

As one person commented, “to quote a famous philosopher (Little Richard), ‘it ain’t what you do. It’s the way how you do it.’”

Though their stylish out-of-this-world performances certainly do raise environmental awareness, for these ecosamurai, the main intention is simply to uplift people’s spirits.

Group promoter Rikiya Takahashi said in an interview that “we hope to make people smile, and believe this will cleanse both their minds and their cities.”
@gomihiroisamurai 2年前の動画。#ゴミ拾い侍 #ゴミ拾い #pickuptrash #ポイ捨て #鬼滅の刃 #kimetsunoyaiba ♬ オリジナル楽曲 - 【公式】ゴミ拾い侍(一世一代時代組)

However, Takahashi added, “we hope to create an environment where having morals can be thought of as cool. We perform only with the hope that people will think the act of picking up trash is cool. At the root of that is a quintessential Japanese stylishness.”

The Samurai moral code, otherwise known as bushido, upholds the virtues of righteousness, courage, benevolence, respect, sincerity, honor, loyalty and self-control. It might have not been the group’s original mission, but it seems like these environmental warriors give bushido new life.

@gomihiroisamurai 子連れゴミ拾い侍。LAメンバーのカズ@kazkobayashi1 #ゴミ拾い侍 #ゴミ拾い #pickuptrash #ポイ捨て #子連れゴミ拾い侍 #LA ♬ We Will Rock You - Remastered 2011 - Queen


Thanks to their huge following on social media, what started out as a small group has rapidly expanded. You’ll now see the litter-collecting samurai all around the country. It goes to show that when you get creative, doing what’s right can actually be really fun.

Kane Takana is the oldest person in the world at age 119.

Most of us would consider it a wonder to reach the age of 100, much less 119. But Kane Tanaka, a woman living in Fukuoka, Japan, who boasts the "oldest person in the world" title, celebrated her 119th birthday on January 2.

Guinness World Records tweeted her a happy birthday and shared a video of her from 2019, when she was officially given the title. Guinness shared that she was born—prematurely, no less—on January 2, 1903, the same year that the first silent film was released and the year Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved sustained, powered flight for the first time.

She has seen two world wars, two pandemics, the invention of countless technologies and more life changes than children of today could possibly imagine. She married at age 19 and raised five children. Her husband ran a family rice and noodle business, which she helped run when he went off to war in 1937.

What's most fascinating, however, is how she spends her days now.


According to Insider, Tanaka lives in a rest home, where she wakes up at 6 a.m. and spends part of her day studying mathematics. She loves solving number puzzles and playing board games. (Guinness shared in 2019 that she had become an expert in the game of Othello, often beating the nursing home staff.)

According to Kyodo News, Tanaka enjoys carbonated drinks and chocolate. During her Guinness ceremony, she was gifted a box of chocolates, and when someone asked her how many chocolates she wanted to eat, she replied, "100."

The person who holds the record for the oldest person to ever live (verified in recorded history) is Jeanne Louise Calment of France who died in 1997 when she was 122. She was also fond of chocolate, reportedly eating two pounds of chocolate a week.

That's two supercentenarians who have embraced chocolate, just saying.

Tanaka's 62-year-old grandson, Eiji, told Kyodo News that he would like to congratulate her in person soon. "I hope she remains healthy and has fun everyday as she grows older," he said.

Happy birthday, Kane Tanaka! Here's to another wild and wonderful trip around the sun.