Japan realistic facemasks

PICTURE: Shuhei Okawara, 30, owner of mask shop Kamenya Omote, holds a super-realistic face mask based on his real face, made by using 3D printing technology, in Tokyo, Japan, on 16th December. PICTURE: Reuters/Issei Kato

This year has been all about facemasks and now a Japanese mask shop owner has produced a range of masks which, while they won't protect you from COVID-19, will give you someone else's face. Shuhei Okawara's masks will lend you the exact appearance of an unidentified Japanese adult whose features have been printed onto them. "Mask shops in Venice probably do not buy or sell faces. But that is something that's likely to happen in fantasy stories," Okawara told Reuters. "I thought it would be fun to actually do that." The masks will go on sale early next year for 98,000 yen ($US950) apiece at his Tokyo shop, Kamenya Omote, whose products are popular as accessories for parties and theatrical performance. Okawara says he chose his model, whom he paid 40,000 yen, from more than 100 applicants who sent him their photos when he launched the project in October. An artisan then reworked the winning image, created on a 3D printer. He plans to gradually add new faces, including some from overseas, to the lineup.

It sounds like something out of a National Treasure movie. The discovery of note with the words "Tom Ford" and "6 on Shea" inside a whiskey bottle that was hidden in the wall of a home in the Black Bay area of Boston has sparked all sorts of speculation as to what it may mean. The Boston Archaeology Program put out a call for help in deciphering its meaning on Facebook last week and the answers have come flooding in, including that the note was to do with a bet placed on someone named Shea - perhaps a boxer? - placed by a Tom Ford. But that doesn't really explain why it was in a wall. Stay tuned.

An orchid discovered in the forests of Madagascar has been dubbed the world's "ugliest" by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London. Gastrodia agnicellus was one of 156 plants and fungal species newly named by the organisation and its partners this year. "Most people think of orchids as showy, vibrant and beautiful, but Gastrodia agnicellus, newly named this year from a forest in Madagascar, is quite the opposite," said Kew in a list of "10 highlights" from the list of newly named species. "The 11mm flowers of this orchid are small, brown and rather ugly." Others on the list included a new toadstool found at London's Heathrow Airport and a new relative of the blueberry found near the world's largest gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

- With AKIRA TOMOSHIGE, Reuters