Preston Phro

Preston Phro (or simply Phro as most know him) is a Coloradoan attempting to fit in in Tokyo. (Surely, he would succeed if not for his unruly hair.) He puts his master's in classical Japanese literature to good use by writing silly stories and articles for the Internet. Having lived in Nara, Osaka, and Yamaguchi before moving to the Kanto area, he's quite happy to finally have a place to call home! When not writing, he enjoys annoying his wife by plucking at his shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese instrument not entirely unlike a banjo) and pestering her with questions about Japanese history. He also occasionally attempts to remember all the stuff he's forgotten since university.

All Stories by Preston Phro

Further details about Shinkansen fire incident emerge

New information has emerged about the tragic incident that occurred on the Tokaido Shinkansen line earlier this week. In what appears to be a case of suicide via self-immolation, two have died — the elderly man who lit himself on fire and a middle-aged woman who was accidentally caught up in the incident.

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We visited Fukui Station to see the dinosaurs! No Chris Pratt, but the Dino Doctor was in!

We’ve talked about Fukui Station, located in Fukui Prefecture, and its Jurassic Park of animatronic dinosaurs before, but today we have a ton more photos and a video of them in motion as the station draws closer to completion. Check out our photos of the rampaging dinosaurs at Fukui Station and call Chris Pratt, because we might need backup!

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Talking with Chuck Johnson, Japan’s first full-time foreign stuntman, about working your butt off

When it comes to working in Japan as a foreign resident, it can often feel as if there aren’t many options — but that’s not necessarily the case. And for Chuck Johnson, the very opposite is true! After well over a decade in the country, Chuck has done everything from teaching English, to acting, to directing, to working as a bodyguard. He’s also an accomplished martial artist and stuntman — in fact, Chuck is the first non-Japanese person in the country to make a career out of doing stunt work. It’s a niche so small, he basically had to create an industry for himself!

After years of hard work and barely scraping by, Chuck has now made quite a name for himself, and this summer will see the release of a short action film in collaboration with big names such as Toei Studio, Adidas, and YouTube.

We recently stopped by the “fight action class” he teaches for aspiring and working stuntmen and discussed his experiences in Japan. If you want to get paid to kick people on film in Japan, Chuck is the man you want to talk to.

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Two die after man sets himself alight on bullet train in Kanagawa Prefecture

Japan Railways’ high-speed Shinkansen bullet trains have, since their inception, been famous for their timely arrivals and paramount safety. But that record was marred today by a self-immolation suicide that claimed the lives of two people on board a train travelling between Tokyo and Osaka.

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Japan is full of ghosts: Visiting the grave of Taira no Masakado’s head

Summer in Japan means heat and humidity — enough such that people will try to cool down by any means necessary, including enjoying a few hair-raising ghost stories. From haunted houses to horror films, there are plenty of ways to get goosebumps in Japan, but today we’ll be taking you to the location of one of Tokyo’s most famous angry spirit!

Though it’s not exactly a shinrei spot (a place where ghosts have allegedly appeared), Taira no Masakada Kubizuka is one of the most famous “ghost” spots in Japan. It’s where Taira no Masakada’s head was enshrined in order to quell his spirit…because people believed it was wrecking havoc on the capital!

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We tried the expensive but delicious curry at Ishikawa’s Go! Go! Curry! But is it worth the trip?

Curry in Japan is not usually a fancy affair. It’s mostly found in places that are closer to a fast food level than a top-tier restaurant in Ginza — and that’s fine! Who can argue with inexpensive but delicious?

But not every curry restaurant is merely “cheap ‘n’ tasty.” Take, for example, Ishikawa Prefecture’s Go! Go! Curry, where you can get both regular curry and high-class 5,500-yen-a-plate curry! But is this US$45-curry worth the trip from Tokyo? We sent our Japanese writer Meg to find out!

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Use this new Japanese pad to keep your cat in one spot with the power of magic circles!

Last year, the Internet went gaga over the discovery that, for reasons that remain a mystery to nearly everyone, (some) cats, when presented with a circle on the floor, will enter said circle and just sit there. In what is probably the most effective way to make the notoriously free-spirited animals “stay,” these cat circles, which are called “neko hoihoi” in Japan, appeared in numerous videos, photos, and tweets online. From tape to hula hoops to dirty clothes, the cat-catching circles can, seemingly, be made of anything!

But now you no longer need to actually make a cat circle — instead you can buy an adorable little tatami reed flooring mat from a Kyoto company. Give your room a little class and trap your cat all at the same time! It’s probably easier than trying to use a computer when your adorable kitty wants attention.

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93-year-old Chiba man on trial for killing wife at her request

A somber case is currently making its way through the Japanese legal system as a 93-year-old man goes on trial for killing his wife, apparently at her request. This heartbreaking case has made headlines in Japan and evoked a gut-wrenching testimony from their eldest daughter.

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Flat tires, crumpled hoods, dented doors: These new miniature car figures come broken on purpose!

We have seen plenty of weird miniature figures over the years, and while some of them have left us scratching our heads, none of them have been quite as unusual as this, the “Haisha Collection” (“Scrap Car Collection”). Beaten, battered, dented, and crumpled, these miniature cars probably won’t be high on anyone’s souvenir list…but then again, we might be wrong!

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Video shows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe heckled by angry Okinawans at ceremony

June 23 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, a bloody, 82-day battle which left thousands of people dead. In commemoration of this gruesome chapter of Japanese history, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared in Okinawa at the Cornerstone of Peace, a memorial to those who died in the battle, to deliver a speech.

However, it turned out that not everyone was happy to see the leader, who faced heckling by some attendees.

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Nearly 40 percent of young, unmarried Japanese people say they don’t want a relationship

The rumors of Japan’s shrinking and aging population have not been exaggerated at all, it seems. Struggling to develop countermeasures, the Japanese cabinet commissioned a survey of men and women in their 20s and 30s, asking them various questions about marriage.

Unfortunately, it looks like the results of the survey probably weren’t what the government was hoping to find…

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First criminal “revenge porn” case involving messaging app Line emerges in Japan

Even as discourse over how best to eliminate revenge porn grows overseas, the first criminal case involving the messaging app Line has emerged in Japan. Police have arrested two men for sharing topless images of a woman in her 20s without her permission in April.

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Lotte answers all the ice cream questions you always wanted to know but never knew who to ask

Summer is here! Finally, we can eat gallons of ice cream without looking like weirdos again! We might be sweating and smellier than a gym sock in Tokyo, but at least we have ice cream and that makes it all worth it.

But how much do you really know about your ice cream? We recently discovered that Lotte, a producer of numerous delicious treats in Japan, has a FAQ purporting to answer all your burning (melting?) ice cream questions. See if yours is on the list below!

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Our Japanese reporter asks for some authentic American food…but does he enjoy the experience?

The writers at our Japanese-language sister site are sometimes like kids after eating way too much candy: Adventurous and ambitious but rarely without any clear plans. And that’s why we love them! There’s nothing quite as fun as seeing something familiar through the eyes of someone whose never experienced it before.

As such, our globetrotting Go has proven to be an excellent guinea pig for testing classic Americana: He’s failed to impress at Area 51 and discovered that Denny’s in the US isn’t quite what it is in Japan. On the quest for “real American meat,” he decided to find a proper restaurant so he could ask for the chef’s choice. But would he enjoy what he found? Or would Nevada ultimately destroy our brave writer’s faith in American cuisine?

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Wagakki Band announces second album, due to be released this September

We have great news for all our Wagakki Band fans: The group has officially announced their second album! To be released this September, the record will be titled Yasouemaki and will feature 14 tracks, including some new original songs by the band. Hardcore fans will want to be sure to get a first printing too, as it will included an extra limited-edition song. Read on for more information!

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Star Wars mania in full swing in Japan with rice field art and stormtroopers

With a new Star Wars film coming out this year, you can imagine people around the world are excited. And Japan is no exception! With all the advertising and events happening, it can be hard to keep up with everything, but the next big Star Wars event in Japan has a distinctly cultural feel to it: Rice field art!

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This little tyke taking on a sumo wrestler is the cutest thing you’ll see today 【Video】

Sumo wrestlers. They’re big, strong, and pretty intimidating. Even though they might be quick to smile and friendlier than your average bear, we definitely would not want to step in the ring with them.

But this little kid doesn’t know the meaning of intimidation! Which is fair, because he’s only four, but it turns out he’s also fearless, and takes on this mountain of a sumo wrestler with the enthusiasm of a hungry wolverine!

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Korean anime fans express surprise at learning childhood favorites were actually made in Japan

These days people from the west tend to think of Japan when then they think of animation from Asia, and there’s no doubt that Japan produces a large percentage of the animation that comes out of the region today. But several decades ago, especially before the Internet put every bit of information at our fingertips, it was easy to get the wrong idea about where a particular show might have come from, with viewers being surprised to learn that what they thought were home-made productions actually came from foreign lands.

And, in this case, it’s particularly easy to understand why these Korean Internet users might have been confused — the anime in question include titles like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer! Read on to see what other animated classics caused confusion.

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Get ready for more Steampunk adventure: Steam Garden releases video and details for next event

Earlier this year, we gave you a photo tour of Steam Garden 8, showing off the incredible fashion and craftwork on display. Needless to say, we had a great time and were blown away by the detail that went into everyone’s outfits. Sadly, we weren’t able to get any video for you, but today’s you lucky day, because a video showing off some of the participants in full, fantastic attire has just been released!

We also have some information about the next Steam Garden event, scheduled for August. If you’re bummed you missed the last one, here’s you chance to slip into (or bolt on) your best steampunk gear and go adventuring!

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Adorable little monsters steal child’s seat, helpless father simply posts photos to Twitter

When monsters strike, we like to think we’d all suit up and do battle with their adorable furry faces, but we reckon it’s probably safe to say that quite a few of us would be worthless in a fight, especially against a vicious onslaught of cute like what this father faced. Seeing the seat he’d bought his child overrun by these kawaii demons, he did what any sane person would do: Snapped photos and tweeted them for the whole Internet to see!

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