Angelina Lucienne

Angelina has been in love with words since before she could read them, leading her to spend significant amounts of time studying languages (and learning about other cultures). The JET Programme took her to Fukushima Prefecture for two years, where she enjoyed watching rice grow and riding around town on a mamachari. She went home to find herself but came up empty-handed, so she ran off to have adventures in Chungbuk Province in Korea for one year with EPIK and back to Saitama Prefecture for two years to teach English to salarymen and housewives. She has learned as much Japanese from video games, movies and anime as from textbooks. Her hobbies are usually creative or involve reading and she can often be heard laughing loudly at her own jokes.

All Stories by Angelina Lucienne

Tonight vs Hotel Tonight – Did GREE just rip off one of America’s most popular hotel apps?

Smartphones and tablets improve almost faster than consumers can keep up with, and the apps designed for them change even more quickly. That means that there is a lot of opportunity for plagiarism. But surely sometimes it’s just a coincidence, right? It’s not out of the question that two developers could realistically be trying to fulfill the same need.

This week has brought us one more heated internet debate: Is hotel application Tonight by Japan’s GREE a rip-off of North American app Hotel Tonight, or are their similarities just coincidence?

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10 car names Japanese bloggers think are funny to foreigners (and 8 that actually are!)

As a teenager,  I spent hours playing racing games on our PlayStation, trying to elicit compliments from the miniskirted race queen in Rage Racer or trying to smash all my brother’s records in Gran Turismo. One thing that bugged me in these games was the goofy car names: Rage Racer’s fictional Lizard Hijack truck is as clumsily-named as it is boxy (maybe the bed was full of kidnapped chameleons?) Gran Turismo features real-life Subaru Impreza WRX TypeR STi, which is always annoying to read. I guess they want to say it’ll ‘imprez ya,’ but if it’s got an STI, you might need some antibiotics afterwards.

It turns out I’m not the only one who finds Japanese car names strange and amusing. The search term “funny Japanese car names” is so common that Japanese bloggers are writing about the names that the English-speaking world is talking about. The funniest part is often that the bloggers don’t quite understand why they’re funny, over-explaining a joke that wasn’t there.

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Toyota shares its creative thinking to help charities become significantly more efficient

Over a year and a half after Hurricane Sandy ravaged New England, some people are still without permanent housing. The poorest populations in New York have been impacted the most, dependent on aid long after the rest of the city moved on. Several major companies got together to assist in the effort for aid, but Toyota had a novel contribution: efficiency.

Toyota sent experts to New York for eight weeks to help Food Bank of New York’s partner organization, Metro World Child, improve their methods, thereby helping to get food donations to as many people as possible using as few labor hours as possible. The improvements meant that the same resources were used to provide food to more families faster.

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Chinese citizens line up to catch a glimpse of this meat pie vendor

A meat pie vendor in China has been a recent topic of discussion on the internet, but it’s not for his snacks. He is becoming popular largely because of his resemblance to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Locals are lining up to buy his snacks and to have the chance to see him in person. (No word on whether they are big fans of the president or just enjoy watching a politician do actual work.)

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These awesome university dining hall breakfasts only cost 100 yen

When was the last time you spent 100 yen (US$.98) on breakfast and felt satisfied? Sure, your dollar menu Sausage McMuffin tasted good, but after hitting your stomach like a greasy, calorie-laden brick, did it really keep you going until lunch? I thought not. Prepare to be jealous (and perhaps say “OC desu!“) of the following parade of filling breakfasts purchased at Japanese university dining halls, each for an unbelievable 100 yen.

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Stunning murals bloom in an impoverished Indian school with the help of Japanese artists

Each year, volunteer artists from Japan travel to one of the poorest regions of India to share their talents with schoolchildren at the Niranjaya Public Welfare School. They join local artists at the annual Wall Art Festival to collaborate with the students on amazing works of temporary art in their school.

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Chaozu-kun joins the ranks of unsettling Japanese mascots

Move over Marimokkori, there’s a new creepy mascot in town! The Japan Gyoza Association (because apparently that’s a thing) has just introduced a new character that’s making people vaguely queasy: Chaozu-kun. While he may not be rocking Marimokkori’s round green chubby, he does make us uneasily aware of his sexuality.

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Four-year-old goes to town on Daddy’s passport while abroad (or does he?)

When traveling abroad, no matter where you’re going it’s a good idea to take a few extra precautions. You never know when your destination will present the danger of finding yourself in the middle of a gang fight, falling out of the restaurant or, well, being in North Korea.

There’s one more source of danger you may not have considered: your beloved toddler. A 42-year-old resident of Shenyang, China was enjoying a visit to South Korea recently when his four-year-old son struck, making further travel all the more difficult.

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The demise of traditional Japanese tatami flooring?

If you imagine a Japanese room, chances are you think of something like the picture above: a simply furnished room with sliding shōji doors, a tokonoma with a hanging scroll, and a tatami mat floor. These are examples of the virtues of traditional Japan that many foreigners often hear extolled (along with futon, sushi and judo). When they occupy such an important part of Japanese identity, you wouldn’t think they would be in danger of disappearing anytime soon.

However, the demand for tatami mats has gone down by one third in the last 20 years and many artisans are worried the trade will soon be lost, as more and more of them find themselves rapidly aging with no successors to continue the business. Why is it that tatami floors are becoming rare now, after enduring for so long?

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This table tennis player shows that “nothing is impossible” 【Video】

Have you ever given up on something you wish you’d persisted with? We’ve all quit something at one point or another in our lives and there are many reasons for giving up. It sounds great to be able to play an instrument effortlessly, master a sport or become fluent in multiple languages, but once the reality of just how much work goes into a skill sinks in, it can often feel impossible.

Meet Ibrahim Hamada of Egypt, a table tennis enthusiast who says, “Nothing is impossible as long as you work hard.” That may sound like the kind of thing that can only be said by the exceptionally naive, but that is not the case here. He was involved in a train accident when he was 10 years old, and he lost most of his arms as a result. At 13, he was determined to find a way to play again.

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Toy maker offers new toy storage and safekeeping service so you can buy more toys

Bandai is giving otaku (especially of the fourth category) all over Japan yet another reason to be grateful. The mother of all toy, video game and anime distributors is introducing their new figure storage service. That’s right, if your living space looks like an anime convention storage locker, Bandai’s got your back.

For a small monthly fee, you can now store your goodies by the box, which means you no longer have to sleep with your beloved figures in your bed—that is, unless, you choose to.

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If you thought Japanese lunches couldn’t get any cuter, you were wrong

If you’re at all familiar with bento, you’ll probably know that a lot of people will go all out to create adorable (or just plain amazing) meals for their children— or inner otaku, for that matter. I’ve heard that there is fierce competition to make the cutest lunches (especially for special events like Sports Day) so it’s no wonder that techniques and trends are continually changing, and it seems that the latest fad in lunches is the humble dinner roll.

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The Pope might just be a Final Fantasy character

After pictures of the Pope at the weekly General Audience were circulated online, internet users everywhere have noticed something peculiar: it looks eerily like the entrance of the last boss in a Final Fantasy game. If you don’t believe me, read on!

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Sharp’s Ocha-presso brings traditional Japanese flavor to your kitchen

Coffee and espresso drinks are quite common in Japan, but green tea will always have a special place in Japanese hearts, as evidenced by the availability of green tea flavored doughnuts, ice bars, beer and even curry. Now, Sharp has announced a new machine for home use that makes perfect matcha (green tea made from powdered tea leaves). They are calling it the Healsio Ocha-presso (or Healthy-o Tea-presso, if you prefer).

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China’s controversial castle: Hogwarts knockoff or artistic expression?

Hebei Province is home to China’s newest castle, and it’s been the subject of debate online. It’s set to house a new university—and it looks very familiar! Harry Potter fans may see a resemblance to Hogwarts Castle; some are even saying that it’s a ripoff of the fictional castle’s design.

This castle-like campus will be home to the Hebei Art Academy once completed. That’s not too surprising—there are a lot of young romantics who would jump at the opportunity to study beauty surrounded by such novel architecture.

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Helicopter dog would prefer his boy wore water wings

Pets are pretty great: they are cute, funny and occasionally do crazy things. It doesn’t hurt that they just love us so much (probably more than we deserve, most of the time). You’ve probably heard of helicopter parents, but what about helicopter pets? If you don’t believe me, check out this video. This dog is so sweetly over-protective that it’s bound to inject some happy into your day.

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Survey reveals that secretaries in Japan say ‘no’ to these types of husband

Rakuten Research has released the results of an online poll about the kinds of men women in Japan do not want to marry, and as a result the heads of lonely trolls are exploding all over Japan.

Collating results from 100 female secretaries between the ages of 30 and 49, the survey had three possible answers for each prompt: “I’d be OK with marrying him,” “I’d be hesitant to marry him,” and “I absolutely would not marry him.” Only the 10 list of undesirable traits in potential husbands were published, and only three qualify as being so bad that the respondents said there’s no way they’d marry them.

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This year’s most popular bikini design sure is… different

In Japan, fashion trends seem to come and go almost before you notice them. With summer rapidly approaching, many people are already planning their summer swimwear. One of this year’s most popular bikinis is a bit of a departure from last year’s styles, and it might just make you do a double-take.

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Hello Kitty is now officially over the hill, but still adorable

Hello Kitty is turning 40, but her birthday is definitely not going by unnoticed. Fans in the Tokyo area are in for a treat with the Shibuya de Hello Kitty (“Hello Kitty in Shibuya”) event. In a collaboration with Shibuya department stores such as 109, Tokyu Hands and Hikarie, Hello Kitty fans will have a multitude of ways to help Hello Kitty ring in her 40th year. It’s enough to make Avril Lavigne explode.

From whoopie pies to champagne to photo events to wrestling gear, everyone’s favorite mouthless cat is making her presence known in one of Tokyo’s most popular neighborhoods. The event runs from April 24 to May 6 (depending on participant), so many people will be able to use the Golden Week holidays to check it out.

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6 challenges to international relationships (and how to make them work)

Dating someone outside of your culture can be amazing for many reasons: you get to connect with someone across cultural lines, broaden your ideas about the world by learning about another’s experiences and ways of thinking, and also to share a life that spans countries and cultures.

However, it’s not without its problems. It can be hard to bridge cultural gaps and fit your lives together perfectly. While they are by no means exclusive to international couples, the following six points are common challenges in international relationships.

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