Casey Baseel

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Casey Baseel spent his formative years staring in frustration at un-subtitled Japanese TV programming shown on Southern California’s international channel. Taking matters into his own hands, he moved to Tokyo to study the language, then found work in Yokohama a decade ago teaching, translating, and marketing hotels he can’t afford to stay in. When not participating in the eternal cycle of exercising to burn the calories form his love of Japanese food, Casey scours used comic and game shops for forgotten classics, drags his wife around the country in a quest to visit all its castles, sings karaoke not nearly as well as he thinks he does, and counts the days until the summertime bars open on Enoshima Beach.

All Stories by Casey Baseel

Anime Bust and Men’s Chest give cosplayers anime-class torsos, nipples and all

Earlier this year, we took a look at a piece of strap-on cosplay gear that could instantly give its wearer the sizeable bust of an anime character. However, if you’re going after complete accuracy in your fake breasts, you might have been disappointed to notice that they lacked nipples.

But it turns out there’s an alternative, available from online retailer Anime Body Parts, with anatomically correct nipples. Not only that, the equal-opportunity cosplay supplier has a male version too, complete with six-pack abs.

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Seijiro Nakamura as Chris Redfield? Resident Evil stage play’s cast is entirely Japanese

I’m never really sure what I should call the zombie action series that began as a hit PlayStation game in 1996. Resident Evil, its internationally used name, is a lot more colorful than Biohazard, its Japanese one, but only the first of the many games takes place primarily in a home. What’s more, the source of the trouble is science run amok, not dark magic, so the “evil” part seems a touch melodramatic.

On the other hand, there are now five films in the franchise, with a sixth on the way, all of which are produced in English and usually come to Japan only after already premiering overseas, so score one point for Resident Evil.

But in the case of its upcoming stage adaptation, set to open in two months, I really think Biohazard is the most appropriate name, because it looks like every single member of the cast is Japanese.

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Totoro, Levi, and beautiful flowers – All part of the edible world of okonomiyaki art 【Videos】

If you’ve never had the pleasure eating okonomiyaki, you’re missing out on one of Japan’s greatest culinary treats. Sometimes referred to as “Japanese pancakes” or “Japanese pizza,” Okonomiyaki is a circular crepe filled with cabbage and other vegetables along with meat, seafood, or whatever else you want to put in it.

The whole thing gets topped with a sweet, reddish brown sauce which not only tastes great, but can also serve as a great canvas on which to create awesome-looking and edible okonomiyaki art!

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American English teacher in Japan takes a moment to remind student that anime is not real

Spend enough time teaching a foreign language, and eventually you’ll find yourself in a situation where you have to stop and ask yourself whether your job, which ordinarily involves correcting how your students speak, also includes correcting what they’re saying. For example, I once had a teen pupil declare that “Being good looking is the only thing that’s important.” After a moment of consideration, I decided that trying to fix that shallow philosophy was above my pay grade, so I told her, “OK, nice grammar” and left it at that.

Still, when working with kids, it’s nice to impart a useful life lesson when the opportunity to do so relatively gently presents itself, as it did for one expat in Japan who reminded his young English-learning student of the difference between anime and real life.

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Japanese library offers itself and its manga collection as refuge for emotionally troubled youths

Though summer vacation is a lot shorter in Japan than it is in the U.S., most tudents here aren’t exactly itching to go back to school once it’s done. Even worse, since it falls in the middle of the Japanese school year, the end of summer break is also the start of the second, and more demanding, semester.

Needless to say, a lot of kids would rather blow off school and kick back with a good manga, which is exactly what one library in Japan is encouraging them to do. The reason, however, is far more important than just finding out what happens to their favorite fictional characters .

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Japan’s newest hot spring springs forth…from the center of Kobe!

In movies, there’s never anything good hidden in the earth under a structure. It’s all Native American burial grounds, Egyptian mummies, and other assorted other corpses of non-specific ethnicities.

In real life, though, there are all sorts of desirable things waiting beneath the surface, such as oil and gold. An excavation crew in Kobe was looking for something just as good as those two valuable commodities, though: a hot spring, and they found one right in the heart of the city.

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Nintendo’s Yarn Yoshi Amiibo is back, now bigger (and cuter) than ever!

Back in the spring, we got all weak in the knees when Nintendo decided to forgo hard plastic and instead craft an Amiibo figure of its loveable dinosaur Yoshi out of soft, cuddly wool. But while the yarn Yoshi can help you play through the game and look adorable perched on the palm of your hand, he’s a little too small for a proper cuddle.

So for those gamers who want to give Yoshi a proper squeeze, Nintendo is releasing a jumbo-sized version.

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Origami for books! Turn your old hardcovers into awesome 3-D art with OruFun

People are often loathe to part with their books, even after they’ve finished reading them. Thick, hardbound editions in particular have a sense of presence that entices literature lovers to hang on to them.

Sure, maybe you’re never going to go back and leaf through that heavy tome again, but doesn’t it look stately as it sits on the shelf? It might, but it would look a lot cooler if you used the pages to make one of these amazing folded paper pieces of art.

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The difference between a fat woman and a plump one, according to one Japanese Twitter artist

Like any language, Japanese has multiple words that have more or less the same meaning, but which help to put a finer point on exactly how the speaker feels. For example, pocchari and debu both refer to someone with a higher than average proportion of body fat, but pocchari doesn’t have quite the same harshness that debu does.

If we were looking for English equivalents, debu would be “fat,” while pocchari would be the softer-sounding “plump.” But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and one Japanese Twitter user recently posted a sketch diagraming, in his mind, the physical differences between a pocchari woman and a debu one.

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Hedgehog nail clipping – The cutest form of pet grooming 【Video】

If you’re clumsy, near-sighted, or just timid in general, trimming your nails can be a tension-filled task. Each time you press down on the clippers, a split-second of panic flashes through your mind, as you hope against hope that the pinching edges are going to land on the nail, and not the soft, vulnerable flesh around it.

Being covered with needles, you’d think hedgehogs would be completely comfortable around sharp objects, but it turns out that some of them also find getting their nails trimmed to be a scary couple of minutes, like Japanese pet hedgehog Ebisumaru. But while the ordeal might be harrowing for him, it’s unbearably cute for the rest of us watching this video.

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Thousands of adorable chicks cover Chinese road after delivery truck overturns 【Photos】

Imagine you’re driving down a country road, when you see an overturned truck up ahead. Thankfully, no one appears to have been hurt in the accident, but the damaged vehicle is blocking the lane, and since it’s spilled its cargo all over the road, you’re probably in for a frustrating wait before you can continue on to your destination.

Not the most pleasant scenario, is it? Unless, of course, that cargo happens to be thousands of adorable baby chicks.

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60-year-old Buddhist priest arrested for panty theft, would’ve got away if not for his high heels

It stands to reason that, upon reaching the age of 60 years, a man will find himself in possession of knowledge that he wants to share with younger generations. As a matter of fact, he may even feel compelled to do so, especially if his vocation is one that involves the dissemination of important lessons.

That might have been a factor in the decisions made by Shoden Yamazaki, former head priest of the Choshoji Buddhist temple in Akita Prefecture. And, truth be told, the lesson he claims he wanted to spread, “If you’re not careful, people might steal your lingerie,” is a valuable one.

However, being a good teacher is as much about how you deliver the message as it is the message itself. While it drives the point home, warning people about underwear security by dressing up in a skirt and high heels, then stealing their bras and panties, probably isn’t the best, or even really legal, methodology, which is why Yamazaki now finds himself on trial for lingerie theft.

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Canadian anime vocalist Himeka vents about frustrations working in the Japanese music industry

In 2008, anime fans around the world would have loved to trade places with Catherine St. Onge, better known by her stage name, Himeka. The then-27-year-old Canadian singer had just won a national anime song contest in Japan, besting over 3,000 rivals to secure a recording contract and guaranteed theme song performance for an upcoming anime series.

Unfortunately, fame is a fickle thing. Unable to secure commercial success or a new work visa, Himeka had to return to Canada in 2014, even as she wistfully stated she wanted to remain in Japan forever. A year later, though, she’s singing a very different tune, tweeting that she “probably shouldn’t have come to Japan” in the first place and regrets her time in the country.

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Young and pretty “programming cheerleaders” aim to boost male programmers’ productivity in China

The college I went to was really big on group assignments, under the logic that being able to function as part of a team is a critical skill for working professionals. On the few occasions where I found myself in a group made up entirely of male students, though, I couldn’t help but notice that hardly anybody would put in anything more than the minimum required effort at the very last possible second.

See, barring life-or-death responsibilities, guys tend to get sort of lazy without a female presence around, prioritizing personal comfort and instant gratification over more ambitious goals and projects (for an example, check out the levels of cleanliness and basic hygiene in an all-male dormitory). The opposite phenomena can occur too, though. Throw an attractive female or two into the group, and suddenly several dudes will have their alpha male instincts awakened as they try to show what energetic and capable dynamos they are, which is exactly the ploy some tech companies in China are betting on by employing young women as “programming cheerleaders.”

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Typhoon Goni slams Japan, seems to have a vendetta against its cars 【Photos】

It stands to reason that you shouldn’t be moving around outdoors during a typhoon. At best you’re going to get soaking wet, and potentially injury-causing flying debris are be a legitimate safety concern.

As if to serve as a reminder, the typhoon currently battering Japan decided to remind everyone to stay put by using its 255-kilometer per hour (158.8 miles per hour) winds to dramatically wreck some Okinawan drivers’ cars.

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Loincloths for ladies – Once you try fundoshi, you’ll never go back, say young Japanese fans

Walk into any lingerie store in Japan, and you’ll find an array of cute and sexy panties, G-strings, and thongs. Recently, though, there’s a more traditional undergarment option that’s winning over the hearts and hips of an increasing number of Japanese women: the loincloth, which has gotten a modern makeover that gives up nothing in the femininity department.

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When Totoro met Baymax, and other cool anime crossover T-shirts you can buy

If you’re a passionate fan of a particular of anime, movie, or video game, we’re guessing you’ve got at least one T-shirt in your wardrobe celebrating the franchise. But fandom isn’t a monotheistic religion, so if you don’t want your ability to wear your enthusiasm for the many series you love on your chest to be limited by your single torso, why not slip on one of these double-duty shirts that simultaneously broadcast your affection for Sailor Moon, Totoro, Baymax, and other heroes of animation?

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Cosplayers find a way to enjoy Japan’s love hotels while staying fully clothed: Photo sessions

Japan’s love hotels, as the name implies, are all about the loving. Not only do these short-stay accommodations provide a welcome oasis of privacy for couples that want to express their physical affection for one another, they often have elaborately decorated themed rooms to help them get in the mood.

But while most visitors to a love hotel aim to spend as little time as possible with their clothes on, one group has found a way to enjoy them while staying completely dressed: cosplay fans who’ve discovered one love hotel that makes a great photo shoot location.

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Round 2 of the ramen ice cream rumble – This time with real ramen! 【Taste test】

Last week, I stopped by the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama to try its just-released Cup Noodle Ice Cream, with its chives, shrimp, and all the other fixings of instant ramen. It was definitely an interesting experience, but I did have one complaint, which is that Cup Noodle Ice Cream doesn’t actually have any noodles in it. Technically, it should be called “Cup Noodle Topping Ice Cream.”

Thankfully, it turns out there actually is a place in Japan where you can get ice cream with ramen noodles mixed in. Since I suddenly found myself with the unlikely title of RocketNews24’s resident ramen ice cream expert, I figured it was time to go another round with this unorthodox class of dessert, and to crown a winner in this battle of the ramen ice creams.

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Uniqlo to offer four-day work week to working mothers

As we’ve looked at before, it’s hard being a working mom, juggling the important yet difficult goals of providing both the financial and emotional support children need. But while having to look for a new job because of incompatible work and family demands is never pleasant, it’s still a more viable option than finding new kids, as clothing retailer Uniqlo knows all too well.

The company has been having trouble retaining female employees with children, with many citing the need for more flexibility in their work schedule as their reason for leaving the company. In response, Uniqlo has announced that this autumn it will be offering full-time employees the option of a four-day work week.

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