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

In Luffy we trust – Man arrested for selling dollar bills with unlicensed One Piece stickers

Every couple of months, a situation will crop up where the legal rights holder to an anime comes in and quashes some sort of unauthorized derivative work. Fans don’t always let the letter of the law stand in the way of how they express their passion for their favorite shows, though, and defenders often assert that no harm is actually being done, so long as the rights holder wasn’t already producing the same product. There’s no need to shut down an unlicensed T-shirt operation, the argument goes, if the company isn’t actively producing shirts itself.

Maybe that was going through the head of one Nagoya resident when he noticed a glaring oversight in the marketing machine behind hit anime One Piece, and decided to start selling one-dollar bills with copied stickers of the series’ band of pirates.

Read More

Presidential Pokémon have our vote as today’s coolest fan art

Japanese animation and video games have a long-standing tradition of creating cute and/or super powered versions of prominent figures from the country’s history. In the U.S., we don’t really do this as often, and you might jump to the conclusion that the deck is stacked in Japan’s favor, seeing as how so many of their rulers were also katana-carrying samurai.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll find plenty of action protagonist potential among American presidents, from Abraham Lincoln’s wrestling skills to Andrew Jackson’s well-documented love of shooting dudes. And as for making them adorable? Leave that to Utah artist Brandon Dayton, who’s reimagined nine Pokémon as U.S. heads of state.

Read More

Amazon goes nuts with the packaging as they ship us nine cardboard boxes…packed in six more?!

A while back, we took a look at an odd online retailing episode when a Japanese customer ordered a single persimmon from Amazon Japan. Sure, it was weird enough to find out that Amazon sells produce, not to mention that you can purchase it in individual pieces. What really got our attention, though, was the comically oversized box it shipped in.

But just when we thought the company’s packaging couldn’t get any crazier, we received our most recent order from Amazon. What’d we order? Cardboard boxes. How’d they ship it? Inside six more cardboard boxes!

Read More

One bag of wasabi potato chips, hold the wasabi

It’s hard to think of a more Japanese condiment than wasabi, but even among diners born and raised in Japan, you can find people who order their sushi wasabi nuki, or without wasabi. We can see why, since not everyone who loves the flavor of raw fish also enjoys the sensation of simultaneously having their sinuses cleared and their tongue set on fire.

What’s a little harder to understand, though, is why the makers of wasabi-beef flavored potato chips have decided to offer a wasabi-free version of their salty snacks.

Read More

New Studio Ghibli sunglasses will make anime fans look like fat pigs

Totoro may be Studio Ghibli’s most iconic roly-poly creation, but he’s not the only corpulent character from Hayao Miyazaki’s animation house. 1992’s Porco Rosso stars Porco, a heavyset seaplane aviator in 1920s Italy who happens to have the head (and build) of a pig.

But while Porco may not have typical leading man looks, he exudes a dashing, gallant aura, which extends to his cool old-school cool shades. If you’d like to copy his style without duplicating his physique, you’re in luck, as you can now buy official Porco Rosso sunglasses.

Read More

Pink strawberry milk Pepsi set to return to stores in Japan this winter

We’ve talked before about all the cool Kit Kats Japan gets, but the chocolate-covered wafers aren’t the only sweet indulgence with exclusive-to-Japan versions. Once a year or so, Pepsi releases a special flavor for the Japanese market, too.

This winter the soft drink maker is bringing back a popular hit from a few years ago, with the return of strawberry milk Pepsi.

Read More

11 predictions Japanese people made hundreds of years ago about the future

For a large chunk of Japan’s history, there wasn’t much time to think about the future. Instead, most people’s days were filled with more immediate concerns, like trying to figure out how to survive the civil wars that were all the rage in the country during most of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

Things finally settled down in the early 1600s, though, and ordinary Japanese citizens entered into a long period of internal stability. Finally having enough time to muse about things to come, they came up with a list of predictions about Japan’s future, some of which are nowhere near how reality has turned out, and some of which were spot on.

Read More

Oh, crepe! We discover a pastry vending machine at the airport

You might think there’s no reason to fly to Fukuoka. After all, the Shinkansen line now stretches all the way to the biggest city on the island of Kyushu, and those spiffy new first-class long-haul bus seats are about ready to make their debut. Why bother taking to the skies when you’ve got two perfectly good terrestrial travel options?

Simple: so you can get a crepe from a vending machine at Fukuoka Airport.

Read More

Tokyo’s Shibuya holds its first Halloween costume contest aboard a train, we ride along

Back before Halloween became as popular in Japan as it is today, Tokyo expats looking to celebrate the holiday would stage impromptu costume parties on the last car of the JR Yamanote loop line. At the time, though, most Japanese people weren’t familiar with Halloween, and this tended to freak the indigenous locals out, leading Japan Railways to eventually crack down on the festivities.

Things have changed a lot in the last 15 years, though. Tokyo is starting to seriously get into the Halloween spirit, so much so that another rail company, Tokyu, actually held a Halloween costume contest onboard one of its trains, and we went to check it out.

Read More

Recall of Disney mugs in Japan was bound to happen with Frozen’s Elsa around

Disney has a pretty long-standing endorsement deal with Kirin Beverage in Japan, in which the studio’s animated characters appear on bottles of Gogo no Koucha tea. Right now, the two companies are taking their partnership one step further, by offering a special Disney mug to anyone who buys four bottles from Kirin’s popular tea line.

Unfortunately, Kirin has had to issue a recall of the cups, which have been found prone to cracking. We’re sure it’s an unpleasant surprise for the beverage company, but Disney fans are pointing out that Kirin should have seen this coming for one simple reason: the decision to put Frozen’s Elsa on one of the mugs.

Read More

Celebrate Halloween with our recipe for jack-o’-lantern nikuman steamed buns【RocketKitchen】

Growing up, every year as Halloween approached, I could feel a sense of dread creeping up on me. It wasn’t the prospect of being hunted by werewolves or getting lost in a haunted house that frightened me, though.

I was terrified that someone would give me raisins when I went trick-or-treating.

Honestly, I understand that some people don’t approve of eating nothing but candy on Halloween, and there’s a valid point in trying to balance out your diet on All Hallows’ Eve. Do you have to do it with something as soulless as raisins, though, especially when you could use our recipe to whip up some tasty and jack-‘o-lantern steamed buns instead?

Read More

Ghibli distributing free discs of arrested singer’s music video cut from Hayao Miyazaki box set

If the whole point of buying an anime box set is to have everything you want in one neat package, there must have been a lot of upset fans last summer when Studio Ghibli released the Directorial Works of Hayao Miyazaki. Sure it contained every theatrical feature the anime legend helmed while working for the industry’s most respected production house, but it was missing the Miyazaki-directed music video On Your Mark, which was pulled following the arrest of musician Aska, one of the song’s vocalists.

Three months after the box set went on sale, though, there’s good news for completionists, as Studio Ghibli itself has decided to distribute copies of the video, free of charge, to anyone who purchased the collection.

Read More

Why Japanese doesn’t need swear words

The other day, my wife and I spent the day hanging out at the beautiful and awesome Hitachi Seaside Park. As we headed towards the exit at dusk, I pointed to a grove of trees with the sun setting behind them and got to bust out one of my favorite five-dollar Japanese vocabulary words: komorebi.

In retrospect, two things come to mind. First, shouldn’t a five-dollar Japanese word really be a 500-yen word? And second, why is it that the Japanese language has vocabulary as specific as komorebi, meaning “sunlight filtering though trees,” yet doesn’t have a good equivalent for *#&!, %?$!, or even &*!$?

Heads up! The following discussion of profanity contains language that might best be read when you’re not at work or school.

Read More

Adorable clothespin cats give you a reason to look forward to laundry day

As nice as it is to have clean clothes, few of us especially enjoy the process of doing laundry. But in Japan, where everyone hangs their clothes outside to dry, a couple of rainy days can mean a huge pile of laundry to get through, and it’s not unusual for people to spend a large chunk of their day off doing the washing.

So if you’re stuck at home doing housework, you may as well have some cute company, in the form of these cat-shaped clothes-pins.

Read More

Chinese woman in no mood to have SUV towed shows she has towing capacity too 【Video】

Given my pick of cars, I’ll always chose the one with rear-wheel drive. All else equal, it tends to give more maneuverability than front-wheel drive, and weigh less than an all-wheel setup.

Still, there are times when it’s good to be able to put power down through your front tires, as shown by this video of a Chinese woman’s daring rescue of her about-to-be-towed car.

Read More

Frozen’s Olaf spotted out and about on the Tokyo subway

Because of its time zone, holidays come to Japan several hours sooner than the rest of the world. Last weekend, Halloween came especially early, though, with parades of costumers being held in both Kawasaki and Tokyo’s Roppongi.

But even as Halloween continues to become more and more popular in Japan, one thing that hasn’t changed is the way most people get around by public transportation. Just about everyone takes the subway, whether you’re a student, businessperson, or living snowman from Disney’s Frozen.

Read More

Shocking, snowy commercial is the saddest ad we’ve seen this fall

Last year, we found terror in an unlikely place: a tire commercial. Wheel and tire retailer Autoway, in an effort to remind us all about changing to winter tires before driving down snowy roads, reminded us all that “Winter roads are scary,” especially when they’re haunted.

Now, Autoway is back with a new ad, and while it doesn’t deliver the fright of last year’s video, it’s no less shocking.

Read More

Play Mario Kart on your living room floor (using robots!) with this awesome motion camera system

It’s unlikely Nintendo knew what a hit they had on their hands when releasing the very first Mario Kart title back in 1992. Since then, the series has gone on to be one of the company’s most consistently popular and best-selling properties.

In the 22 years the series has been around, fans have played it on the Super NES, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, DS, 3DS, Wii, and Wii U. And now, Mario Kart is serving as inspiration for a couple of inventors who’re making a similar game that you can play with robots on your living room floor, complete with weapons and power-ups.

Read More

Check the weather forecast with a cool gadget that recreates the conditions in your living room

Growing up, I never really bothered with checking the weather report, since living in southern California meant it was sunny almost every day. It’s a different story in Japan, which sees rain in each season. Add in how much walking people do here, plus the fact that everyone hangs their clothes outside, and knowing how the weather’s going to be tomorrow becomes a little more important.

You could get the forecast from the TV news or the Internet, but if you’re looking for a more stylish alternative, a group of inventors have developed a box that’ll recreate the weather of the future, as well as the past and present, right in your living room.

Read More

Liquid wasabi from Shizuoka is our new favorite form of awesome sauce

Shizuoka is generally known for two things, and they’re both green. The prefecture is one of Japan’s biggest producers of not only tea, but also the fiery condiment paste wasabi.

While bottles of tea aren’t anything unusual, we’d never seen wasabi in liquid for until a recent visit to Shizuoka. Since spicy is one of our favorite flavors (we’d put it right up there with sweet and salty), we grabbed a bottle of wasabi sauce to try for ourselves. We were not disappointed.

Read More

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. ...
  9. 60
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,355 other followers