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

Video of kids reacting to strangers dropping their wallets might restore your faith in humanity

For the most part, Japanese society stresses being considerate and courteous. 99 times out of 100, that makes Japan a great place to live, but in certain situations those virtues can be taken to such extremes they actually end up contrary to their original sentiments. For example, part of being courteous is not bothering others, but as I’ve talked about before, in rare instances that bit of well-meaning deference can get warped into not getting involved in other people’s affairs even when they’re clearly in a quandary.

But while adults sometime stumble while walking the tightrope between forcing unasked for assistance on someone and helping those in need, what about children? That’s the question posed in this video showing a group of kids reacting to a stranger dropping his or her wallet at the bus stop, and the outcome just might restore a bit of your faith in humanity.

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Throw out your clock! Website has race queen models telling you the time every minute of the day

It’s pretty easy to see the need for most jobs in the motorsports world. The drivers are there to drive the cars, obviously, and the members of the pit crews refill their gas tanks and change their tires during the race.

But what about the class of models Japan calls race queens? Ostensibly, one of their roles is to hold umbrellas over the drivers to keep them cool while waiting on the tarmac, but it’s not like the competitors behind the wheels are so dependent on their cars for mobility that they can’t just walk over to the shade and sit down there. No, the true function of race queens is to attract attention to the sponsors ‘ logos printed on what precious little fabric their costumes make use of, and considering that money is as crucial as gas in keeping a race car running, it’s an important job.

The models have just picked up another work responsibility, though: telling you the current time, with this website that displays a new race queen photo every minute of the day.

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These beautiful flower arrangements are actually desserts from Tokyo Station

Whether you call it Bavarian cream or Bavarois, the classic dessert generally isn’t much to look at. Since traditional Bavarian cream itself is just a beige lump (being cream, after all), many chefs choose to drizzle a brightly colored fruit sauce on top of it. And while that definitively adds some much needed visual pizzazz, if you’re after a dessert that’s as captivatingly beautiful as it is mouth-wateringly tempting, this Tokyo pastry shop’s Bavarian cream that includes edible flowers is basically a work of art that you can eat.

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What time is it? Time for a Cardcaptor Sakura watch, and an umbrella too, while you’re at it!

Anime magical girls lead busy lives, especially Cardcaptor Sakura’s Sakura Kinomoto. With 50-plus magical cards to track down, plus all of the study responsibilities of an ordinary elementary school student, the young heroine must have her days planned down to the minute.

Likewise, being too young for a driver’s license, Sakura is in for a lot of walking around outside in the elements on her quest to find the mystical Clow Cards. And if you find yourself in similar need of a way to keep track of the time while keeping the sun and rain off yourself, anime fashion brand Super Groupies has got you covered with a new Cardcaptor Sakura wristwatch and umbrella.

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Maiko beauty secrets: Skincare tips from Japan’s apprentice geisha

Just as with full-fledged geisha, it’s customary for maiko, as geisha apprentices are known, to wear a layer of white face powder, called oshiroi. But those who’ve seen one of Japan’s traditional entertainers close up often marvel at their smooth, healthy skin, remarking that they would be just as beautiful with all of those cosmetic coverings washed away.

But in much the same way that their polished speech and refined mannerisms are the result of years of training, maiko also have a careful routine they follow to keep their skin looking as delicate and pleasing to the eye as it does.

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Sailor Moon hair bands, scrunchies will keep your hair back while you wash off your MAKE UP!

Today, we’ve got news about a newly unveiled anime-themed “Bath Time Collection.” And while things can usually get pervy in a hurry when you combine the words “anime” and “bath,” we’re not talking about an inflatable waifu cushion to take in the tub or a waterproof anime boy toy poster to hang in your shower.

That’s because this is Sailor Moon we’re talking about, and Japan’s most successful magical girl is keeping things as classy as she always does with this new line of scrunchies, hair bands, and hair clips.

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Gotta deep-fry ‘em all! Pikachu cutlet on a stick being sold by Korean food stalls, online shop

There’s a balancing act involved in creating snack foods in the image of a beloved children’s character. Take too few cues from the original design, and your customers won’t be able to recognize the character, thereby missing out on all the fun. On the other hand, go too far in the opposite direction and you end up with something like these cutlets from Korea, which make it look like you’re literally eating the flesh of Pikachu.

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Women, gamers, and foreigners all show up to be samurai for a day at Sengoku battle reenactment

Some people in Japan have no more than a passing interest in the country’s long and fascinating history, which is at least partly the fault of how the subject is taught in schools. Many history classes place a heavy emphasis on memorization of the exact dates and years of important events, leaving less time for studying the people and motivations behind them.

There’s been a recent surge in history buffs, though, especially in regards to the Sengoku, or Warring States, period which lasted from the mid 15th century until the very start of the 17th century. But it’s not crusty old historians leading this charge, as a recent samurai battle reenactment had women making up some 40 percent of the volunteers, whose ranks were also bolstered by video gamers and foreign residents of Japan.

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Sweatshirt that gives your pet a special cuddle pouch is half cat, half kangaroo, all adorable

If you’re the doting owner of a dog or cat, odds are you think it feels pretty great when your animal companion saunters over for a snuggle. Still, there are times when you want to keep your hands free for other activities, like reading a book or surfing the Internet, and don’t want to have to worry about knocking your pet off your lap every time you shift in your seat or change your posture.

So even if your animal-loving heart only belongs to your kitty or pooch, consider taking a page from the kangaroo playbook with this hoodie that features an oversized pocket on the front perfect for letting your cat or dog cuddle up against you.

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Comedians let strangers slap them in the face in Tokyo, unsettling number of people say “Sure!”

Right next to Tokyo’s Shibiya Station, there’s a plaza that sits between the railway hub, the statue of faithful dog Hachiko that’s one of the city’s most popular meeting spots, and the Scramble Intersection that’s become famous as one of the busiest crosswalks in the world. While empty space in the plaza is scarce, it’s still a coveted spot for street performers, vendors, and politicians to stake out a spot, since there’s a steady flow of people passing by more or less around the clock.

Often, you’ll find people with those “free hugs” signs hanging out there, but really, when you stop and think about it, isn’t it kind of weird to embrace a complete stranger? Maybe that’s why a Tokyo-based comedy troupe decided to offer an alternative in this video where they’re not giving out hugs, but instead allowing anyone who feels like it to slap them in the face as hard as they can.

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All-new Dragon Ball Super isn’t just an anime – manga adaptation coming too!

If you’re reading this and were born after 1995, we strongly encourage you to make sure your diaper is firmly in place. What’s that? You say you outgrew diapers long ago? You might want to double-check anyway, because right now we’re not so sure we didn’t somehow slip back in time two decades or so.

After all, these days anime fans are being blessed with about as much new Dragon Ball content as they were during the previous peak of the martial arts franchise’s popularity in the mid ‘90s. This year has already seen the release of a new Dragon Ball Z movie, Resurrection ‘F’, which was followed by the announcement of a brand-new TV series, Dragon Ball Super.

Now, the franchise is going back to its roots by returning to the format where it all started: manga, with a new Dragon Ball serial starting in just a month!

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Starbucks comes to Tottori, local coffee chain’s poster compares it to Perry arriving in Japan

With Starbucks having won the loyalty of so many customers in so many countries, sometimes it seems like the Seattle-based coffee giant has a location in every corner of the world. There’s still at least one place that’s Starbucks-free, though, and that’s Tottori, the last prefecture in Japan without a branch of its own.

The situation is about to change, though, as Starbucks is set to open its first Tottori location this week. Local coffeehouse chain Sunaba Coffee, whose name is almost an exact copy of Starbucks’ Japanese nickname, is bracing for the impact of its new competitor by guaranteeing its product tastes just as good as Starbucks’, while making the humble request that customers get one out of every three coffee fixes at Sunaba.

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Anime idols going abroad as Love Live! movie announced for release in U.S., 12 other territories

Not so long ago, being a Japanese idol singer was purely a domestic gig, with even the biggest stars of the genre remaining more or less unknown outside their home country. But thanks to the spread of Japanese pop culture around the world over the last decade and a half, that’s not really the case anymore. These days, it’s not uncommon for J-pop idols, especially those with an anime connection to boost their foreign exposure, to make appearances overseas.

Now, in a case of animated art imitating life, the high school idols of Love Love!, Japan’s biggest current idol anime hit, will be heading abroad as the upcoming Love Live! theatrical feature has been announced for international release.

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Toyota Chocobos?! Iconic Final Fantasy music used in new car ad 【Videos】

Following several years of building dependable, affordable, yet almost utterly soulless automobiles, Toyota is trying to get back to creating and market cars with a sense of joy and playfulness. After all, it’s a waste to treat driving as just going from Point A to Point B in the dullest way possible instead of the fun journey it has the potential to be.

That’s why in its newest commercial, Toyota is invoking the spirit of adventure with a fleet of yellow hybrids running about the countryside with the musical accompaniment of one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of Final Fantasy music every composed.

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Cardcaptor Sakura won’t be outdone by Sailor Moon as she gets her own cozy anime pajama line

You wouldn’t name your anime fashion company Super Groupies if it wasn’t staffed by some pretty big fans of Japanese animation, and the clothing retailer’s product catalogue speaks to its comprehensive love of the art form. Not only are recent hits and long-time favorites alike represented, Super Groupies is totally comfortable working both sides of the iconic magical girl street.

So while lovers of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon recently got their fix with some sailor suit-style clothes to wear around the house, now the fans of manga creative team Clamp’s magical girl series are getting their turn with two sets of Cardcaptor Sakura pajamas.

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What would Doraemon look like with more decapitations? Something like this video

Many overseas anime fans don’t get their first introduction to the medium until they’re in their teens, and most are initially startled by how much more comfortable Japanese animation is than its western counterpart when it comes to depicting graphic violence in shows aimed at that age set. Still, it’s not like every popular cartoon in Japan is a gore fest. For example, perennial hit Sazae-san has over 7,000 episodes, and not one of them features its middle-class family maiming each other by firing energy blasts from their hands or the beam rifle of a giant robot.

Likewise, the Doraemon franchise, about a young boy and his loveable robot cat companion, is relatively free of dismemberment…but not entirely, as this video of one of the characters losing a key body part during a live performance shows.

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Sailor Moon totes, smartphone pouches, and T-shirts are here to help you stay Sailor all day long

Last week, we took a look at a set of fluffy Sailor Moon pajamas. But no matter how comfortable they may look, eventually you’re going to run out of food, manga, or some other class of household essentials and need to leave your home. But when you do, you can still keep the theme going with these Sailor Moon-themed tote bags to carry your supplies home in, plus sailor suit-style pouches and T-shirts.

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Spirited Away and Ghost in Shell’s sound director talks about the human side of working in anime

Many Japanese animation fans can rattle off a list of the animation directors or character designers they admire, but the visuals are only half of the way anime stimulates the senses. For everything that you’re hearing during your favorite show, you can thank the sound director.

It’s a role Kazuhiro Wakabayashi has been filling for decades, and we recently sat in on a talk the industry veteran gave about the unique challenges a sound director faces, what it’s like to work with some of the biggest names in Japanese animation, including Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki and Ghost in the Shell’s Mamoru Oshii, and the surprisingly deep human element of creating the audio environment for a fictional world.

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Pet turtle in Japan lays clutch of eggs in owner’s apartment, owner tosses them into frying pan

While dogs remain one of Japan’s favorite pet choices, you can actually get much of the same enjoyment from a pet turtle or tortoise. For example, we’ve seen that with enough patience, you and your shelled friend can enjoy going for walks together. And just like dog owners might one day experience the joy of coming home and finding a litter of puppies, so too can those with a turtle feel blessed when it lays a bunch of adorable little eggs.

As a matter of fact, the latter might even be the better of the two, since turtle eggs are far easier to cook than puppies. What’s that? You say you wouldn’t eat your animal companions’ eggs? Then you’re clearly operating under different thinking than this pet owner in Japan.

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Japanese lingerie maker’s concept bra will give you pep talks, help you take perfect selfies

Usually, lingerie maker Triumph International Japan takes about half a year between announcing its innovative and unusual concept bras. So since it’s been about six months since we saw the company’s paired Close Sisters Bras, we figured the its next design highlighting a social trend was just about due.

Sure enough, this week Triumph showed off its newest creation: a bra that’ll give you verbal pep talks and also help you snap selfies.

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