Fran Wrigley

Fran grew up on a farm in Northumberland, England’s most northern and least populated county. She relocated to Nagoya in 2011 to teach English and find better edamame beans. On arriving in Japan, she enthusiastically abandoned a lifetime of vegetarianism and now spends her weekends on the trail of the perfect miso katsu. When not attempting to sing k-pop at karaoke, Fran can often be found loitering in old camera shops, or on a hike wishing the manual camera in her backpack wasn’t so heavy.

All Stories by Fran Wrigley

Our reporter tries to order a 100-slice beef sandwich at Subway Japan【Photos】

At Japan’s branches of Subway, what you might think of as more conventional sandwich toppings—like cheese or vegetables—wrestle for space on the menu with other optional extras, like a scoop of tuna mayonnaise or five prawns for 100 yen. And when a man like our very own reporter P.K. Sanjun sees that he can have his Subway sandwich topped with an extra five prawns, his first thought is: “I wonder how many prawns I could fit in one sandwich?!”

So when P.K. heard that there were actually secret toppings that you can order at Subway, and that one of those off-menu toppings was roast beef, he prepared his brain, and his stomach, for an extra-large order, and headed to Subway to find out: just how much beef can one Japanese sandwich hold?!

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“Welcome argument?” Mr Sato really, really wants to know where Lily-Rose Depp got her kanji shirt

Clothing with incorrect and funny English (so-called Engrish) is everywhere in Japan, and has given many foreign visitors a chuckle over the years.  So it’s always nice to see the tables turned, and Japan having the opportunity to marvel at clothing with odd Japanese writing on it.

That’s what happened this week when our reporter Mr. Sato got wind that actress and model Lily-Rose Depp had been spotted in New York wearing a particularly nonsensical T-shirt with Japanese kanji characters on it. He had only one question: “Where did she get it?”

…only one question, Mr. Sato? We’ve got a few more questions than that! So let’s take a look at the shirt in question, and crack the code behind its oddball message.

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“So you like big guns, eh?” Japan’s TV ad for World of Tanks is surprisingly cheeky 【Video】

Here at RocketNews24 we’re pretty big fans of funny and unpredictable Japanese TV ads, whether they’re for Cup NoodleBatman dubs, or English schools.

And just by looking at the thumbnail for this Japanese ad for World of Tanks, the multiplayer online game that just announced that it’s coming to PlayStation 4 this year, we knew we were going to be in for a treat.

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Consider us teased! Upcoming Dragon Ball Z animation promises big things【Video】

DBZ Tribute is an upcoming animation that aims to pay tribute (the hint’s in the name) to the work of Akira Toriyama. A team of professional artists have come together to create a computer-generated animated sequence as a homage to the creator of Dragon Ball.

It’s not an official project, but if the production values in these teasers are anything to go on, it’s going to be a really high-quality “tribute”.

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Drones capture shocking footage of flooding in Ibaraki, Japan【Video】

When disaster zones are inaccessible by ground—such as the areas of Japan hit by widespread and deadly flooding last week—news broadcasters typically take to the air, relaying footage from helicopters. In the city of Joso, Ibaraki, news helicopters captured dramatic footage of rescue teams winching people to safety from rooftops on Thursday after the Kinugawa River burst its banks.

But helicopters can only get so close, and so authorities in Japan are now using drones to capture footage in disaster areas. The drones can fly closer to disaster-hit areas than a manned helicopter, offering a different and dramatic perspective.

And drones are not only being used to survey these areas hit by flooding and landslides; they are also starting to be used in rescue missions.

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Automated Godzilla coin bank will make you King of the Moneysavers

Itazura Banks are a series of cute little Japanese coin banks that look like cardboard boxes, each with an adorable animal hiding inside. You place a coin on the edge of the box and a sweet little kitty’s paw pops out to grab your money and keep it safe in the bank for you.

But if that all sounds a bit too cutesy for your liking, never fear—the newest Itazura Bank doesn’t contain a kitten or a panda, but Godzilla himself!

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We visit Tokyo’s Reversible Destiny Lofts, the apartments designed to make you live forever【Pics】

Incongruous in their grey surroundings, these multicoloured buildings looks like something in a children’s playground, or perhaps an outsized set of toy building blocks. But these colourful constructions are Reversible Destiny lofts—rental apartments in Tokyo’s Mikata City. And the inside of these eccentric properties is just as extraordinary and confusing as the exterior.

But what is “Reversible Destiny” anyway? And how is living in a playful apartment supposed to make you immortal? We sent a reporter from our Japanese sister site Pouch to find out.

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Come home to a new wife at Ore no Yome, the cafe where maids pretend to be your spouse

You arrive home after a long day at the office to your beautiful wife, smiling as she greets you at the door. Inside, a delicious home-cooked meal is ready on the table…oh, and she’s wearing a bikini!

There’s a new cafe in Tokyo where you can have all this and more, because the staff there are ready and waiting to be your bikini-and-apron-clad new wife (or husband!).

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Japan’s heart and Mickey Mouse-shaped bubble wrap is the cutest thing you’ll ever pop

Bubble wrap lovers everywhere were dealt a blow this summer with the devastating news that the company behind the world’s favourite air-filled packaging was launching a new, unpoppable bubble wrap. Sealed Air Corp., the inventors of bubble wrap back in the 1950s, have come up with a new design for an air-filled wrap that doesn’t burst under pressure.

But here at RocketNews24, we probably won’t be buying regular boring old round bubble wrap ever again anyway, because we’ve discovered that Japan has bubble wrap shaped like hearts and Mickey Mouse heads.

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Cat loves stinky foot, can’t help going back to get his paws on more

Some cats just love to sniff, lick and generally investigate their owners’ feet, and this little kitty is no exception! The only problem is, his reaction to a foot that smells a bit funky is…well, a little extreme to say the least.

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“Hong Kong is not China” illustrations cause controversy online

A set of infographics claiming to show differences between Hong Kong and China has been attracting attention online – much of it negative.

The striking images, which were created by a Hong Kong artist and posted to the Facebook page of Local Studio HK (本土工作室), cover topics such as cultural differences, politics, habits and censorship. As you might expect, it’s ruffled more than a few feathers.

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Hello, Underwater Kitty!? This limited edition Kitty-chan diving suit is all kinds of cute

Hello Kitty is one of Japan’s greatest cultural exports and one of the world’s most famous cats despite being both a) fictional and b) not quite a cat. But now, the pinnacle of Kitty-chan merchandise has been reached. We don’t need to buy any more cute pens or candy or even any toy money.

What is the Hello Kitty merchandise to end all Hello Kitty merchandise? Nothing less than a Hello Kitty diving suit.

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A wild sushi chase: Our Japanese reporter tries Cuban sushi in a five-star Havana hotel

I mean, we have sushi here in Cuba, but it’s terrible. You’re better off eating it in Japan!” That was the advice our reporter Yuichiro got when, craving a taste of home, he asked a Cuban friend where he could find some tasty sushi in his home country.

But for some reason, his friend’s protestations made our intrepid reporter even more intrigued. “Looking back on it now though,” says Yuichiro, “I wish I’d quit while I was ahead…”

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Gorgeous stop-motion animation depicts Tokyo’s Shibuya crossing using tiny paper models

When the lights change at Shibuya’s scramble intersection, 10 lanes of traffic draw to a halt and thousands of people surge into the street to cross in multiple directions. It’s one of Japan’s iconic urban sites, and often features on the big screen as a symbol of Tokyo. Of course, Shibuya’s scramble is crowded – it may be the busiest crossing in the world – but underneath the chaos there is a kind of fluid order, as people weave in and out of the oncoming crowd.

Architect and artist Naoki Terada has constructed Shibuya at 1/100th its real size, with the crossing’s cars, people, motorbikes (and even dogs!) made out of hand-cut paper. This beautiful stop-motion animation is the result.

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“It’s just like Disneyland!” Our Japanese reporter visits the love hotel where dreams are made

If Japan’s love hotels range from cheap ‘n’ cheerful to downright bizarre, Sky Paradise Rakuen must rank as one of the most marvellously ridiculous. While enjoying a discreet tryst with your partner of choice, you can also take a ride on a gondola under a sparkling jewel-encrusted sky and gaze from your balcony out over theme park-style attractions.

Disney don’t do love hotels, but if they did they’d probably look like this!

Naturally, our Japanese reporter couldn’t resist heading down to Sky Paradise to check in and check it out. Just for research, of course.

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Never-before-seen Miyazaki sketches to go on show at Tokyo exhibition this summer

Illustrations by legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki are among the 130 artworks going on display in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, next month.

The exhibition of background illustrations and character sketches, which have never been on public display before, celebrates the 40th anniversary of Nippon Animation’s World Animation Theatre, the weekly TV anime showcase which Miyazaki and Isao Takahata both worked on before founding Studio Ghibli together in 1985.

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Japanese kid too young to see Mad Max stays home, builds awesome Doof Wagon out of Lego instead

Japanese Twitter user @kamonpoi wants to go to see Mad Max: Fury Road, but not as badly as his young son does! The fifth-grader is a die-hard Mad Max fan who is desperate to see the new movie, but was distraught to hear that it would carry an R15+ rating, meaning he has no chance to see it in the cinema.

So instead, the boy put his energy and frustration to good use and did what elementary school kids do best: he made something out of Lego.

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Luhu – the little cat who always looks sad 【Photos】

Luhu is an adorable kitty from Beijing. But this pet has a problem. Even when he’s having a great time, Luhu looks like he’s having the worst day ever.

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All-real pictures show why Japan’s “Lady of Eternal Youth” doesn’t need photoshop【Photos】

Masako Mizutani , also known as the “Lady of Eternal Youth”, is a Japanese model with legions of international fans. Mizutani is famous for supposedly looking young enough to be in her twenties – the same age as her daughter. The youthful-looking 46-year-old regularly updates her blog with photos and selfies, but as well as praise and admiration, these pics have attracted allegations of Photoshop fakery.

Determined to prove that Masako’s beauty is the real deal, our reporter Nakano grabbed his camera and headed to a special “age-measuring” event the model was appearing at. Let’s take a look at his photo report!

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New mosquito-repellent clothing SCORON claims to stop bugs in their tracks

As summer approaches and the weather warms up, people across Japan will be stocking up on sprays, incense and special clothing in the hope of repelling mosquitoes.

The buzzy, bitey flying insects aren’t just a source of irritation – they are also the carriers of rare but serious diseases such as yellow fever and dengue fever. Japan had its first outbreak of dengue fever in 70 years last year, after an outbreak connected to Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park. Dengue fever has no vaccine, and the best prevention is to avoid mosquito bites altogether.

Japanese clothing company Foxfire hopes to capture a corner of this insect-repellent clothing market with their new fabric which they claim stops mosquitoes getting anywhere near your skin.

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