You really never know who you are going to meet when traveling. That’s one of the things that makes it so enjoyable. But imagine our surprise when we ran into the leader of the free world in an isolated hot spring town in Kyushu! It might have something to do with the name of the place though…
Jessica Kozuka is a freelance writer and editor living in the exciting, interesting and sometimes perplexing city of Tokyo. Her work has appeared in Wine Spectator, CNN Travel, and The Japan Times, as well as numerous other print and online media outlets. She writes a column on NPO/NGOs and volunteer work for Metropolis, the largest English-language magazine in Japan, and specializes in EFL educational materials and travel writing. Kozuka is rarely to be found without a book or two within arm’s reach, though there's no telling if they will be serious literature or frivolous guilty pleasures, and she runs a monthly book club for other bibliophiles in the Tokyo area. She's also an enthusiastic if mediocre cook and daily laments the smallness of Japanese kitchens.
All Stories by Jessica
Usually, Jesus limits his food-based appearances to grilled cheese and Cheetos in certain—shall we say—conservative areas of North America, but it seems like he is making inroads to Asian pastries with an appearance in a dessert offered by Japan’s popular Komeda Coffee chain. And not just that, he decided to present as a famous recent incarnation: the monkey-faced botched restoration of Ecce Homo!
Christmas is coming up, and if you are wondering whether you should get gramps another boring old tie pin or golf shirt, may we humbly suggest a skull- or dragon-shaped walking stick of death?!
If you are a regular RocketNews24 reader, you may already know that there have been a lot of changes to Japan’s consumption tax system this year. For those of us who live here, it’s meant an annoying price hike for nearly everything, but for visitors, there is some good news.
Starting today, October 1, new rules regarding consumption tax exemptions for foreign visitors go into effect, and for once, these are actually changes that work in your favor. More details after the jump.
A few weeks ago, we told you about Village Vanguard’s launch of Slime Curry, a rather curious blue foodstuff inspired by the bad-guy blobs of the Dragon Quest series. Not content with just informing you of its existence, one of the Japanese reporters at our sister site Pouch bravely volunteered to try the curry for herself and report back if she survived. Here’s what she had to say.
Oct 1, 2014
It doesn’t get much weirder than this, folks. Yesterday, the People’s Daily, the largest newspaper group in China, reported on their English Twitter feed that “10,000 pigeons go through anal security check for suspicious objects Tue, ready to be released on National Day on Wed.”
That’s right, kids: avian cavity searches.
You may have thought that the Loch Ness Monster had cornered the market on fresh-water cryptids, but Japan has one of its own mythical lake beasts. There may be a monster lurking in the depths of Kyushu’s Lake Ikeda, a monster who goes by the terrifying name of… Issie-kun.
That’s right, you can eat a polar bear in Japan. But before you start freaking out about animal cruelty or endangered species, we are actually talking about the funky dessert in picture above, not the big furry mammal. Meet the shirokuma or polar bear, a delicious treat of shaved ice, sweet milk syrup and fruit from Kagoshima.
If you happened to be in Japan this week, you may have noticed rather a lot of rabbit-themed goods, particularly sweets. Not to worry, the Japanese haven’t gotten their dates for Easter spectacularly wrong, these lapine lovelies are part of otsukimi, a tradition celebrating the harvest moon.
Okay, confession time. I am a little bit—sigh, A LOT—obsessed with internet cats. From Lil Bub to Little P and with a lot of Princess Monster Truck in between, I follow them all. But perhaps the cutest and most consistently entertaining is chubby, lazy Maru, who happens to live in Japan with his owner known by YouTube handle mugumogu.
Maru is so famous he has his own book and has appeared in both print and TV ads for major brands like Uniqlo. Mostly he likes hanging out at home trying to fit into various boxes, but if the latest video is any indication, he may have a new hobby: pushing a pushcart around the house.
Aug 29, 2014
About a month ago, we brought you the story of artist Showta Mori and Lisako, his plastic-bottle girlfriend. Their forbidden love landed Mori in police custody for “suspicious behavior.”
Well, Mori apparently escaped incarceration because he has just released a new video in collaboration with beverage maker Suntory that promotes his latest invention: the brainwave-controlled muscle suit (ver. 3)!
Aug 27, 2014
Dr. Timothy Mousseau, professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina and researcher for the Chernobyl and Fukushima Research Initiative, presented new findings to the International Ornithological Congress in Tokyo last week that suggest radiation contamination around Fukushima Daiichi, even at low levels, is negatively impacting biodiversity and wildlife populations.
More than three years on from the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, there are still roughly 260,000 people living in temporary housing facilities. Since Tohoku gets mighty cold in the winter, sending these evacuees some lovely hand-made afghans is a woolly hug that lets them know they are not forgotten.
But that didn’t go far enough for Yokohama-based knitting teacher Bernd Kestler, who wanted to send them the biggest blanket the world has ever seen!
Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets usually made from mochi, bean paste, or fruit. If you’ve been to Japan or a nice Japanese restaurant, perhaps you enjoyed one sculpted to look like a flower, crane or some other very old-fashioned Japanese image.
Like most things in Japan, no matter how venerable, give it enough time and it will be kawaii-ified. Enter sweets shop Kuramoto Hinode, where a veteran wagashi chef has begun crafting anime and pop culture based sweets with leftover bits and bobs.
That’s right, mutant parrot-banana hybrids! But before you freak out and start boarding up your windows (or perhaps grabbing a napkin and a large net), we should be clear that we are talking about gachapon, the little toys sold in plastic bubbles out of vending machines.
While these fruit and fauna combo toys are hardly the weirdest or even the most nonsensical toy to hit the gachapon scene, they seem to be selling well, with collectors posting pictures on social media of the cute critters interacting with a variety of action figures and other tiny toys.
The photo above is the popular sightseeing destination of Kegon Falls in Nikko. At 97 meters high (318 ft), it is one of the three highest falls in Japan and also one of the so-called “Eight Views”, said to exemplify Japan and its culture. But the photo above is Kegon on a normal day.
With Japan recently taking a beating and a whole lotta rain from the slow-moving Typhoon Halong, Kegon looks a little different now.
The interconnectedness of today’s world has been a real boon to artists, scientists, designers, futurists, and pretty much anyone who thrives on the free exchange of ideas. If you asked a kid from South Africa to draw the city of the future, it would be equally likely and unsurprising for her to design futuristic skyscrapers reminiscent of the Burj Khalifa or hobbit hole-like underground eco-houses.
But what if you were from North Korea? What if you didn’t have Internet and had never left your own country? What would the city of the future look like to you?
Sometimes just keeping up with the news makes you despair for humanity. Between all the war, racially motivated killings, ethnic strife, and general meanness, you have to wonder if we will ever be able to get along.
It’s been one of those days and I needed a pick-me-up, so here is a collection of photos of dogs and cats getting along. Because if they can manage to overcome their differences, maybe we can too.
You know how in English you can take pretty much any noun and make it a verb—derivation for the cunning linguists out there—by adding to to the front? For example, how the search engine Google has become to google, as in, “Why the hell are you asking me? Go google it, you twit!”
Well, you can do the same thing in Japanese by adding -ru or a handful of other suffixes to the end of a word, and some Japanese net users recently had some fun with this by turning country names into some very non-PC verbs.
Have a look at our geopolitical dictionary and see how your country fared.
We’ve covered some stories in recent months about the distressing state of animal welfare in Japan and shocking cases of animal abuse, but I wanted to let our readers know that isn’t the whole story. Granted, in comparison with many other developed nations, Japan lags behind in this area, but that doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the Stone Age either. Over the last couple of decades, through the hard work of their human advocates, the situation for dogs and cats in Japan has been improving.
In the interest of acknowledging those efforts, recognizing where Japan is getting things right, and just generally bringing some good news to the table, we wanted to share with you some of the positive changes happening in Nihon.
- Poor little dog is driven into corner by owner’s terrifying new house guest1
- We still don’t feel bad for you, Emperor: Photos of actors and their historical counterparts2
- Has a Japanese company found the fountain of youth? One man’s youthful skin suggests so3
- 35 fascinating photos of Korea from 100 years ago (before K-dramas took over Asia)4
- Korean tattoo artist’s small, simple, stylish “line tattoos” change our impression of getting inked5
- Robot rebellion begins with a cranky Roomba, Internet users too busy laughing to fight back6
- When first-try character bentos go wrong 【Photos】7
- Raw, frozen eggs are the new food trend in Japan, apparently8
- Korean stylist’s secret to volumizing your hair in just five minutes! 【Video】9
- Revealed! Japan’s top 10 handsome samurai【Photos】10
- Anime pregnancy tests: The latest otaku meme, and it’s not just for 2-D girls1
- Korean tattoo artist’s small, simple, stylish “line tattoos” change our impression of getting inked2
- Clever font sneaks pronunciation guide for English speakers into Japanese katakana characters3
- Awesome Air Umbrella from China keeps you dry with blasts of air4
- Why does Engrish happen in Japan?5
- The 10 best anime of the fall season, according to Japanese otaku6
- Somebody turned a Disney Channel cartoon into an anime and it’s pretty awesome7
- Beautiful old footage shows “God of Judo” Kyuzo Mifune gracefully defeat young challengers【Video】8
- Cat man from Kyushu walks nine cats in a stroller, draws crowds in Tokyo9
- Chinese woman’s catty comeback to Korean colleague gets netizens talking10
- Mickey and friends in human form are more charming than we had imagined! 【Pics】1
- A sad turn of events at a butterfly exhibition in China2
- Chinese cat with unfortunate dark patch of fur tired of people asking why it’s shocked3
- 61 more images of cosmetic surgery from South Korea4
- Artist turns innocent Disney princesses into flirty pin-up girls5
- Watch liquid turn into food at Japanese sample food factory 【Videos】6
- Japanese mothers react to being called by their first names after years of just being “Mama”7
- 10 things foreigners do that Japanese people find amusing8
- “Beautiful foreigner walking a polar bear” spotted at Shibuya’s famous crossing9
- Anime pregnancy tests: The latest otaku meme, and it’s not just for 2-D girls10
- “Mom’s 1st Birthday” – Try to get through this video without tearing up【Video】1
- School textbook is withdrawn after “teacher” on the front is recognized as Japanese adult video star2
- Artist turns innocent Disney princesses into flirty pin-up girls3
- Mickey and friends in human form are more charming than we had imagined! 【Pics】4
- A sad turn of events at a butterfly exhibition in China5
- 6-year-old boy vowed to marry his childhood sweetheart, really marries her 18 years later6
- Ten-year-old boy cuts construction worker’s lifeline because noise was interrupting his cartoons7
- 61 more images of cosmetic surgery from South Korea8
- Chinese cat with unfortunate dark patch of fur tired of people asking why it’s shocked9
- Surgery, diet, and sunscreen transform heavy, swarthy Thai boy into slender, tan-free lady10
- Robot rebellion begins with a cranky Roomba, Internet users too busy laughing to fight back
- When first-try character bentos go wrong 【Photos】
- Raw, frozen eggs are the new food trend in Japan, apparently
- Korean stylist’s secret to volumizing your hair in just five minutes! 【Video】
- Revealed! Japan’s top 10 handsome samurai【Photos】
- Fukuoka’s “Wisteria Tunnel” delights visitors with pretty pastel petals
- Shocking footage of accident on Japanese highway reminds us of the fragility of life 【Video】
- Is it safe to dance yet? Uncertainty continues to reign supreme in Japan’s club scene
- The ultimate in smartphone accessories has hopped into the market
- Skull-shaped lollipop holders: Because liking candy doesn’t mean you’re not one bad dude
- Rising star of Japanese horse racing is as ridiculously fast as he is comically scatterbrained
- Time to head north: Tochigi Prefecture’s gyoza-flavored rice topping is nothing short of divine