You may already be aware that there is a subculture of train fanatics in Japan known as densha otaku, or train nerds. But did you know that there are loads of sub-subcultures within the densha otakus? From those obsessed with train noises to experts in train lunch boxes, we’ve got them all covered for you.
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
2 days ago
In the physical and mental fields, technology is constantly evolving to assist humans, but what about in the emotional realm? Technology is often blamed for deteriorating social skills, but perhaps there is some way that it could be harnessed to improve our personal interactions. Dr. Hirotaka Osawa of the University of Tsukuba has developed a wearable device called AgencyGlass that may be the first step in assisting in “emotional labor.”
Just don’t think you are going to look cool using it.
5 days ago
Glitzy Ginza is a high-end shopping district in Tokyo that attracts luxury brand flagship stores, ladies who lunch, and businesspeople with cash to burn. But if you happen to be there this week, you might spot something very incongruous in this moneyed mecca: a Maasai tribesman selling shoes.
William hails from Kenya, where he is the head of a Maasai tribe, and the shoes he is here to promote are a Spanish brand called Pikolinos. So how did an African tribesman end up in the Japanese capital selling European shoes?
Meet Naoki. He pulls down US$30,000 a month, has his own TV show and music group, and is called “an ideal man” by one of his many woman clients. Is he some kind of doctor or finance wizard to be making that kind of dough? Nope, he’s a host, one of scores of men that work in the seedy bars of Kabukicho, drinking with the ladies of the capital and charging them for the privilege.
A new video by VICE Japan takes a look at Naoki’s bizarre and booze-soaked world.
Doraemon in Nirvana: Chiang Rai’s White Temple like a beautiful, bad pop culture pipe dream 【Photos】
Apr 12, 2014
Approaching Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai’s so-called White Temple, is a surreal experience. It looks like a massive sculpture of ice and snow shimmering through Thailand’s tropical heat. But that effect barely scratches the surface of the weird at this Buddhist wat, where Doraemon hangs out with the Buddha, bushes are decorated with the decapitated heads of Freddie Kruger and Pinhead, and the penalty for smoking is eternal damnation.
Any city with aspirations to be a vibrant international metropolis should invest in interesting, challenging and useful public art, and Tokyo has certainly done so. There are some absolutely amazing artworks scattered around our fair city, but there are also some complete abominations lurking as well.
While acknowledging that art is subjective and one person’s favorite piece is another person’s piece of crap, here are what I consider the seven stupidest public artworks in Tokyo.
You know it’s a cynical sales technique, so you try to be sensible and hold yourself apart, but sometimes commercials really know how to pull the heartstrings. We dare you to watch this spot for a Thai life insurance company and not get a little misty eyed.
Apr 7, 2014
Even if your kitty is currently an unemployed layabout, you can be fairly sure he dreams of world domination, and since they always say you should dress for the job you want, you might was to consider getting him some of these super-stylish designer shirt collars to put him on the path to overlordship.
Apr 5, 2014
It’s cherry blossom time in Tokyo, which means that the plum blossom season is just coming to a close, and one of Tokyo’s most popular spots to see plum blossom, Umeno Park in Ome, has finished the season with a sad announcement: it is chopping down all 1,266 of its famous plum trees to prevent the spread of a disease called plum pox.
If you are visiting Laos, this is probably not your first rodeo in Asia, so I’ll skip the squat toilets and fleets of bicycles and get to seven things that this little SE Asian gem has to surprise even seasoned travelers.
We all have foods that we love perhaps a little more than we should, but for Mr. Sato, a man whose love of food in general has taken him on many a colorful, abdomen-abusing adventure risking his health and even his sanity, the gustatory passion that tops all others is shellfish. So when he headed off to report on an all-you-can-eat shrimp restaurant for us, we feared for his life.
For any parent that’s ever thought, “My child is super cute, but I wish he looked a bit more like an Italian-American plumber,” do we have news for you.
This week, Japan became the 91st signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides protection for children under 16 from being taken from their country of residence by one parent against the wishes of the other. However, the convention does not work retroactively, so parents whose children have already been taken are urging the Japanese government to stand by provisions of the treaty in their cases as well.
A group of left-behind parents organized a march in Washington, D.C., on Monday to hand-deliver 28 applications for assistance reuniting with their children to the U.S. Department of State and to submit a petition for the return of abducted children to the Japanese embassy.
If you try to think of a natural vista featuring the color blue, chances are the first image to pop to mind is a tropical ocean view or maybe a glacial ice-scape. Despite being somewhere in between those to climate extremes, Japan has some beautiful blues to offer as well. Here are seven of the most impressive blue landscapes in the Land of the Rising Sun.
April 1 marks the beginning of the new fiscal year in Japan, and this year it also marks a big change for Japan: the consumption tax jumped from 5% to 8% starting at midnight. With that hike on the horizon, many Japanese spend March 31 stocking up on daily necessities, making big purchases and otherwise trying to save a few yen.
Twitter user @TYudai snapped this picture at Shin-Yurigaoka station that day. The sign reads, “The wait from this point is 4 hours.” Can you guess what high-demand item these people were patiently waiting to get their hands on?
Feb 18, 2014
With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, restaurateurs in Tokyo are already thinking about how they can appeal to the crowds of foreign tourists set to descend on the city. Most of them are focusing on spiffing up their English menus and adding pictures, but some eateries are actually cooking up new menu ideas to appeal to the non-Japanese palate.
We got word that a ramen shop in Shinjuku had concocted just such a dish, so we naturally went to check it out.
You might have seen something—or someone?!—like the guy above prowling in the moonlight, but I’m afraid he’s not proof of the supernatural, he’s just a new breed of cat called a Lykoi, or “wolf” in Greek. Of course, most people are just calling the breed what it looks like: a werewolf cat!
A restaurant in the trendy Shimokitazawa neighborhood of Tokyo thought they would get into the spirit of Valentine’s Day by offering a limited edition chocolate kakigori, a traditional Japanese snack that involves putting toppings on shaved ice. There was only one small problem…
- “How many freakin’ CDs do I have to buy?” Fans displeased with idol group’s debut single1
- Visit Kiki’s Bakery at a unique fairytale village in Japan2
- Japanese women dish about being betrayed by their female friends3
- Poster for Ghibli’s new movie under fire … from the big guru himself!4
- 12 gender-bent Disney and Ghibli characters that are utter perfection5
- Cat greets its returning owner with so much warmth we’d swear it was puppy love6
- Advice from Japanese women on dealing with your boyfriend’s anime girlfriend7
- Chinese “porn identification officer” has seen over 600,000 adult videos, threw up after watching some8
- Five foods you should never feed to your cat9
- Healthy ice cream? Well, these new Häagen-Dazs vegetable flavors at least sound healthy!10
- The extreme lengths Samsung must go to make sure your Galaxy phone works perfectly1
- 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong2
- 12 gender-bent Disney and Ghibli characters that are utter perfection3
- 10 Japanese expressions that sound delightfully strange and funny when translated4
- So, the Dalai Lama walks into a convenience store in rural Japan… 【Photos】5
- Lady Gaga goes gaga for Hatsune Miku, makes virtual idol her opening act6
- Real-life barbie bares real-life face in minimal makeup selfies【Photos】7
- “Racist” Air France geisha poster prompts satirical home-made fixes8
- Advice from Japanese women on dealing with your boyfriend’s anime girlfriend9
- Taiwanese student creates incredible art with materials others would throw away【Photos】10
- Chinese Photoshop Trolls and the Half-Blood Prisoner of the Deathly Phoenix Goblet (Part 6)1
- Unfortunate Google employee forced to wander alone on eerie abandoned island for Street View photos2
- Daughter of Osamu Tezuka, God of Manga, discovers his stash of hand-drawn sexy mouse artwork3
- Little store managers take over FamilyMart in Taiwan, hilarity and tons of cute in store【Video】4
- 【TBT】China’s Photoshop experts will fix your bad photos, but be careful what you wish for5
- The extreme lengths Samsung must go to make sure your Galaxy phone works perfectly6
- Japanese netizens put reality on hold for a moment, fall in love with new attorney general of Crimea7
- 10 incredible tiny houses in Japan: a photo tour8
- Attack on Titan’s studio head talks sequels, keys to the hit anime’s success9
- 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong10
- Korean high schools allow “anything goes” yearbook photos, with hilarious results1
- Taiwan’s Gravity Max – Quite possibly the scariest roller coaster in the world2
- Don’t call them fat, call them Marshmallow Girls!3
- Beautiful gym babe impresses Chinese netizens with her incredible fitness!【Pics & GIFs】4
- Japanese netizens put reality on hold for a moment, fall in love with new attorney general of Crimea5
- Picture perfect siblings of 18 years apart melt the hearts of Chinese netizens【Photos】6
- Attack on Titan’s studio head talks sequels, keys to the hit anime’s success7
- Unfortunate Google employee forced to wander alone on eerie abandoned island for Street View photos8
- Chinese Photoshop Trolls and the Half-Blood Prisoner of the Deathly Phoenix Goblet (Part 6)9
- Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki says the anime industry’s problem is that it’s full of anime fans10
- Cat greets its returning owner with so much warmth we’d swear it was puppy love
- Advice from Japanese women on dealing with your boyfriend’s anime girlfriend
- Chinese “porn identification officer” has seen over 600,000 adult videos, threw up after watching some
- Five foods you should never feed to your cat
- Healthy ice cream? Well, these new Häagen-Dazs vegetable flavors at least sound healthy!
- 20 crazy facts about North Korea
- We try McDonald’s Avocado Beef, see if it’s as lame as people on Twitter are suggesting
- The extreme lengths Samsung must go to make sure your Galaxy phone works perfectly
- Lady Gaga goes gaga for Hatsune Miku, makes virtual idol her opening act
- 15 Japanese students who are really nailing this high school thing
- Japanese high school student becomes Twitter sensation showing difference between time with boyfriend and friends
- 10 Japanese expressions that sound delightfully strange and funny when translated
- Better know a train nerd: 36 different classifications for Japan’s “densha otaku”
- The incredible isolation of North Korea — In one map