Meg Murphy

Born in the southwest United States, Meg exchanged eternal summers for eternal rain when she relocated to Seattle in 2007. After finishing school, she decided to try and put her degree to good use- coming to Japan in April 2011 with no solid plans, and has been here ever since. An avid traveler and adventurer, always up for a challenge. A vegetarian for most of her life, on a quest to find delicious, non-meaty eats. She'd like to think she's creative and artistic, but that's up for debate. She also enjoys normal people things too, like music, movies, and cats. Because there can never be too many cats in one's life.

All Stories by Meg Murphy

New Totoro wallet may put a dent in your current one, but we think it’s worth it

Fans of Hayao Miyazaki‘s movies each have their own favorite film for different reasons, but undoubtedly one of the most influential and well-recognized has to be the family classic My Neighbor Totoro. Totoro is the logo for Studio Ghibli, after all!

Now, fans of the film and Studio Ghibli alike can rejoice with squeals of delight, and reach deep into their wallets for these new, adorable Totoro goods out on the market. No wallet to reach into? Then it’s time to get one, and this Totoro wallet is better than any other wallet you would find elsewhere!

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US kids react to breakfasts from other countries, and it’s equal parts cute and hilarious 【Video】

One of the best parts of traveling to other countries are all the new and exciting (and sometimes even gag-inducing) food experiences that come with it. While some may turn up their nose at something like fermented cabbage, fish eggs, or animal innards – something which is strange and exotic to one culture but a completely normal food to another – these likes and dislikes really have little to do with personal tastes, and everything to do with upbringing.

I believe that it is very important for kids to be introduced to many different cultures from a young age, to help give them a better understanding of and respect for the world around them, and what better way to do that than by introducing foods from other countries? That is what the people over at YouTube channel Cut Video did, when they created their video “American Kids Try Breakfasts From Around the World”.

As we all know, kids can tend to be picky eaters, so introducing them to unknown foods is sure to bring a few sour faces, as you can see in the video after the jump!

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New “drag queens and cross-dressers” locker room and changing facility opens in Shinjuku

By day you’re just another hard-worker in your Japanese office, donning the same, typical business suit as every other salaryman in the city. But by night, once work is over, you need to shed that suit and all that’s associated with it, put on a dress and some makeup, and let the other you take over.

Well, if you’re living in Tokyo, there’s a place just right for your needs in the Shinjuku neighborhood – Josokko Kouishitu, a locker/changing room especially for drag queens and cross-dressers!

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I think I’m turning Japanese: American expat shares habits she lost after moving to Japan

When moving overseas, especially when moving between countries with as cultures as different as the United States and Japan have, adjusting to your new life abroad can take a bit of time. But once you’ve settled in to your life in your new home, the customs you had to be so mindful of in the beginning become second nature, to the point you may even find yourself having a bit of reverse culture shock when you go back to your home country.

Amie, an American who lived for some time in Japan, shared some of the “American habits” she lost, or conversely, some of the “Japanese habits” she picked up from her time living abroad, as shared by blogger of all things Japan-and-foreigner related, Madame Riri. Continue reading to see the list!

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Pot-sticker paradise, hot-spring hotel just outside of Tokyo makes for a tasty retreat

Ask a Japanese person to give some examples of Chinese food, and they’ll likely reply with things like chaahan (fried rice) and the quintessential gyoza (pot-stickers). With their crispy fried outsides and juicy, flavorful insides, you can’t go wrong with gyoza, and many would say that Chinese food chain GYOZANOMANSYU (餃子の満州), based in the Kanto region of Japan, is the leader of them all.

Those wishing to take the gyoza experience a bit further can visit the hot-spring hotel Toumeikan in Gunma Prefecture, managed by GYOZANOMANSYU, and for a mere 5,900 yen per night (roughly US$59) you can stay in one of their cozy Japanese-style rooms, take a relaxing soak in the onsen hot springs, and get your fill at their breakfast buffet. Located deep in the mountains of Gunma, yet within a two- to three-hour drive from Tokyo, makes this a great place for a weekend getaway. Albeit one involving lots of garlic and chives.

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The foxes at Kitsune Village are back to kill you… with more cuteness 【Video】

We’ve introduced you to the impossibly adorable wonderland of cute known as Zao Kitsune Village before, but these little guys are so darn cute we just can’t help ourselves. The zoo, located in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan has over 100 little fox fluff-balls running free through the park grounds. A walk through the Kitsune Village, with all that cute running around you, is probably akin to a walk through heaven.

And for those of you still wondering what the fox says? We have some video evidence for you to hear for yourselves!

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Another day, another crazy public outburst caught on camera 【Video】

The people of China have once again been gifted with some free live entertainment, in the form of another over-the-top public outburst. Last week, it was a wife going nuts at her husband for buying over-priced baby formula, but now the playing field has leveled, and we have what almost looks like a scene straight from a TV drama as a couple gets into a heated argument in the middle of a subway station.

But what on earth would cause someone to lose their cool like that in front of a crowd of people?

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Twitter gets a make-over inspired by the movie Summer Wars, but does it live up to its potential?

It’s been quite a few years since director Mamoru Hosoda’s widely acclaimed animated movie Summer Wars was released, but fans of the film can experience it again in a new way – by turning Twitter into the virtual world of OZ from the movie.

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Japanese women weigh in: Which cars do they not want to see their boyfriends driving?

A couple of days ago, we heard the guys’ opinions on the ladies, so now it’s time to hear what the ladies think about the men – specifically, about the kinds of cars men drive. Japan’s MyNavi Woman took a survey asking Japanese women which cars they wouldn’t like for their boyfriends to drive, and some of their responses you may find a bit surprising!

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Which 15 countries have the least violent armed forces in the world?

It seems like Japan is winning at everything these days, first with being selected to host the 2020 Olympic Games, then with Tokyo being chosen as the safest city in the world (and Osaka a close third!). Now, Japan has been ranked by the Global Peace Index (GPI) as having one of the top 15 least violent armed forces in the world. Did your country make the list too? Check after the jump to find out!

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Real horses too much hard work for you? Why not get yourself a robo-horse! 【Video】

A farmer and self-proclaimed invention-addict from China decided to create a more economical replacement for the common horse – one that doesn’t require any food or daily care. While this mechanical horse won’t be winning races any time soon, it does get some points for creativity! See it in action after the jump.

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Husband gets swindled, wife publicly unleashes her wrath upon him 【Video】

It sucks finding out you paid a lot more for something than you should have. What would make that situation suck even more is being berated for it in public as passersby gather like flies to a cow pie to watch and capture your humiliation on video, forever cementing your shame on the internet. Which is exactly what happened to this poor unfortunate soul when his wife found out he paid six times what he should have on baby formula.

We’re not sure whether to laugh at his crazy wife, or feel sorry for this man…

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Superwoman, or just crazy? This Japanese mother’s daily schedule seems almost inhuman

Ever felt like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? Whether you’re working, a parent, a student, or all of the above, it can be tough trying to fit all the things that need to be done into your daily schedule. But after a Japanese magazine gave us a peek into the day of one Japanese working mother, we’re not sure whether to be in awe of all that she manages to accomplish, or to question her sanity.

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Could this teen’s simple but genius idea help put an end to cyber bullying?

Bullying is not a new phenomenon. Even if you haven’t personally experienced it, you likely know some who has been bullied, or have seen it happen to someone else. So have our parents, and most likely their parents too. Adults can be bullies too, but children and adolescents are much more likely to act without thinking, making it much more of a problem for the younger generation.

What is a relatively new phenomenon, however, is cyber bullying. After hearing about a young girl who was bullied to the point that she decided to commit suicide, 14-year-old Trisha Prabhu knew something had to be done, and set to work making a system that could drastically reduce the incidences of cyber bullying.

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Woman’s best friend: Possibly the sweetest photos of a grandma and her cat you will ever see

For over a decade, Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara has been capturing the amazing bond that has developed between her grandmother, Misao, and Fukumaru – the white, odd-eyed cat her grandmother found as a stray kitten. The two have remained nearly inseparable, and the bond they share shows in the beautiful photos that Ihara takes.

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The first videos ever shared on YouTube & Niconico leave us feeling rather… confused? 【Videos】

If the internet is a part of your everyday life, as it is for billions of others around the globe, then you are probably no stranger to video-sharing giant YouTube. There you can find videos of pretty much anything that interests you, watch news and events from around the world, take a peek at other people’s lives through their vlogs, learn new skills through how-to videos, or squee over countless cute animal videos. If you’re bored, nothing passes the time quite like getting lost in a YouTube black hole, where one interesting video leads to another, and another, and yet another…

Not quite as well-known, but still very successful in its own right, is Niconico (formerly NicoNico Douga), essentially the Japanese version of YouTube, though the website is also available in English and Taiwanese. What is unique about Niconico is the ability it gives users to add comments which are then overlaid directly on the video and synced to a specific playback time, which often become as entertaining as the video itself.

Both sites have billions of videos for a lifetime’s worth of entertainment, but have you seen the oldest videos of them all?

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Flaptter flying machine from Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky brought to life!

If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli’s films, you’ve probably noticed that director Hayao Miyazaki has a love for planes and all other manner of flying machines, which make numerous appearances in many of his movies. We’ve seen a Miyazaki creation come to life before with the construction of the glider called Möwe, as seen in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, but here’s one now for you Laputa: Castle in the Sky lovers – a real working Flaptter!

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Hamsters in sleeves are all the rage in Japan this winter 【Photos】

Japanese homes are notorious for being poorly insulated, in the wintertime often leaving you feeling just as cold indoors as you do outside.

Despite having permanent fur coats (lucky them!) our pets can still feel the chill and will do what they can to stay cozy. We’ve already shown you cats and space heaters, and dogs in kotatsu, but now we bring you some adorable hamsters in sleeves.

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Creating your own custom etched glass is a lot simpler than you think

Having a hard time coming up with a cool gift idea? Wanting to create something fun and uniquely yours? Why not try your hand at glass-etching! It might sound a bit daunting, but as some Twitter users in Japan are finding, it’s a lot easier than expected, and a lot of fun to make your own anime (or anything!) goods. All you need are a few basic items, a steady hand, and some helpful tips to make your own awesome, customized etched glass! Follow us after the jump to get started.

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Eat for free at this restaurant in China…but only if you’re beautiful enough!

It is common for such establishments as restaurants and movie theatres to offer student discounts, senior discounts, and the like to its patrons, and one Tokyo bar even offers balding gentlemen money off their booze. But one restaurant in China has decided to offer a free meal only to those deemed beautiful enough.

Each person has their own tastes and preferences of what they find attractive, so if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how does the restaurant go about judging who gets their dinner gratis?

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