Michelle Lynn Dinh

Editor/ Writer

Michelle always seems to find her way back to Japan, having been there for vacation, study abroad, and work. During her time on the JET Programme, she lived on the island of Chiburi in Shimane, Japan’s “least popular prefecture.” In her heart, she will always be a member of that sleepy little fishing village she once called home. When she’s not swearing like a sailor while playing video games, Michelle enjoys playing soccer and “studying” Japanese.

All Stories by Michelle Lynn Dinh

Cosplay, art, and power-ups: A look at the Dragon Ball 30th anniversary gallery in Little Tokyo

It’s hard to believe that Dragon Ball is nearly 30 years old considering the extensive fanbase Akira Toriyama still commands after three decades. But the lines of dedicated fans at the Dragon Ball 30th Anniversary / Akira Toriyama Tribute show in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo proved that Goku and the gang are still going strong to this day. Check out all the cosplay, art, and power-ups after the break!

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Public baths in Japan add some extra fun with hundreds of rubber duckies

Rubber duckies make any bathtime lots of fun, but what does a tub full of one thousand tiny yellow quackers have the power to do?

We’ve found three public baths that provide guests with the unique experience of bathing in a sea of rubber duckies. Check out the surreal photos after the jump!

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Just a bunch of adorable cats riding on trains in Japan

Sometimes, after a long day of napping and begging for treats, a cat’s just gotta get out of the house. And what better way to get around than by Japan’s famously on-time and impeccably clean railway? If you’re still walking or taking taxis to your desired destination, take a lesson from these street-smart felines and hop on a train!

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Nikon repairs deceased Mount Ontake hiker’s broken camera, returns photos to family

The unexpected eruption of Mount Ontake on September 27 claimed the lives of 56 hikers, leaving family members to try to understand why their loved ones had been taken so suddenly. But out of this tragedy comes a heartwarming gesture, giving the family of one victim the chance to get back a small piece of their father who never made it down the mountain that day.

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Japan gets a taste of Coca Cola Orange

Why should Pepsi Japan and their wacky flavors like Pink Strawberry Milk and Salty Watermelon have all the fun? Coca Cola Japan decided to shake things up in the flavor department and released Coca Cola Orange. Sure, it’s not as exciting as the crazy concoctions thought up by Coke’s competitors, but Japanese consumers sure seem to love it.

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Japanese student draws functional QR code on school chalkboard, you’ll never guess where it leads

QR codes, with their seemingly arbitrary jumble of black and white squares, are popping up on all sorts of packaging and advertisements, allowing consumers to quickly and easily access a specific website on their smartphone. As common as they have become, we’ve never seen a QR code completely hand drawn on a chalkboard, but here we have one, carefully created by a student in Japan. The best part? The website it leads to is just as random as the decision to recreate a QR code using chalk.

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We try to improve the taste of Tabasco jelly beans by putting them on pizza

Tabasco, with its spicy and tangy flavors, is a popular condiment to put on pizza or pasta in Japan. The writers in our Japanese office love the hot sauce brand so much that they jumped at the chance to taste them in bean form…jelly bean form. That’s right, the Jelly Belly Factory has created Tabasco flavored jelly beans and they’re available in Japan!

But unfortunately, the flavor of Tabasco jelly beans can be summed up in one word: disgusting. At least that’s what our reporter told us after biting into one. He claimed that the flavor was just too close to the original, making for a terrible candy…which got us thinking. If Tabasco Jelly Beans taste too much like the real thing, maybe they’d taste delicious if used as a condiment…on pizza. And so our taste test experiment began.

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Netizens enraged by elementary school’s “No Technology Challenge”

If you didn’t do one of these three things today, you can stop reading this article immediately:

1) Woke up and immediately looked at your phone.
2) Checked Facebook while eating a meal.
3) Played Candy Crush on your smartphone while on the toilet. (Or was that just me?)

Still with us? Okay, well this just shows that a lot of technology is seeping into every momentary pause in our day, which many educators aren’t exactly happy about. One elementary school in Japan decided to do something about it, implementing a “No Technology Challenge,” which asked students and their families to strive to completely eliminate the use of technology in their homes. Netizens were not pleased.

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Misleading packaging strikes again! iPhone cable unexpectedly comes up short

Don’t you just hate it when you open up a bag of chips only to find that one third of the air-filled bag actually contains greasy goodness. Or how about when you crack open a box of cookies and are greeted with cardboard on both ends, squishing the available cookie space in half. Oh, the disappointment! Well get ready for a similar tale of a girl who thought she was buying a long lightning cable, but found that the product fell short of her expectations after opening it.

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Shibuya celebrates Halloween 2014 with crazy costumes and huge crowds

While you might not see a lot of trick or treaters out in Japan, if you find yourself in Tokyo, specifically Shibuya, you’re sure to see some original and inspiring costumes. Let’s take a look at some of the best homemade and store-bought costumes spotted in Shibuya this Halloween.

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Ghibli food brought to life for one week of amazing lunches at elementary school in Japan

Recreating food from our favorite movies and anime is nothing new. We’ve already seen ramen straight out of Naruto and herring and pumpkin pot pie a la Kiki’s Delivery Service. But what is unusual is that this time it’s not die-hard anime fans breathing life into 2-D delicacies, but a cafeteria at one school in Japan. You won’t believe this special school menu featuring a week of delicious looking dishes from some of Hayao Miyazaki’s most famous works.

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Happy Halloween! Time to decorate your persimmon!

As we’ve discussed earlier, Japan has been really getting into the Halloween spirit as the years go on. However, there are still a few Halloween traditions that aren’t easy to carry out. While Japan loves any excuse to cosplay, you still won’t find many, if any, children going door-to-door in their neighborhood begging for candy come October 31. You can, of course, find good ole orange pumpkins in Japan for some Japanese-style Jack o’ lantern carving, but they aren’t available everywhere and can be quite expensive. Japanese pumpkins (kabocha), on the other hand, are too meaty and tough to elegantly cut designs out of. So what’s a Halloween-loving resident of Japan to do? Decorate persimmons, of course!

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Add some spice to your morning routine with wasabi toothpaste

It looks like wasabi, feels like wasabi, and tastes like wasabi, but this small green tube is actually filled with toothpaste. Wasabi flavored toothpaste. Yes, the popular Japanese condiment that accompanies sushi can now be enjoyed while brushing your teeth – as long as you don’t mind a few extra tears in the morning.

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Korea doubles down with KFC’s bunless burger, Twitter photos confirm it’s kind of gross

The last time we saw the Double Down, KFC’s burger that swaps buns for fried chicken patties, was in the form of KFC Japan’s Kentucky Chicken Rice, which eliminated the burger patty in favor of a disc of rice. Now Korea is taking a stab at the popular chain’s meat monstrosity with the Zinger Double Down King. Get ready for some photos of this burger of fried chicken, bacon, and beef!

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The most famous cat in Japan shows us exactly how he fits his chubby body in a box

Cats have been trying to shove themselves into boxes two sizes too small even before YouTube and filming your pet’s every waking moment became a thing. Maru, Japan’s most popular and arguably cutest cat, has made a name for himself by adopting the “If it fits, I sits” philosophy. His latest video, titled “-Plastic box and Maru.-” offers us a clear view of exactly how this sleepy Scottish Fold crams himself into the tiniest of spaces.

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2-D anime characters so cute, you just gotta pinch their cheeks

Anime fans in Japan have been trying to bring 2-D characters to our world, most notably with the help of virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. But now a recent meme brings a more wholesome and easily-attainable approach. All you have to do is draw your favorite anime or manga character on your hand and give it a tug. If you’ve ever encountered a fictional character that was so cute you were overcome with the uncontrollable urge to pinch its cheeks, this is the meme for you!

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Auction for “the present I was going to surprise my girlfriend with” closes with a happy ending

A curious item came up for bid on Japan’s Yahoo! Auction site, simply titled, “The present I was going to surprise my girlfriend with – 2 years and 1 month old.” The story behind the ungiven present was as emotional as it seemed and included a description that inspired netizens all over to persevere even in the face of heartbreak. The item, a modest leather pencil case, started with an opening bid of just 2,000 yen (US$18) but closed at an impressive final price of 35,853 yen ($335).

The story of this young man’s unrequited love and the steps he took to mend his broken heart up next after the break!

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She just popped up from your toilet paper to say hello!

Usually when you walk into a public restroom and see something out of the ordinary, it’s almost always the bad sort of surprise. Dirty floors, toilet seats with an extra bit of yellow, and much, much worse are just a part of the risk you take when entering an area complete strangers use to do their business. But one Twitter user got a different sort of surprise when she walked in to a bathroom stall and saw a face staring back.

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Denny’s Japan now offering all-you-can-eat pancakes! We’ll take 30!

It’s a fact: the world loves pancakes. That’s why we’re sure those of you who live outside of Japan will be jealous to hear that Denny’s Japan is offering an all-you-can-eat pancake deal that includes a variety of fruit, syrup, and ice cream toppings! The only thing better than this pancake buffet is the Japanese word for pancake: pankeiki. How cute is that?!

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Potato Chip Rice may be our easiest rice cooker recipe yet!

We’re suckers for a good rice cooker recipe and get even more excited when all you have to do is plop a few ingredients into the machine. So we were really happy when we found this super easy rice cooker recipe for “potato chip rice” from successful Japanese chef, Masahiro Kasahara, in his self-titled book, Masahiro Kasahara’s 30-minute Japanese Meals. With only three ingredients (four if you count the water), we were equally parts intrigued and wary as we set out to recreate his bizarre dish.

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