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

Make a map of Japan in your oven with these intricate cookie cutters

Make a map of Japan in your oven with these intricate cookie cutters

Think you can identify all the prefectures of Japan? Yeah, neither can we. But that’s okay because now with the help of this impressively accurate cookie cutter set, you can study and eat a map of Japan at the same time. Mmmm, knowledge.

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These candy-inspired chairs look good enough to eat

These candy-inspired chairs look good enough to eat

If you ever wished you could visit the infamous candy house from Hansel and Gretel, then have we got the chair for you! Looking absolutely delectable and fairytale-ready, this “Hard Candy Stool” from Taiwanese designer, Jojo Chuang is the perfect combination of function and fantasy.

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Foodies in Japan can’t stop freaking out over how good peaches and mozzarella tastes

Foodies in Japan can’t stop freaking out over how good peaches and mozzarella tastes

Twitter and Instagram has been buzzing about a new dish to hit Japanese kitchens: sweet peaches mixed with mozzarella cheese. And based on the reviews written by social-media-loving cooks in Japan, it’s the greatest dish in the history of food. Let’s take a closer look at how to rustle up this interesting grub and read some glowing reviews.

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We try colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai

We try colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai

McDonald’s joints all around the world have some of the most interesting items. There’s of course Chicken Curry Rice in Thailand, American vintage burgers in Japan, and ramen at one McDonald’s in the US (of all places!). But we’ve never seen anything quite this fancy at a fast food restaurant anywhere, so we sent one of our reporters to check out the colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai.

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Shimane Prefecture’s shrine-headed mascot is now an adorable rice field

Shimane Prefecture’s shrine-headed mascot is now an adorable rice field

We saw absolutely gorgeous rice field art up in Aomori prefecture just a few months ago, but we’ve never seen rice that looked this cute! Shimane prefecture’s very own mascot character has been turned into a smiling rice field; you’re going to want to take a closer look at this one!

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【Exploring Unfamiliar Japan】We stayed in a 120-year-old Japanese home, here’s how you can too

【Exploring Unfamiliar Japan】We stayed in a 120-year-old Japanese home, here’s how you can too

When European writer, Lafcadio Hearn, wrote about Shimane prefecture in 1894, he described a land steeped in tradition and nature. Since then, all of Japan seems to have ignored this sleepy area of the Chugoku region whose most recent claim to fame is having the country’s largest population of the elderly. But if Shimane prefecture is stuck in the olden days, the Oki Islands are lost in time. Lazily floating out at sea in what is technically Shimane, but is actually an entire world of its own, Oki is a forgotten gem tucked in a dusty corner of Japan. Rambling down the overgrown back roads, you’re sure to come across a wrinkled face and a hearty “konnichiwa,” a small experience that seems to have become a rarity in the always busy metropolises of this country.

It is in this uncommon place that we had the privilege of staying in a home that has stood for over a century. Join us as we share our experience staying at the Japanese guesthouse called Tsukudaya.

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You know it’s hot in Japan when the birds are taking iced tea baths

You know it’s hot in Japan when the birds are taking iced tea baths

During the summer in Japan, it’s a constant battle between trying to save energy and keeping yourself from melting in the hot, humid weather. Some choose to use deodorizing wipes to keep the stink and sweat away, others simply indulge in Japan’s irresistible ice cream for some eco-friendly relief. But what if you’re a pet bird with an energy-conscious owner who refuses to keep the house cool? This little parakeet has found the solution: a cool dip in someone’s glass of iced tea!

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Japanese mother creates beautiful, educational bentos that resemble Japan’s prefectures

Japanese mother creates beautiful, educational bentos that resemble Japan’s prefectures

Making eye-catching bento lunch boxes is a big deal in Japan. Walk into any bookstore and you’re bound to find a least a dozen books teaching you how to make adorable characters out of rice and seaweed. Amble by any off-campus elementary school event where the kids are required to bring a lunch from home, and you’ll hear squeals of “KAWAIII!!!” as someone’s mom most definitely made Pikachu out of cheese. But while most bento feature cute vocaloids or giant titans, this mother’s lunches have an educational twist. Let’s take a tour of Japan’s prefectures made out of food by talented mother and Twitter user, Sasariri.

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Nine steps to enjoying an outdoor Japanese barbecue

Nine steps to enjoying an outdoor Japanese barbecue

Of course there are outdoor barbecues in Japan, but with very little front or backyard space to work with, the grill and everything that goes on it has been shrunk down. Devoid of any fancy knobs, racks, or even a lid, and easily packed away in a storage shed for use during the summer, these small grills are deceptively simple, but can churn out some delicious grub.

Let’s take a closer look at the tradition of grilling meat outdoors in Japan and we’ll also show you how to enjoy your own Japanese-style barbecue.

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Nine things the US does better than Japan (according to our cosplaying Japanese reporter)

Nine things the US does better than Japan (according to our cosplaying Japanese reporter)

After a long week of Comic-Con and coming down off the high of crossdress cosplaying as Sailor Venus, our intrepid Japanese reporter, Yoshio, settled back into life in his home country and has taken some time to reflect on his trip. Yoshio has been to the US nearly a dozen times, but there are always several things that impress him. The following is a translation of his impressions and the nine things he thinks the US does better than Japan.

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Don’t get your lips stuck to this Coke bottle made entirely of ice

Don’t get your lips stuck to this Coke bottle made entirely of ice

In an effort to convince all of Japan to enjoy an ice-cold Coca Cola during the hot and humid summer months, Coca Cola Japan has created a campaign giving anyone the chance to win a Coke bottle made out of ice. Click on to find out how they’re made, how to get your hands on one, and how not to enjoy a solid block of ice!

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Try not to eat your fingers while wearing these realistic sushi nails

Try not to eat your fingers while wearing these realistic sushi nails

We’ve seen a lot of cute and especially strange nail art from Japan, but we’ve never seen any that looked this delicious! Ebi, tamago, sake, and many more of our favorite sushi toppings grace the tops of this young woman’s nails, in what will probably make it even harder for chronic nail biters to kick the habit.

More up-close pictures and even more kinds of sushi nails after the jump!

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This cat on a cat on a mat is adorable!

This cat on a cat on a mat is adorable!

Aww, look at that cute little kitty!

No, we’re not talking about the white one comfortably sleeping on its pink polka dot blankie. We’ve got our eyes on the all-black one that shares its tail.

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Godzilla makes waves in this beautiful recreation of a Japanese classic

Godzilla makes waves in this beautiful recreation of a Japanese classic

As if the power of the sea weren’t terrifying on its own, a Brazilian artist managed to make the wrath of Poseidon even more fearsome with the addition of Japan’s most famous monster.

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Visit Elsa’s Frozen world at the Snow Crystal Museum in Hokkaido

Visit Elsa’s Frozen world at the Snow Crystal Museum in Hokkaido

Frozen has taken Japan and the world by storm, smashing through sales records and bringing a flurry of promotional items. One of the most iconic scenes in the film is Elsa singing Let it Go while giving rise to a beautiful ice castle. It’s too bad we can’t visit her frigid fortress in real life, but we can go to the next best thing: Hokkaido’s Snow Crystal Museum.

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Sony Japan to release Destiny and The Last of Us Remastered bundles

Sony Japan to release Destiny and The Last of Us Remastered bundles

Sony has just announced the release of two new PlayStation 4 consoles featuring designs from soon-to-be-released games Destiny and The Last of Us Remastered.

We’re not going to lie, they look pretty sweet.

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Lion at the Yokohama Zoo looks innocent…until you read his bio

Lion at the Yokohama Zoo looks innocent…until you read his bio

Aww, look at that big guy. He’s got such cute puppy dog eyes and a slight little smile. Don’t ya just want to hug him? Aside from the fact that he’s a dangerous wild animal, that’s probably not a good idea because of what is listed under the “special features” section of his bio at the Yokohama Zoo.

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Sneak attack English! Expat in Japan gets a nice surprise at the McDonald’s drive-thru

Sneak attack English! Expat in Japan gets a nice surprise at the McDonald’s drive-thru

Despite every student in Japan being required to take English language courses, it may be difficult to find everyday people who enjoy and feel comfortable speaking the language. Sure, there are some former compulsory school students who are completely fluent in English, but overall, finding a native-level speaker or even someone confident enough to speak with can be difficult. That’s why we were surprised and pleased to watch this video of an Australian expat and his English language encounter at the McDonald’s drive-thru in Japan.

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German fans dance across Shibuya scramble in post-World Cup match celebration

German fans dance across Shibuya scramble in post-World Cup match celebration

Following the first semifinal game of the World Cup, German football fans draped in black, red, and gold were seen celebrating in Japan’s busiest intersection, the Shibuya scramble crossing. And they sure had a lot to celebrate about.

The blowout match against Brazil saw seven goals scored by the German team, four of which came within six minutes. Most of the action took place nearest Brazil’s keeper who had to try and fend off the German forwards who were crossing the ball multiple times in front of the net as if the Brazilian defense wasn’t even there. So yes, their team through to the championship match, these German fans had every right to be celebrating and Japanese Twitter users were quick to upload their elated antics.

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Here are the limited edition Frozen foods you can buy in Japan

Here are the limited edition Frozen foods you can buy in Japan

Japan has officially caught Frozen fever and you’d be hard pressed to go on any Japanese forum without seeing at least one strange, crazy, or completely cool post about the movie. It seems Japanese manufacturers have caught on and a storm of Frozen foods in limited edition packages have been produced in celebration of the July 16 release of Anna and the Snow Queen, the title given to Disney’s chilly hit animated feature in Japan. Let’s take a look at just a few!

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