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

Japanese Salaryman vs. American Salesman: Are they really this different?

Japanese Salaryman vs. American Salesman: Are they really this different?

With many different unwritten rules and an emphasis on customer service, it can sometimes be difficult for foreigners to assimilate into Japanese work culture. Steve over at YouTube channel Steve’s POV スティーブ的視点 put together a video that showcases just how different Japanese and American workers can be. But is it accurate to depict the Japanese salaryman as hardworking, diligent and impossibly polite and the American salesman as comparatively rude, rushed, and sloppy? Take a look at the video and decide for yourself.

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Mr. Sato shows up in costume, is the first to purchase an iPhone 6 Plus, meets Ken Watanabe AGAIN

Mr. Sato shows up in costume, is the first to purchase an iPhone 6 Plus, meets Ken Watanabe AGAIN

With the goal of being the first in line to purchase an iPhone 6 Plus, Mr. Sato, our most outlandish reporter, parked himself in front of the Marunouchi Docomo store on September 15. After several nights living on the streets, finally the day had come! On the morning of September 19 at 8am, Mr. Sato, blue slime costume and all, purchased his coveted Apple gadget, but not before meeting famous actors and taking center stage in an interview. Here is his story.

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Taking indoor shoes out: Elementary student style now trending among women in Japan

Taking indoor shoes out: Elementary student style now trending among women in Japan

As many of you know, Japan maintains a strong sense of uchi and soto, or inside/in-group and outside/out-group. As part of that culture, all people, young and old, are made to change their shoes upon entering most buildings and homes. Students, especially elementary school students, get a special pair of indoor shoes called uwabaki, often called “hallway slippers,” for use while inside the school building. Much like the trendiness of Japanese elementary school backpacksuwabaki are being seen out on the streets on the feet of fashion-forward women. But are elementary school indoor shoes really that fashionable? You’d be surprised!

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Twitter users report large groups of Chinese buyers in line at Apple Store in Ginza

Twitter users report large groups of Chinese buyers in line at Apple Store in Ginza

With the release date of Apple Inc’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus still unconfirmed in China, buyers from the world’s largest smartphone market have been finding other means of procuring the much anticipated devices. It’s reported that Chinese resellers snatched up pre-order iPhones within hours on Apple’s Hong Kong website, hoping to sell the phones in China for as much as four times the retail price.

According to reports by Twitter users, buyers from China have also made their way to Japan with the goal of smuggling the iPhones back into China for resale. At the Ginza Apple Store, it’s estimated that as much as 90 percent of the more than 400 people waiting in line to buy an iPhone 6 are Chinese.

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Kumamoto Prefecture’s popular mascot can now be found on your floor

Kumamoto Prefecture’s popular mascot can now be found on your floor

If recent reports are to be believed, tatami, the traditional Japanese flooring made of soft rush straw, may soon be a thing of the past as people begin to favor easier-to-clean western style flooring. It’s really a shame because there’s nothing quite like the smell and natural feel of tatami under your toes. We’ve already seen novel attempts at spicing up the traditional mats with LED lights, but we’re hoping they’ll have more success with these cute decorative tatami featuring Kumamoto Prefecture’s official bear mascot, Kumamon.

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Japanese tennis player Nishikori Kei lands himself on a cup of instant noodles

Japanese tennis player Nishikori Kei lands himself on a cup of instant noodles

Runner up in this year’s US Open, Kei Nishikori, is Japan’s golden boy at the moment. As the first male player from an Asian country to reach a Grand Slam singles final, Nishikori is not only a hero in the eyes of Japan as a whole, but of his hometown of Shimane, “Japan’s least popular prefecture.”

Much like successful athletes in the US can look forward to seeing their face on a box of Wheaties cereal, Kei Nishikori can now smile knowing that he’s reached the top of his career as a Japanese athlete by landing his likeness on a styrofoam container of Cup Noodle.

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M5.6 earthquake in Tokyo brings some weird photos to Twitter

M5.6 earthquake in Tokyo brings some weird photos to Twitter

Japan is no stranger to earthquakes, meaning every time one occurs, the Japanese Twittersphere is bombarded with photos of the aftermath. There have been some major quakes that were no laughing matter, but usually, the tremors that occur result in nothing more than otaku griping about their toy…sorry, action figure collections getting knocked off the shelves. Japan’s most recent earthquake was centered around Ibaraki Prefecture and came in at a somewhat calm M5.6, delivering a few more photos of fallen treasures. From toppled heads to teetering TP, let’s take a look at some of the most popular photos taken after the earthquake. 

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A look inside the “Ghost Tower” of Bangkok, Thailand’s abandoned skyscraper

A look inside the “Ghost Tower” of Bangkok, Thailand’s abandoned skyscraper

What is now known as the “Ghost Tower” was dreamed up once upon a time in the 1990s when Thailand’s economy was rapidly expanding. Originally meant to be called the Sathorn Unique, the skyscraper was envisioned as one of many luxury apartments that were to populate the bustling Bangkok cityscape. However, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis had other plans, halting construction and causing developers to abandon the project altogether. Now the Sathorn Unique stands as a ghostly reminder of what could have been and a perilous playground for intrepid travelers.

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Japanese MLB player gains even more fans because of his silly (and totally awesome) dancing【Video】

Japanese MLB player gains even more fans because of his silly (and totally awesome) dancing【Video】

Munenori Kawasaki currently plays for the Toronto Blue Jays as a shortstop. Originally from Japan, Kawasaki is a pretty good player who bats left, throws right, and has a .294 batting average. However, it’s not his baseball skills that have gotten him a lot of attention around the world and online recently. No, Kawasaki’s willingness to bust a move on and off the field are what everyone’s talking about right now.

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16 fancy eggs from Japanese bento lunch boxes

16 fancy eggs from Japanese bento lunch boxes

Eggs are greatly underrated in the bento world. It’s usually rice and all the fun forms it can be molded into or seaweed and its ability to be cut into any shape that takes center stage in lunch boxes across Japan. But the humble egg can be quite fancy in the hands of a highly skilled and creative cook. Let’s take a look at 16 fancy eggs from Japanese kitchens!

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Giant floats, handmade structures & penis poking: The many ways to celebrate Hassaku Matsuri

Giant floats, handmade structures & penis poking: The many ways to celebrate Hassaku Matsuri

Hassaku Matsuri is a festival in Japan reserved for asking the gods for a bountiful harvest and happy life. It occurs every year during the first day of the eighth lunar month, usually falling during the beginning of September. Just as dialects and traditional foods vary depending on the region, Hassaku Matsuri is celebrated in vastly contrasting ways, especially in Kumamoto, Fukui, and Ibaraki prefectures. From intricate structures made of natural materials to an extremely inappropriate goblin, join us as we explore a few of the many Hassaku traditions in Japan.

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This new kabuki face pack design will add a little color to your beauty routine

This new kabuki face pack design will add a little color to your beauty routine

Face packs haven’t quite caught on in the global market, but those moist face-shaped towelettes packed with vitamins and other skin-enhancing goodies are particularly popular in Japan. The most standard versions come in plain white, making you look like something out of The Grudge, but beauty product makers have recently been getting creative, bringing us face packs that turn its user into a cat, a panda, or a kabuki actor.

The newest fancy face pack is another one for kabuki fans, but this time it adds an extra splash of color and was created by international makeup artist and leader of Japanese contemporary fashion, Kansai Yamamoto.

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Japan already has an Apple Watch and it’s even cooler than Tim Cook’s version

Japan already has an Apple Watch and it’s even cooler than Tim Cook’s version

Apple just announced its new generation of gadgets, including a smartwatch called the Apple Watch. Not wanting to wait for its 2015 release, Japanese Twitter user Shoji Hiromichi decided to make his own…out of a real apple.

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Japan’s other famous cat gets her own photobook and stationery

Japan’s other famous cat gets her own photobook and stationery

Mako, also known as “the cat with the strange face,” may not be as globally recognized as Maru, but we have a feeling she’s going to start gaining a few fans after the release of her very own book of pictures and set of stationary. Mako is the star of a Japanese photoblog, but the site also includes her three brothers and sisters, all of whom are also featured on a few of these adorable products. Let’s take a closer look!

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Disney fans in Japan show love for their favorite characters in an eye-popping way

Disney fans in Japan show love for their favorite characters in an eye-popping way

We’re sure there are more than a few Disney fans amongst our readership, but we’re not certain any of you have ever shown your love of Mickey and his friends in quite this way. Spotted at Tokyo Disneyland in (you guessed it!) Tokyo (just kidding, the park is technically in Chiba. Nice try.), this pair of plushy pals seem to have an extreme appreciation for their favorite characters and they want everyone to know it!

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Five of our favorite blogs about Japan

Five of our favorite blogs about Japan

There’s a lot of information about Japan floating around on the internet, so finding a really great site can seem like a never-ending endeavor. As self-proclaimed Japanophiles, we have more than a few sites we frequent to get our daily dose of anything about our home away from home. It was hard to choose, but here are five of our favorite blogs about Japan.

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You can rest your chopsticks on a lot of different things in Japan

You can rest your chopsticks on a lot of different things in Japan

Sitting down to a traditional Japanese meal is made even more special by those little sticks you’ll have to manipulate to get the food to your mouth. However, for fork-loving westerners, using chopsticks, or hashi as they’re called in Japanese, can be downright frustrating when all you want to do is sample the local cuisine, not wear it on your shirt. But while you’re skewering your tempura and twirling your udon (PS – don’t do that), be sure to take a few seconds to appreciate that little tool propping up your hashi. From simple to completely bizarre, there’s a chopstick rest to suit any style in Japan.

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Here’s how you can knit yourself a bowl of ramen【Video】

Here’s how you can knit yourself a bowl of ramen【Video】

Ramen is easy enough to make with a package of Cup Noodles, but knitting a bowl of hot soup takes a lot more skill. A talented artist who goes by the name betibettin on YouTube has produced a video showing us just how he accomplished this feat. You’re especially going to want to see how he makes the noodles and soup broth!

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This ice cream spoon uses your body heat to get the perfect scoop, costs more than most desserts

This ice cream spoon uses your body heat to get the perfect scoop, costs more than most desserts

You may remember the limited edition “ice cream shovels” produced last year to solve the problem of too-hard-to-eat frozen treats found at convenience stores. Well now there’s another spoon that’s specially engineered to use the heat from your hands to get you closer to the perfect scoop. An item that’s this well-thought-out is going to have a hefty price tag, but you’ll probably be surprised at just how expensive this ice cream spoon actually is.

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Blue-eyed cat has the best reaction after spotting something strange in the backyard

Blue-eyed cat has the best reaction after spotting something strange in the backyard

Sometimes a single glance says it all, and in this particular case, the startled face of this cute cat screams, “Hurry, mom!!! Something’s not right!” But what exactly has this little kitty all in a tizzy?

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