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

Paper cranes sprout legs and boogie in this bizarre video

In Japanese culture, it’s believed that folding one thousand paper cranes will make your wish come true, leading this particular origami creation to represent hope and healing during challenging times. We’re not quite sure if the following video featuring five dancing paper cranes has the ability to heal anything, but it definitely has enough whimsy to make you smile.

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Six outdoor Japanese hot springs you can visit right now (with Google Street View)

Almost everyone loves soaking in an outdoor hot spring bath, called rotenburo in Japanese. The combination of soothing natural mineral water and being buck naked outside is enough to wash all your stress away. Just look at those little capybara in the photo above. Don’t they look so relaxed?

If you ever have the chance to visit Japan, we highly recommend you take a dip in a rotenburo. But if you aren’t able to make the long journey over to this wonderful country right away, might we suggest taking a virtual tour of six outdoor hot springs in Japan?

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Nissan unveils “smart BBQ” car that comes with a drone, karaoke machine, mist shower…and a grill

Outdoor barbecues are the epitome of summer fun. But if you live in Japan, you’re sure to be drenched in sweat after ten minutes in the hot, humid weather. Luckily, Nissan created a solution to the hassle and heat of the typical cookout: the Ultimate Smart BBQ vehicle. The all-electric compact car includes everything you’ll need for a summer barbecue, including the grill and high-tech mosquito repellant, and comes with some things you might not necessarily need, like a “flying selfie camera.”

“With this electric vehicle, you can always enjoy a BBQ that goes far beyond your expectations,” commented Osamu Suzuki, editor-in-chief of the Nissan Social Project. Intrigued? Check out this crazy car after the jump!

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Frog burgers join the earthy line-up at cafe in Yokohama

Now you can eat the world and a deep-fried frog, too. If you love to sample strangely colored foods or fried critters, look no further than nature museum/activity center Orbi Yokohama where you can take a bite of their bizarre burgers.

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Dual-wielding free thrower masters the game of arcade basketball 【Video】

There are all sorts of masters lurking in arcades around the world. We’ve seen quite a few in Japan, where taiko drum experts and claw game champions reign supreme. But if this video of a basketball free-thrower is anything to go by, Chinese game centers seem to have their own breed of skilled gamers. However, what makes the skills of the guy on the left, we’ll call him “Khaki Shorts,” all the more amazing is the fact that he’s making one-handed free throws with both his left and right hand four times faster than the other players.

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Channel your inner rock god while smoothing your skin with the official KISS face pack

KISS, the never-ending merchandising machine, is still relatively popular in Japan and periodically releases Japan-exclusive products. In the past we’ve seen black KISS spicy steamed buns and just recently we were treated to a KISS collaboration music video with popular Japanese idol group Momoiro Clover Z. But if you aren’t satisfied merely eating or watching the band, you now have a chance to transform into one of its members in mere seconds using the newly released KISS Face Pack.

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Skilled Japanese artist creates intricate cut-paper origami cranes

Kiri-e (切り絵) is the Japanese art of hand-cutting paper into intricate designs. Kirigami (切り紙), on the other hand, involves cutting and folding paper to create a 3-D image that pops right off the page. But one talented Japanese artist has combined these two traditional art forms, creating folded paper cranes that contain a seemingly impossible-to-achieve cut-out design. Let’s take a closer look at her stunning artwork!

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Say “I love you” with seaweed: Message kombu is the tastiest way to tell her you care

As you may have noticed, Japan has pretty much mastered the art of sprucing up food. We’ve already seen a plethora of tools to create bear-shaped rice or smiley face sausages, but we’re particularly excited about a certain product we just discovered up north in Hokkaido. They’re called “message kombu” and the heartfelt messages made out of seaweed are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

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Japanese Twitter user spends three hours knitting an edible scarf out of gummy candy

Mom always told us not to play with our food, but we’ll have to make an exception for this crafty use of candy. Using only a pair of chopsticks and 18.9 meters (62 feet) of gummy string, one intrepid Twitter user from Japan managed to knit herself an edible scarf. The evidence and entire creation process coming at you after the jump!

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Things get awesome (and very strange) when 32 fans re-animate the Pokémon opening scene

You might remember the Moon Animate Make-Up! project that brought over 250 artists together to recreate the opening scene of anime classic, Sailor Moon. It featured a mishmash of artistic styles that gave viewers a visual feast of creative talent. Now Pokémon fans are in luck because a similar project was just released online, featuring Ash, Pikachu, and the rest of the gang as seen by 32 different animators!

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“He lies because of me”: Touching commercial about a father’s love will make you cry

When we’re kids, we usually don’t realize how much love and support our parents give to us; they’re just being mom or dad. It’s only until we grow up that we appreciate and are able to recognize the many things they sacrifice for our well-being.

A commercial from MetLife Hong Kong featuring the heartfelt letter of a loving daughter highlights one particularly large sacrifice her father makes every day…and it’s sure to bring you to tears.

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Coffee Jelly: The Japanese treat that’s surprisingly easy to make

Although coffee and gelatin aren’t typically associated with Japanese cuisine, the popular dessert called “coffee jelly” was actually created in Japan during the Taisho period (That’s over 100 years ago!). As you might expect, the dessert consists of gelatin that has been flavored with black coffee and sugar.

Curious culinarians abroad are in luck! The dog/human chef duo over at YouTube channel Cooking with Dog show us just how easy it is to make this delicious Japanese treat at home.

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Hawaiian-inspired loco moco and kalua pork burgers coming to McDonald’s Japan

As part of their World Mac Hawaii campaign, McDonald’s Japan will be serving up island-inspired burgers and desserts starting February 10. With flavors taking a cue from popular Hawaiian main dishes such as kalua pork and the famous loco moco, and desserts featuring a tropical flare, these new menu items are sure to put a little sunshine in your cold, snowy Japanese winter.

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Team Japan’s goalkeeper is awfully good at catching cats

Soccer (or for those of you across the pond, football) is one of those sports you either love or hate. Some find the game thrilling, others can’t understand how a 1-0 victory is anything but an absolute bore. But even if you aren’t one of those people who are able to fully appreciate “the beautiful game,” we have a feeling you’re going to love the following set of photos featuring cute kitties instead of soccer balls.

Because who could resist the sight of Team Japan’s keeper, Eiji Kawashima, looking like he’s trying to wrangle a bunch of cats?

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Diamond Fuji: One of the most beautiful views of Japan’s iconic mountain

Every year at the end of December, something magical happens to Japan’s tallest mountain. As the sun descends in the sky bringing a close to another day, it meets with the summit of Mount Fuji for a few brief moments, making it appear as if the peak is topped with a glistening diamond. Thousands of people flock to vantage points around the area for a chance to see this special phenomenon, dubbed “Diamond Fuji.”

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Lucky Bag Roundup: Our reporters choose the best fukubukuro of 2015

Japan has many wonderful New Year’s traditions, including visiting the local shrine, eating auspicious food, and sending postcards to all your friends. But one of the most exciting and potentially disappointing activities that occur on the first day of January is the purchasing of fukubukuro. Commonly referred to as “Lucky Bags” in English, fukubukoro are specially priced parcels of surplus items from popular stores across Japan that are usually valued well over the purchase price.

This year, we sent 10 of our Japanese reporters out on the streets early New Year’s morning to gather up the best Lucky Bags they could find. Some came back with somewhat useless products even Mr. Sato wouldn’t want. Other’s were pleasantly surprised to find rare and valuable items nestled in their bags. But despite deep discounts, Lucky Bags aren’t always worth the wait and price, so in order to save you time on next year’s Japanese New Year’s shopping adventures, each of our writers has chosen the best Lucky Bags this side of the Pacific.

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10 slightly strange Christmas trees from Japan

Christmas in Japan has always been different than what folks from other countries are used to. There’s always the Christmas bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken handed out by a santa-suit-clad Colonel Sanders, the Christmas cake topped with whipped cream swirls and strawberries, and those romantic walks with your loved one around the many illuminated streets. LINKS. That’s why we weren’t surprised, and frankly delighted, to find the following 10 unconventional Christmas trees from around Japan.

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Darth Vader to be featured in large-scale Star Wars snow sculpture at 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival

The annual Sapporo Snow Festival held in Japan’s northernmost prefecture has been delighting tourists and locals for over six decades. Each year, artists from around the world are invited to show off their talents constructing enormous structures out of ice and snow.

To commemorate the release of the seventh installment of the Star Wars series, The Walt Disney Company has collaborated with festival officials to design what looks to be the most epic large-scale snow sculpture yet, featuring enormous snow versions of Darth Vader, three Storm Troopers, a TIE fighter, and the Death Star.

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Six non-traditional osechi New Year’s meals in Japan

New Year’s in Japan is usually celebrated with family huddled under the kotatsu while munching on mikans, and sharing a dinner of traditional food, called osechi. Each component of the meal retains an auspicious meaning, granting the eater with good fortune, health, or fertility, among other things, during the coming year.

However, in recent years, an increasingly large population of Japan’s youth have chosen to forgo eating osechi. There are many reasons osechi has been disappearing from Japanese homes during New Year’s, but these changing tastes have given rise to a smorgasbord of strange, unique, and, frankly, comparatively tastier pre-made osechi meals. From cooked isopods to a box full of meat, let’s take a closer look at six modern day osechi.

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Commercial reminds Japan’s tired commuters about the drawbacks of living far away from work

Mouth agape, eyes rolled back, head bobbing – when home is an hour or more away and work continues late into the night, the only place for many Japanese office workers to lay their weary head is against a train car window. This phenomenon is not unique to Japan, but the combination of overwork and limited affordable housing in big cities like Tokyo give rise to crowds of sleepy commuters just trying to get to their futon. If you have never witness the varied sleeping positions of Japan’s overworked commuters, take a look at the following video created by real estate website HOME’S.

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