Oona McGee

All Stories by Oona McGee

See what 13 stuffed toys look like after a wash at the home spa

See what 13 stuffed toys look like after a wash at the home spa

People in Japan love their soft toys. And with so many cute characters to choose from, it’s easy to understand why. But with love comes a sense of responsibility, which means there will eventually come a time when your favourite stuffed character will have to face the wash. The only thing is, with their adorable, life-like expressions, a wash-and-dry for a stuffed toy ends up looking like a day at the spa followed by a visit to the amusement park!

Check out the adventures of some crazy Japanese plushies, as documented by their owners, after the jump.

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Screw it with a smile thanks to this unusual screwdriver set from Tokyo artist Yuma Kano

Screw it with a smile thanks to this unusual screwdriver set from Tokyo artist Yuma Kano

When it comes to screwing, most people would choose a Phillips head or a flat-head to get the job done. Or if you’re in Japan, where they use different terms, you’d ask for a plus (+) or a minus (-) screwdriver to get things going. Now though, it seems the humble screw has just received a facelift, thanks to a clever design collaboration between a Tokyo artist and a manufacturer from Osaka. The only thing cuter than a tiny smiley screw is the adorable driver that screws them in!

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Foreigners in Japan vote for the best-looking katakana character

Foreigners in Japan vote for the best-looking katakana character

When it comes to Japan’s three writing systems, kanji, hiragana and katakana, it’s the most complex of the lot that usually gets the most attention. The numerous lines and strokes involved in kanji pictographs are so revered that people nominate one at the end of every year to represent the mood of the nation. Even foreigners across the world are taken by their meaning and beauty, with many committing a patch of skin to their favourite (sometimes completely wrong) kanji in tattoo form.

But what about the least utilised member of the group, the katakana characters used for foreign words? Well it looks like they’re finally getting a bit of love, with a recent survey being conducted among foreign residents in Japan to determine the coolest looking symbol in the katakana syllabary. Place your bets now for which one comes out on top!

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Healthy eating just got better with cupcake wrappers made from seaweed

Healthy eating just got better with cupcake wrappers made from seaweed

If you’re a fan of obento, those delicious looking home-made Japanese lunches full of colour and variety, then you’re going to love this product from Japan: edible cupcake wrappers made from seaweed.

Traditionally, these little wrappers are made from paper or plastic and while they’re great for keeping flavours separate in your lunch box, the daily waste involved isn’t really that great for the environment. Now with this edible variety on the market, you can look forward to taking home an empty lunch box at the end of the day and rest easy knowing you’ve left nature unharmed. Plus, if this idea spills over to the cupcake world, it looks like we could soon be having our cake and eating its wrapper too!

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Find your Finnish name with the Finn generator

Find your Finnish name with the Finn generator

When it comes to Finland, there’s no shortage of opportunities for getting acquainted in Japan’s capital of Tokyo. From cafes where you can chow down with cute, stuffed Moomin characters created by a famous Swede-Finn, to Finland’s top doughnut chain, Arnold’s, and Karhhu, Finland’s number one beer, it’s easy for Tokyoites to take their taste buds for a dip in Nordic cuisine.

Now, people in Japan have found a new way to get acquainted with Finnish culture with the introduction of a clever little name generator from VisitFinland.com. Simply enter your name and within seconds you’re bestowed with the Finnish version, complete with a full explanation of the meaning behind your new name. We translated some well-known names and found they were connected to the wild nature of Lapland and mysterious tales of forest kings. 

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Prepare to be blown away by Gundam projection mapping in the palm of your hand

Prepare to be blown away by Gundam projection mapping in the palm of your hand

Projection mapping is a big hit in Japan. Used at festivals and big events, the colourful and creative light shows project moving images onto buildings and objects, bringing them to life with accompanying music and drawing in adoring crowds.

The latest object getting the laser treatment in Japan is a life-size Gundam figure in Odaiba, Tokyo. While the figure has travelled around and been subject to projection mapping over the past few years, a new tie-in promotional product that has crowds going crazy. It’s a simple little box that, when used in conjunction with your smartphone or PSP, fills up with lasers, sparks and music in an amazing 3-D light show you’ll have to see to believe.

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Photo collection shows Chinese families with everything they own

Photo collection shows Chinese families with everything they own

If you’ve ever travelled light for an extended amount of time, you’ve probably been surprised at just how little we really need to get by. While it’s easy to get carried away on the waves of consumerism and caught up in the throes of the technological age, it’s just clothes, some food and a roof over our head that’s really on our list of basic needs for survival.

One photographer in China has been challenging people to consider their own lifestyles and necessities with a thought-provoking series of photos of Chinese households. By photographing people surrounded by their belongings, these pictures seem to ask the question, “What do you need to survive?” and “What makes for a happier household: some company and the basic essentials or a modern lifestyle full of slick and shiny extras?”

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The best night views in the Maldives are on its magical shores

The best night views in the Maldives are on its magical shores

The Maldives has always been a popular honeymoon destination, known for its crystal clear waters, gorgeous beaches and glamorous, resort-style accommodation. As if the area wasn’t romantic enough, at night there’s a breathtaking natural phenomenon that transforms its shores into glimmering waves of iridescent blue. One visitor who stumbled on the unbelievable sight likened it to the starry night skies of the Milky Way and took to the internet to find out the cause of the mysterious occurrence.

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We test the taste of the King’s Dog from Burger King

We test the taste of the King’s Dog from Burger King

And now, due to popular demand, we have the taste test you’ve all been waiting for: the King’s Dog from Burger King. Ever since news of the hot dog offering from the fast food burger chain was released, we’d been anticipating its arrival. Boasting an extra-large sausage 2.5 times the thickness of a regular Burger King hot dog, we bought one of each to really see how the King’s Dog weighs up.

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21 breathtaking photos of Asia

21 breathtaking photos of Asia

We here at RocketNews24 know there’s a lot to love about Asia. With unique traditions, fascinating people and awe-inspiring landscapes, there’s a certain atmosphere and sense of beauty that has us hooked.

While it’s not always easy to translate the magic onto film, one photographer from Thailand is leading the way with an amazing collection of stunning photos and an open invitation for others to join him on his photo travels across the Asian continent. From Myanmar’s mist-shrouded temples to the quiet rivers of China and India, these photos will simply take your breath away.

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Step into a Ghibli fairytale at this castle in the sky in Hyogo Prefecture

Step into a Ghibli fairytale at this castle in the sky in Hyogo Prefecture

Japan is home to an enormous number of famous ruins and castles, with fascinating histories that transport us back to an era of clan warfare and old allegiances which remain at the heart of local tales today. As strongholds for the Lords and clans of old Japan, many castles have a commanding view of surrounding lands but none more so than this spectacular castle in Hyogo Prefecture. Often referred to as the Machu Picchu of Japan, and looking every bit like Ghibli’s famous floating castle from the animated movie Castle in the Sky, these ruins are expecting an unprecedented number of visitors this year. And with photos as stunning as these, it’s easy to see why.

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Japanese netizens go crazy for a kitty who wants a bath

Japanese netizens go crazy for a kitty who wants a bath

If you’ve ever owned a cat, you’ll know just how much some kittens love to follow their owners around, checking on their every move to make sure their attention is not foolishly lavished on anything else. One owner in Japan has tweeted photos of their possessive cat, who seems irked at the fact that bath-time can bring a person so much pleasure. This kitty peering over the bathtub with its what-about-me? eyes has everybody aww-ing in Japan. But it’s what happens next that has everybody squealing in delight.

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How to fail at hide-and-seek: A cat’s guide

How to fail at hide-and-seek: A cat’s guide

It’s a well-known fact that cats think they’re cleverer than us. Even when it comes to playing one of our popular childhood games, hide-and-seek, cats think they’ve got us beat. This collection of hilarious photos shows that cats should really come down off their proverbial high horses and take a lesson or two from the human world because when it comes to hiding, these kitty cats really have no idea. Ten points for trying, especially with their creative and body-defying efforts, but no points for hiding because when it comes to hiding, peek-a-boo we see you!

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New Disney Princess Lego on sale in Japan from March 7

New Disney Princess Lego on sale in Japan from March 7

From fierce legends to masculine superheroes, a lot has been said about Lego and its gendered marketing to boys. Now it seems the heroes on the more feminine side of the scale are finally getting a look-in, with the new Disney Princess line set to hit stores in Japan from March 7. We take a look at Cinderella, Rapunzel, Ariel and Merida in impressive Lego form and check out their adorable homes and accessories. These goodies will have your inner child squealing with delight!

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Heroes in Japan post harsh reviews for a Hero’s Sword on Amazon Japan

Heroes in Japan post harsh reviews for a Hero’s Sword on Amazon Japan

Tales have oft been told of the mythical items to be found when journeying through the maze of shopping aisles in Japan’s online realm. From unusual manga characters to riot shields, it seems anything might be possible once you’ve entered through the magical portal known as Amazon Japan. Now it seems that visitors who stop by to make purchases are just as interesting as some of the items on offer, as self-proclaimed heroes and brave warriors from across the nation are buying swords from the marketplace and providing feedback on the efficacy of their items. Latest reviews are aimed at an innocent-looking plastic sword, which is said to be under-performing when it comes to vitality levels and magic ability.

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Celebrate the release of live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service with these limited edition treats!

Celebrate the release of live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service with these limited edition treats!

With the live-action version of Kiki’s Delivery Service set to hit cinemas in Japan on March 1, it’s time for the celebrations and tie-in promotions to commence! Japanese bakery chain, Little Mermaid, is one of the first to step up to the plate, paying homage to the movie with this collection of delightfully cute offerings. Available only for a limited time, the three new baked varieties are named in honour of Kiki, her black cat Jiji, and Ms Osono, Kiki’s mother-figure and resident baker. Can you guess which design is which?

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Man jumps into tiger enclosure in China and asks to be eaten

Man jumps into tiger enclosure in China and asks to be eaten

On February 16, horrified onlookers watched as a Chinese man jumped into a bengal tiger enclosure at Chengdu Zoo in Sichuan province, south-west China. The man taunted the two tigers for twenty minutes, offering his flesh to them and asking to be eaten.

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Valentine’s Day chocolate found to be the cause of a train delay in Tokyo

Valentine’s Day chocolate found to be the cause of a train delay in Tokyo

Valentine’s Day in Japan is an all-chocolate affair, as millions of women around the nation stock up on the sweet treats for their friends, partners and colleagues. Lately, women have even been extending the offering to the inanimate world, with handsome anime characters receiving large amounts of gifts from their fans.

Now it seems someone in Japan may have developed a soft spot for a train on the Tokyo Chuo Line as chocolate was found to be the cause for a door jam that delayed commuters during morning rush hour on the most romantic day of the year.

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You’ve got tail: Write any message with an alphabet of cat tails!

You’ve got tail: Write any message with an alphabet of cat tails!

There’s something about cats. Whether they’re leaping through the air in cute GIF form or popping up in edible delights, the feline species have got us well and truly eating out of the palm of their spongy little paws. In Japan, one cat lover has paid homage to their cute ways with an alphabet made up entirely of cat tails! Now you can mesmerize your friends from A to Z with messages cute enough to print out and paste on your wall.

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Artists use SD cards and Febreeze to create Japanese crests for the modern age

Artists use SD cards and Febreeze to create Japanese crests for the modern age

There’s a lot of art enmeshed in everyday Japanese life. From the pictographs of the kanji writing system to the aesthetics of traditional practices, it’s easy to take for granted the visual symbolism on which a lot of the culture is based. One of the most striking examples of Japanese design is the kamon, or family crest, used for centuries to signify a family name or clan and often seen on the sleeves of formal kimonos and ceramic roof tiles of traditional homes. It’s estimated that there are as many as 30,000 family crests in Japan, and while many Japanese would struggle to identify a large number of them, some crests, such as the chrysanthemum Imperial crest and the Tokugawa shogunate hollyhock design, are easy to identify.

Artists are now using the digital medium to create a number of new kamon to the delight of netizens nationwide. What makes these unique is the fact that the images inside the crest are not flowers or scenes of nature but more modern logos and tools familiar to us through advertising and the digital age. The crest above, for example, might look like a cross design made up of four stylised rectangles, but if you look closely you’ll see something more commonly used in digital cameras: SD memory cards. Featuring everything from Twitter logos to Febreeze bottles, these unique crests are perfect for the tribes of today.

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