Oona McGee

All Stories by Oona McGee

Celebrate May with a visit to Mei and Satsuki’s house from Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro

Our love of the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro has truly blossomed during the month of May. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better after we heard about Totoro’s Forest in Saitama Prefecture, complete with a house for black dust bunnies known as Kurosuke no Ie, it seems there’s even more reason to celebrate, with an exact replica of Mei and Satsuki’s house open to the public in Aichi Prefecture.

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Turn your old PlayStation console into a light-up clock 【How-to】

If you’ve been a PlayStation fan from the very beginning, chances are you still have an original console collecting dust somewhere in the house. Sure, it’s outdated now, but who wants to throw all those fond gaming memories away?

Now there’s a creative solution that will let you get some use out of your old grey console and give you an excuse to look at it regularly throughout the day. It’s time to feast your eyes on the PlayStation clock. Unavailable in stores, but easy to make in your very own home!

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Got a great recipe that requires soy sauce? Enter this competition to win 100,000 yen!

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a soy sauce connoisseur or if you enjoy dabbling in Japanese fusion cooking, we’ve found a perfect way for you to earn some easy prize money.

The Japan Soy Sauce Association is currently accepting entries for two special contest categories: Washoku, for Japanese-style recipes and Your Country’s Cuisine, for food that incorporates the use of soy sauce into traditional dishes from your homeland.

With the top prize being 100,000 yen (US$834.87), if you’re a foreigner living in Japan, now’s the time to get that apron on and get cooking!

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Tokaido ukiyoe series by Hiroshige now free to share, we celebrate with five favourites

Lovers of Japanese art and history will be familiar with the world-famous set of ukiyo-e woodblock prints known as “The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido.” Created in the 1800s by famed artist Utagawa Hiroshige, the collection is a series of landscape paintings from each of the post stations on the ancient coastal walking route from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto and is frequently praised for the way it captures the spirit and essence of old Japan.

While the masterful works have garnered fans around the world, when it comes to sharing the images online, things haven’t been so easy. Now, limitations have been lifted and the beautiful series is free to share without copyright restrictions. What better way to celebrate the good news than to share some of the best with you, our dear readers?

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Eren and Levi drive Colossal Titan heads in Attack on Titan Takara Tomy cars

If you thought you’d seen all the weird and wonderful Attack on Titan collaborations on the market, you may want to think again because now Takara Tomy have jumped on the wagon with two special versions of their very popular and highly collectible Choro-Q toy cars.

These pullback-spring racer cars are known for their manga-inspired designs and cutely inaccurate proportions. However, this is the first time they’ve featured the likes of Levi and Eren. And just to add to the weird cuteness, they’re seated in the driver’s seat of an angry, disembodied Colossal Titan.

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Enjoy the taste of 1-UP and invincibility stars with new Lotte Super Mario gum

Joining in the 30th anniversary celebrations for the Super Mario Bros. video game series is popular Japanese gum brand Fit’s. Thanks to this unique collaboration, we’ll now be able to chew our way into the game with the awesome-sounding tastes of “Mario’s Invincibility Star flavour” and “Luigi’s Infinite UP flavour“.

So what does invincibility and an unlimited 1-UP taste like? And what type of gorgeous inside packaging do we have to look forward to? We check out the details ahead of this much-anticipated release.

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Hayao Miyazaki slips hints into film to let fans know May is the month to watch Totoro

When it comes to Ghibli movies, My Neighbour Totoro is arguably one of the animation studio’s best-known and most loved releases. The storyline, the atmosphere and the colours in the film all help to create a magical world that we yearn to visit again and again.

While fans might enjoy the film at any time throughout the year, real fans know that May is the month to watch Totoro. Like a favourite fruit coming into season, this Ghibli film has ripened and is at its peak watching period now, all due to some clever tricks that director Hayao Miyazaki worked into the story.

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Skiing samurai shreds the slopes with katana ski pole

Every ski season in Japan brings with it an army of skiers and snowboarders keen to make tracks in fresh, world-class powder snow. But how can you make your mark when you’re surrounded by hundreds of people decked out in ordinary ski jackets and snow goggles?

One keen warrior-loving skier found a solution to this problem by donning some heavy samurai armour on the slopes. And just to make sure he had everyone’s attention, he decided to forgo the ski poles for a long, single-edged sword known as a katana.

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Latest unbelievable chip flavour in Japan captures the runny egg flavour of onsen tamago

If you’ve been to an onsen resort in Japan, you’ve probably tried onsen tamago, eggs slow-cooked to runny perfection in the nutrient-rich waters of local hot springs. While the unusual texture and reported health and beauty benefits make these immensely popular with visitors, nobody has thought to capture and reproduce the flavour of hot spring eggs. Until now.

Curious for a taste, we went hunting and picked up a bag of the limited-release chips. Would they have a pungent, sulphur-like aroma? Or could this be as refreshing as a dip in onsen waters? Come with us as we find out!

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Spring walking event provides guided tour around Totoro forest loved by Hayao Miyazaki

Just north-west of Tokyo, in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, there’s a beautiful stretch of greenery known as Totoro’s Forest. Containing fields, hills and rice paddies, this is hallowed ground for any Ghibli fan. Not only is this the actual inspiration for the animated film My Neighbour Totoro, the land itself is so beloved by Studio Ghibli legend Hayao Miyazaki that he’s made a generous donation to protect the area from housing developments, participates in regular volunteer events and is said to take daily walks through the woods.

Now, for two days this spring, you too can take a stroll through Totoro’s magical forest, with a walking event organised by the Totoro no Furusato Foundation. Stopping at a number of scenic locations and covering a distance of 15 km each day, you never know who you might meet during this special event!

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Dog shows off his Dragon Ballz, channels Master Roshi with badass Kame Sennin stance

If you like to keep up with the latest pet antics online, you may have caught sight of this cheeky little pup recently. Aptly titled “An angry dog standing upright”, Reddit users have been having a field day with this image, photoshopping the disgruntled mutt into movie scenes and everyday situations with hilarious results.

Once the photo made it to Japan, however, Japanese netizens were shocked for another reason altogether. The dark eyes, fluffy beard and wily body of angry dog actually makes him a perfect doppelgänger for Master Roshi from the Dragon Ball animated TV series. Can you see the likeness?

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Get inspired by this cat’s early morning workout!

Thanks to the Internet, we’ve seen pets on treadmills, animals interfering with their owners’ workout routines, and curious pups and kittens joining adult yoga sessions with adorable poses of their own. In amongst all the action, though, there’s been one thing missing: this cat doing stomach crunches.

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The remarkable art of giving and receiving change in Japan

If you’re tired of receiving vacant smiles and flippant customer service at your local grocery store, you may want to make a trip to Japan, where the customer always comes first and every transaction is concluded with a graceful bow.

This remarkable attention to customer service even extends to the handling of cash transactions in shops around the country. Akin to an art form, a simple payment to a store clerk in Japan will inevitably set off a series of steps and precise movements to satisfy the needs of both parties and respectively complete the exchange. Come with us as we take you through the steps of a simple transaction in Japan. The attention to detail and the clever reasons for it will surprise you.

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Ultimate Transformers pop-up book perfectly captures the magic of TV show 【Video & GIFs】

In 1984, a group of transforming metal robots from Japan took the world by storm and spawned a global franchise of comic books, TV shows and blockbuster Hollywood movies. Recently, they added another notch to their post by celebrating 30 years of cool, shape-shifting abilities in the form of a mesmerising 3-D pop-up book, created by Matthew Reinhart.

Japanese netizens are currently swooning over the book for a number of reasons, and the big drawcard is Optimus Prime, whose massive form appears at the pull of a tab, towering over the book in all his glory. See the big guy with his pals and foes in action after the jump.

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We visit the brand-new Disney store for grown-up women in Tokyo’s Harajuku 【Photos】

Disney’s elegant princesses and cute characters have earned them legions of fans around the world. In Japan, adults of all ages are smitten, unashamedly saving up for specially branded clothing and accessories, and using precious vacation time for day trips to Tokyo Disneyland.

This love for all things Disney has resulted in three stores exclusive to Japan that cater directly to the adult market. Fukuoka and Chiba have each been blessed with a unique branch of their own, but it’s the newly opened store in Tokyo’s Harajuku, the birthplace of kawaii culture, that really sets out to impress.

Come with us as we take you through the store, with its pretty princess accents and attractive displays filled with bags, jewellery, smartphone accessories and more.

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Looking for a new favourite animal? Take your pick from these six adorable Hokkaido natives

We all know the truth about cats and dogs. They’re secretly plotting our demise with adorable antics that keep us distracted from our lives, both online and in the real world.

But what about wild animals? Usually the subject of serious documentaries, nature’s fauna seem to have a more mature approach to life than your average piano-playing cat or yoga-loving dog. But that doesn’t mean they’re not adorable!

Meet six of the cutest wild animals you’ve seen, all hailing from the cold upper reaches of Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. From fluffy carnivores to a genuine Pikachu lookalike, these little critters will melt your heart!

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First ever Easter Kit Kats in Japan feature 13 types of carrot-flavoured cuteness

Kit Kats in Japan are well-known for their creative designs and flavours, including limited releases for annual events and holidays such as Christmas, Halloween and even the cherry blossom viewing season.

Until now, there was one special holiday that always went unnoticed: Easter. This year, Nestle Japan are releasing their first ever Easter range, with a clever play on words that ties the religious festival to the month of April, the start of the Japanese school and business year.

According to Nestle, Easter is an ii sutaato, which means “good start” in Japanese. And with these gorgeous apple pie and carrot flavoured chocolates on the market, it looks like it’s going to be a very good start indeed.

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We try the new Tokyo Tower Burger from Mos Burger

We brought you news of its coming and now it’s time for us to take on the new Tokyo Tower Burger from much-loved Japanese hamburger chain Mos Burger. With 14 layers of goodness, including chilli sauce and fried onion rings, this promises to be a spicy encounter as well as a heck of a mouthful.

But with Mos Burger known for its relatively small serving sizes, just how big is their latest offering? Come with us as we take you through the burger dedicated to Tokyo Tower, bite by delicious bite.

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Japan’s Mos burger releases inaugural tower burger to celebrate new Tokyo Tower outlet opening

For years, fast food chain Lotteria has reigned supreme as the tried-and-tested purveyor of the loveable monstrosity known as the Tower Burger. Now it’s shouldering up to some heavy competition, as Japan’s most successful home-grown burger franchise, Mos Burger, is set to release a tower burger of their own. And it’s all in celebration of the opening of their newest location at Tokyo Tower.

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Edible H20: we try quivering water jelly sourced from holy mountains

We thought we’d found Japan’s purest dessert last year, following our discovery of an amazing water cake from Yamanashi. Now it turns out there’s something even purer – jelly made with water from Dewa Sanzan, three holy mountains in Yamagata.

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