Oona McGee

All Stories by Oona McGee

Ebizo Ichikawa XI unmasks the world of kabuki with amazing collection of behind-the-scenes images

Kabuki is well-known around the world as one of Japan’s most distinct forms of traditional theatre. The elaborate costumes, dramatic makeup and stylised poses have been captivating audiences for more than four centuries, yet when it comes to finding out what goes on behind-the-scenes, very few people have been able to step behind the curtain.

Now, one of today’s most popular kabuki stars is keen to change all that by letting the world share his dressing room, follow his daily routine and even peek inside his family home. Come with us as we take a look at some of the fascinating photos from Ebizo Ichikawa XI, one of Japan’s most revered cultural icons.

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Welcome to the world of cats in kimonos

In a country where pets outnumber children, animals in Japan are some of the most spoilt in the world. It’s not uncommon to see owners carrying dogs like babies, pushing them in specially-made prams and taking them on onsen hot spa holidays. The nation even has 11 cat islands where felines roam free and locals lavish them with attention.

So when big events and special holidays roll around, Japan’s furry friends also get dressed up for the occasion. Pet parents know no bounds when it comes to dressing their little ones and what better way to share the joy than with tiny elaborate kimonos? Join us as we take a look at some of Japan’s most stylish kittens below!

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The best way to tie up your kimono? With a cat obi, of course!

Japanese kimono come in countless designs and colours, but it’s often the elegant obi  (sash) that takes centre stage. Whether it’s colourful or subdued, simply tied or intricately folded, the sash is more than just a way to tie the outfit together; it’s the element that lets you show off a bit of your personality in an otherwise restrictive garment.

So what better way for kimono-wearing cat lovers to draw some attention to their wardrobe than with an adorably folded feline? And with such a variety to choose from, there’s bound to be a kitten that’s purr-fect for you!

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Celebrate Usagi-chan’s birthday at the Sailor Moon Crystal café that’s open for four days only!

Every year on June 30 there’s one particular girl who receives birthday messages from thousands of people around the world. Rather than respond to them all personally on Facebook like most of us would, this young lady gives back the love by protecting the planet in the form of Sailor Moon.

This year, a special cafe will be opened in her honour for a four-day long birthday party featuring themed drinks, desserts and even a special birthday cake for visitors to enjoy. We take a look at what’s in store for Usagi-chan’s birthday party after the break.

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Iron Man Samurai is the most awesome thing you’ll see today 【Video】

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably spent some of your daydream time contemplating awesome collaborations like Colossal Titans morphing into toy cars, Crayolas whittled into Star Wars character heads or even cats flying through space on pieces of sushi.

While we may not have the graphic design skills to visually realise half of our crazy awesome ideas, there’s one lucky man who can. Jack Lee, an artist from Hong Kong, has successfully melded Iron Man with a Japanese samurai warrior and the image he came up with is simply amazing. We take a look at his time-lapse video to see just how much effort went in to creating the perfect Iron man samurai.

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Attack on illicit substances! Colossal Titan stars in Tokyo Government anti-drug campaign 【Video】

Anti-drug posters and commercials usually have a way of getting us down. Dark images of despair, death and homelessness rely on realism to get the message across, leaving us with tiny mental scars as a warning to stay away from the dark side and walk on the right side of life.

Here in Japan, though, anti-drug tactics are very different. Instead of scaring citizens, animated images are used to inform and empower people. And when the Tokyo Metropolitan Government enlists the help of the Survey Corps and Colossal Titan to fight the war on drugs, you’ve got a campaign that catches everyone’s interest.

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The secret reason why this Pikachu tattoo is one of the best you’ll ever see

Tatts, booze, and Pikachu. It’s not always a combination that goes down well but in this case, it’s given birth to something very special.

Netizens around the world are going crazy for the artwork above, praising the artist for the creative design and commending her for helping a customer out with an embarrassing problem. Can you guess what secret is hidden within the image?

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Gigantic girls take over your favourite Tokyo tourist spots 【Videos】

As a tiny island packed with millions of people, Japan knows all about the small things. From compact serving sizes to tiny houses on narrow streets, everything here is designed for convenience to help cope with the stress of overcrowding and the real possibility of stepping on someone else’s toes.

Now, as Japan throws itself into the 21st century, it’s looking towards the bigger things: its place in the wider context of Asia and the Pacific Region; the 2020 Olympics and, why not; gigantic girls.

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Video trailer brings us a city overrun with terrifying Miffy zombies

Miffy, the adorable fluffy white rabbit from Holland, has several reasons to be angry. Not only has she been to court to kill off Cathy, the doppelgänger bunny character created by Sanrio, she also has to put up with people confusing her for Hello Kitty, and then to top it all off, her creator, Dick Bruna, announced his retirement last year. Sometimes, it’s all too much for a bunny to bear.

So it’s not hard to imagine that Miffy would one day be out for blood, especially if she were to become a flesh-eating zombie. And when you multiply one zombified Miffy with an army of hundreds, things become genuinely terrifying. Take a look at the bunny apocalypse that’s threatening to take down the citizens of Hong Kong and cheer for the group that fights them after the break.

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Japanese professor specialising in bone structure thrills students with skeleton Pikachu sketch

What would Pikachu look like under the flesh? It’s a question that’s, weirdly, been asked a number of times over the years, with several hypotheses appearing online in the form of cute yet macabre drawings, usually sketched by talented artists and anime fans.

But what if we asked for a professional opinion? As far as we know, Pikachu’s official X-ray slides are yet to be discovered, but if they ever were, they would probably look just like the image above. Because this latest rendering of the electric Pokémon’s skeletal structure comes from the mind of a professor who studies bones and vertebrae for a living.

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Everything is awesome when you own an Akira bike built entirely from Lego

If you’re equal parts anime fan and Lego enthusiast, this amazing motorised model will be right up your alley. It’s Kaneda’s iconic motorcycle from the animated cult film Akira and it’s made entirely from 1,091 Lego pieces.

The bike is so unique it can only be made with a guidebook and several limited-edition parts that are no longer in production, making this one of the most sought-after items amongst Lego-building Akira fans. Sightings are understandably rare so when we found a detailed video on the internet, we had to take a closer look.

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Cute Korean girls share before and after photos with a simple beauty technique that takes seconds

Everyone loves a makeover. From Cinderella to Grease to the Devil Wears Prada, the story of the dowdy girl who gets a haircut, throws on a new outfit and becomes a different woman is one that never ceases to entertain.

Now we don’t have to sit through the suspense of an entire movie to get to the big reveal, because girls in South Korea are going from ugly duckling to jaw-droppingly cute in a matter of seconds. How do they do it? It’s called “gagdoui jung-yoseong“, and the difference it makes to these pretty ladies is absolutely astounding.

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Japanese diners are raving about “fish parfait” made with grilled bonito and ginger

People in Japan love parfait. From massive concoctions topped with an entire slice of cake to more inventive creations designed to represent Japanese bonsai, we’ve always been keen to share the best of our frozen dessert finds with our dear readers, and today is no exception.

Because today we bring you the fish parfait. To be specific, this is a lightly grilled sashimi bonito parfait, which combines the rich, succulent flavours of seared fish and garlic with the sweet taste of ice cream. So what is it that makes this such a successful combination?

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Me want Great Wave: Cookie Monster takes his cookies to 1830s Hokusai ukiyoe woodblock painting

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by legendary ukiyoe artist Hokusai is well-known around the world as one of Japan’s most iconic pieces of artwork. Featuring Mt Fuji in the distance, a smattering of ocean spray and a mammoth breaking wave, this is a scene that’s been admired by millions for well over a century.

And where there’s an audience, there’ll also be a star trying to steal the spotlight. Providing poof to the theory, we present you with Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, who’s taken his favourite baked goods back in time, all the while singing, “Sea is for cookie, that’s good enough for me ♫ Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with sea”.

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Where’s Wally? Out of the picture now because Japanese Twitter users want to find Pikachu instead

One of the best things to come barrelling out of the 80s alongside Donkey King and the Garbage Pail Kids was a man with glasses and a fondness for red and white shirts. Known as Wally (or Waldo in the US and Canada), the star of a successful book series mesmerised people around the world by simply hiding out in massive scenes involving hundreds of tiny characters.

This challenge of finding a needle in a haystack is the gift that just keeps on giving because now clever artists in Japan have been creating artworks concealing the whereabouts of our beloved Pikachu. The best thing about these is that once you’ve found the star of the show, you can then keep going until you’ve found all your favourites from the Pokémon series! It’s time to test out your hunting skills after the jump.

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We check out world-first Pikachu cup clingers ahead of their release date

Have you ever wished you could stick to your long-lost New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, kick those bad habits and take better care of your mental and physical health? Well, June might be the time to turn things around because Pikachu is here to help kick you into shape!

Whether it’s getting your eight glasses of water a day or downing that bright green shot of spirulina, this special series of Pikachus will cling to the side of your cup and keep you company while you stay healthy and hydrated this summer.

With six different poses available, we’ve been lucky enough to catch ’em before their official release in Japan. Come with us as we take a very special sneak peek at the coveted little critters after the break.

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Denim ice cream, burgers and steamed buns now on sale from Japan’s jeans capital

About three hours from Tokyo on the bullet train is a beautifully preserved area in Okayama Prefecture’s Kurashiki known as the Kurashiki Bikan historical quarter. Set alongside a picturesque canal, the district has long been known for its traditional storehouses and shops, but now it’s looking to celebrate one of its most profitable exports – denim.

With more than 100 family-run indigo and dyeing factories operating throughout the prefecture, denim has long been an important part of area’s economy. And what better way to celebrate the locally made textile than with a selection of special foods? Come with us as we show you what burgers, ice cream and steamed buns look like when crafted in a denim blue hue.

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We mix banana and peach potato chips with toast, yoghurt and granola for a new Japanese breakfast

If you thought traditional Japanese breakfasts were unusual, with their servings of fish, pickles, rice and soup, you’ll be in for a surprise when you see the new offering that’s coming to the table to greet you in the morning.

It’s time to say hello to the morning potato chip. Especially designed for breakfast consumption, these bags of fruity – yes, fruity – goodness are said to combine the energy-giving health benefits of the humble potato with two popular fruit flavours: peach and banana.

So how could these chips possibly fare as breakfast meals? Come with us as we head out into unchartered territory, pairing potato crisps with yoghurt, toast, and a bowl of granola and milk. Will the results be delicious? Read on to find out!

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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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