Philip Kendall

Editor

Hailing from Liverpool in the UK, Philip Kendall made Japan his second home in the summer of 2006 after dolefully abandoning his childhood dream of becoming a ghost buster. Setting up camp in beautiful Fukushima prefecture, he brought joy to literally hundreds of junior high school children as ‘that tall, handsome teacher’ or more often ‘the one with the big nose,’ before relocating to Tokyo at the end of 2011.

Writer, foodie, gamer and eternal student of the Japanese language, Philip now works as a freelance writer and translator, submitting to Tokyo Weekender magazine and website and Learn Japanese Pod, as well as co-running Suds, Grub & Joe- a website dedicated to all things beer, food and coffee-related in Tokyo. Follow his ramblings on his personal blog or on twitter.

All Stories by Philip Kendall

Must try harder: This crane game in Japan is laughably bad 【Video】

Crane games, AKA claw games or even “UFO catchers” if you’re in Japan, have always been a bit of a con. This much we know already. They’re designed so that the claws exert barely enough force to grip the trinkets we’re so lusting after, and the prizes are usually worth much less than it costs to actually win one of them to begin with. Even so, they’re great fun, and Japan’s arcades are chock-full of them, luring us in with their various exciting, and sometimes not-so-exciting prizes.

But this particular crane game, which asks arcade goers to attempt to pick up a what appear to be miniature moe-style figurines, is not so much tricky as plain lazy.

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Nintendo promises brand new console, announces deal to release mobile games

Video game giant Nintendo has announced that it is partnering with Japanese mobile firm DeNA to produce a series of mobile applications featuring key Nintendo properties. Furthermore, Nintendo has gone on record to state that it has a new home console in the works and that mobile connectivity will play a key role in its future.

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Asia-only Metal Gear Solid V PlayStation 4 is kind of sexy, reminds us of a Famicom

Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been on the market for fewer than 18 months, but already we’ve seen about as many special-edition incarnations of the console, from a lacklustre The Evil Within-themed unit, to an undeniably cool metal Dragon Quest model, to one, for some reason, based on Disney’s Frozen.

And now, thanks to a joint venture between Konami and Sony, there’s yet another model joining the special-edition ranks: The Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain PS4.

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Sony shows off its new and improved virtual reality headset, promises 2016 release date

VR unit-awaiting heads up, gamers and tech fans. Sony has announced that Project Morpheus, its virtual reality add-on for PlayStation 4, will go on sale during the first half of 2016. And the latest build is boasting some impressive stats.

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Salute your soy – the designer of Kikkoman’s iconic red-capped soy sauce bottle has died

The next time you sit down to enjoy a meal in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant, or perhaps this very evening when you open your kitchen cupboard at home, be sure to give your red-capped bottle of soy sauce a tiny salute. The designer of the now-iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, Kenji Ekuan, has died at the age of 85.

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“Sorry, Grandma, I thought you were the devil…” – Korean game addiction ad is painfully stupid

The South Korean government recently released a video warning the general public about the dangers of video game addiction. The 25-second ad, which has already been edited and re-released following complaints about its content, shows the ways in which overexposure to video games can adversely affect the mental health of otherwise healthy young men and women.

It’s also spectacularly stupid.

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The terrifying moment a passenger plane clips a highway before crashing into a river in Taiwan

A passenger plane carrying 58 people has crashed into a river near in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, just minutes after taking off, narrowly avoiding smashing into an elevated highway as it went down. Footage of the incident, which resembles a scene from a Hollywood action film, was caught on drivers’ dashboard-mounted cameras and has been shared online.

We should warn you that some readers may find the following footage unsettling.

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Smartphone maker HTC launches smack-talking rap video, leaves us quite literally asking “WTF?”

“Y’all can’t be serious man,” HTC’s painfully awkward rap video begins as the beat kicks in. And, for a second there, we kind of wondered the exact same thing ourselves.

Released last week by Taiwanese (high) tech company HTC, “Hold the Crown” is an ultra-low budget battle-rap dedicated to the self-proclaimed “king” of smartphones, the HTC One M8, and calling out rivals the iPhone 6 and Samsung’s Galaxy. It’s one of the most baffling yet brilliant things we’ve ever seen.

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“If you are eating chocolate, how do you know where to stop?” – Being Black in China 【Video】

The folks from YouTube channel TMD Shanghai are back with yet another quirky observational video about life in China. After nailing the differences between girls in the north and those in the south and mercilessly sending up both single white and Chinese men, this time they’re here to talk about what it’s like to be black in China with a video titled, well, Being Black in China.

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Islamic State militants demand $200m for release of Japanese nationals, threaten their execution

A video purported to have been made by Islamic State militants showing a man dressed in black standing over two Japanese hostages has been released online. The video addresses both the Japanese government and Japanese public directly and demands a ransom of US$200 million, to be paid in less than 72 hours.

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Get some Nintendo on your Sony with these PS4 skins (Oh, and they have an Evangelion one too!)

As odd a concept as it may sound to some, had the 1991 deal between Nintendo and Sony gone off without a hitch, not only might the PlayStation brand as we know it today not even exist, but gamers the world over might be able to play titles like Super Mario 3D World and Wii Sports on Sony-made hardware. Instead, with Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all vying for our hard-earned cash, console gamers are faced with a choice: choose a platform to invest in or live on nothing but baked beans for a year and buy them all.

If you’re a Sony fan and have already picked up a PS4, no doubt you’re as pleased with your purchase as we were with ours. But there’s no denying that Nintendo’s creations have a certain appeal to them, and few of Sony’s first-party characters could ever compete with Mario et al. Thankfully, third-party retailer LUCKY D has you – and your PlayStation – covered, as they’re selling sticker skins for PlayStation 4 featuring everything from Pikachu to Evangelion‘s Asuka.

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Heads up Aussies, Shinjuku’s insane Robot Restaurant is paying you a visit next month!

Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant is the stuff of legend the world over. An epic music and light show with a dash of burlesque flair featuring enormous robots, exotically dressed dancers and more neon than the original and 2010 sequel to Tron put together, it’s a must-see for anyone visiting Tokyo and looking for a dose of quintessential “WTF Japan?” weirdness (no, seriously, just check out its website).

But what if you’re not a trust-fund Toby or a highly successful business magnate with the cash to splash on weekend trips to Japan? Those plane tickets don’t come cheap, and Tokyo is known for being on the pricey side, so short of a wealthy aunt popping her clogs or your idea for edible cutlery coming to fruition, you may never have the chance to see this baffling spectacle of awesomeness. If you happen to live in or near Sydney, though, your feet won’t even need to leave terra firma for you to experience it, thanks to a unique event coming up in February.

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Holy crop! Chinese netizens react as government clumsily cuts cleavage out of period drama

Right from its first airing in December last year, Chinese period drama The Empress of China has been a firm public favourite. Starring producer Fan Bingbing as Wu Zetian – the only woman in Chinese history ever to reign as supreme leader – the drama focuses on events during the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE) and features a host of elaborate costumes and sets, paid for by a budget of appropriately regal proportions.

Viewers were left disappointed recently, however, when the show was suddenly pulled from the air, with its broadcaster citing only “technical issues” as the reason for the removal. The show returned just days later, but rather of evoking cheers of joy, the internet was quickly filled with messages of anger and frustration from its viewers.

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Cheese & Pizza chocolate!? We force-feed our coworkers the weirdest Japanese snack ever

Tirol chocolate has been around in Japan for as long as any of us can remember. Super tasty, available in dozens of flavours, and cheap enough even for elementary school kids to buy with their pocket-money, you’ll find these tiny squares of goodness in pretty much any convenience store or supermarket up and down the country. Occasionally, Tirol (or chiroru as it’s pronounced in Japanese) will release a handful of limited-edition flavours, fusing sweets like custard pudding and tiramisu together with their tasty choco to create unusual, moreish combinations.

But every now and then, they’ll try something really, really strange. Like Cheese & Pizza chocolate.

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Happy New Year and thank you from RocketNews24!

Well, folks, we’ve done it again. We’ve somehow survived yet another year without being wiped off the face of the planet or the interwebs, and I’m happy to report that our humble shrine to news, entertainment and general weirdness from Japan and Asia is now bigger, busier, and – dare I say it – slightly better looking than ever before.

Last year went by in a flash for us. Our team grew from 15 to 22, and we put out roughly twice the amount of content that we did in 2013. In return, we saw our readership positively explode, and now almost 190,000 of you kind souls allow our quirky news nuggets to appear alongside your friends’ tedious selfies and photos of their hideous children in your Facebook feed. It may sound like a bit of a cliché, but we really wouldn’t be here without you, and it’s only thanks to our readers that we’re able to keep on growing and can keep Mr Sato stocked with the Cuban cigars and exotic silk underwear he so voraciously consumes each day.

Despite our recent growth spurt, RocketNews24 is still staffed by a very close-knit team. Unlike some faceless media machine operated by corporate giants, we still get fuzzies when you like us and feel genuinely disappointed when you don’t. We read every single one of your comments (yes, even the long, ranting ones that make us want to double-check that the front door’s locked before heading to bed) and we take what you say to heart. We aim to make RocketNews24 a place that people like to come to for everything from commentary on recent news events and Japanese internet chatter to cooking tips and the latest from our Asian feline overlords, and it’s through your feedback that we know where and how we need to improve. So thank you. Your clicks and comments mean a lot.

Lest you worry that, what with all this back-patting and uncharacteristic seasonal cheer, we’re about to start slacking off, let me assure you that we have big plans for 2015. I won’t spoil any surprises, but I can say that we’ve already started work on a couple of projects that we think you’ll really like, and which – should the Internet gods be so kind as to shine their rays of benevolent fibre optic light on us – will soon become a regular part of RocketNews24. We’ll also be aiming to increase our output even further and will be striving to bring you not just better quality news and original content but to deliver it faster than ever before.

Once again, a genuine thank you from everyone here at RocketNews24 for all your support throughout 2014. No matter what your friends and colleagues may say behind your back, to us you are a vision of loveliness, and we don’t think you smell like turnips or wet suede shoes in the slightest.

Happy 2015! Here’s to a great Year of the Sheep!

Love dolls, strippers, jacuzzis and drugs: The Philippines’ largest prison gets raided by police

Armed police stormed New Bilibid Prison, the Philippines’ largest penitentiary, earlier this week after it was reported that inmates were living lives of debauchery despite being incarcerated for their respective crimes. Many of prisoners were found to be in possession of numerous luxury items and living in private “villas”, with police even uncovering a room built especially for strippers to perform.

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Awkward: Official PlayStation montage features image taken from Wii U game, Pixiv user’s fan art

Take a quick look at the character-packed image above. That’s a whole lot of faces, right? And in the 20 years since Sony’s first video games console was released, they’ve all appeared on some PlayStation platform or other. Even if you’re more of an Xbox kid or a PC gamer, you have to admit that’s an impressive lineup, and for older PlayStation fans especially it’s bound conjure up a lot of happy gaming memories.

But in creating this image in honour of 20 years of PlayStation, it would seem that someone over at Sony Europe struggled to source one or two character images that really fit in with their vision. You’d think that being on the inside, an artist working for Sony would have access to a whole host of officially licensed images, but it looks like they decided to turn to the internet for help, using an image of Mega Man as he appears only in Nintendo’s latest edition of Super Smash Bros, and even borrowing a piece of fan art created by a Japanese Pixiv user, who later spotted their work on Sony’s official site. Awkward.

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Survey ranks convenience store rice balls – salmon, sea-dwelling poultry & plants steal the show

Known to many in the English-speaking world simply as rice balls, onigiri are as much a part of daily life in Japan as sandwiches are in the West. Although they’re often eaten as snacks or included along with a handful of other items as a packed lunch, for many Japanese onigiri are the ultimate comfort food; something that, no matter which part of the country they find themselves in, they can easily make or pick up from a convenience store.

Of course, store-bought onigiri can never come close to those pressed into shape by someone who knows their way around a rice cooker, but they always hit the spot nevertheless, and hundreds of thousands of these little lumps of savoury goodness are eaten every single day. But what are Japan’s most loved convenience store rice balls? And do tastes vary from chain to chain? Well, according to a recent survey, there are three onigiri fillings that Japan is especially fond of.

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Dog tummy wraps are all the adorable rage in Japan this winter【Photos】

When Japanese people decide to become pet owners, they really throw themselves into it. Perhaps because of the relative scarcity of pet-friendly apartments in the city, dog owners in particular tend to be either home owners or have slightly higher incomes and can afford to live somewhere that allows them to live with their four-legged pal. For that reason, many pet-owning urbanites think nothing of buying expensive leashes and clothing items for their furry friends or paying exorbitant sums to have their dog shampooed and expertly groomed, and you’ll sometimes even see people riding the trains with their dogs in strollers or designer carriers.

We’re not really ones for dolling our pooches up, and our cats wouldn’t be seen dead in half the outfits that are available online, but this year’s must-have dog fashion item is one that we could definitely got on board with: tummy-warming “haramaki”.

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Put some old-school in your new-gen with this 20th Anniversary special edition PlayStation 4

The original PlayStation turned 20 years old yesterday, so to mark the occasion Sony Computer Entertainment has unveiled a special limited-edition “20th Anniversary” PlayStation 4 console pimped out with the original 32-bit PlayStation’s colour scheme and logo as well as commemorative etching on both the console and controller.

Sexy hardware photos and videos after the jump!

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