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

Food envy: Pizza Hut Korea launches new cream cheese cranberry crust pizza

Japan gets all kinds of delicious seasonal and limited-edition treats, so it’s not often that I find myself wishing I lived in one of its neighbouring countries instead. Today, though, I have most definitely been paid a visit by the green-eyed monster, as South Korea’s Pizza Hut has just launched a brand-new pizza with a crust filling that looks so mouthwateringly delicious that I can honestly say I wish I were having lunch in Seoul rather than Tokyo today.

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, prepare to feel very, very hungry.

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Crimea’s Natalia Poklonskaya goes brunette, net users ponder the existence of natural blondes

Despite being prosecutor general of a country more than eight thousand miles away and not, in fact, a scantily clad pop star desperately seeking fame, Crimea’s Natalia Poklonskaya has achieved near-celebrity status here in Japan. Since rocketing to fame in March this year, legions of admirers have dedicated hours to studying the young lawyer’s “angel-like” face, creating anime-style drawings of her and day-dreaming about being interrogated by her in a room with no windows.

Late last week, however, the formerly blonde Poklonskaya appeared at a State Council meeting with her hair tied back and noticeably darker. As you might imagine, this minor cosmetic change caused quite a stir here in Japan and quickly resulted in a debate over which look suited Poklonskaya best, with some online commenters seemingly confused not just about which of the two is her natural colour, but whether a natural blonde would ever go darker of their own volition.

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Kimono-clad princesses offer their sincere apologies for roadside construction in Kyoto

The fact that the word kawaii has now been accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary says a lot about Japan’s obsession with all things cute. If there’s a manhole cover or a health and safety pamphlet that needs brightening up somehow, you can pretty much guarantee that someone will design a cutesy character or scene to adorn it. That’s just how Japan rolls.

Never, though, have we come across barricades made to look like kneeling kimono-clad princesses before.

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Pokémon’s Ash Ketchum is crazy strong, can easily carry creatures twice his body weight

No one really minds when the creators of movies and TV disregard the laws of the universe a little in the name of producing quality entertainment. Would the space battles in Star Wars have been anywhere near as fun if they had all taken place in complete silence due to the lack of air required to carry sound waves? Not a chance. Does anyone really mind that a lit cigarette doesn’t actually produce enough heat to ignite a puddle of gasoline if it results in those epic, “casually walks away from burning building” shots in action movies? Not in the slightest.

But sometimes such use of artistic licence can slip by entirely unnoticed, and it takes someone to point out a few key facts before the reality of the situation hits home. Case in point: Ash from hit anime series Pokémon seemingly possesses super-human strength, and is able to carry pokémon that weigh vastly more than he does without even breaking a sweat.

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Is the New Nintendo 3DS worth the purchase? Early adopters in Japan share their thoughts

As its super-cutesy ad foretold, Nintendo launched its new and improved version of the 3DS here in Japan on October 11. Boasting features like a bigger, improved 3-D screen and extra buttons, yet retaining much its predecessor’s form factor, the portable appears to be more of an evolution than a revolution, but that didn’t mean people weren’t excited and looking forward to getting their hands on the new hardware.

As owners of the existing models of 3DS and 3DSLL, we aren’t really in the market for the new system quite yet, but were curious to hear what new adopters thought of the upgraded portable. Join us after the jump to find out whether the New Nintendo 3DS will be worth picking up when it launches in your country.

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“The Gaijin Nod” or “Ron, I’m so sorry about what happened yesterday”

I come before you today, readers of RocketNews24, with a confession. What I am about to tell you may shock you, but it’s eating away at me and I need to get it off my chest. You see, yesterday afternoon on my way to lunch, I did a fellow foreigner–a fellow gaijin, if you will–a tremendous injustice. It was not my intent to do so, but at the very moment this gentlemen, this benevolent stranger, put himself out there and sought to make a minor connection with another foreigner, I turned away.

That’s right, gentle reader, I accidentally ignored a Gaijin Nod.

Allow me to explain.

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Nose songs, bug teeth and dirt sticks: 10 Japanese words translated way too literally

As anyone who has studied Japanese for any length of time will tell you, leaning lists of vocabulary can be tough. On some occasions, the very first time you’ll meet a word will be on paper; some abstract or complex term that’s almost impossible to remember as it’s so rarely used in the real world. Other times, you’ll have heard–or perhaps even used a word yourself–in conversation, but when encountering it on paper for the first time it may appear completely alien due to the characters with which it’s written.

Thankfully, though, since kanji characters are based on meaning rather than speech sounds, it can be easy to decipher a written word even if you’re still not sure how to pronounce it. But sometimes, translating a word too literally can land you in all kinds of trouble, or at the very least leave you chuckling to yourself while native Japanese speakers are left wondering what’s so funny…

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“Beautiful foreigner walking a polar bear” spotted at Shibuya’s famous crossing

Twitter was set ablaze last night after dozens of people shared photos of “a beautiful foreigner walking a polar bear” between throngs of pedestrians at the world-famous Shibuya Scramble crossing in Tokyo.

Join us after the jump to see a video captured by an onlooker and learn more about the group to which this mysterious bear-keeping stranger apparently belongs.

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Japanese mothers react to being called by their first names after years of just being “Mama”

It might sound strange, but in a lot of Japanese households, the use of first names tends to become increasingly rare after the arrival of children and grandchildren. Although plenty of parents in the western world will also refer to each other as “Mommy” or “Daddy” in an effort to help their newborn or toddler pick up the words, or sometimes just to be cute, a man calling his wife “Mama” or “Okaasan” even after their kids have long flown the nest is perfectly common in Japan.

But what happens when a husband suddenly starts calling his wife by her first name, just like when they first started dating or had not long been married? Japanese cosmetics company Pola recently conducted an experiment to find out how simply being called by their first name can affect the health and physical appearance of young women who have over the years come to be known simply as “Mama”.

Promo or not, the effect was surprisingly powerful.

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YouTuber lists the “10 types of Japanese men” as according to Japanese women

If you or someone you know were described as a cabbage roll, how would you react? What if someone called you a hyena or said you were especially “creamy”?

There are apparently 10 distinct categories into which men fall in Japan, with women knowing exactly the type they’d like to get to know better or avoid altogether. Join us after the jump to find out whether you’re a Soy Milk, Bacon Asparagus, Creamy, or Cabbage kind of guy, or to learn how to apply these unusual tags to the men you meet in Japan.

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6 creative uses for old video game hardware

Dedicated collectors will pay vast sums of money for boxed, mint-condition gaming hardware or rare game cartridges. But with so many millions of units having been produced over the years, the sad truth is that much of the gaming gear we once adored or spent months saving up to buy now sits broken, gathering dust on a shelf somewhere.

So why not turn this old junk into something more useful? Recently shared by Japanese news site Naver Matome, these six creative uses for old gaming hardware range from the simple-but-effective to genuinely impressive, and may just inspire you to dust off that NES your brother spilt Coke over all those years ago.

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Miniature photographer enlists 100 tiny friends to try to bend his new iPhone 6 Plus

Just days after their launch, a handful of somewhat worrying images appeared online showing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones which had bent, apparently after having been kept in their owners’ pockets while sitting. Both Apple and independent reports have suggested that cases of bending are extremely rare, but even so, “bendgate” continues to play on consumers’ minds, no doubt in part due to Apple’s competitors playing it to their advantage and a few overly zealous Android fanboys sharing images of bent iPhones with such frequency that you’d swear they were on Samsung or HTC’s payroll.

Japanese designer and photographer Tatsuya Tanaka, however, is so confident that his iPhone 6 won’t bend that he enlisted the help of 100 tiny friends to put it to the test. As it happens, Apple’s newest smartphone can even take the weight of a zebra, giraffe, polar bear and elephant before it comes anywhere near to getting a case of the bends…

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Datel Japan reveals headphones with Game Boy-themed in-line mic, we reach for our Christmas list

Heads up, gamers and audiophiles! Datel Japan has just announced that its latest gaming hardware-themed accessory, dubbed the “Retro GB earphone mic”, will go on sale next month. And it is truly a thing of tremendous, geeky beauty.

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Limited edition Psycho Break/The Evil Within PlayStation 4 consoles unveiled

Resident Evil 4 director Shinji Mikami’s upcoming survival horror title Psycho Break (The Evil Within in the West) is now just a couple of weeks away from release, and its makers have just announced a pair of limited edition PlayStation 4 consoles featuring the game’s title and an image of the insane asylum in which it is set.

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New “kiss eyeglasses” can be worn by two smooch-loving people at once

Ever been so enamoured with someone that you simply couldn’t stop kissing them? Of course you have; you read RocketNews24! But what if both you and your fellow face-munching lover are glasses wearers? Isn’t it annoying when your frames keep clacking and bumping together?

Thankfully, Tokyo-based glasses maker Blinc Vase has the solution!

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Miyako-jima’s Paantu Festival: Traumatizing small children to bring them good luck

Say hello to your newest recurring nightmare, kids!

Held in Miyako-jima, one of the smallest of the Okinawa Islands, Paantu is a centuries-old festival which takes place during the ninth month of the Chinese calendar each year. During the festival, groups of men are elected to dress as the paantu, evil spirits covered from head to toe with mud and foliage, and are given the task of driving out demons and cleansing the island of bad luck.

Of course, like any good festival involving involving mud-covered monsters, this also means scaring the life out of small children…
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Make your own chocolate, cake or popsicle game controllers with these molds from ThinkGeek

If there’s one thing that makes video gaming even more fun than it already is, it’s appropriate snack food. And while we’d never normally suggest that chocolate and controllers could possibly be a good combination (seriously, greasy controllers are a big no-no), we can safely say that you won’t find a more appropriate gaming fuel accompaniment than a plate of tiny, edible classic controllers.

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Creative problem solving: Vending machine dispenses cans with 5 yen coins taped to them

One cool thing about living in Japan is that, whether you’re in a bustling city or the open countryside, you’re never too far from a vending machine. True, you won’t find any canned ramen in many machines outside of Akihabara, but so long as there’s power to run one, you’re pretty much always within a few hundred metres of a machine selling both chilled and hot drinks.

We’ve seen some unusual things turning up in Japan’s vending machines over the years, but cans of peach juice with money taped to them is definitely a new one.

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Japanese people list 10 ingredients they never, ever want to find in their miso soup

Miso soup is a staple food in pretty much any Japanese household. Served morning, noon or night, this thin, slightly salty broth is tasty, filling, and, as you’ve probably already realised, is the perfect accompaniment to rice. It is so deeply ingrained in Japanese culture that in some areas of the country there even exists a joke that a man may indirectly propose to a woman simply asking, “Will you make my miso soup for me every morning?”

But one person’s idea of a perfect bowl of miso soup can be another’s salty soy nightmare. With so many ingredients that go, or at least seem to go, well in a bowl of Japan’s favourite broth, it can be difficult to find a bowl that ticks all the boxes, and there are some ingredients that – depending on one’s upbringing, personal tastes or geographical location – are considered simply unacceptable.

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McDonald’s Japan is now adding to my giant pile of home delivery junk mail

In our modern digital age, it can be somewhat jarring to see Japan clinging so doggedly to its analogue roots. Despite being considered by many to be the home of technology, Japan is also a place where the fax machine is still considered a vital piece of office equipment, flip-phones are holding their own against smartphones, and without actual, physical cash, it is sometimes impossible to make a payment in a store or restaurant.

Like so many people these days, on the rare occasion that I order food in, I’m far more inclined to reach for my laptop than my phone, and a kitchen drawer stuffed with fast food menus is now something that I associate only with my childhood and university days. Even so, I receive anywhere between 10 and 15 fast food delivery menus through my door each week living here in Tokyo, with Pizza Hut and pals feeling the need to constantly remind me of their existence by showing me brightly coloured pictures of their food and telling me that they’re just a phone call away.

And now, it would seem, McDonald’s Japan has joined the ranks of companies employing shifty-looking dudes on scooters to push junk mail through my mail slot.

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