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

Ryokan etiquette: What not to do when staying at a traditional Japanese inn

Ryokan etiquette: What not to do when staying at a traditional Japanese inn

Ryokan are traditional Japanese hotels whose roots can be traced back to the Edo Period (1603–1868). Although nowhere near as ubiquitous as they once were, there still exist thousands of such establishments, which are most often associated with relaxation, hot spas and, of course, good Japanese food and drink. Even those who would ordinarily choose a bed over a futon would be wise to experience staying at a ryokan at least once during a visit to Japan, but there are a number of dos and don’ts that visitors – both Japanese and otherwise – really ought to know before setting foot inside one.

Trip Advisor Japan has helpfully published a list of tips, designed to look like set of cards teaching the characters from the Japanese syllabary, which instructs visitors on the right way to enjoy a Japanese inn. Some are as obvious as telling guests not to take stuff home with them, but there are others that really ought to be given your full attention.

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“Tanima Diver” necklaces celebrate cleavage by plunging right into it

“Tanima Diver” necklaces celebrate cleavage by plunging right into it

Remember ekoD Works, the creators of the booby T-shirt that allowed owners of even the most modest breasts to show off a pair of tremendous D-cups in public? Well they’re back, and once again they’re celebrating boobies with a brand new project that requires the financial backing of fellow cleavage enthusiasts.

This time around, the creative team is launching a series of necklaces dubbed “Tanima Diver”, which feature an array of tiny figures, from skydiving businessmen to men in full scuba gear, about to descend into the dark valley, or “tanima“, between a woman’s breasts.

Join us after the jump for more on this peculiar product and to take a look at the wacky promotional video its makers are hoping will convince you to part with your money.

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Bandai Japan unveils bizarre new turtle launcher capsule toys, curiously epic promo video

Bandai Japan unveils bizarre new turtle launcher capsule toys, curiously epic promo video

Capsule toy-dispensing machines like those dotted all over Japan were something of a rarity back when I was growing up in the UK. Instead, we had to make do with Kinder Surprise, the tiny chocolate eggs that came with a small plastic toy inside (which, weirdly, were banned in the US). Some of the trinkets that came in those little eggs were actually quite cool, and the build-it-yourself element was genuinely appealing to our curious young minds.

But none of those toys came even close to being as exciting – or incredibly random – as the latest release from Bandai Japan: swimsuit-wearing turtles that can be fired out of their shells.

Join us after the jump to meet the whole shell-less turtle gang and watch their needlessly dramatic promotional video.

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Run For Your Lives! Zombie-infested obstacle course heading to Singapore this October【Video】

Run For Your Lives! Zombie-infested obstacle course heading to Singapore this October【Video】

Like millions of people around the world, I am a member of a sports club. For a small monthly fee, I can take classes, run, cycle, lift weights, swim lengths in the pool or just relax in the sauna. And just like so many others, I hardly ever go.

I have every intention of exercising, I really do, but getting off my arse and carrying myself to the gym can be harder than the exercise itself sometimes. If only I had something to motivate me, something that wouldn’t take “I’ll go tomorrow” for an answer. Something like, oh I don’t know, a herd of ravenous zombies sprinting after me…

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Toyokazu Nagano’s “Magic Road” – the funniest, most adorable photos you’ll see today

Toyokazu Nagano’s “Magic Road” – the funniest, most adorable photos you’ll see today

Toyokazu Nagano is no ordinary photographer. Whereas most kinen shashinka, or commemorative photographers, will have their subjects don traditional attire and adopt the exact same poses as the hundreds of patrons before them, Nagano is instead on a mission to commemorate the moments in our lives that all too often go uncelebrated, building whimsical scenes around his subjects that let their true personalities shine out.

It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that the idea for setting up a portrait studio that celebrates life’s little moments and does away with the kimono, sombre expressions and set poses should have come from a series of genuinely adorable, laugh-out-loud-funny photos of his daughters taken on a place that quickly came to be known as the “Magic Road”…

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“That’s normal!” – Angry waitress voluntarily munches cockroach after customer finds it in his food

“That’s normal!” – Angry waitress voluntarily munches cockroach after customer finds it in his food

What would you do if you found a cockroach in your food while dining in a restaurant?

If you said “complain to the management” or “report the place to the department of sanitation”, you’d be wrong. Well, at least according to one waitress at a restaurant in Chengdu, China who told a customer that it was “normal” for creepy-crawlies to make it into restaurant food, and promptly swallowed the cockroach he had found to prove her point…

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Natural sounds: Stunning Kyoto-made speakers are made from 30-year-old Japanese cedar

Natural sounds: Stunning Kyoto-made speakers are made from 30-year-old Japanese cedar

If you’re the kind of person who appreciates traditional craftsmanship and doesn’t mind paying a little more to get it, we have a product for you today that you really have to see.

On sale from tomorrow, these stunning mini speakers are made by master craftsmen in Kyoto and use specially grown Japanese cedar, taking an incredible 30 years to go from planting to finished product.

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Here’s that “vagina kayak” Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi made with the help of crowdfunding

Here’s that “vagina kayak” Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi made with the help of crowdfunding

Remember Megumi Igarashi, the Japanese artist who shot to infamy after being arrested for sharing “obscene” 3-D data of her genitals online? Of course you do! Well today as a special treat we thought we’d share some photos of her enjoying the kayak she originally used that self-same data to make.

Well, it’s Friday isn’t it?

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Now trending in Japan: Duct-taped hug pillows

Now trending in Japan: Duct-taped hug pillows

Back in my teaching days, some of my more hormonally afflicted students would take great pleasure in asking me whatever inappropriate or perverted questions popped into their heads, often wrongly assuming that I wouldn’t understand what they were saying. Sometimes they’d even break out some crude English with questions like (pointing to my crotch) “Sensei, are you long boy?”, “Do you play sex?”, or “How about Japanese adult video?”

One question that came up curiously often, though, was whether I was “esu” or “emu“, or in English: “Are you a sadist or a masochist?”

I’ve never really thought of myself as either, but chats with a few of my Japanese coworkers soon led me to believe that a surprising number of people here consider themselves to be one or the other. Can you guess which group the owners of these gagged dakimakura belong to?

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World’s first One Piece theme park teased for 2015

World’s first One Piece theme park teased for 2015

Anime fan? Disneyland to sickly sweet for you? Then you may want to plan a trip to Tokyo early next year…

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Experience an entire day at Tokyo Disneyland in just 110 seconds of time-lapse video

Experience an entire day at Tokyo Disneyland in just 110 seconds of time-lapse video

Despite having lived in Japan for eight years now, I’ve never actually been to Tokyo Disneyland. I was lucky enough to be taken to Walt Disney World, Florida when I was a kid, but now that I’m older and infinitely more cynical, I don’t think I have the stomach for an entire day of cheery music and giant mice.

One thing people often ask me (after whether McDonald’s is any different here) when they learn that Japan has its own Disneyland, though, is whether the park is anywhere near as good as those in Florida or California. In the past, I’ve only been able to shrug and tell them that “the kids here go nuts over it, so probably,” but now, with this time-lapse video made by the folks at Tokyo Disneyland, I can safely say that it’s pretty much exactly the same.

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New in time for summer: Sparkling tomato booze!

New in time for summer: Sparkling tomato booze!

Personally, I can’t stand the taste of tomato juice. Even if I try to be healthy and buy a mixed fruit-and-vegetable drink, if there’s even a hint of tomato going on, the carton gets immediately shoved back in the fridge for my wife to try (read: finish off for me).

But if you’re one of those folks who just can’t get enough of that curious red stuff, there’s a new drink you may want to try this summer: Toma Toma Sparkling. Oh, and it has alcohol in it.

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Tea for trash – “Methane Cafe” offering free drinks in exchange for patrons’ kitchen waste

Tea for trash – “Methane Cafe” offering free drinks in exchange for patrons’ kitchen waste

It’s often said that, rather than splashing out on expensive new appliances and fitting solar panels to our roofs, it’s the smaller changes we can make in our daily lives that will have an enormous positive effect on the environment. The act boiling a kettle, for example, may seem like a relatively harmless one, but – often because we boil more water than we actually use – we waste thousands of tons of carbon every single day simply by making cups of tea or coffee.

With that in mind, a new members-only cafe has recently opened its doors in the town of Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which uses energy from patrons’ kitchen waste to boil the water needed for a relaxing brew, making the green tea they serve some of the greenest in the world by far.

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Happy birthday, Famicom! The console that bought video games back from the dead turns 31 today

Happy birthday, Famicom! The console that bought video games back from the dead turns 31 today

The Nintendo Family Computer, which quickly came to be known by the abbreviation-loving Japanese simply as the Famicom, was launched in its native land in 1983, a time when the world was still in black-and-white and people travelled to work by horse-drawn cart. It was a grim, unforgiving time, but games like Donkey Kong and Popeye made life that bit brighter, and before long people even had electricity and TV sets to connect their new consoles to instead of just staring at the back of the games’ boxes.

Today, on this space-age date of July 15, 2014, the Famicom turns 31 years old, so we felt it would be a good time to think about just how much we owe this little bundle of plastic and circuitry.

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Bring the beach to your room this summer with these cute new “fan accessories”

Bring the beach to your room this summer with these cute new “fan accessories”

We don’t know you guys, but we’re already starting to wish summer only lasted a week or so, and have started spending most of our waking hours in close proximity to our desk fans so as not to melt in the heat and humidity.

Thankfully, though, we now have something to entertain us while we sit with our faces inches from the fan trying to resist the idiotic compulsion to jam pencils in it. Now on sale in Japan, these “fan accessories” let you transform your household appliance into a relaxing beach scene, with miniature gulls, ships, shark, surfers and more that attach to your fan via lengths of coloured card, wafting along in the cool, life-restoring breeze it creates.

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Nintendo power: Mercedes-Benz Japan sees influx of customers following Super Mario commercial

Nintendo power: Mercedes-Benz Japan sees influx of customers following Super Mario commercial

Remember back in May this year when Mercedes-Benz teamed up with Nintendo to create an unusual little ad for the new Mercedes-Benz GLA? Featuring none other than Nintendo’s Super Mario behind the wheel of the sleek SUV, the commercial became quite the hit, with media and news outlets all over the world reporting on it.

Well, as it happens, it wasn’t just YouTube users the commercial was appealing to: Mercedes-Benz Japan has recently announced that it has seen a marked increase in visitors to its showrooms and demand for the car driven by this muscular Mario was far higher than expected.

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Japanese Line users unleash their inner troll after popular messaging app gets hacked

Japanese Line users unleash their inner troll after popular messaging app gets hacked

Although still relatively unknown in the West, Naver Company’s Line is by far the most popular messaging application in Japan right now, with millions of active users. But when an app comes to be embraced by so many people, it’s often only a matter of time before someone with too much time on their hands decides to spoil the fun for everyone by hacking users’ accounts in an effort to make money.

Cases of Line accounts being taken over have been on the rise since May this year, with many people claiming to have received messages from both anonymous users and those already in their contact list, asking them to purchase pre-paid WebMoney cards and send a photo of the card’s number over to them so that they can claim it.

Thankfully, most Line users are bright enough to recognise a scam when they see it, and know exactly how to respond…

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Hooked on helping: The man who is running the length of Japan for tsunami relief

Hooked on helping: The man who is running the length of Japan for tsunami relief

Aaron Porter is a man on a mission. Giving up drinking in 1998 and smoking two years later, he took up running. Before he knew it, his new hobby had become his life’s passion, and he began taking part in marathons, half-marathons and ultra-marathons, running thousands of miles in a single year. Running, Aaron notes, was his recovery.

Now, though, he wants to help others recover. With the goal of running the entire length of Japan, from Kyushu to Hokkaido, Aaron is aiming to raise as much money and awareness for tsunami relief as he can. To do this, however, he needs sponsorship. Which is where you come in.

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Taiwan’s newest boy band is painfully uncool, painfully popular【Videos】

Taiwan’s newest boy band is painfully uncool, painfully popular【Videos】

Pop idols and boy bands are ten a penny these days, with multi-million-dollar enterprises built on farming young talent, putting it on stage in matching outfits and telling it to follow a routine. Japan has more than its share of floppy-haired boy bands and short-skirted songstresses, many of them decidedly awful and with as much charisma as an emphysemic squirrel with a penchant for racism, but a new group from Taiwan called Ice Man is raising eyebrows all over Asia this week, not just because they’re “painfully uncool”, but because they have nevertheless garnered quite the following and are already making stacks of cash.

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Despite success abroad, even Sony’s PlayStation 4 can’t inject life into Japan’s console market

Despite success abroad, even Sony’s PlayStation 4 can’t inject life into Japan’s console market

There was quite the uproar when Sony announced that it would be releasing its newest console in its homeland months after going on sale in other territories. Judging by the reception the console has received, though, it looks like Sony may have been right to put Japan last when it came to PlayStation 4.

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