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

Sayonara, sushi: 21 little things that people miss after leaving Japan

As a reader of RocketNews24, chances are you already have a pretty big soft spot for Japan. You may even already be living in the Land of the Rising Sun or have plans to fly out just as soon as circumstances allow.

But sometimes, even when we love a place with every fibre of our being, we just can’t stay forever. Family anxiously awaiting our return; work commitments; financial constraints and more mean that, at some point or other, many of us have to wave goodbye to Japan and return to our respective homelands.

Some of the things people miss about Japan will be immediately obvious, but others tend to sink in only a few weeks or months after returning home. Today, we’re taking a look at 21 of the little things, in no particular order, that Japan does so uniquely or so incredibly well that foreigners really start to pine for them once they finally say sayonara and head home.

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Enter the rumour mill: Hideo Kojima, Konami and the death of Silent Hills

If you have even a passing interest in video games, then you’ll no doubt have heard that Silent Hills, the new, crazy-scary, Daryl-from-The Walking Dead-featuring reboot of long-running survival horror series Silent Hill, has been cancelled.

For many, Silent Hills represented the sole reason to own a PlayStation 4 as it bobs along in a sea of multi-platform titles and high-definition re-releases of last-gen games. But with the removal of its “playable teaser” from the PlayStation Store today, Silent Hills is gone – poof – into dust because director and industry veteran Hideo Kojima is to part ways with parent company Konami the moment he finishes work on his other big project, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

But what exactly is going on over at Konami? And why on earth would the company scrap a game that was already garnering so much praise and generating such excitement? Join us after the jump as we explore the myriad rumours and theories regarding Kojima and Konami’s messy breakup.

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We take the Toyota i-Road electric vehicle out for a spin, find out it’s awesome 【Video】

Not quite a car, not quite a motorcycle, the Toyota i-Road is a three-wheeled electric vehicle designed just for urbanites. Small, sleek and ultra slim, on paper the i-Road seems like the perfect solution to Tokyo’s traffic jams and woefully limited – not to mention expensive – parking.

But what’s it like to actually drive one of these things? Our Japanese team headed out to try an i-Road for themselves. Check out their video after the jump!

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Just how fast is Japan’s new maglev train? See for yourself【Video】

It may not be due to begin ferrying passengers between Tokyo and Osaka for another 10+ years yet, but Japan’s magnetic levitation (maglev) train is already zipping up and down a special section of test track in Yamanashi Prefecture, and it’s nothing short of spectacular.

Check out our video of this thing in motion – oh, and try not to blink because you really might miss it.

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Paying for nothing: Japanese burger chain’s latest sandwich doesn’t actually have a patty

It’s not unheard of for customers at fast food restaurants to discover that the burger they ordered is either missing one of its ingredients or contains something that they asked to be left out. It’s quite another issue entirely, however, to receive a burger that’s missing its patty and for that order to still be technically correct.

But that’s exactly what wacky Japanese hamburger chain Lotteria has done with its latest creation. Say hello the “No-Shrimp Burger”; a shrimp burger without the shrimp.

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Man runs across race track in a desperate attempt to try an F1 car for himself 【Video】

I’m sure we’ve all been caught in the moment at some point in our lives and acted without considering the possible consequences. Still, I’d like to think that even the most impulsive of us – as we find ourselves clambering over a 10-foot fence and checking to see how close the cars travelling at upwards of 150 miles per hour are – wouldn’t risk running across a stretch of race track during a Formula One practice race like this man in China did earlier today.

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NEET “recruitment” video pokes fun at Japan’s laziest

It’s April, and in Japan that means a whole new crop of young, fresh-faced workers politely inching their way onto packed trains and nervously trotting into office buildings while wearing suspiciously clean and pressed office attire.

But what of the lazier portion of the population? The folks who are no longer in education, have yet to secure gainful employment or are undergoing training to become something worthwhile? These NEETs, as they’re known in Japan, have a busy schedule ahead of them as they settle into a daily routine of doing “sweet FA“, as my mother might say. But being a true slacker involves a surprising amount of work, as this great little parody video tells us.

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3-D printer “Lunchbot” will put pretty patterns on your rice while you get ready for work 【Video】

As a kid growing up in the 80s, I had imagined that by the year 2015, we’d either be waging war against an army of unstoppable killing machines of our own creation or zipping to work by hoverboard (or perhaps in phallus-shaped train pods) while enjoying eggs ‘n’ bacon in tablet form. Alas, science has let me down on both fronts, with the closest thing I have in my life to robot warfare being Apple constantly bugging me to sign in to the Cloud or Facebook suddenly deciding that we all have to download a totally separate smartphone app just to receive private messages.

But at least we can now let machines make our bento lunches look pretty while we’re busy ironing a shirt or looking for the keys to our stupid, dead dinosaur-fuelled cars. Say hello to Lunchbot.

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Distant relatives: Domestic cat’s face of horror on seeing pride of lions on TV

There’s a lot you can learn about your cat simply by paying attention to its body language. Tail up in the air and ears pricked? It’s happy to see you. Crouching down low with ears flat back? It’s probably scared. Hair standing on end and fangs bared? You might want to protect your jugular.

But even if you’re not a cat owner, we think you’ll be able to imagine how this particular kitty, who has just caught sight of a pride of lions on a TV documentary, is feeling when you get a look at his little face.

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I live in Animal Crossing – Get the music from Nintendo’s cutest village sim in your browser

If, like me, you spend the majority of your waking hours sitting in front of a computer screen, you probably have some kind of musical accompaniment to help keep the dark bunnies of insanity at bay. But it can be hard to find music that is both pleasant to listen to and not overly distracting while working, so you may find yourself spending more time choosing an audio track than getting any actual work done.

Thankfully, you can now get the music from Nintendo’s adorable community sim Animal Crossing right in your web browser as a free plugin for Google Chrome. And not only that, the tunes change depending on the time of day–just like in the game!

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This woolly Yoshi Amiibo will make magic happen on-screen, be your bedtime buddy afterwards

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that, as well as being a huge video game nerd, I’m also a bit of a tree-hugger at heart, albeit one that possess neither a tie-dyed t-shirt nor the coordination required to play hacky sack. So as much as I like the idea of surrounding myself with dozens of Nintendo’s cute little Amiibo figurines, I just can’t bring myself to add yet more mass-produced plastic junk to my home when I know that it’ll only end up in a landfill someday (come on, Amiibo can be hard to find, but they’re hardly collector’s items).

But this woolly Yoshi Amiibo announced by Nintendo of America last night is not only much kinder to the environment, it’s one of the most adorable things ever, so I don’t think I’ll be able to resist getting one of my own.

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Sony chooses today to announce “PlayStation Flow” goggles, body sensors and post-swim dryer

Hot on the heels of its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset, Sony has announced a series of brand new gaming accessories that are sure to make a splash. Say hello to PlayStation Flow, a set of swimming goggles, arm and leg sensors, and even a full-body dryer.

These things almost seem too bizarre to be true…

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Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest person, has died

Ms Misao Okawa, the woman recognised as the oldest living person on earth, has died in her nursing home, it was announced earlier today.

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Tokyo’s busiest train lines to get luxury “one-man” express pods by next April

Japan is well-known for its packed commuter trains. For decades, smartly dressed men and women have shuffled wordlessly into train cars each morning, all painfully aware that they will soon be getting up-close and personal with total strangers and have nowhere to run, hide, or even breathe freely until their stop. Glove-wearing station staff pack passengers in as tightly as they’ll go without them popping out the other side, each firm shove accompanied by a polite word or phrase thanking passengers for moving all the way inside the car or warning them to keep their various appendages clear of the (just barely) closing doors.

But earlier today, Japan was given a glimpse of a much more civilised, luxuriant commuting experience that may soon put an end to these sardine-can shenanigans. Better yet, this logistical revolution is coming soon: not twelve months from now, commuters will be able to zip into Tokyo in style, lying back in comfortable faux-leather chairs inside sleek, aerodynamic private pods that resemble something out of Minority Report.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the next generation of luxury travel, and its name is Kosoku.

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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 Withinthemed 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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