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

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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Sony’s PlayStation turns 20 years old, we look back at how it all began and the games we loved

If you grew up in the ’90s, chances are the original PlayStation was a part of your life. Arriving on the console scene long after rivals Nintendo and Sega, PlayStation was an altogether different kind of beast. Its games shipped on CDs, it boasted spiffy three-dimensional graphics, and one of its flagship titles even featured music by abrasive electro pop group The Prodigy. It may have been a dull grey slab of plastic, but PlayStation was the console that all the cool kids wanted.

By some cruel trick played on us by the forces of nature, Sony’s original PlayStation turns 20 years old today. This makes us feel tremendously bitter and old, but at the same time we thought this would be a good opportunity to look back at some of the great games that came into being through the console, and also to revisit the surprisingly dramatic tale of how PlayStation was born.

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Give your Game Boy a new lease of life with upcoming HDTV adaptor “hdmyboy”

Nintendo’s Game Boy recently turned 25 years old and is fondly remembered by people of all ages the world over. With more than 118 million units sold worldwide, it’s fair to say that the monochrome portable was something of a hit, and there’s almost certainly a Game Boy or two lying around in a cupboard or attic near you at this very moment.

A pair of retro gaming enthusiasts are hoping to breathe new life into the Game Boy with a prototype product that allows gamers to hook their original 1989 portable up to their modern, high-definition TV sets with zero fuss. Dubbed the hdmyboy, the adaptor is still in development, but with the help of backing from Kickstarter users, the guys behind it are hoping to bring it to the world as early as next spring.

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Turn desk time into battle time with this gloriously unnecessary replica Mega Man helmet!

Anyone who regularly reads my ramblings here on RocketNews24 will know that I’m steadily building up a sizeable list of geeky trinkets I intend to pester my loved ones for this Christmas. From chocolate video game controllers to bars of soap shaped like Game Boy cartridges, very few of my Christmas wish-list items would look out of place on a child’s letter to Santa.

But when the trinkets are as awesome as this replica, LED-laden Mega Man helmet, I really couldn’t give a Jimmy Riddle what anyone else thinks: they belong on the list.

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Press as hard as you like, these new mechanical pencils just refuse to break

I have a tiny, slightly embarrassing confession to make. I positively loathe mechanical pencils. In fact, they scare me a little bit.

No, this isn’t some peculiar of act of Luddism on my part, nor was a member of my family ever murdered by a deranged graphic designer. Rather, it’s because every single time–every single time–I use a mechanical pencil, its lead breaks on me within seconds of being touched to the page. And that, dear reader, always gives me a tiny but not insignificant fright. I have enough terror in my life as it is – I don’t need my writing implements keeping me on edge too.

Thankfully, the Japanese arm of stationery company Zebra knows my pain, and has designed a mechanical pencil whose leads simply cannot be broken, no matter how hard you scribble.

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Enjoy a relaxing bowl of tea with these beautiful goldfish-shaped teabags from Taiwan

Despite what many Japanese and Americans think, when we Brits envisage having a cup of tea, it’s usually more “in a giant mug with biscuits for dipping and the TV on” than “cucumber sandwiches and sipping from a china cup.”

If we had access to teabags as delicate and beautifully designed as these Goldfish-shaped teabags from Taiwanese company Charm Villa, though, I think even we Brits might be inclined to switch off the TV and make tea-time chill-out time a bit more often.

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Clean up your game with these amazing Game Boy cartridge soaps

There are few things worse than greasy game controllers. As much as we enjoy snacking while playing our favourite games, doing so can be a recipe for sticky, slippery disaster, so the mere sight of our friends reaching for our Wiimotes or DualShock controllers with their Cheeto-encrusted fingers can be enough to send shivers our spines.

Ordering your pals to go and wash up before handling your precious pads might not foster the most hospitable gaming environment, but thankfully there’s a way to make the situation not only slightly less awkward, but suitably more video game themed: by handing your pal a Game Boy cartridge-shaped bar of soap while pointing them in the direction of the bathroom.

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Turn an ordinary balloon into a smartphone case in seconds with this neat trick

If you’ve just spent an exorbitant amount of money on a new smartphone, chances are you’re also going to want to buy a case to keep it scratch-free for as long as possible.

But why waste your hard-earned money on a flimsy bit of plastic that you just know won’t fit the next model when it comes out and society demands that you upgrade? With this simple–and kind of hypnotic–trick, you can turn any old balloon into your next smartphone case!

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Japanese gamers share their most memorable Mario Kart moments

Mario Kart. We don’t know a single person who claims not to like it at least a little bit, and with its 22-year history and eight (11 if you count the arcade iterations) distinct outings to date, pretty much everyone has zipped around at least one of Nintendo’s crazy cartoony tracks at some point in their life.

News site MyNavi Woman recently polled gamers all over Japan about their most memorable Mario Kart experiences, 13 of which we’ve listed after the jump for your reading and reminiscing pleasure. Honestly, we don’t think there’s a single one here that didn’t have us nodding in agreement.

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Burger King Japan’s new Premium Berry burger may sound awful, but it tastes fantastic

The moment it was unveiled earlier this week, dozens of English-language blogs and news sites slammed Burger King Japan’s new seasonal offering, suggesting that the very notion of a hamburger topped with berries and slathered with a sweet pink sauce sounded about as appetising as a sweetfish hotdog served with a side of sick.

Aside from the occasional slice of pineapple, it is indeed rare to find fruit slipped between a hamburger’s buns, but knowing how well meats like turkey and pork go with sweet and sticky glazes and sauces, we at RocketNews24 remained optimistic that Burger King was not in fact trying to kill us with its latest creation, and headed down to try it for ourselves.

And as it turns out, the Premium Berry burger is actually kind of awesome.

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This new Totoro plush is super pricey, rarer than an encounter with the big guy himself

As fictional (sorry, I mean completely real and definitely not made up) creatures come, furry forest spirits like Studio Ghibli’s Totoro are pretty rare to begin with. Heck, even the theme song to My Neighbor Totoro tells us that we can only see them when we’re “very young”, so it’s not like we’re tripping over the things in the street.

But if you’re the kind of person who simply must have every piece of high quality Ghibli merch, the rarer the better, then this limited edition plush is definitely one you’ll want to look out for.

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Make (lots and lots of) room for this enormous new Taiko no Tatsujin controller from Hori

Drumming game Taiko no Tatsujin has become something of a poster child for Japanese video arcades over the years, with pretty much every piece of movie or TV footage which shows a Japanese game centre including shots of either smiling schoolgirls or wildly flailing pros thumping away on one of the game’s giant plastic taiko drums in time with the cutesy on-screen icons and J-pop beats.

Up until now, diehard fans of the series had to make do with flimsy miniature drum controllers for their phones and games consoles whenever they couldn’t make it to an actual arcade to challenge their top scores, but peripheral maker Hori has just unveiled the ultimate home taiko experience in the form of the Taiko no Tatsujin Controller Proan enormous drum controller being rolled out for the launch of upcoming Wii and Wii U title Taiko no Tatsujin: Tokumori!

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Japanese Naruto fans to get every episode, issue for free via new iPhone/Android app

Even if you’re not an anime fan, you’ve no doubt heard that the hugely popular ninja series Naruto has finally reached its climax after more than 15 years. It’s never fun when a beloved show or serial comes to an end, and fans are often left searching for something new to fill the void in their lives that opens up when they do, but when you have a back-catalogue as rich and extensive as Naruto‘s, revisiting older instalments is sure to provide hours, if not weeks of pleasure.

Which, it seems, it precisely what Naruto‘s publisher is hoping both diehard fans and latecomers alike will do next, and is providing them with free issues of the manga and anime episodes direct to their smartphones via a brand new app for iOS and Android.

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Lonely diners discover an easy way to get handwritten confessions of love from Yoshinoya staff

Anyone who has watched even a handful of episodes of Japanese anime will have heard the words “suki” or “daisuki” at some point. Literally meaning “like” and “like very much” (daisuki is, after all, written with the characters 大 “big” and 好き “like”), these two words are used not just when describing one’s preference for a particular pokémon or pizza topping, but when declaring deep, “more-than-friends” feelings for someone.

It would seem, however, that staff at Japanese fast food chain Yoshinoya have recently been unwittingly handing declarations of love to especially peckish patrons following the arrival of a popular seasonal dish, with these handwritten love letters becoming the subject of great amusement online.

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Just a load of crap? Villagers in China claim drink made with manure is effective against cancer

Villagers in a rural Chinese village have stumbled upon a drink which they believe to be effective against cancer, with dozens of households now partaking in the special brew on a twice-daily basis.

We’re sure that anyone would be prepared to make time in their daily routine for a warm drink every morning and night if it potentially meant staying fit and healthy well into retirement, but we doubt many would be so keen once they heard that said drink was little more than cow dung and sheep’s droppings mixed with warm water.

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A tiny, epic ode to Nintendo: Zelda and Super Mario 64’s worlds recreated as miniature dioramas

We all know that Japan does “small” well. Whether it’s microtechnology, tiny houses or bonsai, the Japanese are known for their dexterity and being attentive to the tiniest detail.

But a hobbyist and Niconico Douga user known simply as “A” takes attention to detail to a whole new level. In a homage to the three-dimensional worlds created by video game giants Nintendo, A has constructed an ultra-detailed diorama based on the first level of Nintendo 64 classic Super Mario 64 and even recreated the entire world map from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on a scale so small we could barely believe our eyes when we first saw it.

How small are we talking? Find out after the jump!

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Would you eat “nuclear soup”? Japanese artists serve broth made with Fukushima-grown vegetables

Would you eat a bowl of soup made mainly with vegetables grown in Fukushima Prefecture? What if the cook swore to you that everything that went into the soup had been tested and was safe for human consumption? Would you be able to push all thoughts of Fukushima Daiichi, contaminated groundwater and Blinky the three-eyed fish out of your mind long enough to risk a spoonful?

A pair of artists from Japan recently gave visitors to the Frieze Art Fair in London just such a decision to make, presenting them with a homemade broth made with Fukushima-grown produce and asking them to give it a try, if they dared.

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