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

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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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will support EIGHT-PLAYER offline battles 【Video】

Earlier today, Nintendo released a very special video listing 50 facts about the upcoming Wii U version of chaotic brawler Super Smash Bros. The 35 minute-long video contains a wealth of information for fans of the series to drool over, but perhaps the most exciting announcement of all is the fact that up to eight players can now take part in the same battle.

Time to buy some extra controllers, folks!

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“2.5D Mask” lets you spend the day as an anime character, frighten pets and small children

On a budget? Stuck for a Halloween outfit? How about turning yourself into a “2.5D” hero and scaring the life out of everyone you encounter with this series of free printable masks?

Join us after the jump to find out how you can become a beautiful, yet kind of creepy, manga character without spending a penny.

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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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