Preston Phro

Preston Phro (or simply Phro as most know him) is a Coloradoan attempting to fit in in Tokyo. (Surely, he would succeed if not for his unruly hair.) He puts his master's in classical Japanese literature to good use by writing silly stories and articles for the Internet. Having lived in Nara, Osaka, and Yamaguchi before moving to the Kanto area, he's quite happy to finally have a place to call home! When not writing, he enjoys annoying his wife by plucking at his shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese instrument not entirely unlike a banjo) and pestering her with questions about Japanese history. He also occasionally attempts to remember all the stuff he's forgotten since university.

All Stories by Preston Phro

Japan’s newest models are all about their busts: Classical statues reimagined as fashion idols

From hyperactive pear fairies to gross mushrooms, it seems that Japanese consumers have an appreciation for the unusual. Of course, it can be hard to predict exactly what will win hearts and minds, but that won’t stop people from trying to kickstart the newest craze.

Kadokawa, a publishing company among other things, Zarigani Works, a toy and merchandise production company, and Holbein, an arts materials company, have teamed up to turn classical statues into the latest hot items. They still haven’t revealed all the items they’ll be producing and it remains to be seen just how many people actually want products with Hermes’s statuesque face emblazoned on it, but you can’t blame them for trying!

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Nine of our Japanese writers share the restaurants they absolutely must visit again!

Have you ever had a meal so good that you decided you absolutely had to come back at least once before you kicked the bucket? It might have been some tiny restaurant on a beach or a five-star establishment in Shinjuku, but we imagine lots of people have some special place where the food was just freaking perfect.

So, we asked our Japanese writers what those places were for them and compiled the answers. You’re welcome! Click below to find out the ten places (someone cheated) they absolutely must visit again and see if your favorite eatery made the list.

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Past and present photos of Japanese fashion models make us wonder, where have all the gyaru gone?

For much of the 1990s and 2000s, it seemed that you couldn’t walk down a street in any major shopping district in Japan without spotting a group of gyaru chatting enthusiastically about…something. But in recent years, the number of tanned young women with the very colorful (some might say “loud”) gyrau fashion style seems to have dropped almost to zero.

With the shutting down last year of fashion magazines Koakuma Ageha, which will be restarting publication in April, and egg, it seems that gyaru might soon be owacon (“owatta contentsu” or something that doesn’t sell anymore). While we wouldn’t be too quick to sign any death certificates, these before-and-after photos of one-time gyaru models are a sure sign of how things have changed.

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Superheroes invade Thai wedding, guests just smile for the camera 【Photos】

Depending on who you ask, your wedding may be one of the most important days of your life, up there with the birth of your children and the first time you watch Breaking Bad. As such, it makes sense that the ceremony to incorporate at least a few of the things you love!

And if you’re in charge of Thai Toku, a group of cosplayers in Thailand, we’re guessing you have no choice but to fill the crowd with more heroes than an Avengers movie.

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With new branded correction tape, you’ll be making mistakes on purpose!

The great thing about computers is how easy it is to fix your mistakes. Make a typo while writing an email? Just use the backspace key and you’re done! Much easier than using a pen and paper (ask your parents, kids) where you’d have to either start all over or grab some whiteout and leave the page an ugly mess.

While we can’t help you stop making mistakes, we can help you enjoy them more! With this new white-out tape from Sun Star, you can now hide your Freudian pen slips with donuts, hamburgers or even coffee!

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The Internet has a new crush again, and she just happens to be a golf caddie?!

Sometimes it seems like the collective Internet has the attention span of about five minutes. Though, to be fair, that’s longer than a Vine video, so we guess things aren’t completely hopeless. However, it also means that the Internet’s collective id develops (and loses) crushes faster than a mayfly.

And this week, the Japanese Internet masses have apparently developed a crush on a golf caddie.

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Kabe-don? That’s old news. Now it’s all about the sode-kuru!

Are you still using kabe-don to show your love, tough guy? If so, you’re clearly behind the times! Who even does kabe-don anymore? No one, that’s who!

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it looks like the Internet has found the next hot way for tough guys to show their love: Sode-kuru! What is sode-kuru and how can you use it to win the heart of your crush? Read on to find out!

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Baby elephants bathing are super cute, but not all elephants are quite so lucky

A video which appeared last week has left the Internet in a state of glee. We are, of course, talking about the adorable baby elephant taking a bath in Thailand! If you love elephants–and how could you not?–it’s sure to put a giant grin on your face.

And we certainly enjoyed the video too, but it also led us to some extremely unsettling articles about how some elephants are treated in the country. Don’t worry, though–it’s not all bad news!

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Daiso posts videos of fans dancing with long-lasting glow sticks, we can’t look away 【Video】

Last year, we learned from Nissin that samurai are still well and alive in Japan–they’ve just traded their swords in for glow sticks. While the Cup Noodle creators were obviously having a bit of fun with us, it has hard not to take notice of the wild swinging dance moves of the featured idol otaku. They moved with the sort of alacrity that we’d normally expect from a magical pear fairy running from explosions, and we had kind of assumed they were just actors playing a role.

It turns out we were wrong! Apparently that sort of jazzercise-on-steroids dancing is actually common at idol shows. In fact, it’s so common that Diaso, the 100 yen store filled with unique products, has gone out of its way to make and market long-lasting glow sticks. They even have little loops to make finger-spinning easier!

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Universal Studios to open theme park in Okinawa, in case you get bored of the beaches

For folks in the Kanto area, theme parks tend to mean Tokyo Disneyland, and for people in the Kansai area, they mean Universal Studios Japan, or USJ for short. But what about Okinawan residents? We suppose they could just fly to Osaka or Tokyo if they get bored with their beautiful beaches and old-lady idol groups, but they don’t have much actually in the prefecture.

However, it looks like things are going to change for theme-park-ride-starved Okinawans: It was revealed today that USJ is planning to open a second park on the tropical island!

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Who is this mysterious sumo wrestler and why has he “sunk” Japan?!

It’s no secret that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover–but anyone who says they never do is probably a liar (or at least prone to exaggeration). After all, if you’re not a fan of fantasy, a Dragonlance cover illustration should be all you need to know to stay away. By the same turn, if you’re looking for some Japanese fiction, grabbing a book with a sumo wrestler on the cover seems like a safe option.

Though that doesn’t make the cover any less absurd if it’s actually a science fiction novel, though, as these Japanese Twitter users discovered!

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Want to relive all your horrifyingly awkward high school dates? Now you can with this photoshoot.

A recent photo shoot uploaded to the photography site Pakutaso has gotten a lot of attention online for its somewhat bizarre theme and pretty model. The photos, which were provided by “Timeslip Joshi Kosei” (or “Timeslip High School Girls”), depict a model 19-year-old model travelling “back in time” to her high school days and going on a date.

The photos, which are all shot from the point of view of her date, portray a pleasant high school romance. Which makes us think that whoever organized this photo shoot doesn’t actually know what dating in high school is like…

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Haters gonna hate: Japanese RN24 writer claims Mr. Sato is trash, but we’re not buying it

While the advent of social media and the 24-hour news cycle has certainly made us more connected and increased our awareness of…stuff, it also seems to have resulted in a bit of an epidemic of shade-throwing. Whether it’s celebrities putting each other on blast or random Twitter eggs flaming each other, it can often feel like the Internet has drunk deep from the well of haterade.

For the most part, we here at RocketNews24 have stayed out of the fray, but it looks like all that’s about to change. While you may think that our ace reporter Mr. Sato is the coolest, sexist guy in the world, Nakano, another writer for the Japanese side, is going public with why our hero is a total jerk. But the real question is: Should we believe Nakano or is he just jealous? Read on and decide for yourself!

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Fukui Station, the upcoming Shinkansen station, is also home to roaring dinosaurs!

The steady expansion of Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train lines is a project welcomed by everyone from train fans to average citizens who just wants to get around the country as easily as possible. Last Friday saw the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, the line connecting Tokyo with the Hokuriku region. The newest train stations are located in Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures, but all the attention on-line is actually focused on Fukui Station!

Though the Shinkansen line won’t actually make it to Fukui Prefecture until 2025, people still love the station, which currently serves a variety of JR and Echizen lines, thanks to its Jurassic Park-like scenery. That’s right, Fukui Station is overrun by dinosaurs!

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The PS4 is selling like hot cakes all over the world…except in Japan. But why?

To say that gamers looked forward to the launch of the PlayStation 4 would be a huge understatement. The hype that built up in the months prior to the console’s November 2013 release date was nothing short of phenomenal, with over a million pre-orders being placed and Sony revealing that it had sold just as many units during the console’s first weekend at retail in the US alone.

Now, over a year after its release, Sony has announced that it has sold more than 20 million units to customers around the world. It’s not exactly an objective source, sure, but that’s still a lot of plastic boxes sitting under TVs. Of course, a huge chunk of those sales were gobbled up by Europe and North America, but we bet Japan – PlayStation’s homeland – also accounts for a fair slice of the pie chart, right?

Well, apparently not quite as much as you might expect…

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Time to get hungry! Japanese Twitter users share their favorite Fukushima “soul food”

While Japan has a ton of great food for anyone with a hungry stomach, there are also lots of local “soul foods” that are a tricky to find. Often, you’ll have to go to a specific prefecture to find them. Like Fukushima, for example. Recently, the southernmost of Japan’s north-eastern prefectures seems to have gained a bit of attention online from Twitter users showing off their favorite local “soul foods.” The selections aren’t exactly prime cuisine…but they might be far better!

Check out Fukushima’s favorites below! But maybe make sure you have a snack at the ready first, because this guaranteed to make you feel at least a little bit peckish.

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Saga Prefecture targets foreign tourists with weirdly unimpressive commercial 【Video】

Marketing is often billed as a creative job. Agencies are paid to come up with the most eye-catching, unique advertising possible in order to better capture the attention of potential customers. Nevertheless, all too often it seems commercial producers can’t resist the low-hanging fruit of lukewarm, gimmicky gags that anyone would get without too much trouble. Obviously, this isn’t always the case, but when something works once for one company, you can expect to see others adopt similar tactics over and over. Dead horses and whips and all that.

Now, I have to admit, it can’t be easy to make a hit commercial every time, but after watching this tourism ad, I think Saga Prefecture needs to go back to the drawing board.

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Buyer keepers? Photos of returned mail being sold on the street go viral in China

Ordering things online or through the mail always has an element of uncertainty to it. If you walk into a store to buy a new computer, you can be fairly certain that the package you walk out with is actually a new computer. But when ordering online, there’s always a chance that it’s a scam or that the post office will simply never get it to you. We’re not trying to disparage our beleaguered postal workers, but it’s inevitable that something will fall through the cracks in any large organization.

But have you ever wondered what happens when your mail doesn’t get to you? Where the heck does it all go? Well, if you’re really unlucky, it might end up being sold in the street.

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Moving to Tokyo? Real estate agent picks five best neighborhoods for single residents

Tokyo is a big place, both in terms of population and area, and if you’re moving here from anywhere else, you might be at a bit of a loss in terms of where to look for an apartment. Obviously, a large part of that decisions is up to personal preference, but we do happen to have some advice for areas to look at if this will be your first time living alone!

These five areas were selected by a local real estate agent, so you know they must be good, right?

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Tokyo boss arrested for allegedly assaulting employee with a stun gun for being late

We’ve all had bosses we didn’t like for one reason or another. Maybe their breath smelled as if they’d never even heard of a toothbrush or maybe they were too demanding. Or, heck, we bet some of you have had bosses who were just plain jerks. But no matter how much you might hate your boss, you’ll probably feel a bit better towards him or her after reading about this 28-year-old who was viciously assaulted by his boss after arriving late to work.

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