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

HondaJet makes its first flight in Japan as it nears full-scale production in the US

After several decades of research, development, and testing, the HondaJet is almost ready for delivery. But even though the business class jet, which the Japanese media has referred to as the “realization of the company founder’s dream,” is nearing certification through test flights in the United States, it hadn’t actually made an appearance in the skies of Japan…until this week!

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Make the ocean your office with new TRUE WETSUITS from Quicksilver 【Video】

Even if you’ve never even attempted to hop on a surfboard, you’ve probably still heard of Quicksilver. Their clothing and bags have achieved a near ubiquitous status in many parts of the world, particularly as backpacks for students. But the Australian company’s heart is surfwear, as you probably know, so they obviously also make wetsuits. But as a new commercial for the company shows, they also make TRUE WETSUITS.

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This Chinese blacksmith will inspire you to give up everything and pursue your dreams!

There’s no doubt that swords are freaking awesome, and we bet everyone has dreamed about giving it all up and moving into the country to spend the rest of their days crafting badass swords, but we doubt many people have actually followed through. Which makes sense, because actually making swords looks freaking exhausting. And probably pretty difficult too.

But that didn’t stop Jia Huaijin from quitting his steady office job and doing just that!

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Timeless beauty: Color video of 1930s Kyoto shows how women of the day got their hair done

There’s something almost magical about old videos. They’re like looking through a magic mirror with bad reception into the past. It kind of makes you wonder what people in a few hundred years will have to say about our Vine videos.

But even better than old videos, are old color videos! They’re probably as close to time travel as we’ll ever come. Take this lovely video of Kyoto from 1934 for example. Though it’s not the oldest color video in existence, this video still manages to captivate us with its depiction of mageyui, the process of putting one’s hair up into one of the traditional mage hair styles.

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R2-D2 jet takes to the skies in the most dramatic airline commercial we’ve seen all year

As you might have heard, that little indie film Star Wars is getting a squeal or something like that. And, like Pokemon and Hello Kitty before it, the franchise is getting its own themed plane with the R2-D2 jet, set to start flying international routes this fall.

As you may expect, a project this big demands a big announcement. And ANA (All Nippon Airways), the company bringing this themed jet to the skies, is more than happy to oblige! Check out the commercial, complete with the jet soaring majestically through cloudy skies, below.

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Upcoming male “female cosplay” event draws attention online and our interest

Cosplay is, of course, a popular pastime of otaku, and one of the most popular types of cosplay right now is the gender-norm-breaking “otoko no ko.” As we’ve explained previously, otoko no ko are men who identify as male and like wearing women’s clothes…and who often happen to look damn good doing it too!

And it seems that otoko no ko numbers are growing too, if the Internet is any indication. Though otoko no ko cosplay events have been around for a while, a contest coming up this weekend is drawing attention online.

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Did this guy really get his girlfriend to gain 40kg before asking her to marry him?

The Internet is full of stories, some true and some false. Some tales are so bizarre that we’re not sure which end of the spectrum they lie on, such as this one, in which a man in China allegedly met a girl, fell in love, and then got her to nearly double her body weight through massive amounts of food.

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Monday Kickstart: Naughty hamster chews its way through a stuffed animal, into our hearts

Another Monday, another few thousand spins around the old hamster wheel, right? While that sounds terrible, it’s actually pretty cute. At least if you happen to be a real hamster.

What with their plump buttstiny food portions, and under-sized houses, hamsters are easily some of the most adorable animals on the planet, right next to cats and puppies. And thanks to their tiny size, they make great pets too, though you do need to pay special attention to their teeth, ensuring that they don’t grow too long. But while teeth that continuously grow might be a chore to us humans, they’re one of the hamster’s greatest tools, allowing them to chew right through whatever their little hearts desire! Like your favorite stuffed animals…

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Get your geek on! Artwork for the Momoiro Clover Z/Dragon Ball CDs revealed

While Momoiro Clover Z’s transformation into Frieza clones earlier this month simply turned out to be an April Fool’s Day joke, their collaboration with Dragon Ball Z is the real deal! In fact, the group is responsible for the theme song for the new movie, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F. Which is pretty cool, and if you’re a fan of Momoiro Clover Z and Dragon Ball Z you’ll probably also love the covers for the movie’s maxi singles being released on April 29.

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Ex-Ghibli animator Yōjirō Arai’s directorial debut to be released by Studio Colorido

While we are always ready to get excited about a new Miyazaki project, we have to admit that we’ll get equally excited about pretty much any announcement connected to Studio Ghibli. So, you’d better believe we’ll be lining up on June 5 to see new film from Studio Colorido called Taifu no Norudathe directorial debut of Yōjirō Arai, an ex-Studio Ghibli animator.

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Ronald McDonald is coming to Yoyogi Park to celebrate spring, because…marketing?

In case you hadn’t heard, McDonald’s hasn’t been doing too well in Japan recently. After the drubbing it took in sales last year, it seems that no one here likes their commercials or even their new products. It’s almost enough to make you feel bad for the multinational fast-food chain! Almost.

So, what do you do when no one wants what you’re selling and they openly mock your commercials? Well, we’re not sure what most companies would do, but it looks like McDonald’s Japan has decided to send their emissary of heart disease to try to cultivate some good will in Yoyogi Park. We’re not sure a clown will be enough to get anyone to eat a Big Mac, but at least you’ll get the opportunity to take a picture with the creepy fellow.

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What secret does Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary website hide?

All of you dedicated Mario lovers out there probably already know, but this year is apparently the 30th anniversary of what some might consider the most important video game ever: Super Mario Bros. Even if you don’t particular enjoy the game, you still have to admit that it’s certainly had a massive impact on the world of video games–and kept Nintendo solvent through so, so, so many sequels and variations.

Nintendo has put a site specifically celebrating the pearl anniversary of the mustachioed hero’s namesake game, but some Internet sleuths have discovered a secret lurking somewhere on the website! Check out the screenshot above to see if it has any hints, take a guess and then click below to see if you got it right…

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Crazy quotes from TV shows amuse Chinese Internet users

It’s fair to say that relations between China and Japan are strained. The two countries have butted heads for decades, and as much as we might wish for world peace, the fueding isn’t likely to stop any time soon. Of course, when two countries aren’t happy with each other, that tends to be reflected in their media, and both countries could be accused not portraying the other very accurately or fairly.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that certain Chinese TV shows have drawn comments of amusement from Chinese Internet users with some of their bizarre and dubious quotes, and we think you might get a kick out of them as well!

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Cat scratch fever: Free-loving exhibitionist kitties become Twitter sensation

Nature is beautiful and vicious at the same time, isn’t it? From jaguars stalking prey in the shadows to the deft strikes of the praying mantis, there is a host of animals that are downright fascinating to watch.

And some of them are just hilarious, like the three cats who’ve sent Twitter into fits of laughter with their very public displays of…um…”affection.”

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Vegetarian ramen in Tokyo? Not only is it available, it’s apparently pretty great too!

Japan is filled with excellent food, but one of our absolute favorites is ramen. There’s just something (possibly everything) about it that’s absolutely delicious. That said, it does present a problem for vegetarians and vegans, since even the broth uses a fairly copious amount of animal products. Now, you may not care about that, but maybe you have a few friend who do. Or maybe you’re just looking for new takes on traditional food. If so, T’s Tantan, a vegetarian ramen restaurant, is just what you’ve been looking for.

We recently sent one of our Japanese writers to check it out, and now you can read his report below and then go try it out for yourself! Or at least tell all your vegetarian friends about it. We promise they’ll love you if you do!

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Miyazaki-curated Ghibli Museum exhibit of “Ghost Tower” to open at end of May

Hayao Miyazaki has kept busy since his supposed retirement, but his newest project is as historical as it is new. On May 30, the Mitaka no Mori Ghibli Museum will open a new exhibit featuring artwork by Miyazaki inspired by Ghost Tower, a 1939 mystery novel by Edogawa Ranpo.

Ghibli is expecting massive crowds, so you may have to bribe a few guards if you want to get in!

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Drain cleaners will hate us! Use this one crazy trick from Japan to get rid of sink slime!

Sometimes the titles just write themselves, don’t they? While this probably won’t actually infuriate any of the companies that manufacture drain cleaner, it is a pretty nifty trick for keeping your sink drain free of slime. Best of all, it’s easy and requires very little work on your part!

So, what’s the secret to keeping your drain free of that disgusting goo that inevitably forms no matter how many times you clean it?

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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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