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

Japanese critic shares his (kinda weird) views on Japanese vs Western adult entertainment

Japanese critic shares his (kinda weird) views on Japanese vs Western adult entertainment

If you’re a person who uses the Internet, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ve come across that other thing (i.e. not cats) that accounts for so much web traffic. You know, pictures and videos of naked people. Trust us, we were as shocked as you must have been when you first stumbled upon these people and their antics, but it’s out there in its droves.

We were also surprised to learn that those videos are apparently not only very popular but noticeably different depending on whether they’re made in places like the US and Europe or in Japan. Or at least they are according to this Japanese guy, who works in the industry and spends a lot of time critiquing the videos…

This article probably isn’t entirely safe for work. Which really shouldn’t be a surprise, but just in case, you might want to read this one on your phone in the bathroom instead of at your desk.

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Toma Toma Sparkling: Taste-testing the tomato juice that will give you a hangover

Toma Toma Sparkling: Taste-testing the tomato juice that will give you a hangover

Last week, we brought you news that Japanese brewing company Suntory was releasing an alcoholic, summer-only tomato-juice drink called Hajikeru Tomato no Sake Toma Toma Sparkling, or just Toma Toma Sparkling for short. Some of us here at RocketNews24 apparently aren’t big fans of tomato juice, a fact which leaves the rest of us (i.e. the righteous and upstanding) baffled. Since it’s one of my top three non-alcoholic drinks, after orange juice and acerola juice, I was more than happy to take up the task of taste-testing this strange new concoction from Suntory.

So, how does Toma Toma Sparkling fare? Is it delicious, fizzy tomato juice that will give you a hangover or is it an abomination better poured down the toilet?

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Tokyo museum offers beautiful exhibit showcasing the architecture of Studio Ghibli

Tokyo museum offers beautiful exhibit showcasing the architecture of Studio Ghibli

Though there are obviously numerous anime studios in Japan, there is no doubt that Studio Ghibli is among–if not the most–legendary of them all. With tons of famed, beloved, and critically acclaimed films, there’s no doubt that the influence Ghibli has had on the world is massive. Even if you’re not a particularly big fan of their stories, who could deny that the worlds they create are simply stunning? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see those buildings brought to life and given physical form? We certainly wish we could at least get a ride inside the cat bus.

Though this new exhibition at the Edo-Tokyo Tatemono-en, or called the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum in English, does not quite provide full-size replicas of Ghibli architecture, it does give us an excellent concept of what some of our favorite buildings would like in the real world.

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More than one way to skin a cat? Japanese YouTuber shows how to “open” a cat with belly rubs

More than one way to skin a cat? Japanese YouTuber shows how to “open” a cat with belly rubs

We all love cats–this is the ironclad law of the Internet: Love the kitties or go home! While there might be some curmudgeons who aren’t fans of LOLcats or the numerous whiskered faces that populate the pages of the Internet, you can believe that we are big fans. Nevertheless, we have to admit that we’re not impervious to cat claws–and while rubbing a kitten’s belly is a nigh-spiritual experience, we have had our share of mishaps. If only there were a way to completely and utterly subdue and “open up” a cat…

Well, there is and you can learn how in this simple and cute YouTube video! All you need is a patient cat to practice on and a free afternoon.

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Is Attack on Titan a documentary? Mikasa spotted in Russia!

Is Attack on Titan a documentary? Mikasa spotted in Russia!

With its immense popularity, it’s no surprise that Attack on Titan has spawned some amazing cosplay photos. We’ve shown you a brilliant Serbian’s take on Erwin Smith, and today we’re heading back to Eastern Europe to show you someone the Internet apparently thinks looks exactly like Mikasa Ackerman.

Or maybe they’re actual photos of Mikasa running around in the real world? Everyone, be on guard just in case any titans show up!

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Why was Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 flying over Ukraine? NHK explains

Why was Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 flying over Ukraine? NHK explains

The recent tragedy of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has capture the attention and sympathy of people across the world, leaving many wondering how such a horrible accident could have occurred. While fingers are being pointed and world leaders are looking for someone to blame, many in Japan are also wondering why a flight from Amsterdam to Malaysia was going through Ukrainian airspace in the first place.

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12 beautiful Japanese train stations by the sea

12 beautiful Japanese train stations by the sea

Being an island nation, there is no shortages of beaches in Japan–though if you live in Tokyo, there are times when the only thing resembling the ocean to be seen is a sea of people. After a weekday morning commute spent sloshing around in a packed train car, it’s easy to find yourself wishing for a more relaxed environment like the beach. And with summer in full swing, there are plenty of beaches we’d rather be lounging on than just about anything.

But it’s a busy world and who has time to sit on the beach and just relax? Well, we sure don’t! But for those of us always on the go, there are a few train stations that at least will give you a view of the ocean on your way to whatever business you may have. Think of it like a vacation that lasts as long as the train stops!

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Woman in Singapore is looking for the “sexy” man she saw on the train–but is she out of luck?

Woman in Singapore is looking for the “sexy” man she saw on the train–but is she out of luck?

In the modern world of dating websites, hook-up apps, and whatever is going on with Ashley Madison, you’d think “finding the one” would be easy. But while Internet dating has become nearly the norm, it’s still not easy to find someone you’re compatible with online. On the other hand, sometimes real life drops a cutie right in our laps, but we don’t have any idea what to do about it!

Logically, the best thing to do would be to pluck up your courage and give the sexy stranger a nice “How do you do?”, because if you don’t seize the opportunity, your only recourse is the missed connections section. And we’re pretty sure people only read those in TV shows! But one woman in Singapore has turned her “missed connection” into a viral video, guaranteeing a lot more viewers than just a lonely Mindy Kaling.

Now the real question is: Did it work?

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Trapped bunny is utterly adorable and now Twitter-famous!

Trapped bunny is utterly adorable and now Twitter-famous!

The top three pets are probably cats, dogs, and hamsters. They all have their pros and cons, but when it comes to keeping little furry creatures in your home, those three are probably the most common–and certainly some of the cutest. The number four spot is a bit harder to pin down, but if we had to guess, we’d say it belongs to the noble bunnies. After all, while they might take a bite out of your finger if you’re not careful, there’s not much in this world that is as docile as a bunny, is there?

But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep an eye on the long-eared critters. If you’re not careful, you never know what kind of mischief your pet rabbit and its twitchy nose will get into! One Japanese Twitter user learned this the hard (and cute) way…

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Little Texas: The Tokyo country bar for all of Japan’s cowboys【Photos】

Little Texas: The Tokyo country bar for all of Japan’s cowboys【Photos】

You can find just about anything you want in Tokyo. The city is a wonderful melting pot of new and old, domestic and foreign, low and high brow. With everything from a vibrant French quarter to gorgeous temple gardens, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting bored in Japan’s capital. Even so, we have to admit that we were a bit surprised to find a country bar–let alone a country bar with such authentic shows and delicious food! But that’s exactly what Meguro’s oldest country bar, Little Texas, has. With everything from license plates covering the walls to amazing bands on stage, you are guaranteed to have a great time–even if you don’t know the difference between a steer and a bull!

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World Cup humiliation for Brazil inspires Internet memes

World Cup humiliation for Brazil inspires Internet memes

Brazil’s loss to Germany in the World Cup was, without a doubt, some of the biggest news of the week. Even non-soccer fans have heard about–and thrived on the Schadenfreude of–the massive blow out. It’s probably fair to say that, while not the biggest loss in World Cup history, it will likely be the most memorable of this tournament, and after losing to the Netherlands earlier today there’s even less for the country to celebrate.

And here to make sure that no one will ever forget about the horrible beating that Brazil faced is the Internet and tons of memes to make you laugh and cry simultaneously!

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Perfect rainbow appears over Tokyo like an interdimensional portal, no spirits spotted (yet)

Perfect rainbow appears over Tokyo like an interdimensional portal, no spirits spotted (yet)

While we rarely think about it, the way our atmosphere works is pretty amazing–filtering out all that cosmic radiation and keeping us alive. It also has tons of moisture in it, which, in addition to giving some nifty lightning shows, is also what gives us really cool stuff like sun dogs and rainbows. While it’s nothing special to see a piece of a rainbow or even half of one in the sky after a rainshower, it’s quite another thing to see a full rainbow shimmering in the sky.

But that’s exactly what appeared over Tokyo on Friday, setting Twitter ablaze with photos of the beautiful phenomenon. And because we’re ready for some uplifting fun this weekend, here’s all the photos we could find! Guaranteed to make your day 200% more magical or your leprechaun back.

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Namakopuri: The inexplicable “art idol” group you will hate yourself for loving【J-Tunes】

Namakopuri: The inexplicable “art idol” group you will hate yourself for loving【J-Tunes】

Japan is known, fairly or unfairly, for weird music. We’ve introduced plenty of bands that simply produce great music and other groups that are a bit out there. And make no mistake–we love them all! Sometimes “weird” is just part of the music–after all, David Bowie wouldn’t be David Bowie if he didn’t leave us wondering what planet he was really born on.

Namakopuri, an “art idol” group that consists of two young artists dressed in nurse costumes, is certainly on the weird end of the spectrum. In fact, we might even go so far as to say that their new video, “Namakopuri’s Trap,” is the weirdest thing we’ve seen all week. It’s also insanely catchy; we promise you’ll be hearing it in your dreams–or maybe nightmares–tonight!

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Is that a giant sword in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?【Video】

Is that a giant sword in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?【Video】

What child hasn’t run around swinging a giant sword at imaginary enemies? We did it when we were kids and we’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that you did too! It’s just too bad that you can’t do it as an adult–at least not without someone calling the police! (Don’t ask how we know.)

Except that you totally can! Iaido, a Japanese martial art which uses real swords, is all about swinging blades at imaginary enemies–and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Of course, most iaido schools don’t use “giant” swords, since, in reality, an arm can only stretch so far. But certain styles have told reality to go jump in a river and given practitioners swords big enough to make Sephiroth blush.

Check out the awesome “giant sword” videos taking the Japanese Internet by storm below!

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More Mario trivia than you can fit in King Koopa’s castle

More Mario trivia than you can fit in King Koopa’s castle

Super Mario Bros. is arguably one of the greatest games in the history of pixels moving around on-screen–if nothing else, it has the kind of sales that would make anyone sit up and pay attention. And with fans from around the world, it’s hardly surprising that the game has been played nearly to perfection. At this point, Mario may be almost as famous as Mickey Mouse–but there are probably still a few things you don’t know about the plumber and the worlds he’s adventured through.

In any game, there are bound to be easter eggs hidden somewhere by bored programmers and wily designers, but Mario practically explodes with them. Here are some of our favorite Mario trivia facts; see how much you know!

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A brief history of Japanese rockabilly: Not just for your grandparents!【J-Tunes】

A brief history of Japanese rockabilly: Not just for your grandparents!【J-Tunes】

The Japanese music world is as fascinating as it is occasionally bizarre. While groups like AKB48 might dominate the radio waves, there are myriad talented bands and underground genres to be explored. And, like anywhere in the world, genres and bands in Japan flow in and out of favor with the tide. The history of visual kei should be proof enough of that. But when it come to the ebbs and flows of popularity, one genre stands out among the others: Rockabilly.

Though you may not associate the country-tinged rock genre with Japan, you definitely should. Even before the Internet was born, rock music was making its way overseas and dominating the charts–and Japan was no exception. If you’re looking for a new take on classic rock or just appreciate a good bit of weirdness with you coffee, you’ll definitely enjoy our trip through the history of Japanese rockabilly.

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What’s the best (and worst) cola in the world according to our Japanese writer?

What’s the best (and worst) cola in the world according to our Japanese writer?

While we usually focus on news from Japan or Asia, sometimes we like to flip things around and give our readers a Japanese perspective on other cultures. We’ve given you a Japanese person’s take on New York ramen before, and today we’ve got another taste-testing piece for you! But this time, we’re casting a slightly wider net by sending one of our writers to try all the Coca Cola flavors on the planet at World of Coca Cola in Las Vegas.

Read on to find out if he likes your country’s cola flavor!

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Here are Japan’s favorite ice creams from last month! Vanilla wins by a mile…

Here are Japan’s favorite ice creams from last month! Vanilla wins by a mile…

Like any other country, Japan loves ice cream. Especially in the summer months, the delicious treat just flies out of the freezers. And thankfully this year, no reports of errant freezer divers have appeared online! Maybe they finally got it out of their system–or at least learned not to post photos on Twitter…

So, which flavor of ice cream is the most popular in Japan? While that’s certainly a question with an amorphous answer, there is one way to come up with a satisfying conclusion: Take a look at ice cream sales!

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Japanese netizens take us on a world tour…of toilet signs!

Japanese netizens take us on a world tour…of toilet signs!

When traveling, one of the absolute most important questions you need to be able to ask is: “Can I have more beer?” The next most important question is: “Where is the toilet?” Of course, sometimes there’s no one around to ask or you’re simply too busy dancing in place to think of the words. Fortunately, toilet signs exist–you wouldn’t want to walk into a closet thinking it was the water closet after all.

Though we don’t usually think of toilets as places for fun, we have to say we appreciate it when folks take a little time to spice up everyday activities like making pancakes or taking a wee. So here’s some of the best toilet signs from around the planet!

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Video of late kitten playing with dog will brighten your day and then leave you crying

Video of late kitten playing with dog will brighten your day and then leave you crying

Though it might be hard for non-pet-owners to understand, it’s undeniable that our cats and dogs are part of our families. We love them like children–or siblings who can almost get away with peeing on the carpet.

And with good reason, too! They comfort us when we’re sad and play with us when we’re happy. And if you’re lucky enough to have two pets, watching them play together can be better than anything Disney has to offer. Just take this video of a dog entertaining a hyper-active kitten for example!

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