Rachel Tackett

Despite being born and raised in one of the more sparsely populated regions of the U.S, Rachel has found her true home in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, where all of the narrow truths that she grew up with no longer apply, and she is free to experiment with a wealth of exciting new pastimes. Highly qualified as a “Dabbler in Many Things,” Rachel’s hobbies include reading, blogging, singing, cosplaying, attending theater productions, and drawing for her doujinshi circle, Amyused. She also does work translating and typesetting manga for a number of (legal, I swear) digital distribution sites and boosting their popularity through social networking management.

All Stories by Rachel Tackett

Pizza Hut Japan’s latest promotion gives “golden crust pizza” new meaning

Though it may not be a traditional holiday dish, pizza is often the perfect entrée for the holiday season. After all, between Christmas and New Years, there’s bound to be an opportunity to throw a party for your friends, and for those who’d rather not slave away in the kitchen for a day, pizza is often the best way to provide food to a group.

Well now Pizza Hut Japan has given us a new reason to party: in its latest promotion, the company is giving away actual gold necklaces worth nearly a thousand dollars each.

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Homeless man mistakes phone straps for food, is arrested for theft

Japan has an unspoken problem with homelessness in its cities. It’s not uncommon to see tent cities along the edges of recreational parks or to see leather-skinned men sleeping on newspapers around the train stations. These people are largely ignored by the public and will keep to themselves unless provoked by some means. The vast majority do not even beg.

Unfortunately, the problem of poverty is not the only issue that these people face. Mental illness is not uncommon amongst the homeless, and the combination of hungry people and unstable mental states can lead to some especially unfortunate circumstances.

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Willful ignorance ensures the existence of off-color Asian tattoos

Has internationalization taught us nothing? How strange it is that so many people can laugh unabashedly about the Orient’s attempts at “Engrish” and yet remain stubbornly ignorant of the meanings behind many Asian symbols, whether they’re printed on t-shirts or inked into their skin?!

Yes, the existence of tattoos with inappropriate meanings remains an epidemic. What’s perhaps the most surprising is that even in this day and age many people sporting these strange Asian symbols didn’t necessarily skimp on the research and just got suckered into something by their tattoo artists. Rather, many Western people don’t care enough to ask about the meanings at all!

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Why does MOS Burger break from actual burgers for their Japanese-style menu?

Since coming to Japan, I’ve had to adjust my expectations when it comes to eating out at burger joints. I’m not sure whether it’s their selection of spices or the addition of strange, seasonal toppings that affects the taste so much, but for better or worse the flavor of Japanese hamburgers rarely matches that of the burgers back home in America.

MOS Burger presents the perfect example. This Japan-based fast food chain’s main claim to fame is a delicious sort of sandwich that tastes like the love child of a standard hamburger and a sloppy joe. But that’s only the beginning. MOS Burger truly pushes the boundaries on what constitutes a burger with their corner of the menu for Japanese-style flavors like miso mackerel between “buns” of tightly packed rice.

Really, what sort of logic could possibly prompt a burger shop to pursue such Japanese style? Sure the company is based in Japan, but who goes to a burger joint for the rice and miso soup?!

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Japan’s five most common family names

If you’re ever looking for the Japanese equivalent to “John Smith,” the go-to name is decidedly “Tarou Yamada.” And yet, if you look at today’s population, neither of those names top the popularity charts! Yamada, though simple to write and stereotypically Japanese, isn’t even in the top five for family names!

Now that we mentioned it, we’re sure you’re all curious to know now, so here’s a list of the five most common family names in Japan, as announcement by the Meiji Life Insurance Company.

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The top 10 Japanese restaurants outside of Japan

Last month, the outspoken Japanese blogger Madame Riri gave us all a lesson in how to tell whether or not a restaurant abroad serves authentic Japanese food. But let’s be honest, it takes more than tradition to make a dish delicious, and there’s something to be said for adjusting the menu to match local preferences. We’ve certainly experienced this phenomenon in the wide world of sushi!

And so, to celebrate the creation of successful Japanese eateries across the globe, here are the top 10 restaurants that serve Japanese food in foreign countries!

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American chef perfectly captures the scrumptious soul of Japanese cuisine 【Video】

A lot can be learned about a culture by investigating what it eats. Japanese cuisine is full of tradition in terms of preparation and presentation, thoughtfulness in regards to portion sizes, and an overall sense of resourcefulness. There are many things on the menu that may not sound appetizing to people with a Western palate when given a detailed description, but with good visual presentation, even the most obscure sounding dishes can become mouth-watering morsels.

The video From Japan with Love (and Dashi) produced by foodie and filmmaker Daniel Klein gives us all an amazing glance at some of Japan’s most iconic dishes. It gives a fine glimpse into the soul of Japan and is guaranteed to leave you hungry for Japanese cuisine!

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Fashionable fairy tale cosplays could pass as adorable dresses

The mail order fashion brand, haco., has just released its second line of fairy tale inspired fashion items.  They call these items cosplay, but not in the way that most Westerners might expect. Rather than recreate the characters from fairy tales as they would appear in real life, fashion designers asked themselves what these classic icons might wear if they were actually young human girls. The results are absolutely adorable.

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10 obvious Photoshop fails from North Korea 【Photos】

Photo editing software like Photoshop can accomplish some impressive things when placed in the hands of a professional. When digital adjustments are perfectly rendered atop actual photographs, it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s altered. There are times where these skills are used for silly fun, but when the aim of the game is sly deception, it’s especially important to ensure that none of your pixels are showing! For example, these photos out of North Korea could use a few more touch-ups.

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Fans in Japan can listen to Lady Gaga’s latest hits by embracing her life-size doll

Lady Gaga has earned quite a reputation for her forward-thinking song lyrics and strangely obscene fashion sense. Japan, in particular, is enthralled with the pop star and quick to embrace her Asian-inspired appearance and catchy tunes.

Now, in conjunction with Lady Gaga’s latest album release, residents of Japan will be able to literally accept the idol’s music and image into their arms, thanks to the creation of the GAGADOLL, an audio preview device in the shape of Lady Gaga, herself. This life-size doll has a softly playing speaker built into its bust, so when someone lays their head upon her chest they can hear her music in place of her heartbeat.

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How to play host for an imaginary girlfriend LOL

If you’re a sad sap like me and have no one to spend this holiday season with, a helpful how-to thread recently appeared in Japanese forums, and could very well hold all the secrets to enjoying a multi-course meal all by your lonesome. The topic is titled, “It’s so much fun to make a meal as though matching the self-assigned preferences of your imaginary girlfriend LOL,” and yes, the contents are as pathetic as the label makes it out to be. But to be fair, food tastes better when you share it with friends and loved ones, so for those who lack the companionship of either, a little make-believe might be the next best thing!

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How much would the world miss Japan if it suddenly disappeared?

When you live in a country for long enough, it’s easy to forget the things that set it apart and really make it special. In largely homogenous societies, like that of Japan, it’s easy to take daily amenities for granted without ever stopping to consider that commonplace objects are unique to the culture and perhaps novel to people of other nations.

A recent book released by Earth Star Entertainment aims to give the people of Japan a fresh perspective on their island nation, as well as celebrate the many things that it has to offer to the world. The book’s title translates to What if Japan Disappeared: Japan’s Ability to Support the World, and from the few short excerpts we’ve seen, it’s obvious that Japan thinks quite highly of its contributions to the world’s economy, entertainment, and food options.

But in the grand scheme of things, how much would the country really be missed if it suddenly disappeared from this world?

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Miyazaki in the sky with Gundam: Japan’s astronomical otaku have been naming our asteroids

When a new asteroid is discovered and its orbit is established, the right to name that floating chunk of matter is given to the astronomer who found it. And, somewhat unsurprisingly, a lot of the people who dedicate their lives to astroscience exhibit other nerdy hobbies as well! At least, we have to assume so given the number of space rocks with apparent ties to anime, manga, and other mainstream media. Who would have thought that the heavens are so full of otaku references!?

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Fangirls fawn over Nagano police station’s new pretty-boy mascot characters

The central police station in Nagano Prefecture is revamping its image by introducing a new pair of mascot characters. But unlike the jiggling yellow blobs and big-headed animal abstractions that we’re used to seeing, these two image characters are beautiful men, drawn in a popular manga style that often appeals to young women. They’ve only been around for a couple of days, but these pretty-boy policemen are already attracting a lot of attention!

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Seven things that surprise Japanese people working in foreign offices

Recently, we at RocketNews24 brought you all a plethora of pie charts representing what it’s like to be a member of the Japanese working class. But let’s face it; numbers can only convey so much without a certain amount of contrast and perspective. So, rather than quantify the various quirks that one encounters in a Japanese workplace, we’d like to qualify the points that Japanese people find surprising when they go to work abroad. Here’s a collection of seven observations that Japanese people made while doing business in foreign countries.

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Japanese bathhouses lose relevance in modern culture but gain popularity as a tourist attraction

It’s increasingly common knowledge that Japan has some unusual bathing habits, at least compared to those of the Western world. The bathtub in Japan is generally seen as a place to relax, warm up, or ease tired muscles, not as a place to get clean (that’s what the stool and the shower head beside it are for). One of the most novel ways to indulge in this steamy pastime is to attend a public bath house (sentou) and experience a bit of naked bonding time with friends, family, and whoever else happens to be present that day.

However, as most Japanese these days have bathtubs in their homes, the need to visit a dedicated bath house is greatly diminished. These aging facilities are losing business by the day, and many have been forced to close. Thankfully, there is one demographic that remains enthralled by the idea of experiencing public baths as a novelty. Travel agencies and bath houses together are reaching out to foreign tourists as an important source of business.

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The real reason Doraemon is blue? New sadder tale rewrites the robot cat’s past

Japanese children have been growing up with the resourceful robo-cat Doraemon since his creation in 1969. And while the original manga may have ended more than 15 years ago, the anime series and movie installments continue to provide fresh conflict for the funny feline and his human friends.

But with so much material to keep up with, there are bound to be a few contradictions along the way. Recently, the widely understood reason behind Doraemon’s blue coloring was flat-out replaced by an even sadder version of the tale. So, why is it that a robotic cat from the near-distant future is earless and blue?

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What to expect from conveyor belt sushi restaurants: not necessarily fish

Here at RocketNews24, we’ve had many discussions about the nontraditional flavors found in sushi around the globe. But, as it turns out, Japan has made quite a few changes of its own to the country’s staple dish. That’s not to say that the standard fare of fish on rice has been bumped from the menus. Rather, a lot of interesting new flavors have found their way into sushi bars across the nation. And it’s this new form of innovation that’s lead to the incredible expansion of the kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) market.

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Can you handle the heat at Fukugonji’s annual firewalking festival?

Over the course of a year, we humans can accumulate a lot of mucky emotions. We inevitably forget the dangers that certain fiery passions, like anger and envy, can do to our psyches. In order to remind ourselves to retake control of these troublesome fires that burn within us, we must take a walk through physical flames and let the fear of literal fire burn away our emotional impurities.

At least, that’s the idea behind Fukugonji’s annual firewalking festival! Each year, on second Sunday of December, this Zen Buddhist temple in Aichi Prefecture invites all members of the public to step across their scorching coals and reclaim inner purity at the Fukugonji Akiba Grand Festival. This year, the festival promises to be particularly entertaining, as well as spiritual and somewhat scary, as one might expect from firewalking.

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Reasons why it’s harder to raise kids in Japan than in other countries…or not

The act of raising a child is never easy. Some countries offer parents enough rights and protections to make childcare a bit less of a burden, but the struggles and uncertainties that come with supporting another tiny human should never be disregarded.

That being said, everyone’s favorite opinionated Japanese blogger, Madame Riri, has a few things to say about how raising children in Japan is “ten times more difficult” than it is in foreign countries. Keep in mind that Madame Riri has only ever traveled to France and does not actually have any children of her own. But who knows? Perhaps there’s some truth buried beneath the mounds of limited observation, hearsay, and conjecture!

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