Rona Moon

Writer / Translator

As a Kiwi kid growing up in the green hills of New Zealand, Rona Moon never dreamed she would end up packed in like sushi on the Yamanote line every morning, wearing a suit with discreet underarm sweat pads. Moving to Japan in 2005, she survived a tough initiation of hazing as a Japanese company employee in the pumping heart of Tokyo, did her best to become as Japanese as possible and succeeded in acquiring a great love for karaoke and a cute way of hiding her smile with her hands. Rona now works as a freelance writer and translator, with a special interest in literary translation and the erotic side of Japan (no tentacles barred).

All Stories by Rona Moon

Step into the world of Final Fantasy in real life Lebanon

A waterfall dramatically plunging from the wide chasm in the Jurassic limestone cavern roof, down to the moss green rocks and valley below: a scene so breathtakingly fantastic and beautiful you’d expect to ride a Chocobo there. A garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.

But this is not CG or a fantasy, this is a real place. This is the Baatara gorge waterfall in the Tannourine, Lebanon. Dropping 255 metres into the Baatara pothole or “Cave of the Three Bridges”, this seasonal waterfall is famed as one of the most beautiful in the world. Recently this natural wonder sparked interest in Japan as a waterfall “from the world of Final Fantasy”, the wildly popular video game franchise.

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How to make good use of flat, leftover beer from your Christmas party

Ever had the problem of undrunk beer sitting round wastefully in bottles, cans or glasses after a house party? Sigh. It’s flat, warm and disgusting. You could play a hearty round of morning-after beer roulette, the thrilling game where if you find a half-empty vessel, you challenge someone to rock-scissors-paper and the winner downs it in one (possible floating cigarette butt and all).

But here’s the beer problem solved more efficiently—waste not, want not. Here are some creative and unexpected uses for old beer that folks came up with in Japan!

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Milf or maiden? One third of single Japanese men surveyed say they prefer an older lover

From December 6-9 of this year, Japanese Facebook dating app Match Alarm quizzed 2,944 singles in their twenties and thirties about their dating habits. They were asked to identify if they prefer to date someone of the same age, older or younger. Hmmm…Do we have to pick just one??

A resounding 81.3% of women replied that they would rather be with a silver fox than a younger stud. And one in three men said they preferred an older lover.

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Bona fide pork ice cream put to the taste test: “Good for diabetics!”

There are some extreme flavours of ice cream out there: all the flavours of the meat rainbow. Ice cream chock-full of pork, beef, or even chicken. We’re not talking about ice cream that adds a little meat extract to approximate the taste. We’re talking about a carnivore’s wet dream, the meat ice cream that practically walks on all fours; a dessert confection that blasts chunks of meat into your mouth with every spoonful. That’s the kind of pork ice cream our Japanese RocketNews24 reporter Kuzo found in Taiwan, sampled, and wrote this article about.

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Only in Japan? Controversial mystery vegetable you’ve probably never heard of

At first glance, it looks like a really long, dirty twig. Not especially appealing, and probably not the kind of thing that you’d ever think of eating. Even if you were starving in the forest, you’d probably start with berries and leaves, right? However, you may be missing out on a unique taste sensation!

Growing about one metre long and a slender two centimetres wide, this is a root vegetable sadly underappreciated in the West, sometimes known as “beggar’s buttons” or “love leaves”. It’s crisp and delicious, with an interesting texture. Originally used for medicinal purposes, it has plenty of fiber and all kinds of alleged health benefits. You’ll find it adding crunch to Japanese dishes kinpira and tempura. Can you guess its real name?

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We wish you an age-appropriate Christmas and a happy Pokémon tree!

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Pikachu in a Christmas tree. At the Pokémon Center in Tokyo!

This amazing tree was recently spotted on Japanese site Pokésoku, with the question: “I thought I’d buy my nephew a Pokemon for Christmas, but can a six-year-old child handle it?”

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Life imitating art (badly): If only they’d tried harder… 【Photos】

Always aim for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. Okay, in about 20,000 years time, since the nearest one is 4.3 light years away. Isn’t it better to aim for the stars so you land on the moon? Or how about just making a rough imitation? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’ll be good enough. But sometimes the extent of the failure is so horrendous that it might have been better not to try at all. These sad attempts to imitate the ideal were posted up on Japanese message board site Hamusoku.

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Is this as fauked up as it looks?

To the casual observer, this might look fauking ridiculous. Posing for a gangster-style purikura (photobooth) pic, it looks like these two cute high school girls still haven’t learned to spell one of the first words English students learn (you always start with the “bad words” when learning a language, right?). But don’t be so quick to judge, it may not be such an open and shut case!

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Sat on cat: giant cat couch for humans

Ever wished you could snuggle up and be totally enveloped in your cat’s warm embrace, or just lie on them like a sofa? If only cats were big enough for that. Wait… if cats were that big, you’d feel mouse-sized. Which I think is a little creepy. Still, you could achieve the impossible dream… to sit on your cat, and not the other way round.

Here we have a giant cat sofa to snuggle up on. I don’t know, I imagined it a lot furrier, more like a Persian longhair, and less limp. Cattiness aside, how many cat couches are out there? This is the first one I’ve seen.

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Hard-to-swallow cannibal manga Pupa to be released as anime for public consumption

Pupa is the touching (horror) story of extreme devotion between siblings, chronicled in a manga series. It tells the remarkably original tale of how a young girl became a monster craving to feed off human flesh, and how her older brother offered up his own living body as her “food source”. Spoiler alert: it takes a lot more than one meal to finish him off! If you’re anxious to check out it out, the anime version of Pupa was previously scheduled for autumn 2013, but a new release date of January 2014 was just announced via Twitter.

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Bowing to the ground: Japanese pop group Arashi inspires extreme fan worship

Check out this photo of extreme fan worship in Japan. Here we have a group of (human) Arashi fans, bowing down to their round paper souvenir Arashi fans at the Nagoya Dome… arousing floods of mockery on Japanese Twitter.

Mega pop group Arashi have been taking Japan by storm with another nationwide tour. In fact, the word arashi literally means “storm”. They have been electrifying stadiums all over Japan, beginning this month with the Nagoya Dome shown above. They next hit the Sapporo Dome, and will now move on to Osaka’s Kyocera Dome (Nov 22-24), the Tokyo Dome (Dec 12-15), and Fukuoka Dome (Dec 20-22). Be still my beating heart.

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Mysterious sport “speed ball” causes chuckles in Japan

Speed ball, the competitive racquet sport. Not to be confused with the narcotic, boxing, paintball or video game varieties of “speed ball”, this mysterious sport involves one, two, or four players frantically swatting the air as if chasing mosquitoes. In fact, if you live in a country where flies and mosquitoes abound, you probably have a natural advantage and could be the next world champion. Similar to squash in speed and intensity, a latex ball is attached to a nylon thread and swings around a pole. Players take turns smashing the living daylights out of the ball, causing it to spin wildly—this sport is not for the fainthearted or slow-moving.

Invented in Egypt in 1961 by Mohamed Lotfy, speed ball was first designed as a way to train tennis players. Now a sport in its own right, the International Federation of Speed-Ball (FISB) was founded in 1984 by Egypt, France, and of course Japan.

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Toyota’s new vehicle changes colour and suggests destinations according to your mood

Toyota Motor plans to unveil a new vision of an astounding future reality at the Tokyo Motor Show (23 November to 1 December): the Toyota FV-2, a vehicle that can read its driver’s mood and changes colour accordingly. Imagine how this could work—you’re cruising down the road in a great mood, with your car a friendly, sunny yellow. Suddenly, you spot another vehicle in a messed-up shade of dark red. Uh-oh, road rage alert, better give that one a wide berth. You start to feel nervous, so your car turns a sickly green. Then you notice a hottie in the car next to you as you pull up at the lights, and your car blushes bright pink.

For people like me who distinguish cars mainly based on their colour—“uh, it’s a blue one”— this chameleon trick opens up a whole new world of confusion. How are you supposed to spot your friend’s car if it’s constantly changing colour? Oh right, he’s always in a bad mood, so it’s probably the black one. Anyway, I’m sure they’ve already thought of this!

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When demon cats attack… cotton buds!

What could possibly go wrong here? Here is an cat, innocently reaching for a cotton bud, probably to attend to his personal hygiene. Sure, he looks a little evil, a tad malicious. But who wouldn’t, faced with a stubborn ear wax infestation?

The drama which ensued in the moments after this cat moved toward the cotton bud was captured in a terrifying series of photos posted on Japan’s Hamster Sokuhou which cracked up some Japanese netizens. We think the evidence really speaks for itself.

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Lonely or in need of female assistance? Try a rental friend in Tokyo!

It can be difficult to get along without female friends.

In Japan, work ethic and subsequent exhaustion tends to tie many men to their work places beyond the call of duty, and gender roles can be highly restrictive. If you’re a single man who is not socially confident, how do you get enough positive human interaction? We all need to tell someone about our troubles, and yarn about the day-to-day minutiae that friends and family share.

Maybe you want to go out to a nice restaurant… but how can you go alone? Maybe you have relationship difficulties and want to confide in someone. Maybe you need help with your computer, or organizing your stuff, or careers counselling. Everyone needs a female friend… and in eastern Japan, Client Partners KK is one company which offers a rent-a-friend service. Billed as “women-only odd-jobbers” (josei dake no benriya), the services they offer do not include anything untoward. In the commodification of today’s world, “rental friend” should come as no surprise. What is surprising is just how much this kind of human contact benefits lonely people.

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Since when was Halloween so popular in Japan?

Just like in many Western countries right now, in Japan ’tis the season to be spooky. Halls in Tokyo are decked with orange; cute pumpkins, witches and ghosts wink from shop windows; and you might even find a special seasonal pastry in your local bakery or supermarket.

Now firmly established in the annual Japanese calendar, not so long ago hardly anyone even knew that such a thing as Halloween existed. How could this day, which has become more like a month-long festival in Japan, go from zero to hero so quickly? What brought this on, and why is it so big in Japan? Japan’s Madame Riri looks at four different reasons.

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Tribute to Nausicaä: Ohm-rice of the Valley of the Wind

The post-apocalyptic Japanese fantasy film Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind (Kaze no Tani no Naushika) came out in 1984. If you watched it as a kid, the odds are that your life was changed in some drastic way. Maybe you decided you wanted to be just like princess Nausicaä when you grew up, and learned how to fly. Or, you might have secretly decided to move to Japan, where those amazing creatures might live. Or, like one Niconico contributor, you were inspired to create an incredible replica of the king of the giant insects… the gigantic, trilobite-like Ohm… in the form of a rice omelette.

Omu-rice is an omelette made with fried rice—a popular Japanese dish, commonly served up with ketchup on top in a zigzag or smiley-face. This Ohm-rice tribute to Nausicaä looks a lot more ominous. If you’d like to try making Ohm-rice with squid ink sauce and spinach powder, you can have a go with the rough recipe provided below!

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Malaysian food artist Samantha Lee serves up more platefuls of amazeballs

Imagine if your mom made you meals that became famous all over the world… you’d probably belong to the Clean Plate Club, right?

Malaysian food artist and mother of two Samantha Lee began by making Japanese lunch boxes (bento) in 2008 to encourage her elder daughter to eat independently. Bento boxes may be stylishly arranged and decorated to look like popular movie, TV or video game characters (kyaraben) or people, animals or buildings (oekakiben). There is some amazing bento art out there, but soon Lee was taking it to a new level on a daily basis.

Despite her lack of formal training, Lee’s creativity found an outlet in the incredibly detailed, cute and nutritious meals she painstakingly put together for her two girls, using only run-of-the-mill household tools like scissors and knives. She describes herself as “an ordinary, regular and average mom, crazy about making a mess in the kitchen.” Although she’s keeping her feet on the ground, her star has risen quickly in the international media in recent months, from Belgium to the Ukraine and all over the world. She now works as a kids party planner, doing sewing, crafting, baking and doodling in her spare time.

Check out her latest creations, including a step-by-step pictorial guide to crafting your own!

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Haters gonna hate! Writer conducts experiment, discovers that responding to internet dissing is futile

Maybe you wrote an article, a story or a novel. Perhaps you created a website, blogged, put a video up on YouTube, or you’re an actor, fashion designer, musician, film maker… Whatever you’re doing, you’re putting yourself out there creatively and daring to make something new and explore. And then your work is uploaded onto the internet and exposed to the merciless gaze of millions of potential viewers…

If your work attracts any interest at all, next thing you know, the haters are all over you, getting up in your face. “I can’t BELIEVE you killed off Mr Darcy, what were you thinking?!” “Your eyes are too far apart,” “Why don’t you eat makeup, so you can be beautiful on the inside,” Or even, “Drink petrol and die.”

Japanese writer Sebuyama from comedy news site Omocoro recently carried out a social experiment aiming to demonstrate just how useless it is to respond to haters on the internet and use reason. He tried to find out why they were hating, and discovered three different flavors of hater!

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Could you eat a horse… raw? Try home-made horse sashimi straight from the butcher!

Basashi is raw horse meat cut into slices–“horse sashimi”, and a delicacy consumed in some parts of Japan. The most famous place to experience basashi is Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, southern Japan.

You can order a plateful of the stuff in Japanese pubs (izakaya), and it’s said to go incredibly well with nihonshu, but our intrepid RocketNews24 reporter Mami Kuroi couldn’t find any horse meat in Tokyo supermarkets to slice up to make her own basashi to try at home. Eventually, she happened to be visiting Komoro City in Nagano Prefecture and stumbled on a butcher who stocked it. There was even a poster outside proclaiming that the shop sold the “best-quality basashi“! Seizing this once-in-a-lifetime chance for home-made horse sashimi, she bought some, sampled it and wrote about her horsy adventure for us to enjoy. Of course, it was totally raw!

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