Steven Simonitch

Writer / Translator

Though a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Steven currently resides in Nagano, Japan, where he is known by the old lady at the supermarket as "the white guy who always buys 2 packs of natto." Having finished a 2 year stint teaching English with the JET program, Steven now spends his days writing silly things about Japan while vainly insisting to his parents that he's a "journalist" working for an established "newspaper."

Aside from writing banal stories about hot Asian women and cheeseburgers, Steven is also working with dojin circle Creative Freaks to localize their fitness app/ Japanese dating sim series, Burn your fat with me!! (known as Nensho! in Japan).

All Stories by Steven

Beijing Smog Makes the City Look Like Another World — You Know, the Uninhabitable Kind

If you can look past the devastating damage it causes to your respiratory system, air pollution in Beijing has become so dense that it actually makes the Chinese capitol look like something from a fantasy or science fiction world.

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More Japanese Women Getting Fake Crooked Teeth? Industry Insider Speaks

In many Western countries, crooked teeth are seen as imperfections and most people consider a straight set of pearly whites ideal.

The story is slightly different in Japan, where yaeba, or snaggletooth, are considered cute; with some men finding the imperfect smile they form endearingly childlike and attractive.

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Watch a Swiss Man in a Girl’s Swimsuit Lick Dolls for 25 Minutes 【Video】

Boy have we got a good dose of internet for you today.

The title of this article really explains everything there is to know about what follows below: a Switzerland-based YouTube user by the name of Melon Pan has uploaded a 25-minute video of himself licking his entire anime figure collection. 

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Homemade Chocolate Pokéballs: the Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift for Pokémon Lovers! 【Video】

I remember being 10-years-old and thinking how cool it would be if they made a pokéball version of the Nestlé Wonder Ball filled with candy Pokémon. Apparently, I was not the only one.

Mosogourmet, a YouTube cooking channel run by a Japanese family, has uploaded a video showing how to make your very own hollow chocolate pokéball, complete with a miniature Pikachu made out of marzipan. 

Check the video below!

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How to Get Out of Paying Toll in China: Act Like a Ghost 【Video】

Paying toll sure is a pain.

Back in the good old days, you could just ram through the barrier if you didn’t want to pay; now, thanks to security cameras, doing that will leave you with a ticket and a damaged frame.

Yet while the days of speeding through  toll booths to stick it to the man may be over, the following footage from a Chinese traffic camera shows that you can still get out of paying toll by scaring the sh** out of the man.

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Cursed Japanese Model Thought to Be Responsible for Boeing 787 Troubles

When Japanese TV personality and model Aki Higashihara blogs, bad things happen.

Higashihara’s blog has been dubbed “Death Blog” by the Japanese internet, a reference to Death Note, a popular manga about a supernatural notebook that possess the power to kill whoever’s name is written in it. Similar to the fictional “Death Note”, internet legend has it that whatever Higashihara writes about in her “Death Blog” is destined to meet an unfortunate fate.

For example, in 2010, Higashihara blogged about her visit to a famous shrine in Kamakura, mentioning: “I wanted to eat ginko nuts!” Two months later, a 1000-year-old sacred ginko tree located in the shrine was completely uprooted and severely damaged.

In 2012, she wrote a post about the hardships of raising children, saying: “My kids were fast asleep at 8:30 tonight. This is completely unrelated, but it makes me feel a little better when I think that even pandas neglect their kids.” The next day, the first baby giant panda to be born in Japan in 24 years was found dead — at 8:30 am.

Still not convinced? On January 16, 2013, All Nippon Airways (ANA) grounded 17 of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes for inspection after one had to make an emergency landing due to smoke suddenly appearing in the cockpit. Japan Airlines similarly grounded their Dreamliner fleet following the incident.

You’ll never guess what Aki Higashihara blogged about last month.

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Japanese Dating Site Busted for Using Fake Profiles, Made $20M off Clients

I firsted started to suspect that some online dating sites may be trying to pull a fast one when the same sexy singles who lived near me in America still popped up in my browser even after I moved to Japan.

While I can’t completely rule out the possibility that they simply crossed the ocean to make another bid at this prime piece of real estate, pairing pictures of incredibly attractive men and women with phrases like “local” and “near you” is a common method for enticing new members. Once you’ve joined, many sites even employ shills — people who are paid to create profiles and pretend to be interested in you.

It turns out this is quite the lucrative strategy: on January 15, seven people in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, were arrested on charges of fraud after raking in over $22 million from operating an online dating community populated almost entirely by fake members.

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“I don’t have an Asian fetish” and Other Sh*t Foreigners Living in Japan Say

Being a foreigner living in Japan for the first time is fun. Even the most mundane parts of everyday life feel so new and exciting, and you just want to tell everyone you know about how strange and different everything is — which is exactly what most of us do.

The folks at Pirates of Tokyo Bay, a bilingual improv comedy group active in Tokyo, have put together two hilariously accurate videos of the sh*t gaijin (foreigners) living in Japan are known to say (and not say), especially to each other.

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Amazing Michael Jackson A Capella Cover is a Thriller 【Video】

There’s certainly no shortage of amateur Michael Jackson cover videos on YouTube, but few are as ambitious as this cover of “Thriller” by Inhyeok Yeo, a Korean university student living in Japan.

Check out the video below!

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Crippled Chinese Beggar Miraculously Cured After Given Money 【Photos】

They say money can’t buy happiness, but it’s certainly enough to get a paraplegic beggar up and walking, according to these photos recently shared on Dao Ke Dao.

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An Intimate Look at a Rural Japanese Village’s First Wedding in 42 Years [Video]

Otari is a small farming village located in northern Nagano Prefecture of central Japan. As of 2010, the village has an estimated population of 3,225 people, over 70% of which are over the age of 65.

Like many of the other aging, depopulated communities that typify the Japanese countryside, most of Otari’s young adult population move to larger urban areas after graduating high school to seek work or attend college. Very few come back.

However new life was breathed into this dying village late last year when a young couple decided to throw a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony in Otari — the first to be held in the village in 42 years.

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How We Helped the Police Find a Cat with a Computer Virus Planted on Its Collar

On January 5, Japanese authorities recovered a memory card planted on the collar of a cat on a small island near Tokyo by a hacker who has been taunting the police for months.

The memory card contained information on a computer virus used in a series of terrorist threats that resulted in the arrest of four innocent people last year.

RocketNews24 was on the scene when the card was found and we have documented the events leading up to the cat’s capture below.

Check our previous article for the full background story on how Japanese police found themselves chasing cats on an island.

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Japanese Hacker Sends Police on Chase to Find Cat with Computer Virus Strapped to Collar, Encrypts Clues with Final Fantasy Language

Japanese authorities recovered a memory card hidden on the collar of a cat on an island near Tokyo on January 5, the latest development in a wild goose chase orchestrated by a hacker thought to be responsible for a series of terrorist threats sent remotely from computers across the country last year.

The memory card contained information relating to the “iesys.exe” virus, dubbed the “Remote Control Virus”, which is capable of controlling an infected computer from a remote location. Also attached was a personal message from the hacker, in which he states he will no longer send threats using the virus.

RocketNews24 was on the scene when the memory card was found, which you can read about in our report here.

For the full story leading up to last week’s wild cat search, check below.

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New “Ronald McDonald Insanity” Video Celebrates 5 Years of Ran Ran Ru~

Aside marking the beginning of the new year, January 1 was also the 5th anniversary of one of Japan’s most beloved and strangest viral videos: Temple of the Religion of Ronald (Donaldo-kyou Souhonzan), often referred to as “Ronald McDonald Insanity” in English.

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Household Items Assembled Into Complex Machines; Rube Goldberg Would Be Proud 【Video】

Since 2002, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) has been running a educational program aimed at fostering creative thinking among children called “Pitagora Suicchi”, which translates to “PythagoraSwitch”.

While the focus of the 15-minute program is a puppet show directed toward kids aged six and below, it has become a hit with adults as well thanks to short intermission segments featuring complex contraptions called “Pythagora Devices”, which are essentially Rube Goldberg machines made from simple household items.

Last week, NHK aired a special one-hour spin-off of the show aimed at stimulating adult minds, complete with powered-up versions of the popular Pythagora Devices. The segments are absolutely mesmerizing to watch and, lucky for us, have been compiled in a single video, which you can find embedded below!

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This Japanese LGBT Poster Might Be Slightly Biased

The poster you see above was recently shared on Japanese internet message board 2channel and appears to be aimed at raising awareness of sexual minorities among in Japan, with the slogan “love takes many forms” written at the top right corner.

Those of you with a keen eye for detail may have noticed that while the straight and lesbian couples are portrayed as vibrant anime characters with no particularly distinctive features, the gay couple is depicted as a burly mass of stereotype.

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McDonald’s 60 Second Campaign Teaches Japanese Customers the Cost of Free Food

On January 4, McDonald’s Japan launched their “Enjoy! 60 Second Service” campaign, which promises customers their meal in less than 60 seconds or their next hamburger free.

The service is only in effect from the hours of 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and the time limit doesn’t apply to products that are known to take over a minute to prepare, like the hefty Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Even still, the promotion is shaping up to be a bit too much for the poor McDonald’s Japan floor staff, who are literally on the timer with every order. Only two days after launch, Twitter has erupted with complaints that the promotion has caused a sudden drop in the quality of service, with many people sharing photos of their own “60 second disasters.”

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And Now For Chinese Bikini Models in the Snow

You can tell the models in the pictures in the gallery below are professionals. Not because they’re posing outside in -20°C (-4°F) weather while wearing bikinis, but because they manage to smile while doing it.

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McDonald’s Turned into Maid Cafe in Taiwan

While McDonald’s Japan has been known to run some customer-pleasing promotions in the past, no amount of free hamburgers can top the stunt performed by the young female crew of one Taiwanese McDonald’s, who dressed up in pink maid outfits on New Year’s Eve.

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Japanese Running of the Nerds, or: Comic Market 83, Day 1

Never underestimate the physical prowess of a nerd on the hunt.

Twice a year the first train of the day bound for Kokusai-tenjijo Station is packed to capacity with Japanese otaku (nerds) eager to be the first ones in line for the opening day of Comic Market, or “Comiket”, Japan’s largest comic convention held at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center every summer and winter.

You would think that just managing to get on the first train would be enough, but the moment the doors open the peaceful morning silence is broken as everyone makes a mad dash to get out of the station and up to the front of the line.  It happens every time, and this year’s winter Comiket, being held December 29-31, is no exception.

While most attendees can think of little other than beating the crowd, a few derive greater enjoyment from watching the mad scramble rather than participating in it. And now, thanks to YouTube, you can to!

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