Mike

With nothing better to do in his native Ohio, Mike took a leave of absence from all responsibilities in life and came to Japan for the first time in 2006. After several years of what amounted to an extended vacation with occasional Japanese lessons, circumstances led Mike to finally settle down in Tokyo and get serious about life in 2009. He’s worked at magazines, a Japanese ad agency, and currently works in the entertainment industry. He also co-founded and writes for the humorous Japan news website Tokyodesu.com.

All Stories by Mike

This bananas Japanese commercial series is concentrated visual madness

If you were to listen only to the ramblings of Internet users, you might think that Japanese TV is a nonstop procession of bonkers commercials, ridiculous pornographic game shows and people in little windows reacting to other people reacting to delicious food.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. There are actually a fair few TV shows that cover serious subject matter, there are perfectly normal commercials that don’t induce madness and/or seizures, and sometimes there are actually shows not related at all to food (actually, that last bit may be a lie).

So where does Japan’s reputation for crazy television entertainment come from? Why, from the rare but totally bananas stuff that somehow actually finds its way on air from time to time, like this ludicrous television commercial series that makes absolutely no sense at all.

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Japanese Netizens think that European Central Bank protester looks like an anime character

Although the protester that managed to infiltrate the European Central Bank’s monthly press conference recently got plenty of media attention with her clever deployment of a so-called “Glitter Bomb” – that is, she scattered the notoriously-difficult-to-remove, fabulous substance everywhere – her protest method of choice came a few months too late.

Everyone knows, of course, that the disruptive substance du jour now is the dial-a-bag of dongs. Glitter is just so yesterday. But, our intrepid protester is still getting her due time in the spotlight in Japan because of her resemblance to a certain anime character.

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Red skies and mud rain in China as apocalypse begins earlier than expected

Listen guys. I have some bad news. You might want to sit down for this.

The apocalypse is clearly happening right now, and if you’re in China, Mongolia or that general region, you may want to go ahead and kiss your loved ones goodbye, because Cthulhu himself, or some other terrible dark deity, is already sending warning of the end times in the form of blood-red skies and freaking black stuff raining from the heavens. Sorry, guys, but we’re clearly all doomed.

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“Sexy” Taiwanese cheerleading routines don’t seem to have much to do with sports 【Videos】

Not that Western cheerleading really has all that much to do with football or anything, and – last I checked – baseball in the US didn’t even have cheerleaders at all, but the logic goes that cheerleaders are there to get the crowd pumped up and into the competitive spirit. At least on paper, anyway.

In Taiwan, on the other hand, the cheerleaders at baseball games just kind of dance around in skimpy outfits like booth babes that got lost on their way to the auto show or something. It almost looks like they’re doing the exact opposite of what cheerleading is (ostensibly) all about, actually diverting spectators’ attention away from the game and pretty much guaranteeing that the men in the audience will need to remain seated (that’s a boner joke, you guys).

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People in Japan are growing concerned that another major earthquake might hit soon

We don’t think we have to tell you that when some lunatic wearing a sandwich board starts telling you that the earth will open up and swallow humanity whole if you don’t do seven Hail Marys, constantly chant “Yahweh,” and transfer a small donation exceeding 10 dollars to his PayPal account right now, you can probably take that prediction with a grain of salt.

But, when it comes to earthquakes, there are actually some pretty solid, observable predictors that one may be coming soon. And, holy crap you guys, there are a bunch of those happening right now in Japan and I for one am starting to get worried.

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Guy supposedly finds himself sneaking a smoke at work on Google Street View

The fact that cameras are just about everywhere these days has all but guaranteed that you’ll get caught doing anything even remotely socially unacceptable unless you do it in the privacy of your own home (and even then you better make sure you close the curtains).

Gone are the days of anonymously ringing the crazy cat lady’s doorbell and running away, or sneaking in to your local Masonic Temple to uncover their nefarious, cult-ish deeds (true story!). You can pretty much forget about doing anything in an elevator.

Oh, and, better be sure to tell your supervisor before you take that smoke break, or the ever watchful, judging gaze of the Google Street View car might out you to your employer, as a Japanese Netizen apparently found out recently.

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Japan’s abysmal ranking for rice consumption even catches Japanese Netizens off-guard

Think Japan loves it some rice? Well, you’d be right. Japan is definitely a rice consuming nation, and the little white grains are most certainly one of Japan’s staple foods. But would you believe the country doesn’t even break the top 10 nations when it comes to rice consumption?

It appears neither would Japanese Netizens, as a chart making the rounds on the Japanese interwebs has onlookers incredulously dropping their morning baked goods.

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You should visit Osaka’s first rescue cat cafe so I don’t have to

I’m going to confess something that, this being the Internet, I’m almost certain is going to make me deeply unpopular and possibly get me fired from my writing job: I hate cats.

I hate ’em. I hate them so much that, apropos of nothing, the very idea of cats and how much I hate them pops into my mind a few times a day even when there are no cats around to spur my ire. I hate them when the three or four strays in my neighborhood wake me up in the middle of the night with their incessant mewling and fighting. I hate them when they get too close and trigger my allergies. I hate them in a box, I hate them with a fox, I hate them with a mouse, and I certainly hate them in my house.

That said, I think the new rescue cat cafe, SAVE CAT CAFE, which opened in Osaka on April 1, is just the cat’s meow.

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Can you guess what this amazing Super Mario Bros art is made from?

Given Mario’s reign as the king – or at least, like, Hand of the King or maybe Master of Coin – of the current pop culture nostalgia craze, it’s no wonder that we’ve seen a lot of Super Mario Bros. fan art over the years.

Most of it’s pretty great stuff, but few works of Mario fan art have required quite as much thankless dedication and time commitment as this recreation of the original Super Mario Bros. start screen recreated in an unusual medium. Can you guess what that medium is?

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Make your own “wagashi” Japanese sweets at home with these creation kits

Pretty much anyone can pick up some brownie mix at the local grocer, crack an egg into a bowl, mix, and end up with a piping hot tray of delicious goodies. That’s child’s play (literally, if you’re using an Easy Bake).

It’s another thing altogether to create some truly Pinterest-worthy “wagashi” Japanese sweets. You know what we’re talking about: The wabi-sabi-riffic, colorful eye-and-mouth candy we’ve gushed over here on this very site time and again.

Wagashi are equally intimidating items to make for foreigners and Japanese alike, often calling for seemingly exotic ingredients, mysterious baking methods and coming in hard-to-replicate shapes and sizes. But, lucky for enthusiasts, there’s now a series of home kits available online to make the process a (relative) breeze!

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Awesome new electric motorcycle looks like something out of “Akira”‘s Neo Tokyo

Despite working a boring office job and having lived in Tokyo for long enough that not even schoolgirl uniforms, random cosplayers or the neon wash of Kabukicho really give me pause anymore, there are still moments when I look around at all the futuristic bizarreness and think, Is this real life? Or am I living in the dystopian anime world of Akira?

Maybe it’s the abnormally tall buildings, the dingy arcades that look like they’re right out of that early Akira scene. Maybe it’s the male hosts with their impeccable dress and gravity-defying hair, or the life-size, moving Gundam of Odaiba. Or maybe it’s because every once in a while a vehicle like this new electric motorcycle will come roaring down the street like its giving chase to an escaped Replicant or something.

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Amateur comic strip perfectly captures “personalities” of moe-fied gaming consoles

The “console wars” have become so complicated lately. Unlike the glory days of Nintendo Vs. Sega, there are now a good half-dozen or more consoles to choose from, with exclusivity deals between publishers and console makers forcing hardcore gamers to go all-in and purchase three or four consoles just to play all the games they want to.

On top of all that, Sony wants its PlayStation 4 to murder the Xbox One with a sword, the Wii U is kind of promiscuous, and the PS Vita suffers from severe depression.

Wait, sorry… We’ve been reading too many of these comics that perfectly moe-fy the various consoles.

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Bizarre video series gives pervy weirdos a glimpse of girls’ panties in very specific situations

If you’re a long-time RocketNews24 reader, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you that Japan and underage girls in skirts have a… complicated relationship.

The sexualization of schoolgirl uniforms is far from a Japan-only thing, but no country is quite so infamous as Japan when it comes to sexualizing youth; as many readers may have learned when we told you about that crazy movie about a kid shaving a girl’s leg hair to prepare her for the swim team, or when we brought you tips from a famous Japanese photographer for taking pictures of schoolgirl be-skirted legs.

But perhaps nothing we’ve introduced before pushes the envelope of good taste quite as much as this video series of schoolgirls trying and failing to prevent their panties from showing in very specific situations.

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Want to see this impressively huge AR Titan? No problem, just fire up your personal drone

The hit anime Attack on Titan has really captured Japan’s imagination. For some reason, the idea of giant naked people eating regular sized humans really resonates with the Japanese psyche. So, it logically followed that various entities have attempted to recreate the scale of the series’ titular Titans in real life. Through Universal Studios’ impressive statues to, of course, a porn set and beyond, a lot of attempts have come close to capturing the pants-wetting terror of seeing a Titan in real life.

But none have come as close to a true-to-scale Titan as this private (!!!) augmented reality (AR) hobbyist who has managed to project a massive AR Titan dancing giddily in the Japanese countryside. And all you’ll need to see it for yourself is a multi-thousand dollar personal drone. You know, no big deal.

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Facepalm News: Japanese Twittersphere thinks Tokyo Disneyland’s Alice might be a (male) imposter

The Japanese Internet thinks there’s something strange in Wonderland these days, if a handful of photos doing the rounds on Twitter are any indication.

A Disneyland enthusiast – of which there are a great many in Japan – recently uploaded several close-up photos of Alice in Wonderland‘s Alice standing atop a parade float with the open question, “Am I the only one who thinks Alice might be a man?”

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Japanese Netizens (and the rest of the world) confused by America’s imperial measurement system

Last year, one of our Japanese reporters went on an extended visit to the United States. While he had plenty of nice things to say about the country, he also had some complaints, and, as an American myself, I can’t really say that I blame the guy. Having to drive literally everywhere unless you live in one of maybe three specific cities is a major hassle and a huge drain on your budget, certain services seem staffed entirely by people who are barely even aware of your existence or what’s going on more than a few inches on either side of their smartphone, and yes, the police are a little on the brutal side and drunk on their own power a lot of the time no matter how you slice it (annnnnd… now I’m on an NSA watchlist. Hi, guys!).

But, there’s one complaint our reporter had that I just can’t relate to: how crazy America’s systems of measurement are.

I mean, I grew up with feet, inches, pounds and whatnot, so I can’t really speak to our reporter’s profound confusion. Is it really so bad? We had to find out, so we donned our troll-proof vests and dove deep into the smelly, dark recesses of 2chan to see what other Japanese Netizens thought of America’s wacky measurement systems:

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Survey asks Japanese people where they’d most like to “live” after death

Whenever people ask me what I want to happen after I die, I always tell them I want a Super Mario-themed funeral where, at the end of the ceremony, the Mario death music plays and my casket is launched a few feet up in the air, then allowed fall down into the earth. I’ve always thought that would be a pretty cool way for friends and family to send me off, but the actual location of the funeral – or even really what happened to my body afterwards – has never been all that important to me.

Westerners have surprisingly little ritual when it comes to death. There’s usually a wake or a funeral, and then, if you’re lucky, every couple of years Solid Snake comes by to stand in front of your grave, look grim and deliver a two-hour monologue about the horrors of war. The Japanese, on the other hand, make a point to visit and pay respects to the dead every year through somewhat ritualized ohakamairi, so the location of your grave is an important thing to consider.

So important, apparently, that specialty online grave retailer Ohakamagokorokakaku (“ohakamago”) is considering offering a service to move the graves of loved ones, and recently conducted a survey among Japanese people asking: “Where would you most like to ‘live’ after death?”

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Oblivious tourists wander back into Japanese airport’s departure area, mass chaos ensues

Delays at airports are often inevitable due to congested air traffic or technical difficulties, or because the evil cabal of airline operators deemed it time for more delays. Whatever the reason, it’s certainly frustrating to have to wait an extra hour on the tarmac while children scream, people shuffle around, and someone possibly has an Alec Baldwin-esque outburst.

But these woes are nothing compared to what people at Japan’s Naha Airport endured when three tourists accidentally wandered back into the departures area and single-handedly put the entire airport on lockdown March 9.

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Japanese “History Geek Girls” snapping up copies of mega-popular book about Japanese swords

I think we can all agree that it doesn’t take much to convince people that Japanese swords are all-around pretty cool. The sweet, curved blade of the katana just has a natural artistic beauty, plus we hear they’re pretty good at slicing fruit.

But apparently Japanese teen and 20-something boys these days just aren’t that into it. Girls, on the other hand, seem to be driving a renewed interest in the historical weapons, if sales of a new series of books are any indication.

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“60-Minute Candy” is closest we’ll get to Wonka’s “Everlasting Gobstopper,” good for diets, too!

A new diet product has been catching on in Japan recently, despite it paradoxically being basically a giant ball of sugar that seems like it came straight out of Willy Wonka’s fictitious candy factory.

The “60-Minute Candy” is increasingly being talked about on the Twitterverse by Japanese women who are passing word on to each other that the long-lasting lollipop is great for suppressing cravings for even less healthy alternatives.

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