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

Making a “fart cannon” is simple and cheap, says Japanese comedy site

Making a “fart cannon” is simple and cheap, says Japanese comedy site

So, farts are still the pinnacle of physical comedy. I mean, they cover all the comedy bases: They’re smelly, they make a funny noise, and they make people around you feel very uncomfortable. Farts are pure genius. Proof that God loves and hates us equally.

But sometimes you want to fart on someone but they’re just a little too far away to reach with your offensive bodily odors, no matter how hard you try to project your poo gas. That’s where the – obviously – Japanese invention of the Fart Cannon comes in. With this simple device, you can launch your fart gas at unsuspecting targets several meters away.

All you need is a box, some tubing, and a willingness to insert said tubing into your anus.

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Visitors to this Wakayama beach get to swim with whales this summer

Visitors to this Wakayama beach get to swim with whales this summer

As comedian and noted lover of cinnamon rolls and burritos Jim Gaffigan famously said, going whale watching is kind of boring. It’s a handful of hours of waiting around, a brief glimpse of “something I wouldn’t even watch on television,” and then your most likely drunk tour captain whisking you back to shore in time for happy hour.

And maybe Jim’s right. Sure, whales are the most majestic of creatures, but is it really all that fun to spend all day on a swaying deck for a half-second glimpse of a tail or something? Scuba diving with whales would be much more exciting, but that’s sort of dangerous and you need a license. If only there were a place where whales would come right up to you on the beach and hang out for a while…

Oh, that’s right! That’s exactly what happens at Wakayama’s easy-to-read-and-pronounce Higashimuroguntaijichou Whale Beach.

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Personality test-obsessed Japan devises “Frozen” princess personality test for women

Personality test-obsessed Japan devises “Frozen” princess personality test for women

If there’s anybody in the world that loves a good non-scientifically supported personality or psychological measurement, it’s the Japanese. You’ve got the thoroughly debunked blood type indicator, Western-imported horoscopes, the “which way do you fold your arms?” test, the “how you like your meat cooked says a lot about you” test, and, of course, if you have sword-shaped fingernails, you’re a complete and utter psychopath.

Well, given Japan’s propensity for personality indicators as well as Japan’s affinity for adorable Disney princesses, it was only a matter of time before somebody mashed the two together to create a Frozen princess personality test. Jeez, why can’t they take all this superstition and just LET IT GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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Internet reacts to Taiwanese yoga instructor’s wildly unnecessary opening pitch striptease

Internet reacts to Taiwanese yoga instructor’s wildly unnecessary opening pitch striptease

When it comes to on-field spectacle and non-game antics in Western sports, baseball is without a doubt the most restrained. It eschews the cheerleaders of basketball, the super high-budget halftime shows of football and the fights of hockey for, at best, a bored guy in a cheap mascot costume doing something silly in the dugout two or three times a game.

But, in Taiwan, apparently, baseball is just all kinds of bonkers.

For your consideration, here is an absolutely crazy opening pitch from a week or so ago that saw a woman dressed in cheetah-pattern doing a ridiculous and totally unnecessary strip-tease before tossing the ball over the plate, then rubbing her half-naked body all over the catcher. Also, for a while, the catcher is blindfolded because, at this point, why not?

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Little boy comforts scared girl at school, is manlier than your fully grown adult boyfriend

Little boy comforts scared girl at school, is manlier than your fully grown adult boyfriend

In the annals of history, there have been many men who were so cool, they practically defined the word. The kind of guys that were so naturally cool, they didn’t even seem to notice when they were doing something awesome. We’re talking about guys like James Dean, Sam Jackson, Bruce Willis, the classic crooners like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, and I guess we’ll begrudgingly add newbies like Ryan Gosling (Just kidding! We mean Marky Mark).

Now we can add this incredibly awesome little boy, who seems to be around five years old. We see him here in this video casually comforting a grieving little girl who is upset about being removed from her mother on what we presume is the first day of school. She even does that adorable kid thing where she tries her best not to cry but it’s not really working, and our heroic little boy just sort of nonchalantly tells her he’s got her back – almost like she’s a fiery explosion that he’s casually walking away from without looking at. That’s how cool this kid is.

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German team hero Mario Gotze wins World Cup, later loses dignity thanks to gross pic

German team hero Mario Gotze wins World Cup, later loses dignity thanks to gross pic

As they say, it’s all fun and games in soccer until someone resurfaces an old picture of a soccer star’s gross public boner.

Mario Gotze, the newly-crowned hero of the German soccer team who shot the World Cup-winning score against Argentina will now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, forever be known as “that guy who got a boner in public while wearing a Speedo,” because FIFA – with its draconian control over all soccer content shared on YouTube – has ensured that Twitter-shared boner pics will circulate forever and ever and ever, but actual video of the game-winning goal will be nearly impossible to find.

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Gorgeous female Cambridge student unsurprisingly makes Chinese heads explode

Gorgeous female Cambridge student unsurprisingly makes Chinese heads explode

Well, as we’ve seen time and time again, it seems the Chinese Interwebs simply cannot handle (or, in the parlance of teens today, “Cannot even”) the idea of an attractive woman who’s doing something other than sitting around being attractive all day.

Our newest recipient of the dubious “Beautiful woman doing things” distinction - which the Chinese Internet media seems to be giving away like an unplanned litter of kittens these days – is this Asian doctoral student, which the Japanese media and creepy Internet commentators haven’t even bothered to name – presumably because they were too busy breathing heavily for an uncomfortably long time and mopping sweat from their brows.

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New “Living Barbie” is why we can’t have nice things

New “Living Barbie” is why we can’t have nice things

Human beings, as a species, have done some pretty amazing things. Spaceships and meatball subs, for instance, being two of man’s standout contributions to the universe. But, on the whole, we’re also kind of a species that shouldn’t be allowed to have nice things.

For every fantastic human invention, a handful of people will always show up to go way overboard and ruin it for everyone. College students pretty much ruined beer and parties for everybody, now we’ve got Tea Party advocates taking the generally pretty cool “car” concept and making them belch out thick, black smoke for seemingly no reason other than to be jerks to the environment and everyone in a 20-yard radius.

Oh, and you’ve got people like the newest “Living Barbie” who took cosmetic surgery and makeup and toys – all generally useful inventions – and used them to turn themselves into freakish nightmare fuel.

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Does the way you cross your arms say anything about your personality? Japan thinks so

Does the way you cross your arms say anything about your personality? Japan thinks so

Everybody, go ahead and cross your arms right now. Done? Alright. Now, try to cross them the other way. If you’re currently crossed with right forearm on top, try to switch position so that your left forearm is on top. Feels incredibly awkward and unnatural, doesn’t it?

It turns out most people have a natural bias for arm-crossing direction, with slightly more than half of most global populations preferring the left-forearm-on-top approach, although the two preferences are basically 50-50. Some people apparently cross their arms either way without even thinking about it, although this population is exceedingly small.

So why do we humans find one way so natural and the other way so incredibly weird-feeling? It may have something to do with your psychological composition, according to the (admittedly somewhat unreliable) Japanese Internet.

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All-black chicken is the second most metal bird you’ll ever see

All-black chicken is the second most metal bird you’ll ever see

There’s something about the color black that gets people all kinds of excited. In many countries, it’s associated with bad omens, mystery, the supernatural, and even magic. But in the West, it’s most commonly associated with one thing only: METAL.

And so it is that in the eyes of Indonesians, the Ayam Cemani is a prized breed of pitch-black chicken that probably portends good luck or something, but to the Western eye, it’s the second most metal bird we’ve ever seen.

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Awesome fan film is more Transformers than Michael Bay could ever handle

Awesome fan film is more Transformers than Michael Bay could ever handle

I never really felt much about Michael Bay one way or another until he started in on Transformers. Michael, sir, we may share the same first name and I may be willing to enjoy the casual racism and over-the-top violence of your earlier works, but when you start messing around with my childhood… That’s where I draw the line.

Transformers may have never been anything more than a glorified 30-minute toy commercial with a loosely cohesive story arc at its best, but to my child brain, it was my glorified toy commercial…with ROBOTS!

While Michael Bay may have had a field day, and earned literal truckloads of money, destroying my childhood, a Malaysian fan had the incredibly bright idea of using actual Transformers toys to make an awesome stop-motion homage to the venerable 80′s classic.

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American rice ball restaurant takes liberties with classic Japanese snack

American rice ball restaurant takes liberties with classic Japanese snack

The humble onigiri rice ball is the traditional Japanese answer to the sub sandwich: it’s a no-frills, on-the-go snack that balances carbs and protein and doesn’t require utensils. And just like subs, onigiri come stuffed with a huge variety of fillings, from salmon flakes to meatballs, seaweed to shrimp tempura.

And, just as “healthy” American sub sandwich chain Subway is making huge headway in Japan recently, onigiri are apparently making the journey the opposite way to American shores… But something has definitely gotten lost in translation.

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Wouldn’t you know! There’s another “beautiful woman doing things” going viral in Asia

Wouldn’t you know! There’s another “beautiful woman doing things” going viral in Asia

I’ve written (somewhat facetiously) so many times about the whole “beautiful woman doing things” trend that’s been going on in Asia since probably the invention of the Internet that just seeing beautiful women in Asian media is starting to give me headaches.

This time around, the trend has apparently jumped the shark to a degree that it’s starting to repeat itself, as we’re now treated to the second “beautiful woman being a newscaster” in under a year. This time it’s Taiwan’s Junze Zhuo, a Fox News Taiwan representative and, by all means, overall lovely lady who is drawing such tasteful comments from the Japanese Internet as, “I wish she’d grab my mic.”

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Is new “One Piece” plane awesome fan service or just a cynical cash grab?

Is new “One Piece” plane awesome fan service or just a cynical cash grab?

In what can now officially be called a budding trend, the Japanese domestic carrier Skymark has announced it will be painting over five of its Boeing 737-800 model planes with characters from the popular and long-running manga and anime, One Piece.

Two designs – presumably on the left and right sides of the plane – will feature group shots of some of the series’ most popular characters to date, including main character Monkey D. Luffy, Roronoa Zoro, Nico Robin, Nami, and that reindeer thing. A separate graphic of Luffy will greet passengers as they enter the plane near the boarding door.

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“Awesome! Lemon Coke is back!” say tens of consumers in Japan

“Awesome! Lemon Coke is back!” say tens of consumers in Japan

After a grueling nine year wait, the two dozen or so hardcore fans of Lemon Coke can finally triumphantly shrug their shoulders and go, “Meh,”, as the company has announced it’s bringing back the mildly tolerated legend after a long hiatus.

The new Lemon Coke, now with slick new packaging that includes a spiffy yellow cap, will be re-introduced to 16,622 7-Elevens throughout Japan, probably to the glorious, collective nonchalant grunts of thousands. Based on promotional photos, the Coke seems a little more transparent than usual, indicating that there must be a whole lot of lemon juice in there.

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Attack on Titan star Levi graces cover of Japanese women’s magazine

Attack on Titan star Levi graces cover of Japanese women’s magazine

Well, the public has already come forward and said that Attack on Titan‘s abrasive, but secretly caring Levi is one the most dateable anime characters of all time (the public also said they love boobs… a lot), so it’s no surprise that Levi is getting the star treatment even outside of anime circles.

On June 27, Levi graced the cover of the popular women’s magazine, FRaU, for the magazine’s book and manga special edition that included a manga awards page – several of which, no doubt, Levi is now the proud owner of.

Artist and Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama drew the cover especially for the issue, which features Levi reclining in a fancy office chair, with a manga and a pair of classy loafers; a look the youthful hero probably doesn’t get to sport too often in the world of Attack on Titan.

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Intense NYT infographic will melt the brains of non-soccer fans

Intense NYT infographic will melt the brains of non-soccer fans

Soccer is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, conveniently coinciding with the country’s decent performance in this and the last World Cup. No news outlet has been milking the globally-loved sport’s new recognition in America more than the New York Times, with seemingly one out of every two stories coming out of the venerable outlet being focused on soccer since the Brazil World Cup began.

Other outlets, comedians, and the forever-loathsome she-thing, Anne Coulter, are having a grand old time calling out the NYT on its pretentious World Cup coverage, but the Times may have jumped the shark when it published this almost impossible to decipher infographic that tracks “Soccer clubs with players on at least two national teams.”

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Philippine transgender group fights for rights with handsome posterboy

Philippine transgender group fights for rights with handsome posterboy

Even as the gay and lesbian communities experience something of a global revolution in terms of being granted more rights and protection from discrimination, transgender people may be facing a significantly steeper uphill battle. While many of even the most conservative people have come to accept that they may have to share intimate spaces like locker rooms and bathrooms with gays and lesbians, we’re all still squabbling over which bathrooms transgender people should use and which pronoun to call them by.

Discrimination against transgender individuals is particularly fierce in devoutly Catholic Philippines, where hormones – and presumably also surgeries – that are essential to the transgender “transformation” process are routinely denied to those who want them. But the transgender rights group Pinoy Female-to-Male (Pinoy MTF) – composed of naturally born women who identify as male – may have found an ideal spokesmen to help in their fight.

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Game-winning Greek penalty kick wrongly awarded because a guy tripped? 【Updated】

Game-winning Greek penalty kick wrongly awarded because a guy tripped? 【Updated】

Controversial calls during the World Cup are about as unexpected as Kanye West hysterically ranting on Twitter; that is to say, it happens a lot.  But when it comes to contested fouls in this year’s tournament, here’s one where the argument that it was bogus may just have some… legs! Get it?

At first glance, there didn’t seem to be anything fishy about the stoppage time foul against Greek striker Giorgos Samaras that gave up a penalty kick to the Greeks and sealed their win over Ivory Coast. Most early coverage of the game seems to make no mention of the controversial call, but when fans – who appear to oftentimes be more attentive than game officials – started posting replay footage online, some started to wonder whether Samaras actually tripped over his own feet and wasn’t fouled at all.

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Japanese hostel’s visitor board reveals surprisingly deep cultural differences

Japanese hostel’s visitor board reveals surprisingly deep cultural differences

We’ve always been told that stereotypes are bad, but there are certain cultural phenom that can be measured so widely that it’s safe to say that people from certain countries at least have a tendency to behave in certain ways.

The Japanese, for instance, are said to be orderly and conformist, while Americans are said to be cowboys that like to do things their own way, even if to the detriment of others.

While this survey sticker board from a Japanese hostel – which asks where visitors hail from – may actually prove the opposite about Americans, it pretty readily confirms that the Japanese are very organized.

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