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

Dog-carrying accessory spotted on Japanese train is awesome, borders on animal abuse

Dog-carrying accessory spotted on Japanese train is awesome, borders on animal abuse

You know those hilarious baby pouches that parents use to strap their kid to their backs, and the kid instantly falls asleep, because that’s what babies do? And then the baby’s limbs just wobble around while the parent walks and you have to do a double take because it kind of looks like the baby is dead at first?

Well, those pouches are apparently also being used on dogs in Japan lately.

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Crazy Japanese “doctor” thinks babies live in clouds, choose their mothers from the heavens

Crazy Japanese “doctor” thinks babies live in clouds, choose their mothers from the heavens

When a 4-year-old tells you his favorite hobby is riding dinosaurs with laser guns on their backs, you’d probably tend to laugh it off as the whimsical musings of a person whose brain hasn’t fully developed yet. But apparently one Japanese researcher thought taking the nonsensical ramblings of very young children seriously was an important research project lending insight into the pre-conception brains of recently born people.

“Doctor” Akira Ikegawa – who is crazy and is possibly also hoping to defraud at least a few people – says his research in prenatal care has revealed that babies sit up in clouds looking down on the world picking and choosing which mother they prefer to be born to before spiriting themselves into those mothers’ wombs to be carried to term.

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Are Women-Only train cars illegal in Japan?

Are Women-Only train cars illegal in Japan?

File this one under things we hope don’t fall into the wrong hands: Those Women Only train cars in Japan aren’t actually enforceable under the law.

All foreign men in Japan can recount their first harrowing experience of obliviously stepping onto a train, only to find that literally every single other passenger was a woman. There’s a moment of confusion and, if you’re lucky, a good Samaritan politely explaining that wieners don’t belong here, followed by the terrible realization that you’ve broken not only an official rule set forth by the train company but also an unwritten social rule, which is kind of almost worse. But, from here on out, you can rest assured that even though you’re committing a social taboo, you’re not breaking any laws!

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Philippine netizens do the makeup transformation meme to mixed results

Philippine netizens do the makeup transformation meme to mixed results

Memes tend to come and go (other than the almighty Shibe Doge), sometimes blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fast, so it’s always a little hard to keep track of what’s really popular and cool on the Internet and what isn’t. Right now, the meme of the nanosecond is “Makeup Transformation,” where Net users pose for a few photos in a tiled frame putting makeup on, and are then “miraculously” transformed into a celebrity, or a movie or video game character.

So quick is the turnaround on Internet memes that by the time people in the Philippines caught on to the Makeup Transformation phenom, it was already pretty much played out – despite it only having been in vogue for, like, a day or two in the U.S. For what it’s worth, Philippine netizens are doing a pretty good job of keeping the meme going, despite stupid people like this writer having basically no idea who most of the transformations are supposed to be.

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Check out this confused baby posing as a salad ingredient

Check out this confused baby posing as a salad ingredient

You know what’s apparently really popular right now? That Pizza Cats thing from Pizza Hut Japan. It’s a bunch of cats unwillingly forced into cute kitty-size Pizza Hut employee uniforms doing what cats do while someone films it and tries to stifle laughter. It’s all over the Internet.

Well, at least one Netizen has decided to get on the “reluctant sentient beings doing things they don’t normally do” bandwagon by placing a not-having-it-at-all and obviously confused baby in a salad bowl with a bunch of other salad ingredients because… INTERNET!

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Chinese Photoshop Trolls Part 7: “We Guess We Made Another One” 【Photos】

Chinese Photoshop Trolls Part 7: “We Guess We Made Another One” 【Photos】

If Chinese Photoshop troll compilations were movies – a concept we sort of decided to run with – the 10th in the series would certainly be getting kind of ludicrous, with a ridiculous title and themes that no one actually wanted or asked for. While we’re thankfully not up to the 10th in the series (yet – that one will almost certainly need to involve Photoshop trolls in space) we’ve somehow arrived at the seventh compilation, where we find the Chinese Photoshop trolls are starting to get, well, a little bit cocky…

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Talented high school baseball player steals 11 bases in one game, fans furious?

Talented high school baseball player steals 11 bases in one game, fans furious?

If you are a brain surgeon trying to get a side job flipping burgers at a fast food joint, you’re more than likely to be called “overqualified” and sent packing; yes, even if you really have a passion for perfecting the ultimate burger flip. Your services are clearly required elsewhere, despite your dreams of being Employee of the Month. But being overqualified for sports isn’t something most athletes generally have to worry about blowing back on them.

Unless, apparently, your sport is Japanese high school baseball, as one especially talented and furiously base-stealing Gunma Prefecture player learned recently.

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Seriously? Olive oil!? Turn ice cream into gourmet gelato with this easy but fattening trick

Seriously? Olive oil!? Turn ice cream into gourmet gelato with this easy but fattening trick

When I was a kid, I used to love using a spoon to whip my ice cream into a fluffy consistency. While it significantly sped up the ice cream’s melt time, I found the new texture I’d created a lot more agreeable than the spoon-bending hardness of the straight-from-the-freezer stuff. It never occurred to my sugar-addled, 10-year-old mind that in the process of whipping up my ice cream, I was actually making a sort of off-brand homemade gelato.

But now that I’ve grown older and my palate has matured, I still enjoy the ice cream whipping trick, but don’t do it as frequently as I used to. There’s just something missing. To my 30-year-old taste buds that have known such exotic delicacies as fugu, unagi, foie gras, street tacos and meatball subs, it’s just mushy ice cream.

But now, thanks to this secret trick we found on the Japanese Interwebs, I’ve rekindled my love for Poor Man’s Gelato.

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High school gymnastics team brings much needed humor, Attack on Titan to competitions

High school gymnastics team brings much needed humor, Attack on Titan to competitions

If you’ve ever had to attend one of your sibling’s high school gymnastics team performances and been bored out of your mind at all the jumping around and the bizarre Whose Lines is it Anyway/Clueless Gamer-style grading system, and thought to yourself, “Man, I’d be much more entertained if this was set to the Attack on Titan theme song. And would it kill these guys to throw a fart joke in there?,” you’re in luck; because this genius Kagoshima Prefecture high school men’s gymnastics team delivers on all of that in spades.

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Travel Warning: Beware Taiwan’s creepy zombie bus driver

Travel Warning: Beware Taiwan’s creepy zombie bus driver

I can only imagine what it would be like for a tourist from some far off country to inadvertently disembark in the United States right in time for the Halloween holiday. Stepping off the plane to be surrounded by blood-covered nurses, mad scientists and cackling witchcraft wielders would be extremely traumatizing for someone not specifically told that people are going to be walking around in costume like it’s no big deal.

Well, now I sort of have an idea of what that might feel like now that I’ve watched this YouTube video of a Taiwanese bus company that decided to replace its bus driver with a creepy zombie for Taiwan’s annual Hungry Ghost Festival.

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Lingerie retailer catering to flat-chested girls inundated with orders within hours of opening

Lingerie retailer catering to flat-chested girls inundated with orders within hours of opening

“Why should only big-breasted girls get all the fun of lingerie shopping?” is apparently the question that led Japanese fashion school student Gomi Hayakawa to design and sell these stylish lingerie sets, tailor-made for flat chested girls, under the brand name of “Feast.”

Now, I understand that, in English, “flat-chested” has mildly derogatory connotations (imagine how a guy would react if you described him as having “micro junk” or something), but trust me, in this case I’m literally just directly translating. Japanese has so many words for varying sizes, textures and shapes of breasts your head will spin.

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Carbonated sake is selling like gangbusters, just in time to rescue the drink from its demise

Carbonated sake is selling like gangbusters, just in time to rescue the drink from its demise

While I like to think of myself as one of the more cynical and irreverent – as well as dashingly handsome and sharply dressed – writers here at RocketNews24, I occasionally do come across a subject I’d rather approach with a more measured, sober point of view. Like, for example, the subject of sweet, sweet booze!

It might come as a shock to people whose primary brushes with Japanese culture come from visits to their local, non-Japan-based Japanese teppan restaurant or izakaya, but sake – the country’s national alcoholic beverage – is kind of in dire straights nowadays. The traditional, rice-based drink basically has been getting steamrolled by imported drinks like beer and wine, which have less of a “learning curve” to fully enjoy and thus appeal more to young people in Japan.

Since the 1970s, when the drink still faced stiff competition from domestic beers and imported wines but was doing pretty well for itself, domestic sake sales have hit a wall, with the number of brewers falling from nearly 5,000 in that period to just 1,000 or so now. Some have turned to foreign markets, even looking into new ways to pair sake with western food, while others have tried to innovate with sparkling sake – which is kicking ass in sales numbers and might just prove to be the drink’s savior.

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Owner walks Segway dog… or Segway dog walks owner?

Owner walks Segway dog… or Segway dog walks owner?

While the dog you owned in your childhood may have been a total idiot that barked at its own farts, super smart dogs aren’t all that uncommon, and the Internet has done a beautiful job of giving us a one-stop shop for viewing all the glorious tricks and people-things canines are capable of.

Some dogs on the Internet are so smart, in fact, it’s hard to tell who is the owner and who is the pet. Such as this jogging man with casually Segway-riding dog that was spotted in China recently.

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We swear we won’t tell anyone if you buy one of these super lifelike love dolls from Japan

We swear we won’t tell anyone if you buy one of these super lifelike love dolls from Japan

Hi, perverts! If you’re one of those people that’s been on the lookout for a hyper-realistic sex doll to call your own, then look no further – Japanese company Oriental Industry, which specializes in life-size silicon sex dolls, has you covered.

The dolls, which are somewhat racistly/sexistly called “Dutch Wives” in Japan are apparently so realistic, Japanese media is convinced that if you buy one you’ll never need a real girlfriend again.

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Genius Chinese college students use indoor inflatable pools to beat summer heat

Genius Chinese college students use indoor inflatable pools to beat summer heat

I thought summers in America were hot, until I moved to Asia and learned firsthand what a hot summer is really like. In Japan, China and other parts of East Asia, the summer can be brutal to the point that people flock to public pools by the thousands, risking other people’s disgusting mud butt and possible drowning by crowd crush just to enjoy a few moments in the tepid water.

But a number of enterprising Chinese college students have apparently figured out a genius workaround: Just put a pool in your own dorm room.

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This is what happens when you give a Ghibli character a typical anime haircut

This is what happens when you give a Ghibli character a typical anime haircut

With all the recent rumors about Studio Ghibli possibly shutting down or being bought out by another media company – which, thankfully, turned out to be a hoax – we’ve  been taking a lot of time out to take stock of what it is that makes Studio Ghibli and studio founder Hayao Miyazaki so special.

Certainly, Miyazaki’s films are at least a cut or two above other critically acclaimed anime films and are far and away higher in both visual and narrative quality than most of the anime you’ll see on TV.

But one Japanese Twitter user with a copy of Photoshop thought most anime does at least one thing better than Ghibli: anime hair.

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The top 5 places to see the sun set in Japan

The top 5 places to see the sun set in Japan

Japan may be known as the Land of the Rising Sun for good reason. The Japanese are extremely reverential to the sun and, if you can find a spot somewhere that doesn’t have a skyscraper blocking your view, Japanese sunrises are impressive and breathtaking to behold. They also happen at like 4 a.m., when no one in their right mind is awake – and those that are are likely enormously drunk and just getting ready for bed.

So for a lot of people, you might be better off watching the sun set in Japan. It’s equally gorgeous depending on location, and even in the middle of summer, the sun starts to slip behind the horizon around 6:30 or 7 p.m., so catching that perfect sunset is easy to work into your plans and doesn’t require remaining awake at some ungodly hour.

Of course, some places are better than others for catching a great Japanese sunset. While it’s cool and all to watch the sky turn all kinds of magnificent colors and the neon lights of the city winking on one by one from whatever street you happen to be standing on in the middle of Tokyo, it’s just not the same without a perfect backdrop and that eye-searing, crimson glory of the sun itself visibly sinking behind the landscape.

Here are our top five picks for watching the sunset in Japan (in no particular order):

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Now you too can imprison a wizard with real-life “Frozen” handcuffs

Now you too can imprison a wizard with real-life “Frozen” handcuffs

Frozen is really big in Japan – perhaps even more so than in the West. It’s big enough that not only are there multiple Japanese versions of the film’s biggest hit song number, “Let it Go” – to cover a variety of different regional dialects – but at least one obsessive Japanese fan went to huge lengths and poured a ton of money into recreating the special wizard handcuffs that film lead Elsa is briefly entrapped in during the movie.

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New father dresses like iconic pop culture characters and takes baths with his kid

New father dresses like iconic pop culture characters and takes baths with his kid

Normally I pride myself on being able to come up with at least somewhat clever headlines for my articles, but this story is so bizarrely specific, I ran out of space just trying to come up with a comprehensible title.

What you’re looking at is a new father who got the idea to pose with his daughter in the bathtub every couple of weeks to record her growth from gross poop machine into vaguely human infant. The man’s wife apparently proposed that they add a little makeup to dad’s face to make things interesting and then the situation, as you can see, kind of escalated from there.

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A six-year-old smashed the previous limbo skating record, in case you wanted to know

A six-year-old smashed the previous limbo skating record, in case you wanted to know

Who would have thought the world of limbo skating would be so competitive? Also, who would have thought limbo skating was a thing that exists?

Limbo skating is the sport of using old-school roller skates – we presume there’s some kind of rule about them having to be in pastel colors – to project yourself across the ground while staying as low as possible. Sometimes, limbo skaters can squish their bodies down to about the same height as a Coke bottle while bending their ankles at seemingly impossible angles to keep the roller skate’s wheels on the pavement.

So, since we went ahead and told you that limbo skating is a thing, we might as well also tell you that a 6-year-old just broke the previous limbo skating world record by limbo skating under 39 cars like it was nothing.

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