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

We don’t know what Vanadium is either, but Asahi put it in a drink for you anyway

On November 18, Asahi released its new Fuji-san Vanadium Natural Water Hot, apparently banking on the idea that regular convenience store-going human beings would both a) know what Vanadium is, and b) actually want to consume just plain hot water out of a bottle.

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Super Federo? Those goofy Mercedes x Mario ads may have had some unexpected celebrity cameos

A lot of ’80s-era kids probably entertained the fantasy of meeting their biggest childhood heroes in the flesh at one point or another. And no, we’re not talking about Michael Jordan or other sports stars of the time. We’re talking about someone far less, uh… athletic: Mario.

Of course, had kids met the real-life Mario and/or Luigi depicted in this goofy and sort of frightening Mario x Mercedes collaboration commercial, they probably would have run for their lives and sworn off Nintendo games forever. But, beneath all the ugly prosthetics and hulking physiques of these game heroes come to life, there may have been, at least according to Japanese netizens, some far more approachable real-life athletes.

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Osaka man imprisoned on rape conviction released in exceptional reversal of charges

An Osaka man convicted of rape three and a half years ago and sentenced to a 12-year prison sentence has been released after new evidence revealed the man’s accuser had provided false testimony.

The man – whom Japanese news outlets are not naming – was accused of raping the same woman in both 2004 and 2008, and sexually assaulting her once again later in 2008. The guilty verdict was apparently based largely on the woman’s testimony and that of at least one eyewitness, but the trial seems to have lacked any physical evidence provided by prosecutors.

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1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours

On March 15, 2013, the Shibuya Station Toyoko Line above-ground train quietly shut down for good, to be replaced with a new section of subway track connecting Shibuya Station and the nearby Daikanyama Station. Converting the line from above-ground to underground was a massive operation, requiring a grand total of 1,200 engineers and countless man-hours.

But, even if you’d been living in Tokyo at the time, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the construction, because it all occurred during the train line’s off-hours… over the course of one single night.

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Has this cat’s soul been stolen, or is this just another example of cats being weird? 【Video】

A few weeks ago, we saw a cat that could walk backwards on two legs like it was no big deal. At the time, we jokingly wrote it off as just another quirky cat thing that cats do, because cats.

But now that we’ve seen this video of another feline lying prone, belly-up, staring into the abyss as though it’s seen into the eyes of Cthulhu, we’re starting to wonder if maybe there’s some sort of strange otherworldly madness slowly destroying the minds of Japan’s cats:

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Lost dog appears to turn itself in to local police, recruit their help with finding its owner

Usually, it seems, the standard procedure for reuniting a lost pet with its owner is to put up posters on every streetlamp you can find, begging people to let you know if they’ve seen your wayward canine/feline family member.

It’s nice, then, that the owner of a large Alaskan malamute in Suzhou, China had an animal that was smart and proactive enough to basically do all the legwork for him, by essentially turning itself in to the police.

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Animals, cars, and anime: Japanese salons give kids the VIP treatment

As an adult, I never really find myself attached to one particular hairstyle. Every time I get a cut, that’s a one or two-month commitment at best before I get to change it around all over again. But for kids, the barber can apparently be a pretty harrowing experience. After all, especially for younger kids, they’ve been rocking the same ‘do for almost their entire lives. Also, it probably takes some learning to overcome the instinctual aversion to sharp objects being brandished near your face.

Not that I have kids or anything, but I’ve heard taking them to the hair salon can be… let’s just say a bit of a handful.

That’s why many Japanese salons have decided to go the extra mile and give kids the VIP treatment:

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This male model is better at looking like a lady than most ladies

Here at RocketNews24, we’re no strangers to stories that involve guys who look like girls. Heck, we just ran that story about a whole school full of boys who annually dress as girls for a genuinely impressive beauty contest. In other words, we spend a lot of our waking hours looking at pictures of dudes who could pass for attractive girls.

So, we believe our radar for picking out the difference between a very beautiful boy and an actual girl has gotten pretty sensitive over the years. But now, there’s finally one gorgeous young model who totally managed to fool us (at least in certain photos, anyway).

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Japanese nerds pick the feudal warlord they’d most like to be their boss

Sometimes you just have to take a survey for the sake of taking a survey, no matter how seemingly random or inconsequential the contents of the survey may be.

For example, we now have the results of this survey, which we’re pretty sure no one asked for, that gauges which feudal warlord Japanese geeks would rather be working under. We presume this means in an office setting and not, like, on an old-timey Japanese Warring States-era battlefield.

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Survey of Japanese men’s bra unclasping skills suggests they need to up their game

For a young, hormone-addled teenage boy, the art of the one-handed bra-unclasp is a sacred rite of passage that, along with shaving and, you know, like, actually having had sex, is one of the telltale markers of having transitioned from being a “loser” (or, worse yet, a “weenie”) to being one of the “cool” kids.

It’s too bad then, that according to a recent Japanese survey, the majority of Japanese men apparently never progressed into the realm of the cool kids because they still can’t unhook a bra one-handed.

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Slow News Day Special 2: Use obvious clues in this photo to find out what this “bird” really is

Sometimes, you’re surfing around on the Internet to find weird Japan news to write about and can’t seem to find anything except one of those old “I thought this thing was that thing, but it was another thing,” Twitter comparison pictures and you kind of just have to run with it. I know, oddly specific scenario, but we’ve all been there, right?

Like, check out this thing that looks like a bird. We already know it’s not a bird, but can you use some of the clues in the photo to figure out what it really is?

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Slow News Day Special: Save your snacks in style with this moderately clever “lifehack”

The idea of the “lifehack” – at least as far as the Internet knows it – has been around long enough that we’ve long since progressed from wide-eyed, childlike wonderment at the simple genius of saving a bagel in a CD spindle, to dubiousness and bafflement at the increasingly complex and hit-or-miss lifehacks folks are tossing out these days.

So, forgive us for still being on the fence about how we feel towards this next lifehack: Behold, the “Baby Wipe Lid Chip Saver.”

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No offense, Russia, but some of your food-art can be pretty terrible

Okay, so first off, I just want to start by saying I promise to avoid any “In Mother Russia, xxxx eat you!” jokes in this article, as tempting (and as easy) as it may be to do so.

But, that said: come on, Russia! You’re jockeying with China for worst food-art fails of all time here. While Japan has been busy cranking out new and innovative ways to create beautiful and sometimes seemingly impossible food-art masterpieces, other regions are definitely falling behind with, at best hilarious fails and, at worst, nightmare-inducing food abominations.

Let’s take a look at a few food-art fails from Russia:

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Japanese high school holds annual contest to decide the prettiest “girl” in school

The whole concept of an all-boys high school is kind of cruel when you think about it. You take a bunch of young men who have only recently hit puberty and are practically oozing hormones out of their pores and lock them in a prison-like environment filled with nothing but other males for the majority of their teen lives.

So it’s understandable that at least one Japanese all-boys high school, faced with an utter lack of girls to ogle, chose to get a little creative… by holding an annual beauty pageant to determine the prettiest “girl” in school.

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A little late for Halloween, here are some haunted photos from Thailand

So we might be a little late to the party on this one – on account of being at other parties that involved a lot of drinking – but we’re still taken with the Halloween spirit, and it looks like Thailand is too, because we managed to scrounge up a bunch of spooky, possibly “haunted” photos from the area recently.

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600-yen Chinese buffet opens in Tokyo, Americans rejoice

Although slightly paradoxical, there’s kind of nothing more American than the good ol’ Chinese buffet.

The Chinese buffet is an American fixture that takes an imported cuisine (basically the only thing America really has) and twists it to suit American tastes. Over the years, it’s become a classic staple of the American diet, fortune cookies and all. Also there’s probably something to be said about the American dream – “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” and all that – beneath all the MSG and faux duck meat. Whatever.

So American expats, nostalgic for their weekly family fix of spicy staples like General Tso’s chicken and other incongruous Asian fusion dishes, must be rejoicing at the news that there’s now a Chinese buffet in Tokyo serving all-you-can-eat Chinese classics for a measly 600 yen (US$5.50).

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You guys, Donut Selfies are totally the next big thing

If there’s one unwritten, universal rule of the Internet (other than Rule 34), it’s that you can’t purposefully make something “go viral.” As you read this, there is almost certainly a team of marketing people in a boardroom somewhere trying to figure out a way to leverage that crazy “Shibe Doge” into an ad campaign that will almost certainly never succeed.

But one former Microsoft employee apparently thinks she can buck the trend with her new invention, the “Donut Selfie.”

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Attack of the Clones: Finalists in this year’s Miss Korea contest once again looking eerily alike

In perhaps the one case in which broadly dismissing an entire group of exotic-looking people by saying, “Eh, they all look the same to me,” maybe isn’t all that offensive, the 2014 Miss Korea contestant lineup once again looks eerily like a lineup of I, Robot-style doppelgangers.

This year saw around 50 finalists, whom the agency holding the competition saw fit to line up in a photo roster for our viewing pleasure:

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Gorgeous Taiwanese woman recruiting “temporary boyfriends” to fund her China travels

Having trouble finding love? Have a bunch of money you just don’t know what to do with? Are you Chinese, over 1.75 meters tall, under 30, rich and generous?

Then congratulations! You fulfill all the requirements to earn yourself the privilege of spending a fortune for a night together with this Taiwanese girl who is recruiting “temporary boyfriends” to fund her travels across China.

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New first-class bus seats have built-in massage functions, internet access and… dictionary

Starting soon, you’ll be able to make the journey from Fukuoka to Tokyo with about as much style as you can get while riding an excruciatingly long night bus.

The Nisshi Nippon Railroad Co., which confusingly also apparently operates a bus line or two, says it will be installing the new “Premium Seats” on a very small selection of its newest buses. While we’ll admit there’s nothing all that luxurious about a bus seat, no matter how far the seat reclines and how fancy the amenities, this one comes with a pretty extensive list of perks:

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