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

Kid’s video of whirlwind Japan tour reveals otaku paradise, pervy action figures

Kid’s video of whirlwind Japan tour reveals otaku paradise, pervy action figures

Everybody’s got that story. The story of why they decided they wanted to go to Japan in the first place. Unsurprisingly, for a lot of people it’s manga, anime and even J-Pop. For a lot of guys, it’s the girls. For (comparatively fewer) girls, it’s the guys. Some like the food. Some like the “Old Japan” feel of Kyoto and Kamakura. A few even go for the outdoor activities.

And some go for the pervy action figures.

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Reddit user claims common Tokyo chain has “best ramen ever” for just US$6, we investigate

Reddit user claims common Tokyo chain has “best ramen ever” for just US$6, we investigate

A decade or two ago, the big Japanese food export that everybody raved about was sushi. Sushi joints cropped up all over the place, with the more authentic places employing highly skilled Japanese chefs slinging expertly crafted sushi at exorbitant prices. In places like New York City, sushi was the go-to food if you wanted to eat out but keep it at least a little on the healthy side.

Then, Westerners apparently took a look at all the diet food in their grocery stores and bland sandwich wraps in their food trucks and decided to revolt. Suddenly, wraps, sushi and other healthy foods were replaced with cronuts, cupcakes, “all the bacon and eggs you have,” and, of course, ramen. Delicious, fatty, greasy ramen quickly replaced sushi as the hip Japanese food and Westerners are willing to pay top dollar for it.

Of course, some Japanese (primarily the slightly feral citizens of 2chan) argue that, for all the money they’re shelling out, Westerners couldn’t pick out a truly great bowl of ramen to save their lives. So, 2chan was unsurprisingly amused when Reddit user lemonpls posted to a foodie subreddit that he’d found the greatest bowl of ramen he’d ever had in his life… at a common fast food chain in Tokyo.

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Japanese actor’s unfortunate choice of t-shirt has net users amused, doubting his English ability

Japanese actor’s unfortunate choice of t-shirt has net users amused, doubting his English ability

Osamu Mukai is a well-known drama and commercial actor in Japan, best known for playing heart-throb types on prime time TV. He also apparently does not speak English or pay much attention to his fashion choices, as a recent appearance on what seems to be a typical Japanese evening talk show proves.

While the majority of the Japanese audience probably had no idea what the English on the actor’s drab green T-shirt meant, one eagle-eyed Twitter user seems to have noticed, and thus immortalized, Mukai’s unfortunate fashion choice for the world to see.

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Stripped of title, Miss Asia Pacific winner goes on the lam with expensive prize tiara 【Update】

Stripped of title, Miss Asia Pacific winner goes on the lam with expensive prize tiara 【Update】

May Miat Noe, a native of Myanmar and (brief) champion of the 2014 Miss Asia Pacific beauty pageant has apparently gone on the lam after contest authorities attempted to revoke both her winner status and her extremely pricey prize tiara, which the 18-year-old squirreled away with her before falling off the radar.

The Korean contest organizers claim that Noe’s status was revoked after it was discovered she’d apparently lied on her profile about… something (the agency appears reluctant to specify), and that she’d “been rude” to staff and extended a 10 day visit for her mother – which the agency paid for – to Seoul, where the contest was held, into a three-month sojourn.

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GIF: Chinese SASUKE contestant’s unexpected fail immortalized in Web’s favorite file format

GIF: Chinese SASUKE contestant’s unexpected fail immortalized in Web’s favorite file format

While a little belated, it seems like the world has fallen in love with the Japanese-created obstacle course action game show SASUKE (known as Ninja Warrior in other countries).

The show, for those that somehow haven’t seen or heard of it yet, gracefully combines three things that human beings all love the world over: Competition, people failing spectacularly, and ninja-like acrobatics. Although, in most SASUKE obstacle course runs, you only get either one or the other of those last two.

But, a recent contestant on the Chinese version of SASUKE pulled off an amazing hat trick of all three when he managed a nearly flawless run, only to fail spectacularly just before the finish line.

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Genius dishes can be molded freely to hold whatever you want

Genius dishes can be molded freely to hold whatever you want

I’m not really the most organized person around; my desk looks like someone who hates me with a dark passion sneaks in every night just to sweep papers around and knock stuff over. So I’ve never really had much interest in or need for one of those little random odds-and-ends plates to hold trinkets (the floor does a pretty good job of that, for me).

But, if you are an organized person, have a lot of trinkets or just like having cool stuff around to decorate with, you’re probably going to love these awesome dishes that can be molded into any shape your heart desires and returned to their original state over and over again.

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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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