Europe

Yo-kai Watch’s Western debut is upon us, but have the Yokai already become lost in translation?

We’ve been telling our fine readers for literally years now about Yo-kai Watch, the Pokémon-esque game/manga/anime series that’s full of adorable yet mischievous collectible yokai monsters. And now that the series has been newly localised and adapted for the West, you’re finally going to see for yourselves what’s been driving Japanese kids to ritually torch bonfires of old Pokémon goods in favour of worshipping the new yokai overlords. Okay, we’re exaggerating, but only a little bit.

Of course, the success of any Japanese import into the Western market hinges on a heartfelt and thorough localisation process. It happened to Pokémon—Satoshi became Ash Ketchum, and many Pokémon were entirely renamed—and now it’s happening to Yo-kai Watch, too.

But is the very Japanese charm of the new franchise about to be seriously lost in translation?

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“30 iconic dishes from around the world” infographic has us wanting to go on a gastronomic tour

Given a map, could you name an iconic dish from every country in the world? We’re guessing probably not.

Some foods are now so famous globally they practically stand as symbols for their country as a whole (think “sushi” and you think “Japan”), while others are instantly recognizable on smaller regional or local scales (unless you’re familiar with Icelandic culture or study Viking lore, you’ve probably never heard of “hákarl” before). If you’re fascinated by the intersection of food and culture, you’ll definitely want to check out this cool new infographic on the topic!

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Japanese boxed lunches pulling into France at authentic bento stand opening in Paris station

In just about every major train station in Japan, you’ll find a stand selling boxed lunches called ekiben. A combination of the words eki (“station”) and bento (“boxed lunch”), ekiben serve as a tasty, convenient meal for travelers to dine on as they watch the scenery slip by outside their window.

Given that trains are terrestrial transportation, and that Japan is an island nation, until now you’ve generally had to come to Japan in order to get your hands on authentic station bento. That’s changing soon, though, with the opening of an ekiben stand in a rail station in Paris.

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Giant collection of 16-bit Nintendo cover art is ultimate coffee table book for old school gamers

Thanks to modern Internet marketing, it’s unlikely that anyone buys a video game without first having seen multiple gameplay videos of it as various stages of production. Gamers didn’t used to have access to so much information, though. In the 16-bit era, the less developed video game journalism sector meant that only major releases would get spreads in print magazines, and for some niche titles the only available visual preview came on the box itself.

As a result, the cover artwork played a huge role in catching customers’ eyes and conveying the mood and style of the game. Like classic movie posters, the best examples are works of art, and many of them are now being assembled in the upcoming book Super Famicom: The Box Art Collection.

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Why does Burger King’s black burger turn poo green in the U.S. and the U.K., but not Japan?

If you’ve gone on a few overseas trips, you may be familiar with the phenomenon of travel poo, wherein your stool takes on a different hue for a few days as you adjust to local ingredients. It’s far less common for the opposite to occur, but that’s what seems to be happening with Burger King’s black burgers, which have become a repeating success story in Japan.

Burger King is currently offering its darkly colored sandwich in the U.S. and the U.K., but many are reporting that while the company turned the burger’s bun black, the burger is turning their poo green. But what’s behind this transformation, and why didn’t it happen in Japan?

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Japan’s biggest Obon dance festival makes its international debut in Paris

There are many different reasons to visit Japan, but something that should be on everyone’s bucket list are the matsuri, or festivals. Summer is a big time for festivals, especially in August when the Obon festival is held, during which many people travel back to their hometowns in order to honor their family and ancestors. With so many families together in their hometowns, it is the perfect time for a matsuri full of songs, dancing, and long-standing traditions.

One of the biggest Obon celebrtions in all of Japan is the Awa Odori festival in Tokushima Prefecture, which over a million people attend each year. The dancers who are dressed in their traditional clothing and musicians that pound out the beat in tune with your heart are truly a sight to behold, but if you can’t experience the traditional festival in Japan, why not try to bring it to your country as one French journalist did?

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Lexus pays homage to its Japanese workers by building a driveable origami car out of cardboard

Lexus has always admired the skills of the craftsmen and women who work on their production lines in Japan. Known as takumi, these highly trained Japanese production workers hone their dexterity skills by learning to fold an origami cat in 90 secondsusing only their non-dominant hand.

Now, Lexus UK has unveiled a stunning tribute to these skilled workers by creating a life-sized replica of the Lexus IS, using 1,700 pieces of laser-cut cardboard in what they’re calling the “Origami Car”. Complete with an electric motor, the cardboard vehicle can actually be driven. With the cardboard seats and interior, it won’t be an entirely practical, or legal, ride, but it would certainly be a memorable one!

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Baked Sweetness from London arrives in Tokyo as Lola’s Cupcakes opens shop in Harajuku!

The Harajuku/Omotesando district in Tokyo is already a mecca of sweet shops from around the world, but things in the area just got even sweeter this past weekend as another internationally loved bakery opened its very first shop in Japan. Yes, we’re delighted that London’s celebrated LOLA’S cupcakes now has a shop in Tokyo, and as you may have guessed, we weren’t about to miss out on trying the sweet creations from one of London’s best-loved baking outlets, so there we were on opening day.

We already knew from the pictures that their cupcakes look simply amazing; now we couldn’t wait to try some for ourselves, and there were even going to be four original Japanese flavors too — Yum!

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Japanese condiment company Kikkoman encourages Brits to desecrate white rice with tasty sauce

One of the first things that foreign visitors to Japan learn about Japanese cuisine is that white rice served by itself is meant to be enjoyed as it is, not soaked in soy or doused in dipping sauce. But many people who aren’t all that well-acquainted with Japanese food find the taste of plain boiled rice bland, and love to drizzle sweet and salty sauces all over in order to jazz it up a bit, even if it does make eating it with chopsticks ten times harder.

The UK is one place that probably isn’t known for having a high level of familiarity with Japanese food. Chains like Wagamama and Shoryu Ramen do exist, but they tend to play fast and loose with the definition of Japanese food, and as a result many British diners wind up getting their tastebuds in a bit of a tangle. But now, Japanese company Kikkoman is actually encouraging this desecrating behaviour by bringing out a new product in the UK market: Kikkoman Sweet Sauce for Rice! As you might expect, it’s raising eyebrows in Japan.

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Thomas the Tank Engine’s video visit to Japan is more Japanese than life in Japan

Being that he’s a train on an island, you wouldn’t expect Thomas the Tank Engine to do much international traveling. However, thanks to a bit of clever storytelling (and Thomas’ absolute lack of compunction about stowing away on freight ships), the beloved locomotive has embarked on a globe-trotting tour in an ongoing video series.

In one of the most recent episodes, Thomas even arrives in Japan, where he takes in the local sites in a whirlwind visit that’s more Japanese than actually living in Japan.

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Catbus from Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro found in Finland!

Out of all the things we wish would spring to life from Studio Ghibli’s animated films, the catbus from My Neighbor Totoro would have to be at the top of the list. Who wouldn’t want to ride an enormous, fluffy, bright orange cat over hills and through forests on their daily commute?

As with all great things, if it can’t exist in real life, it can at least exist in the imagination. And there’s one imaginative lad who’s found a way to bring the catbus to life in the cutest way possible. All it takes is two ingredients: a fluffy, compliant cat and some Finnish beer.

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Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project: craftsmen make ornate watch inspired by Kyoto temple

Kennin-ji is one of Japan’s most historic landmarks. Founded in 1202, it’s the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto and its founding monk, Eisai, is credited with introducing the philosophy of zen to Japan. To celebrate the temple’s 800th anniversary in 2002, a pair of dragons were painted inside the Dharma Hall, with instructions from the Abbott that they be “rampaging across the ceiling”.

The beauty and power of these dragons has inspired an experienced collector to commission a timepiece featuring the very same artwork, calling on the expertise of four of the very best master craftsmen in the business to come together in what’s being called the “Kennin-ji Master’s Project”. Helmed by acclaimed English watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin, experts are saying this is one of the most exquisite and ornate watches ever made in the history of the craft.

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Italians taste test Japanese canned coffee and tell us what they think【Video】

You can find canned coffee almost anywhere in Japan. First invented and introduced to the Japanese market in 1969, canned coffee sales really started taking off in the 1980s. Admittedly my first canned coffee experience left me wondering what all the hype was about, but now, perhaps as a result of better production methods or acquiring a taste for it after living here so long, I have to admit nothing beats the satisfaction you feel sipping on a warm can of coffee from the vending machine just as the weather starts getting chilly.

Of course, when it comes to coffee, many people think of Italy. Along with pasta and pizza, coffee is a huge part of Italian food culture. In fact, the country has over 160,000 small cafes serving coffee, drinks, and light eats from morning to evening. So how exactly would Japanese canned coffee fare with Italian locals with a refined taste for excellent coffee? RocketNews24 decided it was worth making the trip over to ask.

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Night of paper-folding with a Japanese friend leads to creation of beautiful “origami jewellery”

With so many traditional arts, customs and practices, it’s not hard to fall in love with Japanese culture. For one French couple, it was a night of origami paper-folding with a Japanese friend that left a big impression. Intrigued by the art, they set upon a journey to recreate the folded designs in metal and not long afterwards, a gorgeous jewellery collection was born, featuring delicate animals, birds, crustaceans and dinosaurs.

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YouTuber asks “Is it really racist if you can’t tell Asians from different countries apart?”

“All Asian people look alike” is something that many Westerners are bound to have heard at some point in their lives. While some people argue that such a statement is an example of racial discrimination, one man is out to challenge the view by arguing that not being able to tell people of certain ethnicities apart is not equivalent to being a racist.

British YouTuber GradeAUnderA recently posted a cheeky video titled Racism Test–See How Racist You Really Are!, which has already spread around the world during its short existence. In the video, he attempts to call out people who are hypersensitive to racism by daring his viewers to pass a five-round quiz in which they have to identify the ethnicity, vocation, and so on of certain people based solely on their outer appearances. Many Japanese net users have so far found the quiz to be extremely difficult–how will you fare?

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Russian cosplayer stuns in skintight Zero Suit Samus cosplay 【Pics】

People who enjoy looking at cosplay photos seem to be split into two camps: those who want to see talented fans bringing their favourite characters to life, and those who want to stare at beautiful women in skimpy yet nerdy outfits. This Russian cosplayer has costumes to satisfy both camps, but it’s her most recent, faithful recreation of a character that has definitely caught people’s attention.

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Life Is Strange is coming to Japan, gets new voice cast & dubbed trailer 【Video】

The last few years especially have seen a notable increase in the number of western-developed narrative-driven video games. Notable entries include Telltale Games’ The Walking DeadThe Wolf Among Us, and of course Game of Thrones, which deliver their respective stories in downloadable chunks once every few months, leaving players itching to play the next episode and find out what happens.

Telltale pretty much cornered the market on this genre until French development studio DONTNOD Entertainment released the absolutely captivating five-part supernatural high school story game Life Is Strange. The game has been a surprise hit, selling over a million copies to date, with players falling in love with the endearingly complex characters, time-travelling mechanics, mellow game atmosphere, and killer soundtrack. In fact, the game has done so well for itself that publishers Square Enix have decided it’s time Japan got a piece of the photo-snapping, heavy decision-making, time-rewinding fun for themselves. Yep, Life is Strange is being released in Japan, and it’s getting an entirely new Japanese voice cast, too!

Check out the reveal trailer to hear Max, Chloe and the rest of the characters speaking Nihongo!

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French twins dancing to koto performance in Kiyomizu-dera is as beautiful as it is odd【Video】

Of all the cool dance videos we’ve seen this summer, the one by the Dancing Strawhats and Koharu Sugawara was perhaps our favorite. The video did an excellent job of mixing contemporary dance and music with traditional scenery and clothing, and it was this juxtaposition that really captured our attention.

A new video by another group of contemporary dancers has captured our attention today, but this time it features Kiyomizu-deraone of Japan’s most famous temples, and some lovely music by an incredibly talented koto player. We are in love with this video and we bet you will be too!

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Scottish university researches discover new way to keep ice cream tasty and fresh

Early ice cream production methods date all the way back to B.C. times, and even today people are still coming up with new and improved ways to enjoy this tasty treat. In Japan, this sometimes means inventing weird ice cream flavors or combining it with other popular foods like ramen. In fact, some Japanese people even believe you can learn a thing or two about another person’s personality by watching how they eat their ice cream.

But Japan isn’t the only country with a fondness for ice cream. The United Kingdom, for example, recently ranked in as one of the top 10 ice cream-consuming countries in the world. Not only do people in the  U.K. enjoy satisfying their sweet tooth, they’re also coming up with ways to savor their ice cream longer, as a result of new research by two Scottish universities.

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Virtual reality Totoro? Project Morpheus team looking for artist with “Studio Ghibli” style

After more than a year since the last film from anime production house Studio Ghibli, the paint is rapidly drying on the writing on the wall. At the very least, it looks like animation fans are in for a long wait before the next Ghibli movie, and it may turn out that When Marnie Was There ends up being the last theatrical feature we ever see from the company co-founded by Hayao Miyazaki.

Still, that doesn’t mean that other artists, perhaps working in other mediums, won’t carry on the beloved anime studio’s spirit. As a matter of fact, if you’ve got the necessary video game production skills, that someone could be you, as a U.K.-based Project Morpheus team is looking for an artist to help add a Ghibli-like aesthetic to its game.

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