Europe

Singer Gackt claims he was victim of racial discrimination in Paris hotel, handled it with class

Singer, musician and occasional actor/author/jack of all trades Gackt has had a long and successful career on the Japanese music scene, and also enjoys considerable popularity abroad. During an overseas trip recently, he encountered an unsettling example of what he claims to be blatant racial discrimination in a Parisian hotel. But just what happened?

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What if Elsa was from some other country? 24 Hetalia variations of the Frozen queen

The Frozen craze might have died down a little over the past couple of months as Baymax stood under the spotlight for a while, but then came the live-action Cinderella movie, and packed along with it was Frozen Fever, a short animation feature that brought Elsa and Anna back into the spotlight again.

As Frozen fans tremble in excitement over the mini sequel of the animation blockbuster, which was a little less snowy than the first, we couldn’t help but wonder, what would Elsa have looked like if her story was set somewhere else?

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New Toyota Europe ad has weather forecasters trembling in their seats [Video]

Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota is becoming as well-known for their wacky commercials as they are for their cars. We’ve seen everything from incredibly addictive live-action Doraemon ads to CMs featuring World Order and Busta Rhymes.

The car company recently took a slightly more sentimental turn with their commercials, but Toyota is back to being funny again now. A new ad for the Europe-exclusive AYGO x-wave, a canvas-topped compact car, is taking revenge on weather forecasters for their inaccurate predictions. It’s a silly ad that doesn’t focus much on the car, but we laugh and approve nonetheless.

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“We Finns just like it simple”: Net users can’t get enough of Helsinki Metro map

Finland: land of the Moomins, Santa Claus Village, and exceedingly simple metro lines.  

A series of maps comparing the municipal subway layouts in major cities around the world has been tickling some net users who just can’t get enough of Helsinki’s metro design. Some are calling it proof that Finns like to keep things simple–and you’ve got to admit, when you see the image stacked up next to a map of Tokyo’s metro system, they may have a point!

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Swiss otaku is as crazy as he can be, and his Twitter followers can’t get enough

There are “impressive” people in every fandom, but Japanese anime, manga and game fans certainly know how to take things over the top. There are more volumes to read, more episodes to watch, and more merchandise to buy than for just about any other fandom out there. You never knew you wanted a mint case cover adorned with your favorite character until you saw it there in the store.

If you have the money to spend, Japan will have made something for you to buy. A self-proclaimed Swiss otaku seems to have some extra cash, and he often uses it to take his fandom beyond anything you could possibly imagine. His recent set of tweets are causing a ruckus on the Internet and most people can only muster one simple question: Why???

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Rolls-Royce’s new sedan, with silk and cherry blossoms, is as luxurious as a Japanese garden

For generations, Rolls-Royce has been the most exalted name in British automaking. Yes, the Mini may have had the most historical significance. Various models of MGs and Triumphs provided immense pleasure for the driver at an affordable price, and Aston Martin did likewise at unaffordable ones. But for absolute presence and luxury, none of them could ever touch Rolls-Royce.

For its latest showcase model, though, the carmaker with a history as English as high tea looked east for inspiration, and the result is the Serenity Phantom, a car decorated in silk and cherry blossom motifs that looks like it’d be as appropriate for transporting a member of the Japanese imperial family as a British royal.

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Samsung’s Dream Doghouse: a $30,000 pad for the cultivated canine

When we look at our four-legged companions, we can see ourselves stripped of all the complications of being human. After all, dogs seem to derive an almost inordinate amount of joy from the simplest pleasures: a well-chewed bone; a warm spot on the couch; occasional rolls in the dirt. Yet, as with humans, there are some dogs that value the finer things in life. 

Samsung might just have the answer for these posh canines: the Dream Doghouse. With building costs of US$30,000, this prime piece of real estate is hardly a bargain… but, then again, how many doghouses have a hydro-pool and treadmill?

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Japanese tourist gets lost in Windsor Castle, wanders into Queen’s private rooms

Recently, all of Japan was very excited because Prince William made his first-ever visit. But back home in ol’ Blighty, the Royals had to deal with the aftermath of an embarrassing little security snafu at Windsor Castle that happened on February 12.

It seems that a Japanese tourist inadvertently wandered into some off-limits areas during a visit to the castle – namely, the Queen’s own private rooms. Her Maj wasn’t home at the time of the intrusion, but the incident still prompted a wave of panic over the sightseeing interloper.

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Prince William meets Domokun and has other fun adventures during his first visit to Japan

If you haven’t been diligently following our succinct list of “seven cool things set to happen in Japan in 2015,” you might be surprised to hear that the first has already happened! Last week, Britain’s Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, crossed the globe to spend a few days in our neck of woods here in Japan.

While his trip was only four days long, spanning an extended weekend of February 26-March 1, it was all documented by the Kensington Palace official Instagram account, and seems to have been a fun trip for the visiting royal!

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Tofu sushi? Our writer samples an unusual Dutch take on a Japanese classic

When one country’s cuisine finds its way overseas, things are often lost in translation, either due to the limited availability of certain ingredients or because of differences in local tastes. Japan is just as guilty as any country for offering “foreign” foods that would never be found in the countries they originated from, but Japanese food has not escaped the same type of butchering, as the likes of sushi and ramen gain popularity around the world.

Just as any American is likely to be surprised by some of the things Denny’s and McDonald’s in Japan have on offer, one of RocketNews24’s Japanese writers got a bit of a surprise when he checked the menu at a sushi restaurant in the Netherlands.

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Hefty is the new sexy! Spanish artist does big things with Photoshop, upsizes celebrities

Photoshop has quite the notorious reputation on our site, what with all those Photoshop trolls and deceiving digital makeovers. Don’t get us wrong, Photoshop is a fantastic tool. But just like Harry Potter and he-who-must-not-be-named, what the “magic” is used for depends on the hands it is in.

Be it in the advertising or entertainment industry, or even in muggle homes, Photoshop is often the go-to solution to instantly get a sharper jaw line, slimmer thighs and flawless skin in photos published on album covers, magazines, and of course, Facebook and Instagram. But don’t forget, if it can make you slimmer, it can plump you up too! Bigger is better, right?

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Dutch restaurant’s odd ramen with soybeans has one ingredient we didn’t expect, lacks one we did

As the cuisine of one country becomes popular inn others, sometimes it picks up new ingredients and variations of part of its journey around the globe. For example, spaghetti bolognese is incredibly popular in Japan, but so is pasta with mentaiko (spicy cod roe).

The fact that the latter isn’t something you’d ever find in an authentic Italian restaurant doesn’t make it any less delicious. So when our Japanese-language reporter Yuichiro spotted a restaurant in the Netherlands advertising ramen with one very unusual ingredient, he decided to give it a shot. Little did he know, though, that the surprises were just beginning.

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Scheveningen or Sukebeningen? Dutch town sounds like “pervert” when pronounced in Japanese

A beautiful Dutch seaside resort has become well-known to Japanese people over the years and unfortunately it’s not due to any special campaigns or travel commercials.

It’s all due to the unfortunate way it’s written and pronounced, according to Japanese language conventions. The town is called Scheveningen, which seems innocent enough to western ears, but in Japan, the way it’s transliterated means it’s pronounced “Sukebeningen,” which happens to mean “lecherous people” in Japanese.

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Three-year-old girl perfectly recites martial arts school’s student creed, wields tiny fists of death

Don’t be fooled by this tiny martial artist’s chubby little fists and small stature – she is almost certainly destined to be kicking ass as some kind of martial arts-themed crime fighter (maybe as, “The Taekwon-Do-Gooder”) years from now. We’re guessing she’ll probably get started with all the ass-kicking right around the age of seven.

We’re certain of all of this because we recently saw the girl – who is not named because it would interfere with her keeping a secret identity later on – absolutely destroy her martial arts school’s student creed, reciting it word-for-word in her adorable little gi and punching the air with her tiny fists with the conviction we’re only able to muster when the peanut butter jar is just slightly out of reach and we really want a sandwich.

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Have the “best coffee in Paris” in Tokyo! We visit new Coutume shop in Futakotamagawa

Paris is certainly a city with no shortage of cafes, and when the coffee you’re serving is good enough to be highly praised by discerning Parisians, you’re bound to get noticed — even half way around the world in Tokyo! That’s exactly what’s happened with the cafe Coutume, which opened its third location in Japan earlier this month. The new shop, located in Tokyo’s Futakotamagawa neighborhood, provides a slightly different service style from the first two branches in Japan that opened last year in Aoyama (also in Tokyo) and Osaka.

And of course, we were more than eager to go and check the new shop out on opening day to taste what some people are saying is Paris’ best coffee!

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Grammy winner Sam Smith comes to Japan, meets Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in clash of mundane, crazy names

It’s been a couple of days since we’ve had any Keanu Reeves sightings in Tokyo, so we’re going to assume the Hollywood actor has left Japan (and sadly without taking us up on our offer for a free bowl of ramen). That doesn’t mean the country is suddenly devoid of famous visitors, though, as the movie star’s presence has been swiftly replaced by that of recording star Sam Smith.

The 22-year-old English singing sensation recently arrived in Japan, where he got fans of J-pop talking by posing for a photo with Japanese songstress Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

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Hayao Miyazaki on Charlie Hebdo attacks: Drawings of Muhammad were “a mistake”

Famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki may have retired from making feature films, but it’s not because he’s run out of clearly defined ideas or things to say. In a recent interview, the animation icon was asked for his thoughts about the recent terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and gave, in no uncertain terms, his opinion about the decision to publish the content cited as the trigger for the incident.

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Gorgeous Zelda and Pokémon ceramic plates will add a touch of class to any gamer’s dining room

Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you’ve probably seen, and can recognize, what’s known as the Willow pattern. A mainstay of European ceramic tableware since the 1700s, the design takes cues from Chinese porcelain and features a characteristic blue and white color scheme.

Given its long history, even modern examples of Willow pattern dishware tend to feature quant depictions of trappings of life from a bygone era. Sailing ships and windmills are common subjects, but one artist felt the Willow pattern would also be an appropriate platform for showcasing the video game art of yesteryear, and created these plates featuring old-school artwork from Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon.

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Romance and ramen in Spanish brand Zara’s crazy Japanese t-shirts that read like remixed Engrish

Walking around Japan, it can seem like every other T-shirt in sight is plastered with English that looks like it was concocted by a tipsy translator. China isn’t immune to these linguistic missteps either, as travelers who’ve run into some of the country’s less-than-clear English signage know.

But this isn’t a phenomenon that only runs from west to east. Recently Twitter users in Japan have found themselves on the opposite end of the situation, snickering at head-scratching Japanese text showing up on clothing from Spanish apparel company Zara.

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Happy Fastlagen! IKEA brings a sweet piece of Sweden to Japan with all-you-can-eat dessert buffet

Swedish home furnishing company IKEA, as many of you are undoubtedly aware, has a huge presence around the world, and Japan is no exception. Thousands of us enjoy wandering around their gargantuan stores on the weekends, gazing at their pop furniture displays and homeware or wolfing down a serving of their Swedish meatballs at their cafeteria.

Well now, IKEA Japan has news that’s sure to please sweets lovers in particular — for a limited time, they’re be offering an all-you-can-eat “Sweets Buffet”, which includes some delightful-looking Swedish treats that we’re dying to try, for the very reasonable price of 499 yen (US$4.25)! Who wouldn’t be excited about sweet news like that?

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