Europe

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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Someone finally built the massive, room-filling Dragon Ball Z diorama the world deserved

They probably told him it couldn’t be done. They said there wasn’t enough resin in the world. Not enough time in the day. No room big enough. Only a Super Saiyan or someone with all the Dragon Balls could possibly build such a thing in the span of a lifetime.

But Dragon Ball Z fan Juanpe, of the Spanish municipality of Jerez de la Frontera, knew it had to be done. He knew the world deserved a gigantic diorama, the size of an entire bedroom, of all the Dragon Ball Z characters re-enacting one of the series’ most famous animated battles in minute detail. And he knew he was the hero to do it.

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Meet WHISPERED — the heavy metal band from Finland with a samurai spirit!

Sure, we know that Japanese samurai warriors, with their bushido code of honor and their sharp katana swords, are seriously cool, right? Well, such warriors may be an existence of the past, but we can understand how they continue to hold a strong fascination for people not just in Japan, but abroad as well.  To our delight, we’ve found a group of such samurai fans, in far away Finland no less, and they’re making their fondness for samurai and Japanese culture heard very loudly indeed!

Meet WHISPERED, the Finnish heavy metal band whose look and work have a decidedly Japanese and samurai theme. And judging from comments online, Internet users who’ve heard the band’s music seem to have good things to say in this case of Japan meets Scandinavia!

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French literature classic ‘The Little Prince’ coming soon to cinemas as an animated film!

Calling all movie-goers, animation fans and literature enthusiasts! It’s not often that we get the chance to pique the interest of individuals from these three groups all at the same time, but the animated version of The Little Prince, one of the most famed pieces of French literature of our time, is set to hit the big screens in the later half of this year! If you haven’t already seen the trailer, read on and get ready to be mesmerized!

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ChocolaTexture offers nine flavors of chocolate… without changing the flavor at all

When it comes to food, I’ve always placed a higher emphasis on texture rather than the actual taste of it. While I love peanut butter or finely chopped almonds, for example, the nuts themselves in their natural form usually make me gag.

So it was with great excitement that I learned about ChocolaTexture, which is a range of nine chocolates all using the exact same recipe but crafted in different shapes and textures. As a result each chocolate is said to have a distinct “taste” despite being made from the exact same ingredients.

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Fancy a cuppa? We explore the UK’s unusual takes on Japanese green tea

In the UK, where I’m from, people get really passionate about tea. It’s the first thing you offer someone who is a visitor to your home, and remembering how someone likes their tea made is one way of showing that you care about them. We’re also fussy about the ritual behind making tea (you should see what happens in my house when someone puts the milk in first). In this way, we’re kinda like the Japanese.

In Japan, they drink green tea rather than black tea, but their attitude towards it matches ours. It’s both something for all-day long refreshment, and for special occasions. They’re also really into the ceremony behind it, with chadou, or tea ceremony, being a celebrated art in Japan.

So, what happens when the tea companies try to make green tea happen in the UK? A whole lot of added flavourings, that’s what! Join us after the jump for a taste test!

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New magnetic “slate” lets you write on actual paper, digitize your drawings in real-time

Digital drawing tablets, despite their best efforts, have always felt different from the real thing. For many artists, note-takers, or expert doodlers, nothing beats the feeling of putting actual pen to actual paper.

But now, thanks to iSketchnote, you can write on a real piece of paper using a real pen, while still digitizing it in real-time on a tablet or PC as you draw.

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Artist gives the finger to famous characters from fiction and real life

Our fingers are each a special snowflake, the ridges and whorls on the pads creating a unique pattern that sets us apart from anyone else. Criminals go to great lengths to make sure not so much as a pinky touches the scene to leave incriminating evidence, but if they get careless and leave a print behind perhaps they could give some of the following disguises a try.

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French artist alters Japanese street signs to make people “more observant”, police not impressed

Some rather peculiar, sticker-altered street signs have been popping up in Osaka or Kyoto over the last month. The eye-catching addendums are the work of French guerrilla artist Clet Abraham, who has done similar projects around the globe. While local residents are largely bemused, the police are not at all amused and are investigating whether charges can be filed.

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French artist gives us a case of the feels with his video game & superhero family illustrations

In the world of fiction, some characters have detailed, complex families and backgrounds made known to us, while others have rather vague and obscure origins, which isn’t totally a bad thing because that gives viewers plenty of room to imagine and fantasize.

Ever imagined Superman as a dad? Or, what if, after being rescued for the gazillionth time, Princess Peach actually marries Mario? Check out these beautiful families of various fictional heroes and heroines after the jump!

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Give a stranger a flower: Art exhibit & a Parisienne in Tokyo leads to smile seen round the world

If you’re sad that December is coming to a close and aren’t quite ready to stop basking in the holiday spirit, here’s a story (albeit a non-Christmas one) from the heart of Tokyo that’s sure to give you the warm fuzzies. Originally made popular in English on the image-hosting site Imgur, this tale of a stranger’s unexpected act of kindness traveled back to Japan where it happened, thanks to the Internet, and subsequently brought smiles to scads of Japanese netizens’ faces.

Read their reactions at the end of the article, after learning about how Lee Mingwei’s participatory art installation and 22-year-old Alice’s seemingly small yet impactful act of courage brightened the day of a metro worker named Daisuke and reddened his ears. As one online commenter put it, “I bet this guy never imagined that his smile would spread joy all around the world!”

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Chinese dude bags super hot Ukrainian wife, generates major envy online

We’ve all heard the stereotype that western guys who come to Japan find themselves suddenly showered with beautiful ladies, while Asian guys who head to the west get squat. Regardless of the fact that this kind of generalization is SUPER mean and based upon some pretty sketchy and biased thinking, it does seem to be the most prevailing opinion (in spite of the many cases where it’s blatantly not true.) When we heard about this regular Chinese dude who bagged himself a super hot wife after deciding to study abroad in Ukraine, we thought it made for an adorable story about a successful international marriage. Unfortunately, it seems that Chinese netizens were less charmed, with plenty taking to their keyboards to register their surprise, envy, and skepticism.

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Japanese man crowned World’s Best Santa at 2014 Santa Winter Games

In the mining town of Gällivare, located in the Swedish section of Lapland, the contestants have gathered. These men and women gritted their teeth as they walked through the streets in their heavy boots on the morning of 22 November with the frosty wind biting at their quickly reddening cheeks.

Red cheeks would serve them well, however. As would eyes that twinkle and a round belly that shakes when they laugh like a bowlful of jelly, for these world warriors were here to determine who was the World’s Best Santa.

And so, when the blood was mopped up and visions of sugar plums danced through the heads of little ones, it was Japan’s very own Kohei Yamashita who emerged victorious bringing his nation its first ever World’s Best Santa title.

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