Japan

Tokyo Disney Resorts to introduce plethora of new attractions for 2015

Tokyo Disney Resorts to introduce plethora of new attractions for 2015

Supposedly 2014 was the “Year of Universal Studios Japan,” as the park introduced radical changes and saw a substantial spike in attendance. This must have made Mickey Mouse and Co. a little nervous, as Tokyo Disney Resorts is introducing an almost comical number of new events and attractions for 2015 in what could be a scramble to maintain their long reign as king, or perhaps magical princess, of the theme parks.

At the moment there’s not a lot of information about the new attractions, but it seems that many of them are aiming to bring a little more traditional Japanese culture to The Happiest Place in Japan. In no particular order, here are the new planned events and attractions for Tokyo Disney Resorts in 2015:

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Geographical Survey Institute posts 184 images of Mount Ontake eruption online

Geographical Survey Institute posts 184 images of Mount Ontake eruption online

Near the top of Japan’s Mount Ontake, whose recent eruption is thought to have claimed 36 lives, rescue teams have been facing setbacks due to the dangerous terrain including flying rocks and poisonous fumes. Around the same time, the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute (GSI) has posted nearly 200 photos of the initial eruption online from 360 degrees around it.

By overlaying the photos on a precise topographical map they hope the data can be valuable to teams by helping them understand the behavior of the plume and conditions all over the area. These photos are available for anyone to see by going to the GSI website, but perhaps its some of the videos posted from the scene online that give a better sense of the disaster.

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Tired of apple? McDonald’s Japan now has anko sweet red bean pies

Tired of apple? McDonald’s Japan now has anko sweet red bean pies

Have you ever wondered what the equivalent of the phrase, “as American as apple pie,” would be in other countries? For other nations, what widely loved dessert produces that same mixture of traditional comfort and nostalgia?

For Japan, you could make a strong case for anko, or sweet red beans, which show up in all manner of snacks and sweets. As we’ve talked about before, anko makes everything better, and it’s about to do the same for the Golden Arches, as McDonald’s Japan is about to start selling anko pies.

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Fans take love of a certain anime character to creepy heights with real life birthday cakes, etc.

Fans take love of a certain anime character to creepy heights with real life birthday cakes, etc.

I remember one time I had a pet frog (I named it Cyrax because Mortal Kombat was big at the time. Also, robots are cool), and I went to great lengths to pamper it even though I knew, even in my tiny child brain, that my frog was a barely sentient creature that was only vaguely aware at best of some otherworldly giant hand reaching out to annoy it from time to time.

I’m able to relate this story to people without shame because a) I was a kid, and b) the frog was at least a real, tangible creature of some measurable amount of intelligence.

These super committed anime geeks, however, have no such excuse.

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Plus-size idol group “la BIG 3″ made a music video, and they do a lot of eating in it【Video】

Plus-size idol group “la BIG 3″ made a music video, and they do a lot of eating in it【Video】

Japanese idol group la BIG 3 are the latest manifestation of this year’s chubby trend, which has seen the phrase “marshmallow girl” embraced (by some, anyway) as an alternative to other, less complimentary names for bigger girls. The trio released their first music video last week, an upbeat little number called “Pochative ~ Body mo Heart mo Glamorous”, a celebration of chubbiness that encourages women everywhere to – wait for it – “be positive!”

It’d be nice if the video wasn’t all about food, though. Was it really necessary for them to be gazing at fried chicken, and using ice-cream cones and sausages as microphones?!

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“Bye-bye!” Chinese flying doll works a little too well, becomes one-use toy 【Video】

“Bye-bye!” Chinese flying doll works a little too well, becomes one-use toy 【Video】

Let’s play a little word association game. Ready? Chinese-made children’s toys.

I’m guessing “high quality” isn’t the first thing that popped into your head. You don’t have to go far to find stories of people buying knock-off dolls or action figures in China, then giving them to their kids or younger siblings, only to watch them heartbroken as they don’t work as implied by the packaging.

But that doesn’t mean all toys made in China are shoddy, because some do indeed work well. Sometimes even too well, as one Japanese father found out when he brought back a Chinese flying doll for his daughters.

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Miyako-jima’s Paantu Festival: Traumatizing small children to bring them good luck

Miyako-jima’s Paantu Festival: Traumatizing small children to bring them good luck

Say hello to your newest recurring nightmare, kids!

Held in Miyako-jima, one of the smallest of the Okinawa Islands, Paantu is a centuries-old festival which takes place during the ninth month of the Chinese calendar each year. During the festival, groups of men are elected to dress as the paantu, evil spirits covered from head to toe with mud and foliage, and are given the task of driving out demons and cleansing the island of bad luck.

Of course, like any good festival involving involving mud-covered monsters, this also means scaring the life out of small children…
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What, there’s now a specialty burrito shop in Tokyo? Of course, we had to go try it ourselves!

What, there’s now a specialty burrito shop in Tokyo? Of course, we had to go try it ourselves!

Now, Tokyo has more than its share of restaurants offering almost any and all types of cuisine, but truth be told, Mexican food is not one of our fortes. There aren’t very many Mexican restaurants to start with, and in all honesty, I personally have yet to try a truly satisfying burrito (or fajita for that matter) in Japan. Somehow, the stuff just isn’t the same as the satisfying Mexican fare filled with plenty of juicy meat and cheese that I used to have in the U.S.

So when we heard that a specialty burrito shop, apparently the first of its kind in Japan, was going to open in the Marunoichi office district of Tokyo, we knew we had to go try the food there ourselves. We headed to Marunouchi on the opening day of the new “umum good burritos!” shop to get a taste of their burritos. The eatery had been introduced briefly on national TV, and from what he had heard, they even served an interesting dessert burrito, so naturally we were excited to make our visit! 

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Meet Issie, Japan’s very own Loch Ness Monster

Meet Issie, Japan’s very own Loch Ness Monster

You may have thought that the Loch Ness Monster had cornered the market on fresh-water cryptids, but Japan has one of its own mythical lake beasts. There may be a monster lurking in the depths of Kyushu’s Lake Ikeda, a monster who goes by the terrifying name of… Issie-kun.

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Owner publicly shames misbehaving cat on Twitter, it regrets nothing

Owner publicly shames misbehaving cat on Twitter, it regrets nothing

“That damn cat!” Now, that’s a phrase that even the most doting cat owner has surely uttered more than once. As much as we love our kitties, they do seem to have an affinity for testing the limits of our affection–tearing up shoji and mercilessly knocking any object that dares to be close the edge of any desk, table, or counter onto the floor. Despite the best training efforts, it eventually becomes necessary to just admit that although cats may live indoors, they’re not exactly “domestic.”

Unless you’re this cat owner, who decided to shame her misbehaving cat on Twitter!

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Kyary Pamyu Pamyu plays dress-up in new Nintendo 3DS ad

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu plays dress-up in new Nintendo 3DS ad

Nintendo has recruited fashion model and singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to promote the New Nintendo 3DS game system before it launches in Japan on October 11. On a new website, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu introduces the system’s interchangeable “Kisekae Plates” (literally, dress-up plates). With these plates, players can customize the exterior design of the New Nintendo 3DS in countless ways.

In a new television commercial, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu plays dress-up by putting extravagant outfits on Mario, Link, and other familiar characters:

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Japanese sweets and giant robots combine in a new anime series intriguing the Internet

Japanese sweets and giant robots combine in a new anime series intriguing the Internet

If you’ve ever been to Kyoto, then you may know that the city’s food culture includes a rich history of traditional Japanese sweets, known as wagashi, which can be a perfect accompaniment to a day touring Kyoto’s famed temples. While many in Japan associate Kyoto with traditional sweets, a new anime series is about to take this aspect of the city’s food culture and combine it with a giant robot for a one-of-a-kind TV show.

Set in modern-day Kyoto, Domaiga D will center around a dessert shop owner who finds a giant robot beneath his shop right when the city is coming under attack by huge monsters.

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Journalism at its worst? Mt. Ontake hiker pestered for information on Twitter

Journalism at its worst? Mt. Ontake hiker pestered for information on Twitter

Being a journalist is a pretty thankless job. Especially those who report on war and conflict or disasters, these intrepid reporters risk their lives to bring us the stories. In the case of this past weekend’s volcanic eruption on Mt. Ontake, journalists scrambled to the scene to report on the situation. Or, most of them. Some took the path of least effort and leapt at the chance to do some “reporting” from the comfort of their own home, through social media.

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100 things to do in Japan in 100 seconds 【Video】

100 things to do in Japan in 100 seconds 【Video】

There is a great deal to do in Japan’s 47 prefectures, from visiting temples to buying saucy figures in Akihabara. But once you’ve done all the touristy stuff, there’s still plenty waiting to be experienced! How much, you ask? You’ll have to check out this video of “100 things to do in Japan” to find out!

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Time to get wet: Underwater photos of girls in sailor suits and… plastic exoskeletons?

Time to get wet: Underwater photos of girls in sailor suits and… plastic exoskeletons?

Underwater photography can produce some pretty spectacular images of everything from exotic fish to magnificent submerged landscapes. It can also give us a new spin on old ideas–like the images of girls in knee-high socks underwater that were so popular last year.

In anticipation of a new photo collection of more models underwater in knee-high socks, photographer Manabu Koga has posted more photos of an underwater model–this time wearing a school uniform.

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Fan offers theory that Ghibli’s Tombo grew up to be another beloved children’s character

Fan offers theory that Ghibli’s Tombo grew up to be another beloved children’s character

While the settings of Studio Ghilbi’s anime are filled with whimsy and fantasy, their characters can at times seem remarkably real. Even if you’ve never found a forest serviced by a network of Cat Buses, for example, the emotions that Totoro’s Mei and Satsuki deal with feel so genuine that you can’t help but think of them as real people who’ll eventually grew up and continue their lives long after the movie ends.

The same goes for the cast of Kiki’s Delivery Service. But while it’s easy to imagine titular witch Kiki continuing to work in the magical courier industry throughout her adulthood, what about her friend, Tombo? One fan recently offered his theory on what the future holds for the bespectacled lad.

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Akira’s Katsuhiro Otomo to design giant mural featuring cyborg fish for Tohoku’s Sendai Airport

Akira’s Katsuhiro Otomo to design giant mural featuring cyborg fish for Tohoku’s Sendai Airport

With works like Domu and Akira to his name, screenwriter and manga-ka Katsuhiro Otomo is universally well-known and respected. He is, however, not exactly the most prolific artist in the world, often leaving fans waiting for years on end for his next project or collaboration.

So although we’re thrilled to announce his next work will in fact be completed by March of next year, you should know that it’s going to take a little traveling to get a good look at it. You see, the currently untitled Otomo public art piece will hang in all of its 24-square-meter (258 sq ft) glory in the lobby of the terminal building of Tohoku’s Sendai Airport.

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Did a Dragon Quest slime car just appear on the expressway in Japan?

Did a Dragon Quest slime car just appear on the expressway in Japan?

As fun as it is to step into the shoes of a video game RPG hero for a few hours, imagine how it would be to live your whole life, day in and day out, under the in-game rules and systems. Some of the differences would be pretty inconvenient, such as a mysterious force preventing you from ever going anywhere with more than three friends at a time. Others would be a definite plus, though, such as working hard at your job periodically making you not only more intelligent, but stronger, faster, and luckier, too.

But perhaps the weirdest change would be knowing that anytime you left your neighborhood and wanted to go from Point A to Point B, there was a chance of monsters randomly appearing, like two Japanese businessmen thought was happening to them when they spotted what looked like a Dragon Quest slime car on the expressway.

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Happy Monday! Here’s the cutest cat fight you’ll see all day

Happy Monday! Here’s the cutest cat fight you’ll see all day

As adorable as cats are, they’re aren’t exactly known for their patience in suffering the presence of fools–especially when said fools try stealing even a tiny bit of their napping space. Even if it’s a cat’s housemate and best friend, sharing is simply out of the question! And that’s when the claws and teeth come out.

And that’s exactly how this video of the greatest kitty rumble you’ve ever seen starts–though the ending is more Disney than Expendables 3.

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Woman on train groped by two men at once, suspects apparently unrelated

Woman on train groped by two men at once, suspects apparently unrelated

Japan is known for many great things from its delicious food and unique culture to its abundance of anime, manga, and video games. Unfortunately, it has also earned a reputation for being packed with skeevy perverts, which is actually an extremely unfair characterization–the average Japanese citizen is no more perverted than the citizens of any other country. But that doesn’t change the fact that many women still have to put up with both discrimination and sexual harassment, as a story that broke on Friday demonstrates.

A young woman in her twenties was allegedly groped while riding the train. That on its own would be bad enough, but this woman was allegedly molested by two different men at the exact same time.

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