Japan

Japan’s secret garbage problem–and what you can do to help

Japan’s secret garbage problem–and what you can do to help

Japan is one of the cleanest countries you’ll encounter as a traveler. The inside of the bullet train is kept absolutely spotless, taxi drivers can be seen buffing their vehicles of dust and road grit while waiting for the next customer. Graffiti is rare here and men in jumpsuits are employed to scrape off gum and anything else adhered to train station floors. Glamorous and gleaming is the way the Japanese like things. Even diesel trucks are washed down in their terminals after a day on the roads.

So it’s no surprise that the city streets are litter-free, that public trash bins ask you to separate your refuse into burnable and non-burnable bins, or that the Japanese have a reputation for taking their garbage home with them when attending sporting events.

So it may have been a surprise to some of our readers when someone commented on the trashiness of Japanese beaches in response to my previous article on Japanese beach culture, saying: “The number one beach activity in Japan is actually turning it into a giant open dump, full or empty beer cans, cigarette buds, and plastics of all kinds. It’s a big paradox when you see how clean the streets are.”

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Rare Namco robot for sale with all its junk hanging out【Photos】

Rare Namco robot for sale with all its junk hanging out【Photos】

An interesting auction popped up last week and at first glance it just looked like an old junkie decorative statue. But further investigation revealed it to have a bit of gamer cred. This robot was designed and built by Namco, yeah, that Namco, the one of Pac-man, Tekken and Soulcalibur fame. Unfortunately, this robot isn’t going to do some super duper awesome game playing for you. However, it is a piece of Namco history on the auction block. If you claim to be the biggest Namco fan in the world, then maybe you NEED this robot.

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Guide dog stabbed while walking with owner

Guide dog stabbed while walking with owner

Police in Saitama Prefecture are looking for the person who stabbed a guide dog while it was with its 61-year-old visually-impaired owner in Saitama.

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Gundam creator isn’t making his new series for you, doesn’t care if you don’t like it

Gundam creator isn’t making his new series for you, doesn’t care if you don’t like it

Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino always seems to be seething at someone. Recently, he had harsh words for the anime voice acting industry, and now he’s gnawing even further up the arm that’s connected to the hand that feeds him by setting his sights on a new target: all adult Gundam fans.

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Cute cat cakes captivate our culinary cravings

Cute cat cakes captivate our culinary cravings

Some people say if something tastes good, it has to be bad for you. We understand that they’re usually talking about sugary, salty, or fatty foods, and nutritionally speaking, they’ve kind of got a point.

But while we definitely wouldn’t classify any of them as low-calorie, diet-friendly snacks, we still can’t bring ourselves to use the word “bad” in describing these adorable cat cakes and lattes.

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Hayao Miyazaki to receive honorary lifetime achievement Oscar

Hayao Miyazaki to receive honorary lifetime achievement Oscar

It’s been over a year since the Japanese release of anime legend Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, The Wind Rises. A highly personal film which serves as a powerful closing statement to his storied career, many had hoped it would win Miyazaki his second Oscar, only for the nod in the Best Animated Feature category go to Disney’s juggernaut (and endorser of traditional Japanese cuisine) Frozen.

That doesn’t mean the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has no love for Miyazaki, though, as it’ll soon be bestowing an honorary lifetime achievement award upon him.

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Matcha Oreo McFlurries tempting us to forgive McDonald’s Japan’s lack of originality

Matcha Oreo McFlurries tempting us to forgive McDonald’s Japan’s lack of originality

When I was a kid, we never had Oreos in my house. This wasn’t because my parents had a no-sweets policy, but because the pantry was well-stocked with similar Hydrox sandwich cookies instead.

But while Hydroxes actually predate Oreos by a whole four years, it’s the latter that went on to international fame and fortune. It’s a pretty similar tale to that of Dairy Queen’s Blizzard, which has been largely overshadowed by McDonald’s McFlurry, a nearly identical dessert of ice cream mixed with cookies or candy that came out more than a decade after Dairy Queen’s original.

So while the double imitation of an Oreo McFlurry might seem completely derivative, starting next month in Japan there’s a tasty bit of innovation you can look forward to, as McDonald’s Japan is bringing back matcha Oreo McFlurries.

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Hamster steals iPhone’s mini futon

Hamster steals iPhone’s mini futon

This futon, although technically meant for an iPhone (because Japan), is now home to a little hamster who seems to have found his new favorite spot. This has got to be the cutest case of theft we’ve ever seen!

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Zelda and Animal Crossing race into Mario Kart 8 as DLCs

Zelda and Animal Crossing race into Mario Kart 8 as DLCs

Hot on the heels of Mario Kart 8‘s collaboration with Mercedes-Benz, Nintendo has announced that players can now preorder two more DLC expansion packs, which will include Zelda and Animal Crossing characters and maps.

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Badass cats blow up the internet, leave adoring humans in their wake

Badass cats blow up the internet, leave adoring humans in their wake

Since the dawn of social media, cute cats and adorable kittens have been getting all the attention online. But what about the cool cats of the feline world? The rebels who walk their own walk and do things their own way, with no regard for consequences?

Finally, there’s a collection that pays homage to the badass cat – the one that tears up your stuff, hangs out with a weird crowd of animals, and gives you the finger while sitting in your favourite chair. These hilarious pictures prove that naughty cats can be just as cute as their goody-two-shoes counterparts.

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Visiting the South Pole and 14 other lesser known crimes in Japan

Visiting the South Pole and 14 other lesser known crimes in Japan

Every country or district has their share of obscure crimes tucked deep in dusty long-forgotten law books. Archaic prohibitions on tying your horse to a dog or refusing to salute your teachers can be found everywhere. The following 15 laws however, are not outdated and many of us have probably done them at some point in our lives without realizing that in some cases it could land us in a Japanese prison.

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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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Do you really know how to eat sushi? Probably not!

Do you really know how to eat sushi? Probably not!

Did you know that you’ve probably been eating sushi wrong this whole time? Check out this video from a pro sushi chef to see how you should be doing it if you want to be a real sushi gourmet.

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Wearable futon: Excuse to keep workers in office all night, or smart disaster preparedness?

Wearable futon: Excuse to keep workers in office all night, or smart disaster preparedness?

At my first job in Japan, there was no janitorial staff, so we all had to pitch in with cleaning the office. One day, I punched in, grabbed the vacuum, and started doing the floors. Everything was going fine until I got to the back room, where I opened the door to find my coworker lying flat on her back, fast asleep on the floor.

I’m not sure if she’d shown up incredibly early and tired herself out, or just never made it home the night before, but it turns out sleeping at the office in Japan isn’t quite as unusual as you’d think (or hope). Thankfully, if you do get stuck, at least you can be still be warm and cozy, thanks to this crazy wearable futon.

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How would cast of Love Live! look like in their 30s? Artistic fans have it all planned out!

How would cast of Love Live! look like in their 30s? Artistic fans have it all planned out!

One of the magical things about anime characters is that they rarely age. Sure, for the sake of the plot some of them get a couple of years older as the episodes roll by, and we occasionally get a glimpse of their younger years in one of those flashback scenes, but we rarely get to see what happens to the characters at a later stage in life.

That’s the unrealistic part of anime, but at the same time, that’s where the fun is for fans as we’re able to use our imagination and come up with all sorts of scenarios we think is ideal for our favorite characters. Here’s what some Love Live! fans think their lovely idols would look like when they’re in their 30s!

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Gundam creator expresses disappointment over current state of anime voice acting

Gundam creator expresses disappointment over current state of anime voice acting

He may have created one of anime’s most successful franchises, but Yoshiyuki Tomino, father of Gundam, hasn’t let his years of success mellow him out any. If anything, just the opposite seems to be happening, as he’s recently dished out harsh condemnations of both mega-hit Attack on Titan and listless Japanese youths.

As the debut of his newest series, Gundam Reconguista in G, draws near, Tomino seems to be staying the acerbic course, with a wide-ranging complaint about the current state of anime voice acting, plus some regrets about his prior collaboration with famed sci-fi designer Sid Mead.

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The bunnies! There’s… too many of them! AAARGH!!!

The bunnies! There’s… too many of them! AAARGH!!!

Remember Okunoshima, the tiny Japanese island that’s home to hundreds of freely hopping bunnies? Well one intrepid rabbit lover recently paid the place a visit, not just to see its furry masters with his own eyes, but to film himself being offered up to the rabbits for our viewing pleasure.

It’s like he’s being set upon by a ravenous herd of tiny, fluffy zombies…

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Japan has cornered the market on weird but cute – a look back into history【Photos】

Japan has cornered the market on weird but cute – a look back into history【Photos】

Japan’s history has such a huge influence on its current trends. In fact, what is old is cool in Japan. Samurai, geisha and ninja are all perfect examples of how Japan loves to romanticize their history and how the past continues to play a role in present day culture. It’s surprising that entertainment in Japan isn’t constantly just remaking old stuff into new stuff! (Oh wait, they are?)

One of the most popular things in Japan right now is Yo-Kai Watch, which combines the thrill of Pokemon with monsters of Japanese folklore. But aren’t the monsters of Japan too scary for a children’s Pokémon-like game? If you haven’t figured it out yet…Japanese folklore is a weird and wonderful place.

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Master drummers are lurking in Japanese game centers

Master drummers are lurking in Japanese game centers

Sure, you’ve all heard of Dance Dance Revolution (affectionately called DDR by stomp dancing fans everywhere). But how about Taiko no Tatsujin? Translated as “Drum Master,” this arcade game gives players a faux taiko drum to bang out a predetermined rhythm, doling out points for perfect on-time hits. It’s been around in Japan since 2001, but there seems to be no shortage of amazing drummers turning up in game centers across Japan. The photo above, showing two enthusiastic taiko drummers playing the game with movements that are the equivalent of using that extra bar to launch yourself in the air while playing DDR, surfaced on Twitter just this week…which got us thinking, how many other crazy drummers have been spotted in Japanese game centers?

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【TBT】Who needs a cherry on top? Osaka café crowns its parfaits with cake

【TBT】Who needs a cherry on top? Osaka café crowns its parfaits with cake

Tokyo’s restaurants may have more Michelin stars, but for many Japanese foodies, the real culinary action is in Osaka. Particularly if your tastes run more towards good honest grub than haute cuisine, Japan’s second largest city is the place to be.

The people of Osaka enjoy a good meal so much that they coined the phrase kuidaore, to eat until you collapse. But even with this image firmly entrenched in our minds, the city has found a new way to surprise us with its gastronomic decadence.

On a recent day out in Osaka, our reporter stopped by a café and ordered a truly hard-core parfait. It wasn’t that the parfait was so big, and no, it didn’t contain any shocking ingredients. What blew our minds about this parfait was its topping.

It was a slice of cake, and it was so big it wasn’t even trying to fit into the glass.

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