Japan

Six outdoor Japanese hot springs you can visit right now (with Google Street View)

Almost everyone loves soaking in an outdoor hot spring bath, called rotenburo in Japanese. The combination of soothing natural mineral water and being buck naked outside is enough to wash all your stress away. Just look at those little capybara in the photo above. Don’t they look so relaxed?

If you ever have the chance to visit Japan, we highly recommend you take a dip in a rotenburo. But if you aren’t able to make the long journey over to this wonderful country right away, might we suggest taking a virtual tour of six outdoor hot springs in Japan?

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Asia-only Metal Gear Solid V PlayStation 4 is kind of sexy, reminds us of a Famicom

Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been on the market for fewer than 18 months, but already we’ve seen about as many special-edition incarnations of the console, from a lacklustre The Evil Within-themed unit, to an undeniably cool metal Dragon Quest model, to one, for some reason, based on Disney’s Frozen.

And now, thanks to a joint venture between Konami and Sony, there’s yet another model joining the special-edition ranks: The Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain PS4.

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Nissan unveils “smart BBQ” car that comes with a drone, karaoke machine, mist shower…and a grill

Outdoor barbecues are the epitome of summer fun. But if you live in Japan, you’re sure to be drenched in sweat after ten minutes in the hot, humid weather. Luckily, Nissan created a solution to the hassle and heat of the typical cookout: the Ultimate Smart BBQ vehicle. The all-electric compact car includes everything you’ll need for a summer barbecue, including the grill and high-tech mosquito repellant, and comes with some things you might not necessarily need, like a “flying selfie camera.”

“With this electric vehicle, you can always enjoy a BBQ that goes far beyond your expectations,” commented Osamu Suzuki, editor-in-chief of the Nissan Social Project. Intrigued? Check out this crazy car after the jump!

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Get a closer look at the new Super Sailor Moon S.H. Figuarts

Bandai first previewed its upcoming Super Sailor Moon S.H. Figuarts at Wonder Festival last month. The super heroine is now available for preorder in her powered up costume, and bundles the Spiral Heart Moon Rod and Holy Grail accessories. The figures will ship in July.

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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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Godzilla appears in the Tokyo skyline atop new Shinjuku skyscraper! 【Photos】

Each neighborhood of Tokyo has its own unique feel, but it’s hard to top Shinjuku. Located in the heart of downtown, Shinjuku has just about everything you could ask for in a modern metropolis, boasting such attractions as a beautiful garden, extensive shopping options, an uncountable array of restaurants and bars, and the RocketNews24 offices.

And now, there’s one more reason to come to Shinjuku. A big one in fact, as the King of the Monsters, Godzilla himself, is literally watching over the district in the form of a life-size replica of the creature’s head peering down from one of its skyscrapers.

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New game lets you save the world with your vacuum and toaster…who are also beautiful anime girls!

Released a little less than two months ago, smartphone game Touken Ranbu, with a cast of characters made up of famous swords from history transformed into handsome young men, has proven itself to be a solid hit. It’s just the latest success story, though, in the established video game genre of “many attractive people who’re actually anthropomorphized [something].”

Still, samurai swords seem like a pretty good well to draw from in creating heroic video game characters. But can you replicate that kind of enthusiastic response with  household appliances and consumer electronics though? We’re about to find out, with the upcoming title Kaden Shojo, which has you saving the world with a the help of a toaster, washing machine, and refrigerator, all of whom, of course, take the form of cute anime girls.

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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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We go to Kanazawa to meet Bao, the miniature pig who works in a pork restaurant【Video】

Kanazawa City in central Japan is famous for fresh fish and seafood, kaga yasai (15 types of vegetables, officially ordained as “local”), and delicious rice and sake. But it’s not all fancy shellfish and obscure vegetables. The aptly named restaurant TABOO in Kanazawa has a real live miniature pig as its manager!

“But, surely the pig’s not actually there in the restaurant?” wondered our reporter Yoshio. “If so, he probably just works weekends.” What’s more, isn’t working in a pork restaurant something of a dangerous endeavour for a pig? “What if he’s already been eaten?” There was nothing for it – Yoshio’s mind was made up! He must head to Kanazawa for himself and attempt to secure an interview with this most unusual of restaurant managers.

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This promotional speaker lets you play music out of a Pringles can

It sometimes seems like every cereal box, candy bar, or soft drink is promising some fabulous reward to a few lucky people. “Find the specially marked label and win a million dollars!” “Look under the cap to win a lifetime supply of our product!” With so many contests going on at once, you might even begin to ask yourself, “Does anyone actually win these things?”

Fortunately, one recent promotion from Pringles seems to be the real deal. From now until June 30, Pringles Japan is offering a specially designed speaker that attaches to the inside of an empty can of their chips. How to obtain this worthy prize? Just collect 10 marked lids!

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When yuru-kyara doesn’t cut it, it’s time to call in the beautiful anime heroines

There appears to be a mascot for everything in Japan. Leave it to advertising agencies here to put a face on whatever product they are selling. But some products and promotions are difficult to create adorable characters for. How do you encapsulate all the intricate eccentricities of a city, for example, in one single super-deformed character?

Well Katsushika City in Tokyo is approaching the problem in a different way, but choosing not just one “cute character” to represent them but having an entire cast of beautiful heroines. Say hello to Katsukore!

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Miso soup anime ads are so touching they’ll warm your heart as the soup warms your tummy

There’s something about a home cooked meal that, even if it’s not Michelin-starred fare, is incredibly delicious. It may be because every bite was prepared with love or perhaps it’s just the nostalgic flavor from your childhood. For many Japanese people, miso soup is one of those comfort foods. While it’s an everyday staple for many, the taste of your mother’s or wife’s (or other favorite cook’s) miso soup is second to none.

Miso and instant miso soup foodstuffs company, Marukome, has come out with some heartwarming commercials that really encapsulate the idea of food bringing people together. While you may not be crying at the end, you’ll at least really want to share some comfort foods with loved ones.

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In Neo Tokyo this weekend? Check out the bizarre “Bartkira” project exhibition

Think of the two greatest animation achievements in history least likely to go together, and you might come up with an incongruous mishmash of The Simpsons and Akira.

Perhaps precisely because of the way these two animated works (with the exception of “Treehouse of Horror”) couldn’t be further apart from each other in style and execution, the “Bartkira” project – which mixes characters from the series and anime film into each others’ universes and animation styles – has been a huge success.

And it’s coming to Tokyo’s Gallery Hakusen on March 7 and 8; this very weekend at time of writing.

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Watch out for slang: 10 outdated words to make you sound like a “hoddypeak” in Japanese

Words go in and out of fashion just as easily as clothes and video game consoles. What seems “groovy” or “ill” one day will just sound utterly “beef-witted” a few years later.

And the same thing happens in Japanese. What were once extremely common words now just make the people who used to say them cringe. If you want to make your Japanese friends laugh with some seriously dated slang, or if you just want to test your own knowledge on some more obscure aspects of the language, then take a look at this list of 10 “dead” Japanese words.

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Clever kitchen tool adds paws-itively adorable cat paws to your meal

Japan’s numerous cat cafes are proof positive of the appeal of combing a bite to eat and feline companionship. But no matter how cute those kitties may be, you don’t actually want one walking all over your food, do you?

So instead, this clever kitchen tool will add an adorable pawprint to your meal even as your cat’s feet stay firmly on the floor.

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Japan’s newest idol group, KBG84, hails from Okinawa, has an average age of 84

Japan’s idol world is quite…expansive, for lack of a better word. Even with the wide variety of groups running around, it can be hard to really tell them apart–though we have to say there was no mistaking Osaka’s Obachaaan for any other group. In fact, the “old lady” idol group is still going strong–perhaps thanks in part to the dearth of elderly competition. But it looks like Obachaaa and AKB48 are about to face some new rivals: KBG84, Okinawa’s own geriatric idol group!

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It’s not just Girls’ Day! Cats enjoy Hina Matsuri, look just purr-fect posing with dolls

Hina Matsuri, aka Girls’ Day or Doll’s Day, is a festival celebrated every March 3 in Japan. Families with girl children get together to eat special food, and elaborately dressed dolls are displayed on a special tiered platform known as a hina-dan.

But it’s not only kids and collectors who love dolls – cats can’t get enough of them, either! Even though the cats have only just had their own special day (Cats’ Day, or Nyan Nyan Nyan day, was on February 22), those fancy felines were muscling in on some of the Girls’ Day action by inserting themselves into the hina-dan displays.

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We bet you don’t love natto as much as these Shiba Inu puppies! 【Video】

Natto is an acquired taste. I mean this literally – people who have eaten the sticky, kind of stinky, fermented soybeans from childhood are more likely to enjoy it than those who first encounter it as adults. But it’s also what people euphemistically call “an acquired taste”, which is to say, a lot of people think it’s gross.

These adorable puppies don’t seem to mind the stink though, as they lick their bowl clean, wolfing down Japan’s most famously unpopular food. Yum!

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Yahoo! Japan to make disaster relief donation for every person who searches for 3.11 on March 11

Four years on, the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis that befell Japan’s Tohoku region on March 11, 2011 have very little effect on the day-to-day lives of most people in the country. The rolling blackouts have stopped. Batteries and bottled water are once again readily available. Trains are running, and whole cities aren’t spending hours walking home from work or school.

But while a return to normalcy is a desirable, and ultimately necessary, part of recovery, it’s also important to remember what happened. To stem the forgetfulness that often accompanies the later stages of coping with tragedy, on March 11 Yahoo! Japan will be making a donation to the Tohoku recovery efforts for every person that searches for “3.11” through the company’s search engine.

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Girls & Panzer tank vase is appropriately elegant

Some of the gals from Girls und Panzer would tell you that tanks can be pretty cute. And what better way to gussy one up than to use it as a vase? Made using traditional Kasama-yaki pottery techniques, heralding from Kasama, Ibaraki Prefecture, the tank is a reference to a scene with series protagonist Hana Isuzu, who is highly skilled in ikebana, or Japanese flower arrangement.

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