Japan

Grandpa makes Totoro for grandkids after move

Grandpa makes Totoro for grandkids after move

Hidebochi has run an udon shop for 32 years and worked as a “weekend carpenter” for 52 years. But this summer, the 59-year-old undertook a different sort of construction. He decided to make Totoro for his grandchildren who just moved from Vancouver, Canada to live with him in Mihama, Mie Prefecture, Japan.

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Honey-sweet Winnie the Pooh cakes now on sale — and you’ll love the packaging! 【Taste Test】

Honey-sweet Winnie the Pooh cakes now on sale — and you’ll love the packaging! 【Taste Test】

Winnie the Pooh definitely loves his honey, doesn’t he? Well, here in Japan, August 3 is apparently “Honey Day” (Hachimitsu no Hi),  based on the fact that the numbers eight (hachi) and three (san, or sometimes pronounced mittsu when counting objects), sounds like honey in Japanese (hachimitsu) when combined. And in honor of the day that celebrates his favorite food, Pooh bear has teamed up with Japanese confection maker Ginza Cozy Corner to offer the sweets-loving Japanese public some  honey-flavored goodness this summer. It’s the Honey Lemon Madeleine featuring adorable Winnie the Pooh packaging,  and of course, we had to try some ourselves!

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Visitors to this Wakayama beach get to swim with whales this summer

Visitors to this Wakayama beach get to swim with whales this summer

As comedian and noted lover of cinnamon rolls and burritos Jim Gaffigan famously said, going whale watching is kind of boring. It’s a handful of hours of waiting around, a brief glimpse of “something I wouldn’t even watch on television,” and then your most likely drunk tour captain whisking you back to shore in time for happy hour.

And maybe Jim’s right. Sure, whales are the most majestic of creatures, but is it really all that fun to spend all day on a swaying deck for a half-second glimpse of a tail or something? Scuba diving with whales would be much more exciting, but that’s sort of dangerous and you need a license. If only there were a place where whales would come right up to you on the beach and hang out for a while…

Oh, that’s right! That’s exactly what happens at Wakayama’s easy-to-read-and-pronounce Higashimuroguntaijichou Whale Beach.

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National Tanuki Cake Habitat Map aims at conserving the once-beloved but now endangered dessert

National Tanuki Cake Habitat Map aims at conserving the once-beloved but now endangered dessert

Tanuki, also known as Japanese raccoon dogs, hold a special place in Japanese culture. Often the center of folktales for their large testicles, magical abilities, and easygoing attitude, you can see them depicted in works of art all over the country.

However, now the tanuki is threatened. Not the actual animal, but a cake created in its image known as the tanuki cake. For many middle-aged Japanese people the mention of such a treat would awaken fond childhood memories. Despite this, the tanuki cake population in Japan has plummeted in recent years to the point of being critically endangered.

That’s why the website Tanuki Cake No Aru Toko Meguri has established the National Tanuki Cake Habitat Map, so that we may monitor and perhaps conserve these noble animal-shaped cakes.

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Toma Toma Sparkling: Taste-testing the tomato juice that will give you a hangover

Toma Toma Sparkling: Taste-testing the tomato juice that will give you a hangover

Last week, we brought you news that Japanese brewing company Suntory was releasing an alcoholic, summer-only tomato-juice drink called Hajikeru Tomato no Sake Toma Toma Sparkling, or just Toma Toma Sparkling for short. Some of us here at RocketNews24 apparently aren’t big fans of tomato juice, a fact which leaves the rest of us (i.e. the righteous and upstanding) baffled. Since it’s one of my top three non-alcoholic drinks, after orange juice and acerola juice, I was more than happy to take up the task of taste-testing this strange new concoction from Suntory.

So, how does Toma Toma Sparkling fare? Is it delicious, fizzy tomato juice that will give you a hangover or is it an abomination better poured down the toilet?

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Japanese netizens swoon for epic husky/stuffed cat love story

Japanese netizens swoon for epic husky/stuffed cat love story

From Romeo and Juliet to Kim and Kanye, history is full of legendary power couples that inspire countless tales of romance (or a tacky Italian wedding in the latter case). And last week a new power couple emerged on the Internet when the owner of an adorable husky posted two pictures to Twitter that showed the intense adoration the dog has for a certain cat toy.

The very unconventional couple stole the hearts of Japanese netizens with the short, but moving, saga of a dog yearning to be reunited with its toy after the stuffed cat was washed and the pure agony of waiting for it to dry.

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Tokyo museum offers beautiful exhibit showcasing the architecture of Studio Ghibli

Tokyo museum offers beautiful exhibit showcasing the architecture of Studio Ghibli

Though there are obviously numerous anime studios in Japan, there is no doubt that Studio Ghibli is among–if not the most–legendary of them all. With tons of famed, beloved, and critically acclaimed films, there’s no doubt that the influence Ghibli has had on the world is massive. Even if you’re not a particularly big fan of their stories, who could deny that the worlds they create are simply stunning? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see those buildings brought to life and given physical form? We certainly wish we could at least get a ride inside the cat bus.

Though this new exhibition at the Edo-Tokyo Tatemono-en, or called the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum in English, does not quite provide full-size replicas of Ghibli architecture, it does give us an excellent concept of what some of our favorite buildings would like in the real world.

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Twitter trend of the week – posting cosplay pictures side by side with originals

Twitter trend of the week – posting cosplay pictures side by side with originals

In the past few days, Japanese cosplayers have flooded Twitter with their own cosplay photos situated next to original pictures of the character(s) they’re portraying. This approach is convenient because viewers can see at a glance both the source material and how well the rendition turned out.

So far, we’ve seen anime characters, Disney characters, video game characters, celebrities, robots, mythical river demons, and more! Keep reading to pick out your favorites.

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Japanese NPO creates Let It Go parody for serious cause, doesn’t stop it from being completely silly

Japanese NPO creates Let It Go parody for serious cause, doesn’t stop it from being completely silly

We have more Japanese “Let It Go” parody shenanigans for you, this time courtesy of a serious organization, the Alliance for Raising Children. Watch their governors throw themselves into recreating Elsa’s soul-searching ballad while prancing around in suits in various random locations, having way more fun than the bemused-looking kids singing in the background.

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More than one way to skin a cat? Japanese YouTuber shows how to “open” a cat with belly rubs

More than one way to skin a cat? Japanese YouTuber shows how to “open” a cat with belly rubs

We all love cats–this is the ironclad law of the Internet: Love the kitties or go home! While there might be some curmudgeons who aren’t fans of LOLcats or the numerous whiskered faces that populate the pages of the Internet, you can believe that we are big fans. Nevertheless, we have to admit that we’re not impervious to cat claws–and while rubbing a kitten’s belly is a nigh-spiritual experience, we have had our share of mishaps. If only there were a way to completely and utterly subdue and “open up” a cat…

Well, there is and you can learn how in this simple and cute YouTube video! All you need is a patient cat to practice on and a free afternoon.

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Try a super-easy summer cold remedy with this natural Honey Daikon Cough Syrup recipe

Try a super-easy summer cold remedy with this natural Honey Daikon Cough Syrup recipe

Summer is here and with it come the sleepless nights of rolling around in bed searching for a sweat-free spot. Of course, fans and air conditioners are at hand but they bring a whole other set of problems such as dry, sore throats in the morning and incessant buzzing that might make it even harder to nod off.

They say summer colds are the worst kind, and taking standard medicine with all the drowsiness they can cause is no good in this already delirium-inducing heat.

Now, we don’t promise this to be a cure (it’s a common cold, after all!), but for those suffering from summer sniffles and phlegm we humbly recommend a simple recipe using all natural ingredients: honey, daikon, and just a pinch of patience.

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Those awesome voice-activated Laputa pendants that just hit stores? They’re already sold out

Those awesome voice-activated Laputa pendants that just hit stores? They’re already sold out

The principal characters of Studio Ghibli’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky are all seeking something. Protagonists Sheeta and Pazu, as well as the villainous Muska, are looking for the titular floating castle, but what they’re really after is a peaceful resolution to a dark heritage, adventure and purpose, and the power to rule the world, respectively.

These days, fans of the 1986 anime film have a search of their own, as the voice-activated Laputa pendant that just went on sale this month is already sold out nationwide.

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Travel back in time to see the neon nightscape and Glico sign of 1937 Osaka

Travel back in time to see the neon nightscape and Glico sign of 1937 Osaka

Osaka’s famous Glico “running man” sign, which has been a landmark for almost 80 years, is facing yet another upgrade—this time from neon lights to LED. This will be the sixth generation of the sign, and aside from the change in lighting technology, which Ezaki Glico Co. says is due to the increasing difficulty in finding neon tubes, will still feature an image of a runner crossing a finish line.

It turns out, though, while the first sign wasn’t as colorful as it is today, it still had plenty of character. In this early 1937 film stored at the Kobe City Museum, the “running man” can be seen in vivid red and white, although deterioration of the film over time has rendered the white to appear more green.

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Visit Elsa’s Frozen world at the Snow Crystal Museum in Hokkaido

Visit Elsa’s Frozen world at the Snow Crystal Museum in Hokkaido

Frozen has taken Japan and the world by storm, smashing through sales records and bringing a flurry of promotional items. One of the most iconic scenes in the film is Elsa singing Let it Go while giving rise to a beautiful ice castle. It’s too bad we can’t visit her frigid fortress in real life, but we can go to the next best thing: Hokkaido’s Snow Crystal Museum.

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12 beautiful Japanese train stations by the sea

12 beautiful Japanese train stations by the sea

Being an island nation, there is no shortages of beaches in Japan–though if you live in Tokyo, there are times when the only thing resembling the ocean to be seen is a sea of people. After a weekday morning commute spent sloshing around in a packed train car, it’s easy to find yourself wishing for a more relaxed environment like the beach. And with summer in full swing, there are plenty of beaches we’d rather be lounging on than just about anything.

But it’s a busy world and who has time to sit on the beach and just relax? Well, we sure don’t! But for those of us always on the go, there are a few train stations that at least will give you a view of the ocean on your way to whatever business you may have. Think of it like a vacation that lasts as long as the train stops!

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We travel to Shizuoka to come face to face with the real-life Thomas the Tank Engine locomotive!

We travel to Shizuoka to come face to face with the real-life Thomas the Tank Engine locomotive!

Well, it looks like train fans in Japan have something to be excited about — the real-life Thomas the Tank Engine, which has already attracted considerable attention on the Internet and media, is now in service! The Thomas steam locomotive, designed with a large face in the front to quite accurately recreate the well-known children’s character, started on its very first journey on July 12 with about 560 passengers on board. And since we knew this was a ride that would be sure to delight kids as well as adult train fans, one of the reporters from our Japanese site traveled to Shizuoka Prefecture in the center of Honshu, the main island, to see the “real Thomas” on his very first day in operation!

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Why French tourists are flocking to a tiny island of 230 people in Japan’s Inland Sea

Why French tourists are flocking to a tiny island of 230 people in Japan’s Inland Sea

When people think of international travelers visiting an island in the Seto Inland Sea, they may think of Naoshima, where the International Art Festival is located, or perhaps Shiraishi Island, with its international villa for foreign guests. But French tourists are heading somewhere else–to a tiny island of just 230 people. Although the place is known as one of Japan’s cat islands, that’s not why French tourists go to this island. And even though Ken Watanabe, Masako Natsume and Hiromi Go have been there, the French go for a completely different reason than they did. Our floating reporter takes a ferry to the remote island to find out what makes it so popular with French tourists.

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Sailor Moon gashapon hang out on your books and drinking glasses

Sailor Moon gashapon hang out on your books and drinking glasses

Bandai is getting cutesy with its new Sailor Moon gashapon toys, offering miniature Sailor Senshi that perch or lean happily on the rims of glasses, books, and other desktop items.

The toys are already stocked in capsule figure vending machines around Japan, and are selling for 300 yen (about US$2.96) each.

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Can I have some more fries? For the next 60 minutes, you can have as many as you want!

Can I have some more fries? For the next 60 minutes, you can have as many as you want!

Japan is home to some of the strangest collaborative promotions you will ever find. There’s been everything from Mountain Dew combining powers with a chip company to convenience store teaming up with a menstruation website. Many times the promotions are endless and maybe even seem pointless! But the new collaboration between Docomo, the cell phone company, and Lotteria, the burger shop, is a month of blood clot-forming, salt-coma inducing greatness. This campaign is going to make people who like to talk on their phones and also people who like to stuff their face with French fries very, very happy!!!

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Sony Japan to release Destiny and The Last of Us Remastered bundles

Sony Japan to release Destiny and The Last of Us Remastered bundles

Sony has just announced the release of two new PlayStation 4 consoles featuring designs from soon-to-be-released games Destiny and The Last of Us Remastered.

We’re not going to lie, they look pretty sweet.

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