Japan

These Japanese cat masks both enchant and terrify

Cats have been our free-willed companions for centuries, even revered as gods in some cultures, and in modern times still have our hearts (and the internet) wrapped around their little kitty toes. But despite their closeness to our hearts, there is still so much about them that remains mysterious, and it is this mystery that captured the imagination of Japanese artist Junko Koguchi as she rendered these gorgeously enchanting cat masks.

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Bet you can’t look at Satomi Ishihara’s face without wanting to squeeze it 【Video】

Quiz time! Is this video of actress Satomi Ishihara pouting and finger-dancing along to something called the puni-puni dance:

a) ridiculously catchy?
b) a telling example of what it means to be female and in a Japanese commercial?
c) the cutest thing to happen since those photos of the baby otters?

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Actress’ incredible swing in new Toyota commercial has people talking 【Video】

In Toyota’s newest commercial, the downtown area of a small city is turned into a massive baseball arena, where manholes are bases, the simple push of a button brings anyone into play, and pretty much anything goes. It’s a really fun watch, to say the least, and has already been viewed over six million times on YouTube.

Being a commercial, obviously most of what you see is fabricated by the film crew and enhanced with “movie magic”, but there is still a lot of raw talent to be seen, most notably from the actress in the final scene, whose killer swing has gotten her a lot of attention.

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Japan’s awesome, eco-friendly, old-school water heaters (and how to use them)

Japan may seem like a futuristic wonderland, what with its high-tech toilets and their array of functions that clean your bottom, heat your cheeks, and even provide sound effects to cover the natural ones that accompany your bathroom business. But technology is constantly evolving at a rapid rate, and each new innovation replaces something that used to be cutting-edge.

Case in point; every spring, thousands of young Japanese people leave home and move into their first, low-rent apartment to start school or a new job, and you can expect at least a couple will be shocked when they go to take a shower, discover this giant contraption next to the tub, and have no idea what it does.

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Who has better manners? Blogger lists three things foreigners do that impress even the Japanese

One of the first things you notice when you visit Japan is how nice and polite everyone seems to be. Shop staff bow to you, people greet you in the hotel lobby, even the guy at the combini sprints across the store to open up the second register when there’s more than one person waiting to be served.

But spend any prolonged amount of time here and you’ll realise that there are plenty of rude people here too (just like in the rest of the world…). And there are even a few niceties we in the west generally perform as a matter of habit that just aren’t part of the Japanese way of doing things.

So just how are Westerners unintentionally schooling the Japanese in manners?

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Bacon-fried Oreos make a greasily delicious appearance in Japanese kitchens

Where Japan has taken Kit Kats (originally an English treat) to a whole ‘nother level with seasonal flavors, regional flavors, even “adult sweetness” varieties, America has taken a similar road with another chocolate goody: Oreo cookies.

Intrigued by America’s fascination with Oreos, one Japanese cook took her chances at making a fantastically American concoction: Bacon Fried Oreos. But how does the Japanese palate react? Find out after the jump.

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Big dudes CAN jump: Frolicking sumo means it’s officially springtime again in Japan!

It’s been a rather hard winter, with some areas up north experiencing heavy snowfalls and other parts with hard-hitting low temperatures. But, as heralded by the ume and cherry blossoms, spring has finally sprung.

And what could be a better symbol of these sunny days coming to Japan than some scantily clad sumo taking advantage of the pleasant warmth.

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Eight ways to troll your fellow passengers while flying economy class: An illustrated guide

Flying to japan takes a long time. Depending on where you’re flying from and how many layovers you have, it can take 10 hours, 20 hours, or even more. And if you’re not rich, then chances are you’re stuck in economy class, cramped, uncomfortable, and forced to listen to at least three nonstop crying babies going off like sirens.

But no more! We here at RocketNews24 have assembled a list of eight ways to make your next economy flight much more enjoyable. Nothing gets the good vibes flowing like a good trolling, so get out from under your bridges and grab your clubs: it’s time to mildly annoy your fellow passengers.

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Foreign tourist in Japan snaps a photo of the sea, his daughter, and maybe a ghost

Kanagawa Prefecture has some of the most popular beaches in Japan, especially along the section of the coast known as Shonan. A magnet for both locals and day trippers from Tokyo, when the sun is shining you’ll find a cross section of Japanese society in and around the water, including surfers, partying college students, couples, and families,

And, some claim, a ghost that was captured in the background of this photo a foreign traveler took of his daughter.

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“Supreme Court Beef” and other translation fails from the new Taco Bell Japan website

Media in Japan, us included, have been all over Taco Bell’s return to the country this week, but talk hasn’t been entirely of tacos. The Taco Bell Japan website was also making news when Japanese speakers noticed it had some pretty terrible and funny English-to-Japanese translations.

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Those of you who spend much time thinking about sports, international politics, or moaning, naked women might recall the incident a few years ago where Chinese soccer fans held up banners proclaiming “The Senkaku Islands belong to us! Sola Aoi belongs to the world!” The dual proclamation served as a simultaneous declaration of their territorial stance towards the disputed land masses and their egalitarian attitude regarding the Japanese porn star-turned singer and actress who’s amassed a massive fanbase in China.

The Senkaku issue remains a thorny one, in part complicated by the islands stubborn refusal to simply pick a side in the spat between Japan and China and move themselves closer to one country or the other. Sola, on the other hand, is much more mobile, and may be taking the comment about the whole world having the right to bask in her aura to heart as she’s reportedly considering moving her target market from China to Southeast Asia.

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Beautiful hotel on the Shikoku coast will make you feel like you’ve warped from Japan to Greece

Japan is an island nation. That means that wherever you go, you’re never all that far from good seafood, but also that you can’t get to any other countries without hopping on a plane or ocean liner.

So you might find yourself doing a double take when, while driving down the road in Kochi Prefecture, you come across a hotel that looks more like it belongs on the coast of Greece than Japan.

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Katawa Shoujo visual novel gets Japanese release… Wait, it wasn’t originally in Japanese?!

Back in 2012 when a bunch of 4chan members released a visual novel game based around romantically pursuing disabled high school girls, expectations were low to say the least. But to the shock of the internet, the game received widespread acclaim for its impressive visuals, story, and music, not to mention its sympathetic treatment of its characters.

However, despite being a game in a distinctly Japanese genre and taking place in a Japanese high school with Japanese characters, the game was originally written and released in English. It’s only now, three years later, that Katawa Shoujo (“Disabled Girls”) has finally been released in the language many people thought it was originally created in: Japanese.

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Pro announcers have hilarious conversation over unfortunately named sausage snack

I’m sure most of you are aware that Japan is full of awesomely terrible Engrish. Some of it may be cringe-worthy, but the child in us can’t help but snicker as we tell our friends we just had a cup of Calpis, that we bought our new outfit at titty&Co., or spent the evening at Pink Pussy.

However, the humor of such unfortunately-named products, brands and spectacularly named bars is not completely lost upon the Japanese themselves. Take, for example, these two professional announcers, who had a hilarious back-and-forth on Twitter over some Homo Sausage.

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“We should apologize” – Authors Murakami and Hyakuta engage in war of words over words of war

Haruki Murakami and Naoki Hyakuta are two of Japan’s most popular writers. Murakami is the author of such international bestsellers as Norwegian Wood and 1Q84 and is currently a prolific and outspoken blogger on a range of topics from the meaning of life to nuclear power. Hyakuta, on the other hand, is the writer of domestic hits such as Eien no Zero (The Eternal Zero) and Monsuta (Monster) and currently a passionate Twitter user putting out 140-character quips on everything from masturbation to Asian international relations.

Hyakuta also had some sour tweets aimed at Murakami following an interview which at one point dealt with the issue of Japan acknowledging and apologizing for its actions during World War II.

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No doctors or hairdressers! Survey asks Japanese women what professions they don’t want to date

Japan is a country that values fiscal responsibility and economic security, and that can influence how people judge a possible romantic partner. For example, we previously looked at a survey in which an overwhelming number of women said they’d rather date a man who’s ugly but rich than a guy who’s handsome and unemployed.

That doesn’t mean that just any old job will do, though. A new poll asked Japanese women what jobs were deal-breakers for a potential boyfriend, and the resulting list includes some surprisingly high-paying professions.

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There might be a Jedi running for mayor of Shibuya

So we all know that Tokyo-area political races can attract some pretty, um… eccentric candidates.

We’ve got perennial Tokyo Governor candidates like Mac Akasaka, representing his own Smile Party (often while dressed like Superman), leader and probably the only member of the World Economic Community Party, Mr. The Only God Matayoshi Mitsuo Jesus Christ, and Rock ‘n Roll Samurai – aka TOKMA – whose big shtick is to dress like a samurai and play war-mongering rock ‘n roll music.

But, despite their crazy antics and lofty-sounding, self-appointed nicknames, these men are all mere Earthlings. What Tokyo needs is a true leader. A man of stellar moral character. Someone who can protect Tokyo from the inevitable threat posed by evil empires from other galaxies. In other words, Tokyo needs a Jedi. And that’s why Mutsuto Imajo gets our vote for Shibuya Mayor!

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It looks so real!  Attack on Titan face packs included in beauty magazine VOCE

There will be a special collaboration insert included in the June edition of the Kodansha-produced beauty magazine, VOCE (pronounced Vo-che), on sale April 23rd. Each magazine will come with one Attack on Titan face pack by the makers of the kabuki face pack, Isshindo Hompo, and feature Attack on Beauty!!

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Mama Cards! All the social trickiness of Japanese business cards with none of the economic gains

Japan has a lengthy protocol for the proper way to exchange business cards. There are rules of etiquette that govern how to hand to over your own card, how to respectfully read your counterpart’s, and even how long to wait before putting it away.

Outside of the business world, you might think you’re safe from this troublesome trapping of corporate culture. Recently, though, some mothers in Japan have started making personal name and contact cards to give to other moms they meet through their kids’ school and extracurricular activities, and are discovering that being outside the office doesn’t make things any simpler.

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Pay to have a cute girl squeeze your rice balls at “Galmusu”, Akihabara’s onigiri idol cafe!

Onigiri are the perfect Japanese snack food. Portable and (generally speaking) healthy, they consist of a small ball or triangle of rice containing one of a huge variety of fillings, wrapped in seaweed or coated with some kind of seasoning. While most of the onigiri you can buy at convenience stores here in Japan are probably filled and shaped by machine, it’s traditional to roll ’em yourselves by making a squeezing motion with your hands. And now you can combine your love of onigiri with your love of cute idol girls by heading down to “Galmusu”, a new cafe where, for a small fee, a cutie will squeeze your rice balls for you right in front of your eyes!

We sent one of our Japanese reporters to investigate this new form of edible performance art!

Oh, but before you read on, we should probably mention one thing: our reporter usually can’t stand anyone handling his food

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