Japan

Cheeky crows pluck panda’s fur to line their nests at Ueno Zoo, panda doesn’t seem to mind

Pandas have such a cute and innocent image. All they seem to do is sit around, eating bamboo and being adorable. (When they’re not beating the stuffing out of each other in panda Fight Club, that is). Recently at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, sneaky crows have been documented abusing the panda’s easy-going nature by harvesting their fur to take home to line their nests!

Check out these adorable (and kinda of sad) pics and videos of a hapless panda being shamelessly robbed of its fur!

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Spear of Longinus crowdfunding project now accepting international backers

The “Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus” crowdfunding campaign opened an English page for international backers. Backers not residing in Japan can select rewards in the 5,000 and 50,000 yen tiers, including having your name inscribed on the spear, an Evangelion Unit 01 Set (poster by Ikuto Yamashita, sticker, and blueprint of the lunar payload releasing machine), a Rei Ayanami Set (poster by Hidenori Matsubara, sticker, and blueprint of the lunar payload releasing machine), shirts, and having digital files of your choosing sent to the moon.

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Vanishing Japan: Five things to see before they disappear completely

Call us nostalgic, but we at RocketNews24 hate to see traditional Japanese culture slip away. From ancient pilgrimage paths to geisha and kamishibai, we love Japan’s oldest traditions as much as the anime favorites and cosplay trends of today. We just adore Japan and hate to see any of it disappear.

Today we introduce you to five icons of Japan that you need to see now before these few vestiges are completely lost!

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Haruki Murakami answers the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

For the last few months, internationally celebrated writer Haruki Murakami has been fielding questions about, well, just about anything on his personal website. A lot of the inquiries sent his way are, predictably, about the creative writing process, but Murakami has also shown an amicable willingness to chat about such myriad subjects as romance, cats, baseball, and donuts.

From the beginning, though, Murakami said he’d only be keeping the question and answer portion of the site running until the end of March. With the project winding down, one fan decided to write in with a fittingly comprehensive query: What’s the meaning of life?

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Top 10 things Japanese people do that puzzle us (but we still want to hang out together)

“Wow you can use chopsticks?” “Your Japanese is really good!” “Geez, you’ve put on weight recently.” “It’s only 8:00 p.m., why are you going home?

Anyone who’s been to Japan before has probably been bombarded by something similar to the above. Every country is going to have different cultural norms, but we decided to blow cultural sensitivity out of the water and just go ahead and list the top 10 things Japanese people do that puzzle us (but for some reason don’t stop us from thinking they’re still awesome to be around).

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KanColle anime character’s catchphrase “poi” is POIsed to take over the world! POI POI!

Remember that Swiss otaku with a penchant for Yuudachi Kai Ni, the upgraded version of a character from the Kantai Collection (KanColle) anime/video game franchise who’s been made famous by her ubiquitous catchphrase, “poi?” He decorated every square inch of a bathroom with pictures of the moe girl’s face making her signature poi pose, only to apparently be overcome with emotion a few snapshots later and proceed to rip them all down in a fit of poi-ful rage.

It turns out this man isn’t the only one riding the poi train, because this particular catchphrase is currently experiencing a wave of popularity outside of Japan, poi–much to the bafflement and amusement of Japanese folks. POOOI!!

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Japan’s newest models are all about their busts: Classical statues reimagined as fashion idols

From hyperactive pear fairies to gross mushrooms, it seems that Japanese consumers have an appreciation for the unusual. Of course, it can be hard to predict exactly what will win hearts and minds, but that won’t stop people from trying to kickstart the newest craze.

Kadokawa, a publishing company among other things, Zarigani Works, a toy and merchandise production company, and Holbein, an arts materials company, have teamed up to turn classical statues into the latest hot items. They still haven’t revealed all the items they’ll be producing and it remains to be seen just how many people actually want products with Hermes’s statuesque face emblazoned on it, but you can’t blame them for trying!

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Monjayaki, the popular Tokyo dish you’ve probably never heard of 【RocketKitchen】

When people think of Japanese food, most think of sushi, sashimi or even some of the more popular Japanese comfort foods like okonomiyaki or udon noodles. If you’re a tourist, however, you’ve likely never experienced one of Tokyo’s most popular dishes: monjayaki. But don’t feel bad; even some Japanese people who don’t live in the Tokyo metropolitan area (75 percent of the population) have never tasted it. This is one reason why Tsukishima Monjadori, a street with over 100 monjayaki restaurants, ranks in the top five sight-seeing spots in the capital for Japanese tourists (FYI, the other four are Harajuku, Tokyo Disneyland, Odaiba and Tusukiji Fish Market).

Monjayaki is simple but complicated: it has just a few easy ingredients and can be made in under three minutes yet it requires instructions to make, and even eat, properly. It helps to know, for example, that monja is not usually eaten with chopsticks, and that there’s a good reason why.

Read on to learn more about this unexpectedly delicious fare: watch a how-to video showing you how to make it, check out photos that show you how to eat it, and get tips from a master monjayaki chef.

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Naruto’s not over yet with new manga chapters, anime series coming soon!

Even though the manga that started it all ended last November, there’s been no shortage of things for fans of ninja franchise Naruto to enjoy since then. In addition to new episodes of the continuing TV anime adaptation, there’s been an animated movie and stage show, and you’d better believe plenty of people are looking forward to the upcoming Naruto Exhibition at art museums in Tokyo and Osaka.

Even if you’re of the mind that all the related events in the world can’t take the place of new comic content, there’s good news, as publisher Shueisha has announced a new, bonus installment of Naruto manga as it gears up for a shift in its anime focus.

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We sample blue Drift Ice Curry from the India of the Okhotsk Sea

Earlier this month our reporter Mr. Sato paid a visit to the northern land of Hokkaido and their Adashiri Prison Museum. There he sampled of their pickles and prison beer but also found a bevy of other souvenirs for the region.

One item in particular stood out among those various trinkets and snacks. Its name is Drift Ice Curry and it was inspired by the tranquil beauty of ice that flows through the Okhotsk Sea from mid-February to early March. It’s a phenomenon that’s you’d probably least expect be depicted in a curry, which is exactly why Mr. Sato had to try it.

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New Sailor Moon cafe in Tokyo has live public anime viewing and themed food and drinks

Last year, we brought to you all the excitement surrounding the broadcast of the Sailor Moon Crystal anime, coming some 22 years after the original series it rebooted was released. The new anime has so far been streaming on Japanese video sharing site Niconico, but starting April 6, Sailor Moon Crystal will finally air on Japanese TV.

To commemorate the TV broadcast of the new anime, a Sailor Moon themed cafe will appear for a limited time at the Anion Station, a unique cafe and bar located in Shinjuku that caters to fans of anime songs. For one month, the Sailor Moon cafe will be offering special treats and drinks inspired by the anime, as well as  live public viewing of the TV broadcast. Now, that’s bound to attract some ardent Sailor Moon devotees!

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Nine of our Japanese writers share the restaurants they absolutely must visit again!

Have you ever had a meal so good that you decided you absolutely had to come back at least once before you kicked the bucket? It might have been some tiny restaurant on a beach or a five-star establishment in Shinjuku, but we imagine lots of people have some special place where the food was just freaking perfect.

So, we asked our Japanese writers what those places were for them and compiled the answers. You’re welcome! Click below to find out the ten places (someone cheated) they absolutely must visit again and see if your favorite eatery made the list.

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Past and present photos of Japanese fashion models make us wonder, where have all the gyaru gone?

For much of the 1990s and 2000s, it seemed that you couldn’t walk down a street in any major shopping district in Japan without spotting a group of gyaru chatting enthusiastically about…something. But in recent years, the number of tanned young women with the very colorful (some might say “loud”) gyrau fashion style seems to have dropped almost to zero.

With the shutting down last year of fashion magazines Koakuma Ageha, which will be restarting publication in April, and egg, it seems that gyaru might soon be owacon (“owatta contentsu” or something that doesn’t sell anymore). While we wouldn’t be too quick to sign any death certificates, these before-and-after photos of one-time gyaru models are a sure sign of how things have changed.

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South Korean media wants the world to know that “cherry blossoms originated there”

It’s that time of year again, when the cold of winter fades away and gives birth to the beautiful pink and white hues of cherry blossoms contrasted against their trees’ elegant dark branches. It’s a season long identified with Japanese culture around the world.

However, news organizations in South Korea are declaring that this has gone on long enough and are calling for a concerted effort to let everyone know once and for all that cherry blossoms are theirs.

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Gift giving fails: Japanese girls tell you what NOT to buy

Finding the perfect gift for someone can be very difficult. Usually, if you spend enough time with someone and really listen to the things that they say, it should be easy enough to find a gift that they will appreciate, but maybe your special someone goes out and buys everything for herself, or you aren’t too sure about what she’s into lately.

So if you are having problems, we’ve got a handy DO NOT BUY guide for you. These are the gifts that women in Japan have received that didn’t make them happy at all, so avoiding anything on this list will certainly give you a good place to (not) start your shopping from.

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How to perfectly recreate the death of Dragon Ball’s Yamcha using baked goods

With the release of the new Dragon Ball movie now less than a month away, the popular manga/anime series has had quite bit of exposure on the Japanese Internet recently. One related product that’s getting a lot of attention is a figure of Yamcha, one of Goku’s rivals- turned-friends.

But this particular figure doesn’t have the look of your typical toy. As a matter of fact, it shows Yamcha in quite a pitiful state. Nonetheless, fans seems to be getting a huge kick out of it, and one fan has even tweeted an easy way to create a realistic diorama scene with the figure using quite an unexpected item — apple pie!

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Doting cat owner buys his kitties a present, finds out all they want is the box it came in

Lots of people treat their cats like kids, really. They give them human names like Molly, Charlie and Pikachu, buy them birthday and Christmas presents, and consider them one of the family.

The problem with treating your cats like children, though, is that sometimes they’ll start to act like them…

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93-year-old Japanese woman gifts ambulance worth 2.7 million yen to local fire station

When you’re ill or your life is in danger, it’s natural to feel gratitude towards those who aided your recovery or saved your life. But what do you do to show your gratitude?

One elderly woman from Nara Prefecture, Japan, felt so grateful to the ambulances who often help her, that she decided to donate a brand new ambulance to her local fire station. And it wasn’t just any ambulance – this was a top-of-the-line model worth 2.7 million yen (over US$22,000)!

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This adorable cat commercial answers the question: “What would a cat conversation sound like?”

Cats are generally known for being the quieter choice of pet compared to dogs, but anyone with a talkative cat will tell you – it’s hard to shut them up once they’ve started chatting. Some cats just enjoy the sound of their own voice, while others like to talk to their owners for reassurance. Nevertheless, it seems that cats only ever tend to say the single word “meow” or some variation of it, which can mean anything from “Feed me!” to “Your hair looks stupid today, hoomin.”

In Japan, cats don’t meow, they say nya or nyan and this new kitty commercial from cellphone company au attempts to depict a “realistic”  feline conversation, with pretty adorable results.

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Paternity search board game from the 80s making a comeback on Twitter

Despite occasionally having risqué names like Taboo or Hungry Hungry Hippos, board games are generally wholesome fun for the whole family to enjoy. And what could be more family-oriented than a game where the main objective is to find out who your family is?

Yes, in Konoko Darenoko (“Who’s child is this?” also translated as “Who is the father?”) a woman who has had multiple partners in a relatively small timeframe must now determine who the biological father of her baby is. But watch out! Those alleged fathers are tricky and will do whatever it takes to avoid responsibility.

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