Japan

Wish you could check out Tokyo’s Christmas illuminations? Well now you can! 【Video】

We appreciate that while many of you are interested in Japan and Japanese culture, not all of you are able to visit the Land of the Rising Sun quite so easily. But Christmas is a great time of year here in Tokyo, what with all the lights, decorations and hand-holding couples, so in order to share the various seasonal sights with you we took the liberty of putting together a little slideshow.

Join us after the jump for a photo tour of Tokyo’s best Christmas illuminations!

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Ninja-cat poised for attack, puns and a difficult dismount

We recently learned about some ninja tools and techniques that made use of cats, but maybe cats are actually the original ninja. This picture is more than enough evidence to prove that this theory is spot-on.

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Melt your lover’s heart with these limited edition Valentine’s Day Krispy Kreme donuts

Krispy Kreme Japan is shooting Cupid’s arrows again this year. Apparently the 2014 limited edition Valentine’s Day donuts were a hit because they are not only coming back, they’ll be better than ever. The donut powerhouse has created four new delectable, chocolatey selections and as V-Day tends to be a girl-confessing-her-love-to-boy-by-giving-chocolates kind of holiday in Japan, there are inevitably going to be a lot of guys with happy tummies this coming February 14. Luckily for all the singles and ladies out there, we don’t have to wait for our suitors to give us delicious chocolate donuts, we can start enjoying them starting January 7, 2015.

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Sailor Suit Old Man’s mobile game just as cute and fun as the man himself

After learning about the famous Sailor Suit Old Man, the first thing any normal person would want to do is find him so they can hang out and be kawaii together. That used to mean buying a plane ticket to Japan and getting strange looks from people when you asked where “the old guy dressed in a schoolgirl outfit” was. But now, thanks to a newly released free mobile game, you can have fun with him from the comfort of your own smartphone.

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Dumplings that’ll make you pretty! “Gyoza for girls” is the new food trend hitting Japan!

When you think of gyoza, those traditionally Chinese parcels of meaty, vegetable-y goodness that go so perfectly with a frosty mug of beer, do you imagine they’re more likely to appeal to dainty, health-conscious ladies, or undiscerning, ravenous salarymen? Whilst undeniably delicious, gyoza are generally seen as an unrefined food option – good for a quick stuffing, but hardly haute cuisine. That’s all set to change with the invention of “Happy Maru“, a range of colorful boiled gyoza “dumplings” infused with beautifying collagen and polyphenols for the health and beauty-conscious modern woman. But just what’s so different about them?

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Cotton Wife and Cotton Husband aren’t huggy pillows, they’re life partners for the lonely!

Novelty goods manufacturer Bibi Lab would like to get one thing straight. Despite appearances, its life-sized, humanoid-shaped stuffed Wata Yome and Wata Danna are not hug pillows. And while the English text in the product logo may refer to them as “body pillows,” really, the company would prefer you to think of them as “partners for lonely people.”

Let’s look at what constitutes the freaky difference.

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Lonely Japanese life hack: Make your empty apartment look like a party (at least in the entryway)

The holidays can be a lonely time if you live alone. Sure, having a little time for yourself is nice and all, but there are only so many nights in a row you can spend silently sipping bourbon and staring out at the falling snow before it starts to become legitimately depressing/arguably alcoholism.

That vacuum of isolation when you step inside, shut the door behind you, and realize you’re totally alone can be a serious downer. So today, we’re sharing an extremely easy life hack to, even if just for a second, make you feel like instead of coming home to an empty apartment, you’ve got a group of friends waiting for you.

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CosBox: A rentable room in Tokyo for creating cosplay masterpieces

Just the other day, we brought you news of HACOSTADIUM, a photography studio equipped with over 40 backdrops to create all of your dream cosplay scenarios. But let’s take one step back now–just where are you supposed to design those fabulous costumes in the first place?

Introducing CosBox (コスバコ), a rentable room outfitted with all of your costume-making needs. It just opened this month in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, and its managers are offering some serious opening month deals. Whether you’re a diehard cosplay fanatic or are just breaking into the hobby, CosBox may be the perfect place to prepare for your next big convention!

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Sushi and tempura stamps will spice up your New Year’s cards, probably still taste like glue

With just two weeks to go until the end of the year, people across Japan are scrambling to finish up writing their New Year’s Cards, or nengajo, as they’re called in Japanese. While traditions have softened and it’s becoming a bit more acceptable to send tidings by email, many still choose to send physical cards, since receiving personal mail is something of a rare treat these days.

That means most people need to make a trip to the post office to pick up some stamps, and Japan Post is happy to oblige with special New Year’s varieties. And though the ones for the upcoming Chinese zodiac animal are undeniably cute, the designs that really caught our attention were the sushi and tempura stamps.

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Commercial reminds Japan’s tired commuters about the drawbacks of living far away from work

Mouth agape, eyes rolled back, head bobbing – when home is an hour or more away and work continues late into the night, the only place for many Japanese office workers to lay their weary head is against a train car window. This phenomenon is not unique to Japan, but the combination of overwork and limited affordable housing in big cities like Tokyo give rise to crowds of sleepy commuters just trying to get to their futon. If you have never witness the varied sleeping positions of Japan’s overworked commuters, take a look at the following video created by real estate website HOME’S.

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Why aren’t there more female entrepreneurs in Japan? Pull up a chair… 【Women in Japan Series】

According to the Global Entrepreneur Development Index (GEDI) that measures favorable conditions for women entrepreneurs, the US and Australia are ranked first and second respectively, while Japan places fifteenth, just behind Peru. Yet Japan fulfills many of the requirements to create a successful female entrepreneurial environment such as education, skills and access to capital.

In addition, women in Japan can overcome obstacles such as low salaries, long work hours and scant child-rearing options by owning their own businesses and calling the shots. So, what’s holding Japanese women back? It turns out that a large part of it may be Japanese women themselves.

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A farewell to fries: Twitter users document their last meal of L-size Mcdonald’s potato snacks

As we recently reported, McDonald’s has made the crushing decision to end the sale of its medium and large size fries. The controversial decision was made due to fears of a potato shortage, meaning that the days of gleefully ordering obnoxiously large amounts of fries with reckless abandon are now well and truly over. The potato cull prompted several Twitter users to head to McDonald’s for one last order of M and L size greasy, salty fries, in order to document their “last meal” for posterity.

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Dating websites offer advice on how to land a famous Japanese boyfriend (or at least stalk him)

Recently, Japanese media has coined a new term: “pro girlfriend.” While it might sound like a freshly-minted euphemism for women working for Japan’s highly specialized titillation/borderline prostitution providers, it’s actually pretty benign, as pro girlfriends are women who date or marry men from the professional entertainment or sports worlds, without being part of those industries themselves.

One reason they’ve captured the imaginations of celebrity-watchers is because of their ability to turn the heads of high-profile eligible bachelors, such as actors Hidetoshi Niishijima, Tetsuji Tamayama, Ryuta Sato, all of whom recently married their pro girlfriends. Just as compelling a question, though, is how pro girlfriends manage to meet their famous beaus?

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Shippers rejoice! 10,000 anime fans pick their favorite same-sex pairings

There’s a whole side of anime fandom dedicated to pairing their favorite characters together in romantic relationships, be it a male harem lead with one of his five adoring female friends, or two volleyball players who can’t stand each other (I’m talking about you, Haikyu!!). The pairing of two male characters is considered the realm of fujoshi, and series creators aren’t ignorant of their female fan’s hobbies, sometimes playing up subtext to increase a series’ popularity. The poll did have a higher turn out of female voters (66% overall).

Charapedia asked 10,000 fans what their favorite same-sex pairings are and got a lot of interesting results. While these couples aren’t always canon, they’ve accumulated their fair share of admirers.

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The Holy Grail of Sailor Moon merchandise will help your room smell as nice as Princess Serenity

As cool as the collection of magical items used by Sailor Moon are, you have to admit that most of them wouldn’t exactly be the most practical things in your daily life. For example, a tiara that transforms into a disc of monster-killing energy when you throw it? That’s handy if you’re an anime heroine, but what if you’re just an ordinary fan who’s not running into evil creatures at a pace of literally once a week?

So while your first reaction to the news that merchandiser Bandai’s new Rainbow Moon Chalice replica does not, in fact, transform you into a more powerful version of your preexisting alter ego, in the long run, you’ll probably appreciate the fact that it instead fills your room with a pleasing smell.

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Hate Frozen? Then you’ll love these photos of the Disney hit’s Olaf being murdered in pastry form

If Frozen struck a deep chord with you, it’s been a good year. Even now, months after the film’s home video release, it’s still got a hold on the imagination of animation and musical fans, and this week Japanese convenience store Family Mart started selling steamed buns filled with chocolate and shaped like Olaf, the Disney hit’s comic relief living snowman.

Family Mart did a fine job recreating Olaf’s look, and we’re sure moviegoers who were tickled by his antics are thrilled to have the character seemingly leap off the screen and into the palm of their hands. Plus, in a rare case of simultaneously being able to please a movie’s fans and detractors, the Olaf bun’s uncanny resemblance to its inspiration means it’s the perfect effigy for Frozen haters to unleash their resentment of the film’s success on.

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The cold getting to you? Have a warm drink — from a vending machine!

Much has been said on the subject of the ubiquitous vending machines in Japan. Yes, vending machines seem to be lurking around every street corner here in Japan. And while hot beverages may not be among the most unusual products available from a vending machine, they can certainly offer you great comfort when you’re facing the bitter cold during the winter months.

And it turns out there’s quite a variety of hot drinks out there that you can buy from a machine, as a recent post on Japanese trend and information compilation site Naver Matome shows us. Let’s take a look at their selection of beverage options that may come in extremely handy when you’re caught outside in freezing weather.

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Yo-Kai Watch 2 continues to dominate video game sales in Japan

On December 13, the third edition of the mega-popular Yo-Kai Watch 2 Nintendo 3DS game, subtitled Shin’uchi [真打], was finally released in Japan. The franchise has gained so much popularity that people have even taken to calling it “Pokémon for the newest generation.”

As you can probably imagine if you’ve been keeping up with our site, a frenzy of people rushed to buy the new game both in stores and online. But even we couldn’t prepare ourselves for the actual numbers–just wait till you read how many units of the game have sold so far!

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Awkward: Official PlayStation montage features image taken from Wii U game, Pixiv user’s fan art

Take a quick look at the character-packed image above. That’s a whole lot of faces, right? And in the 20 years since Sony’s first video games console was released, they’ve all appeared on some PlayStation platform or other. Even if you’re more of an Xbox kid or a PC gamer, you have to admit that’s an impressive lineup, and for older PlayStation fans especially it’s bound conjure up a lot of happy gaming memories.

But in creating this image in honour of 20 years of PlayStation, it would seem that someone over at Sony Europe struggled to source one or two character images that really fit in with their vision. You’d think that being on the inside, an artist working for Sony would have access to a whole host of officially licensed images, but it looks like they decided to turn to the internet for help, using an image of Mega Man as he appears only in Nintendo’s latest edition of Super Smash Bros, and even borrowing a piece of fan art created by a Japanese Pixiv user, who later spotted their work on Sony’s official site. Awkward.

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Artist magically transforms Sailor Moon characters into black women

As a huge fan of Sailor Moon, one artist decided to reimagine the characters in a fresh new way that resonated with them. In the resulting fanart the Sailor Senshi have undergone a magical transformation into black African women – check out these amazing illustrations below.

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