Japan

Japanese ad for new PlayStation 4 function “Share Play” is surprisingly touching

There’s a stereotype about women and games. We can’t aim, we have no attention span, we only like cutesy games, we have to get our brothers/boyfriends/guy friends to clear the hard missions for us.

Well, this incredible advert for PlayStation 4’s Share Play - a new feature which allows PS4 owners to hop in and out of their friends’ games and even take full control without having to own a copy of the game – is set to smash those misconceptions like the proverbial glass ceiling! Watch as this Japanese girl gamer goes from zero to hero on her path to becoming the Goddess of Aiming!

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Some fans love Pharrell’s “It Girl” video, others call him a pedophile【Video】

Last summer the international pop-star Pharrell Williams rocked Japan with his single, “Happy,” which launched countless fan-made remakes across the country. Joining in with the “happy” Japanese people, he has since collaborated with renowned artist Takashi Murakami to make a remix of virtual star Hatsune Miku’s video “Last Night, Good Night (Re:Dialed).” This time around, however, Pharrell is trying to bring fun Japanese culture to the rest of the world.

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I Won’t Let You Down: new music video from OK Go wows us with Honda drones and unicycles

OK Go, the alternative rock band who blew us away with their unique treadmill choreography in the music video for their 2006 hit Here It Goes Again, have come out with an even more impressive video, this time featuring dozens of Japanese girls, a drone and a motorised unicycle from Honda.

Filmed in Japan and inspired by the group’s trip to the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo, this latest music video was released on October 27 and has already reached close to two million views on YouTube. Check out the video after the break to see just how awesome these boys can be when they team up with a leading director and choreographer from Japan.

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Take a tour of video game history and violin majesty with Teppei Okada

The Super Mario Bros. theme song has got to be among the most covered melodies online. From guitars to ancient Chinese shengs, it’s hard for anyone to not want to knock out those opening notes: d-do do d-do DO do.

So with all the videos of people playing the song online, it’s hard to stand out. Hard unless you’re Teppei Okada (a.k.a. Teppei Sensei) of Fukuoka Prefecture. This guy not only does a subtly beautiful rendition of the classic platformer’s background music, but he recreates the sound effects of the game such as collecting coins and breaking blocks.

And Mario is only the tip of the video game iceberg for Teppei Sensei. His skills reach out to a variety of titles on generations of Nintendo consoles and beyond.

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Tokyo’s Shibuya holds its first Halloween costume contest aboard a train, we ride along

Back before Halloween became as popular in Japan as it is today, Tokyo expats looking to celebrate the holiday would stage impromptu costume parties on the last car of the JR Yamanote loop line. At the time, though, most Japanese people weren’t familiar with Halloween, and this tended to freak the indigenous locals out, leading Japan Railways to eventually crack down on the festivities.

Things have changed a lot in the last 15 years, though. Tokyo is starting to seriously get into the Halloween spirit, so much so that another rail company, Tokyu, actually held a Halloween costume contest onboard one of its trains, and we went to check it out.

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Photos of retired Japanese guide dogs evoke emotional response from Chinese viewers

In many countries, guide dogs, also known as seeing-eye dogs, lead blind or visually impaired people safely around their surroundings. They are intensely trained from a young age to serve as their partner’s functional ‘eyes’ and to ensure that both of them stay safe while going about daily life.

In return for their endless devotion and sacrifice, guide dogs getting on in their years are often allowed to “retire” and live out their final years comfortably in pampered peace. There are even special homes for these post-retirement dogs in certain countries. When one Chinese citizen posted photos of such an establishment in Japan on social media site Weibo, the online response was swift and emotional, showing that animals truly have the power to transcend national and cultural borders. Keep reading to see what some of their reactions were.

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Recall of Disney mugs in Japan was bound to happen with Frozen’s Elsa around

Disney has a pretty long-standing endorsement deal with Kirin Beverage in Japan, in which the studio’s animated characters appear on bottles of Gogo no Koucha tea. Right now, the two companies are taking their partnership one step further, by offering a special Disney mug to anyone who buys four bottles from Kirin’s popular tea line.

Unfortunately, Kirin has had to issue a recall of the cups, which have been found prone to cracking. We’re sure it’s an unpleasant surprise for the beverage company, but Disney fans are pointing out that Kirin should have seen this coming for one simple reason: the decision to put Frozen’s Elsa on one of the mugs.

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We test the new “walking bicycle”, find out how it feels to walk and cycle at the same time

Japan has come out with some pretty awesome ideas over the years. Pocket calculators, instant noodles, even CD players were all born here, and while they were developed in response to the needs of the local market, their popularity quickly spread far and wide around the globe.

Now Japan is set to revolutionise the way we travel with a new product called the Walking Bicycle Club. Touted as the first big breakthrough in 200 years of the cycling industry, the new vehicle is powered by stepping, rather than pedalling, and is designed to make walking more fun. But how does it feel to ride a bicycle that looks more like a mobile step machine? We dropped by the store to find out.

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Ultra-realistic cat latte art blows us away, puts us off our coffee

Latte art is all the rage in Japan right now, and as you might expect, it tends heavily towards the super-kawaii. But today, we spotted some super realistic-looking latte art from Twitter user @dongurinekobei and it looks both amazing and undrinkable.

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“Eva-Con”: Raise your synchronization rate & defeat loneliness!

Evangelion, one of the most popular anime series in Japanese history, is celebrating the 3rd anniversary of EVANGELION STORE TOKYO-01 with the 18th meeting of “Eva-Con in Ikebukuro”, a “goukon” (group dating event).

When looking for love, isn’t it important for that person to share your interests? Well “Eva-Con” is an event that looks to bring together people through their love of Evangelion! Isn’t that the dream? No more agonizing over trying to be the person you think would be popular because what you actually like might be considered strange! Let down your AT Field and make a connection without having to wait for Third Impact to happen!

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Celebrate Halloween with our recipe for jack-o’-lantern nikuman steamed buns【RocketKitchen】

Growing up, every year as Halloween approached, I could feel a sense of dread creeping up on me. It wasn’t the prospect of being hunted by werewolves or getting lost in a haunted house that frightened me, though.

I was terrified that someone would give me raisins when I went trick-or-treating.

Honestly, I understand that some people don’t approve of eating nothing but candy on Halloween, and there’s a valid point in trying to balance out your diet on All Hallows’ Eve. Do you have to do it with something as soulless as raisins, though, especially when you could use our recipe to whip up some tasty and jack-‘o-lantern steamed buns instead?

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Ghibli distributing free discs of arrested singer’s music video cut from Hayao Miyazaki box set

If the whole point of buying an anime box set is to have everything you want in one neat package, there must have been a lot of upset fans last summer when Studio Ghibli released the Directorial Works of Hayao Miyazaki. Sure it contained every theatrical feature the anime legend helmed while working for the industry’s most respected production house, but it was missing the Miyazaki-directed music video On Your Mark, which was pulled following the arrest of musician Aska, one of the song’s vocalists.

Three months after the box set went on sale, though, there’s good news for completionists, as Studio Ghibli itself has decided to distribute copies of the video, free of charge, to anyone who purchased the collection.

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Meerkats draw large crowds as they play in the streets of Ginza

If you thought you’d have to travel to the African continent to rub ankles with a meerkat, you’ll be happy to know that they’re closer than you think. Just take a stroll down the Ginza boulevard on any given weekend and chances are you’ll run into three friendly meerkats soaking up the sun on the side of the street.

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Impractical yet adorable Hello Kitty school uniform set for spring debut

In many countries around the world, mandatory school uniforms are the bane of students’ lives, with their unflattering shape and drab color scheme. Their purpose seems to be to help pupils blend into a homogeneous mass of unfashionable conformity, and are often enforced under the logic that they “promote modesty” and “prevent distractions from learning”.

In Japan, however, it’s completely different. The Japanese tend to put a lot of stock in uniforms of all kinds, and school uniforms, which signify the wearer’s youth, are considered a prime status symbol. Now everyone’s favorite mute cat, Hello Kitty, is getting in on the action with her special snowy-white sailor suit for spring!

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Plan way, way ahead with Sailor Moon Valentine’s Day chocolates

It feels too early to be writing about Christmas, and downright blasphemous to be writing about Valentine’s Day. Nevertheless, Sailor Moon Valentine’s Day chocolates have been announced, and despite their early arrival, they might be worth pre-ordering, because they look delightful.

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Why Japanese doesn’t need swear words

The other day, my wife and I spent the day hanging out at the beautiful and awesome Hitachi Seaside Park. As we headed towards the exit at dusk, I pointed to a grove of trees with the sun setting behind them and got to bust out one of my favorite five-dollar Japanese vocabulary words: komorebi.

In retrospect, two things come to mind. First, shouldn’t a five-dollar Japanese word really be a 500-yen word? And second, why is it that the Japanese language has vocabulary as specific as komorebi, meaning “sunlight filtering though trees,” yet doesn’t have a good equivalent for *#&!, %?$!, or even &*!$?

Heads up! The following discussion of profanity contains language that might best be read when you’re not at work or school.

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Admission is $30 and all the paintings are fakes – so why is the Otsuka Museum of Art so popular?

The Otsuka Museum of Art is a place of extremes. It’s the biggest exhibition space in Japan, housing masterpieces of Western art from antiquity to the modern day. The route around its 1,000 artworks is 4km long (2.5 miles), and it takes a full, tiring day to see it all. And with a 3,150 yen (US $29.22) adult admission fee, it’s also Japan’s most expensive gallery.

The works on show are, quite literally, too good to be true. The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Guernica, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Rembrandt’s self-portraits: everything is here. And every single one of them is a replica. But why are so many people prepared to pay through the nose to see prints of masterpieces?

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What do black holes and Gundam have in common? Here’s a hint: Schwarzschild!

Here’s a riddle for you: What do Gundam and black holes have in common? And, no, it has nothing to with giant robots or CERN-style technology gone crazy. It’s actually about…fashion.

Well, fashion might be a bit of an exaggeration, but we’ll give you a hint. What’s weird about the way Fumina Hoshino, from the new Gundam Build Fighters Try, wears her skirt?

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Twitter user comes up with great tea bag business idea for for everyone with “mai waifu”

For a dedicated entrepreneur, potential business ideas are everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes open–after all someone had to come with idea for zippers first. The problem, though, is telling the difference between a crazy-but-great business idea and a simply crazy idea. And sometimes it’s much easier to tell them apart, like this bizarre suggestion.

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Adorable clothespin cats give you a reason to look forward to laundry day

As nice as it is to have clean clothes, few of us especially enjoy the process of doing laundry. But in Japan, where everyone hangs their clothes outside to dry, a couple of rainy days can mean a huge pile of laundry to get through, and it’s not unusual for people to spend a large chunk of their day off doing the washing.

So if you’re stuck at home doing housework, you may as well have some cute company, in the form of these cat-shaped clothes-pins.

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