Japan

New Japanese luxury bus tour seats only 10 passengers, tickets cost over US$1,200 each

How do you picture being transported to your fantasy vacation spot? A giant cruise ship? A seat in the first-class section of a jumbo jet? How about… a bus?

Not quite sure about that last one? Well the Japanese company Isetan Mitsukoshi Travel is trying to change your mind by offering luxury bus rides from Tokyo to all over Japan. And we’re not exaggerating with the use of the word luxury here: each bus seats only 10 people, and the ticket will cost you around 150,000 yen (US$1,211).

Can such a price tag possibly be worth it? Read on to find out!

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The JK business: New documentary examines the Japanese schoolgirl industry

From traditional culture to the latest in “Cool Japan,” Japan has a lot to boast about. Yet there’s another side to the island nation which has stirred up international contention over the past few decades.

Even those unfamiliar with specific components of Japanese popular culture have likely heard about the popularity of high school girls in Japan, as school uniform-clad girls often appear in the latest advertising, music videos, TV anime, and other forms of the country’s media. Dig a little deeper and you can also find a service industry which involves high school girls providing a range of services to older men in return for payment. Known colloquially as the “JK business” (the “JK” is derived from joshikosei, or “female high school student”), this phenomenon often includes such services as “JK walking” or “JK massages,” which may or may not be veiled fronts for prostitution in actuality.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to the darker side of the JK business through the lens of a short foreign documentary which has raised considerable debate online.

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Kesho Danshi: Visiting Yushima’s sublime transgender bars

Miya Inoue is the kimono-clad owner of the chain of bars in Tokyo’s Yushima neighborhood operating under the Kesho Danshi brand staffed primarily by transgender women. She also built the interior of the first location herself by hand, drawing on her previous work experience as a carpenter. As the “Big Mama” of Kesho Danshi, Miya spends her time managing the staff at three locations, chatting with customers, and, amazingly, remembering everyone’s name. Oh, and did we mention she’s written an inspiring book about her life?

If you’re looking for good conversation and a fun place to drink in Tokyo, you can’t find a much better place than sitting across the counter from Miya or any of the welcoming staff members. Click below to take a visit to all three of the Kesho Danshi locations and listen in on our chat with “Miya Big Mama” yourself.

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This 4K video of Kagoshima filmed by drone will settle your summer vacation plans【Video】

Living in Tokyo is pretty awesome. There’s not much you can’t find in the city and there’s always something fun going on — but every once in a while, a video or a photo will grab our attention and make us sigh forlornly thanks to a gorgeous landscape. Sure, there are some great beaches around here, but there’s just something about this drone video of Kagoshima that makes us stop and say wow.

If you’re stuck in the office or at school staring out the window and wishing you were anywhere else, this video will only make it worse. But we guarantee you’ll keep watching it over and over!

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Website of pics of hot Japanese guys promises to make women feel “as much moisture as placenta”

Recently, we explained how to say “Introduce me to a cute girl” in Japanese, which is “Kawaii ko wo shoukai shite.” On the other hand, if it’s a hot guy you’d rather meet, just replace kawaii ko (cute girl) with ikemen (hot guy).

If you’re willing to settle for the fantasy of perusing pictures of ikemen, though, there’s a new site filled with images of handsome up-and-coming Japanese actors for download, and its organizers promise the photos will “Turn on the switch of excitement” in women, and that they have “moisturizing effects equal to placenta extracts.”

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10 cats are back, beating the summer heat with a big ball of ice【Video】

Last week, we introduced you to the amazing Japanese YouTuber 10 Cats, who, as you may have guessed, has 10 cats. In last week’s episode, you got to experience the relaxing ambient sounds of 10 cats munching and crunching. This week, get ready for some Benny Hill-style antics as 10 cats go at a winking, twirling ball of ice.

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Japanese kitty doesn’t seem to grasp the difference between shaking hands and boxing 【Video】

About a month ago, we had the chance to shake hands with an otter, and it was adorable. As the little guy gently laid his hand in ours, a sense of calm came over us, and given how relaxed he was through the whole affair, he seemed to be in good spirits, too.

But not every animal grasps the finer points of this human greeting, as shown by this video of a cat owner in Japan looking for a handshake, and finding out that her pet has a lightning-fast left hook.

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Dad finds way to outsmart “too cool for school” kids, gets them to blaze through summer homework

Right now kids across Japan are rejoicing that their school summer break has finally arrived, despite the fact that, like other students in many other parts of Asia, they’re given stacks of homework to complete during their month off.

This homework is often piled on top of other summer cram-school study sessions, camps, and other activities their parents may have already signed their children up for up, and over the years mothers and fathers have found it increasingly hard to keep their kids from putting their summer homework off until the last minute, especially once they reach that “rebellious stage” children usually go through. In fact, summer homework leaves some parents so stressed out that they even seek out homework completion services than spend endless days nagging at their kids.

Fortunately that won’t be the case this year for one Japanese father, who had the ingenious idea of using reverse psychology on his kids in order to get them to finish their assignments quickly.

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In the name of the monthly moon! New series of Sailor Moon sanitary pads hits shelves in Japan

The earth has always enjoyed a special relationship with the moon. The month-long cycle of push-and-pull between the planet and its natural satellite means we calculate days in terms of lunar months and in Japan they even use the same kanji character (月) to mean both month and moon itself. Oh, and instead of seeing a man on the moon’s surface, they see a rabbit pounding rice.

So when it comes to ‘that time of the month’, the connection with lunar forces in Japan has given birth to an unusual collaboration between Sailor Moon warriors, with a girl called Usagi-chan, or rabbit, at the helm, and Elis sanitary pads. Fans are gushing over the adorable packaging and the chance to win free related merchandise!

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10 incredible tales of kindness on Japanese trains, as told by foreigners

We recently regaled you with Truly Terrifying Japanese Train Stories told to us by foreigners, which included everything from runaway trains to perverts and nuns. Today, we’re going to relate to you foreigners’ stories of unbelievable acts of kindness they’ve experienced on Japan’s trains.

You’ve probably already heard a few stories of Japanese people doing good deeds, like lost property being returned or someone helping out the hapless foreigner who doesn’t speak the language. But Japan’s special brand of kindness goes much deeper than this. You know, things that when you see them they make you think, “Wow, that would never happen in my country!”

Join us for some miso soup for the soul: stories of extreme kindness on Japanese trains, after the jump. Read More

Faster than a speeding bullet! Ride the Tokyo to Kyoto “Nozomi” Shinkansen with us! 【Video】

Even if you’re not exactly a trainspotting otaku, chances are you still find the idea of riding a Japanese bullet train seriously appealing. After all, those things get up to some crazy speeds, and the whole process runs like smooth, scientifically adjusted clockwork. Even the cleaning crew get their job done, making the trains absolutely spotless, in seven minutes max!

But if you haven’t quite made it to Japan yet, then we invite you to take a Shinkansen ride with us and our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley. Strap yourself in and feel those G-forces!

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“Do honky” command Japanese TV show’s T-shirts

Once a year, Japan’s Fuji TV broadcasts a marathon program called FNS 27-Hour TV. A huge team of A-list comedians, musicians, and media personalities make appearances during the show, and since its beginning in 1997 it’s been a ratings hit for the network.

But as the younger generation increasingly looks to the Internet for entertainment content, this year Fuji TV wanted to remind viewers that TV is still relevant and worth watching. Oh, and also apparently that they should sleep with white people, if you take the program’s T-shirts at face value.

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Just what the heck is the Tokyo Olympics symbol supposed to be?

Back before Tokyo was selected as the host of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the organizing committee started putting up posters around the capital touting its status as a candidate city. The logo was a circle of cherry blossoms using four of the five colors of the Olympic rings (with purple substituting for black).

You could say it was a clichéd choice, but on the other hand, it’d be hard to come up with a symbol more instantly associated with Japan than the sakura. Mt. Fuji, maybe, but it isn’t in Tokyo, and a piece of sushi would look more like a promotion for a restaurant than a sporting competition.

But perhaps because the cherry blossoms bloom in spring and Tokyo is hosting the Summer Games, the sakura ring isn’t going to be used for the actual 2020 Olympics and Paralympics themselves. Instead, Japan’s Olympic Committee recently came up with two new logos. In the eyes of some people in Japan, however, even though the designs embody a deep message, they’re lacking in aesthetic sense.

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Kumanu!!! Japan’s most popular mascot meets Keanu Reeves at endurance motorcycle championship

Did you know that actor Keanu Reeves has his own motorcycle production company, Arch Motorcycle? We had no idea either, until he made an impromptu appearance at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture for the 8 Hours Motorcycle Endurance World Championship on July 25, test-driving his very own KRGT-1 Superbike.

Oh, and he also met Kumamoto Prefecture’s beloved yuru-kyara Kumamon at the same time!

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Hakone volcano erupts on small scale

Ōwaku Valley, a part of Mount Hakone with high volcanic activity, has been showing more signs of an impending eruption recently.

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Top 10 acts of customer service that Japanese men would rather do without

In Japan customer service can be pretty unreal. Little things like taxi doors opening or closing automatically and complimentary reading glasses at check-out counters are harmless and go unnoticed by many locals, and are probably under-appreciated. Sometimes, however, the desire to please the customer and attend to their every need is a little over the top and some people find it just down-right annoying. 

Online research group iResearch surveyed a group of 200 male 20-somethings for their thoughts on “Which services do you secretly wish people would stop providing?” Some of the results are pretty understandable, but some of them make you wonder if the guys surveyed just hate people in general!

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Cute miniature collection reveals the everyday items used by Sailor Moon cast

Would you like to know what Sailor Moon and her pals eat for lunch? Or perhaps you’re curious to find out how they study or what they’d take along to the local shrine. Well now you can find out all that and more, with this gorgeous miniature collection!

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We go hands-on with “Pictuarium”, the virtual aquarium that brings your doodles to life!

Fish may make low-maintenance pets compared to cats and dogs, but they are still fragile creatures, and you may find that neglecting to clean the tank, forgetting to feed them, or letting their water get too warm in the summer months will send Bubbles to an early, watery grave. Even with utmost care, some fish don’t have very long lifespans, and no one likes saying goodbye to a beloved pet.

Well, now you can forgo the aquarium maintenance and not worry about the heartache, by creating your own invincible fishy friends and bringing them to life through your iPhone with Takara Tomy Arts’ new Pictuarium!

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Cats hate getting their teeth brushed, but it’s important…and they look so cute getting it done!

Cats are the stars of millions of the pictures and videos that we humans enjoy day in, day out. Like human celebrities, our cats need to be pampered and get their health needs met so they look and feel their best.

The cats themselves may not always be on board, however, especially for teeth cleanings. While we’re finding out that brushing cats’ teeth is exceedingly important, we’re also realizing that no matter how pissed they are about it, they maintain their cute-factor.

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McDonald’s attempts to lure back customers with open kitchen concept in Japan

It’s no secret that McDonald’s Japan has been on a slippery slope following several food safety scandals in recent years. In 2014, the fast food giant reported its first annual loss in 11 years, which amounted to 21.84 billion yen (around US$176 million).

In an effort to restore trust and reaffirm their commitment to quality assurance, the fast food chain recently fitted out two stores in Japan with an “open kitchen” design, allowing customers to get an inside view of operations to see just how orders are made, from start to finish.

But will this be enough to bring customers back to the golden arches?

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