Japan

Mysterious bags of Japanese mushroom snacks are hard to get, create intrigue online

Already home to a plethora of weird and wonderful snacks, a new contender appears to have hit the Japanese market.

Usually, snack makers like to lure in young and old with fanciful cartoon mascots and promises of salt and/or sugar-based delights. But food producer UHA appears to have taken a totally different route with their Kinoko No Manma, which loosely translates as “mushrooms as they are”, but a slightly more fitting interpretation might be “I Can’t Believe They’re Not Mushrooms!” As the snack’s name implies, its main selling point is that the things inside the bag look exactly like freshly picked mushrooms, but in fact they aren’t…

Or are they? It’s exactly that confusion, and the snack’s rarity, that’s causing many online to wonder: “What do these things taste like and how can we get them?”

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Fully posable “Titan Eren” figure to debut next year, looks just as nude/terrifying as expected

If the thought of being able to have your way, in a manner of speaking, with Attack on Titan‘s Eren — albeit in titan form — is appealing to you, then this item may be for you! That’s right, folks, Japanese toy maker Kotobukiya is set to launch a figure of the series’ protagonist Eren Yeager in gruesome titan form, complete with changeable heads!

Join us after the jump for a closer look at this undeniably creepy, yet expertly crafted figure!

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Do you enjoy pirated anime and manga? If so, this “thank you” is not for you

While the Japanese economy is powered by numerous exports and industries, from cars to computers, perhaps one of its largest, if not most visible, industries is that of entertainment content such as anime, manga and video games. While we all love good content–it is, after all, king–not everyone is necessarily willing or able to pay for it. While in days of yore that mostly meant simply going without the latest publication of your favorite manga, today’s high-speed Internet has made, shall we say acquiring content easier than ever.

While countries around the world debate the issues of online piracy, free speech, and copyright law, Japan is taking a somewhat more aggressive stance (anti-piracy even has its own figures in Japan!). Nevertheless, stopping piracy completely is an exercise in futility, which is probably why the M.A.G. (Manga-Anime Guardians) Project is aimed more at changing hearts and minds than using legal action to stop those pesky pirates. In fact, they’ll even give you a special-edition illustration if you join!

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Which foods define Fukuoka’s amazing culinary scene? The Internet votes 【Poll】

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka, you probably know about its amazing food that has people from all over the country booking trips there just to stuff themselves silly. Between the rich, pork broth and firm noodles of the famous Hakata Ramen and the spicy delight that is mentaiko (marinated cod and pollack roe), Fukuoka is a place visitors leave having to loosen their belt a few notches.

With so many delicious things to come out of the city, an online poll set out to see which dishes people think are the epitome of the Fukuoka food scene. Click below to see the results and vote on what you think is the best food to come out of Fukuoka!

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Frozen’s Olaf spotted out and about on the Tokyo subway

Because of its time zone, holidays come to Japan several hours sooner than the rest of the world. Last weekend, Halloween came especially early, though, with parades of costumers being held in both Kawasaki and Tokyo’s Roppongi.

But even as Halloween continues to become more and more popular in Japan, one thing that hasn’t changed is the way most people get around by public transportation. Just about everyone takes the subway, whether you’re a student, businessperson, or living snowman from Disney’s Frozen.

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Japan government to allow dancing past midnight by candlelight, joins the 19th century

Last Friday, on the recommendation of a special committee the Abe cabinet agreed to suggested changes to the Fueiho laws which place severe and unclear regulations on dancing in Japan.

As we reported last week, under Fueiho (Act on Control and Improvement of Amusement and Entertainment Business), businesses such as nightclubs are required to operate under a loosely defined set of parameters. However, most didn’t. This led to a string of raids and closures which crippled the night club scene in much of Japan.

After these new changes pass through the Diet, clubs will be allowed to host dancing after midnight – provided the lighting is bright enough.

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Kyoto company starts “Solo Wedding” service for single women who want to be brides for the day

Although Japan is not often considered the best place for sexual equality, steps are definitely being taken in the right direction. More and more women are trailblazing lifelong careers in not always hospitable corporate environments and forgoing more traditional routes such as marriage and becoming a full-time homemaker.

But sometimes this comes at the cost of getting married and starting a family. While some women are perfectly fine with this, others will no doubt feel the occasional pang of regret when they consider that they never had a chance to get all dressed up and be the center of attention for the day like many of their friends and family.

That’s why Kyoto-based company Cerca Travel has set up a service providing all the glamor of a wedding without any of the commitment in what they call a “Solo Wedding.” That’s right: women can now have the full wedding day experience without actually having to get hitched.

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Cute bedside lamp promises to clean the air around you, give you better skin as you sleep

Japanese electronics maker Sharp has announced their latest product – this adorable bedside lamp that emits what they call ‘plasmacluster ions’. No, they are unfortunately not going to be the baby blue and pink beads you see drifting into the air in the illustration. However, these plasmacluster ions supposedly have anti-bacterial properties.

All you need to do is plug in your lamp and it will not only purify your air, but also improve your sleep and the condition of your skin! Now, that sounds like a good deal if it really works.

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Now that’s clever! Yurikamome line’s new ergonomic seats are designed to keep you in your place

There’s something about being on public transport that seems to bring out the worst in us. Whether we’re talking on our phones, bringing smelly food onboard, or taking sly swigs of chūhai when we think no one’s looking, most of us are guilty of some kind of train faux pas.

A company in Japan has come up with an ingenious design solution to a very particular kind of anti-social behaviourpeople taking up more than their fair share of space on the train.

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Seaside cafe in Enoshima serves pancakes topped with young anchovies

We thought we knew pancakes, but boy, were we wrong!

Our team prides itself on both seeking out and sampling good food, all in the name of science and hard-hitting journalism. Among our favorite treats are none other than heaping stacks of fluffy, buttery pancakes, which we’ve even adapted to bake in a Japanese rice cooker with epic results.

In other words, we thought we knew pretty much everything there is to know about the delicious comfort food, that is until one of our Japanese writers made an unexpected discovery–there’s a place in Japan that sells pancakes topped with baby anchovies!

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Heartwarming response to Twitter question confirms that yes, Tikuwa_0913, there is a Santa Claus

Over a century ago, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the New York paper The Sun asking if the rumors she heard regarding Santa Claus were true. Editor Francis Church’s now legendary response is still widely read today, as even 117 years later, it holds up pretty well. At least to me, anyway.

For today’s youth, on the other hand, coming up in an age of unprecedented surveillance and information it’s got to be even harder to maintain belief in a magical man with flying reindeer sneaking into their homes at night to deliver presents.

And so history repeats itself, but this time with newspapers on the decline, a sixth-grade child using the handle tikuwa_0913 turned to Yahoo! Japan Answers for more information on Jolly old Saint Nick.

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Yosegi wood craft — amazing in its beautiful simplicity and precision!

There are several traditional crafts that Japan is known for, such as urushi lacquerware or Nishijin weaving. Perhaps not as widely known, but just as impressive, is the craft of yosegi, which uses woods of different color and texture to create exquisite patterns. In fact, the precision and skill involved is such that yosegi is not surprisingly, one of the crafts that has been featured in a series of videos uploaded by luxury fashion brand Gucci Japan on their YouTube channel dedicated to introducing the work of talented Japanese craftsmen, and the video has apparently been noticed around the world. Let’s take a look at a master artisan at work!

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Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink.

Japan continues to show its love for all things “cute“. So, what has about 24,000 retweets and 31,000 favorites on Twitter right now? We’ll give you a hint, it begins with a ‘C’ and end with an ‘AT’. You get three guesses and the first two don’t count.

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What’s this Tibetan temple doing in the middle of Japan? We go to find out!

Moriyama-ku is an unassuming suburb of Nagoya city, backed by mountains and surrounded by forest park, which has in its midst an extraordinary hidden gem: a Tibetan Buddhist temple!

The female chief priest at Chambalin temple was trained at the sacred Jokhang monastery in Lhasa, Tibet, and she also holds the unusual honour of being the first Japanese woman to be ordained as a Tibetan chief priest.

Hearing this, our widely-travelled writer Mr. Kurosawa grabbed his reporter’s notebook and camera and headed down to take a look at this unique cultural property – and its adjoining Tibetan café.

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Mini movie theatre seats now on general release, collectors of tiny chairs rejoice

We all love a good gashapon capsule toy. But whether it’s One Piece characters or doggy bread, getting more than one of the same toy is usually a disappointment. No wonder some collectors skip the vending machine step altogether and buy completed sets second-hand. Duplicates are no fun.

There’s one Japanese toy company that flips that idea on its head, however. Unlike conventional capsule toys, Epoch’s scale models actually look better the more identical items you have! And these miniatures of seemingly mundane items such as school desks, shopping trolleys and folding chairs have proved a runaway hit.

So when our reporter Mr. Sato heard about the latest capsule item from Epoch, he immediately grabbed a bunch of hundred-yen coins and headed out to start collecting…miniature cinema chairs! Here’s what he found.

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New app helps you translate Japanese and Chinese offline using smartphone camera

With their complex writing systems, getting around in Japan or China can be stressful for even the most seasoned of tourists. Sure, you could carry a travel dictionary in your pocket while you go sightseeing, but how are you supposed to look up all those funny looking sticks and squiggles when you don’t even know how to pronounce them? Often the locals try to be helpful by providing an English translation, but there are reasons why that doesn’t always work out. If only there was a way to just wave your magic smartphone over some unintelligible text and have it provide a reliable translation on the spot. Well, as we discovered over at Shanghai Listthere’s an app for that.

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Shocking, snowy commercial is the saddest ad we’ve seen this fall

Last year, we found terror in an unlikely place: a tire commercial. Wheel and tire retailer Autoway, in an effort to remind us all about changing to winter tires before driving down snowy roads, reminded us all that “Winter roads are scary,” especially when they’re haunted.

Now, Autoway is back with a new ad, and while it doesn’t deliver the fright of last year’s video, it’s no less shocking.

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When a goddess speaks, you listen…unless she’s telling you to kill someone

Criminals have to come up with some pretty extravagant excuses for why they commit crimes. Sometimes, their reasons are really out there. Take the Oscar Pistorius case, for example. He acknowledges that he fired the shots that killed his girlfriend, but claims that he thought he was protecting her from a possible intruder. It’s then up to the courts to determine whether or not the defense’s theory holds any water. But what do you do when the working theory is, “Amaterasu, the sun goddess, told me to kill my mother.”

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Play Mario Kart on your living room floor (using robots!) with this awesome motion camera system

It’s unlikely Nintendo knew what a hit they had on their hands when releasing the very first Mario Kart title back in 1992. Since then, the series has gone on to be one of the company’s most consistently popular and best-selling properties.

In the 22 years the series has been around, fans have played it on the Super NES, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, DS, 3DS, Wii, and Wii U. And now, Mario Kart is serving as inspiration for a couple of inventors who’re making a similar game that you can play with robots on your living room floor, complete with weapons and power-ups.

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Witness the power a typhoon has over a bag of potato chips in this time-lapse video

Some of you may recall the massive Typhoon Vongfong or Typhoon 19 in Japan passing straight across the country a couple weeks ago. The typhoon is said to have had an amazing minimum atmospheric pressure of 900 hectopascals (26.58inHg) at one point.

If you’re anything like us, we were left looking at those figures in awe of how much we don’t remember from our high school science classes. Luckily there’s an easier way to visualize the effect Typhoon 19 had on the air pressure thanks to this video on YouTube featuring an experiment that uses a scale everyone can understand: a bag of potato chips.

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