Japan

Toronto Film Festival to host North American premiere of Princess Kaguya, Ghibli documentary

Toronto Film Festival to host North American premiere of Princess Kaguya, Ghibli documentary

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will host the North American premiere Isao Takahata‘s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and director Mami Sunada’s The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness documentary about Studio Ghibli next month. Princess Kaguya will premiere with English subtitles on September 5 with Takahata present for the screening. The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness will premiere on Monday, September 8.

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Shimane Prefecture’s shrine-headed mascot is now an adorable rice field

Shimane Prefecture’s shrine-headed mascot is now an adorable rice field

We saw absolutely gorgeous rice field art up in Aomori prefecture just a few months ago, but we’ve never seen rice that looked this cute! Shimane prefecture’s very own mascot character has been turned into a smiling rice field; you’re going to want to take a closer look at this one!

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Limited edition Kirby t-shirts on sale at this year’s Tokyo Game Show

Limited edition Kirby t-shirts on sale at this year’s Tokyo Game Show

Heading to Tokyo Game Show this year? We certainly are, and with just under a month to go, we’re itching to try out the newest games and watch the exclusive previews that exhibitors are no doubt already preparing. But there’s one other thing (yes, besides the booth babes) that we’re excited to get a look at: the video game merchandise!

And this year, there are a couple of items we already have our eye on: a pair of limited edition Kirby-themed t-shirts, which have just been revealed by makers San-ei Boeki.

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Monsters of Shamisen: New music for an old instrument 【J-Tunes】

Monsters of Shamisen: New music for an old instrument 【J-Tunes】

When it comes to Japanese music, one of the most iconic sounds is that of the tsugaru-jamisen. We’ve written about musicians playing the folk instrument before, but today we have a group with a traditional, but decidedly unique, approach: the three-man group Monsters of Shamisen.

From heavy metal to traditional Japanese music and throat singing, there’s sure to be something here for everyone!

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Anna and Elsa ready to visit homes in January with Frozen New Year’s osechi meals

Anna and Elsa ready to visit homes in January with Frozen New Year’s osechi meals

In Japan, it’s customary to celebrate the New Year with osechi, meals made of a large number of painstakingly prepared and beautifully presented small dishes. Traditionally, women would prepare all of the osechi for their families ahead of time, setting aside New Year’s Day itself for feasting leisurely.

Of course, the price for that relaxation on January 1 is a frantic bout of cooking at the end of December. Hoping to avoid that, more and more households have begun buying pre-made osechi, either to replace or supplement a smaller quantity of home-cooked food.

Mass-produced osechi doesn’t come cheap, though, so we imagine some people might scoff at the idea of buying Frozen osechi, until you realize that it’s Frozen with a capital F, as in Disney’s runaway computer-animated hit.

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Kichijoji’s Kotori Cafe serves up adorable bird-themed desserts, serenades you with birdsong

Kichijoji’s Kotori Cafe serves up adorable bird-themed desserts, serenades you with birdsong

Where once felines reigned supreme, themed cafes featuring a wide variety of animals are popping up all over Japan, from countryside hideaways to cafes in high-end shopping districts. So far we’ve seen cat, rabbit, and owl cafes and they are becoming increasingly common sights.

But what if you’re not a fan of those particular animals? Fear not! The latest addition to the cafe scene gives you yet another option – to enjoy your afternoon latte in the company of cute little birds!

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【Exploring Unfamiliar Japan】We stayed in a 120-year-old Japanese home, here’s how you can too

【Exploring Unfamiliar Japan】We stayed in a 120-year-old Japanese home, here’s how you can too

When European writer, Lafcadio Hearn, wrote about Shimane prefecture in 1894, he described a land steeped in tradition and nature. Since then, all of Japan seems to have ignored this sleepy area of the Chugoku region whose most recent claim to fame is having the country’s largest population of the elderly. But if Shimane prefecture is stuck in the olden days, the Oki Islands are lost in time. Lazily floating out at sea in what is technically Shimane, but is actually an entire world of its own, Oki is a forgotten gem tucked in a dusty corner of Japan. Rambling down the overgrown back roads, you’re sure to come across a wrinkled face and a hearty “konnichiwa,” a small experience that seems to have become a rarity in the always busy metropolises of this country.

It is in this uncommon place that we had the privilege of staying in a home that has stood for over a century. Join us as we share our experience staying at the Japanese guesthouse called Tsukudaya.

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Meet Chiyomaru: the cutest gosh-darn sumo wrestler you’ll ever see

Meet Chiyomaru: the cutest gosh-darn sumo wrestler you’ll ever see

One proven way to go viral on the internet is to be unbearably cute. Although it’s a path often taken by pets, women, kids, and pastries, it’s pretty rare to come across a sumo wrestler who pulls in online comments such as “I feel soothed by his unmatched cuteness.”

However, that’s just what Kazuki Kinoshita who wrestles under the name Kazuki Chiyomaru has done in Japan. A candid shot of him napping has become an internet hit and led to other pictures which further consolidate his new title of the world’s cutest sumo wrestler.

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【TBT】Amazeballs! Real-Life One Piece Characters Discovered!

【TBT】Amazeballs! Real-Life One Piece Characters Discovered!

One Piece is the hugely successful comic book and animation series about a team of friends who go in search of the famous treasure of the same name. When the writer and illustrator, Eichiro Oda, recently revealed that many of the One Piece characters are based on real-life public figures and celebrities, he created a different type of treasure hunt for his legions of fans. Who was which character? Where did he draw inspiration from? After what must’ve been hours of research, one fan came up with this concise gallery.

But some of these pictures show way more than a passing resemblance. It’s almost as if he sketched every detail of the real-life figure into his One-Piece character, from their pose to their jewellery and accessories. The inspiration for Paulie is even wearing an identical shirt and jacket! Twitter users are now arguing over the fine line between homage and rip-off. What do you think? Check out the characters in more detail below…

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We try recreating Lady Gaga’s signature look using only stuff bought at a 100-yen store

We try recreating Lady Gaga’s signature look using only stuff bought at a 100-yen store

On August 12, Lady Gaga arrived in Tokyo to kick off the Japan leg of her worldwide artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball. The pop icon is no stranger to Japan, and has proclaimed her love for the country on multiple occasions in the past. Not to mention the fact that her quirky fashion style seems perfectly at home with some of the bizarre outfits you’d find in Tokyo’s Harajuku district.

One of the reporters from our Japanese sister site happens to be a dedicated ‘Little Monster’ himself. Although ‘Lady Jun’, as we’ll call him from now on, is fascinated by Lady Gaga’s eccentric fashion statements, one question has always bothered him–is it possible for a normal person to create an outfit in Lady Gaga’s signature style without breaking the bank?

Enlisting the help of his fellow reporter and amateur Sailor Venus cosplayer Yoshio, the two headed over to a Japanese 100-yen shop (the equivalent of a dollar store in the States) to find out for themselves. The end result of their mission? Well, let’s just say that their creation was a bit puzzling. 

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*UPDATE* Retailer encourages Slam Dunk fans to slap anime character’s fat, wobbly neck【Video】

*UPDATE* Retailer encourages Slam Dunk fans to slap anime character’s fat, wobbly neck【Video】

For anime fans, there’s nothing quite like a visit to the local branch of Animate. The mega-retailer is a great place to pick up the latest Blu-ray releases or newest bits of anime merchandise.

Or, as of this month, to slap a fat dude in the neck.

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For kids only — Mister Donut and Miffy collaboration gives you cute doughnuts on wheels!

For kids only — Mister Donut and Miffy collaboration gives you cute doughnuts on wheels!

Now, we’re sure that kids (and adults too for that matter) are perfectly happy to have tasty doughnuts even without the promise of a bonus toy. But this summer, Mister Donut Japan has made sure that kids have an extra incentive to visit the doughnut chain —  in the form of original toys featuring the internationally popular rabbit character Miffy! Yes, starting this week while supplies last, Mister Donut is offering two types of adorable Miffy donut toys as a bonus item that comes with a Kid’s Set. The only catch is, well, it’s a Kid’s Set, so you have to be a kid to order one …

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Truly horrific bar in Tokyo serves up cocktails and ghost tales【Video】

Truly horrific bar in Tokyo serves up cocktails and ghost tales【Video】

With summer winding down, people across Japan are scrambling to squeeze the last bits of entertainment from the season. We may be into the second half of August, but there’s still time for a last trip to the beach, one more barbecue, or a final icy cold beer.

As a matter of fact, you can combine the last of those pleasures with another Japanese summertime tradition – ghost stories - at a bar in Tokyo that provides stiff drinks, spooky tales, and truly terrifying interior decorations.

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Japan just held a first-of-its-kind live fire exercise on Mount Fuji【Photos】

Japan just held a first-of-its-kind live fire exercise on Mount Fuji【Photos】

In the shadow of rising tensions in the East China Sea, Japan is holding live fire exercise in the foothills of Mount Fuji until Sunday. Japan has held annual military exercises aimed at protecting its northern territories along its maritime frontier with Russia, although present realities have led to Japan shifting its priorities to island defense.

The exercises, called Fire Power, are aimed at defending outlying Japanese islands from a hypothetical invasion. Fire Power is a first-of-its-kind exercise and follows new national defense guidelines.

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Talented high school baseball player steals 11 bases in one game, fans furious?

Talented high school baseball player steals 11 bases in one game, fans furious?

If you are a brain surgeon trying to get a side job flipping burgers at a fast food joint, you’re more than likely to be called “overqualified” and sent packing; yes, even if you really have a passion for perfecting the ultimate burger flip. Your services are clearly required elsewhere, despite your dreams of being Employee of the Month. But being overqualified for sports isn’t something most athletes generally have to worry about blowing back on them.

Unless, apparently, your sport is Japanese high school baseball, as one especially talented and furiously base-stealing Gunma Prefecture player learned recently.

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Science museum’s elemental lockers provide chemistry lesson while you stash your stuff

Science museum’s elemental lockers provide chemistry lesson while you stash your stuff

The Nagoya City Science Museum, being located in one of the busiest urban centers of Japan, gets most of its visitors arriving by public transportation. Without a car to store their stuff in, most of them are carrying some sort of bag with their personal belongings, plus, in the case of tourists from out of town, any souvenirs they’ve been buying while in the country’s fourth-largest city.

For those who don’t feel like lugging their things around inside the museum, there’s a bank of lockers. Of course, a drab wall of solid gray metal wouldn’t be very visually appealing. At many other tourist attractions in Japan, you’d see a brightly colored mural featuring some local mascot character, but the designers at the Science System went with something a lot more original and appropriate by plastering the chemical symbols of the elements on them.

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Chiba teacher arrested for threats to “blow up government buildings” because of Saturday classes

Chiba teacher arrested for threats to “blow up government buildings” because of Saturday classes

On 19 July the Noda City department of the Chiba Prefectural Police announced the arrest of 49-year-old elementary school teacher Masaki Yabusaki on charges of intimidation.

The suspect had allegedly sent around half a dozens emails to the Noda Board of Education with oddly-worded threatening remarks such as “I will blow up bad guys and their government buildings” if they didn’t rescind a decision to extend the school week to include Saturday classes introduced this year.

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Become an anime babe with amazing DIY jeans from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Become an anime babe with amazing DIY jeans from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Have you seen Nisha the Lawbringer? She’s tall and lean and rocks an awesome pair of skinny jeans. Only problem is, she lives in an alternate reality called Borderlands and spends most of her days fighting on the moon.

Your chances of meeting the animated babe just got exponentially better, as one dedicated cosplayer has revealed a technique to replicate the character’s trademark jeans. That’s right – the jeans above might look illustrated, but they’re absolutely real. Take a look at how they’re made after the jump.

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English pick-up lines: Foreign writer shares his advice with amorous Japanese men

English pick-up lines: Foreign writer shares his advice with amorous Japanese men

We recently came across this article on English pick up lines for Japanese guys wanting to get ‘close’ to women while they’re on holiday abroad. Some of the tips are a little out there, though. What do you make of the advice offered?

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Korean Independence Day continues to stir the pot for Japan-Korea relations

Korean Independence Day continues to stir the pot for Japan-Korea relations

Every country loves to celebrate its Independence or Foundation Day. While many such national holidays have become celebratory days for friends and family, there is always a thread of proud nationalism that runs through them. Korean Independence Day, Gwangbokjeol, which was won only 69 years ago, is ruffling some Japanese’s feathers as relations between the two countries continues to strain. This year, some images of children celebrating have caught the attention of not only Japanese media, but Chinese media as well!

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