Japan

Nikko beyond Toshogu: What to see once you’ve seen it all

The city of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, home to the impressive Toshogu Shrine and its famous evil-averse monkeys, is a popular choice for day trips from Tokyo, what with its World Heritage sites and easy train connections. But if all you’re doing is popping in for an afternoon of temple hopping, you are missing out on a lot of what Nikko has to offer. Take our advice and take a couple of days to check out what everybody else is missing.

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Six Japanese business terms you already know, even if you didn’t realize it

We’ve talked before about handy Japanese words and phrases we wish we could toss around in English. This kind of linguistic jealousy doesn’t flow in just one direction, though. Japanese businesspeople regularly make use of a number of English phrases, either because they’re more concise, precise, or just sound cooler to their ears than their Japanese counterparts.

Sometimes, though, knowing English isn’t enough to understand these loanwords, since their pronunciations can get pretty garbled in the transition from English to Japanese speakers. Feeling confident in your ability to translate English translated into Japanese back into English? Read on and see how many you can decipher.

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Creating your own custom etched glass is a lot simpler than you think

Having a hard time coming up with a cool gift idea? Wanting to create something fun and uniquely yours? Why not try your hand at glass-etching! It might sound a bit daunting, but as some Twitter users in Japan are finding, it’s a lot easier than expected, and a lot of fun to make your own anime (or anything!) goods. All you need are a few basic items, a steady hand, and some helpful tips to make your own awesome, customized etched glass! Follow us after the jump to get started.

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Are you smarter than a (Japanese) 5th grader? Take this mind-bending test and find out!

Pretty much everyone enjoys being able to help their younger siblings or kids with their elementary school homework. It’s a little piece of joy to pass on what you’ve learned and prove how cool of a mom/dad or big brother/sister you are. You impart some simple knowledge and see the little light bulb turn on in their head as they begin to understand. Then you can sit back and watch with confidence as they interact with the world around them.

But what do you do when the homework is a question that even you can’t answer? This brainteaser had everyone in one Japanese family stumped for over an hour, so they turned to Twitter for help. And then much of the Internet was stumped too. Take a look at these riddles and see how many you can get playing: What Prefecture is This?

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Herp derp! Awkward sun bear is awkward, somehow still adorable【Photos】

If you’re an animal lover, you can probably find something to like in even mother nature’s less visually appealing species. Slightly defective cats are basically the kings of the internet, after all. But we were shocked to find that some of Japan’s Twitter users have been mercilessly mocking a certain species of black bear for being “super creepy and gross.” C’mon, guys, it’s a bear! Bears are cute! Or at least, that’s what we thought until we saw the pictures…it turns out that there’s a certain kind of bear out there that’s just, well, kind of a major dork.

Don’t believe us? Check out this gallery of awkwardness! It’s un-bear-able!

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Sailor Soldiers assemble! Pullip’s line of Sailor Guardian dolls is now complete

Okay, we know there are plenty of Sailor Moon goods out there, but for those of you who can’t get enough of the pretty soldiers, we have some more moon prism power studded goodies to share with you! This time, they’re additions to the line of precious looking Sailor Moon Pullip dolls that we’ve previously introduced, and we think the dolls may captivate you with their charm even if you’re not a Sailor Moon fan!

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Like anime and video game mashups? Here’s 900 amazing ones!

Who doesn’t love a good mashup? We’ve seen some great ones before: Pokémon turned into Godzilla monsters, Doraemon turned into Dragon Ball, even Crayon Shin-chan turned into Attack on Titan.

But when it comes to sheer quantity of mashups, the clear winner is MOUNTAIN GRAPHICS, a company that sells t-shirts and other goods with cute and cool designs on them. They have over 900 pictures on their Twitter and Instagram account of mashed-up characters from video games, anime, and more.

Ever wanted to see Mario and PaRappa the Rapper fused together? Or Bomberman and Hello Kitty? Hoe about Bowser and Cthulhu? Well today’s your lucky day!

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Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”

In 2014, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in creating bright blue LEDs. In 1993, Nakamura held only a master’s degree and worked with just one lab assistant for a small manufacturer in rural Japan, yet he was able to find a solution that had eluded some the highest paid, best-educated researchers in the world.

If his story ended there, he would no doubt be the poster boy for Japanese innovation and never-say-die spirit, but in the years since his discovery, he has instigated a landmark patent case, emigrated to the US, given up his Japanese citizenship and become a vocal critic of his native country. Last week, the prickly professor gave his first Japanese press conference since picking up his Nobel and he had some very succinct advice for young Japanese: Leave.

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We visit the Guinness World Record-holding oldest hotel in the world – established 705 A.D.!

Keiunkan Inn in Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefecture is famous for holding the Guinness World Record for being “The oldest hotel in the world”. Established in 705 A.D., it boasts such notable former guests as daimyo Takeda Shingen, shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, and numerous emperors of Japan.

The inn itself is located in the southern alps of Yamanashi Prefecture, nestled in lush valleys in the very heart of nature. It’s the perfect location for escaping from the hustle and bustle of city life. What’s more, the inn is built upon prime hot springs ground, which means guests are able to enjoy numerous open-air and communal hot spring baths. Each room’s shower, bath and sink facilities are fed by pure hot spring water, which is neither treated nor heated by any artificial means. In fact, except for the toilets, the entire inn uses the hot springs water in its daily running, which makes it a very special and luxurious place to visit.

Our reporter, Yoshio, decided to book a stay in “the oldest hotel in the world” in order to share his experiences with the good readers of RocketNews24. Read on for many, many gorgeous photos of his trip!

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Historical Japanese swords turn into hot and battle-hardened Blade Boys in new mobile game

These days, one of the quickest and most popular methods for stocking a video game with a cast of attractive anime-style characters is to pick a class of item and anthropomorphize the heck out of it. There’s currently no hotter mobile game than Kantai Collection, in which players command a fleet of pretty girls who’re all modeled after World War II-era Japanese warships. If naval history isn’t your thing, you can also find titles featuring comely cars and moe mushrooms.

There’s a new entry in the subgenre though, and judging from its all-pretty boy roster of characters, it’s been designed with female otaku gamers in mind. As such, it’s no surprise that the men of Touken Ranbu are all based on something long and hard…plus sharp, as they’re all anthropomorphized swords.

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Fuji TV faces harsh criticism over “ticker” counting down to Japanese hostages’ murder

As we reported earlier in the week, Islamic State militants are currently holding two Japanese nationals hostage. The militants have said that the men will be executed within 72 hours unless the Japanese government pays a ransom of US$200 million, something that seems highly unlikely to happen.

With this being a rather sensitive subject, many people were extremely shocked and angry when Japanese morning television show Mezamashi Television went on air with a “ticker” onscreen counting how much time had passed since the demands were made.

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Attack on Titan’s Universal Studios Japan attraction opens

Universal Studios Japan is formally opening its new Attack on Titan attraction on Friday. “Attack on Titan The Real” is part of the Universal Cool Japan event (along with Evangelion, Resident Eviland Monster Hunter) which will run between January 23 and May 10. Musician and well-knownEvangelion fan HYDE was among the celebrities who attended Thursday’s opening ceremony. TheMainichi Shinbun paper’s MaiDiGi filmed the opening:

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Calling Sailor Moon fans! Heart-shaped custom decorated Sailor Moon phones now available

Okay, we admit we never thought we would be genuinely impressed with how “cute” a mobile phone is, but there’s no denying it — toy maker Bandai and telecommunications companies Y!mobile and Willlcom Okinawa have collaborated to come up with what can only be described as an utterly adorable cell phone. Yes, it’s an eye-catching, bright red, heart-shaped phone called the Heart 401AB model, and what’s more, it comes in a special Sailor Moon edition that you can custom decorate!

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Mr. Sato and Yoshio visit a cafe that receives a daily letter from actor Ken Watanabe

Prolific Japanese actor Ken Watanabe may have achieved stardom both domestically and internationally, but to the residents of a small city in northern Japan, he’s also known for his heart of gold.

Kesennuma (気仙沼), Miyagi Prefecture is one of several coastal cities that was ravaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In the aftermath of the disaster, Watanabe helped build (and now manages) a combined cafe-shop in Kesennuma in an effort to provide economic relief to the locals. Most inspiring, however, is his unwavering dedication to the venture–somehow, despite his busy filming and PR schedule in both Japan and Hollywood, he still finds the time to fax a handwritten letter to the cafe every single day!

Join our ace Japanese reporters Mr. Sato and Yoshio on their recent trip up north to visit this hidden gem of northern Japan.

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Here’s what your life’s been missing: a 3-D Daruma doll shaped like your face

Little, fat, round, lucky – Daruma dolls are an instantly recognisable Japanese trinket that also serve as a source of inspiration, encouraging people to achieve their goals. Daruma dolls usually come with two blank white eyes. You paint on one eye as you set yourself an objective (pass an exam, get a promotion, etc) and then paint on the second eye once you achieve your goal. As such, Daruma are a popular gift given to students cramming for exam season. But wouldn’t it be amazing if you could buy a Daruma doll crafted in the likeness of your own ugly face? Well, now you can, and what’s more – they’re three dimensional!

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Cost Performance Specialist Sato shows us how to get high fashion at low, low prices

Like much of the world, Japan is home to dozens of fashion brands like Uniqlo, GAP, and H&M, which offer high-quality clothes at low prices. It has come to the point that some refer to Uniqlo items as the “nation’s uniform” because of their ubiquity.

With all these big-name retailers saturating the market with their similar brands, how is a true individual supposed to express themselves? Of course there are one-of-a-kind boutiques, but those are way out of the average guy’s price range.

This is where our resident money expert Mr. Sato comes in. He’s known as “Cost Performer Sato,” or as he prefers “Cospa Sato,” because it’s a far more efficient name. He’s here to teach us about a secret shop which can be found in any one of your neighbourhoods and offers unique fashions at highly affordable prices, and look fabulous while doing so.

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Enjoy delicious pork sandwiches served to you by the manager of this katsu joint…who is also a pig

We’ve already talked at length about the complex feelings we have whenever we see an anthropomorphic mascot for a food joint shucking his own kin as delicious, greasy human grub. We bet you can’t even count the number of times you’ve walked by a chicken joint whose crazily grinning avian mascot was holding up a bucket of deep-fried drumsticks, or a contented pig sitting down – fork, knife, bib and all – to a barbecue rib feast and never really thought much of it.

Well, if the usually slapdash, cartoonish mascot on the sign of your local wing joint wasn’t in-your-face enough to disturb you with implications of animal cannibalism and the idea that you might just be eating animal protein that was once a creature with enough intelligence to talk and use kitchen utensils, maybe this Kanazawa, Japan pork restaurant ostensibly managed by a live, miniature pig is just the thing to kickstart your conscience, you monster.

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To hike or hibernate for the winter? The woes of a Hokkaido University student

Heavy winds, low visibility and snow drifts the size of houses. What do you do? Go to that lecture at 8:30 or grab as many blankets as you can and binge watch Dragon Ball? Although the answer might be pretty simple for some university students in Japan, the ones in Hokkaido know there is no such thing as a snow day. Freshman students at Hokkaido University are sometimes amazed to encounter the incredibly snowy weather conditions that face them on their way to class. There is not much else they can do but bundle up, snap a few pictures and share them with the Internet.

We’ve collected some of the best pics taken by Hokkaido’s students this winter. Would you go to class in this weather?

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Meet the girl who’s wrapped up in dreams of sushi

If you’ve been captivated by a bizarre breed of sushi cats or fallen in love with a cup-clinging girl called Fuchiko, chances are you’ll soon be swooning over a young lady who likes to hang out inside pieces of sushi.

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Disney Store is all grown up with new branch designed for adult women opening in Tokyo

Disney enjoys broad popularity with Japanese children, with tykes across the nation regularly getting excited for the studio’s animated films and begging their parents to take them to Tokyo Disneyland. This isn’t a recent development, though. Disney’s been a hit with kids for decades now, and while the age of many fans who grew up watching Mickey, Minnie, and their pals has changed, that doesn’t mean their love for the cartoon characters has.

That’s why this spring a new branch of the Disney Store is opening up in Tokyo, and while the staff won’t be turning away little girls at the door, it’s really being designed for adult women.

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