Japan

Titan mascot turns up for work in Tokyo bookstore, grosses everyone out

Picture the scene: “Hey, Suzuki-san, we’ve got a special job for you! Inside this box is a Mini Titan costume. This week, you’re going to go around the big anime and manga shops in Tokyo promoting the new Attack on Titan exhibition.”

Suzuki-san runs to the box containing the costume and rips it open excitedly. His face falls…for the creature he finds within is the oddest, ugliest Titan the world has ever seen.

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Sharp’s new Japanese-inspired refrigerator is very cool (no pun intended)

Most people spend far more time looking into their refrigerator, hoping they somehow missed a plate of tasty snacks, than looking at their refrigerator. Even when the door is properly closed, we’re more likely to be reading the notes stuck there than admiring the design of the appliance itself.

But that’s just because most of us don’t have as eye-catching of a fridge as this tasteful Japanese beauty.

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Osaka police looking for woman who jumped in front of train, lived, and ran away

Weirdness broke out on the afternoon of 16 November in Osaka. Several witness claimed to have seen a woman jump onto the tracks of Izumiotsu Station just as a train was approaching. However, after the train arrived there was no sign of injury and the woman was last seen running away on the platform.

How the woman got on the tracks, survived the train, or escaped is unclear and an investigation is underway. Internet detectives well-versed in manga, however, are assuming that she was summoned by a big black orb in an apartment somewhere.

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Japanese military to receive funding for powered suits, everyone wonders what took so long

You probably remember last year when the Internet collectively lost control of its bowels over the announcement that the US military was working on TALOS, a powered suit that wasn’t actually anything like what Tony Stark wears but was close enough to get our hearts racing. News outlets were flooded with reports of Iron Man suits and few could ignore the excitement, though it turns out that making a real powered suit is hard–recent reports suggest TALOS won’t be ready until 2018.

While three or four years isn’t exactly soon, it is pretty quick–though if the US military doesn’t get their hustle on, they may end up being second to the powered suit finish line! It looks like the Japanese government is preparing to throw hundreds of millions of yen at a project to develop a powered-assist suit for soldiers in three years–if it is accepted by the Diet for the 2015 budget.

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We examine, sort thousands of grains of rice to test manga-approved cooking method 【Video】

Preparing a delicious bowl of rice is an absolutely essential part of Japanese cuisine, and fortunately for most amateur cooks today’s modern rice cookers have made that task as simple as pressing as button.

While these handy machines can whip up a tasty bowl of rice with little to no effort, we wanted to try out a time-consuming cooking method we learned from the popular food-themed manga Oishinbo. In it, one of the main characters painstakingly examines and sorts each grain of rice to prepare what is described as “a taste you won’t forget in 15 years.” But is all that hard work worth it?

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Fans on the floor create awesome anime and Disney carpet art in Japan【Photos】

Very few Japanese homes have installed carpeting. Older houses and apartments often have tatami reed mats, and in newer places you’ll usually find tile, wood, or rubberized flooring.

That’s not to say people in Japan can’t appreciate a nice bit of soft fuzziness between their toes, though. Even without permanent carpeting, many people will toss a carpeted mat on the floor to make their living or bedroom extra comfy, especially during the colder part of the year.

Of course, cold weather also means spending more time indoors, with extra time on your hands, and sometimes that patch of carpeting becomes a canvas for some seriously cool fan art.

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Sink or drink? Japan celebrates arrival of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau with special wine-bath

Japan is becoming known worldwide for its natural hot springs and public bath houses. Lately, bathers have more and more soaking options with specialty baths popping up all over. We’ve seen snow-covered baths, tea baths, sake baths and herbal baths.

Every November however, a bathhouse near Tokyo has a unique 10-day wine bath to celebrate the release of France’s Beaujolais Nouveau wine.

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11-year-old now youngest artist to join Dokuritsu Exhibition, teaches us to look on the dark side

One of the words for art in Japanese is bijutsu which contains the kanji character for “beauty” (美). That’s not to say that art is limited to images of beauty alone, however. Sometimes images considered superficially unpleasant can be seen as beautiful works as well. They have the power to push back the darkness of taboos and help us to overcome our own inhibiting fears and prejudices.

Those are pretty heavy concepts for sixth-grader Chifu Onishi, but she seems to have already excelled at them through her celebrated artwork such as Tsuki Ni Asobu (Play on the Moon) which was chosen as a part of the 82nd annual Dokuritsu Exhibition, an annual event that has featured some of Japan’s greatest artists in the past. This acknowledgement also earns the 11-year-old the recognition of being the youngest artist to ever take part.

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Japanese sleep experts say we’ve been using our blankets wrong, help us hate winter a little less

I hate winter. 20-plus years of living in sunny southern California didn’t do anything to help me build up a tolerance for cold weather, and honestly, if I could make like the bears and just gorge myself on salmon for a few weeks and then sleep until spring, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, since hibernation isn’t really an option, I have to rely on a blanket and down comforter to make it through the freezing winter nights. Even still, the cold often leaves me shivering (plus grumbling, cursing, and generally complaining).

As it turns out, though, instead of blaming Old Man Winter for all my discomfort, I’m actually part of the problem, according to Japanese experts who say I’ve been using my comforter and blanket the wrong way.

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Barbie head shoes: the new craze making heads turn in Harajuku

Barbie, the popular fashion doll from America, has been a style icon ever since her creation back in 1959. Now, at the age of 55, the controversial bombshell is hitting the streets of Harajuku – quite literally - this time inside the clear soles of some amazing, if kind of creepy, shoes.

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Special 2015 New Year’s stamp shows adorable sheep completing a 12-year project

With November half over, it’s time to start worrying about the big holiday this season: New Year’s! While Christmas might be the big winter holiday in many countries, for those in Japan, the changing of the calendar is a far bigger event and everyone from school kids overworked salarymen gets a row of days off.

In addition to lazing about and eating way too much food, January first also means nearly mandatory New Year’s postcards in Japan. Next year is the year of the sheep (or goat, depending on who you ask), and the Japanese postal service has revealed their special postcard stamps featuring an adorable four-legged wool giver just for the occasion. However, eagle-eyed patrons with a good memory have noticed something special about the stamps…

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Has this cat’s soul been stolen, or is this just another example of cats being weird? 【Video】

A few weeks ago, we saw a cat that could walk backwards on two legs like it was no big deal. At the time, we jokingly wrote it off as just another quirky cat thing that cats do, because cats.

But now that we’ve seen this video of another feline lying prone, belly-up, staring into the abyss as though it’s seen into the eyes of Cthulhu, we’re starting to wonder if maybe there’s some sort of strange otherworldly madness slowly destroying the minds of Japan’s cats:

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Change your perspective: A quartet of videos from little-known Japan

If you’re a regular RocketNews24 reader, then chances are you’re already a fan of Japan and Japanese culture. But ask the average person on the street to tell you what they know about Japan, and most likely all you’ll hear are things like “geisha,” “sumo,” and “anime.”

With that in mind, today we’d like to share with you a selection of videos from our special website, “Another Side of Japan” from NHK World, which feature three of Japan’s little-known wonders and demonstrate the importance of perspective when looking at not just Japan but the world in general. The video tour starts after the jump!

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Disney’s Big Hero 6 gets anime short by comedian Tekken in Japan

Disney is introducing its latest animated film, Big Hero 6, in Japan with a video animated by Tekken, a comedian famous for emotional flip-book-style anime shorts. The short features the song “Story” by popular singer AI.
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Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki opposes relocation of military base in Okinawa

Locals, citizens, and politicians continue to clash regarding the proposed relocation of a U.S. military base to the Henoko (辺野古) district of Nago City, Okinawa. A recent movement to oppose the base sought to gain support from famous Japanese people, including (sort-of) retired Studio Ghibli Director, Hayao Miyazaki.

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Celebrating washoku and rice — an evening with master chefs and sushi roll creators (Part 2)

We recently had the opportunity to attend the delightful reception “Celebrating Worldwide Recognition of Washoku and Rice” aimed to present the appeal of rice and its importance in Japanese cuisine (washoku). In our first article covering the event, we gave you a round-up on the talks and demonstrations made by three guest speakers during the first part of the evening’s program, including the serving of a traditional Japanese meal prepared by a master chef. Now, it was time for us to get active and try our hand at a bit of sushi rolling!

In this, the second and final article in this two-part series, we’ll attempt to create a special futomaki sushi roll  known as Futomaki Matsurizushi (“thick roll festival sushi”) like the one made by Ms. Eiko Ryuzaki, president of the Chiba Traditional Local Cooking Study Group, in one of the presentations earlier that evening.   

Okay, so we weren’t going to be able to create an entire plate of colorful festive futomaki rolls like the display in the picture above, but we were excited about the chance to make even just one pretty little roll! So, were we ready to get our hands sticky with rice? You can bet we were!

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Budding Japanese student artists impress us with chalkboard works of art

Give any kid a piece of chalk, and they’re likely to draw some quick doodles on the board. Some stick figures; the logo of some group or team they’re especially fond of; perhaps even a wang or two if there are no adults around. But some kids will use that same piece of chalk to create veritable masterpieces that are so good, you’ll never want to erase them.

You won’t want to miss this collection of impressive chalk art after the jump! Here’s celebrating the talented work of artistic Japanese students.

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Can you name 5 traditional Japanese arts that are distinctly female? 【Women in Japan Series】

If asked which traditional Japanese arts are female-only, the first thing that comes to mind for most foreigners is probably geisha. Following that, most people might guess tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arrangement) or calligraphy. But tea ceremony and ikebana had connections to Buddhism and were started in Japan by Buddhist priests. Still today many masters in these two disciplines are men. Calligraphy was brought over from China and both men and women practiced by copying Chinese letters. Only later did Japan develop its own form of calligraphy which is still practiced today by both sexes.

In this article, we introduce five strictly female Japanese arts, a couple of which you may have never heard of before. In addition to everyone’s favorite, the geisha, we introduce the world’s only all-female revue, naginata swords for women, itako female fortune-tellers and the mysterious naked sea nymphs: the ama pearl divers.

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Animals, cars, and anime: Japanese salons give kids the VIP treatment

As an adult, I never really find myself attached to one particular hairstyle. Every time I get a cut, that’s a one or two-month commitment at best before I get to change it around all over again. But for kids, the barber can apparently be a pretty harrowing experience. After all, especially for younger kids, they’ve been rocking the same ‘do for almost their entire lives. Also, it probably takes some learning to overcome the instinctual aversion to sharp objects being brandished near your face.

Not that I have kids or anything, but I’ve heard taking them to the hair salon can be… let’s just say a bit of a handful.

That’s why many Japanese salons have decided to go the extra mile and give kids the VIP treatment:

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Police called in for civet disturbance in Tokyo

Walking down the street in Tokyo, you never know what you might bump into, especially if you happened to have been around Aoyama Itchome Station in Minato Ward on 14 November. During the afternoon, a masked palm civet was seen darting around the streets by several witnesses.

The masked palm civet was connected to the SARS outbreak about a decade ago and unleashes an anal spray when threatened. But that didn’t stop passers-by from trying to get the best photos for their Twitter feeds… Not at all.

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