Japan

Futago koude: The hot new fashion trend of Japanese women dressing like twins

In always fashion-conscious Japan, each year brings a handful of would-be hot new trends. Some of these go on to be hits, like the way many women have been dying their hair brown for the last 15 years. Others, like the high-waist bikini many fashion magazines were pushing last spring, never really catch on.

Now, a new look seems to be gaining traction with young women, in which they head out for a day on the town with a friend wearing nearly identical outfits.

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Beautiful old footage shows “God of Judo” Kyuzo Mifune gracefully defeat young challengers【Video】

At 159cm (5’2″) tall, Kyuzo Mifune was not a big man. But as this amazing video of the judo master shows, strength doesn’t come from size alone. Mifune is considered to be one of the finest judo technicians ever, and this video of him accepting challenges from high-level younger students shows his incredible power and skill.

Join us after the jump for a sprightly energy burst, as the man they call the “God of Judo” skips, jumps and runs rings around his young challengers.

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Nagano Prefecture dodges yet another typhoon – Does it have some kind of magical force field?

This past week marked the 19th typhoon of the season. Hitting Japan very soon after typhoon No. 18, Vongfong–which translates as “wasp” in Cantonese–battered the islands of Japan with incredibly heavy rains and strong winds.

While much of Japan suffered under the powerful force of nature, one prefecture remained virtually untouched, even while all of its neighbors took a beating. Find out why after the jump.

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Somebody turned a Disney Channel cartoon into an anime and it’s pretty awesome

There are a lot of topsy-turvy world “What if…?” scenarios to ponder. Like, “What if I’d invested the money from my crappy summer job as a kid instead of blowing it all on Fruit by the Foot?,” “What if John Candy had lived to make Cool Runnings 2?,” or even, “What if cats ruled the world?” (oh wait, that one’s true…).

But if you were ever wondering what the world would be like if Disney were run entirely by Japanese people, it looks like a particularly talented animator with a love of anime has taken the time to give you a short glimpse of that scenario with this awesome anime tribute titled, “What if Gravity Falls was an anime?”

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Trending prank leaves public toilet users down in the dumps

There are a number of little niceties and services that make Japan a very comfortable place to live. Personally, my favorite has always been the folded toilet paper ends that can often be found in public restroom stalls everywhere. I don’t encounter them especially often, but when I do it brightens my day just like having a robin land on my window sill.

However, you can’t experience such joy without leaving yourself vulnerable to extreme disappointment as well. A prank has recently emerged in Japan which, although seemingly mundane and simple, completely shatters this sense of pleasure and leaves the victim a desolate shell of a person, just like having a robin land on your window sill and start projectile vomiting.

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Six of the “20 Coolest Arcades in the World” are in Japan! Want to know what Japan makes of that?

Mashable recently put out a neat list called ‘The 20 Coolest Arcades in the World’, and Tokyo took more spots than any other place! Well, we wouldn’t expect anything less from the birthplace of the video game industry, really.

Turns out though, Japanese netizens were a bit baffled by Mashable’s choices: “That’s cool??” they spluttered into their keyboards. “That’s not even an arcade!”

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Disney characters dress up as Bearbricks for Halloween, results range from cute to disturbing

Okay, Rocketeers, it’s time for another round of Cute or Creepy? Earlier this month we looked at some key chains made out of dried sea cucumbers that clearly fell into the latter category. The deck was kind of stacked against them, though, seeing as how most of us don’t really think of the spineless sea creatures as particularly cute to star with.

Today, we’re looking at something a little more visually appealing: Disney characters, and not just any old Disney characters, as Mickey and his pals are all dressed up for Halloween. What’s more, the whole gang is bear-shaped, thanks to a collaboration with toy line Bearbrick.

How could this be anything other than completely adorable? Allow us to show you.

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Ultra kaijū get cute makeovers in new line of anthropomorphized figurines

Just what on earth will toy manufacturers think of next? Sure, we can understand the charm behind cat sushi figures, but really now, are swimsuit-wearing, anthropomorphized figurines of famous kaijū (monsters) designed to look like beautiful girls completely necessary?

Yet oddly, we find ourselves wanting to decorate our office with them…

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English learner’s dictionary you must have, my young Padawan!

The English-language study market in Japan is huge, and alongside the more serious stuff there are also some more oddball publications, which pride themselves on teaching everything from the correct usage of the F-word to the phrase “I just took a dump“.

From educational publisher Gakken, however, comes an awesome-looking product that, although it’s very much a movie tie-in, takes itself entirely seriously. This is the Star Wars English-Japanese Dictionary for Padawan Learners, and we can’t wait to get our hands on a copy! Ever wondered how to say “Vader wants us all dead” in Japanese? Well, now’s your chance.

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Cat Robo: The automated cat toilet that frees you from ever having to sift through kitty litter

A few days ago, we looked at a couple of cats that were mastering the art of pooping in the (people) toilet. When you stop and think about it, though, this is sort of a mixed bag for pet owners. Sure, on one hand, this frees you from the gross task of picking clumps out of the litter box. On the other hand, sharing a toilet with your cat means a lot of hair left on the seat where you put your bare butt.

If you really want an ideal cat pooping situation (and don’t we all?), you might instead want to go with this cool high-tech cat toilet that automatically sorts the litter for you after your cat does its business.

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“You will need courage!”: We try a sweetfish hot dog

Salt fish hot dog! If you think a word (or two) needs dropping from that sentence, think again.

For a limited time only, a crisp, salty whole sweetfish – in a bun! – can be yours to enjoy at Kyoto Aquarium. Yep. At the aquarium. I don’t know about you, but after looking at aquatic creatures all day I’m not really in the mood for fish…

Not so our reporter Yuuichiro, who was so excited to hear about the fish dog that he headed down to the aquarium cafe and put together this photo review for us! This is his report, eyeballs and all.

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KanColle crossplayer is the best-dressed at this half-marathon

If you’ve been to any recreational running events in your lifetime, you know that they’re a great place to show off your personal style, whether it’s tutus, turkey hats, crazy tights, or Santa outfits. For those who love KanColle, it can also be a good place to channel your inner Shimakaze.

This year’s Maizuru Kanko Half Marathon faced some bad weather, but it certainly didn’t deter one man from trying to set a personal best as his favorite destroyer. Known as Micchan, he frequently participates in running events and triathlons in cosplay.

Here are some photos and videos of Micchan as Shimakaze:

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Crimea’s Natalia Poklonskaya goes brunette, net users ponder the existence of natural blondes

Despite being prosecutor general of a country more than eight thousand miles away and not, in fact, a scantily clad pop star desperately seeking fame, Crimea’s Natalia Poklonskaya has achieved near-celebrity status here in Japan. Since rocketing to fame in March this year, legions of admirers have dedicated hours to studying the young lawyer’s “angel-like” face, creating anime-style drawings of her and day-dreaming about being interrogated by her in a room with no windows.

Late last week, however, the formerly blonde Poklonskaya appeared at a State Council meeting with her hair tied back and noticeably darker. As you might imagine, this minor cosmetic change caused quite a stir here in Japan and quickly resulted in a debate over which look suited Poklonskaya best, with some online commenters seemingly confused not just about which of the two is her natural colour, but whether a natural blonde would ever go darker of their own volition.

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Gudetama the lazy egg now being served as actual dish, looks absolutely adorable!

Remember Gudetama, the apathetic anthropomorphized egg character from Sanrio with no desire whatsoever to do anything at all? Well, it seems the most unmotivated character we’ve ever seen from Sanrio has actually gotten down to business, if only for a limited time. That’s right, Gudetama now has his very own cafe at the Village Vanguard Diner at the Yokohama Lumine, and he appears in the menu as an edible ingredient, which we guess isn’t so improbable, since he is an egg, after all.  And boy, does he look adorable as part of a dish — definitely good enough to eat!

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Potato Chip Rice may be our easiest rice cooker recipe yet!

We’re suckers for a good rice cooker recipe and get even more excited when all you have to do is plop a few ingredients into the machine. So we were really happy when we found this super easy rice cooker recipe for “potato chip rice” from successful Japanese chef, Masahiro Kasahara, in his self-titled book, Masahiro Kasahara’s 30-minute Japanese Meals. With only three ingredients (four if you count the water), we were equally parts intrigued and wary as we set out to recreate his bizarre dish.

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Clever font sneaks pronunciation guide for English speakers into Japanese katakana characters

Written Japanese uses three kinds of script. At the top of the difficulty curve, you’ve got kanji, the complex characters originally imported from China that can require over a dozen brush strokes to write, with each kanji representing a word or concept.

A little less challenging are hiragana, a set of 50 curving phonetic characters, but if English is your native language, odds are you’ll have the least trouble with angular katakana. Like hiragana, katakana is a phonetic system, so each character corresponds to a syllable. Even better, while often one kanji can have three or four possible readings, each katakana has just one possible pronunciation.

Of course, you still have to memorize how to pronounce all 50 katakana (85 if you’re being really technical) in the first place. One group of graphic designers are aiming to make that task a little easier, though, with a font that combines katakana with phonetics written in English.

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Awash in a sea of sound: The ambient electronic music of Sapporo artist Unii【J-Tunes】

We’ve covered a lot of ground with J-Tunes, from an underground grindcore band to mainstream melodic dubstep, and today is no different! We recently got a chance to check out a show featuring the Sapporo-based electronic artist Unii and were so impressed that we had to share her music with our readers!

Check out our interview with Unii, where we talk about her music, world-wide touring, and the state of experimental electronic in Japan and abroad. We’re sure you’ll enjoy her sweeping, ambient soundscapes and ethereal singing.

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Kit Kat’s papercraft train set is so cool we almost don’t need the chocolate it comes with

Living in Japan, we’ve been kind of spoiled by all the special Kit Kat flavors the country gets. We love a sweet snack as much as anyone, but when almost every region of Japan has its own version of the chocolate wafers, it takes something a little more unusual than matcha green tea Kit Kats to really grab our attention (not that those don’t taste delicious, of course).

So Nestlé Japan’s latest plan is to give us not just something to munch on, but a cool papercraft kit too, with this special Kit Kat bundle that also lets you build a model train.

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Bros? Kart? Party? Japanese gamers pick their top 5 Mario series

When asked to think of addicting video games, a good chunk of people around the world are likely to recall Nintendo’s iconic Mario series, which is the best-selling game franchise of all time. But the task becomes much more difficult when faced with the dilemma of choosing the best Mario game series within the incredibly varied franchise. How could anyone possibly choose a favorite from the dozens of Mario games and spin-offs spanning all the way back to the NES?

Fortunately, Japanese portal site MyNavi Woman put out a survey in August to ask its readers to choose their favorite Mario games, so you don’t have to make the difficult decision yourself. But you can make a prediction–which five series do you think topped the list?

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They’re not real?! Exploring the detailed, colorful world of Takuto Shibuya’s mushroom bonsai

Have you ever come across a beautifully colored, picture book-worthy mushroom while walking in the woods or the park? I still remember the flashy fungi I happened upon when I was in seventh grade; I was near a mountain biking course in Rhode Island and amid the grass was a cute yellow mushroom with red dots, much like a Mega Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros. I considered picking it but I was pretty sure my fingers would start to rot off upon contact, and it would have shriveled up soon enough anyway. Oh, I wondered, will the days of ornamental mushrooms never come?

Enter Takuto Shibuya, whose life-long love of toadstools compelled him to find a way to marvel at their variegated beauty at home. His book Kinoko (Mushroom) Bonsai, released back in June, includes photos of his work as well as instructions on how to make your own. But wait—this type of bonsai isn’t about replanting your find in a pot. Because mushrooms are difficult to take care of, Shibuya took a hint from the Japanese traditions of bonsai and figurines and decided to preserve their alluring forms by recreating them in clay. Read on to take a closer look at his creations as well as his process!

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