Japan

A vision of the future? We can’t take our eyes off Shimizu Corporation’s “Ocean Spiral” design

On Tuesday, engineering company Shimizu Corporation announced the third entry in its “Shimizu Dream Series”–an idea for a futuristic deep sea underwater city named “Ocean Spiral.” The concept was developed over a period of two years through collaboration with Tokyo University, Saga University, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology [JAMSTEC], and other leading research partners.

Although the project has a hefty price tag, officials also say that the proposed colony has the potential to become a reality in the not so distant future. Science fiction fan or not, you’ve got to take a look at these conceptual designs–this may be what’s in store for the future of our species!

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All-male dance group in Japan breaks the ice with incredible “Frozen” inspired number【Video】

How many ways can people display their love for Frozen? It seems like we’ve exhausted all the options. In order to get noticed in the digital age, some are probably trying to ride the coattails of the movie’s popularity. With so many tributes, parodies, interpretations and whatnot, it’s hard to sort through what is worth your precious internet minutes.

A dance troupe in Japan wants you to watch their Frozen performance and they guarantee it won’t be a waste of your time. How do they know? It starts with one simple word: cross-dressing.

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Stand back, kids! 64-year-old enka singer Aki Yashiro completely nails cover of Evangelion theme

The musical style enka usually gets referred to as Japan’s equivalent of country western music. The two do have a lot in common thematically, as the biggest hits of both genres are often centered on blue-collar hardships, melancholy nostalgia, and heavy drinking (one famous enka hit is “Sake Wo,” or, “Bring Me Booze”).

But while there are young country listeners, it’s a lot harder to find fresh-faced enka fans, since the lyrics of many enka ballads are so world-weary it’s hard to appreciate them without a few decades of failed romances and stalled career paths under your belt. So to reach out to a new demographic, one enka legend is recording her version of the theme song of hit anime Evangelion.

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Japanese dictionary removes heteronormative definitions of love and sex

One of Japan’s leading dictionaries has made a significant (and arguably long overdue) step towards acknowledging and normalizing homosexuality by revising the entries for words relating to love and sex. They have removed restrictive references to these feelings existing only between a man and a woman, opening up the definition of love to everyone — gay, straight, or otherwise.

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Anti-UK World War II era photograph featuring grimacing geisha uncovered

If you were paying attention during history class, you’ll know all about wartime propaganda and the role it played in “motivating” people during the war effort. It seems like most countries involved got in on a piece of the propaganda action to some degree or other, with anti-Japanese propaganda being just one example.

But what do you think of this picture that has recently been uncovered showing two geisha holding their noses over a picture of former UK prime minister Winston Churchill? And what’s the joke behind it?

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83-year-old retiree arrested for selling explicit pre-war photos online

Life as a retiree isn’t exactly easy. Sure, you don’t have to get up and go to work every morning, but that also means you don’t have a very substantial income. While your retirement checks might help you put food on the table, they’ll probably seem a bit underwhelming as you get even older. And in Japan, you can’t even go out and get a depressing job as a greeter at Wal-mart.

But there’s always Yahoo! Auction, where you can sell any manner of things you might have lying around the house. Old instruments, old clothes, old dolls, or even, what the heck, how about some old pornographic photos? Any of those are sure to fetch a tidy sum online, but you might want to be careful about those explicit photos–they could very well end up with you getting arrested, as one 83-year-old Tokyo retiree learned!

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Super Federo? Those goofy Mercedes x Mario ads may have had some unexpected celebrity cameos

A lot of ’80s-era kids probably entertained the fantasy of meeting their biggest childhood heroes in the flesh at one point or another. And no, we’re not talking about Michael Jordan or other sports stars of the time. We’re talking about someone far less, uh… athletic: Mario.

Of course, had kids met the real-life Mario and/or Luigi depicted in this goofy and sort of frightening Mario x Mercedes collaboration commercial, they probably would have run for their lives and sworn off Nintendo games forever. But, beneath all the ugly prosthetics and hulking physiques of these game heroes come to life, there may have been, at least according to Japanese netizens, some far more approachable real-life athletes.

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Filled to bursting point? Rush-hour crush on Tokyo subway leaves train with broken window

The Tokyo metropolitan subway system is notorious for being incredibly crowded at rush hour, with commuters packed into narrow train carriages like sardines in a can. You’re probably familiar with images of white-gloved train conductors literally pushing people onto trains in an attempt to squeeze just one more body on before departure.

It can be very scary being squished into a mass of people like that, and this particularly holds true in case of sudden incidents such as the one that occurred this week when the window of a train literally broke due to the pressure of all of those heaving bodies. Join us after the jump for images of crushed glass and scenes of utter chaos! Okay, it’s actually only a few cracks, but still…

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【TBT】Chocolate-covered squid, corn Kit Kat, and other anomalies of the Japanese snack food scene

Japan is a crowded country, and that goes for just about everything. Even store shelves are crowded. Most people do their shopping on foot, which means supermarkets and convenience stores tend to be on the small size, and shelf space is always at a premium.

As such, companies have to do something to make their products stand out. This is why so many Japanese beverages and snack foods have seasonal flavors that are only available for a limited time. Of course, taste engineers in Japan can only come up with so many normal flavors, and when they run out, the only thing to do is go on to the abnormal flavors.

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Live-action Attack on Titan posters show new characters and weapons, plus one huge absence

It’s a big month for Attack on Titan. Between an art exhibit opening in Tokyo, a crossover with Marvel’s Avengers, and at least one of the naked giants finding a proper job, the biggest anime and manga hit of the last decade is even more in the spotlight than usual these days, which makes it only fitting that we’re getting our first in-costume glimpse of the cast of next summer’s live-action Attack on Titan movies.

Leading trio Eren, Mikasa, and Arumin are all present and accounted for. But while they’ll be joined by several new characters specially crafted for the films, one fan favorite apparently isn’t making the transition to live-action.

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Continue your collection of Kit Kats with a NEW flavor inspired by Japan’s bullet train

A trip to Japan is never complete without sampling the random chocolate and candy the country has to offer — the ultimate treat is trying all the different Kit Kats! But with so many flavors, it’s always hard to choose which ones to bring back as a souvenir. That’s why we suggest buying the newest one, created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the very first Shinkansen in Japan. (And no, it doesn’t taste like train).

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Legendary DJ Krush performs with traditional Japanese musicians to create music for your dreams

If you’ve ever visited a Shinto shrine, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the ethereal sound of gagaku, or traditional Japanese court music. It’s not exactly something that you’d throw in a club mix after “Turn Down For What,” though at one point it was used to accompany dances at the imperial palace. While Lil Jon may get your body shaking, with gagaku, which literally means “elegant music,” shaking isn’t really the goal.

Still, that didn’t stop DJ Krush, one of Japan’s most famous and respected turntablists, from getting together with a few gagaku musicians to play one of the most beautiful sets you’re ever likely to hear–and at a Tokyo Red Bull Music Academy event, no less!

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Self-defense tip: Dealing with unwanted kabe-don

With the aggressive pick-up tactics of Julien “the most hated man in the world” Blanc all over the news this week, it only makes sense that we here at RocketNews24 do our part in educating readers about self-defense. And being as this is Japan, we thought we should start with a method for dealing with that particularly Japanese act of violence-infused wooing: the kabe-don.

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How long does Kagoshima need to convince us to visit? With this video, just two minutes

A little over a year ago, one of my good friends in Tokyo got a job teaching philosophy at a university in Kagoshima, the prefecture at the southernmost tip of the island of Kyushu. Being that he’s now a seven-hour series of train rides, or a two-and-a-half-hour flight, away, we don’t get together so often anymore, but on the plus side, now I have a reason to take a trip to Kagoshima.

Well, actually, I’ve got about a dozen reasons to take a trip there, if you add in all of the nature trails, hot springs, scenic coastline, and more shown in this video of some of Kagoshima’s most achingly beautiful travel destinations.

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Katakana is cool: Designers take inspiration from Japan’s least popular writing system

Remember the Chinese character phase? Back in the early 2000s you could see Chinese characters everywhere from T-shirts to tattoos. While the trend still continues to some extent today, once people started realizing that you should probably double-check the meaning before going out in public, it has definitely slowed down.

Maybe Chinese symbols have a sort of stigma now, but that is not stopping major designers from branching out into the other styles of Japanese writing, namely katakana. This new trend is being used by brands all over the world, from Adidas to Stussy.

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A truly sweet affair — high fashion meets high dessert at the Tokyo Sweets Collection!

We’d like to think that all things sweet and beautiful have a certain universal appeal, regardless of country and culture. Japan is no exception, and the Japanese public certainly loves sweets in all shapes and sizes, so much so that the word pâtissier, French for “pastry chef,” has become an established part of the Japanese language. From that viewpoint, an event that brings delectable desserts, beautiful fashion and entertainment all together in one package is something of a dream experience, at least for this writer. And just recently, we were fortunate enough to attend exactly such an event — the Tokyo Sweets Collection 2014!

Join us as we take you along on a sweet journey through this unique show in which six renowned pastry chefs serve up heavenly plates of desserts in a fantastical setting complete with lights, music, dancing and models in beautiful clothes, all designed to tantalize not just your taste buds but all of your senses!

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You’re going to flip over these 3-D animated flip books, fantastic enough to elicit cheesy puns

You’d think the art of flip book animation had seen its apex by now. The medium’s emotional limits have already been pushed by the works of Japanese comedian and surprisingly talented artist Tekken, and others have recreated famous anime almost perfectly, but it seems there isn’t much else to do with the medium of flicking pieces of paper to create a moving image.

Or so we thought, until witnessing a line of flip books by Japanese company Another Laboratory (Mohitotsu no Kenkyujo). These brief but beautiful works not only breathe life into the format but make it superior to film or computer animations through clever use of the book itself as part of the imagery.

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Osaka man imprisoned on rape conviction released in exceptional reversal of charges

An Osaka man convicted of rape three and a half years ago and sentenced to a 12-year prison sentence has been released after new evidence revealed the man’s accuser had provided false testimony.

The man – whom Japanese news outlets are not naming – was accused of raping the same woman in both 2004 and 2008, and sexually assaulting her once again later in 2008. The guilty verdict was apparently based largely on the woman’s testimony and that of at least one eyewitness, but the trial seems to have lacked any physical evidence provided by prosecutors.

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Cozy kitty pullovers are the perfect outfit to snuggle up in for your next catnap

Between their furry coats and ability to stake out the warmest spots in the home, cats seem to be pretty skillful at warding off the cold. But while you can probably squeeze in next to your pets in front of the space heater, you can’t really borrow their coats, can you?

Of course, you won’t need to if you have a cute, cozy kitty pullover of your own.

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Mr. Sato is now a sticker, and we’re giving him away to six lucky readers!

Here at RocketNews24, we’re all about expanding our horizons. That means we’re always on the lookout for new places to visit, new burgers to eat, and most of all, new spheres of craziness for our intrepid Japanese language correspondent Mr. Sato to wade into.

Now, though, we’re ready for our beautiful, ambitious, tenacious, stylish, hygienic, innovative, trend-setting reporter to go someplace he’s never gone before: your home, in the form of charming Mr. Sato stickers that we’re giving away.

Read on to find out how to get your hands on a set.

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