Japan

Shopping for sadness: Soccer-themed merch going cheap following Japan’s early World Cup loss

Shopping for sadness: Soccer-themed merch going cheap following Japan’s early World Cup loss

Just a few weeks ago, as the World Cup got underway, expectations were running high for Japan’s national soccer team, which played impressively on its way to making the Group of 16 four years ago in South Africa. Seemingly the whole country was pumped up, with both long-time soccer nuts and people who ordinarily have little interest in sports getting behind the men in blue.

Sadly, though, Japan’s shot in Brazil came to a close after just three games, with its best outing being a 0-0 draw with Greece. It’s safe to say fans are disappointed, and there’s another group of people that acutely shares their pain: retailers stuck with boxes of unsold Japanese soccer team merchandise.

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Japan’s Glico lets snackers turn their empty boxes into augmented reality sets for Doraemon!

Japan’s Glico lets snackers turn their empty boxes into augmented reality sets for Doraemon!

Famous Japanese confectioner Glico has been bringing us iconic Japanese sweets like Pretz and Pocky for decades. Now they have a real treat in store for us, thanks to an extra-special line-up to celebrate the upcoming 3-D movie, Stand By Me Doraemon.

The new specially marked packs include a hidden secret: 3-D moving images of Doraemon that come to life in your home. But these aren’t just any images. They’re created by you, with your very own colours and designs transformed into unbelievable, moving images, each with Doraemon acting out a fun scene before your very eyes! Check out all the different designs after the jump.

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Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There previewed 30 seconds in aired footage

Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There previewed 30 seconds in aired footage

Japan’s NTV television network aired a special 30-second preview of Studio Ghibli‘s When Marnie Was There (Omoide no Marniefilm on Friday. Sara Takatsuki (GTODaily Lives of High School BoysHaganai) and Kasumi Arimura (Amachan, Hagane no Onna, Clover), actresses who star as Anna and Marnie, introduce the clip.

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Sneak attack English! Expat in Japan gets a nice surprise at the McDonald’s drive-thru

Sneak attack English! Expat in Japan gets a nice surprise at the McDonald’s drive-thru

Despite every student in Japan being required to take English language courses, it may be difficult to find everyday people who enjoy and feel comfortable speaking the language. Sure, there are some former compulsory school students who are completely fluent in English, but overall, finding a native-level speaker or even someone confident enough to speak with can be difficult. That’s why we were surprised and pleased to watch this video of an Australian expat and his English language encounter at the McDonald’s drive-thru in Japan.

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Your feet work hard for you, it’s time for them to dress the part with Shirt-Type Socks

Your feet work hard for you, it’s time for them to dress the part with Shirt-Type Socks

With summer kicking into full gear, it’s time to shed as many layers as possible to stay ahead of the heat. This leads to a lot of fashion dilemmas though, such as keeping your feet cool. Barefoot seems to be the obvious choice, but you all know how it is when you’re just about to strap on some sandals and you suddenly get a call to meet with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Itsuro Terada.

It’s just these kinds of everyday annoyances that we assume footware brand Erimaki Sox is addressing when they came up with Shirt-Type Socks: socks that button up and have snazzy collars.

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Trapped bunny is utterly adorable and now Twitter-famous!

Trapped bunny is utterly adorable and now Twitter-famous!

The top three pets are probably cats, dogs, and hamsters. They all have their pros and cons, but when it comes to keeping little furry creatures in your home, those three are probably the most common–and certainly some of the cutest. The number four spot is a bit harder to pin down, but if we had to guess, we’d say it belongs to the noble bunnies. After all, while they might take a bite out of your finger if you’re not careful, there’s not much in this world that is as docile as a bunny, is there?

But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep an eye on the long-eared critters. If you’re not careful, you never know what kind of mischief your pet rabbit and its twitchy nose will get into! One Japanese Twitter user learned this the hard (and cute) way…

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Totoro airs on TV … and Japanese Twitter users have a blast sharing fan parody art!

Totoro airs on TV … and Japanese Twitter users have a blast sharing fan parody art!

If you’ve spent some time in Japan, you’re probably aware that there are several things you can count on in Japanese TV — that there’ll be tons of crazy-looking commercials, there’s more than likely to be at least one channel showing footage of a reporter or celebrity eating some gourmet dish and exclaiming “Oishi! (Delicious!)”  and that broadcasts of Studio Ghibli movies constantly seem to do relatively well, with a certain percentage of the population always eager to see a Ghibli film at any time. Last Friday was no exception when My Neighbor Totoro, the hit Ghibli classic loved by kids around the world, was aired on TV, and it looks like Japanese Twitter users had a great time sharing some silly parody Totoro images. Here are a few we thought we’d share with you!

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Little Texas: The Tokyo country bar for all of Japan’s cowboys【Photos】

Little Texas: The Tokyo country bar for all of Japan’s cowboys【Photos】

You can find just about anything you want in Tokyo. The city is a wonderful melting pot of new and old, domestic and foreign, low and high brow. With everything from a vibrant French quarter to gorgeous temple gardens, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting bored in Japan’s capital. Even so, we have to admit that we were a bit surprised to find a country bar–let alone a country bar with such authentic shows and delicious food! But that’s exactly what Meguro’s oldest country bar, Little Texas, has. With everything from license plates covering the walls to amazing bands on stage, you are guaranteed to have a great time–even if you don’t know the difference between a steer and a bull!

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Japan’s 10 best singing voices as chosen by people in the industry

Japan’s 10 best singing voices as chosen by people in the industry

Japanese music has a wide variety of artists, and like any country’s music scene it too is full of gimmicky sounds or imagery. Such music can be great and a lot of fun too, but there’s something about a naturally talented vocalist that demands our attention and respect.

But who in Japan is the greatest pure singer? Some of you may have already pulled up an image of your favorite Japanese singer while others like me are drawing a blank, still unable to shake the image of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu dancing with candy skeletons.

Luckily, the TV show Suiyobi No Downtown held their own ranking survey asking 200 people in the Japanese music industry from vocal trainers to studio engineers “Who is really good at singing?” Here are the results.

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Navigate Tokyo with the help of augmented reality penguins!

Navigate Tokyo with the help of augmented reality penguins!

An aquarium in Tokyo has created a new app that’ll help you find your way, with the help of…penguins!

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Readers rank the best anime series to watch on your day off

Readers rank the best anime series to watch on your day off

When the stress of work has gotten to be too much, we all like to take some time off and just enjoy ourselves for a while. But the question remains, what to do? The weather is great outside, but going out sounds so tiring right now. You could read a book, but right now that feels too close to studying. That’s when the idea hits you – the idea to watch anime. But what should you watch? Well never fear, because goo Ranking has taken a survey asking fans what they think is the best anime to watch on their day off.

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Perfect rainbow appears over Tokyo like an interdimensional portal, no spirits spotted (yet)

Perfect rainbow appears over Tokyo like an interdimensional portal, no spirits spotted (yet)

While we rarely think about it, the way our atmosphere works is pretty amazing–filtering out all that cosmic radiation and keeping us alive. It also has tons of moisture in it, which, in addition to giving some nifty lightning shows, is also what gives us really cool stuff like sun dogs and rainbows. While it’s nothing special to see a piece of a rainbow or even half of one in the sky after a rainshower, it’s quite another thing to see a full rainbow shimmering in the sky.

But that’s exactly what appeared over Tokyo on Friday, setting Twitter ablaze with photos of the beautiful phenomenon. And because we’re ready for some uplifting fun this weekend, here’s all the photos we could find! Guaranteed to make your day 200% more magical or your leprechaun back.

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Japan’s top 3 rock “power spots”

Japan’s top 3 rock “power spots”

The Japanese have long had a fascination with rocks. In fact, rock worship is an integral part of Shinto, Japan’s original religion. Iwakura (sacred rocks) can be found all over Japan. Rocks can be found in any Japanese garden, whether as stepping stones or objects of admiration themselves in dry landscape gardens or Zen rock gardens. One thing is for sure: Rocks are an integral part of the Japanese psyche.

So it’s no wonder that sacred rocks are popular among the Japanese as power spots. By harnessing the energy of these rocks, the Japanese are rediscovering their roots and the power of nature. But before we tell you about the three top rock power spots in Japan, we investigate how these monoliths and boulders gained their rock star status. Our rockin’ reporter uncovers the history and folklore of iwakura in Japan and gives suggestions on how to access the power of these rocks!

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Out with the bikinis! Could these sailor swimsuits be what we’ve been waiting for?

Out with the bikinis! Could these sailor swimsuits be what we’ve been waiting for?

Most of us probably don’t mind seeing girls in cute swimsuits, right? But these swimsuits in particular seem to have attracted a good deal of attention on the Japanese Internet. Why? Well, other than that they look awfully charming, they manage to combine swimwear with another fetish fashion item that’s extremely popular in Japan — the sailor uniform. And they’re apparently selling quite well too! So, let’s see just how cute they really are.

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Watch how traditional Japanese craftsmanship is done in a series of videos from Gucci Japan

Watch how traditional Japanese craftsmanship is done in a series of videos from Gucci Japan

One of the things about Japan that I’m always most curious about is the various traditional buildings and items that can be found, like the mikoshi. These are portable shrines of various sizes that get carried around during festive times. They’re incredibly intricate in their decorations and must require regular maintenance. This always leads me to wondering who makes these things and what is their business model? You don’t see any billboards for mikoshi manufacturers and yet the workshops and craftsmen are out there, somewhere doing their thing.

For another example, take this little mosaic box pictured above. You may have seen a similar one before, but do you know how it’s made? You might be surprised at where the pattern actually comes from and thanks to a series of videos put out on YouTube, we can get a glimpse at how traditional handmade Japanese goods are painstakingly created.

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List of four desirable traits in an otaku girlfriend may not be the most well-thought-out

List of four desirable traits in an otaku girlfriend may not be the most well-thought-out

With more and more women identifying themselves as otaku, Japan’s super hardcore fans of things such as anime and video games, the odds of an otaku male finding a like-minded girlfriend aren’t so bad. Recently, there have even been professionally run matchmaking events to help romantically compatible anime-loving singles find one another.

Still, it’s human nature to always want more. Not too long ago many guys would have considered a girl a keeper simply for accepting their otaku lifestyle, but one group of illustrators has thought up four specific ways they’d want their girlfriend’s otaku leanings to manifest.

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Namakopuri: The inexplicable “art idol” group you will hate yourself for loving【J-Tunes】

Namakopuri: The inexplicable “art idol” group you will hate yourself for loving【J-Tunes】

Japan is known, fairly or unfairly, for weird music. We’ve introduced plenty of bands that simply produce great music and other groups that are a bit out there. And make no mistake–we love them all! Sometimes “weird” is just part of the music–after all, David Bowie wouldn’t be David Bowie if he didn’t leave us wondering what planet he was really born on.

Namakopuri, an “art idol” group that consists of two young artists dressed in nurse costumes, is certainly on the weird end of the spectrum. In fact, we might even go so far as to say that their new video, “Namakopuri’s Trap,” is the weirdest thing we’ve seen all week. It’s also insanely catchy; we promise you’ll be hearing it in your dreams–or maybe nightmares–tonight!

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We wait almost two hours for a rum parfait in Hokkaido, and it’s totally worth it

We wait almost two hours for a rum parfait in Hokkaido, and it’s totally worth it

Running a restaurant is tough work, as anyone who’s ever worked as a server, cook, or manager can tell you. Especially in Japan, a country where a good meal is considered one of the best things that can happen during your day, we try to give the staff the benefit of the doubt that they’re preparing our food as quickly as they can, while still maintaining the levels of flavor and presentation customers expect.

Still, we have to admit our patience was tested when we walked into a restaurant in Sapporo and ordered a single parfait. We were pretty surprised when well over an hour later, it still hadn’t come.

Then we were even more shocked when we finally got to eat our dessert and found out it was well worth the wait.

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Life-size Totoro FOUND! Live out your Ghibli fantasies in Tochigi Prefecture

Life-size Totoro FOUND! Live out your Ghibli fantasies in Tochigi Prefecture

While the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka is a truly whimsical place, transporting you into the magical world of animator Hayao Miyazaki and friends, an adult may feel that their immersion is incomplete. In particular, the children-only play area that features a “life-size” cat bus practically begs you to step over the velvet rope and throw the makurokurosuke in the air like a kid on a sugar high, but to do so would likely result in your ejection from the building.

But fear not! There is one other place in Japan where even grown-ups can wander happily through the imaginary world of My Neighbor Totoro: The Teddy bear Museum in Tochigi Prefecture.

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Japanese Line users unleash their inner troll after popular messaging app gets hacked

Japanese Line users unleash their inner troll after popular messaging app gets hacked

Although still relatively unknown in the West, Naver Company’s Line is by far the most popular messaging application in Japan right now, with millions of active users. But when an app comes to be embraced by so many people, it’s often only a matter of time before someone with too much time on their hands decides to spoil the fun for everyone by hacking users’ accounts in an effort to make money.

Cases of Line accounts being taken over have been on the rise since May this year, with many people claiming to have received messages from both anonymous users and those already in their contact list, asking them to purchase pre-paid WebMoney cards and send a photo of the card’s number over to them so that they can claim it.

Thankfully, most Line users are bright enough to recognise a scam when they see it, and know exactly how to respond…

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