Japan

Delicious cherry blossom-flavored treats are in full-bloom in Japanese stores

Congratulations, you’ve made it through another winter in (hopefully) one piece! Spring is here and much of the northern hemisphere is enjoying the first signs of new greenery and Japan’s favorite flower, sakura (cherry blossom), are starting to decorate the landscape.

The only thing better than relaxing under the sakura trees is relaxing under the sakura trees while consuming one of many delicious sakura flavored goodies. But you have to get them quickly, because they are as fleeting as the flowers themselves.

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Wakayama City official arrested for taking fruit knife home from work

Wakayama City’s Crisis Management Division had a bit of a crisis themselves recently as their director Takashi Yamada stepped down after being arrested for possession of a 9cm-long (3.5inch) knife which he had used to peel some fruit earlier in the day.

He is suspected of violating the Weapons Control Law, which as I think we are all surprised to learn, covers peeling tools as well.

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Chinese flag found at underwater wreckage of Japanese war ship

The depths of the ocean are very mysterious, what with all the weird fish and sea creatures, shipwrecks and maybe even sunken treasure down there. It’s no wonder scuba diving is such a popular activity, since you never know just what you’ll come across.

Last weekend, some Japanese divers off the coast of Palau thought they knew what they were going to see when they dove to the underwater grave of a Japanese warship. However, they were surprised to discover something new and peculiar at the site: a Chinese flag. Hm, that wasn’t there last time…

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New solo grill, perfect for when you next ditch work and run off into the woods

Spring has sprung in Japan, and the cherry blossoms will soon be in full bloom. A favorite spring pastime of many Japanese is hanami, or “flower-viewing”, where friends, family and coworkers gather together to have picnics and barbeques under the blooming cherry blossom trees, as a way to welcome the end of winter and enjoy the nice weather and floral display.

Just in time for the season, DOPPELGÄNGER OUTDOOR has released their new solo barbeque grill, just perfect for… all those lone hanami-goers out there?

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Looking for a new favourite animal? Take your pick from these six adorable Hokkaido natives

We all know the truth about cats and dogs. They’re secretly plotting our demise with adorable antics that keep us distracted from our lives, both online and in the real world.

But what about wild animals? Usually the subject of serious documentaries, nature’s fauna seem to have a more mature approach to life than your average piano-playing cat or yoga-loving dog. But that doesn’t mean they’re not adorable!

Meet six of the cutest wild animals you’ve seen, all hailing from the cold upper reaches of Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. From fluffy carnivores to a genuine Pikachu lookalike, these little critters will melt your heart!

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Everything looks better in anime, even correspondence courses 【Video】

Comedian Dave Chappelle once said that “Everything looks better in slow motion,” since time seems to slow down during the coolest moments of music videos. But you could make the same statement about Japanese animation.

Don’t believe us? Here’s an animated short that somehow manages to make taking a correspondence course in high school math feel beautiful and dramatic, proving that everything looks better in anime.

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Get ready for the rainy season – water droplets are the latest trend in nail art

Between the spring cherry blossom season and the hot, humid summer is Japan’s rainy season, which can leave everyone feeling a little blue, not to mention soggy. But the rain can also be an inspiration for fashionistas, and these Japanese girls (and guys!) certainly don’t mind getting their nails wet (although the same probably doesn’t go for their hair).

Japan is always in the lead when it comes to nail art, with western countries only just starting to catch on to techniques that have been common in Japan for years, particularly when it comes to gel nail designs. Just like with clothes, new trends come and go all the time, and the latest one doing the rounds here is water droplet nails.

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Tokyo considering removing overhead power lines in run-up to 2020 Olympics

Even though the event is still five years away, Tokyo is incredibly psyched about hosting the 2020 Olympics. As a country that prides itself on hospitality, and also one that can be surprisingly sensitive to how it’s perceived by foreign visitors, Japan has been looking for ways to put its best foot forward for the games, and some politicians are saying that now is the time for Tokyo to finally get serious about getting rid of its unsightly overhead power lines.

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Want to see this impressively huge AR Titan? No problem, just fire up your personal drone

The hit anime Attack on Titan has really captured Japan’s imagination. For some reason, the idea of giant naked people eating regular sized humans really resonates with the Japanese psyche. So, it logically followed that various entities have attempted to recreate the scale of the series’ titular Titans in real life. Through Universal Studios’ impressive statues to, of course, a porn set and beyond, a lot of attempts have come close to capturing the pants-wetting terror of seeing a Titan in real life.

But none have come as close to a true-to-scale Titan as this private (!!!) augmented reality (AR) hobbyist who has managed to project a massive AR Titan dancing giddily in the Japanese countryside. And all you’ll need to see it for yourself is a multi-thousand dollar personal drone. You know, no big deal.

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Want to practice karaoke without anyone hearing you sing? This disturbing gadget is for you!

As fun and entertaining as a night of karaoke can be, it presents a major problem for many people. If you’re not used to it, singing in front of others can be embarrassing, even when the audience is made up of your close personal friends. Practicing at home can help you build confidence, but if you’ve got roommates or an apartment with paper-thin walls, that might not be an option, especially if you’re still at a level where you’re singing is less “sweet serenade” and more “public disturbance.”

Thankfully, there’s a solution that doesn’t involve calling a contractor and adding layer upon layer of sound-proofing to your bedroom walls. Instead, all you need is this noise-blocking microphone for solo karaoke practice.

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Everybody back in the pool! Swimming anime Free! getting theatrical prequel this year

Certain sports seem like obvious choices for an anime series. Baseball, for example, has a team-first atmosphere that meshes with Japan’s cultural value of putting the group before the self, and has enough breaks in the action for lengthy conversations between characters on the same team. Boxing, being all about two dudes trying to punch each other into submission while taking a breather every three minutes in which the focus can shift to the hero’s internal monologue, also makes for an easy translation to dramatic animation.

Swimming, on the other hand, seems like a hard fit, as the athletes’ actions are fundamentally repetitive, and being underwater precludes any snappy dialogue. But what the sport does have going for it is slim, toned, almost naked competitors, and anime studio Kyoto Animation has ridden the fangirl fever-inducing cast of swimming saga Free! to critical and commercial success. Next up for the franchise: a brand-new theatrical feature that’s scheduled to be released before the end of the year.

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Company wants to put electric lights on Mt. Fuji, everyone else in Japan says “Please don’t”

In Japan, things that are receiving a lot of love and attention are sometimes described as “shining.” These days, that’s a description you could apply to Mt. Fuji.

After receiving UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2013, Japan has rekindled its love affair with the country’s highest mountain. But just because Mt. Fuji’s star is brighter than usual these days doesn’t mean everyone wants the mountain to be literally shining, as angry online commenters are speaking out against one company’s proposal to light up Mt. Fuji’s summit at night.

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Japanese men share the top 10 ways their weekends disappear

Monday: You drag your aching, sluggish body into work and begin the long countdown to the weekend. Tuesday: Is it really only Tuesday? This week is going to take forever. Wednesday: Halfway there! Thursday: Start making plans, we’re close. Friday: It’s finally here! The clock strikes six, and you grab your things and leg it out of there. What will you do first? The possibilities are endless!

Then Saturday rolls around and… suddenly it’s Monday again. Where did the weekend go?

It seems like more than a few adults are wondering the same thing, as revealed in a recent poll which asked 200 Japanese working males in their 20s and 30s the following question: “What are the top 10 things that leave you feeling you’ve wasted your days off?” Number five might just be too perfect for words.

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We try the world’s first Kit Kat sandwich at First Kitchen, find out it’s like a bad date

Japan is a country serious about its Kit Kat candy bars, treating them with the respect of gourmet chocolate and putting them on top of pizza. Now the Japanese fast food chain First Kitchen has brought the world its first Kit Kat sandwich, so we of course had to try what seemed like a delicious idea. Click below for our review of the dessert and why our Kit Kat taster compared it to a bad date

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“We Finns just like it simple”: Net users can’t get enough of Helsinki Metro map

Finland: land of the Moomins, Santa Claus Village, and exceedingly simple metro lines.  

A series of maps comparing the municipal subway layouts in major cities around the world has been tickling some net users who just can’t get enough of Helsinki’s metro design. Some are calling it proof that Finns like to keep things simple–and you’ve got to admit, when you see the image stacked up next to a map of Tokyo’s metro system, they may have a point!

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Parents of schoolboy ordered to pay 15 million yen after wayward soccer ball leads to man’s death

Earlier this week the Supreme Court of Japan set a ruling date of 9 April in the long-running case of a soccer mishap which resulted in a man’s death. The incident occurred when the deceased was riding a motor bike and fell trying to avoid a soccer ball that rolled out from a school yard.

In the decade since the incident occurred, the family of the man has been trying to hold the parents of the boy who kicked the ball financially responsible and so far has succeeded in two previous rulings. If the Supreme Court agrees with the previous two decisions then the boys’ mother and father will possibly have to pay 15 million yen (US$125,000) to the family.

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Kabe-don? That’s old news. Now it’s all about the sode-kuru!

Are you still using kabe-don to show your love, tough guy? If so, you’re clearly behind the times! Who even does kabe-don anymore? No one, that’s who!

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it looks like the Internet has found the next hot way for tough guys to show their love: Sode-kuru! What is sode-kuru and how can you use it to win the heart of your crush? Read on to find out!

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Sega has created a nail-art sticker printer and you can test it for free this weekend in Tokyo

What’s the only accessory you can wear 10 of but barely notice you’re donning them at all? Yup, nail art! Japan is all about colorful, creative decoration for the fingers and its nail art can get pretty fancy. But it can also get kind of pricey. As not everyone is gifted enough in the intricate craft of nail painting to do it themselves, DIY tricks have been cropping up, but they don’t always work as well as expected.

Renowned video game developer Sega has an answer to our nail woes. They have created a machine that prints specially shaped nail art stickers, so the average Jane (or Joe) can decorate their nails to their heart’s content. The machine is aptly named Nail Puri, short for nail purintaa (printer). What’s even better is that there will be a free demo of the machine in Ikebukuro this coming weekend!

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Sega to turn the addicting Puyo Puyo puzzle game into a live show in Tokyo for its 24th anniversary

If you live outside of Japan, you’d be forgiven if you said you’d never heard of a wildly popular tile-matching video game Puyo Puyo. The puzzle game may have been initially inspired by Tetris, but the combination of competitive gameplay, cute characters, and a fun storyline have gained a huge following in Japan since it was first launched there in 1991.

And to celebrate the 24 years since gamers first got addicted to arranging rows of colorful, little blobs, Sega is turning the game into a live show next month with a cast of Japanese idols, actresses and models.

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Public reacts in horror as poster in Shinjuku Station threatens even more exits

“East exit, West exit, South exit, new South exit…The number of exits is the number of possibilities.”

They might seem like uplifting words at first glance, but panic erupted in Tokyo this week as the above poster was hung in the world’s busiest train station, Shinjuku, hinting at the imminent addition of yet more exits. Could it really be that the station residents of Japan’s capital city have playfully dubbed “the dungeon” may be about to get even more complicated?

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