Japan

Haneda Airport’s ramen rice bowl is here to save indecisive fliers who hate airline food

Haneda Airport’s ramen rice bowl is here to save indecisive fliers who hate airline food

For the most part, I have very few complaints about air travel. Maybe I’m just incredibly lucky, but usually when I fly, I get through the check-in and security lines fairly smoothly, and while I’d never choose to outfit my living room with seats from an airliner, I can generally put up with them until I reach my destination.

I’ve even largely made peace with the unappetizing flavor of airline food, often sidestepping the issue by picking up something else to eat before I get on the plane. Selecting my last tasty meal for the next couple hours can be tricky, though, and sometimes I’ll find myself waffling between two options, such as ramen or a rice bowl.

Thankfully, a new to-go item at Haneda Airport eliminates that dilemma, though, with a ramen-flavored rice bowl from one of Tokyo’s most popular noodle emporiums.

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A guide to public bathhouses, the newest hot spot for tourists in Tokyo

A guide to public bathhouses, the newest hot spot for tourists in Tokyo

When coming to Japan, there’s a wealth of things to do and see–even just staying within the Tokyo city limits, you’d be hard pressed to enjoy everything available in a week. On the other hand, if you just stick with the big sightseeing spots, you’ll be both crushed by crowds and probably bored in a few days. This has left a lot of overseas tourists with time–and incentive–to look for new or unique activities.

One of the things apparently gaining popularity is sento, or public bathhouses. While not quite as much fun as hanging out in hot springs in the mountains with monkeyssento still provide a fun and different activity for anyone just looking to relax. The warm waters are especially welcome after a few days running around Tokyo! But you might want to check this handy guide before you head out for a soak in order to avoid annoying other bathers.

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Construction warning sign only gets stranger the more you stare at it

Construction warning sign only gets stranger the more you stare at it

The signboard above was posted on Twitter recently and piqued the interest of thousands with its unusual presentations. Japan has a history of construction warning signs that might seem odd in other countries, with roly-poly penguins notifying us of gas line maintenance or a cuddly panda stopping us from falling into an open manhole.

This one, however, has even Japanese people scratching their heads. At first glance the sign appears to have a frisky looking construction worker telling you about his project with a saucy wink. However, the more one looks at this image, the deeper the rabbit hole goes.

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Five of our favorite blogs about Japan

Five of our favorite blogs about Japan

There’s a lot of information about Japan floating around on the internet, so finding a really great site can seem like a never-ending endeavor. As self-proclaimed Japanophiles, we have more than a few sites we frequent to get our daily dose of anything about our home away from home. It was hard to choose, but here are five of our favorite blogs about Japan.

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Our intrepid Japanese team tests out the air purifier at work…using flatulence

Our intrepid Japanese team tests out the air purifier at work…using flatulence

One of the most talkative and hardworking members of the RocketNews24 Japanese editorial team in Tokyo is none other than a Sharp air purifier.  

Not to be outdone by their mechanical coworker, our fellow (human) staff members recently decided to test out whether she was really pulling her weight in work or if she was just slacking off (we say ‘she’ because the machine is capable of speaking in a female voice). But to test an air purifier, you need dirty air…and what better way to make some quick, homegrown dirty air than to produce it in-house through farting! Will the air purifier actually respond to our team’s zany idea??

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Japanese artist creates manga inspired by her cats, gets bothered by them daily【Photos】

Japanese artist creates manga inspired by her cats, gets bothered by them daily【Photos】

I’ve never had a pet cat, but my friends who do are always posting pictures of their cats getting in the way of their studies and work, asking for attention at the most untimely moments and making themselves comfortable in the oddest places.

It’s not hard to imagine why a manga artist would be inspired to create a manga about cats, especially if they had not just one, or two, but four cats sprawled all over their work space all the time. Check out the four playful felines that are always inspiring and getting in the way of Japanese manga artist Keito Yoshikawa’s work!

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Watch Hello Kitty shape-shift before your very eyes with this insanely cute Rubik’s Cube

Watch Hello Kitty shape-shift before your very eyes with this insanely cute Rubik’s Cube

Now that she’s hit the big 4-0, Hello Kitty has been getting up to all sorts of mischief. She’s posed for the god of manga, been caught in hotel rooms and even joined the mile-high club.

However, Ms Kitty once had more cerebral pursuits in mind, having conquered the Rubik’s Cube by becoming one with it…literally. We take a look at the unique Hello Kitty puzzle – an awesomely cute mind-bender that offers a great sense of accomplishment to those who want to reconstruct the deconstructed cat.

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Chibatman called in by police, receives their official approval

Chibatman called in by police, receives their official approval

A few weeks ago, a handful of motorists in Chiba Prefecture witnessed a sight few of us will ever be fortunate enough to see: a man dressed as Batman riding a customized trike, speeding down the expressway. Chibatman, as he soon came to be known, quickly caught the attention of not only comic fans around the world, but also the local police, who recently called the Caped Crusader in for a little chat.

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Video game giant Square Enix to launch game streaming service for iOS and Android in October

Video game giant Square Enix to launch game streaming service for iOS and Android in October

A complaint that some video game fans have with the current crop of mobile titles is their unambitious scale. Designed to played in short bursts, their aim is often limited to providing a way to enjoyably kill a few minutes of spare time, which can leave those looking for a more engaging experience feeling cold and uninterested.

But everyone who’s shunned mobile gaming for that reason might have to rethink their stance come October, with the launch of a new cloud gaming service from Square Enix, Japan’s most storied developer of grand adventures.

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McDonald’s Japan offers Yo-Kai Watch cards with Happy Meals, traffic jams and giant lines ensue

McDonald’s Japan offers Yo-Kai Watch cards with Happy Meals, traffic jams and giant lines ensue

Last weekend, McDonald’s Japan launched a new Happy Meal, or “happy set” as they’re known here. As with all of the fast food giant’s kid-centric food boxes, these sets come bundled with a gift guaranteed to appeal to children so much that they’ll bug their parents incessantly to take them to the Golden Arches.

This time, however, the bundled gift was a little bit more special than usual, with McDonald’s securing a deal to offer sets of arcade cards for anime sensation Yo-Kai Watch. While that name not (yet) mean much to anime and Happy Meal fans in the West, this collaboration pretty much allows McDonald’s Japan to print money, and there were lines out of the door at dozens of locations from the moment the sets went on sale.

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A year of beer at Tokyo restaurant offering all-you-can-drink Asahi for 12 months

A year of beer at Tokyo restaurant offering all-you-can-drink Asahi for 12 months

One of the most common questions that comes up about life in Japan is, “Is it expensive?” Often, the answer depends on a number of factors. For example, is beer expensive? Well, if you want to go hopping from bar to bar, where you’ll get charged a separate cover at each, then yeah, you’re probably going to find your wallet hurting before your liver.

On the other hand, at most izakaya, the pub-like restaurants that serve a wide variety of alcohol and food, shelling out an extra 2,000 yen (US $19.80) or so will allow you to upgrade your meal to include unlimited booze. It can save you some serious cash if you’re looking to do some serious drinking, with the only downside being that most come with a two-hour time limit.

That is, unless you sign up for a plan that gives you unlimited beer for an entire year, like one restaurant in Tokyo is offering.

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Cuddly Sega Mega Drive plushie, Dreamcast hoodies and more on sale at this year’s Tokyo Game Show

Cuddly Sega Mega Drive plushie, Dreamcast hoodies and more on sale at this year’s Tokyo Game Show

If you’re an old-school Sega fan (and, let’s be honest, old-school Sega is pretty much the only Sega that counts any more) then you won’t want to miss this year’s Tokyo Game Show.

Due to go on sale in Japan next month, this insanely cute Sega Mega Drive plushie and a number of other Sega-themed goods ranging from mugs to hooded sweatshirts will be available to buy early at the game-tastic convention next week.

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Scholars confirm first discovery of Japanese sword from master bladesmith Masamune in 150 years

Scholars confirm first discovery of Japanese sword from master bladesmith Masamune in 150 years

Should you visit a history museum in Japan, and, like I do, make an immediate beeline for the collections of samurai armor and weaponry, you might be surprised to notice that Japanese swords are customarily displayed with the stitching removed from the hilt. Visually, it sort of dampens the impact, since the remaining skinny slab of metal is a lot less evocative of it actually being gripped and wielded by one of Japan’s warriors of ages past.

The reason this is done, though, is because many Japanese swordsmiths would “sign” their works by etching their names into the metal of the hilt. Some craftsmen achieved almost legendary status, becoming folk heroes whose names are widely known even today.

The most respected of all, though, was Masamune, whose reluctance to sign his blades has made identifying them difficult. But difficult and impossible are two different things, and for the first time in over a century, a sword has been confirmed by historians as being the creation of the master himself.

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Fans go crazy for 7-Eleven’s exclusive range of adorable Disney Princess umbrellas

Fans go crazy for 7-Eleven’s exclusive range of adorable Disney Princess umbrellas

From a genie in a bottle to a city at the bottom of the sea, if you’re a fan of Disney, then you’ll know the sweetest things can be found in the most unlikely places.

So it’s no surprise that Disney princess parasols are now waiting patiently for new owners down at the local 7-Eleven. On sale from the beginning of September, fans are heaping praise on the seven designs available and falling in love with all the gorgeous details from their favourite Disney films.

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Culprit in guide-dog stabbing still at large, Saitama citizen offers up enormous cash reward

Culprit in guide-dog stabbing still at large, Saitama citizen offers up enormous cash reward

Many readers likely remember the terrible story about the man whose guide dog, Oscar, was stabbed multiple times while the pair was en route to the owner’s work.  Oscar didn’t bark nor react to the stabbing and it was only when a co-worker saw the blood on him that anyone realized what had happened. An investigation was launched and people around the world reacted in anger and severe disappointment that anyone would harm a dog like this.

But while there are people who will hurt animals, there are even more who are kind and loving to them, and one such man from Saitama is offering a big bounty to find this criminal and put him behind bars.

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Japanese supermarket shrink-wraps a whole pig for hard-core pork fiends

Japanese supermarket shrink-wraps a whole pig for hard-core pork fiends

I get a twinge of excitement every time I peer into the cooler case at the grocery store in Japan. Not only are there tons of unique, tempting flavors of ice cream and popsicles, you can also find all sorts of tasty frozen entrees, too. The most common are things like dumplings and meatballs, but one Twitter user in Japan recently found something even more substantial, if a little sad to take in: a whole pig wrapped in plastic.

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Japanese customer service: So amazing that employees will burst out of the walls to help you

Japanese customer service: So amazing that employees will burst out of the walls to help you

One of the most awesome things about Japan is that you can expect amazing customer service just about anywhere. With exuberant convenience store clerks and burger deliverymen who reimburse you for the phone call you placed your order with, you almost expect employees to come bursting out of the walls in order to serve you…and sometimes they do!

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Apple fans so eager for an iPhone 6 they’re lining up before it’s even announced

Apple fans so eager for an iPhone 6 they’re lining up before it’s even announced

About this time last year, we brought the story of a group of fans who spent over a week camped out on the sidewalk, just so they could be first in line to snag an iPhone 5S on launch day at the Apple Store in Tokyo’s Ginza. But while we can understand the appeal of the fun and comradery that comes from braving the elements with your fellow technophiles, we were a little shocked when we recently strolled by the same store in the swanky neighborhood and saw there’s already a line forming for the iPhone 6, which Apple hasn’t even announced yet.

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“Hate summer homework, kids? We’ll do it for you!” A disturbingly booming business in Japan

“Hate summer homework, kids? We’ll do it for you!” A disturbingly booming business in Japan

The following is a typical scene that many families in Japan will have recently experienced, and probably not for the first time: It’s August 31, the last day of summer vacation and the fall semester is starting in less than 24 hours. The kids who played all month suddenly realize that they have to do 40 pages of kanji and math drills, write a book report for a book they haven’t read, and fill in 30 days’ worth of journal entries–an assignment that they dutifully kept up with for all of the first week of summer break. They clamor for help, and despite the scoldings and I-told-you-so’s, “nice” parents and the more responsible siblings reluctantly pitch in.

Sure, the above isn’t an exemplary approach to avoiding bad grades, but recently an even more dubious method has been getting a lot of attention: online businesses have been offering to do your child’s homework and school projects for a fee! While the homework-by-proxy racket is nothing new, recent media coverage of the growing enterprise has brought to light this questionable practice and its appalling popularity among elementary and junior high school students.

What does this teach, and not teach, future adults? Why are parents taking advantage of these services for their young children? One twisted reason will probably surprise you.

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Doraemon wants to play games, and he’s even bringing his own board!

Doraemon wants to play games, and he’s even bringing his own board!

The classical Japanese board game Go is deeply strategic. A single match can last hours, and in the case of top-ranking professionals, days, or even months. But while this complexity makes the game all the more intriguing for adult players, it can also make it intimidating and inaccessible for kids, who often start off playing simplified versions such as Gomoku Narabe or Reversi.

Similarly, Go’s aesthetics of stark black and white stones on a plain wooden board are often seen as pleasingly elegant by adults, but don’t really do much to excite children. So in order to provide a little more visual stimulation, there’s now a Gomoku Narabe set featuring anime’s most famous robot cat, Doraemon.

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