Japan

Famed sleeper train to be retired, turned into luxury mobile hotel “Twilight Express Mizukaze”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Japan is kind of the King of Trains. In addition to the well-known commuter trains, there are also popular sightseeing trains, and believe it or not, head-down-lower-than-your-shoulders and drooling-on-the-guy-in-the-seat-next-to-you aren’t the only ways to sleep while riding the rails in Japan, because the country actually has some pretty great sleeper trains too!

Train fanatics will soon be mourning the loss of one such train, however, as Japan’s longest running sleeper train, Twilight Express, is scheduled to do its final run on March 12 from Osaka to Sapporo. Sad as it is, there is a silver lining to this story as the retired train is going to be replaced by a new train that would frankly run its senpai off the tracks, the “Twilight Express Mizukaze.”

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Staggered by historical preservation survey costs, Kyoto turns to anime girls to save its subway

With over 300,000 people piling into its trains each day, you’d think the Kyoto Municipal Subway would be sitting pretty financially. That’s actually not the case, though. The city’s status as the former capital of Japan is both a source of local pride and a huge draw for travelers, but being literally built atop the foundations of Japanese history means that any subterranean construction can only take place after extensive surveys ensure that no cultural artifacts would be damaged in the process.

As such, maintenance and expansion costs for the Kyoto subway are more than double what they would be in a similarly sized, less historically significant city. So in order to help raise the revenue necessary to treat Kyoto’s past with the respect it deserves, the subway’s operators are turning to something with more modern appeal: cute anime girls.

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The 11 wittiest tweets from Japanese netizens

Sometimes the Internet can be such an immense collection of humorous netizens that we are unable to take our eyes off it. In this endless battle of the wits, we came across a selection of some of the best from the Japanese Twitterverse. Check out these sharp but hilarious jabs at what would otherwise be mundane daily life, and let it brighten up your day!

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This video of Tokyo shrouded in fog is the most beautiful commercial you’ll see all week 【Video】

When it comes to beautiful landscapes, one of the best is anything with rolling banks of thick fog. Now, we imagine some people who live in places like Seattle or London might not agree with the sentiment, but for many of us, the heavy mist of a spring morning is like meandering through a dream. Maybe not the best way to get yourself ready for a day of work, admittedly, but it’s definitely affecting.

Of course, many in Japan would agree–from 12th century emperors to contemporary filmographers. Just check out this stunning video titled “TOKYO DENSE FOG” to see how something as simple as the weather can turn Japan’s modern capital into a mystical realm.

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Clever trick gives you an anime face to go with your cosplay, and all you need is a smartphone

The tricky thing about cosplay is that the costume only makes up half of an anime or video game character’s appearance. Sure, you may have every frill, button, and buckle exactly recreating the original artwork, but there’s still the problem of trying to match the character’s physical features.

Earlier this month, we looked at a set of strap-on breasts to give yourself the sort of bounteous bust that’s so common in Japanese animation. Now, one Twitter user has come up with an easy way to replicate the character’s eyes, mouth, and even facial expression, and all you need is a smartphone or tablet.

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Fantastic fujoshi just wanna have fun, Japanese netizens say, “No!”

Fujoshi, (literally: “rotten girls”) are fans of manga and novels which feature romantic relationships between men, a genre is often referred to as “Boys Love.” There are an increasingly large number of women around the world that identify themselves as fujoshi and in Japan they take the fandom far beyond just reading manga or watching anime.

In summer 2014, these “rotten girls” enjoyed turning themselves into their Boys Love counterparts but only now has that trend come to the attention of the rest of the Internet. Japanese forums and websites are bustling with comments about girls drawing themselves as men, but there is one negative thought that, if you’ve got time to remember one more Japanese phrase, is startlingly more prominent than any others: kimochi warui (“nasty”)!

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Did you know Japan actually provides some of its own supply of this surprising natural resource?

It’s no wonder that nuclear energy has kind of been dominating the news about Japan ever since the March, 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster.

As one of Japan’s proudest domestic resources, Japan has long been an advocate for nuclear energy. Even following the 3/11 disaster, many domestic factions still push for even more nuclear energy in a country that largely imports many of its resources.

But there’s at least one more resource that Japan is capable of producing energy domestically and, in fact, it’s been doing just that for a while.

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We did it! Japan develops tomato-feeding robot for runners 【Video】

Particularly in the past century mankind has achieved some great feats propelling our entire world into new realms of possibility and prosperity. We’ve built ever more gigantic structures for living while also condensing elaborate technology to unbelievable compactness. We’ve cured diseases and gone exploring beyond the heavens.

But now, we’ve really done it. We’ve made a wearable robot that feeds you tomatoes while you run.

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Kid invents “genius” DIY hands-free smartphone hack using IKEA table

Anyone who’s addicted to the constant stimuli provided by tablets and smartphones (read: most of us) will definitely agree that sometimes it’s just too much effort to hold the darn things in front of our faces while mindlessly scrolling. Especially during bathtime, when slippery hands become a serious hazard, or when you’re just lounging around in bed, our wonder gizmos can be a pain to hold onto.

Luckily, this young man has come up with a genius method of hands-free phone-gazing. All you’ll need is a glass-topped table, a smartphone or tablet device, and the willingness to overlook one teensy flaw

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Time to quit your job – Company in Japan now hiring for the position of Ninja Master

Do you ever get a little down in the dumps immediately following a major holiday? The day after Christmas, for example, many people miss the goodwill and excitement they felt just 24 hours before.

That’s how we’re feeling right now, since we’ve got almost a full 12 months to wait until the next Ninja Day. Really, wouldn’t it be great if we could keep the spirit of Ninja Day in our hearts all year long?

Actually, there’s a way to do just that, as one company in Japan has put out an honest-to-goodness help-wanted ad for a ninja master.

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More Shinji/Kaworu love with new dress and skirt inspired by the unofficial Evangelion couple

Last month, we took a look at a pair of couple rings inspired by hit anime Evangelion’s Shinji and Kaworu, adding more fuel to the fire of speculation that the two mecha pilots’ relationship is more than just devoted friendship. But if you’re really onboard with the idea of the vaguely unofficial pairing of the two characters, you’ll want to show your support with more than just a ring, which is why now you can also slip into Shinji/Kaworu-themed dresses and skirts.

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The cutest sailor uniforms we’ve ever seen come in jellyfish and galaxy prints!

Even if you’re not a particular fan of Sailor Moon, you’ve got to love Japan’s cute sailor school uniforms. Fun fact: the original sailor school uniforms in Japan were modelled after the British Royal Navy’s uniforms. But sailor uniforms aren’t just for school – there’s a big industry in Japan for “nanchatte“, aka “just for fun” sailor uniforms,  and these jellyfish- and galaxy-print suits are just about the coolest we’ve seen!

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Butter-flavored Kit Kats come to Japan as new specialty store opens in Hokkaido

In the year since it opened in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro, we’ve become big fans of the Kit Kat Chocolatory, the specialty store for the chocolate-covered wafers that’re especially popular in Japan. As a matter of fact, somewhere in the course of our multiple visits to procure the latest and greatest Kit Kat flavors, we’ve forgotten what life was like before the shop opened.

But while we’re living in the land of plenty with two different Chocolatory locations in Tokyo (the second is near Tokyo Station), not all of Japan is so fortunate. Until now, only residents of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nagoya could claim their town had its own Kit Kat paradise.

That’s about to change, though, as a new Kit Kat Chocolatory is opening soon in Hokkaido, and bringing a new flavor with it: butter.

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Kumiko: The exquisitely delicate side of traditional Japanese woodwork

A few weeks ago we introduced you to the world of traditional Japanese woodwork, a technique that uses no nails or hardware, just precise joints, to keep furniture and even buildings together. This technique is also used to create intricate, wooden, functional artwork, known as kumiko, which is used within Japanese style-rooms to create a stunning atmosphere.

The traditional handicraft has been passed down for centuries, however, the trade is sadly dying out. In response, artisans are taking the age-old concept and applying the designs to more modern-day household items, such as chairs and lampshades. The results are nothing short of exquisite!

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Wall of bubble-wrap Blue Slimes appears in Shinjuku Station to promote new Dragon Quest game

Nothing says Dragon Quest like its adorable mascot, the smiling, teardrop-shaped slime. With appearances in almost every Dragon Quest title, a slew of associated merchandise, and even its own video game, the series’s blue slime is instantly recognizable to many fans around the world.

And until March 1, not one, not two, but 100,000 of these blue critters will line one wall of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station in the form of a massive bubble wrap sheet. Now it’s up to the passersby to pop each slime into oblivion and become the heroes they were born to be.

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Mr. Sato channels his inner Elsa, books a night at a Hokkaido ice hotel 【Photos】

February: the time when most of us in the northern hemisphere look at the calendar in despair as spring takes its sweet time to arrive. It’s also the perfect month to get away to a warmer locale, soak up some sun and recharge yourself to be able to get through the last (hopefully) weeks of winter.

But instead of packing a swimsuit and sunscreen for that trip to the beach, our beloved reporter Mr. Sato instead decided to fully embrace winter and booked a stay at an ice hotel in Hokkaido for a vacation he’ll never forget or let (it) go.

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Because we all want globular drum sets: Yamaha design teams take creativity to a new level

Have you ever been in that situation when you simultaneously need a motorcycle and a musical instrument at the same time? It sucks, right? But there is one company out there that could help you in the sticky situation: the Yamaha Corporation, which specializes in both audio and visual goods, as well as engines.

Design is important to this Japanese company, so this year, they are making their second appearance at the French design event, “Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne 2015,” and they are bringing their A-game. The company is changing up their strategy to create designs that are cool, classy and innovative.

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What do Japanese women want for White Day and how much do they hope a guy spends?

With the exception of the girls at a few high schools with especially generous male student bodies, women don’t usually receive presents for Valentine’s Day in Japan. Instead, it’s the guys who get gifts, returning the favor one month later on March 14, White Day.

But while guys’ Valentine’s Day aspirations are pretty standardized (just about everyone wants homemade chocolate), the options are a little more flexible for White Day. A recent survey asked Japanese women just what they hope to receive, and how much they envision guys spending.

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Hide your kids, hide your wallet: Next cute shojo girls franchise is making its way through Japan

Japan has been very successful at drawing in fans worldwide with the likes of Sailor Moon, Pokémon, Dragon Ball and more, be it through the anime and manga series, trading cards, or video games (or all of the above). While not as successful on the international market, PreCure has definitely made huge waves among elementary school girls in recent years, but now a new contender is making its way into the spotlight.

Publisher Takara Tomy has released a new arcade game and related animated series last year entitled PriPara, which is short for Prism Paradise, and it seems to be the next big thing to seize the minds of little girls all over Japan (and subsequently the money of their parents).

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Having trouble writing your paper? Just copy it! This Japanese professor wants you to!

For many students, the Internet is an amazing resource for writing papers. All the information is right at your fingertips and can all be found so very quickly. The most difficult part of using the Internet for research is resisting the urge to use that beautiful phrase you just found verbatim. You have to carefully rework the sentence and put it in your own words to avoid being accused of plagiarism.

But what if your professor explicitly asks you to plagiarize a paper? What if they ask for at least 2,000 words of someone else’s work, word for word? Just such an assignment was given to a class in Osaka University’s Literature Department.

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