Japan

Our batch of homemade Oreos – Why didn’t we think of this before?

Our batch of homemade Oreos – Why didn’t we think of this before?

 

Pretty much everyone loves Oreos, and therein lies the problem. Even if you just picked up a pack on your last visit to the grocery store, odds are you, or someone else, has already gone through whatever stock you had in the house.

Case in point: right now we’re completely out of Oreos, and we’re not about to go out to buy more in the downpour that’s drenching Tokyo right now. While some people with less vision (or healthier eating habits) might patiently endure the hardship of no cookies, we decided instead to make our own Oreos from scratch with an incredibly simple recipe.

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Mom gets BIG surprise with help from Nissan 【Video】

Mom gets BIG surprise with help from Nissan 【Video】

Kids do amazing things sometimes. They stun you with their simple creativity and boggle you with questions you never had thought of. Their sensitivity is also to be remarked upon. One little boy though, has shown Japan his amazing sensitivity and thoughtfulness and has given his mother the surprise of a lifetime.

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Japanese Twitter user ruins Thomas the Tank Engine for everyone with ultra-creepy drawing

Japanese Twitter user ruins Thomas the Tank Engine for everyone with ultra-creepy drawing

Well, that’s a much-loved part of my childhood ruined forever…

I have fond memories of rushing home as quickly possible every Monday afternoon circa 1986, pulling my mother along behind me after she had kindly come to meet me from school, and constantly asking her what time it was, fretting that I might miss even a snippet of the opening credits of kids’ TV show Thomas and Friends.

Had I known that there was just some creepy nude guy inside that little blue tank engine, though, I might have instead dragged my feet as much as possible so as not to give my four-year-old self, already with a highly active imagination and a fear of anything that wasn’t my cat or jam sandwiches, any additional nightmare fuel.

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New Starbucks Frappuccinos look and sound so good they drive us nuts even before going on sale!

New Starbucks Frappuccinos look and sound so good they drive us nuts even before going on sale!

Sweet heavens, someone help us because we’re squirming half in delight and half in agony after seeing the newest press release from Starbucks Japan. Half in delight, because we’ve been given a glimpse of the divine-looking new Frappuccinos that will be coming out later this month, and half in agony because we can’t have them RIGHT NOW!

And unless you have a deadly hatred of sweets, we think you just may feel the same way after hearing the description of the two new banana and chocolate based Frappuccinos that were announced earlier this week. Yup, chocolate and banana — you really can’t go wrong with that combination!

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Tsunami survival by the numbers, it doesn’t take much

Tsunami survival by the numbers, it doesn’t take much

It shouldn’t be hard to remember the sheer force that a tsunami can unleash on land. And with the recent quakes in Chile, many parts of the world wonder if another is not too far away.  But there’s an important thing about a tsunami that is not often discussed, and that’s how big it has to be to jeopardize your life.

Recently a Twitter user posted a photo of this safety poster which has caused those who saw it to wish it was seen all over the country. You might be able to understand this graphic which shows the water level versus the probability of death without understanding the Japanese, but let’s look at it a little more closely.

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Divine prevention – Japan using Shinto symbols to combat litter and public peeing

Divine prevention – Japan using Shinto symbols to combat litter and public peeing

One of the trickier questions to answer about Japan is whether or not it’s a religious society. On one hand, the ideas of daily prayer, weekly visits to a temple, or consulting religious texts or advisors in times of personal crisis are about as foreign to most Japanese people as playing a game of cricket or eating a plate of grits and gravy.

Still, spiritualism is a big part of life in Japan. Most visitors to a shrine might not spend more than a few seconds reflecting on their place in the universe, but they’ll still toss a coin into the collection box in hope of pleasing the deity said to make its home there. Even as many Japanese people claim to have no religion, most homes include an alter with a place to hang photos of deceased relatives and offer incense.

The vagaries of theology in Japan are now being turned to in an effort to curb a growing problem in many neighborhoods, as people are putting up small versions of the torii gates that mark Shinto shrines to prevent people from illegally dumping waste, whether produced by their lifestyles or bodies.

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High-end Japanese farm wear now available for public consumption

High-end Japanese farm wear now available for public consumption

Last year, Osaka-based heavy manufacturer Yanmar unveiled some major changes to their line-up. Hoping to breathe fresh life into the age-old life of farming, they designed a bad-ass tractor and futuristic farming wear.

Since then, the rest of us have had to deal with uppity Japanese farmers walking around town in their high-end fashions with their noses firmly aimed at the sky. They say they’re just avoiding the manure smell, but everyone knows what really stinks.

However, now Yanmar is letting us lowly peasants get a taste of the high life, by releasing a limited number of their cutting-edge farm wear for sale to the general public. As you can imagine, this kind of fashion doesn’t come cheap.

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Champion competitive eater Kobayashi goes undercover to punk soccer team in wing eating contest

Champion competitive eater Kobayashi goes undercover to punk soccer team in wing eating contest

Our loyal readers are probably more aware of who Takeru Kobayashi – the infamously voracious Japanese competitive eater – is than the New York Cosmos professional soccer team, but it looks like the Cosmos players weren’t so familiar with the diminutive athlete… Until now.

As part of an elaborate April Fool’s joke, New York Cosmos managers put together a stunt that saw Kobayashi posing as an employee at the frankly quite delicious Buffalo Wild Wings chicken wing chain as the Cosmos team filtered into the restaurant for a meal.

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Manga-loving Minister Taro Asō buys Golgo 13 on morning of tax hike

Manga-loving Minister Taro Asō buys Golgo 13 on morning of tax hike

Former Prime Minister Taro Asō was witnessed purchasing a copy of Golgo 13 from a convenience store on Tuesday, April 1. Interestingly enough, this also happened to coincide with the first day of the nationwide consumption tax increase, which brought the tax rate up to a total of 8%.

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Two Attack on Titan animated feature films on the way – first to open this year

Two Attack on Titan animated feature films on the way – first to open this year

With the upcoming live-action Attack on Titan having found its lead actor and filming location, fans assumed they were going to have to wait until the film’s scheduled release in 2015 to see humanity’s desperate struggle against the monstrous Titans come to the big screen. Right on the heels of those announcements, though, comes another surprise from the franchise known for its twists and shocks.

Two animated compilation movies are coming, and the first will be in theatres before the end of the year.

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Swanky Sailor Moon styles selling now at Tokyo department store

Swanky Sailor Moon styles selling now at Tokyo department store

With three months to go until the delayed beginning of the long-awaited new Sailor Moon TV series, fans have a lot of time on their hands. Some have filled this with dressing their dogs up like characters from the hit anime, while others have undressed to reveal their Sailor Moon lingerie.

But what if you want not just anime-themed underwear, but outerwear as well? If that’s the case, one Tokyo department store is ready to be your one-stop shopping destination with a whole store of clothing inspired by the pretty guardian herself, Sailor Moon.

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You know you’ve been in Japan too long when…

You know you’ve been in Japan too long when…

So you’ve been living, lounging, working, or studying in Japan for a while now. The feelings of homesickness you first experienced are but a distant memory, and whenever you Skype with your family, you unconsciously use the word “home” to refer to your place in Japan rather than your home country. Not only that, you can finally navigate the Tokyo Metro without getting flustered, barely even notice when a girl dressed in kimono passes you in the street, and you think nothing of visiting a convenience store two or three times a day, sometimes just to flick through the magazines.

But what about all of the things you do unconsciously or that seem so normal to you now but would make you stop and stare back home? Today, we bring you a list of 10 moments that, if and when they happen to you, you can safely say, “Wow, I’ve been in Japan too long.”

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We try the adorable Krispy Kreme chick donuts convincing Japan to love Easter

We try the adorable Krispy Kreme chick donuts convincing Japan to love Easter

Japan has wholeheartedly embraced Christmas and Halloween, but Easter is a different story. In a way, this is kind of surprising, as a holiday that gives people an excuse to dye eggs in pastel colors, eat chocolate, and even dress up like a bunny if they’re so inclined seems like it would hit the Japanese trifecta of cuteness, desserts, and cosplay.

But while Halloween and Christmas have become mainstream cultural events with decoration going up months ahead of time, Easter comes and go with such a lack of fanfare in Japan that some years we’ve completely forgotten about it until after the fact.

Thankfully, donut emporium Krispy Kreme is looking to up the celebration ante with its new chick-shaped Easter donut.

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Screw it with a smile thanks to this unusual screwdriver set from Tokyo artist Yuma Kano

Screw it with a smile thanks to this unusual screwdriver set from Tokyo artist Yuma Kano

When it comes to screwing, most people would choose a Phillips head or a flat-head to get the job done. Or if you’re in Japan, where they use different terms, you’d ask for a plus (+) or a minus (-) screwdriver to get things going. Now though, it seems the humble screw has just received a facelift, thanks to a clever design collaboration between a Tokyo artist and a manufacturer from Osaka. The only thing cuter than a tiny smiley screw is the adorable driver that screws them in!

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Japanese gamers dominate tournament, win back portion of money they’ve pumped into arcades

Japanese gamers dominate tournament, win back portion of money they’ve pumped into arcades

Even as the number of gamers worldwide continues to grow, video games remain a regular scapegoat for poor social skills, low grades, and neck beard-level hygiene. This holds true even in Japan, where parents and educators commonly voice their fear that without a strict curfew or school rules requiring pupils to head home straight after class, they might give in to temptation and –gasp!- stop off to play a few games at the arcade.

Game fans in Japan are finally getting some good press, though. For starters, studies show that playing Nintendo’s perennial hit Super Mario 64 can improve both your memory and sense of direction. And if your pursuits are more monetary than mental, mastery of fighting games can even earn you a nice-sized chunk of cold hard cash, like it did for the Japanese competitors who dominated the recently held Id Global Tournament in Korea.

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Miyazaki Blu-ray collection to be released with special bonus content but won’t come cheap!

Miyazaki Blu-ray collection to be released with special bonus content but won’t come cheap!

We’re sure many of our readers have seen films by Hayao Miyazaki and know first-hand what it is like to be utterly drawn in to the fantastic yet convincing world he creates. Now, it’s unlikely anyone familiar with Miyazaki’s works will dispute that he is a giant in the anime industry, but a new DVD collection which has recently been announced reminds us just how much of a giant he is.

That’s right, a collection of anime films directed by Miyazaki will be released on June 18, and we have to say the list of movies it includes is impressive. What’s more, the films will all be in Blu-ray and come in a fancy package with extra bonus content! What fan wouldn’t want one of these, right?

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Live-action Attack on Titan film casts lead role, sets filming location and start date

Live-action Attack on Titan film casts lead role, sets filming location and start date

Despite being filled with man-eating giants and heartless bureaucrats, people around the world can’t get enough of smash hit anime and manga Attack on Titan. But while fans wait patiently for the rumored continuation of the animated TV series, production is moving ahead on the franchise’s live-action theatrical feature, which now has a filming location and an actor chosen to play Titan-hating protagonist Eren Yeager.

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Watch out! Pokémon Fusion gets a lot more real with some wicked fan art【Photos】

Watch out! Pokémon Fusion gets a lot more real with some wicked fan art【Photos】

Back in June 2013, talented programmer Alex Onsager brought us Pokémon Fusion, showing us what would happen if two Pokémon were to…ahem…get it on and…um…put the head and color scheme of one Pokémon on the body of another. While the combinations turned out to be pretty cool and cute in sprite form, fan artists have taken these new Pokémon to a whole different level. If this Cuchan is any indication, you gotta “check-out-the-rest-and-try-out-your-own-combinations-to-see” ‘em all.

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Fear and haunted houses in Japan: An interview with ScareHouse sociologist Margee Kerr

Fear and haunted houses in Japan: An interview with ScareHouse sociologist Margee Kerr

It’s almost summer and that means a lot of stuff in Japan—Golden Week, brain melting humidity, Obon, and of course, horror movies and haunted houses. While many people in the west binge on horror flicks and spooky attractions as Halloween nears, Japanese people tend to get their fright on during the summer months.

We recently caught up with Margee Kerr, a sociologist who studies fear and helps the world famous ScareHouse terrify their patrons—in a good way of course! Margee was in Japan studying how fear works across different cultures and we were excited to learn about the similarities and differences in the reactions between Japan and America to horror. Check out our interview with a true master of fear at one of Tokyo’s scariest bars: Yurei Izakaya in Kichijoji!

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Denny’s Japan introduces PokéNOMNOMNOM

Denny’s Japan introduces PokéNOMNOMNOM

For those of you who worked up an appetite searching the world for pokémon on Google Maps, Denny’s has the perfect snack! As of April 1, the chain’s Japanese restaurants will be offering Pokémon-themed pancakes on their new menu. Pikachu comes with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, honey, whipped cream, and bite-sized pieces of orange, banana and raspberry.

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