Japan

Cry into your Mega Man cushion while you wait in vain for a new game in the series

Despite the reluctance of video game publisher Capcom to green-light any new titles, there’s a lot to love about the Mega Man franchise, including creative boss battles, catchy music, and tough but fair challenges. The defining characteristic of the series, though, is the ability to acquire the weapons of your fallen foes, upgrading your starting buster gun so that it fires flames, saw blades, or that weird circle of leaves from Mega Man 2.

Mega Man only has a limited number of shots with each weapon, though. Thankfully, he can restock his health and weapon energy by picking up containers called E Tanks during each level. Still, there never seem to be enough E Tanks about when you really need them, so if you’re a trigger happy Mega Man fan, you might want to keep one lying around your living room in the form of this cool E-Tank cushion.

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Hayao Miyazaki spends retirement from anime by…spending every day at his animation studio

Some people have a hard time adjusting to life after retirement. Whether it’s the stockbroker who can’t stop checking the market reports or the English teacher who feels the need to correct his grandchildren’s grammar, sometimes old habits die hard.

Maybe that’s why even after announcing his retirement from making feature films, anime legend Hayao Miyazaki has been making frequent visits to Studio Ghibli, the production house where he served as director for so many years.

And by frequent visits, we mean that the guy is there every single day.

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Despite success abroad, even Sony’s PlayStation 4 can’t inject life into Japan’s console market

There was quite the uproar when Sony announced that it would be releasing its newest console in its homeland months after going on sale in other territories. Judging by the reception the console has received, though, it looks like Sony may have been right to put Japan last when it came to PlayStation 4.

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GPS-lacking Gundam gets lost on the streets of Taiwan, asks locals for directions

With all of the cool, capable characters in anime, it’s not too hard to see the appeal of cosplay. For many fans, literally spending a few minutes in the shoes of their favorite hero or heroine lets them feel every bit as strong, smart, or beautiful as the costume’s usual 2-D inhabitant.

Confidence boost aside, though, slipping on a costume sadly still leaves you with all of the shortcomings you have when you’re wearing an ordinary T-shirt and jeans. Dressing up as Attack on Titan’s Mikasa won’t really transform you into a highly skilled acrobatic swordswoman. Wearing the same nondescript school uniform of the newest harem series’ blank slate male protagonist make you irresistible to women.

Likewise, all the fictional computer power behind Gundam still won’t prevent you from getting lost in the real world.

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New Happy Meal in Japan lets you play with your food — and comes with a Pokémon toy to boot!

Sure, we know we’re not supposed to play with your food, but the temptation can be great when there are gadgets around like the Direct Food Printer that lets you draw and write as you choose directly onto food. But now, for a limited time starting this week, McDonald’s Japan will be offering a new menu item that allows you to draw directly on your food using … chocolate sauce! It’s the “Oekaki Happy Hotcake” (Draw and Happy Hotcakes) set, and if you think drawing on hotcakes with chocolate sounds like fun, we completely agree! What’s even better,  the set can be ordered as part of a Happy Meal that comes with a Pokémon toy — now, what kid can resist that?

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Oklahoma farmer loses his cellphone in 140 tons of grain — 9 months later gets a call from Japan

Kevin Whitney of Chickasha, Oklahoma, was working on his farm last October when his iPhone fell out of his shirt pocket and up a grain elevator, where it was deposited into a pit containing 280,000 pounds of grain.

“I never expected to see that phone again,” he told KFOR-TV. It was a reasonable conclusion.

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More Mario trivia than you can fit in King Koopa’s castle

Super Mario Bros. is arguably one of the greatest games in the history of pixels moving around on-screen–if nothing else, it has the kind of sales that would make anyone sit up and pay attention. And with fans from around the world, it’s hardly surprising that the game has been played nearly to perfection. At this point, Mario may be almost as famous as Mickey Mouse–but there are probably still a few things you don’t know about the plumber and the worlds he’s adventured through.

In any game, there are bound to be easter eggs hidden somewhere by bored programmers and wily designers, but Mario practically explodes with them. Here are some of our favorite Mario trivia facts; see how much you know!

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Disney fans go crazy for new character at Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea mascot Duffy the Bear has a brand new friend! And that means new character goods now on sale at the park, and of course hundreds of Disney fans eager to get their paws on them.

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“Wheelchair access route” in Japanese garden may require magical incantation to cross

Like in so many developed countries, sidewalks, public buildings and schools all over Japan are steadily being transformed to allow bariaa furii, or barrier-free, access for all. This is of course a wonderful thing, since no one should ever be excluded or have their path blocked due to something like a steep kerb or flight of stairs, but there are some places where improving accessibility can be that bit more challenging.

Shared earlier this week by a Japanese Twitter user, this photo shows a pathway over a stretch of water in what appears to be a Japanese water garden or park, signed as accessible by wheelchair users. As net users were quick to realise, though, it doesn’t look like the easiest way to cross…

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Feeling down? Kyoto’s Tachibana High marching band is here to brighten your day 【Video】

Since it served as Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years, the city of Kyoto has a strong connection with traditional arts such as Nihon buyo dance and the tea ceremony. We’re sure you could also find a number of students living in Kyoto who, once their classes are over for the day, make beautiful music with the koto, Japan’s most refined indigenous stringed instrument.

Things are a little more bombastic at Kyoto’s Tachibana High School, though. Tachibana is home to one of the country’s most talented marching band programs, and the school’s musicians have made performances at Disney theme parks not only in Japan, but in America too, as seen in this energizing videos.

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Anime gals serve yellow shaved ice with creepy connotations, then things somehow get worse

While snow cones never really caught on in Japan, the country sure does love shaved ice. It’s easy to see why, since every summer brings soaring temperatures and high humidity, and a bowl of shaved ice is a refreshing way to cool off. Add a dash of brightly-colored syrup, and you’ve got a low-calorie, wholesome treat.

At least, it’s usually wholesome. Put a group of creepy anime fans in charge of serving shaved ice though, and you can count on them to find a way to make it pretty disgusting.

Two ways, actually. (Potentially NSFW pics after the jump)

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Tokyo’s cat pub, the cat cafe for grown-ups

In Japan, since so many people who love cute animals live in apartments that don’t allow pets, you can find cafes that’ll let you relax in the company of everything from owls to bunnies. The most common and widely documented are of course cat cafes, but what do you do when you’re craving not only a little feline companionship, but also want something a bit stronger than a cup of coffee?

Simple: you head to the cat pub in Tokyo.

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An afternoon in Kagurazaka, Tokyo’s French Quarter 【Hidden Tokyo】

Kagurazaka is one of the most attractive and interesting enclaves in all of Tokyo. Its name in kanji, 神楽坂, literally translates to “God Music Slope”, referring to kagura, the spiritual music traditionally dedicated to Shinto gods. Located at what used to be the outer edge of Edo Castle, the gentle slope that still runs through Kagurazaka today was once filled with the sounds of music emanating from the Imperial Court.

Today, this is one of the few remaining areas of Tokyo where you’ll find exclusive geisha houses hidden off the main street and kimono-clad women shuffling through narrow cobblestone alleyways. It’s also the best place to experience a taste of France, as it has the largest concentration of French restaurants in Tokyo, and a vibrant French expat community. You’ll even hear the strains of accordions as they pipe Parisian music through speakers on the street!

Join us after the jump as we take a stroll through the area and reveal why a visit to Kagurazaka should be on your list of places to see in Tokyo.

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Nagano man questioned by police for broadcasting himself drowning a cat in the river

On 29 June, Nagano police were inundated with demands for an investigation after live footage broadcast over Japan’s Niconico Video showed a caged cat being left to drown in a river.

Warning: some readers may find the content of this report upsetting.

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Keep running right with new line of Super Mario Bros-themed sneakers from Converse

Although Mario is occasionally seen riding atop his faithful dinosaur companion Yoshi, and Mercedes-Benz recently hooked him up with a pretty sweet ride, Nintendo’s biggest hero has spent most of his adventures on foot. Even after three decades of running and jumping, though, Mario always seems up for the latest physical challenge life throws at him.

He must have some pretty comfortable shoes, and now thanks to Converse, you can try on a pair of Mario kicks for yourself.

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Momoiro Clover Z cosplay on “Moon Pride” CD cover

As anime fans around the world watched the highly anticipated Sailor Moon Crystal, many fell in love with “Moon Pride,” the opening theme song performed by Momoiro Clover Z. Luckily, those eager to hear the song over and over again soon can, with the single hitting Japanese store shelves on July 30.

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“Once in decades” typhoon hits Okinawa, expected to sweep across mainland Japan later this week

You know a storm’s not messing around when meteorologists start tacking “super” onto its name and astronauts send snaps of it back from the International Space Station.

Super typhoon Neoguri struck the island of Okinawa earlier today, leaving more than 22,000 homes without power. The storm, which has been described as a “once in decades” meteorological event due to its gargantuan size, is expected to move northeast, hitting mainland Japan in the coming days.

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Moon prism comparison! Video places new, old Sailor Moon transformations side-by-side

The brand new Sailor Moon Crystal, which just premiered on July 5, is being billed as a more faithful adaptation of creator Naoko Takeuchi’s manga than the previous anime from 1992. That doesn’t mean the two animated versions won’t have anything in common, though. As she was before, Usagi Tsukino is still the main character, with a black cat mentor and a mission to fight against evil monsters that threaten mankind.

And in order to carry out her magical duties, Usagi still has to go through a glamorous costume change, as shown in this side-by-side comparison video of the old and new Sailor Moon transformation sequences.

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Here are the limited edition Frozen foods you can buy in Japan

Japan has officially caught Frozen fever and you’d be hard pressed to go on any Japanese forum without seeing at least one strange, crazy, or completely cool post about the movie. It seems Japanese manufacturers have caught on and a storm of Frozen foods in limited edition packages have been produced in celebration of the July 16 release of Anna and the Snow Queen, the title given to Disney’s chilly hit animated feature in Japan. Let’s take a look at just a few!

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Morinaga releases Attack on Titan ChocoBalls — packages feature mascot bird Kyurochan in cosplay!

Who doesn’t love light, crunchy chocolate snacks that you can pop easily into your mouth, right? The Chocoball chocolates, from major Japanese snack maker Morinaga, have long been a popular snack in Japan and available in a wide range of flavors over the years. And what do you get when you cross over a well-loved snack like that with one of the biggest manga/anime hits in recent years? You get an awesomely cool snack, like these Attack on Titan ChocoBalls that have just been released this week!

Yes, this chocolate and manga collaboration comes in three exciting flavors for a limited time, and we have to say Kyuro-chan, the mascot bird for the ChocoBall brand, definitely looks dashing and ready to take on some Titans as he appears on the packages cosplaying as the main characters from the manga! So, ready to take a look at the special collaborative ChocoBall products?

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