Japan

icePhone: Because everyone wants to look like they’re talking on a popsicle

icePhone: Because everyone wants to look like they’re talking on a popsicle

When you’re a little kid, any slightly long object turns into your own personal phone. The remote control, a banana, maybe even a sausage have all served as substitute talking devices for children not quite old enough to have their own fully-functional mobile device. But frozen treats, no matter how perfectly sized, have always been out of reach as a play phone, transforming into a puddle of sticky goo before the purple dragon had his turn to talk. But now you can be the envy of all those 5-year-olds yammering like fools on their pickle phones with the icePhone case that looks like a real crunch bar or popsicle.

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Everyone should eat Hello Kitty inarizushi at least once

Everyone should eat Hello Kitty inarizushi at least once

Hello Kitty has just turned 39 and it seems like everyone in Japan is gearing up for her to turn the big 4-0. In celebration of her achievement, Hello Kitty is being turned into a beloved Japanese snack, Inarizushi. This dish named after the Shinto god, Inari, has always had those little peaks of unfilled fried tofu pouch at each corner and adding the simple dots, lines, and familiar bow makes the snack look just like Hello Kitty. However, even if the sight of this irresistible sushi makes you want to run out and buy one immediately, it’s unfortunately only available in one area of Japan.

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We visited the famous monjayaki street and ate until we burst!

We visited the famous monjayaki street and ate until we burst!

Japan is, of course, known for its unique cuisine. From sushi to takoyaki, there’s something for everyone! One domestic favorite is the cabbage-pancake okonomiyaki, which can include anything from squid to pork to cheese. The dish is beloved by both children and adults throughout the country and can be found in restaurants, festivals, and even hamburgers! However, if you live in Tokyo, you’d probably want to some monjayaki instead, a similar dish that is closer in consistency to scrambled eggs–but still incredibly delicious!

Last weekend, we headed out to Tsukishima, one of the most famous mojayaki destinations in Japan, to try the dish. Check out our report of the excellent monjayaki shop, Bambi, below!

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Ads from the 1950s looking cool after more than half a century!

Ads from the 1950s looking cool after more than half a century!

Ads can often be a unique and symbolic reflection of the times in which they are created, some of them even becoming artistic icons, as in the case of the works of Norman Rockwell or Alphonse Mucha.  Japan too has produced its share of visually engaging ads over the years, and we happened to find a selection of cute Japanese ads compiled and posted last month by BuzzFeed Rewind associate editor, Leonora Epstein. What’s amazing is that these ads are actually from the 1950s — more than half a century ago! Japanese Internet users have been noticing the post too, and after taking a look ourselves, we thought these ads were definitely charming enough to be worth sharing with you. So, let’s take a peek at what was going on in the Japanese advertising scene more than 50 years ago. Read More

Elitism divides otaku culture as the popularity of Japanese pop idols expands

Elitism divides otaku culture as the popularity of Japanese pop idols expands

Japan’s idol industry is a unique beast of a moneymaker. The girls who succeed on this cut-throat career path are supported entirely by their fanbase. While they may sing and dance, their live shows have more to do with their idol image than their actual talents, and it is ultimately their popularity which determines their level of success. These girls are famous for their popularity, rather than popular as a result of their fame and talents.

Supporting this industry at its core are the idol otaku, men and women who are obsessed with the girls in idol groups. Functioning as a sub-set of otaku culture, which is already criticized by greater Japanese society, one might expect these idol fans to band together tightly, and share in harmony their mutual love for miniskirts. But, this has not been the case. In fact, a large rift has apparently formed between long-time supporters of the idol industry and newcomers to the scene. According to the old-timers, it would appear that these fresh, new fans don’t understand what it really means to be an idol otaku. Just look at what they had to say about these newbies infringing on their turf!

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Japanese mushroom commercial with erotic overtones nears 3 million hits on YouTube

Japanese mushroom commercial with erotic overtones nears 3 million hits on YouTube

In Japan, Hokto is to mushrooms what Chiquita is to bananas: a household name that people know but aren’t overly excited by – until now!

The mushroom growers have been releasing an increasingly sexy line of commercials that seem to get pulled from the airwaves soon after debuting. The latest one, titled “Splendid Mushroom Kinkatsu,” depicts a love affair between actors Jun Kaname in the role of the spirit of mushrooms and Sawa Suzuki as the middle-aged woman he continuously haunts and seductively whispers about mushrooms to. As far as mushrooms go, this is pretty hot.

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Japanese man awarded by British government for honoring POWs, being generally awesome

Japanese man awarded by British government for honoring POWs, being generally awesome

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II recently made a Mie Prefecture man an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire, which we think means he’s some kind of knight now or something. That or “Hand of the Queen” if standard Game of Thrones rules apply.

What did the lucky man, Sir Isao Toji, do to deserve such a distinction? Well, for the past 20 years, Toji has held an annual memorial service for 16 British servicemen who died in Japan as prisoners of war during World War II.

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Prestigious Japanese university to hold “National Pokémon Summit”

Prestigious Japanese university to hold “National Pokémon Summit”

Ah, Japan. Just when I thought you couldn’t be any sillier, you throw me a gem like this. Apparently, Meiji University, a very well-known and well-respected educational institution is Japan, has announced that it will host a National Pokémon Summit next month.

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Local Fukuoka idol already breaking big across Japanese internet

Local Fukuoka idol already breaking big across Japanese internet

This morning Japanese websites all over lit up with pictures of Fukuoka-based idol Kanna Hashimoto. After images including the one above broke on message boards, idol fans across the nation tipped Hashimoto as their choice for the next superstar calling her “seriously, an angel” and admitting “I hate idols, but she’s cute…”

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【Updated!】Sony’s Japan-only portable gizmo “PocketStation” returns as a PlayStation Vita application

【Updated!】Sony’s Japan-only portable gizmo “PocketStation” returns as a PlayStation Vita application

After releasing a teaser video last week promising an announcement on November 5, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan has revealed that its “PocketStation” brand is officially making a return, though it’s not quite as exciting as we had all hoped.

The original PocketStation was a tiny device released in Japan back in 1999 and very like Sega’s own Dreamcast VMU tech. Essentially a memory card “micro-console” with a simple LCD screen, when used with the original 32-bit PlayStation the device could be used to save data from games and play themed mini games on the go. PocketStation even came with infrared capabilities, meaning that saves could be passed between gamers anywhere and everywhere, which, back in the days before cloud storage, was considered pretty magical.

This new “device”, however, will be entirely for PlayStation Vita and arrive via a download from the PlayStation Store, it has been revealed.

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“Good luck with the exam!” US comic depicting Japanese WWII pilot met with chuckles in Japan

“Good luck with the exam!” US comic depicting Japanese WWII pilot met with chuckles in Japan

Although they are sometimes considered to be the pastime of kids and teenagers, modern comics and graphic novels often deal with some incredibly heavy and moving content. Craig Thompson’s Blankets, for example, is a spellbinding journey that will melt any adult’s heart, and despite using mice as protagonists, Art Spiegelman’s retelling of his Holocaust survivor father’s experiences in Maus was so moving that it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

The following American comic deals with equally heavy content: the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. The comic lost a little credibility amongst Japanese readers earlier today, however, when one netizen noticed that it shows one of the pilots preparing for the attack by donning what appears to be a headband much more likely to be worn by school kids studying for a big exam than someone going on a mission from which they may not return.

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Housewife wins pageant for “bewitching” middle-aged beauties

Housewife wins pageant for “bewitching” middle-aged beauties

Usually being called a witch is an insult, but a Japanese beauty magazine reclaimed the word a few years ago and declared a new category of woman: “Beautiful Witches.” To celebrate the women over 35 that possess an almost “magical beauty untouched by age,” the fourth annual National Beautiful Witch Contest was held last week, with a 39-year-old housewife from Aichi Prefecture taking home the top prize in a Halloween-themed pageant.

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11 unique advertisements found in the trains of Japan

11 unique advertisements found in the trains of Japan

If you’ve ever had the experience of riding in a train in Japan, there’s no doubt you noticed the carriage advertisements that cover the doors, windows, walls, and ceiling. There are even television screens above the doors showing silent versions of popular television commercials. With so many ads constantly shoved in the faces of thousands of commuters, advertising companies have to be extremely creative. Here are 11 hanging train advertisements that manage to stand out amongst the clutter.

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Victory beer fights: Japanese baseball’s controversial tradition

Victory beer fights: Japanese baseball’s controversial tradition

There are no Gatorade showers or milk drinking to be seen after winning a baseball game in Japan, just beer rocketing out of thousands of shaken bottles. Let’s take a look at the Japanese baseball tradition of victory beer fights.

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We got some Japanese radish sparkling wine, but didn’t expect it to taste like this…

We got some Japanese radish sparkling wine, but didn’t expect it to taste like this…

Daikon is one of the most well-known of the Japanese vegetables. Essentially an enormous radish, daikon are primarily used for pickling and seasoning, though you can find their leaves in some dishes as well. Although the kinds of radish known to Westerners tend to have a strong “bite” to them, Japanese daikon is much milder, and a firm favorite at this time of year found in warming dishes like oden.

Since daikon is used in so much food in Japan, it’s a very familiar taste for most Japanese people, and you can find it in everything from traditional cuisine to otsumami (snacks eaten while drinking), when people sometimes eat large chunks of boiled daikon. Despite what you might think, it’s surprisingly tasty! But what about making wine from daikon?

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Used undies, rotten food, expired meds and other disaster “aid” Japan doesn’t want

Used undies, rotten food, expired meds and other disaster “aid” Japan doesn’t want

Although it has been more than two and a half years since the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, much of the area is still in need of disaster aid for the recovery efforts. But before you look around your house for items to donate, take a look at what volunteer groups, local governments and aid recipients themselves would rather you keep at home. And you might be very surprised to what else Twitter users have deemed the most “unnecessary things at a disaster zone.”

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Shocking new poll reveals that Japanese women love guys with black hair

Shocking new poll reveals that Japanese women love guys with black hair

Here at RocketNews24, we strive to bring you the kind of news that really matters. The worst presents women have ever received; the kind of career you need to drive Japanese women crazy; the things Japanese women find weird about their foreign husbands… Now, you might not think this kind of stuff is actually so important–but don’t come complaining to us when you can’t keep a girlfriend because you choose an unsexy career path or sent your secret crush a box of tissues as a gift. (Seriously, tissues?)

So pay attention, fellas, because we’ve got more breaking news for you: Apparently, Japanese women love guys with black hair.

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Hello Kitty works hard on her birthday — and expected to be busier than ever in the coming year!

Hello Kitty works hard on her birthday — and expected to be busier than ever in the coming year!

Regular readers of our site may recall we recently brought to you a story congratulating Hello Kitty on her birthday. Since then, we’ve found out that the busiest kitty in the world was hard at work even on her birthday!

In fact, the fun is just starting at Sanrio Puroland, the indoor theme park located in Tama New Town, Tokyo, with all the celebrations on the way as the world-famous mascot cat turns 40 on November 1 next year! Forty, now that’s a big one for anyone … or any character for that matter.

So, how did Hello Kitty spend her 39th birthday?

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“Idol addiction” ruining your life? Call this hotline to take control!

“Idol addiction” ruining your life? Call this hotline to take control!

While making a hobby out of adoring Japanese idols is a perfectly acceptable pastime, we here at RocketNews24 know that with so many ways to indulge, from plumbing to college courses to ramen, some idol enthusiasts may find themselves with a full-blown case of “idol addiction.” Luckily, there is a hotline for those wanting to find out how to enjoy their idol worship in moderation!

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Don’t eat that! We make delicious-looking models of tempura out of wax

Don’t eat that! We make delicious-looking models of tempura out of wax

Although the language barrier can make traveling or living in Japan tough at times, dining out is a snap. There are plenty of conveyer belt sushi restaurants where you just grab what you want as the plates go by, and at many ramen and beef bowl restaurants you simply buy a meal ticket out of a vending machine, then pass it off to the cook.

Even when technology isn’t there to save you, ordering is still easy, thanks to the numerous Japanese restaurants that display wax models of their menu items, allowing you to bring the wait staff to the display window and point and what you want. There’s a whole industry devoted to replicating food, and we recently tried our hand at making a wax creation of our own.

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