Japan

Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

It’s time once again for travel website Trip Advisor’s list of the best places in Japan, as chosen by overseas visitors to the country. One of the things that makes Japan such a fascinated place to travel is its extreme mix of historical and modern attractions, both of which are represented in the top 30 which includes shrines, sharks, and super-sized robots.

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Gundam VS Evangelion: Women of Japan give their verdict (kind of)

What’s that you say? A survey that polled Japanese women about two of the country’s most popular anime series? I wonder what kind of questions they asked! Maybe we can learn how Japanese audiences feel about the female characters in Gundam! And does Shinsekai Evangelion really offer a “radical solution to the socio-environmental curses of patriarchy“? Maybe they’ll talk about female otaku being under-represented in mainstream media! And whether the word “otaku” still carries negative connotations…

But wait! Oh. What? This survey only has one question! “What kind of men do you like better”, the pollsters asked, “guys who like Evangelion, or guys who are Gundam fans?” Oh.

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Enough already! 10 all-too-common occurrences in Japanese anime

Let’s play a game. I’m going to say a word, and you have to say the first thing that pops into your mind. OK, ready? Here it goes: ANIME!

What was the first thing that you thought of? Maybe the stereotypical big eyes, or common visual aids like sweat drops? Regardless, chances are you weren’t alone in your thinking–even though there are some incredibly original and groundbreaking works of Japanese animation, there are unfortunately just as many series with incredibly clichéd story lines.  

It appears that an article covering this topic from last year on science and science-fiction-themed website i09 has recently been making the rounds online. Translated versions of the piece, titled “10 completely annoying anime cliches,” have just recently popped up on Chinese and Japanese websites under the tagline “10 conventions in anime that foreigners are fed up with.”

We bet you’ll have no problem recognizing them!

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Think you can finish seven Whoppers in 30 minutes? Burger King Japan wants you!

Burger King Japan has just announced the “60th Anniversary ‘B’iKing Battle,” inviting anyone with the stomach and speed for eating seven Whoppers in half an hour to apply. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Maybe…we have a feeling the grand prize is the last thing participants will want to receive after polishing off two-days’ worth of calories.

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Japan’s Rabbit Island – Yes, it really does exist

In some ways, the island of Okunoshima, in western Japan’s Setonaikai Inland Sea, seems like a terrible vacation spot. It’s already in an out-of-the-way region of the country, and with no connecting bridges, the only way to get there is by boat.

Then there’s its dark past. During the 1920s, ‘30s, and early ‘40s, Okunoshima was the site of a secret chemical weapons lab for the Japanese Imperial Army. The clandestine work being carried out there earned it the sinister nicknames Poison Gas Island and The Island Erased from the Maps.

Happily, the postwar years have seen a return to more peaceful, benign activities on Okunoshima. As a matter of fact, in the last few years it’s become one of the area’s most beloved tourist destinations, and the reason why is easy to see from the other name Okunoshima is called by, Rabbit Island.

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Japan takes notice of mad-muggin’ Luigi in Mario Kart 8

Luigi has always played second fiddle to his brother Mario and it seems all those years of pent-up jealousy and anger have surfaced in Nintendo’s eighth edition of Mario Kart. Scores of English-language sites have already reported on what many are calling “Luigi’s Death Stare,” and all that news coverage has finally made it over to Japan, inspiring a multitude of comments by surprised Japanese gamers.

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Attack on Thanksgiving! First animated Attack on Titan movie to open in November

Fans of Attack on Titan are sort of in the doldrums right now as far as developments go for the smash hit anime and manga franchise. The recent release of a new collected volume for the comic means there’s likely to be a long wait until the next is released. The live-action adaptation isn’t scheduled for release until 2015, and the 50 lucky participants of the package tour that involves filming the movie have already departed.

Thankfully, there’s still one thing to look forward to in 2014, and that’s the first of two upcoming animated Attack on Titan compilation movies, which now has a release date.

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Desserts in Wonderland – Our lesson in decorating storybook sweets

The relatively small size of Japanese kitchens, and ovens for that matter, mean the average person doesn’t get many opportunities to bake desserts. Sure, once a year a lot of women will whip up a batch of chocolate or some other sweets, but February 15 is usually the beginning of a 364-day streak of no homemade goodies.

Looking to break this cycle was our Japanese-language correspondent Momo. But how would someone who charred all of her attempts at Valentine’s Day sweets to a crisp as a schoolgirl, fare at her Alice in Wonderland cookie and cake decorating class?

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Sailors Uranus and Neptune are here to save your lips with Sailor Moon lip balm

With just a month left until the premiere of Sailor Moon Crystal, we’re so close to seeing anime’s most successful team of magical girls back in action for the first time in almost 20 years. Fans around the world are licking their lips in anticipation, which begs the question, aren’t they going to chap?

Thankfully, you can count on the Sailor Scouts to help you out of such a jam, with new Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune lip balm containers.

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Hello, Sailor (Moon) – First trailer finally released for Sailor Moon Crystal

If you’re hungry enough, even a handful of breadcrumbs will seem like a sumptuous feast. Such was the case in April when the producers of the hotly anticipated anime Sailor Moon Crystal finally released a modest amount of character artwork for the series, years after the series was announced.

And while the main course of the series premiere itself is still a month away, fans can now savor this tasty appetizer: Sailor Moon Crystal’s first official trailer.

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Powered by eels – We eat at the founder of Honda’s favorite unagi restaurant

Soichiro Honda, the man who founded Honda Motor Co., was once quoted as saying that the best-selling car cannot be the best-driving car, because the compromises needed to become the former are incompatible with the lack of compromises required to be the latter.

It’s hard not to respect a person with such unflinching standards, and even want to emulate him a little. So when we found out one of the legendary engineer’s favorite restaurants was just a short train ride from our office in downtown Tokyo, we decided to check it out. Even after we found out it’s famous for its grilled eel livers.

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Tokyo and Osaka girls become yabai friends with world’s first long-distance purikura

Do you remember the first time you stepped inside a puri-kura booth? Short for “Print Club”, these booths that produce small photo stickers seemed like a passing fad to me when the machines first came out in 1995, but fast forward 19 years and the club is still going strong. And why not? Just hop in with your friends or special someone, make goofy faces, doodle some nicknames or hearts, then presto! Out comes a sheet of colorful stickers.

The booths themselves have come a long way during that time, incorporating a vast amount of technological wizardry, but now M&M’S Japan has unleashed an altogether different kind of beast. For a special event held on May 24, the confection giant installed a pair of booths, one in Tokyo and one in Osaka, collectively dubbed the “Friends Maker”, the world’s first puri-kura machine that allows total strangers in separate booths to make photo stickers together.

Video coverage of the event was released on May 30 and it looks like so much fun, we wish for the candy company would set up these machines in every city!

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Is this tequila ramen with pitch-black broth and action movie tie-in macho enough for you?

In recent years, ramen has been making a name for itself as a respectable, in some cases almost gourmet meal. Japan’s favorite noodle dish has even reached the point where some women feel it’s an acceptable choice for a dinner date (provided you follow certain rules).

That doesn’t mean ramen has been entirely gentrified, though. There’s one noodle joint in Tokyo that’s currently offering a throwback to the machismo that used to define the dish, with a bowl of ramen that has an action movie tie-in and is seasoned with tequila.

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Déjà vu? Japanese baseball’s movie poster spoof is sure to get fans’ attention

When we first saw the above poster advertising a Hanshin Tigers farm league baseball game, we did a double-take and sat there scratching our heads for a few minutes. “That poster looks so familiar…but something seems just a little off,” we mused. After mulling it over for a few minutes, it finally dawned on us: “Oh, that image is almost an exact copy of a recently released movie’s promotional poster!”

Can you figure out which movie this poster is parodying?   

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Hiroshima’s crème marche is half cream puff, half custard cone, and all delicious

Even under normal circumstances, we’ve got nothing against desserts, whether they be in parfait or donut form. So when we got off the train at Hiroshima Station, stepped through the ticket gates, and saw a newly opened pastry shop, we knew a detour was in order before we headed to our hotel.

Of course, we’d just spent two days biking the 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) across the Inland Sea on the Shimanami Kaido cycling course, and no dinky dessert was going to satisfy the appetite we’d built up. Thankfully, the shop had something special in its display case: cream puff custard cones.

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Become MASTER OF NUGGETS with this heavy metal recipe book

Have you been looking for a way to combine your love of thrash metal with your enthusiasm for trying new food? As you may know, we at RocketNews24 are always looking for ways to mix up new musical experiences, so we were tickled to discover Metal-Meshi, a tour through headbanging history told through metal-inspired recipes!

The brainchild of Tokyo-based foodie and blogger Yasunario, Metal-Meshi takes its name from “meshi”, a slightly slangy, rough-sounding Japanese word for hearty food.The book offers up over 60 mammoth-sized dishes that put some of Japan’s other Americana offerings to shame! So what kind of gastronomical excitement has Yasunario come up with?

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The number 1 ‘most satisfying’ city in the world is….TOKYO!!!

The world is a huge place, and where you spend your hard-earned money and time off is a big decision. With so many fabulous locations around the globe, how do you choose what is the best destination for you? The answer seems obvious: ask the people. With tools like Yelp and Wikitravel, crowd sourcing your best vacation spot is easier than ever.

One of the most popular travel sites, Trip Advisor, has released a survey asking its users to rank its top 37 cities, and Japan has something to celebrate before the World Cup even begins: coming in at #1 in the world!

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Suicides drop for second year in Japan, still leading cause of death among young adults

The Japanese government recently released its 2014 white paper on suicide in the nation. While the continuing downward trend in the number of people taking their own lives is encouraging, the statistics also revealed the sobering and troubling fact that suicide is the leading cause of death among Japanese aged 15 to 34.

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These awesome university dining hall breakfasts only cost 100 yen

When was the last time you spent 100 yen (US$.98) on breakfast and felt satisfied? Sure, your dollar menu Sausage McMuffin tasted good, but after hitting your stomach like a greasy, calorie-laden brick, did it really keep you going until lunch? I thought not. Prepare to be jealous (and perhaps say “OC desu!“) of the following parade of filling breakfasts purchased at Japanese university dining halls, each for an unbelievable 100 yen.

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Viral zoo video of ‘headbanging’ bear hides a dark, sad truth

Most of us have been to a zoo at least once. As children, it’s often the highlight of a weekend–watching the prowling big cats, hearing the bellowing elephants, and petting the adorable rabbits–it’s almost too good to be true. Unfortunately, “too good to be true” may be more accurate than we want to admit.

In fact, a certain Japanese video that has recently gone viral due to its “cute” footage shows just how traumatizing zoos can be for their animal residents.

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