Blue Bottle Coffee opening [Round 2]: We wait an hour and a half, but this time we get in!!

Last month, we brought to you the story of how our very own Mr. Sato went to the opening of the very first Blue Bottle Coffee shop in Japan … only to give up on the idea of having coffee there as the huge crowd turnout meant a two-hour wait, which was just too long for our busy reporter. Well, we weren’t about to give up on trying the coffee from the popular American coffee roaster and cafe chain that easily! As it happens, Blue Bottle Coffee opened their second shop in Aoyama this past Saturday, and this time, we were determined to get a taste of their famous coffee, even if it meant waiting outside for an hour and a half in freezing weather!

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Starbucks to release Almond Milk Latte and Frappuccino in Japan for a limited time

For years, fans of Starbucks have been petitioning the coffee chain for a non-dairy alternative to soy. While the company recently responded by adding coconut milk options to their U.S. menus, lovers of almond milk were left out in the cold due to concerns over nut allergens.

Now, for a limited time, Starbucks Japan will be taking the bold step out into nut allergen territory with the release of the Almond Milk Frappuccino with Honey Crunch and the Almond Milk Latte with Honey Crunch. If you’re in Japan from 18 March to 14 April, you’ll be one of the lucky few to introduce your tastebuds to a sweet treat others can only dream of!

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Paper cranes sprout legs and boogie in this bizarre video

In Japanese culture, it’s believed that folding one thousand paper cranes will make your wish come true, leading this particular origami creation to represent hope and healing during challenging times. We’re not quite sure if the following video featuring five dancing paper cranes has the ability to heal anything, but it definitely has enough whimsy to make you smile.

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10 distinctly Japanese comfort foods

Comfort food” is traditional cooking that tends to have a nostalgic or sentimental connection, often one related to family or childhood: the grilled cheese sandwiches your mother used to make; the thought of your grandmother’s bread pudding makes your mouth water; the way the whole house would be filled with the intoxicating aroma of roasted turkey or ham at Christmas? Because of such memories, these foods comfort us, especially when we’re longing for home or feeling especially vulnerable.

Not surprisingly, the sentimental Japanese have their own comfort foods. While you might think they’d be waxing over the octopus tentacles of home, very few of the dishes we’re about to talk about have much to do with seafood. Many Japanese comfort foods have a rice connection and may even center around the unique relationship between mothers or wives and their role in family food preparation. And in Japan, make no mistake about it–her kitchen rules!

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Special umbrella has black cats that come out in a storm to brighten your rainy days

Once you get past the age where it’s socially acceptable to splash in puddles, rainy days don’t offer much to look forward to. That goes double if you have to be out and about in a storm as opposed to just a light drizzle.

But now there’s a reason to hope that when it rains, it pours, because precipitation makes kitty silhouettes and pawmarks appear on this cute cat umbrella, and the heavier the rain, the more noticeable they become.

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A lost cat experiences Tokyo Disneyland hospitality and the Internet erupts in joy

Despite prices going up again, Tokyo Disneyland still is one of the happiest places on earth where you can meet all of your favorite characters, ride those amazing rides and of course, experience that legendary Disney hospitality. Last week, a Japanese twitter user even spotted one of the cast members (as park employees are called) extending the Disney treatment to a cat who had apparently lost its way.

Japanese netizens could barely hold in their glee at seeing this lost cat being treated so well. Click below to see what the cast member did to get netizens squealing with glee!

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Hachiko’s new statue is now open to the public, and we’ve got pictures and video from our visit

Last month, we got our first peek at the brand-new statue of Hachiko, in which Japan’s most famous dog is reunited with his loving master after almost a century apart. But while Hachiko’s legendary loyalty is inspiring, we weren’t waiting 100 years to see the statue for ourselves.

With the piece now installed and open to viewing by the public, we made the trip to the campus of the University of Tokyo, and we’ve brought plenty of photos and video that we shot while looking at Hachiko through both our viewfinder and a constant stream of tears.

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Ghibli director Hiromasa Yonebayashi speaks about recent and future works at animation event

Although the recent Studio Ghibli creation, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, didn’t receive the coveted American Academy Award for Best Animated Feature this past February, there’s good Ghibli news to be had too!

Last Saturday, Mitaka no Mori, the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo, held their 12th annual “Animation Festival” at the Mitaka City Arts Center. As usual, the event showcased some animated work (unrelated to the studio), but also featured a special screening of the studio’s most recent release, When Marnie Was There, followed by a talk by the director, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who also hinted about upcoming projects! 

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【Monday Kickstart】Silly kitty versus windshield wipers will rid you of your case of the Mondays

It’s Monday morning–the sky is overcast and a chilly rain is falling. You somehow manage to drag yourself out of bed, but now you just need that little motivational push to be able to tackle the new week head-on. So allow us to introduce you to this kitty, whose adorable antics playing with a car’s windshield wipers are sure to tickle your heart when everything else about Monday morning can’t!

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Buyer keepers? Photos of returned mail being sold on the street go viral in China

Ordering things online or through the mail always has an element of uncertainty to it. If you walk into a store to buy a new computer, you can be fairly certain that the package you walk out with is actually a new computer. But when ordering online, there’s always a chance that it’s a scam or that the post office will simply never get it to you. We’re not trying to disparage our beleaguered postal workers, but it’s inevitable that something will fall through the cracks in any large organization.

But have you ever wondered what happens when your mail doesn’t get to you? Where the heck does it all go? Well, if you’re really unlucky, it might end up being sold in the street.

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Of umbrellas and back scratchers… DIY selfie sticks that don’t cost a penny!

All right hands up, how many of you own selfie sticks? And how many of you ever entertained the idea of getting one of those sticks-of-the-moment, but eventually decided that you would rather spend ten dollars on a meal than a stick that enables you to take self-portraits from a distance greater than the length of your own arm?

If you fall into the latter group, here are some fantastic examples of budget DIY selfie sticks that would set you back just two dollars or less!

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Moving to Tokyo? Real estate agent picks five best neighborhoods for single residents

Tokyo is a big place, both in terms of population and area, and if you’re moving here from anywhere else, you might be at a bit of a loss in terms of where to look for an apartment. Obviously, a large part of that decisions is up to personal preference, but we do happen to have some advice for areas to look at if this will be your first time living alone!

These five areas were selected by a local real estate agent, so you know they must be good, right?

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The defrosted reality of 24 frozen meals at Thai 7-Elevens [Photos]

The frozen food section at the local convenience store may not hold any lofty culinary treasures, but it does hold the key to saving time and energy after a long day. All around the world, people value frozen foods for their convenience and, sometimes, their deliciousness.

But can you really trust the picture on the front of the package to be what comes out of the microwave? One Thai netizen went on a quest to demystify the frozen food section of Thailand’s 7-Elevens and posted photos of 24 heated up meals to see how they compared to people’s expectations.

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Attack on Titan fan entertains Twitter users with too-tiny-to-use Jean note tags

Characters from the hit anime and manga series Attack on Titan are here to stick around! In a recent collaboration with one of Japan’s major stationery makers, Pilot, nine popular characters made an appearance on adhesive note tags that come along with the purchase of the brand’s Neox Graphite mechanical pencil lead.

Fans of the franchise are no doubt happy to get their hands on Attack on Titan freebies, but there was one thing that bothered them slightly… the creators put so much attention on the characters that they left barely enough space on the adhesive notes to write a decent message. However, one creative fan found some entertaining ways to make use of the not-so-useful sticky notes!

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Let’s play “Typical Cute College Student Bingo” with Japan’s latest social media crush/obsession

We’ve seen a lot of women getting attention online for unspectacular reasons recently: for playing soccer, for running in a marathon, and even for being someone’s sister. Sure they’re all good-looking and probably nice people, but how does that translate into thousands of followers?

The latest in the “cute girl attracting attention online” is possibly the most confusing yet. Ayaka Yokota is simply a Japanese college junior who won a beauty contest at her school last year. And… that’s about it! Nevertheless, she’s been getting lots of praise online recently simply by posting things every college student does, which is apparently more than enough for her legions of fans.

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Osaka railway creates superhero to attract foreign tourists, makes name unintelligible to them

A new superhero has arrived to save the people of Osaka from evildoers. This is great because just the other day some savage left an empty can in my bicycle’s basket while I parked it.

Unfortunately for me, his beat is just on the Rapi:t express train running between downtown’s Namba Station and Kansai International Airport. But if you happen to find trouble on the way to or from KIX there’s only one name to call out for help: Rapi…Ra…Rapee-itl-dee-yer!!?

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Five things expats wish Japan had, and why it’s sometimes a good thing it doesn’t

For the most part, Japan is a pretty great country to live in. Among a host of other positives, it’s clean and safe, with good infrastructure and reliable transportation.

Still, some people move to Japan and find that even if they like the overall package, it doesn’t quite have all the comforts of home. Today, we’re taking a look at a list compiled by blogger and internationalist Madame Riri of five things expats wish Japan had, plus adding our own explanation of why it’s sometimes a good thing that it doesn’t.

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Super-skilled girl band 5572320 reveals music video for “Hanseiki Yuutousei”, but not their identities

Mysterious, skilled girls’ rock band 5572320 (pronounced: go go nana ni san ni rei) have appeared out of nowhere with a music video for their song, titled “Hanseiki Yuutousei” (Half a Century Honor Student). Their debut single is due for release on March 25, but the identities of these young ladies remains a complete mystery.

Check out their video after the jump.

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Website makes list of “10 Most Bizarre” fighting game characters, Japanese fans beg to differ

About a month ago, video game website Arcade Sushi released a list of the “10 Most Bizarre Fighting Game Characters.” After a while it circulated around to the shores of Japan where it was translated and submitted to the fighting gamers here for consideration.

In true fighting game fashion, we thought it would be fun to pit Arcade Sushi’s 10 fighters against suggestions made by gamers in Japan. So put your quarters up and let’s see who emerges the King of Weird Characters.

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Otoko no ko (男の娘) is a Japanese play-on-words for men who identify as men but wear women’s clothing. The term has really caught on in the past few years with some otoko no ko even becoming idol representatives. Some of our favorite Internet stars, including Sailor Suit Old Man and Ladybeard, have already captured our hearts, grizzly facial hair and all.

The newest otoko no ko making waves certainly looks even more like a girl, but still proudly identifies as a man. There is nothing wrong with that! Sofmap, a Japanese retailer of used and new electronics, doesn’t think so either. This beauty has already headlined the first ever Sofmap otoko no ko event that was held in Akihabara last month. So who is he?

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