You can rest your chopsticks on a lot of different things in Japan

Sitting down to a traditional Japanese meal is made even more special by those little sticks you’ll have to manipulate to get the food to your mouth. However, for fork-loving westerners, using chopsticks, or hashi as they’re called in Japanese, can be downright frustrating when all you want to do is sample the local cuisine, not wear it on your shirt. But while you’re skewering your tempura and twirling your udon (PS – don’t do that), be sure to take a few seconds to appreciate that little tool propping up your hashi. From simple to completely bizarre, there’s a chopstick rest to suit any style in Japan.

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The most crowded train lines during rush hour in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya are…

Even though I could praise Japan’s efficient public transportation system for hours on end, there’s one major drawback about it that has left me traumatized on several occasions and never fails to induce terrifying flashbacks whenever I’m surrounded by too many people. You can probably guess what I’m talking about, right? Yup, it’s about how unbelievably crowded the country’s trains and subways can get during rush hour.

Anyone traveling in the Greater Tokyo Area or other metropolitan centers of Japan should be forewarned that the experience is not for the faint of heart–nor for the claustrophobic. I mean, you know it’s a bad sign when there are actually station staff on hand during peak rush hours to squeeze as many passengers as possible into each car. That said, if you’ve traveled or happen to live in Japan’s capital, you can undoubtedly sympathize with the following ranking of the most crowded train and subway lines in Tokyo at rush hour. And just so you don’t think Tokyo gets all the love, we’ve also thrown in the lists for Osaka and Nagoya, too!

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My Melody dental clinic opens in Saitama: Sanrio faces its greatest licensing challenge yet

Sanrio and its vast array of cute characters such as Hello Kitty and My Melody have been seen on nearly every product imaginable – from contact lenses to passenger aircraft, they have made things just that much cuter. Hello Kitty was even able to explain forms of South African torture in her adorable dictionary.

But Sanrio may have bitten off more than they can chew with the Hearts Dental Clinic in Soka City, Saitama Prefecture. Is the sweetly disarming image of the hooded bunny My Melody enough to calm the considerable fears of children visiting the dentist?

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Here’s how you can knit yourself a bowl of ramen【Video】

Ramen is easy enough to make with a package of Cup Noodles, but knitting a bowl of hot soup takes a lot more skill. A talented artist who goes by the name betibettin on YouTube has produced a video showing us just how he accomplished this feat. You’re especially going to want to see how he makes the noodles and soup broth!

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McDonald’s Japan welcomes autumn with Purple Sweet Potato McShake

McDonald’s Japan has been adding Japanese twists to the classic American menu, from crispy tofu nuggets to the delightful Matcha Oreo McFlurry. This time, their new creation might be a little shocking for foreigners unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine – a vivid purple milkshake!

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10,000 anime fans pick Psycho-Pass 2 as the most anticipated fall anime

Charapedia asked 10,000 what anime series they’re most looking forward to this Fall. The sequel to Gen Urobuchi‘s futuristic, dystopian crime-drama Psycho-Pass took the top spot with 2,015 votes. Here’s the Top 20ranked based on all votes, followed by Top 10 by gender.

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Sun, sea, and sumo: Fans of Japan’s oldest sport can soon book their dream vacation

Rikishi, oyakata, tokoyama, and Yokozuna. If these Japanese words mean anything to you, then you are likely a super sumo fan. Like any popular sport, it’s expensive to see your favorite athletes compete – and actually meeting and chatting with them seems like a distant dream. This is not so different for Japan’s national sport of sumo, with 13,000 fans at each tournament cheering for their favorites, you are just one in the crowd.

But, of course everyone wants more – more chances to take pictures and more chances to meet your favorite stars. Well, if you have nothing else planned for December, right now is your last chance to sign up for the Grand Sumo Cruise! Just be ready to open up your wallet!

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Could you hold this for me? Chinese sports model shows off her unusual talent【Photos】

Sports News QQ recently challenged sexy sports model Gui Jingjing to show off her very unique talent. Gui wasted no time in proving that she has humor and a set of enviable assets as she posted pictures proving how much her ample chest could contain. The answer? A tablet. Check out the rest of her quirky and slightly sultry photos too!

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Live out your secret idol fantasies with Dolly Kanon for 3DS

We’ve seen plenty about virtual girlfriends, fun little apps that provide you with all the charms of an attractive girl (well, almost all) without the inconvenience of having to deal with a real person. Well, what if you’ve been waiting for the crossdressing male version…?!

In Dolly Kanon, the newly announced Nintendo 3DS game from Happinet, you can take on the role of musical producer as you manage your secret cross-dressing boyfriend’s career as a music idol!

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It’s all about the isopod – Company pushes gifts and fashion featuring weird, sexy marine bugs

In Japan, where the market for character-based merchandise is intensely competitive, it’s not always easy to predict what’ll take off. Sure, it was easy to see Hello Kitty and Pikachu coming, since either one could serve as the accompanying illustration for the definition of “adorable” in the dictionary, but who’s going to be the next big star?

There’s a new dark horse entry to the character goods arena, with one company hoping Japanese consumers’ ravenous hunger for all things kawaii will lead them to embrace something so ugly it just might be cute, in the form of T-shirts, notebooks, and purses all featuring the humongous marine bug called the giant isopod.

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McDonald’s Japan is bringing Mushroom Risotto Balls this autumn and people couldn’t be angrier

If we’ve learnt one thing from the vast number of articles on this site, Japanese fast food chains like McDonald’s come up with some really good ideas to keep people coming to their restaurants. Regardless of whether they turn out delicious or disgusting, inventions such as the luxury burger line-up, avocado burger, and tofu nuggets are hard to ignore.

It’s gotten to the point that people in Japan may have grown too accustomed to the nice things served at fast food outlets. For example, McDonald’s recently announced their new autumn special – Mushroom Risotto Balls – and online reaction could largely be described as righteous indignation with comments like “only an idiot would eat that!”

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Dance! Dance! Dance! –  Girl groups that “bring it on” 【Videos】

Dancing is an important element of an idol’s performance even though choreography can be quite a task, especially when a group has so many members and the stage is small. One of the charms of Japanese idols is that fans can watch them develop; even if they aren’t the most talented, they’re still cute and fun to watch.

However, this doesn’t mean that all girl groups in Japan are like that! This is not to say that one is better than the other as they are both fun to watch, depending on the situation. We compiled a short list of a few groups that dance like they own the stage every time they’re on it.

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Almond cream sticks, our newest snack obsession and neighbor in Tokyo

Recently we took a trip up to Hokkaido, where we enjoyed three of our favorite things: eating delicious seafood, relaxing in a hot spring, and not spending much money on our hotel. Still, we do have one regret, which is that we didn’t get to try the stick-shaped cream puffs called croquant chou, which have taken Japan’s northern island by storm.

Hokkaido is a long way to go just for a dessert, no matter how tempting it may be, though. Thankfully, we don’t have to head all the way back, because a new croquant chou shop just opened up a few blocks away from our office in Tokyo’s Shinjuku.

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A diner’s guide to oden: Japan’s weird-looking, super-popular winter dish

When it comes to Japanese food, everyone and their grandmother knows the classics like sushi, noodles and tempura. But one food that always takes visitors to Japan by surprise, and which has just this month started showing up in convenience stores again, is oden. Rarely seen outside of Japan, many of the ingredients in this incredible savoury pick ‘n’ mix look almost alien to non-Japanese eyes, and so visitors are often wary of trying it for themselves.

With this in mind, today we’d like to introduce you to a handful of typicaloden ingredients, teaching you their names and telling you a little bit about each of them, so that the next time you pass a food cart or duck into a conbini and get a waft of that unmistakable aroma, you won’t be afraid to order some for yourself.

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Starbucks Geisha coffee is expensive, elegant, has no connection to traditional entertainers

When I walk into Starbucks and order a drink, I accept that I’m paying for more than just a beverage. Embedded in the price are the costs and economic premiums of a central location, comfy couches, and a relaxing atmosphere, and as a consumer, I’m generally satisfied with what I get for my money.

Still, every now and again the chain rolls out some new type of coffee that seems exorbitantly expensive, and this month’s new addition is a doozy, at 1,850 yen (US$18.30) for a single cup! But hold on, it’s called Geisha coffee? Well in that case, it sounds like a bargain! Time with Japan’s traditional entertainers usually isn’t anywhere near that cheap.

Actually, we’ve got some bad news for hardcore Japanophiles, but it’s also good news for coffee lovers. Geisha refers to the type of beans used, which are some of the rarest in the world.

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Crotchless Hello Kitty panties coming soon…for smartphones?!?

As technology continues to advance and influence the way we communicate, it’s important for rules of etiquette to evolve along with the devices we use to keep in touch with each other. For example, by now most of us know not to type our emails in all caps and to turn off our cell phones inside movie theaters.

So why is it that we’ve learned to mind our manners in those situations, yet continue to commit the social faux pas of not making our iPhones wear proper underwear? That seems to be the question Bandai asked, and now we have the answer in the form of Hello Kitty panties for smartphones.

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The world’s smallest remote-controlled helicopter is impossibly cute, yours to buy in December

At just 46mm (1.8 inches) long, the Pico-Falcon claims to be the world’s smallest remote-controlled helicopter. Produced by Japanese toy maker Bandai’s subsidiary CCP, this adorable little thing will go on sale on December 5. Just look at how it sits on the fingers!

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Long live the Roadster! We attend the world premiere of Mazda’s all-new Miata 【Video】

Mazda’s Roadster, also known as the Miata and MX-5, hit showrooms in 1989 and became an instant hit. In the years since, though, doomsayers have emerged every time a competing automaker releases a would-be rival, with predictions having been made that the BMW Z3, Porsche Boxter, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Toyota MR-S, Honda S2000, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky were all going to kill Mazda’s lightweight open sports car.

The three German cars are still around, although now at price points so far above the Roadster’s that they’re really not in competition with the Japanese Mazda. As for those other pretenders to the affordable convertible crown? All dead and buried. The Roadster’s even outlasted some of those companies, as Pontiac and Saturn have both shut down entirely.

With this history of success, it must have been tempting for Mazda to spend all of the Roadster’s 25th anniversary celebration patting itself on the back for a job well done. Instead, the automaker from Hiroshima chose to do fans one better, by unveiling the fourth generation of the world’s best-selling two-seat sports car.

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Angry Birds app gets first manga in Nakayoshi Shōjo magazine

Angry Birds, the smartphone game app franchise that boasts 2.3 billion downloads worldwide, inspired its first manga on Wednesday. Hiyoko Hatano launched theStella ~Nana to Mahō no Eitango~ (Stella: Nana and the Magic English Words) series in the October issue of Kodansha‘s shōjo magazine Nakayoshi on Wednesday. The short stories star Stella, a pink bird character from the Angry Birds apps, and a Japanese girl named Nana.

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These wacky traditional dancers know how to put the fun in fundoshi! 【Video】

Here at RocketNews24 there’s nothing we like more on a man (or indeed a woman) than a dashing fundoshi. While we believe the traditional Japanese underwear that’s part-apron, part-loincloth is suitable for any occasion, we’re prepared to accept that they’re mainly seen at matsuri (festivals) these days.

So when we found this wondrous video of a group of men doing a special festival bird-catching dance in fundoshi, we knew we were in for a treat. Join us after the jump for some very genki dancing men having a lot of body-slappin’ good fun!

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