Welcome to the whimsical world of Yuko Higuchi

Welcome to the whimsical world of Yuko Higuchi

Tokyo is home to a large number of talented artists, but recently one in particular has been standing out. Japanese people and netizens around the world have become captivated by the versatile art of Ms. Yuko Higuchi, whose surreal works both delight and cause you to slightly question the state of her mind. Her style has been described as “dark kawaii (kawaii=cute), blending the real with the fantastical and seemingly drawing heavy inspiration from Alice in Wonderland (in fact, it looks like Alice and friends even make cameos in some of the pictures!). The pictures of anthropomorphic cats and fairy tale-like girls are especially popular. Even if you’re not usually a fan of art, you should definitely take a minute to look at these pictures – they may be just the thing needed to convert you!

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Had a bad day? Here’s a Cheeto that looks like a man doing “you-know-what”

Had a bad day? Here’s a Cheeto that looks like a man doing “you-know-what”

Some people believe that everything happens for a reason, but there are certainly times when things happen for no reason. When things go wrong, they just do. Sometimes it even happens to non-living things!

Take this Cheeto for example. It’s not a big deal and no one was harmed, but it sure looks wrong! If you don’t get the drift, you might want to take a look at the GIF after the jump!

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Man found innocent of indecent assault denied 12 million yen compensation by Supreme Court of Japan

Man found innocent of indecent assault denied 12 million yen compensation by Supreme Court of Japan

In 2008 a man was accused of grabbing a woman from behind, which resulted in an injury to her leg. She filed charges with the prosecutor’s office for indecent assault and bodily harm but the man was eventually found innocent.

As indecent assault can be a hard accusation to get off from in Japan, this man would be considered extremely lucky. However, after all charges were dropped, he decided to try his luck again and sued the government for 12 million yen (US$116,000) in compensation for the charges. He would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for the Supreme Court of Japan who dismissed his claims for the last time on 6 March.

Was this man an innocent victim of the system or just looking for a quick pay day? The answer is not so clear.

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Japanese-speaking “Real Barbie” becomes serious model in Japan

Japanese-speaking “Real Barbie” becomes serious model in Japan

While you might think that the world only needs one real Barbie, it turns out that–whether needed or not–there’s already another one! However, unlike the Russian/Ukrainian version, this “Real Barbie” is a Tokyo-based, Japanese-speaking model for Popteen magazine. And her rise to fame has only just begun!

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Attack on Titan bag and shawl let you gear up for fighting giants, fashionable dates

Attack on Titan bag and shawl let you gear up for fighting giants, fashionable dates

Smash hit anime Attack on Titan has a full cast of compelling human characters, but most of the merchandising and promotions that have come with the series’ success are centered on the remorseless, pantless Titans themselves. Whether it’s figurines, burgers, or even beauty products, there just seems to be more love shown for the series’ ostensible villains.

Now, though, comes a way for you to show your loyalty to humanity while also scoring a few style points, with a fashionable Attack on Titan bag and shawl.

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World’s oldest kendo video is part martial arts, part Buster Keaton, all amazing

World’s oldest kendo video is part martial arts, part Buster Keaton, all amazing

Kendo is a uniquely Japanese martial art. Like judo, karate, and aikido, this modernized version of a traditional art has numerous practitioners both in Japan around the world. And while some may approach it with more, um, zeal that others, it’s generally viewed as being more like chess than raw fighting.

But if you ever thought that kendo lacked in brutality or purely comedic tomfoolery, this 117-year-old video of a kendo practice session in Kyoto will put you in your place. And then smack you across the head with a big bamboo stick!

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JAL voted most reliable airline in the world

JAL voted most reliable airline in the world

There’s nothing worse than having to take a 12 hour plane ride before getting to your relaxing exotic vacation. That is, unless your flight is delayed. Then it turns into a nightmarish trudge to your final destination, with missed connecting flights and more pulled hairs than you care to lose. As the saying goes, “It’s not the destination, but the journey” and if that’s true, you’re sure to have the most enjoyable trip on Flightstats.com‘s list of the top ten airlines that get you to your destination on time. Japan Airlines leads the pack with an amazing 93 percent on-time departure rate. Take a look at the full list and choose your airline accordingly.

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“I will never forget again”: Nagasaki man gets back the cash he left at an ATM

“I will never forget again”: Nagasaki man gets back the cash he left at an ATM

What happens when you withdraw a ton of cash from an ATM in the middle of the city, only to walk away and realize later that you forgot to stick it in your wallet? Apparently nothing, if you happen to live in Nagasaki City. Earlier this week a Nagasaki native experienced the above situation, and was ecstatic to find the money untouched when he returned later. The killer part of everything? Wait until you hear his profession.

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These snowman milk mugs are so cute, we want them ALL!

These snowman milk mugs are so cute, we want them ALL!

The snow in Japan may be starting to melt (unless you live in Hokkaido), but that doesn’t mean the snowmen have to go away. Thanks to Megmilk Snow Brand Company, you’ll be greeted by a chilly friend every morning with their limited edition snow mug campaign.

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“RAAA”: The most appropriate name for a habanero pepper-flavored 34 percent alcohol drink

“RAAA”: The most appropriate name for a habanero pepper-flavored 34 percent alcohol drink

Hombo Shuzo is a prestigious distiller founded in 1872 in Kagoshima Prefecture, the birthplace of one of Japan’s most beloved drinks: shochu. The company had won several medals at last year’s International Wine and Spirit Competition including a gold medal for their exquisitely smooth one-year-old Arawaza Sakurajima.

And to celebrate, this distinguished group has released perhaps their classiest drink to date. It’s an imo shochu (sweet potato shochu) with a thick bouquet of one of the world’s spiciest peppers, the habanero, and it’s name is Satsuma No Haoh RAAA.

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Little witch Kiki and Little Mermaid Bakery bake three special pastries, we eat them all

Little witch Kiki and Little Mermaid Bakery bake three special pastries, we eat them all

The live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service is out now, and whether the movie should be judged on its own terms or if it can only be evaluated in comparison to the 1989 animated version is a matter of individual belief. One thing everyone can agree on, though, is that the new film will give you a craving for baked goods, as several scenes feature the breads and pastries made and sold by the bakery young witch Kiki boards at.

In anticipation of these cinema-induced hankerings, Little Mermaid, one of Japan’s largest and most popular bakery chains, has released an assortment of Kiki’s Delivery Service-themed goodies. As journalists (and hungry people), we were so excited that we decided to sample the whole lot.

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Liven up your Twitter feed with anime-themed “Pair Icons”

Liven up your Twitter feed with anime-themed “Pair Icons”

We already know that Twitter and Vine are kind of places people in Japan go to make bad life decisions. We’ve seen teens crawl into convenience store freezers and would-be comedians posting really quite racist “comedy” videos, and even the occasional teen openly admitting to a crime on the social networking service.

So it’s a breath of fresh air to see someone finally take to Twitter with a good idea, like this amateur artist that posted a concept sketch for “pair icons:” Twitter profile pictures you can use with friends that, when lined up perfectly in your news feed, play off each other in fun and interesting ways. Here’s the original concept:

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Don’t wanna ruin your favorite pair of jeans? Put ‘em in the freezer!

Don’t wanna ruin your favorite pair of jeans? Put ‘em in the freezer!

How often do you wash your denim jeans? Some people, including famous fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, say you should never wash them, while others are absolutely grossed out by the thought of wearing a pair of bacteria-loaded pants for months on end. Not to mention, some of these bacteria cause odors that will make people think you just climbed out of a dumpster.

What should you do if you wish to keep your favorite jeans broken in, while ensuring that they don’t carry some hideous stench? You should read on.

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We try savory doughnuts inspired by miso, seaweed rice crackers and more

We try savory doughnuts inspired by miso, seaweed rice crackers and more

Mister Donut is one of the most popular doughnut chains in all of Japan, and their signature pastry, the Pon de Ring, is a delicious chewy concoction that is sought out by peckish snackers across the country. The chain has recently released a new savory version of their classic Pon de Ring, and in doing so, has incited a rivalry between eastern and western Japan. The “Pon de Senbatsu” campaign puts eight new regional flavors, four from both east and west, against each other in a battle for the best doughnut. Since our offices are located on Japan’s east side, we decided to try out our regional sweet potato, miso kiritanpo, seaweed rice cracker, and sweet sesame dumpling doughnuts.

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Victoria’s Secret is opening in China — But not to sell lingerie

Victoria’s Secret is opening in China — But not to sell lingerie

Victoria’s Secret is launching in China—but don’t expect any bras and panties at its stores.

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The world’s most expensive tissues? Might as well wipe your boogers on a $100 bill!

The world’s most expensive tissues? Might as well wipe your boogers on a $100 bill!

The Japanese paper company Daishowa First has announced their newest high-quality product: a tissue box containing soft and luxurious tissues of 12 different hues. The product is named ‘Juunihitoe‘, a traditional Japanese word that refers to a twelve-layered ceremonial kimono worn by a court lady. It’s a fittingly regal name for something that will probably only be bought by A-list celebs with too much money on their hands. We don’t all have 100 dollars to drop on our snot-catchers, do we?!

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Beautiful soldier sisters take to the stage to sing for their country

Beautiful soldier sisters take to the stage to sing for their country

Every year on Chinese New Year, CCTV broadcasts its New Year’s Gala, a singing contest often called the Spring Festival Gala. This year four beautiful women appeared on the show, and you’ll probably be surprised to find out their day job – they’re all in the army. There’s just something about military girls that draws Netizens like moths to a flame, and sure enough they got social media buzzing.

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Halfway to adulthood: New Japanese festival for 10-year-olds gets parents talking

Halfway to adulthood: New Japanese festival for 10-year-olds gets parents talking

Japanese children enjoy many rite-of-passage celebration and age-specific holidays. This week it was Girls’ Day (hina matsuri) on March 3rd; next up in May will be Children’s Day (kodomo no hi). Another children’s holiday comes along in November: shichi-go-san, for children who have turned 3, 5 or 7 that year.

Once Japanese young adults turn 20, they have a special holiday to celebrate the beginning of adulthood, too. Coming of Age Day (seijin no hi) celebrates those who have reached the Japanese age of majority by turning 20 the previous year. And now growing in popularity is the “halfway to adulthood” festival, held when a child is 10 years old.

So what is this new(ish) celebration, where did it come from, and what does its burgeoning popularity tell us about Japan today?

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English language education in Japan: Are native speakers essential?

English language education in Japan: Are native speakers essential?

Like so many foreigners living in Japan, I first entered the country as an eigo shidou joshu, more commonly known as an Assistant Language Teacher, or ALT for short. Although terms like “grass-roots internationalisation” and “globalisation” are uttered during ALT training seminars and by boards of education across the country with such frequency that you’d swear they’re being sponsored to use them, in reality an ALT’s role at a Japanese junior high school (where the majority in Japan are employed) is to go along to class with a non-native Japanese teacher of English (or JTE) and, as their job title implies, assist in teaching. The idea is that students, particularly those from rural areas, will benefit from the presence of and instruction from a native English speaker.

But are native speakers entirely vital to English language education in Japan? And should native English speakers, rather than Japanese teachers of English, be the ones taking the lead role in the classroom?

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Real-life Barbie now survives on light and air, might be turning into a real doll【Photos】

Real-life Barbie now survives on light and air, might be turning into a real doll【Photos】

Does the name Valeria Lukyanova seem to ring a bell? If you’ve been hanging around enough, you might remember our previous posts about the Ukraine-based Russian model who is known as the “real-life Barbie“. We haven’t heard news of her for about a year or so, but she’s back in the spotlight again and this time, it’s not about her already well-known doll-like looks.

Word is, she’s now attempting to survive on only air and light. Holy cow, could she really be turning into a real Barbie doll?!

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