Yamanashi zoo’s roly-poly resident raccoon is ridiculously round, remarkably cute

Many of Japan’s tasty regional delicacies don’t exactly qualify as low-calorie dining options, such as Fukuoka’s pork stock ramen, Osaka’s deep-fried kushikatsu skewers, and Nagoya’s miso pork cutlets. However, Yamanashi Prefecture’s local specialty, hoto, is relatively healthy, as it’s primarily a vegetable stew with miso broth.

With that in mind, the fact that a zoo in Yamanashi is home to a raccoon who’s so plump he’s almost spherical is a little ironic…and also pretty adorable.

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Check out these amazing Ghibli-inspired tattoos

It’s no secret that most of us here at RocketNews24 are big fans of Hayao Miyazaki and the Studio Ghibli movies, though to my knowledge, none of us have yet inked that adoration on our skin. That might be about to change, though, with these amazing Ghibli tattoos to inspire us!

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Japanese netizens show love for “English Toast” which is neither English nor Toast

With such a wide range of delicious and delectable (and, erm, shall we say unusualsnack foods available in Japan,  it’s a little hard to understand when people get whipped up into a frenzy over plainer options, such as toast and bread crusts fried with sugar. Now, twitter users in Japan are getting their tastebuds in a twist over the confusingly-named “English Toast”, a sweet snacklet that first became popular in Aomori prefecture and has now expanded into a whole range of conbini sandwiches. But what on earth is it?

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Canada-based artist stuns with new realistic take on Naruto characters

November 10, 2014 went down as one of the darkest days in manga fandom history as popular manga Naruto finally came to an end. The manga has brought joy and tears to fans over the past 15 years, so to send off the series and express gratitude to its creator, Masashi Kishimoto, fans around the world have taken to the internet with messages of thanks and fan art. And among them is a series of renditions of Naruto characters so beautiful and realistically portrayed that we almost had to get out our box of tissues again.

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Japan serves up yet another weird pizza, this time topped with cookie-filled chocolate bars!

No one ever said pizza couldn’t be sweet, right? Well, certainly no one in Japan! We’ve already introduced to you the high-sugar Kit Kat pizza and caramel marshmallow pizza, and now we’ve heard that Aoki’s Pizza, a chain based in Japan’s Tokai Region, will soon be offering up a unique creation of its own: the Pizza Black Thunder!

Could this chocolate and cookie laden creation be the ultimate sweet pizza?

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Posing like a (video game) boss! Villainous and heroic cats look ready for a role-playing epic

Lighting is an important part of photography. Arrange some candles on a table one way before you press the shutter button, and you’ve got a snapshot of a romantic dinner. Position everything differently, and you’ve got a spooky séance.

The same goes for if you’re photographing your pet cat. Under certain conditions, he might look like a fluffy little fuzzball, but if the flash reflects off his eyes just right, suddenly he’ll transform into a sinister monster, like this guy here.

Actually, Internet users in Japan recently put together what looks like the core cast of a fantasy role-playing game, with villains and heroes alike represented.

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The giant iPhone 6 Plus is most popular in Asia

Asian consumers are in love with the iPhone 6 Plus, according to a report published Thursday by AppLovin, a mobile ad network.

AppLovin looked at data from the more than 25 ad requests it processes every day, and found that the global split between iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users is about 80/20 right now.

But in some Asian countries, the 6 Plus is much more popular.

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From mermaids to monsters: The taxidermy mummies on show in Japan【Photos】

In the mid-nineteenth century, a showman named P. T. Barnum exhibited an oddity named the Fiji mermaid. Barnum’s mummified mermaid, one of the most famous hoaxes of all time, is widely believed to have been the body of a young monkey sewn onto a fish tail, and had been bought from Japanese sailors for $6,000.

Ningyo (Japanese mermaids – the word literally means “person-fish”) have a long and interesting history, but they aren’t the only ancient fake taxidermy on show in Japan. Across the country are all kinds of other fascinating specimens: “mummies” of tengu, kappa and even dragons.

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Deal of the day – Give this hamster’s Vine video six seconds, and he’ll give you a huge smile

It’s one of the sad facts of life that it generally takes longer to build up a good mood than to tear one down. A quick bit of bad luck can ruin your afternoon (just ask anyone who’s been pooped on by a pigeon), but blissful joy is often the result of building off a string of successes and blessings.

We say “often” because sometimes you stumble across a shortcut to a genuine smile or heartwarming laugh, which is definitely the case with the twist ending to this short video of a hamster having its ear stroked.

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Green tea ramen? Of course we had to give it a try!【Taste Test】

There’s no denying that we love our ramen here in Japan. The dish is so well-loved, in fact, that it can be called one of the national comfort foods of Japan, and one of the factors that make ramen so intriguing is the fact that there are so many variations of it across Japan, from the miso-based ramen of Hokkaido in the north to the pork-stock based tonkotsu ramen of Kyushu in the south.

Surrounded as we are by all the different ramens served at countless shops throughout the country, it’s rare that we see a ramen that surprises us with its originality, but when we heard about a ramen with a soup containing stock made from green tea — and expensive gyokuro tea at that —  we have to say we were positively fascinated, and we knew we had to try it ourselves. Green tea ramen, here we come!

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New stir-in powders promise to make beer even more delicious with boosted malt, fruit flavors

Last year, we talked about seasoning maker Ajigen’s Magic Powder that Makes Ramen More Delicious. Weird as the idea seemed initially, the more we thought about it, we realized it could be just the thing for people with a desire for a tasty meal but no time or motivation to cook for themselves.

That said, if your schedule is so packed you need to prepare dinner in three minutes, we’re guessing you also can’t spare the time for a trip to the bar and a pour of some flavorful and unique craft brew. Thankfully, Ajigen is back again with more magic powder, this time for your beer.

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Why almost all Japanese people hate root beer

When living in another country it’s only natural to miss some of the tastes of home. In my case, the extreme rarity of root beer has been a source of sadness. Time to time I’ll come across a supermarket or import shop that carries it and am sure to pick up a can despite its often exorbitant price of around 200 yen (US$1.69).

The reason for the absence of the drink on the Japanese market is obvious though. Although root beer has its share of detractors even in its home of America, the sheer number of people who can’t stand the stuff in Japan is huge. What is it that makes root beer so overwhelmingly disgusting to Japanese people?

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Japanese baseball fans disappointed by filthy conditions visiting Major Leaguers left dugout in

Every year, Major League Baseball sends a delegation of players to Japan for a series of games against a team of Japanese all-stars. Since the contests are held after the conclusion of both the World and Japan Series, the players are all technically in their off-seasons, but there’s still some impressive skill on display.

The teams and fans all seem to come away with good memories of the games, but the Major Leaguers also left something behind: a ton of trash in their dugout at Tokyo Dome.

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A vision of the future? We can’t take our eyes off Shimizu Corporation’s “Ocean Spiral” design

On Tuesday, engineering company Shimizu Corporation announced the third entry in its “Shimizu Dream Series”–an idea for a futuristic deep sea underwater city named “Ocean Spiral.” The concept was developed over a period of two years through collaboration with Tokyo University, Saga University, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology [JAMSTEC], and other leading research partners.

Although the project has a hefty price tag, officials also say that the proposed colony has the potential to become a reality in the not so distant future. Science fiction fan or not, you’ve got to take a look at these conceptual designs–this may be what’s in store for the future of our species!

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All-male dance group in Japan breaks the ice with incredible “Frozen” inspired number【Video】

How many ways can people display their love for Frozen? It seems like we’ve exhausted all the options. In order to get noticed in the digital age, some are probably trying to ride the coattails of the movie’s popularity. With so many tributes, parodies, interpretations and whatnot, it’s hard to sort through what is worth your precious internet minutes.

A dance troupe in Japan wants you to watch their Frozen performance and they guarantee it won’t be a waste of your time. How do they know? It starts with one simple word: cross-dressing.

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Stand back, kids! 64-year-old enka singer Aki Yashiro completely nails cover of Evangelion theme

The musical style enka usually gets referred to as Japan’s equivalent of country western music. The two do have a lot in common thematically, as the biggest hits of both genres are often centered on blue-collar hardships, melancholy nostalgia, and heavy drinking (one famous enka hit is “Sake Wo,” or, “Bring Me Booze”).

But while there are young country listeners, it’s a lot harder to find fresh-faced enka fans, since the lyrics of many enka ballads are so world-weary it’s hard to appreciate them without a few decades of failed romances and stalled career paths under your belt. So to reach out to a new demographic, one enka legend is recording her version of the theme song of hit anime Evangelion.

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Japanese dictionary removes heteronormative definitions of love and sex

One of Japan’s leading dictionaries has made a significant (and arguably long overdue) step towards acknowledging and normalizing homosexuality by revising the entries for words relating to love and sex. They have removed restrictive references to these feelings existing only between a man and a woman, opening up the definition of love to everyone — gay, straight, or otherwise.

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Anti-UK World War II era photograph featuring grimacing geisha uncovered

If you were paying attention during history class, you’ll know all about wartime propaganda and the role it played in “motivating” people during the war effort. It seems like most countries involved got in on a piece of the propaganda action to some degree or other, with anti-Japanese propaganda being just one example.

But what do you think of this picture that has recently been uncovered showing two geisha holding their noses over a picture of former UK prime minister Winston Churchill? And what’s the joke behind it?

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83-year-old retiree arrested for selling explicit pre-war photos online

Life as a retiree isn’t exactly easy. Sure, you don’t have to get up and go to work every morning, but that also means you don’t have a very substantial income. While your retirement checks might help you put food on the table, they’ll probably seem a bit underwhelming as you get even older. And in Japan, you can’t even go out and get a depressing job as a greeter at Wal-mart.

But there’s always Yahoo! Auction, where you can sell any manner of things you might have lying around the house. Old instruments, old clothes, old dolls, or even, what the heck, how about some old pornographic photos? Any of those are sure to fetch a tidy sum online, but you might want to be careful about those explicit photos–they could very well end up with you getting arrested, as one 83-year-old Tokyo retiree learned!

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Dedicated designer mum’s lunch bag art is way too good to throw away

Brown paper lunch bags don’t have to be boring! One mum’s stunning drawings on her kids’ baggies liven up lunchtime, and are so good that it almost seems a waste to draw them on something that’s designed to be disposable.

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