Eat a red-nosed reindeer and Santa Penguin this Christmas at Baskin Robbins Japan

Baskin Robbins Japan is known for their quirky ice cream creations centered around major foreign holidays, and this year they’ve rolled out a half dozen smiley face frozen treats for Christmas. Featuring familiar characters and adorable animals, these special sundaes in festive cups will get anyone into the holiday spirit. Let’s take a closer look at this cute Christmas lineup:

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Sleeping next to your celebrity crush hug pillow not enough? Now you can peel his clothes off

We recently looked at the physical and psychological benefits of sleeping with hug pillows, or dakimakura as they’re known in Japan. But while that discussion was limited to plain, undecorated dakimakura, it’s no secret that a large number of jumbo-size pillows in Japan are adorned with drawings or photos of the owner’s anime or celebrity crush.

Sometimes these dakimakura end up being used for relatively chaste purposes, like a romantic train ride. We don’t think it’s going too far, though, to speculate they’re also put to more lascivious means as stand-ins for obsessive fans’ lust towards their unattainable objects of desire. As a result, one new dakimakura allows you to tear the clothes off a rock star.

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One Direction’s Harry Styles imports Japanese to the United States

With their global popularity showing no sign of waning, One Direction have had a busy year, and are set for more of the same in 2015 after already announcing their On The Road Again Tour 2015. The band first visited Japan in January 2013, and since then floppy-haired tween sex symbol Harry Styles seems to have become quite taken with the country. Now it looks like he has made it his mission to spread a little bit of Japanese culture to his millions of adoring fans.

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Head-mounted lie detectors: The cool new way to ruin your office Christmas party in Japan

The end of the year is the prime party season in Japan, when groups of coworkers and friends gather to celebrate Christmas, the end of the old year, and the start of the new one. Generally, most attendees are conent to chat, eat fried chicken or other broadly popular grub, and drink far more than would be socially acceptable in most other countries.

At some gatherings there are games to be played, too. Bingo and quizzes are both pretty common, but if neither one of those is quite exciting enough for you, maybe you’d like to spice things up by having you and the people you see every day at the office ask each other potentially embarrassing questions. And just to make sure the atmosphere of awkwardness is 100-percent genuine, why not bring along one of these handy head-mounted lie detectors from toymaker Takara Tomy?

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Maruyama Zoo tries to mate two spotted hyenas for four years, recently learns both are males

Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo, Hokkaido was the scene of awkwardness on 26 September when it was learned that two spotted hyenas slated for making babies were actually both males. At first this might seem like a major oversight of really basic biology, but in the unique case of the spotted hyena it’s actually fairly understandable.

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Limited edition Psycho Break/The Evil Within PlayStation 4 consoles unveiled

Resident Evil 4 director Shinji Mikami’s upcoming survival horror title Psycho Break (The Evil Within in the West) is now just a couple of weeks away from release, and its makers have just announced a pair of limited edition PlayStation 4 consoles featuring the game’s title and an image of the insane asylum in which it is set.

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【TBT】The avant-garde art of book stacking in stores of Japan

With bookstores in Japan overflowing with manga, novels and non-fiction, it takes a lot to stand out and get noticed. However, with the advent of the three styles of book stacking we’re going to show, it’s impossible for passersby not to stop and take a gander at these literary works.

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Japanese town promotes itself as a cosplay-friendly destination

Japanese city Matsudo, located in Chiba prefecture, is encouraging cosplayers to visit on the weekends, billing its Yabashira district as a cosplay-friendly environment.

The city decided to launch a promotional campaign, noticing that cosplayers have been congregating at nearby 21 Seiki no Mori to Hiroba Park for photoshoots for several years. Together with the Yabashira Ekimae Chuo-Shotenkai shop owners association, which spearheaded the promotional efforts, the city has been posting posters of two girls, one in fantasy garb, with the phrase, “On weekends, I transform myself.” Incidentally, the girl on the left is wearing an outfit modeled after the actual Matsudo High School uniform.

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Of course Japan wants you to use the Oculus Rift to look up girls’ skirts

Today in the most unsurprising non-news possibly ever: Yes, Japan is working on yet another creepy, borderline pedophilic virtual reality “game” where you interact in new, sleazy ways with a possibly underage girl.

This time, the new program in question is an Oculus Rift (the newer DK2, of course) game where the goal is to blow into a microphone and upturn virtual reality hottie Hatsune Miku’s skirt with your comically powerful virtual breath.

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There’s going to be a Tetris movie! And it’s going to be a “sci-fi epic”!

It might not be the most obvious choice for a Hollywood blockbuster, but ’80s classic Tetris will be getting a movie adaptation “sometime in the near future”, the Wall Street Journal reports. And Larry Kasanoff, chief executive of Threshold Entertainment, says the film will be a “sci-fi epic”!

Threshold Entertainment is the movie company behind Mortal Kombat, and they’ll be working together with The Tetris Company to develop a sci-fi film based on the classic game. “Everyone knows that Tetris is one of the best known, most beloved brands in the world,” Kasanoff said. “What everyone doesn’t know yet is this epic sci-fi story that we’re going to tell. That’s what’s really exciting.”

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Strawberry and beef? We try Lotteria’s new Tochigi Wagyu Steak Hamburger with Strawberry Sauce

Japan is known for its succulent wagyu beef, but most people familiar with the meat probably wouldn’t expect it to be served as … a hamburger! But that’s exactly what Japanese fast food chain Lotteria is doing. And it’s not just a one-time promotion either; they’re serving a different kind of wagyu hamburger each month as a campaign over a period of about a year. And since the new hamburger they just released at the end of September involved a highly interesting ingredient for a hamburger, we simply had to go out and try it! Yes, it’s the “Tochigi Wagyu Steak Hamburger with Tochiotome Strawberry Sauce” (Tochigi Wagyu Hamburg Steak Burger (Tochiotome Sauce)), and we couldn’t wait to see how strawberries and wagyu mix!

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We try Riedel’s glass which unleashes the true flavor potential of Coca Cola

Coca Cola is such a popular brand that it seems unnecessary to even have to explain the taste. Love it or hate it, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s never tried it. But how many of us have experienced the true essence of Coca Cola’s flavor and aroma?

Apparently, Coca Cola is like our brains in that we only make use of a faction of its true worth. By drinking it out of ordinary plastic cups, bottles made of ice, or gutters, precious flavor is squandered leaving you with a substandard product.

Enter premium wine glass maker Riedel and their glass designed to heighten the Coca Cola experience to new levels. We sent our resident Cokehead Mr. Sato down to the Japanese release of the Coca Cola + Riedel glass for a taste test.

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To handwrite, or not to handwrite? Recruiter lays into ‘laziness’ of young Japanese job hunters

Traditionally, Japanese resumes are handwritten on a special form. Recently, however, typed resumes are becoming more common – and one recruiter is not happy about this. Writing anonymously on Japanese website Hatelabo, the blogger, who works for a chain restaurant in Japan and is involved in recruitment, sets out his reasons for why an applicant who submits a typewritten resume should be the first to find their application on the “no” pile.

“You young people, don’t you have any common sense?” he asks of applicants with the typed resumes. “Are you crazy? In my day, this would have been unimaginable!” Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the handwritten CV.

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Manga fans will probably be familiar with Shonen Jump, the weekly manga publication by Shueisha that has brought to us some of the hottest manga titles of all time, including One Piece, Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star), Slam Dunk, Naruto, and more recent hits such as Kuroko no Basuke (The Basketball that Kuroko Plays) and Haikyuu!!, just to name but a few.

Being the indisputable leader of the manga industry, Shueisha continues to mesmerize manga lovers with new titles, and now, online manga that moves. Ridiculously large, bouncing boobies after the break!

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“Nara Quest”: The perfect parodying souvenirs from Nara Prefecture for all Dragon Quest fans

What would you get if you crossed the ancient capital of Japan with the massively successful Dragon Quest series of video games? Nope, it’s not a silly question, since this collaboration has already been realized in the form of “Nara Quest,” the funny title for a handful of amusing souvenirs from Nara Prefecture that parody the famous game franchise. Read on for a look at the clever goods!

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A sad turn of events at a butterfly exhibition in China

The beautiful butterfly, nature’s own lesson about the cycle of life. What starts as a lowly caterpillar, given enough time, transforms into a majestic winged beauty. Everyone loves the butterfly, as they flutter through the air, their brightly colored wings are a feast for the eyes. Which is why it’s so disheartening to hear of a butterfly exhibition going horribly wrong in China.

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Soup not soap: Japanese public bathhouses surviving by converting into retro-chic cafés

Japan has been going through something of a hot spring renaissance over the past decade, but at the same time, things are tough for Japan’s other traditional venues for communal bathing, sento, or public bathhouses. Despite a recent uptick in their number of foreign customers, most Japanese have a pretty lukewarm reaction to the prospect of taking a soak with others if the water isn’t heated by geothermal sources.

For the current generation, a hot bath drawn from the tap is no longer a luxury nor something that necessitates leaving home for, and so sento have been shutting down around the country. But rather than close their doors for good, a few have converted their bathing facilities into dining spaces and been reborn as stylishly retro sento cafes.

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Is your grandpa bad-ass enough for these epic, blade-concealing walking sticks?

Christmas is coming up, and if you are wondering whether you should get gramps another boring old tie pin or golf shirt, may we humbly suggest a skull- or dragon-shaped walking stick of death?!

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Sushi Wine doesn’t pair well with raw fish, but we’re still going to buy another bottle

A few companies in Japan have been trying to pair wine, a traditionally non-Japanese beverage, with favorite foods from around the country. First, we saw Okonomiyaki Wine, meant to be enjoyed with Osaka and Hiroshima’s favorite savory pancake. Recently, one of the staff members over at our sister site YouPouch discovered a bottle of Sushi Wine that is said to go perfectly with the flavors of raw fish. Nihonshu, what is commonly referred to as “sake” outside of Japan is the usual sushi standby, so we were excited to give this new competitor a try.

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New tax exemption system for foreign visitors to Japan starts today!

If you are a regular RocketNews24 reader, you may already know that there have been a lot of changes to Japan’s consumption tax system this year. For those of us who live here, it’s meant an annoying price hike for nearly everything, but for visitors, there is some good news.

Starting today, October 1, new rules regarding consumption tax exemptions for foreign visitors go into effect, and for once, these are actually changes that work in your favor. More details after the jump.

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