Izumo’s Starbucks, a stone’s throw away from the gathering place of Shinto’s eight million gods

Shintoism has such a large pantheon of gods that the religion even has a structured way in which they all keep in touch with each other. Every October, the deities enshrined across the nation are said to gather in Shimane Prefecture’s Izumo Taisha Shrine, where they convene for their annual divine meeting.

We imagine it’s a busy conference, considering that some eight million deities are thought to attend. So we’re sure several of them were happy to find Izumo City now has a Starbucks, with the same tasty beverages the chain serves all over Japan, but with Japanese décor that’s unique to Izumo.

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Bizarre otaku dancing catches on as Wotagei spreads around the world【Videos】

Wotagei, Japan’s unusual form of otaku dancing, is spreading across the seas and capturing the hearts of foreign idol and anime fans, causing them to contort their bodies in strange but rhythmic formations. Read on for more about this unique performance art and watch some videos of afficionados in action.

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The double-cheese-mayonnaise-melon-bread is a mouthful in more ways than one

When the humbly named “World’s Second-Most Delicious Ice Cream Melon Bread” bakery in Kanazawa blessed the world with its ice cream-filled melon bread this past year, it was a massive hit. The creamy fusion was so popular that its makers opened up another shop in Shibuya in July so that even more people could fall in love with the creamy lumps of guilty goodness.

If you thought the bakery was satisfied with giving customers just one new way to enjoy melon bread, though, think again. They’ve recently put out a new, more mysterious item dubbed the double-cheese-mayonnaise-melon-bread.

What on earth could it possibly taste like? And what does its absurdly long name even mean? We went to find out for ourselves.

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Sayonara, spuds! McDonald’s Japan halts sales of medium and large orders of French fries

I’m heading back to the U.S. for a couple of days at the end of the year, and as much as I love Japan, it’ll be nice to spend some time doing things I can’t here. Aside from seeing family and friends, I’m looking forward to watching a college bowl game or two, plus soaking up some warm January sunshine, which tends to be much more plentiful in California than Kanagawa Prefecture.

And as long as I’m making a list of things you can’t do in Japan, I should probably add getting a large batch of French fries at McDonald’s, since, for the time being, the chain will only be selling small sizes of spuds in Japan.

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All the smartphone accessories you’ll ever need – only 100 yen each!

With the fierce competition in the 100-yen market, it is no wonder that discount chain stores in Japan are leveling up their game with more variety and more attractive products, all for the same cheap price of 100 yen (under US$1). That said, we were still pleasantly surprised when we came across this amazing list of all the accessories you can get for your smartphone for just 100 yen each – even things Apple officially retails at nearly 20 times the price!

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Artist creates stunning Chinese-style paintings using cosmetics

“Red” Hong Yi is a Malaysian artist-architect who creates brilliant and unconventional works of art. Known as “the artist who loves to paint, but not with a paintbrush,” she uses mascara, foundation, and other cosmetics to give rise to misty mountainsides, vibrant fire crackers, and shimmering ponds.

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Fans vote for series with the most unfashionable everyday clothing

The world of anime and manga has plenty of noteworthy costumes, from battle armorto team jerseys and school uniforms galore. But sometimes when the characters are just hanging out with their friends in everyday clothing, or gracing the covers of CDs and promo posters, their wardrobe choices aren’t so fashionable.

Japanese portal site Goo asked its readers which anime series had the un-coolest everyday clothing.

Here’s the top ten:

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Korean illustrator gives Western fairy tales a whimsical Eastern makeover【Pics】

It’s been a year since the release of the mega hit animation Frozen, but as much as some of us can’t wait for it to fade into the shadows, the icy queen and her Frozen empire are still staying put in the spotlight, as if the movie had only been released last month.

We previously saw Elsa and Anna looking glam in some beautiful Chinese dresses. Bet you’re not surprised that we found her donning a Korean hanbok this time! Some of you might be thinking, “RocketNews24 is writing about Frozen AGAIN”, but don’t roll your eyes just yet, because Elsa is just one of the many stunning East-West fusion pieces that Korean illustrator Na Young Wu has created. Check out her other Western fairy tale interpretations after the jump!

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Giant disembodied head of middle-aged man spotted floating over Tochigi Prefecture

Residents of Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture were baffled last weekend by the appearance of an Unidentified Floating Object drifting serenely across the blue skies of their fair city. Initial reports spoke of a “gigantic head” with “the face of a middle-aged man.” So, what’s the story here? Is this a case of mass hysteria? Did a really ugly UFO really appear over Tochigi prefecture? Or is there a rational explanation for this baffling apparition? Join us after the jump for close-up pictures of the floating monstrosity, as well as the real reason why it took to the skies to frighten residents on a sunny Saturday afternoon!

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Japanese university English teacher fights student misbehaviour with eccentric new rulebook

“All students must play with their cellphones constantly for 90 minutes” and “Any student bringing the appropriate textbook will be removed from the classroom” were among the new rules announced in a Japanese university English class last week as one lecturer attempted to tackle lazy, inattentive students who text in class and forget homework. The beleaguered teacher distributed her new anti-manifesto for classroom behaviour along with a gloriously bizarre expletive-laden worksheet, both of which were posted by a student on Twitter with the caption “Sensei finally cracked”.

I did say expletive-laden. So if you’re reading this in class, make sure your teacher doesn’t catch you reading the swear words.

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Japan is home to the cutest bug in the world, but they’re on the verge of extinction

Yes, you read that right: A cute bug! Well, that is up to debate, but it is definitely not as a gross as other bugs, like that hand-sized spider I had in my house that one time…

Because of the way they hover and their fuzzy bodies, these cute little fellas kind of look like a cross between a hummingbird and a bee. Their long mouth/noses resemble those of a nasty mosquito, but the fact that they are barely 10mm long (approximately the length of the first part of your pinkie finger) and harmless pollinators make them really people-friendly. Join us after the jump as we meet arguably the world’s most affable insect: the Tiger Bee Fly.

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Our hero Ladybeard shows us and the world how to properly wear the much-talked about boob shirt

The last we heard from local hero and generally awesome person Ladybeard, he was promoting English classes from a language school in conjunction with the always pleasant and surprisingly proficient-English-speaker Sailor Suit Old Man. Since then, it seems Ladybeard has seriously upped his fashion game, currently sporting the much-talked about boob window shirt that has taken Japanese social media by storm.

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Pooch’s attempt to get out of bathtime involves oddly slow, amazingly cute doggy paddle【GIF】

It seems like it’s not just humans, but every member of the animal kingdom in Japan that loves a nice, relaxing bath. Hot spring-loving monkeys have been attracting tourists to Japan’s rural onsen for decades, and capybaras’ bathtime privacy is also a thing of the past.

But that doesn’t mean all of Japan’s creatures are down for a dip in the tub, though, as this adorable pooch looks like he’s ready to make a break for it, even if it comes at the price of getting his paws wet.

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Scandal as pretty star of the “Sunflower Movement” is found to have a shady past

What do you stand for? Well, whatever it is, a pretty face can really help your cause along. Just ask Taiwan’s Sunflower Movementwhose protests gained international attention when Taiwanese star Johanne Liou was photographed within the throngs of their supporters.

The angel-faced Liou seemed to have pretty much everything required to be model spokesperson for the group. Strong principles? Check. Good speaker? Check. A confident, informed woman? Even better. Unfortunately, her shady past involving prostitution wasn’t something that was destined to go down well when it was leaked.

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Street Fighter II creator Yoshiki Okamoto talks games and his new project, Monster Strike 【Interview】

When Street Fighter II creator and retro gaming legend Yoshiki Okamoto announced two years ago that he was leaving console games forever to pursue mobile gaming projects, many probably thought he was joking. A lifelong arcade and console game creator abandoning ship to work in the much loathed and parodied mobile platform? This must be some kind of pre-retirement prank, surely?

As it happens, Okamoto was dead serious, and – far from having retired – has made good on his promise to focus on mobile games, working with a protege to crank out one of the most successful mobile games of all time: Monster Strike.

Monster Strike has reached over 16 million players in Japan and Taiwan, exceeding all expectations and becoming a cultural institution in the game’s native Japan. Sensing it was time to strike out into other territories, Okamoto, game producer Koki Kimura and his team are now working to expand the game into the west and beyond. We caught up with Okamoto and Kimura in San Francisco at Monster Strike’s North American launch party to talk about the game and the industry in general:

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How much do Japanese girls expect their boyfriends to spend on Christmas presents? 【Poll results】

Christmas Eve in Japan is very much a date night, perhaps the biggest of the year. Couples go to see festive Christmas lights, have a nice dinner and exchange gifts; the night really matters. But about those gifts…

How much money are you planning on spending on your significant other this holiday season? How much are you expecting them to spend on you? If you’re single, how much do you think your potential darling would want to dish out for a Christmas present? A recent poll gives us a great insight into how much we should probably be spending.

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More than 100 artists recreate Final Fantasy VII in epic fan video

Nearly 20 years after the release of Final Fantasy VII, the iconic Japanese RPG is still regarded as one of the best video games ever made. And although fans may have been disappointed by the recent announcement that the game won’t be given a facelift for its PS4 debut, Final Fantasy VII lovers can wallow in their grief by an amazing video compiled from 200 original works of arts from more than 100 artists. The artwork recreates key scenes from the video game, taking viewers on a very nostalgic walk back to the many days spent on their PlayStations with Cloud and his friends.

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Festive cockroach crackers are on their way to help get the party started in Japan

Japan works hard for most of the year, but right now, it’s party time across the nation. With the holiday’s secular, stylish image, many people get together with friends for Christmas parties, not to mention end-of-the-year and beginning-of-the-year parties with both coworkers and private acquaintances.

And what more festive way to get the party going than with a party cracker? You know, one of those shiny paper cones that, when you pull its cord, emits a shower of confetti…or, in the case of one new design, a colony of cockroaches.

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New poster shows live-action Attack on Titan’s Titan, who’s double the size of his anime version

Last month, we got our first look at the cast of the two upcoming live-action Attack on Titan films, dressed in the costumes they’ll appear in. But while the actors and actresses looked snappy in their Scout Corps uniforms, the first batch of images neglected to show the movie’s literally biggest characters: the Titans themselves. That’s been rectified now, though, as a new poster shows the gruesome visage of the series’ most iconic giant, and producers have revealed that he’s even bigger than his anime inspiration.

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New Pokémon Center opens, resellers snatch up thousands of dollars of limited edition plushies

For the most part, Japan does a pretty thorough job of separating its video games from reality. Even after decades of Super Mario Bros., the country isn’t beset with inhumane monsters stomping on box turtles for fun, and while some dude did once take a swing at me in Shibuya Station, Tokyo’s sidewalks are almost universally free of would-be street fighters.

One notable exception, though, is Pokémon, in that people who love hunting for the monsters in the game tend to also like searching for cool merchandise based on the series in real life. But while fans have a mutual respect for each other’s dedication and efforts to catch ‘em all in the game, some were a little less impressed when they showed up to shop at Tokyo’s newest Pokémon Center, only to find some covetous shoppers had bought up all of the store’s special stuffed animals, with one individual spending the equivalent of thousands of dollars on Pikachu plushies.

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