Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? Part 2: Men’s edition

Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? Part 2: Men’s edition

We recently ran down a number of reasons why so many people in Japan will strap on a surgical mask even if they aren’t feeling sick. One of the most common reasons is that for women, slipping on a mask is less of a hassle then carefully applying makeup, but the cultural phenomena of perfectly healthy Japanese wearing masks isn’t strictly a female thing.

Today, we present the testosterone-packed follow-up to our previous report, as we explore why healthy Japanese men wear masks.

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Senpai Club, Swedish-made, anime-inspired, Japanese-speaking animation, is back! 【Video】

Senpai Club, Swedish-made, anime-inspired, Japanese-speaking animation, is back! 【Video】

Last month we laughed along with the Swedish animators Olivia Bergstrom and Eric Bradford as we watched the first scenes of their anime-inspired creation Senpai Club. Now the pair, collectively known as makebabi.es, is back for another round of parody featuring dangerously pointy anime chins, ostensibly handsome upperclassmen, and just maybe even more stealthy bilingual gags with Senpai Club Episode 1 Part 2.

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Kodansha’s 1st sales jump in 18 years credited to Attack on Titan

Kodansha’s 1st sales jump in 18 years credited to Attack on Titan

Japanese publisher Kodansha reported its financial results for the 2013 fiscal year (December 2012 to November 2013) on Thursday. The company garnered 120.272 billion yen (about US$1.173-billion) in revenue, a 2.0% increase from the previous fiscal year. The publisher’s profits increased by 107.3% to 3.214 billion yen (US$31.346 million). This is Kodansha’s first revenue increase in 18 years and its first increase in both revenue and profit in 19 years.

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Osaka man caught after teaching junior high for 15 years without a license

Osaka man caught after teaching junior high for 15 years without a license

Back when I was applying for my first Japanese work visa, there was a thick stack of paperwork I had to submit. Most of the items made sense, but one that struck me as weird, though, was my college diploma. I knew that Japanese law required a college education for the visa I was applying for, but wouldn’t sealed, authenticated transcripts make more sense than a personal diploma, which could be easily forged for 20 bucks at any print shop, or even with a high quality home-use printer?

Nope, I was informed, it had to be the diploma. That’s the paperwork they give you when you graduate, right? After all, from the standpoint of honest and by-the-book Japanese society, who would be so dishonest as to provide false educational credentials?

How about a man in Osaka, who taught junior high school for 15 years without ever obtaining his teaching credential.

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“We came all the way to see THAT?!” The top disappointing sightseeing spots in North America

“We came all the way to see THAT?!” The top disappointing sightseeing spots in North America

Ah, the joys of international travel. You shell out the majority of your paycheck for a ticket and spend sleepless nights counting down the days to your adventure of a lifetime. Then the day of departure finally comes and you board the plane, arriving hours later at your destination and trembling with anticipation. Camera in hand, you journey to the first famous place on your list that you’ve been dreaming about for weeks on end. Finally there, you take a quick look around, eyes widening in surprise, and blurt out, “…that’s it?!” 

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Girl who lost father in last year’s deadly Hokkaido blizzard pens heart-wrenching thank-you letter

Girl who lost father in last year’s deadly Hokkaido blizzard pens heart-wrenching thank-you letter

While Tokyo’s recent blizzard showed us the lighter side of natural disasters with amusing snow sculptures and insane images of overly panicked urbanites, these kind of storms have the potential to be very deadly and serious if you are caught outside. Last March, a violent storm hit the northeast part of Hokkaido and took the lives of nine people.

One of the most tragic stories to come out of this storm was a young girl who lost her father after he used his own body to protect her from the freezing temperatures and strong winds. On the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, the girl asked one of Japan’s biggest newspapers, the Yomiuri Shimbun, to publish a heart-breaking letter thanking the country for the huge outpouring of support over the past year.

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Take notes in the name of the moon with new line of Sailor Moon pens

Take notes in the name of the moon with new line of Sailor Moon pens

As fans the world over continue to wait for the upcoming newest installment of the Sailor Moon franchise, merchandising giant Bandai has been releasing a steady stream of goodies from the hit anime. Recently, we’ve seen compact mirrors and even lingerie inspired by the twin-tailed magical girl and her cohorts, and now comes a line of Sailor Moon pens.

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We try chucking our lunchtime bento into a pan of soup, result is doubly delicious

We try chucking our lunchtime bento into a pan of soup, result is doubly delicious

The cutesy home-made lunches that lucky Japanese children take to school are famous worldwide. For the time-pushed or culinarily challenged among us, though, store-bought bento (boxed lunches) can offer great value for money. Convenience store bento, which are hugely popular all over Japan, contain all kinds of delicious goodies like fish, meat, stewed vegetables and pickles, along with rice. When one bento-loving Japanese university student threw caution to the wind and sunk her entire lunch into her miso soup, she discovered that the resulting soupy concoction was even more tasty than she could have imagined! Thus, convenience store bento soup was born!

Here at RocketNews24 we love to try out rice-augmenting recipes and other wacky food combinations, so when a writer from our Japanese sister site heard about this amazing invention, made by heating the entire contents of a convenience store lunchbox in a pot of miso soup, she just had to give it a try! Let’s see how she got on.

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Heroes in Japan post harsh reviews for a Hero’s Sword on Amazon Japan

Heroes in Japan post harsh reviews for a Hero’s Sword on Amazon Japan

Tales have oft been told of the mythical items to be found when journeying through the maze of shopping aisles in Japan’s online realm. From unusual manga characters to riot shields, it seems anything might be possible once you’ve entered through the magical portal known as Amazon Japan. Now it seems that visitors who stop by to make purchases are just as interesting as some of the items on offer, as self-proclaimed heroes and brave warriors from across the nation are buying swords from the marketplace and providing feedback on the efficacy of their items. Latest reviews are aimed at an innocent-looking plastic sword, which is said to be under-performing when it comes to vitality levels and magic ability.

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Japanese netizens praise Starbucks’ move to promote 800 temp workers

Japanese netizens praise Starbucks’ move to promote 800 temp workers

With just over 1,000 stores covering practically every prefecture, Starbucks is a coffee powerhouse in Japan. Since opening its first store in Tokyo in 1996, the company has managed to adapt its business model to suit Japanese tastes with seasonal flavors, expanded (alcoholic) menu options and utilizing Japan’s unique architecture. Last week, Starbucks went one step further in its Japanese expansion plan by announcing that it would promote 800 temp workers to full-time positions, which netizens applauded as a move to create pressure on the Japanese market to provide better benefits to workers.

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Autopsy of deer in a Chinese zoo reveals startling cause of death

Autopsy of deer in a Chinese zoo reveals startling cause of death

While the silly news last year about a Chinese zoo trying to pass a dog for a lion made headlines around the world, the story this time is a lot more disturbing. A zoo in Xiamen (also known as Amoy) on the southeast coast of China reported earlier this week that one of its male fallow deer had suddenly died. As if its death wasn’t already tragic enough, upon conducting an autopsy, workers were surprised to discover the unexpected cause of death, something that could easily have been prevented. Keep reading to learn the unfortunate details.

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Is Japan overworking its teachers? One exhausted educator says, “YES!”

Is Japan overworking its teachers? One exhausted educator says, “YES!”

Japan has a reputation for overworking its employees, though it’s hardly the only country! But when it comes to education, you’d expect Japanese teachers, whose students often score among the top in the world on standardized tests, to be solely focused on their classroom materials. But you might be wrong!

One public middle school teacher has recently gotten a ton of attention online for a blog post about her impossible-to-manage duties as a “club leader” and her desire to actually change occupations due to the intense schedule. Read about her experience and the intense reactions below.

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Celebrate the release of live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service with these limited edition treats!

Celebrate the release of live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service with these limited edition treats!

With the live-action version of Kiki’s Delivery Service set to hit cinemas in Japan on March 1, it’s time for the celebrations and tie-in promotions to commence! Japanese bakery chain, Little Mermaid, is one of the first to step up to the plate, paying homage to the movie with this collection of delightfully cute offerings. Available only for a limited time, the three new baked varieties are named in honour of Kiki, her black cat Jiji, and Ms Osono, Kiki’s mother-figure and resident baker. Can you guess which design is which?

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Mini folding chairs, the newest gachapon figures to take Japan by storm

Mini folding chairs, the newest gachapon figures to take Japan by storm

Gachapon machines–the toy-dispensing vending machines seen in great lines in Japanese electronics stores, department stores, and convenience stores–are always filled with the most amusing toys and figures you can imagine. From dogs wrapped in bread to constipated cats, it seems as if there’s no end to the creativity of gachapon producers.

Which makes the recent appearance of folding chairs–yes, plain, simple, tiny folding chairs!–in gachapon machines all the more bizarre. Equally puzzling is the fact that the folding chair gachas are incredibly popular! To understand why, check out the miniscule folding chairs and the ways people have combined them with other gacha figures below.

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The cutest things on four legs: Panda…puppies??

The cutest things on four legs: Panda…puppies??

When you think of China and animals, the first thing to spring to mind is an adorable, large-bellied panda. And then you get a giant, silly grin, because pandas are just straight-up awesome with their black and white fur and ponderous-yet-fluffy way of walking.

Unfortunately, pandas are, obviously, not something most of us get to see every day, which has led many people to color their pets’ hair to be a bit more panda-rific. So, you might be thinking that the puppies pictured above had their fur colored for maximum cuteness–but you’d be wrong! These puppies were born with their panda camouflage!

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We try to get the first PS4 sold in Japan, and so does this guy dressed like a Move controller

We try to get the first PS4 sold in Japan, and so does this guy dressed like a Move controller

For many 22 February was Cat Day in Japan, but for video game fans it meant something much greater. This was finally the day Japanese gamers could get their hands on Sony’s next-gen console, the PlayStation 4.

Prior to this, at the Sony Building in Ginza a celebration was to be held where 100 people who purchased their consoles in advance would get a chance to be the first person to own a Japanese-sold PS4.

The tickets were handed out at 11:00 in the morning of 21 February for the event which took place that evening. Our own first Docomo iPhone5 buyer in Japan, Mr. Sato was hoping to make lightning strike twice and got in line for tickets two days in advance.

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3-D printing in the palm of your hand! The 3Doodler comes to Japan

3-D printing in the palm of your hand! The 3Doodler comes to Japan

Of all the new technologies currently emerging, 3-D printing seems to be the one with the most potential. Though you still can’t download and print a car, the applications for a well-designed and properly calibrated three dimensional printer are seemingly endless!

We’ve previously told you about a Japanese company that will turn your child’s doodles into 3-D works of art, but there’s a new product on the market that lets you skip the initial doodling and go straight to literally drawing in the air. Cleverly named the 3Doodler, the “3D Printing Pen,” as described by its Kickstarter page, completed funding in March of last year and is coming soon to the shores of Japan!

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Chinese netizens rank the top seven feelings of disappointment, boob size makes the list

Chinese netizens rank the top seven feelings of disappointment, boob size makes the list

Life is full of ups and downs, with nice surprises come disappointments. Were you disappointed by anything recently? A Chinese website, Kan Kan Xin Wen Wang, did an online survey to find out the “most disappointing feelings in the world“, and here are the top seven life events that made it into the rankings!

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18 people who know how to squeeze in a nap

18 people who know how to squeeze in a nap

In this busy world, it’s hard to find time to take a nap. Sure, Spain has their siestas, but what about the rest of the world? If you’re in need of some shut eye, just take a cue from these 18 people who know how to get some much needed (or an entirely excessive amount of) sleep.

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Check out this Smart car with a Suzuki Hayabusa engine!【Video】

Check out this Smart car with a Suzuki Hayabusa engine!【Video】

If you like motorcycles, or motorsports, or even just going really fast, then you’ve probably heard of the Suzuki Hayabusa–the world’s fastest production motorcycle. With a reported top speed of around 190 miles per hour for production models, the Japanese-made bike is sure to help put miles between you and any problems you might have–like figuring out how to pay back the US$14,500 price tag.

But it turns out that you don’t need the entire motorcycle to have a good time. For an ambitious gearhead, all you need is the machine’s massive engine and a light car!

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