Local tourism center in northern Japan makes visitors feel like they’ve crossed over into Korea

“Roadside stations,” or michi no eki, are centers in Japan where you can find local agricultural products and restaurants serving up regional fare. For Japanese drivers, these areas serve as both a local tourism spot and a place to relax.

You can find michi no eki all across the country that provide a peek into local Japanese culture, but one center located in Yamagata Prefecture is rumored to make visitors feel right at home in Korea.

Not knowing if the rumor was true or why, one of our Japanese reporters felt compelled to see the center for himself and embarked on a trip up north that led him to Tozawa Village.

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This cat and old guy pair go motorcycling together, are incredibly adorable

Listen guys, it’s only Wednesday and many of you may be having a rough week. Maybe your boss yelled at you for using the wrong PowerPoint template at your lame office job. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend made you sleep on the couch because you forgot your anniversary. Maybe you’re disappointed in yourself because you gave up your dreams of becoming the world’s greatest bassoonist to work a more lucrative but soul-sucking job as an insurance salesman and why didn’t you just stick with the bassoon you could have been somebody you coward why.

But don’t fret, down-on-your-luck readers. We’ve got the perfect thing to bring a smile to your face and get you through to the weekend: Presenting Ryunosuke, the house cat that loves to go motorcycle riding on his owner’s shoulders!

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Video from India shows fast way to load construction equipment…or die, whichever comes first

If you were charged with the task of putting a mini excavator like to one pictured above onto a flatbed truck in under two minutes, what would you do? If you’re like most people you’d probably find a ramp of some sort.

Or, if you have just that right balance of gutsiness and lack of self-preservation instinct, you might do what these guys in India did. Luckily, they recorded it on video for our enjoyment and as evidence preventing any lawsuit against the makers of the excavator.

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The secret reason why this Pikachu tattoo is one of the best you’ll ever see

Tatts, booze, and Pikachu. It’s not always a combination that goes down well but in this case, it’s given birth to something very special.

Netizens around the world are going crazy for the artwork above, praising the artist for the creative design and commending her for helping a customer out with an embarrassing problem. Can you guess what secret is hidden within the image?

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Enter the sandman: sleeping kitty chooses the strangest food for a pillow

After learning last week that cats dictate our (and the CIA’s) actions, we as their human underlings must do everything we can to keep our feline masters as happy as possible. Since cats sleep for around 14 hours a day, there is nothing more important than maintaining the areas where they choose to rest their weary heads.

Is it soft and delicate fabricates that keep them purring? Or perhaps it’s something a little… spicier?

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African Sailor Moon is back with cosplay that burns with Mars power

Cosplay allows you to emulate your favorite heroes and heroines, but also lets you put a little bit of yourself back into the character. When we last caught up with Odera Igbokwe, he was infusing his favorite Sailor Moon characters with a part of his culture through his fan art. This time around, he’s ready to take it another step further and really embody his favorite Sailor Senshi, Sailor Mars.

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What is this kitty trying to tell us? The online mystery of the cat and the cotton swabs

The internet’s full of weird stuff. Usually, it’s really out-there, kooky, insane, bizarre-o weird stuff, but every now and then something comes along which is weird in a baffling way. Take this video of a cat poking some cotton swabs around as if trying to arrange them in a particular way. It was favourited 1.5 thousand times on Twitter, yet nobody commented on it, possibly because no one knows what to make of it.

What is the purpose of the video? Is the cat some kind of feline savant? Is there some deep, philosophical meaning behind the placement of the cotton buds? See if you can work it out…

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Boredom might be behind brilliant Dyson fan loop spotted in Japanese electronics store

James Dyson is kind of the mad scientist/rockstar celebrity of the admittedly probably not very exciting world of vacuum cleaner and fan design. The Dyson company’s innovations have more or less revolutionized the world of electronic devices that primarily, uh… suck and blow.

But it looks like Dyson’s genius designs are so innovative that with the right amount of boredom and free time, just being in the mere presence of Dyson products can apparently inspire creative epiphany, as this infinitely looping Dyson fan layout – spotted at a Japanese electronics store – seems to prove.

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“How do you distinguish Americans?” video sheds light on stereotypes from around the world

Korean YouTuber SW Yoon asked a number of Japanese and international students at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Japan, to share their views on what sets Americans apart from people of other nationalities.

With over 2 million views since it was uploaded last week, the video has elicited a number of responses in its comments section, ranging from the blatant “so racist” to the more optimistic “it’s interesting to see how other young people from around the world see us generally.

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Confessions of a gaijin: 12 things we do that we’d never admit to Japanese people

In Japan almost everyone hangs out their laundry to dry rather than using costly, energy-guzzling clothes dryers. Foreigners have no problems complying, but one quickly learns that underwear is special–you don’t hang it out with the rest of your clothes where others might see it (or try to see it). The “smallies” are to be hung up inside. When you think about it, it does make sense. But other things are harder for foreigners to get used to and yet others just don’t make sense at all to us so are harder to incorporate into our lifestyles here.

Pooling responses from expats living here in Japan and the RocketNews24 staff, today we’re sharing the most common things that we just can’t quite embrace like the Japanese do, no matter how hard we try. Join us after the jump as we reveal the secret life of gaijin…but shhhh, don’t tell anyone!

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The surprisingly soothing tranquility of Japanese taxi drivers waiting for passengers 【Video】

If you’ve ever toured a factory or seen a video of one operating, you know there’s something entrancingly soothing about seeing sophisticated machinery in action. Taking a human-designed process and repeating it with such unswerving coordination can make it feel as natural and calming as sitting beside a lake while watching the waves lap the same spot on the shore over and over.

But it’s not just machines that can perform a routine with such precision as to impart a sense of reassuring inevitability, as shown by this video of taxi cab line protocol in Japan.

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Japanese netizens approve of Japan Railway’s cool yosakoi dance troupe 【Video】

If you’ve ever visited Japan, surely you’ve ridden on at least one of the many Japan Railway (JR) train lines, where you probably noticed the serious and stoic faces of the company’s conductors and staff. So it might be hard to imagine that JR Kyushu has it’s own very energetic, award-winning yosakoi dance oendan, or cheering squad, that frequently competes in some of the biggest yosakoi traditional dance festivals around the country.

This past weekend the JR Kyushu Oentai performed and won the top prize at the Sapporo YOSAKOI Soran Festival in Hokkaido (Japan’s northern-most island), and as soon as footage and pictures of their performance hit the internet, Japanese netizens were abuzz about just how cool the group looked.

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Can you guess which Pokémon character just got a super muscular shirtless figure?

The Pokémon series spends a lot of time focusing on how its adorable fighting monsters become stronger as they gain experience, but what about their human trainers? Sure, they may not be throwing any punches, but the core characters of the anime and video game franchise leave home at an early age to wander the world on foot and subdue wild beasts that, cute as they may be, can breathe fire, produce high-voltage electricity blasts, and squirt poison.

You have to figure the child mortality rate for would-be Pokémon Masters is astronomical, and those kids that do survive would become incredibly fit by nature of all death-defying physical activity their lifestyle demands. So maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised that retailer Bandai has just announced a shirtless figure of one of the most well-known human beings in the Pokémon universe, and it turns out he’s pretty ripped.

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Driving just became so much more thrilling with this katana-handle shift knob

A while back, we introduced a realistic ninja throwing star origami template for all of you ninjas-in-training, but if you’re more of a sword-wielding samurai-type (and you happen to drive a truck), you can now turn your shift knob into a samurai sword! Or, well, at least half of one…

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First video ad for 2015 Pikachu outbreak event reminds us how adorable last year’s was

Roughly half an hour south of Tokyo by train, the city of Yokohama is a great place to hang out in the summer. The city boasts great dining and beautiful parks, plus most of its attractions are located near the harbor, which is regularly caressed by cooling breezes.

Of course, it’s not just people who enjoy heading down to the bayside capital of Kanagawa Prefecture, but Pokémon as well. Just like they did last year, packs of Pikachus will be spending their summer vacation in Yokohama, and the first ad for their upcoming visit gives us a taste of what’s in store.

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Korean Officials to foreign tourists: “If you contract MERS, we’ll give you $3,000!”

As you may have heard, there’s an epidemic in South Korea. Since last month, more than 150 people have contracted the deadly MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus, among whom 19 have died.

As a result, foreign tourists in South Korea have been leaving the country in droves, and the usually-thriving tourism industry has been suffering. To try and help alleviate matters, South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has made a somewhat unusual decision: they will pay tourists US$3,000 if they contract MERS while in South Korea.

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Totoro and No-Face come out to play in the rain on Ghibli umbrellas that change patterns when wet

Unless you’ve got a bitter aversion to the cold, odds are you’ll find early summer to be the least pleasant time of year in Japan, weather-wise. Not only is it hot and muggy, it’s also the country’s rainiest period, and just about any time you’re stepping outside you’ll want to carry an umbrella with you.

Thankfully, there’s a way to make the rainy season a little more enjoyable, as a new line of Studio Ghibli-themed umbrellas means a summer squall is just the beginning of a Totoro hunt as the beloved forest spirit magically appears on the umbrella’s fabric when it gets wet.

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Super Mario Maker gets an official release date, will be playable at Best Buy soon【E3 2015】

Nintendo has announced that Super Mario Maker, its extensive Mario-themed level creator software for Wii U, will go on sale from September 11 this year. A new Amiibo figure and level designer’s guide book are also scheduled for release.

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U.S. baseball player joins Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants, but it’s his wife that’s getting the attention

People really love sports, don’t they? If, like me, you grew up lacking the gene that makes watching a bunch of strangers whack balls around somehow fascinating, then it sometimes seems like a whole alien world. Still, I can appreciate that televised sports bring a lot of excitement to people’s lives. What I can’t understand, however, is when people get all excited about sports players’ wives and girlfriends.

Miles Mikolas, a baseballer from the U.S., joined the Yomiuri Giants for the 2015 baseball season and it seems that a lot of people in Japan are much more interested in his beautiful, blonde wife than in him. And this is a guy who apparently ate a lizard whole during a game.

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Gigantic girls take over your favourite Tokyo tourist spots 【Videos】

As a tiny island packed with millions of people, Japan knows all about the small things. From compact serving sizes to tiny houses on narrow streets, everything here is designed for convenience to help cope with the stress of overcrowding and the real possibility of stepping on someone else’s toes.

Now, as Japan throws itself into the 21st century, it’s looking towards the bigger things: its place in the wider context of Asia and the Pacific Region; the 2020 Olympics and, why not; gigantic girls.

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