“Otoko no ko” Satsuki tells her story, explains how Japan’s hospitals aren’t trans-ready

We’ve seen several gender stereotype-destroying otoko no ko (girl-boys) recently, from Kaoru Ishima who models as both a man and a woman, to Nong Poy the stunning transgender Thai actress.

The latest otoko no ko to take the internet by storm is Satsuki, a transgender woman who has a large online following, and has undergone sex reassignment surgery – a rarity in Japan. She blogs about her experience transitioning from a man to a woman, explaining her conflicts with Japan’s medical system, and how she eventually abandoned it altogether.

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Samsung’s Dream Doghouse: a $30,000 pad for the cultivated canine

When we look at our four-legged companions, we can see ourselves stripped of all the complications of being human. After all, dogs seem to derive an almost inordinate amount of joy from the simplest pleasures: a well-chewed bone; a warm spot on the couch; occasional rolls in the dirt. Yet, as with humans, there are some dogs that value the finer things in life. 

Samsung might just have the answer for these posh canines: the Dream Doghouse. With building costs of US$30,000, this prime piece of real estate is hardly a bargain… but, then again, how many doghouses have a hydro-pool and treadmill?

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Want to copy Sailor Moon’s hairstyle? This video will show you how

Whether you got into Sailor Moon through its English-language TV broadcast version and think of the main character as “Meatball Head” or you’re a Japanese original purist who calls them odango, there’s no denying that anime’s most famous magical girl has an instantly recognizable hairstyle. Not only is it iconic, it’s actually pretty cute too.

Even better, unlike many of anime’s most well-known looks, it’s pretty easy look to achieve in real life, as shown by this short instructional video of how to give yourself the Sailor Moon hairdo.

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Are you holding your chopsticks correctly? Chopstick Man will show you how 【Video】

For many of us born outside of Asia, eating with chopsticks is not a skill we’re taught from a young age, and is something many people may go their whole lives without mastering. In Japan, however, kids are started on chopsticks from as early as a year old, and whether or not a person holds their chopsticks correctly reflects on that person’s upbringing (because only a lazy, incompetent parent would allow their child to hold chopsticks like a heathen!).

Not to worry though–foreigners in Japan are given a lot of slack in the chopstick department, since it’s generally assumed that chopsticks are pretty much non-existent in the west. But even if you don’t know how to use chopsticks doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn how, and if you can use them, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re doing it correctly. That’s where Chopstick Man comes in, with his tutorial on the proper way to hold your hold your chopsticks!

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Since chocolate ramen was so good, we went back for … strawberry ramen! 【Taste Test】

Readers who saw our story about the chocolate ramen we tried last month were probably able to tell that we were quite impressed with the unusual noodle creation. So when we heard that the very same ramen shop Menya Musashi had come out with yet another singular ramen dish, you can bet our interest was piqued. This time, the ramen involved fruit — yes, we were ready to make another visit to their shop in Shinjuku to try their … strawberry ramen!

But do berries and ramen mix well? We were about to find out!

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Official Evangelion bath salts are just as crazy and mentally scarring as the anime itself

For such a bleak anime, the visuals of psychological sci-fi saga Evangelion can be incredibly colorful. There’s mecha pilot Rei’s ethereal blue hair, the vivid purple of Eva Unit 01, and the mysterious white liquid that adorns protagonist Shinji’s hand in the End of Evangelioon theatrical feature (though not in its broadcast version).

Even the sea has a surreal hue in the anime, as the cataclysmic events that precede its first episode have turned the waters of Earth’s oceans blood-red. But while the effect is striking enough that it’s hard to take your eyes off it, it turns out filling your bathtub up with one kind of Evangelion bath salts water doesn’t make it a particularly tempting place to take a soak.

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Make your best-tasting onigiri taste even better with this easy recipe! 【RocketKitchen】

Onigiri, or rice balls, are one of the easiest ways to dabble in Japanese cooking. It’s almost as easy to make homemade onigiri as it is to buy from a store. The popularity of the simple rice ball is so great, there is even a store that sells one from each of the 47 prefectures.

In the RocketKitchen, our aim is to show you the best way to make fabulous Japanese dishes right in your own home. This time, we’re going to share with you foolproof way to create the best-tasting onigiri you’ve ever made. Hope you’ve got some rice cooking–it’s time to level-up that onigiri!

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Tokyo’s butler dentist will let you lay your head on his lap as he brushes your teeth, m’lady

While they’re not as famous as the country’s maid cafes, Japan actually has a number of butler cafes that cater to women who’re looking for a little eye candy to accompany their light fare. Being a cafe, though, means the menus often feature coffee, tea, cake, and other things that aren’t so good for your teeth.

So how can women indulge in their butler-themed daydreams while doing something that won’t lead to unsightly discoloration or cavities? Simple, by taking a trip to this dental clinic in Tokyo where they can lay their heads on a butler’s lap as he brushes their teeth for them.

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Skills of the fastest mochi-pounding pros in all of Japan leave us dumbfounded 【Video】

The making of mochi, traditional Japanese rice cakes, is a traditional activity for many Japanese families around the time of the New Year’s holiday. The term for this important ritual in Japanese is mochitsuki (餅つき), which quite simply means “mochi pounding.”

While there are dozens of mochi specialty shops scattered throughout Japan, one particular shop specializing in yomogimochi (mochi mixed with mugwort, giving it a distinctive green color) in Nara Prefecture boasts much more than delicious sweets–its second claim to fame is that it employs the fastest mochitsuki champions in all of the country!

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Sociologist says high school hierarchy keeps Japanese adults away from their home towns

Ijime, or bullying, is sadly as much a part of Japanese school life as it is in any other country. In Japan, too, each school has a sort of social hierarchy, where the “cool kids” often pick on or exclude the nerdy/unsporty kids, and everyone gets shuffled around until the “stronger” kids are on the top and the “weaker” kids are on the bottom.

But in a society like Japan, where group mentality is so important, you’d be mistaken for thinking that after high school everyone just flutters off to become their own special snowflake and cast off the mental wounds of a tough adolescence.

In other words, if someone was bullied in school, there’s a chance they’ll keep on being bullied by the same people right on through their working days if they stay in the same town. So how does this “high school hierarchy” continue to affect the lives of adults in Japan?

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A collection of cute critters and their adorable antics at Japanese pet shops

Japanese Twitter users can’t stop gushing over an assortment of–you guessed it–pictures of cute animals in ridiculous poses at their local pet shops. Since there appears to be a correlation between the time spent squealing over cute critters and human stress levels, we advise you to pull up a chair and start fawning right away if you’re having a less than stellar day!

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Say it with flowers and a Ghibli character! Proof that Totoro can make even plant pots cute!

I’ve never really thought of plant pots as being particularly good gifts, and buying a flowerpot for Mother’s Day has never crossed my mind (sorry mum!) But if that planter was being pulled along by a steadfast Totoro, or came with a little Jiji the cat standing guard by the flowers, it’d probably be worth a second look.

These two new designs from Studio Ghibli merchandise store Donguri Kyouwakoku are miniature plant pots featuring adorable Totoro and Jiji figures, and they’ve just been announced for a Mother’s Day release!

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Village in Taiwan has dozens of anime and children’s characters painted on its houses!【Photos】

Don’t you agree that our surroundings influence our mood? Being in a bright, vibrant environment usually makes one feel more positive and happy, and the positive energy in us in turn has the power to influence the mood of others around us.

A small village in Tainan City of Taiwan has been attracting attention online and attracting visitors because of the cheerful vibes that emanate from its brightly colored walls. With walls covered in colorful paintings of SpongeBob, Totoro, Doraemon and other characters and motifs, there’s no doubt this village must be a happy place!

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ISIS strikes at the heart of Japan…by hacking F-League futsal club’s webpage

On the morning of Sunday, 8 March terror struck the Japanese futsal world as a banner appeared of Tokyo-based futsal club Fuchu Athletic FC for approximately three hours. Apparently bearing the flag of radical Islamic group ISIS it read: “Hacked by Islamic State (ISIS) We Are Everywhere :)”

More interesting than their suspicious use of a smiley (possibly “winky” as well) emoticon, was the surprising knowledge the organization seemingly had regarding Japanese five-on-five indoor soccer. Their attack came just as the top futsal teams in Japan were gearing up for the Puma Cup finals.

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New image released from upcoming Digimon sequel, along with vocal cast and theme song info

Late last year, word came of a sequel to beloved monster-rearing anime Digimon Adventure, just in time to still be part of the 1999 TV series’ 15th anniversary celebration. The new anime, titled Digimon Adventure tri., is just about ready to make its broadcast premiere, and as if fans weren’t excited enough, the producers have released a few new pieces of artwork from the show, including drawings of two of the digital monsters that’ll appear in it and information about the show’s nostalgia-packed theme song and vocal cast.

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Photohoku: helping northeastern Japan rebuild, one picture at a time 【Photos】

After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, Tokyo-based photographers Brian Scott Peterson and Yuko Yoshikawa were frustrated by the limited impact of volunteer options close to home, so they decided to head up to Tohoku with the vague idea that people in temporary housing might be interested in having family portraits taken.

Clearly, that tapped into an unmet need, because four years later that one-off trip has become Photohoku, a ballooning volunteer organization that takes monthly trips to Tohoku, has gifted over 10,000 instant family portraits, and has even inspired similar groups overseas.

Today, as we remember those who lost their lives in the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami four years ago, we take a brief look at how this truly inspired project continues to bring a little bit of extra sunshine into the lives of those who survived one of Japan’s greatest natural disasters.

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Time to get hungry! Japanese Twitter users share their favorite Fukushima “soul food”

While Japan has a ton of great food for anyone with a hungry stomach, there are also lots of local “soul foods” that are a tricky to find. Often, you’ll have to go to a specific prefecture to find them. Like Fukushima, for example. Recently, the southernmost of Japan’s north-eastern prefectures seems to have gained a bit of attention online from Twitter users showing off their favorite local “soul foods.” The selections aren’t exactly prime cuisine…but they might be far better!

Check out Fukushima’s favorites below! But maybe make sure you have a snack at the ready first, because this guaranteed to make you feel at least a little bit peckish.

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Singing nun in Japan gives heavenly concert, also spiritual advice to mothers of otaku

Have you heard of Cristina Scuccia? She’s a 26-year-old Italian nun with a gift for singing, famous for winning The Voice of Italy in 2014, then going on to release an album including a music video to her own rendition of “Like a Virgin.”

Recently, she came to Japan to give a performance, and we were lucky enough to visit for ourselves. We have pictures and the full video of not just the sister singing in her divine voice, but also her giving a “mini confessional” by listening to problems from the audience and giving life advice.

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McDonald’s Japan to release “complaint app” to help restore faith in the company

The once mighty fast food chain McDonald’s has fallen on hard times in Japan lately, suffering a heavy blow when it become entangled in an expired meat scandal about a year ago.

Although other establishments were also implicated in the problem, the public in Japan seems to be holding an especially big grudge against the golden arches. On 9 March, the company announced that Japanese sales were down 28.7 percent from the same month in the previous year.

In response, McDonald’s Japan is looking to improve its customer service and restore public faith in the company. How? By releasing a new app for smartphones that will allow customers to lodge complaints with more convenience and speed than ever before!

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No pixie dust here! The hidden, scientifically accurate backstory of Tokyo DisneySea’s volcano

Tokyo Disney Resort, as anyone can tell you, is a land of magic and whimsy. As we’ve shown before, it’s also somewhere you can experience the pinnacle of attentive service, whether you’re an inattentive motorist or a lost cat. But did you know that in addition to all that, Tokyo DisneySea is actually a place that you can enjoy for its subtle yet precise depictions of natural science?

It’s true, as explained by one Japanese Twitter user who’s uncovered and documented the geological principles behind one of the park’s most iconic features.

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