Six brand names that have highly unfortunate meanings in other languages

Naming a product is a bit like naming a child: the smart thing to do is to first imagine all the possible ways the name could be mocked and misunderstood, just like they did in The Simpsons:

Marge: ‘What about Bart?’  Homer: ‘Hmm, let’s see. Bart, Cart, Dart, E-art… nope, can’t see any problem with that.’

And if you want to launch your product into the international market – well, you’d be wise to do your research into what that name means in the country you’re trying to sell it in. We bet these companies wish they’d done their homework.

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Lupin III comes full circle as live-action cast turns into anime characters for bread line

Since I am in no way a gentleman thief, I can only guess as to what that lifestyle must be like. I imagine though, that staying one step ahead of the law means a lot of meals on the run, so it makes sense that Japan Railway stations are rolling out a new batch of baked goods endorsed by anime’s most roguish criminal mastermind, Lupin III.

The timing no doubt has something to do with the upcoming release of the live-action Lupin III movie. Even purists who scoff at the shift away from animation might want to check out the Lupin breads though, as their packages feature redone anime designs for the cast based on the actors portraying them in the new film.

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You know it’s hot in Japan when the birds are taking iced tea baths

During the summer in Japan, it’s a constant battle between trying to save energy and keeping yourself from melting in the hot, humid weather. Some choose to use deodorizing wipes to keep the stink and sweat away, others simply indulge in Japan’s irresistible ice cream for some eco-friendly relief. But what if you’re a pet bird with an energy-conscious owner who refuses to keep the house cool? This little parakeet has found the solution: a cool dip in someone’s glass of iced tea!

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Chubby Chocobo plush is as round as he is adorable

The slim, sleek Chocobo that populate the Final Fantasy world may be much better for covering long distances and racing, but as far as cuddling goes, Fat Chocobo might take the cake.

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We take Doraemon home and eat him (in cream bun form)【Taste test】

To get an idea of just what a huge cultural icon Doraemon is in Japan, all you have to do is take a look at the theatrical versions of the anime robot cat’s adventures. The first Doraemon movie was released in 1980, and a new film in the franchise has hit Japanese theatres like clockwork every year since, with the lone exception of 2005. Perhaps in apology for the tiny break in the streak, Doraemon’s producers gave us two films this year. The second just premiered this month, and even though Stand by Me Doraemon is the 35th movie in the series, it still breaks new ground by being the first to be computer-animated.

CG isn’t the only new frontier the beloved character is challenging though, as he’s going one more place he’s never been before: our bellies, in the form of the Doraemon cream bun.

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Chinese internet unusually upset by “most usual Chinese face” composite

A short time ago a variety program on Shandong Satellite TV aired a segment wherein they tried to create the “most standard Chinese face” for both men and women. The results of their experiment received a cold response in China online, however, drawing comments such as “both are ugly.”

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Looking for a fun way to spice up your bath? Try this at home, kids!

It’s such a simple idea, but you’ve probably never thought of it before–why not throw a glow stick into your bathtub or pool to create an exciting, luminescent atmosphere?

The trend has suddenly become a hot topic in the Japanese Twitterverse, and over the past few days many people have been testing it out and posting pictures of their lit-up baths for others to be envious of. If you have some leftover glow sticks from a concert or party, this could be the perfect way to get rid of them. More pictures after the break.

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Why do so many anime characters have non-Japanese names?

There are a lot of things that surprise newcomers to anime. Why are the characters’ eyes so big? How come everyone has funky hair colors? What’s up with all the panty shots?

A lot of those have simple answers. The giant eyes are an influence from legendary manga artist Osamu Tezuka, who was in turn inspired by classic Disney designs. Anime artwork uses a relatively small number of lines in drawing faces, and a large palette of hair colors is a quick and easy way to differentiate otherwise similar-looking characters. Male anime fans in Japan are extraordinarily open about their love of undies.

With those questions out of the way, let’s take a look at something a bit less cut-and-dried: Why are there so many anime characters with non-Japanese names?

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Wacky Japanese beach culture: A ton of fun in the sun!

From whacking watermelons with sticks to burying your friends in the sand or holding sweltering Japanese style BBQs, Japan has a very specific beach culture. We’ve introduced some of these activities before on our site, but this time, we’ve supersized the experience by adding more activities–and extra cheese!

We’ll introduce 13 beach scenes that you’re bound to experience on any trip to a Japanese beach, and present most of them in a six-second Vine video. We picked one of our favorite places to Vine from: Shiraishi Island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea where one of our writers happens to live. This tiny island of 560 people in Okayama Prefecture, is one of Japan’s best kept secrets: the beach is never crowded, the sea is tranquil, the sunsets superb, and the beer never stops flowing.

Get ready to take the plunge into the sea of Japanese beach culture with a local to show you la plage–Japanese style!

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Niconico Video user crafts miniature violin-playing Darth Vader out of paper just because he can

Fandom often inspires people to invest vast sums of money in the object of their obsession. Often when you visit a real enthusiast’s home, you’ll see so much merchandise that you start to wonder whether they also thought to invest in insurance to protect them if any of it was lost or stolen since the goods’ combined value can in some cases amount to thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars.

In many ways, the amount of merch a person owns can act as an indicator of how big a fan they are, but what’s even more impressive than dropping exorbitant amounts of cash on a hobby is investing time and energy. Take, for example, this Niconico Video user from Japan who, rather than simply visiting a store or online shop to purchase a swanky new Darth Vader figurine, decided to make one out of little more than a pile of craft paper, and the end result is simply stunning.

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We found the perfect present for your beloved cat this summer…a cardboard submarine!

Ishoya, a Japanese shop specializing in unique feline goods, has released a DIY submarine for cats made from cardboard. Aptly named “Cat Box 02″, the bright-yellow submarine-shaped cardboard box is set to charm both feline friends and owners with Instagram accounts for their cats alike.

Join us after the jump for adorable pics of happy sailing (and flying) cats!

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Pikachu ready for battle with his own set of samurai armor

Even though it’s been a week since we made the trip to downtown Yokohama to see the packs of roaming Pikachus, and we’ve still got a warm fuzzy feeling. Actually, warm and fuzzy is also an apt description of the lovable pocket monsters’ plush yellow coats, which brings up a concern.

Cuddly softness is all fine and good when Pikachu is handing out hugs, but what about when he goes back to his regular duties of fighting other Pokémon? Shouldn’t he be wrapped in something a bit more durable, like his own custom set of samurai armor?

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Osaka police sergeant arrested for putting smartphone between woman’s legs on train

A 41-year-old police sergeant from the Osaka Tondabayashi police station has been arrested after it was discovered that while riding in a train, he put his smartphone between a woman’s legs.

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Sharks go for the great taste of internet

When you hear terms like “the cloud” being bandied about, it’s hard not to conjure up images of internet infrastructure being some servers housed in slick network of Gattaca-style complexes, each connected by some glowing, neon-colored optical cables like something out of Tron all topped off by touches from other sci-fi films.

Although shown to be relatively reliable, the reality is far less sexy: just a massive fiber optic cable lying along the murky depths of the ocean floor. What’s worse is that our internet service is constantly under attack by none other than hungry sharks. These occasional nibbles cause companies such as Google to undergo costly repair and reinforcement projects at several locations of their own undersea cables to protect themselves from the ravenous fish.

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Ghibli’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya gets a North American release date and new trailer 【Video】

With Hayao Miyazaki being the most recognized face of Studio Ghibli, and producer Toshio Suzuki the most currently active, there’s usually not a lot of room left in the spotlight for director Isao Takahata. One of Ghibli’s founding members, Takahata served as producer for the company’s first official release, Castle in the Sky, and his written and directed five films for Japan’s most respected animation house including the critically acclaimed Grave of the Fireflies.

Fans of Takahata’s work have learned to be patient, though, as his most recent film, 2013’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya, came 14 years after his previous feature, 1999’s largely forgotten My Neighbors the Yamadas. Foreign fans have had to wait even longer, but Princess Kaguya is almost ready to head overseas, as distributor GKids has announced a release date and put out a teaser trailer to whet North America’s appetite.

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19-year-old mixed-race “dokumo” has thousands of fangirls gushing over his pretty face【Photos】

If you’re into Japanese fashion, makeup or hair styling, you ought to be acquainted with the word “dokumo”. An abbreviation for dokusha moderu, which literally means “reader model”, dokumo is a term for amateur models who usually have full-time jobs aside from their occasional modelling stints. Many popular fashion icons, models and artists including Tsubasa Masuwaka and the sensational Kyary Pamyu Pamyu were dokumo before they made a name for themselves.

Japanese fashion magazines often feature dokumo from all walks of life, and some of the more popular dokumo even attain a celebrity-like status and have fans gushing over them online and in real life. One of the hottest dokumo of the moment representing the young, fashionable generation from Harajuku is this doe-eyed 19-year-old, Batusing Takaaki, who has over 14,000 followers on Twitter! Witness the reason for his popularity after the jump!

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【Follow-up】Now infamous panty shot scene at Comiket recreated in Lego form

On Monday, we brought you a rather disturbing photo of a group of photographers taking photos up a Shimakaze cosplayer’s skirt at this summer’s Comiket. Both Japanese and English online opinion about the scene seems to be pretty evenly divided between one group that says “What’s the big deal if she doesn’t have a problem with it…and she’s probably making a few bucks, too,” and the other “That is just wrong and shouldn’t be allowed” group.

Regardless of how you feel about it, the original photo has now become fairly famous after being retweeted thousands of times over Japanese forums. One person even took it upon himself to recreate the photo using nothing but Legos…and it’s actually quite impressive!

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Mandarake shoplifter finally turns himself in

The Mandarake shoplifting saga that has kept Japanese netizens on the hook since August 4 has finally drawn to a close. A man from Chiba Prefecture turned himself in on August 18, and is currently under arrest on suspicion of theft.

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PlayStation 3 gets a price cut in Japan, still costs more than it probably ought to

Sony Japan has announced that its ultra-slim, “charcoal black” PlayStation 3 console will become that little bit cheaper at the end of this month, following the arrival of a new SKU.

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Hello Kitty will deliver your messages as part of a special campaign…from space!

Sanrio’s beloved character has embarked on a special mission this year–all the way to space!  

The “Let’s Send a Message from Space! Campaign” (「宇宙からメッセージを送ろう!」キャンペーン) is part of the festivities to celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary in 2014. Our favorite feline friend was even launched into space back in June, and her makers are now taking applications from anyone in the world to display messages on the digital display board inside her satellite. Wouldn’t it be cool to see your very own message delivered from space?

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