Troll your friends with personalized “Made in China” M&M’s this Christmas!

Troll your friends with personalized “Made in China” M&M’s this Christmas!

We’re all familiar with M&M’s, the colorful candy-coated chocolates, but did you know that you could create your very own M&M’s? Okay, perhaps some of you lucky people have visited M&M’s World and already know about this, but for the rest of us who don’t, YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE M&M’s! You can even print your Twitter ID on it! If you don’t have a Twitter account, that’s perhaps the best reason to get one.

Our reporter Kuzo takes us through the customization process!

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We try curry made only from ingredients used 1,300 years ago

We try curry made only from ingredients used 1,300 years ago

What comes to mind when you think of popular Japanese dishes? Of course, sushi and ramen top the list, but it’s also hard to leave out curry rice. Our modern notion of Japanese curry, which originally came from India and was further developed in England, came to Japan during the Meiji Era (1868-1912). However, the ingredients used for “medicinal curry” (based on Chinese medicine) have actually been in Japan for 1,300 years, since the Nara Era (710-794). We were lucky enough to find a pouch of instant “1,300-year-old curry” and just had to try it!

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Homeless man mistakes phone straps for food, is arrested for theft

Homeless man mistakes phone straps for food, is arrested for theft

Japan has an unspoken problem with homelessness in its cities. It’s not uncommon to see tent cities along the edges of recreational parks or to see leather-skinned men sleeping on newspapers around the train stations. These people are largely ignored by the public and will keep to themselves unless provoked by some means. The vast majority do not even beg.

Unfortunately, the problem of poverty is not the only issue that these people face. Mental illness is not uncommon amongst the homeless, and the combination of hungry people and unstable mental states can lead to some especially unfortunate circumstances.

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Girl rejected by boy she never actually met takes revenge with 20-girl mob

Girl rejected by boy she never actually met takes revenge with 20-girl mob

I remember the time when, back in junior high school, I was cruelly rejected by the girl I was crazy about. My hopes dashed to pieces, I went home and cried my eyes out. It hurt right down to the pit of my stomach and it took a while for me to get over it, but never once did it cross my mind that I should take revenge for being rejected.

For one girl in Japan, however, the same cannot be said. After having her advances spurned, this female junior high school student decided to get back at the young man she had hoped to form a friendship with. Assembling a violent mob of 20 girls, she went out for payback – and the worst part is, she and the boy had never actually met in person.

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Say aaah: Japan elects cutest hiragana character

Say aaah: Japan elects cutest hiragana character

The characters above should look very familiar to any student of Japanese. Hiragana is the phonetic alphabet that is usually the first writing system you learn. Compared to the much more complex and difficult to remember Chinese characters and the angular katakana alphabet, the loopy hiragana characters have a pleasant round feel that’s often called “cute.”

But which character is the cutest of them all? Japan weighs in.

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Don’t call them fat, call them Marshmallow Girls!

Don’t call them fat, call them Marshmallow Girls!

Many of us have an impression that Japanese girls are slim and petite (which many of them really are), but one of the sad truths behind their stick-thin figures is a rather serious case of discrimination from society. While voluptuous women are popular in certain parts of the world, being even slightly chubby (not obese) is a big no-no in Japan and chubby girls often get called “debu” (fatso) online and sometimes to their face.

But recently, a new nickname for such chubby ladies has started trending among Japanese netizens, which hopefully will change the attitudes people have towards them. Behold, the rise of the “marshmallow girls”!

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Top 10 YouTube videos in Japan 2013

Top 10 YouTube videos in Japan 2013

It’s almost the end of 2013 and that means it’s time to sit back and reflect on the events of this past year. Was it a good one for you, filled with PS4s and all-you-can-eat Whoppers? Or are you anxious to get on with the year of the horse? Whatever 2013 looked like for you and no matter where you are located in the world, we’re sure you spent a good portion of your time on YouTube. So why not ring in the new year by watching the top 10 most popular YouTube videos in Japan during 2013.

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Darth Vader flower blooms in Kyoto, total Empire takeover to follow

Darth Vader flower blooms in Kyoto, total Empire takeover to follow

A peculiar flower that resembles Darth Vader has just bloomed at the Kyoto Botanical Garden, causing rebels in the Kyoto metropolitan area to tremble in fear. With two deep pitted areas and a smaller one in the middle, as well as a bulbous cap with curled edges, it appears the Sith Lord has been reincarnated as a flower.

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Korean woman goes under the knife 120 times in pursuit of perfection

Korean woman goes under the knife 120 times in pursuit of perfection

We’ve already covered South Korea’s attitudes about plastic surgery; basically, that it’s considered at worst a necessary evil for some folks to get ahead in life.

That cultural attitude has led the country to be widely considered the world cosmetic surgery capital, and has even led a handful, like this obsessed woman, to spend years of their lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars artificially perfecting their appearance.

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New banana shake-flavored Tokyo Banana cakes come out — in bright prints!

New banana shake-flavored Tokyo Banana cakes come out — in bright prints!

Visitors to Tokyo may be aware of a popular local sweet called Tokyo Banana sold here in the city. They’re cute, yellow, banana-shaped sponge cakes with banana custard cream filling inside. And yes, they’re as good as the description sounds, which is why the cakes are a well-loved treat in Japan, and seemingly in other  parts of the world as well, as I’ve actually heard people from Singapore and Malaysia mention that they’re fans of the cake.

One of the reporters at our sister site Pouch is also apparently a big fan, so when a new version of Tokyo Banana came out this month, she naturally had to get her hands on some! And what’s so special about the new Tokyo Banana cakes? Well, to start with, they’re only sold at one location — Tokyo Station to be exact — and not only do they come in a different flavor from the regular cakes, they come in beautiful, colorful prints!

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Japan’s “painfully” decorated anime vans【Photo Gallery】

Japan’s “painfully” decorated anime vans【Photo Gallery】

Itasha, literally “painful cars,” are vehicles tricked out with all kinds of crazy body work and paint jobs so that they look like something out of an anime and are supposed to “hurt” just to look at. There’s a vibrant subculture of itasha owners and fans in Japan and they meet up every now and then to show off their wheels and talk shop. Take a look at our photo gallery and see if you don’t get a little depressed over your own car’s lack of fins.

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Lady Gaga Hello Kitty put under the virtual hammer, only two in the world born this way

Lady Gaga Hello Kitty put under the virtual hammer, only two in the world born this way

We often like to cover the more absurd things that get put up for bid on Yahoo! Auction Japan, but this time something has come up that may be of genuine interest to either Lady Gaga or Hello Kitty fans. If you happen to be a fan of both then this is downright priceless.

Currently an extremely limited edition Hello Kitty doll is the subject of fierce bidding. This Hello Kitty is done up in fashion inspired by one of the biggest musicians in the world today, Lady Gaga.

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Perhaps Japan’s most painfully nerdy itasha car yet

Perhaps Japan’s most painfully nerdy <em>itasha</em> car yet

Japanese has plenty of phrases based on the word sha/automobile. Some of these are pretty straightforward, like Nihonsha and gaisha, which literally mean Japanese and foreign car, respectively. Things get just slightly more complicated with the truncated Amesha or American car.

Today, though, we bring you a fine specimen of itasha. Stemming from the word itai (“ouch”), itasha are cars plastered with anime decals that are so palpably hardcore in their devotion to illustrated fiction that they outright hurt to look at. But what we’re about to show you is awkward even by itasha standards.

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Too lazy to cook? Try these new ready-made meals from Japanese convenience stores!

Too lazy to cook? Try these new ready-made meals from Japanese convenience stores!

If you are hungry, Japanese convenience stores are beautiful places that have pretty much everything your heart could desire, from a quick on-the-go snack to a yummy summertime ice cream treat. And some of the best things they offer are ready-made meals like curry and rice, pasta or ramen. These ready-made meals can be like a gift from heaven on a busy day when you don’t have time to cook and need to take a break from frozen food.

But did you know that many convenience stores in Japan put out a new ready-made meal every Tuesday? Since you may find it hard to stake out every convenience store, we sent our reporters to try out some new meals. Click below to see the six that they recommended!

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Our reporter makes himself too sexy for his face with Line Camera’s “beauty” function

Our reporter makes himself too sexy for his face with Line Camera’s “beauty” function

Naver Corporation’s Line has been steadily becoming a juggernaut of smartphone apps in recent months. Starting out as a mild-mannered free text and voice chatting application, it has since expanded into a drawing app, games, and even a recently launched Q&A service.

Now, the company’s free camera app has hit the scene and is causing a bit of a stir for its rumored ability to enhance anyone’s beauty. Our Japanese writer GO, who’s always looking for ways to improve his already stunning features, took it out for a spin.

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Baskin Robbins Japan pinpoints the flavors of love in time for Valentines Day

Baskin Robbins Japan pinpoints the flavors of love in time for Valentines Day

Thirty-one Ice Cream, as Baskin Robbins is called in Japan, just revealed four new “flavors of love” to be released in time for Valentines Day 2014. You might think that love tastes different depending on who you talk to, but the popular ice cream chain suggests it actually tastes like armaretto chocolate, berries, cheesecake and chocolate raspberries.

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Chinese artists create amazing physical representation of mother’s ideal vision of the afterlife

Chinese artists create amazing physical representation of mother’s ideal vision of the afterlife

Sunyuan and Pengyu are a team of Beijing-based installation artists. The duo has been active since the late ‘90s, working their way up to solo exhibitions starting in 2005.

This year, Paris’ Galerie Perrotin gallery hosted an exhibit by the pair titled “Dear.” Among the works on display was a deeply personal installation inspired by the mother of one of the artists.

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Heartbreaking video game remembers the victims of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, raises money for survivors

Heartbreaking video game remembers the victims of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, raises money for survivors

Compared to older forms of media such as books and movies, the video game industry is still somewhat wet behind the ears. But as technology advances and developers become increasingly able to realise their creative visions without having to rein in their imaginations due to hardware limitations, we are finally reaching the point where games are able to not just entertain but challenge us both intellectually and viscerally, creating emotive experiences and acting as vehicles for genuinely engaging tales.

9.03m does precisely that. Developed by independent Scottish game studio Space Budgie, the game, whose proceeds go towards those affected by the disaster, stands as a memorial to the victims of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, questing players with gathering the possessions of those lost in the tsunami, which have been carried across the ocean from Japan to America, with each object telling the story of a lost soul.

At once heartrending and beautiful, this is a title that deserves the attention of not just every gamer but every person with access to a PC.

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Are mysterious nocturnal happenings in rural Shimane Prefecture the work of poltergeists?

Are mysterious nocturnal happenings in rural Shimane Prefecture the work of poltergeists?

Shimane Prefecture, located along the northwestern edge of Japan’s main island of Honshu, is commonly the butt of jokes. At best, it’s often confused with neighboring Tottori Prefecture, and at worst, it’s forgotten about altogether.

Despite its natural beauty and historical sites such as the Grand Shinto Shrine of Izumo, there’s no getting around the fact that Shimane is a quiet, rural place. Even in the prefectural capital of Matsue, there’s usually not much going on.

Except, perhaps, for a recent poltergeist attack.

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Cool and creepy Japanese characters made out of Legos

Cool and creepy Japanese characters made out of Legos

It seems like you can make almost anything out of Legos, including your favorite characters. Sure, there are kits that come with instructions, but making a Lego figure using just your imagination is so satisfying and really impressive. We recently showed you Robot Lego Pokemon. This time, please enjoy 11 different characters from Japanese video games and anime all made out of tiny plastic bricks.

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