Space sakura have returned to Earth with cherry blossom superpowers

Rather than wading into the debate as to whether a tree covered in beautiful cherry blossoms or a piece of cutting edge technology is the more representative symbol of Japan, you could split the difference by awarding the title to one of the sakura cherry trees grown from seeds that were taken into space. Not only do they combine the country’s admiration of both nature and innovation, their seeds’ journey to the stars seems to have imparted some of them with the amazing ability to bloom in just half the time of regular cherry trees.

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Krispy Kreme Japan makes the dessert of our dreams: Doughnut ice cream sundaes

I don’t know about you, but whenever I walk by a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, I always peek at the “Hot Doughnut” sign to see if they’ve just recently finished making a batch of those delicious glazed doughnuts. And if that orange beacon is lit up, my wallet is going to be a few coins short while my tastebuds thank me through every last bite. Because, let’s face it, even if you’ve just had a massive lunch, there’s always room for a piping hot doughnut, fresh from the fryer.

And what makes warm baked goods even better? Ice cream of course. We can only assume that’s why Krispy Kreme Japan has unveiled a new doughnut ice cream sundae…but why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

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We take on Thailand’s five-and-a-half-pound hamburger, and live to tell the tale

Our Japanese-language correspondent Kuzo is currently making his way through Thailand, and while we’re happy he had such a good time at the country’s famous water festival, frankly we’re a little worried about the guy. We think all the excitement may have frazzled his brain, since he recently sent us a batch of pictures of himself eating what appears to be a hamburger-shaped novelty pillow.

Wait, that’s a real burger?!

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Cassette tapes making a comeback with youth in Japan, entire generation officially becomes “old”

For those of a certain age, hearing the term “cassette tape” harkens back to a simpler time of making a super special mix-tape for a loved one using a Frankie Goes to Hollywood Greatest Hits with scotch tape over the holes because it was cheaper than a blank cassette.

It’s this kind of feeling that kids today lack with the distant and impersonal music downloading business going on these days. Perhaps that’s why Japanese youths have been taking to the nearly extinct medium of magnetic tape more and more in recent years.

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Extremely well-behaved Chinese dogs “say Grace” before daily meal

I can’t even remember the last time I “said Grace” before a meal. It must have been before my teens, when my parents realized I was a Godless, hopeless heathen that shoveled food into my mouth so fast I couldn’t even taste it.

Which, I guess, puts my manners one level below four Chinese dogs that dutifully bow and lower their heads as their owner/trainer says a few words of thanks for their meal.

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One filmmaker’s mission to show the world the real Fukushima, and how you can help

“Forget the reactor. Forget all the bull$#!^ Facebook posts about how radiation is melting the starfish and mutating our sushi. Forget about what it means to be a disaster, and discover what it means to be Fukushima.”

Filmmaker Cameron Anderson is on a mission to show the world the real Fukushima. Having spend months exploring the region, he – an outsider arriving long after Fukushima became known the world over as the centre of a tragic nuclear accident – has come to learn what Japan’s third-largest prefecture is really all about. Cameron has also seen how the news, careless comments shared via social networks, and a general fear of the unknown have caused people around the globe to label this land as a giant, black spot on the map of Japan, with stories popping up online every few weeks about tides of non-existent radioactive seawater and the prefecture’s potentially hazardous exports.

Hoping to obtain a special filmmaking grant, it is Cameron’s plan to put together a 10-minute documentary that explores this vast, rich part of Japan and introduce some of its genuinely remarkable residents–both Japanese and foreign. But he needs your help.

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Final Fantasy VII concert to be held in Tokyo this summer (yes, they’ll play One-Winged Angel)

When Final Fantasy VII was first released in 1997, gamers around the world emotionally connected with it in a way that had never been seen before. Years later, the game still occupies a special place in many people’s hearts, with many clamoring for developer Square Enix to release a version with graphics updated to today’s standards.

But even as so may ask for a new edition of the game that looks better, you won’t find anyone asking for one that sounds better, as the role-playing classic’s soundtrack is one of the most universally-loved musical collections to ever come out of the medium. As testament to its lasting appeal, a Final Fantasy VII symphony concert will be held in Tokyo this summer.

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12 gender-bent Disney and Ghibli characters that are utter perfection

Sakimichan is a digital artist who makes stunning paintings of Disney characters, drawn in a completely different way. These leading characters are redrawn with a new gender – and even more attractive than before!

Let’s take a look at 12 of Sakimichan’s gender-switched Disney heroes and heroines. On her website, she shares some insights into how these beautiful paintings are made. She even paints gender-bent Ghibli characters, too!

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【TBT】In Japan, even cute animals obey the law

We’ve all no doubt heard of the polite deer in the city of Nara that have learned to bow their heads to tourists in order to get food, but did you know that they also obey the law and know how to cross the road properly?

Check out these photos for one incredibly cute example of how to use a pedestrian crossing!

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Overseas reaction to Japanese My Little Pony dub is a little odd to Japanese people

The animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has quickly become something of a cultural phenomenon in North America, spawning legions of hardcore fans far removed from its intended demographic of young girls.

In Japan too the show has its share of followers, although they’re not quite as passionate. So when a Japanese dubbed version of the show’s song “This Day Aria” was posted on YouTube and reviews from other countries came in calling it “magnificent” and “incredible beyond words”, Japanese netizen reaction could perhaps be summed up as “Oh? We don’t get it, but thanks.”

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Cute and talented Taiwanese singer is actually a boy, Netizens no longer find this shocking

The most popular images on the ‘Net are probably cats and cute girls, and the latest lovely ‘lady’ to draw the appreciative gaze of netizens is Lao Wan, the lead vocalist of a Taiwanese band called Green! Eyes. But of course, nothing is ever quite as it seems. Prepare to leave your gender preconceptions at the door.

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Suntory’s awesome miniature ice versions of the Golden Pavilion, Statue of Liberty and more

Although I’m a man who can definitely appreciate the simple joys of knocking back a can of tasty beer in my living room, every now and again it’s nice to treat yourself to a drink at a classy bar. You know, the kind with soft lighting, a gleaming wooden bar top, and a vested bartender with an ice pick working a block into a classy orb to place in your glass of whiskey.

But as impressive as a nicely rounded sphere of ice may be, it can’t hope to match the visual impact of an ice version of Japan’s famous Golden Pavilion or the Statue of Liberty that you can drop in your glass.

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McDonald’s Japan’s new Avocado Beef, Chicken, and Shrimp burgers look surprisingly good

Regular readers will know that we at RocketNews24 are no strangers to fast food. When you’re based in one of the biggest, most convenient cities in the world and spend the majority of your day online with instant access to more information than your ancestors probably had in their entire lifetimes, you tend to lose the ability to concentrate long enough to prepare a real meal, and it’s easy to give in to the greasy and syrup-topped temptations that wink at you from the branches of McDonald’s and Starbucks located on every other street corner.

We’re not exactly proud of the amount of junk food we shovel into our faces under the pretences of journalism and science, and certainly don’t recommend that any of our dear readers attempt to replicate our own Mr. Sato’s adventures in Cholesterol Land, but we have to admit that McDonald’s Japan’s new Avocado Beef, Avocado Chicken, and Avocado Shrimp burgers actually look pretty good.

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“Racist” Air France geisha poster prompts satirical home-made fixes

Air France has come under fire this week after its latest promotional ad campaign, which consists of a series of 18 photos featuring mostly caucasian women dressed and made up to represent countries the airline serves, depicts Japan as the land of giant-haired geisha.

It’s hardly the most offensive ad ever – and it’s certainly better than ANA’s big-nosed white men commercial from earlier this year – but critics are calling for it to be pulled, with many suggesting that it is “stereotypically racist” and in poor taste. Fortunately, net users were on hand to “fix” Air France’s photos, and make them that little bit more Japanese…

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We resist the urge to climb Denny’s Japan’s Tower Pancake so we can eat it instead

Japan’s mountainous topography means that real estate is always at a premium. The towering skyscrapers of major cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka are a natural response to this, as often there’s no direction left to build but up.

We couldn’t help but wonder if the chefs at Denny’s in Japan were inspired by the country’s urban architecture when they created the newest indulgence on their menu, the Tower Pancake, which, especially for a country not exactly known for its gargantuan servings, is quite the gastro challenge.

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Revisiting Songkran: the best water festival EVER!!!

From the ball drop in America, to the first shrine visit in Japan, each culture rings in the New Year in their own special way. Thailand’s Songkran, or commonly known as the water throwing festival, may be the most carefree and fun tradition though. RocketNews24 has brought you the story from last year’s festival, but we couldn’t resist sending a crew back this year. Click on through to see if they were able to avoid getting wet this year, and the plight of their electronic equipment!

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Ghibli casts its 1st film with 2 female leads & all-English theme song

16-year-old actress Sara Takatsuki (Black President, OtomenGTODaily Lives of High School BoysHaganai) and 21-year-old actress Kasumi Arimura (Amachan, Hagane no Onna, Clover, Judge) will star in Studio Ghibli‘s next film, this summer’s anime adaptation of Joan G. Robinson‘s English children’s novel classic When Marnie Was There (Omoide no Marnie). Oricon describes the film as Ghibli’s first one with dual lead heroines, and it is also the first animated title and first Ghibli title for both actresses.

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Boot camps and desertion in the mountains among the ways Japanese companies train new recruits

There appears to be a generational shift in the workforce of Japan recently. New additions to companies labelled as “monster recruits” in the media, along with a reported 30% of new employees quitting in three years, are leading organizations to look into new ways to protect their human resource investments. Many of the following training methods have been carried out for decades but have been steadily growing in popularity among Japanese companies.

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70% of South Koreans will donate to fund for unity with North, want US and China to cough up too

Over 70 percent of South Koreans plan to donate to a government fund set up to pay for potential unification between North and South Korea, a recent survey suggests. If the two countries were successfully reconciled, the Finance Ministry estimates that unification would cost South Korea 7 percent of its GDP for 10 years.

North and South Korea have made various joint declarations of intent since the 1970s, but there has never been any successful implementation. However, the South has set up the fund to raise $50 million for a hypothetical unification, and almost almost three quarters of South Koreans surveyed think that other countries, such as China and the United States, should also contribute towards the financial cost of unification.

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Sailors assemble! Artist reimagines the cast of Sailor Moon as Marvel’s Avengers

No one was really that shocked when Sailor Moon became a hit with its target market of little girls shortly after the anime started airing in 1992. Nor was anyone’s mind completely blown when the show started attracting older female viewers too, since its script had plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor mixed with some honestly compelling drama.

The big surprise, though, was just how many guys the show pulled in, as Sailor Moon built a male fan base of unprecedented size for what was ostensibly an anime for girls. While the central cast of five leggy ladies in sailor skirts obviously didn’t hurt, another key point in breaking down the barrier of entry for male viewers was the high quantity of action scenes in which Sailor Moon and her partners battled villains using their command of fire, thunder, and other awesome powers.

Looked at from that perspective, Sailor Moon isn’t so different from an American comic superhero team like The Avengers, something hammered home by this impressive crossover fan art.

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