Don’t forget to wash your hands! Funny tweets from Japanese bathroom【Photos】

Don’t forget to wash your hands! Funny tweets from Japanese bathroom【Photos】

Though not something we usually think about in our day-to-day lives, toilets are actually kind of awesome. In addition to the wonderful sewer systems that keep our living environments clean and us healthy, the toilet can be a magical place of undisturbed tranquility. Jun’ichio Tanizaki even dedicated a significant portion of In Praise of Shadows, a landmark essay about Japanese aesthetics, to why he thought Japanese bathrooms were so great.

Tanizaki’s writing was published over 80 years ago and things have changed a lot since then–but Japanese toilets can still be awesome. Or least pretty funny. Here are 19 of the best toilet photos tweeted in Japan!

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FamilyMart cancels release of foie gras bento due to complaints over animal cruelty

FamilyMart cancels release of foie gras bento due to complaints over animal cruelty

Popular Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart has cancelled the release of a foie gras and beef patty bento ready meal due to customer complaints. While news of the cancellation will no doubt please animal rights supporters, some Japanese netizens have opposed the decision, arguing that the consumption of foie gras is no worse than the consumption of beef.

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A mother’s cell phone: Probably the most moving story you’ll read today

A mother’s cell phone: Probably the most moving story you’ll read today

Filial piety isn’t just an empty phrase–it’s a very important cultural concept throughout Asia and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, the rest of the world. While not all of us have the best relationships with our parents, most of us would probably admit, under pain of torture if nothing else, that we do love them. Even with all the embarrassment they put us through in our teens!

While most of our readers are still young enough that your parents are likely still healthy and spry, it’s never too early to take some time to stop and appreciate them and everything they do. If you’re thinking we’re being melodramatic, then we’d challenge you to take a look at this incredibly moving story…

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Chinese millionaire offers small fortune to rent a girlfriend for the Lunar New Year, fails miserably

Chinese millionaire offers small fortune to rent a girlfriend for the Lunar New Year, fails miserably

The Chinese Lunar New Year is less than a week away. Indisputably the biggest event of the year for the Chinese, it is a time when families reunite to celebrate the start of a new year. It is crunch time for Chinese around the world as they get busy preparing for the big day; filling refrigerators with food, preparing hongbao (red envelopes with money in them), and for some, finding the perfect “other half” to introduce to their expectant family.

A wealthy young man has recently offered to pay 1,000,000 Chinese yuan (around US$165,300) to rent a “girlfriend” for a week to accompany him on his trip back to his hometown for the annual celebrations. But even his stacks of cash didn’t seem to help.

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Foreign men share their reasons for divorcing their Japanese wives

Foreign men share their reasons for divorcing their Japanese wives

Earlier this month, we brought you an article about foreign men sounding off on the difficulties of having a Japanese wife. While some of their complaints were understandable and others were just downright silly (you can’t deal with tofu? C’mon!), international relationships in real life don’t always end as happily as in the movie My Darling is a Foreigner.

Continuing the international marriage theme in a more unfortunate direction, we now bring you the voices of some foreign men who have gone through the experience of divorcing Japanese women. You might be surprised to learn that the main catalyst for divorce in each of their scenarios was rarely related directly to cultural differences. Instead, it seems that a combination of other factors played the decisive role.

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Rika-chan finds a playmate in cute Kumamoto character Kumamon

Rika-chan finds a playmate in cute Kumamoto character Kumamon

If you’re a girl who grew up with Japanese relatives, then this Rika-chan doll probably brings back some childhood memories. Created in 1967, her popularity in Japan rivals that of Barbie in the West and her impressive accessories collection contains all sorts of Japanese-related goods including futons, Hello Kitty hats and kimonos. Now Rika is adding to her collection by collaborating with one of Japan’s newest and most popular characters, Kumamon, the official mascot for Kumamoto city in Kyushu. The new friends, with their matching black, red and white outfits, will be released on February 1 by Takara Tomy.

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Mr. Sato takes a stroll in his USB Pollen Blocker: “Felt great but it was a struggle to order coffee”

Mr. Sato takes a stroll in his USB Pollen Blocker: “Felt great but it was a struggle to order coffee”

A few days ago we brought word of a revolutionary hay fever remedy from the folks at Thanko. Harnessing the mighty power of nylon and universal serial bus ports, the USB Pollen Blocker may be our savior for this impending allergy season in Japan.

To be sure, we picked one up in Akihabara and gave it to our resident ace-reporting guinea-pig Mr. Sato for a road test. Did it cure him of his seasonal sniffles or did it simply make him look like an demented bee-keeper on the streets of Tokyo? The following is his report.

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Sweet, delicious and extra cold: snow apples from the Japanese alps

Sweet, delicious and extra cold: snow apples from the Japanese alps

Japanese apples are legendary for their gigantic round shape, sweet taste and a hefty price tag due to their flawless appearance. Recently, a “new” kind of apple has been getting popular in the mountainous and very snowy prefecture of Nagano. It seems that apple growers there have decided to make the most of the winter precipitation that covers their fields by burying freshly picked apples for several months under a huge pile of snow. The “snow apples” are said to be even juicier, crisper and sweeter after spending the winter months hibernating under the snow.

But how can you make a snow apple, and what other tasty produce can you bury in the snow? Click below to find out!

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Korea’s online shoppers bare all in their product reviews

Korea’s online shoppers bare all in their product reviews

Ever bought something from an online merchant, only to realize after the product had arrived that it’s not what you expected? In order to minimize the probability of such situations, many online shoppers refer to the comments and reviews written by other shoppers who have bought the item previously. Some enthusiastic reviewers might even attach photographs of the products to provide a more detailed review.

Such shopping reviews with pictures attached are far from are sights on retail websites or online auctions, but Korean shoppers seem to be more enthusiastic and daring with their review photos, some even bordering on the risqué!

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From delicate nibbles to edible dinosaurs – It’s chocolate madness at the Salon du Chocolat Tokyo

From delicate nibbles to edible dinosaurs – It’s chocolate madness at the Salon du Chocolat Tokyo

Many of our readers have probably guessed that Japan has a passion for chocolate. But each year in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, which is when women in Japan customarily give men gifts of chocolate, that passion has a tendency to turn into outright frenzy. Spend time in Japan before Valentine’s Day, and you’ll see countless special chocolate products and dedicated vending areas in every shopping mall and department store. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Valentine chocolate madness has now officially begun in Japan, and what better place to experience the excitement than Tokyo’s own production of the world’s biggest chocolate festival, the Salon du Chocolat? Join us on a tour of the event and see what all the sweet fuss is about — if you’re a chocolate lover, you just might think you’ve died and gone to chocolate heaven!

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Nine reasons some Japanese women *only* date foreign guys

Nine reasons some Japanese women *only* date foreign guys

Now, you’re probably familiar with the stereotype of Western guys moving to Japan to meet women. It’s a nasty stereotype…with a few grains of truth to it, we suppose. But at least we can now rest easy knowing it’s a two-way street, because there are tons of Japanese girls who only date Western men.

If you happen to have a lot of Japanese friends, you may have met one or two women with a penchant for non-Japanese gentlemen. While it’s not usually as bad as your one creepy guy friend–you know the one we’re talking about–have you ever wondered what’s going on with that?

Here’s a quick look at life on the other side of the looking glass, with nine reasons some Japanese women only date foreign guys.

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Wander into the magical land of Ghibli in this fairytale forest town

Wander into the magical land of Ghibli in this fairytale forest town

The only thing more gorgeous than the characters from Studio Ghibli’s animated movies would have to be the magical lands in which they live and play. And if you’re looking to play in a forest town where Totoro might be lurking, this unique shopping town in Japan’s Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, is the perfect location.

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AKB48 to hold exclusive show for coffee contest winners, Mr. Sato immediately buys over 300 cans

AKB48 to hold exclusive show for coffee contest winners, Mr. Sato immediately buys over 300 cans

Recently the walls of the RocketNews24 office have been echoing with giddy squeals of “Eeeeeee… Takamina!” at a rate of about once per hour. In between, we have been treated to a middle-aged man’s song-stylings of AKB48’s single Koisuru Fortune Cookie.

It all started last year when our reporter Mr. Sato had entered a dance contest to meet graduating AKB48 member Tomomi Itano, but despite his best efforts he lost out. Now, he has his sights on Minami Takahashi (“Takamina”) and the chance to see her and other members in an exclusive show only available to the winners of a contest held by Japan’s Wonda Coffee.

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Bus driver’s kind service towards blind passenger wins praise from Taiwanese netizens

Bus driver’s kind service towards blind passenger wins praise from Taiwanese netizens

Taking the bus or train is a mundane routine for many of us. Sometimes, when there are delays in the arrival or an unexpected breakdown of such public transportation, we get annoyed or even angry at the drivers or transportation companies. But how many of us have ever thanked them for fulfilling their responsibilities of arriving on time, or for driving safely?

Over in Taichung, Taiwan, a bus driver went the extra mile to help a blind commuter onboard and off the bus, winning some unexpected praise and commendation from passengers and netizens on Taiwanese forums.

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Japanese baseball players’ freedom to chew gum is going, going, gone!

Japanese baseball players’ freedom to chew gum is going, going, gone!

The Yomiuri Giants, one of two professional teams playing in Tokyo, are without question Japanese baseball’s version of the New York Yankees. With huge coffers from which to pay the kind of salaries to attract and retain the talent to be competitive year after year, the Giants are loved at home, admired in markets that don’t have a team of their own, and reviled in those that do.

However, the Giants most recent season ended in bitter disappointment with a game seven loss in the championship Japan series. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the defeat came at the hands of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, an upstart expansion team formed in 2005 that until recently was the league’s doormat.

Clearly, a shakeup is necessary to get the Giants back on the path to glory. Something extreme, like banning chewing gum during games.

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No save point? No problem! Japanese video gamers share their love for difficult titles

No save point? No problem! Japanese video gamers share their love for difficult titles

Once upon a time, video games were hard, and I mean really hard. Not only did gamers of the ‘80s and early ‘90s not have the luxury of looking up FAQs and walk-throughs online, titles were simply designed with the idea that not everyone would be able to beat them.

Eventually, studios saw the inefficiencies in this. Why go to the trouble of designing a great game and saving the most technologically impressive bits for the finale, when only a fraction of your paying customers would be able to see it? So games got easier, and as people outside the then-small circle of hard-core gamers got to experience all of the content each title had to offer, the market grew, and designers never looked back.

Well, most of them didn’t. It turns out there’s still a small band of players who find anything less than an unforgiving game to be completely unforgivable. Recently, borderline masochistic Japanese gamers shared some of their picks for the toughest yet most rewarding games they’d played.

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Multiple witness reports of mysterious lights over Okinawa 【Video】

Multiple witness reports of mysterious lights over Okinawa 【Video】

At approximately 9:00pm on 23 January, reports started coming into the Okinawa Times about a strange array of lights over their capital city Naha. Japan’s Self Defense Force and astronomical experts are without answer, yet witness accounts and videos claim a dozen or so bright orange lights appearing to hang and shift around in the sky could be see in the area.

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Scalding your subordinate with tofu – definitely not proper police procedure

Scalding your subordinate with tofu – definitely not proper police procedure

When you think about it, there really aren’t that many situations in which it’s OK to smash food into someone else’s face. I racked my brain, and could only come up with the following two:

1. You’re a pie-throwing extra in a Three Stooges movie.

2. You and your spouse share the same slapstick sense of humor, and want to smush a slice of wedding cake into each other’s’ faces at your reception.

You know what doesn’t make the list? Scalding someone’s mug with piping-hot tofu, especially if you’re a high-ranking police officer.

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Special photo booths let you pose with sumo wrestlers without having to strap on a loincloth

Special photo booths let you pose with sumo wrestlers without having to strap on a loincloth

Should your visit to Tokyo coincide with a sumo tournament being held in the city, you really owe it to yourself to see the sport in person. Tickets are reasonably priced, the matches are fast-paced and showcase a surprisingly large variety of techniques (many similar to those of offensive linemen in football), and there’s really no way to properly convey the amazing controlled ferocity through a television screen. Best of all, the arena is compact enough that even the cheap seats provide a good view of the action.

And in case you need an added incentive, the venue is now home to two special sticker picture booths, where a little digital photo manipulation allows you to take a snapshot with your favorite sumo wrestler.

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The Mirror Harrier: Objects in car are closer than they appear

The Mirror Harrier: Objects in car are closer than they appear

As a young lad I often watched Flight of the Navigator and dreamed of flying around with Sara Jessica Parker in a spaceship that talked like Pee-Wee Herman. What child didn’t?

But most exciting was how beautifully shiny that ship was. Image if a car could be that shiny too. Actually, stop imagining because our reporter stumbled across one such vehicle at a Toyota event at Tokyo Midtown.

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