You might not be in a real Japanese restaurant when…

You might not be in a real Japanese restaurant when…

In many countries around the world, Japanese cuisine has found a home. However, when one nation’s food culture lands in another’s backyard, things tend to get lost in translation. Deliciousness is always in the mouth of the beholder but Japanese people can often take issue with the way their food is prepared overseas.

For example, the website Madame Riri lays out their take of faux Japanese restaurants in Paris, a majority of which she claims is run by Chinese management. While we all might not share their hardline view of how Japanese food is prepared, they do have an interesting list of ways they believe can tell if a Japanese restaurant is truly run by Japanese people or not.

So without further ado: You might not be in a real Japanese restaurant when…

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When demon cats attack… cotton buds!

When demon cats attack… cotton buds!

What could possibly go wrong here? Here is an cat, innocently reaching for a cotton bud, probably to attend to his personal hygiene. Sure, he looks a little evil, a tad malicious. But who wouldn’t, faced with a stubborn ear wax infestation?

The drama which ensued in the moments after this cat moved toward the cotton bud was captured in a terrifying series of photos posted on Japan’s Hamster Sokuhou which cracked up some Japanese netizens. We think the evidence really speaks for itself.

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An enormous 11-acre artwork in Belfast requires a helicopter to appreciate it fully

An enormous 11-acre artwork in Belfast requires a helicopter to appreciate it fully

If you’re in Belfast before December, you might want to consider a helicopter ride.

That’s the only way you’ll truly able to appreciate a huge artwork that’s sitting in the city’s Titanic quarter.

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Soba shop window showcases fake noodles, real cat

Soba shop window showcases fake noodles, real cat

Cats are always looking for a warm place to nap and they really don’t give a crap if it’s inconvenient for you or anyone else. That’s one of the things that’s awesome about them. A Twitter user recently captured one of these felines napping bold as brass in a shop window, giving not a thought to how much fur was getting in your lunch.

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“Inferiority complex” driving Japanese Facebook users to quit

“Inferiority complex” driving Japanese Facebook users to quit

It’s no secret that Facebook is having a little bit of trouble in Japan. A recent survey by Aun Consulting showed a drastic decline of almost 11 percent from September 2012 to January this year. But why are Japanese users quitting the incredibly popular global social networking site? Apparently, between all of the selfies showing off your perfect girlfriend, photo albums of that weekend trip to Tahiti and updates on your amazing job, some users are developing an inferiority complex about their lonely, boring and unsatisfying lives.

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Behold: Tokyo’s labrynthine subway map in 3-D form!

Behold: Tokyo’s labrynthine subway map in 3-D form!

If you’ve ever used the Tokyo Metro, or even browsed maps of the rail network online, you’ll know that it is a positive maze of lines, colours, numbers and names that even locals sometimes have trouble navigating. Compared to the London Underground or even New York’s massive subway system, the Tokyo Metro is absolute chaos on paper, making us wonder how it could possibly all run so smoothly on a daily basis.

Thanks to one Tokyo University graduate’s efforts, however, we now know exactly what is going on beneath our feet, with this three-dimensional model filled with coloured liquids representing every twist, turn, climb and dip the Metro’s tunnels make in real life.

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Chinese designer depicts Eastern vs. Western human behaviors in clever pictographs

Chinese designer depicts Eastern vs. Western human behaviors in clever pictographs

We almost wonder whether Yang Liu, a Beijing-born designer who has lived in Germany since 1990, was tripping when she put together these hip, riddle-like pictographs that abstractly convey behavioral differences between Westerners and Easterns; or more specifically, Germans and Chinese.

Relying on her experiences in Europe and China, Liu put together these clever designs that are a sort of Rorschach test for which region you identify with. We found ourselves staring and trying to figure out what they stood for, then nodding in agreement about one side or the other, but not always the side Liu expected us to identify with.

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Twitter user weighs growing kitten over a series of weeks, documents with insanely cute photos

Twitter user weighs growing kitten over a series of weeks, documents with insanely cute photos

At the risk of becoming an online shrine to all things feline following our reporting of everything from cat sushi, Attack on Titan: cat edition and multiple posts about Japan’s own feline star, Maru, when we discovered this series of 12 photos showing the growth of a kitten as it goes from barely being able to see over the edge of the scales to struggling to fit in, we couldn’t help but share.

Strap yourselves in for some serious cute, boys and girls.

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Meet The Beetyu, Volkswagen’s one-of-a-kind bathtub Beetle

Meet The Beetyu, Volkswagen’s one-of-a-kind bathtub Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle (often known as the Bug in the US) has been around since the 1930s, and is adored worldwide for its simplistic and cute rounded design. Though the German automobile has evolved over the years, it still keeps the characteristic bug-like shape that everyone recognizes at a glance.

But will you still be able to recognize a Beetle on the road if it had a Japanese bathtub in its backseat? We’re not kidding, the Beetle makers in Japan really did make such a car!

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Pics from Japan’s Miss Komaba High School Beauty Pageant! One catch though…

Pics from Japan’s Miss Komaba High School Beauty Pageant! One catch though…

Monday was Culture Day here in Japan, and workers and students across the country enjoyed a well-earned day off from their daily routines. During the three-day weekend, it’s common for schools to hold Culture Festivals, at which art clubs display their works, music classes hold recitals, and drama departments screen movies or create walk-through haunted houses. The events are usually open to the public, and let schools show off their students’ creativity to the local community.

The Culture Festival at Komaba High School, located in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, even includes a Miss Komaba High beauty contest. We suppose that now is as good a time as any to inform you that Komaba High is not co-ed, and that the pageant’s carefully-coifed and femininely attired contestants are in fact all dudes.

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The animated meals in Ghibli’s movies have our mouths watering

The animated meals in Ghibli’s movies have our mouths watering

Ghibli films are celebrated the world over for their enchanting art, beautiful world-building, and family friendly plotlines. Stylistically, there are many things that set these movies apart from other animated titles, both in terms of common themes and art quality. The backgrounds will be scenic. The children will fly. Tears will fall like big, fat drops, and the food will always, always look enticing.

Latching on to that latter truth, Japanese news source My Navi Woman asked its readers which of Ghibli’s mouth-watering morsels they would most like to eat. 225 women responded, leading us to six of the most desirable dishes featured in Ghibli films.

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10 things Japan gets horribly wrong

10 things Japan gets horribly wrong

It should come as no surprise to our readers to hear that we’re big fans of Japan. Pretty much everything here works as it should, the food is amazing, the culture rich, and people are on the whole likeable and friendly. But there are times when Westerners, and Japanese who have spent any amount of time abroad for that matter, realise that Japan gets some things not just wrong but horribly wrong.

So join us after the jump as we redress the balance no doubt offset by our constant admiration of Japan by discussing the 10 little things that drive us nuts in this otherwise great country.

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icePhone: Because everyone wants to look like they’re talking on a popsicle

icePhone: Because everyone wants to look like they’re talking on a popsicle

When you’re a little kid, any slightly long object turns into your own personal phone. The remote control, a banana, maybe even a sausage have all served as substitute talking devices for children not quite old enough to have their own fully-functional mobile device. But frozen treats, no matter how perfectly sized, have always been out of reach as a play phone, transforming into a puddle of sticky goo before the purple dragon had his turn to talk. But now you can be the envy of all those 5-year-olds yammering like fools on their pickle phones with the icePhone case that looks like a real crunch bar or popsicle.

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Everyone should eat Hello Kitty inarizushi at least once

Everyone should eat Hello Kitty inarizushi at least once

Hello Kitty has just turned 39 and it seems like everyone in Japan is gearing up for her to turn the big 4-0. In celebration of her achievement, Hello Kitty is being turned into a beloved Japanese snack, Inarizushi. This dish named after the Shinto god, Inari, has always had those little peaks of unfilled fried tofu pouch at each corner and adding the simple dots, lines, and familiar bow makes the snack look just like Hello Kitty. However, even if the sight of this irresistible sushi makes you want to run out and buy one immediately, it’s unfortunately only available in one area of Japan.

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We visited the famous monjayaki street and ate until we burst!

We visited the famous monjayaki street and ate until we burst!

Japan is, of course, known for its unique cuisine. From sushi to takoyaki, there’s something for everyone! One domestic favorite is the cabbage-pancake okonomiyaki, which can include anything from squid to pork to cheese. The dish is beloved by both children and adults throughout the country and can be found in restaurants, festivals, and even hamburgers! However, if you live in Tokyo, you’d probably want to some monjayaki instead, a similar dish that is closer in consistency to scrambled eggs–but still incredibly delicious!

Last weekend, we headed out to Tsukishima, one of the most famous mojayaki destinations in Japan, to try the dish. Check out our report of the excellent monjayaki shop, Bambi, below!

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Ads from the 1950s looking cool after more than half a century!

Ads from the 1950s looking cool after more than half a century!

Ads can often be a unique and symbolic reflection of the times in which they are created, some of them even becoming artistic icons, as in the case of the works of Norman Rockwell or Alphonse Mucha.  Japan too has produced its share of visually engaging ads over the years, and we happened to find a selection of cute Japanese ads compiled and posted last month by BuzzFeed Rewind associate editor, Leonora Epstein. What’s amazing is that these ads are actually from the 1950s — more than half a century ago! Japanese Internet users have been noticing the post too, and after taking a look ourselves, we thought these ads were definitely charming enough to be worth sharing with you. So, let’s take a peek at what was going on in the Japanese advertising scene more than 50 years ago. Read More

Elitism divides otaku culture as the popularity of Japanese pop idols expands

Elitism divides otaku culture as the popularity of Japanese pop idols expands

Japan’s idol industry is a unique beast of a moneymaker. The girls who succeed on this cut-throat career path are supported entirely by their fanbase. While they may sing and dance, their live shows have more to do with their idol image than their actual talents, and it is ultimately their popularity which determines their level of success. These girls are famous for their popularity, rather than popular as a result of their fame and talents.

Supporting this industry at its core are the idol otaku, men and women who are obsessed with the girls in idol groups. Functioning as a sub-set of otaku culture, which is already criticized by greater Japanese society, one might expect these idol fans to band together tightly, and share in harmony their mutual love for miniskirts. But, this has not been the case. In fact, a large rift has apparently formed between long-time supporters of the idol industry and newcomers to the scene. According to the old-timers, it would appear that these fresh, new fans don’t understand what it really means to be an idol otaku. Just look at what they had to say about these newbies infringing on their turf!

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Cat table manners: Make a mess and get punched in the face 【Video】

Cat table manners: Make a mess and get punched in the face 【Video】

Around our house, making a mess at the table might have gotten you a harsh word at most. This feline Miss Manners is a bit stricter about table manners, though. Her dining companion drops a bit of food and is promptly punched in the face!

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Japanese mushroom commercial with erotic overtones nears 3 million hits on YouTube

Japanese mushroom commercial with erotic overtones nears 3 million hits on YouTube

In Japan, Hokto is to mushrooms what Chiquita is to bananas: a household name that people know but aren’t overly excited by – until now!

The mushroom growers have been releasing an increasingly sexy line of commercials that seem to get pulled from the airwaves soon after debuting. The latest one, titled “Splendid Mushroom Kinkatsu,” depicts a love affair between actors Jun Kaname in the role of the spirit of mushrooms and Sawa Suzuki as the middle-aged woman he continuously haunts and seductively whispers about mushrooms to. As far as mushrooms go, this is pretty hot.

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Japanese man awarded by British government for honoring POWs, being generally awesome

Japanese man awarded by British government for honoring POWs, being generally awesome

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II recently made a Mie Prefecture man an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire, which we think means he’s some kind of knight now or something. That or “Hand of the Queen” if standard Game of Thrones rules apply.

What did the lucky man, Sir Isao Toji, do to deserve such a distinction? Well, for the past 20 years, Toji has held an annual memorial service for 16 British servicemen who died in Japan as prisoners of war during World War II.

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