2 dudes + love hotel + a bromantic Christmas Eve = fundoshi fun!

Christmas may have come and gone, but the fun doesn’t stop here at RocketNews24 – today we’d like to share with our readers a heartwarming tale of two lonely male internet writers who, facing a dateless Christmas Eve (a sad state of affairs indeed for any Japanese male), decided to strike back against societal norms and… book into a love hotel together

Read on as we explore an enchanting evening involving massage, saunas, and fundoshi (Japanese traditional loincloths) aplenty! Disclaimer: you must be 18 or over to view this potentially NSFW, kind of frightening post!

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Town in Hiroshima now offering exciting… snow-shovelling tours?

To someone raised in an area that receives little to no snow in the wintertime, living in a snowy region might seem like a lot of fun, what with all the sledding, snowball fights, and easy access to ski resorts. But it’s not all fun and games when you need to shovel through feet of snow just to leave your house or to get your car out of your driveway.

But maybe to someone who hasn’t grown up having to shovel heaps of snow each winter, snow-shoveling could be a fun experience too. At least, that’s what the Akiota-cho Sightseeing Association in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, seems to be hoping as they try to lure city-dwellers to their 4th annual “Heavy Snow Region Experience Tour“. However, this tour has some net-users questioning why anyone would want to pay 5,000 yen (approximately US$50) to shovel snow for someone else.

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Nihon-no: Is an entirely English-speaking village coming to Tokyo?

What is the best way to learn a language? Many foreign people in Japan will tell you living here and being immersed in Japanese is a pretty good way to pick up the lingo. When you realize you have to be able to speak and understand the language in order to live your daily life, it certainly becomes a huge motivation to make the Japanese language your own.

Do you know what isn’t a particularly good method of learning a language? Four classes a week of language learning taught in your native language with little to no chances to utilize what you’ve learned.

As the whole world knows, the Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo in 2020, and Tokyo wants to be as prepared as possible. The city is trying to do everything it can to improve its citizens’ grasp of English, and there is now talk of plans to create an “English Village” where everything will be conducted in the language so many Japanese wish they were fluent in.

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Courageous kitty offers himself up for dinner during tough financial times

Pets are expensive to feed and keep, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re financially able to support a little furry life for the next 10-15 years before making the decision to adopt an animal.

Sometimes, though, life throws you financial curve balls, and you may find yourself struggling to cover the cost of kitty’s food and litter. Today, we’d like to share with you the funny yet kinda sad tale of a kitty-owner whose struggle to make ends meet led to their furry little pal making a drastic suggestion of self-sacrifice (although, it’s a cat, so we’re pretty sure it was being sarcastic…)

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Chinese city government bans Christmas in schools

While many of us spent the last few days stuffing our faces with Christmas treats, singing jolly carols and hoarding presents, one whole city of school children in China were unfortunately unable to celebrate the occasion because the Grinch, a.k.a. adults, had stolen their Christmas.

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The International Federation of Sports Onigokko hopes for tag to be a part of the Tokyo Olympics

No matter what culture you come from, you have probably played a game of tag or a similar game by a different name at least once in your life. It’s a childhood pastime that quite possibly dates well back into prehistoric times in one form or another.

In Japan it is well-loved and goes by the name onigokko (“play demon”) wherein on player takes the role of the oni (demon/”it”) and tries to touch the other players which will turn them into oni.

I say “well-loved” because in recent years the country has held the largest games of tag in the world and has currently evolved the game into “sports onigokko” an organized team-based version of the of what you may know as tag.

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Japanese scientists debunk popular belief about the “old-person smell”

What do you dread the most about growing old? Is it the aching muscles after what used to be an easy exercise routine? The need to get up and pee multiple times during the night? Or how about that distinctive “old-person smell” that sneaks into the air whenever a senior citizen is around?

Speaking of that last one, have you ever wondered where that particular odor comes from? Although many people believe that the source of the smell is behind the ears, a team of Japanese researchers have recently disproved this theory after what must have been an excruciatingly odoriferous ordeal. You might want to plug your nose for this one, folks–things are about to smell more than a little fishy around here…

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“No low angles!” and other Comiket cosplay photography rules

We had a great time at Comiket this weekend and saw enough to fill a few photo books! Of course, it’s impossible to talk about everything, but one of the more eye-catching things we noticed were the cosplay photography rules. There’s a good chance you remember this little tweet from this past summer, showing a cosplayer surrounded and photographed at low angles. And probably not for better lighting…

Well, it turns out, that kind of photography probably isn’t within Comiket rules!

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Kyaraben roundup! We take a look back at 2014’s best packed lunches 【Pics】

The Kyaraben trend is still going strong in Japan, and even though winter has prompted some to make the temporary switch to deco-nabe, the demand for adorable packed lunches shows no signs of abating. Today we’d like to take a look back over the best of the past year’s Kyaraben. What can we learn about 2014 in Japan from studying these perfect works of edible art?

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Up all night to get lucky…bags at Apple stores across Japan

The New Year is obviously a major holiday in Japan, and that means sales at every store. In addition to discounted products, the beginning of January sees many stores also offering grab bags, most often called “lucky bags,” a direct translation of 福袋 (fukubukuro), in Japan.

Of course, some of the most sought-after lucky bags in Japan are those from Apple. In fact, if you want to grab one of Apple’s lucky bags, now might be a good time to buy a sleeping bag and some snacks, because you’ll probably be camping out over night!

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Complaints lead to talks about whether noise from schools should be regulated

With Japan trying to figure out how to handle its issue of a declining population (predicted to decrease by one-third over the next half century if the current trend in birth rates continues), the country has been working to raise awareness of the problem and implement more resources for children and parents.

However, with a recent increase of new day cares, preschools, and kindergartens, there has also been an increase of complaints about noise, particularly from elderly residents.

Some of these cases have even gone to court, and have resulted in some schools having to restrict outdoor playtime for the children and keep their curtains closed.

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“Malaysian girl holding things” is our new favourite Instagram account 【Photos】

At first, we were more than a little confused by Min Chen‘s Instagram feed. This is a girl who got over 14,000 likes on a “Merry Christmas” snapshot, and we don’t even know anything about her. She’s not even famous per se, yet she has 117,000 followers and counting. There must be something that sets her apart from the rest. But what could it be…?

We put our thinking caps on, took a good long hard look at the photos, and – BOOM. That’s when we realised Malaysian beauty Min Chen totally has a niche thing going on. She is a girl who holds things.

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Pop-pom pigeons are topping Japan’s cute-o-meter this winter

Perhaps the (in)famous pigeon dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend has given the nation a soft spot for the feathered creatures, because Japanese people have been going crazy for cute pics of pigeons all fluffed up in the cold.

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Legendary violinist upstaged by eight-year-old son’s ridiculously cute gift to Santa

Even if you don’t recognize the name Taro Hakase, you’ve probably heard his world-renowned violin music before. Ever flown All Nippon Airlines (ANA)? Then you’ve heard him. Ever been put on hold? You’ve heard him. Every played Final Fantasy, watched anime, or heard of Celine Dion or Ariana Grande? Yep, you’ve heard him.

But this time around it’s not one of Taro’s masterpieces, but instead one made by his eight-year-old son Mantaro, that’s getting people excited online.

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Oscar and Andre tie the knot? The manga wedding that’s been 40 years in the making

As many of our readers are undoubtedly aware, manga is one of the biggest industries in Japan, and there are literally thousands of manga to be enjoyed out there. But among all those countless comics, there are a select few that have withstood the test of time and have been read and loved over periods spanning decades.  Comic artist Riyoko Ikeda’s classic Rose of Versailles is one such work, the title and characters still widely recognized by the Japanese public more than 40 years after its first serialization in the girl’s comic magazine Margaret. In fact, a new volume of Rose of Versailles containing a selection of omnibus stories was released in August this year, making it the first new comic to come out from the series in four decades!

Now, Ikeda has collaborated with Japanese marriage and wedding information magazine Zexy and created a sweet little side-story that also doubles as a leaflet for couples preparing for their wedding. And what makes it extra delightful for fans of the manga is that it involves Oscar and André, the two main characters, finally getting married! Well, we can almost hear the fans collectively crying out, “It’s about time!

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New Japanese karaoke parlor welcomes Muslims by introducing traditional halal menu

Anyone with dietary restrictions who has been to Japan will know that it can be quite frustrating. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be shocked to hear that the fish head in your miso soup “isn’t meat.” And if you don’t drink, well, good luck at the nomikai (drinking parties).

For Muslims who follow a halal diet of no pork, alcohol, and other restrictions, it can be extremely difficult. Pork-broth is very common in Japan, alcoholic mirin and sake are often used in cooking, and in Japan animals who have been slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines are about as rare as a mosque. But thanks to a halal-friendly karaoke parlor that’s just opened in Tokyo’s Yotsuya, Muslim customers finally have a place to kick back, belt some tunes, and not worry about dictionary-checking every ingredient.

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Check out the awesome cosplay at Comiket 87! 【Photos, Photos, and more photos】

It’s the end of December and that can mean only one thing: Comiket is in full swing! Today was only the first day, but the cosplay (and the crowds) were utterly amazing. With about half a million people expected to visit over the three-day event at Tokyo Big Sight, you should hardly be surprised that people from all over Japan–and some from around the world–flock to the doujinshi spectacular.

We headed down on Sunday afternoon and captured a few photos of our favorite cosplayers. And by “a few” we mean “a metric crapton.”

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Give a stranger a flower: Art exhibit & a Parisienne in Tokyo leads to smile seen round the world

If you’re sad that December is coming to a close and aren’t quite ready to stop basking in the holiday spirit, here’s a story (albeit a non-Christmas one) from the heart of Tokyo that’s sure to give you the warm fuzzies. Originally made popular in English on the image-hosting site Imgur, this tale of a stranger’s unexpected act of kindness traveled back to Japan where it happened, thanks to the Internet, and subsequently brought smiles to scads of Japanese netizens’ faces.

Read their reactions at the end of the article, after learning about how Lee Mingwei’s participatory art installation and 22-year-old Alice’s seemingly small yet impactful act of courage brightened the day of a metro worker named Daisuke and reddened his ears. As one online commenter put it, “I bet this guy never imagined that his smile would spread joy all around the world!”

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Let’s play a little word association game. What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear Senran Kagura?

I’m guessing at least a couple of you just said “Gesundheit.” Those of you who keep up on anime or Japanese video game releases, though, probably answered “Boobs.” After all, the Senran Kagura anime and video game series is about ridiculously oversized mammaries first, and ninja schoolgirl fighting action distantly second.

However, the problem with any long-running franchise is the risk of things growing stale, which would be especially problematic for Senran Kagura, because it’s hard to imagine something more unappealing than stale breasts. So after a half-dozen games, an anime TV series, and five different manga adaptations, Senran Kagura is poised to enter a new area: butts.

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New Final Fantasy may not have playable female characters, will have almost naked male hero

When video game developer Square Enix gave the largest preview to date of its upcoming role-playing game Final Fantasy XV, it rubbed some fans the wrong way. Just about every installment since the series switched to having set characters has featured female adventurers, but the company announced that the playable cast of Final Fantasy XV is entirely male.

While details are still scarce about the separate but concurrently in-development game Mevius Final Fantasy, newly released screenshots of the smartphone title also feature only a male character. With a Y-chromosome suddenly seeming like a necessary bit of adventuring equipment, does this mean Final Fantasy has consciously decided to turn its back on the many female fans who’ve helped it achieve the success it enjoys today?

Probably not, since while it’s not certain whether or not Mevius Final Fantasy will allow female gamers to create a character in their own likenesses, it’s absolutely certain that the game is planning to provide a generous serving of extra-lean beefcake.

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