Nine tips for surviving Japan’s hellishly crowded trains

If you have ever ridden a train during rush hour in Japan, you know it takes a certain amount of fortitude to survive it. If you are just visiting the country, sometimes you can avoid those super stuffed trains, buy if you live or spend an extended length of time in any big city in Japan you just can’t avoid taking a packed train. Whether it’s rush hour in the morning, rush hour at night, or the last few trains home, you will often find yourself in a position where you have to give up the luxury of personal space in exchange for a ride home.

It takes a certain amount of skill to stay upright as well as a bit of creative ingenuity to pass the time and avoid feeling claustrophobic in order to survive the crowded train. We’ve collated nine of the best tips to help you get through a hell-like train ride.

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McDonald’s Japan faces largest deficit ever, closing 190 stores and retiring 100 HQ staff

We have said it many times: 2014 was not a good year for McDonald’s in Japan. Ever since being involved in an expired chicken scandal last summer, the Japanese public at large has held a grudge so deep against the restaurant you’d think Ronald himself left a flaming bag of dog poop on everyone’s doorstep and keyed their cars on his way off the premises.

Now as the new fiscal year in Japan begins we can see that this anger wasn’t limited to mere online whining either. Japanese people seem to have united and hit McDonald’s where it hurts most: the bottom line.

In an announcement on 16 April, McDonald’s Holdings Company Japan President Sarah Casanova announced that the company currently sits on the largest deficit ever at a super-sized 38 billion yen (US$319M).

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The reason those “how not to use this toilet” signs exist in Asia…

Did you ever hear stories about people in horribly embarrassing or awkward situations and thank whatever deity you believe in that it didn’t happen to you? Well you can say your thanks again that you weren’t the man who had to be taken to the hospital for injuries sustained after the toilet he decided to stand on as he… did his business… collapsed underneath him.

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Compared to the U.S., Japan has different cultural standards about revealing female fashions. That’s not to say women in Japan show more or less skin than their American counterparts, just that they show it in different places.

So while you’re likely to see more cleavage in L.A. or New York, a stroll through Tokyo or Osaka will turn up more women in very short shorts. Honestly, after spending enough time in Japan, its easy to become desensitized to hot pants, until something comes along that pushes the envelope by offering less coverage from some angles than a pair of panties.

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Heartbreaking photos inside the bedrooms of children who died in last year’s South Korean ferry disaster

A year ago Thursday, a ferry carrying 476 people sank off the coast of Incheon, near Seoul, South Korea, during a routine trip to the island of Jeju.

In all, 295 people aboard the Sewol perished, many of them high-school students and teachers who were on a field trip. Many of the bodies still have not been recovered.

Since the disaster, controversy has centered on the South Korean government’s response. Some argue the government attempted to whitewash its accountability in the incident; others have called for a thorough investigation.

Parents of the students who died in the catastrophe are still reeling from their loss a year later. Many still keep their children’s rooms intact to keep their memories alive. Reuters photographer Kim Hong-Ji visited their homes and documented the families and the rooms.

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Apple would rather you not blow up teen couples on your iPhone, asks developer to edit video game

In a lot of ways, digital distribution of video games is a great thing, as it allows developers to easily add new content to a title after its release. It’s a double-edged sword, though, and that same streamlined pathway from programmer to player can also be used to quickly make changes that take things away.

A few weeks ago, we took a look at a smartphone game whose lonely, jaded protagonist and his mystical, jaded companion use their powers to make affectionate couples meet with a host of calamities, including straight blowing them up. Apple, however, is not cool with this sort of vengeful fantasy, and so the iOS version of the game is being toned down and given a new name since the original title, Explode, Real Types! no longer describes the game’s contents.

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New “magic powder” turns any liquid into flavored lubricant, also perfect for thickening up curry

Think about the last time you had a nice big bowl of lubricant for breakfast. Could the taste have been a little better? Was the texture not smooth enough going down?

Well you’re in luck! The Japanese lubricant company Pepee just recently released “Pepee Gelee,” packets of “magic powder” that you can put in any liquid – from water to juice to alcohol – and transform it into lubricant. What you do with it after that is up to you: you could share it with a friend, spread it over a ground sheet for some slip-slidin’ action, or simply enjoy a nice dinner for one.

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(Not so) cool beans! Watch these horrified US kids try natto for the first time!

Despite being slimy and smelly and stringy, fermented soybeans, or natto, are actually really good for you. We’ve spoken before about how even lots of Japanese people have to resort to special measures in order to stomach swallowing down a bowl of these stinky beans. So it’s no surprise that these US kids have such a hard time when they were presented with a bowl of natto for the first time.

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R2-D2 jet takes to the skies in the most dramatic airline commercial we’ve seen all year

As you might have heard, that little indie film Star Wars is getting a squeal or something like that. And, like Pokemon and Hello Kitty before it, the franchise is getting its own themed plane with the R2-D2 jet, set to start flying international routes this fall.

As you may expect, a project this big demands a big announcement. And ANA (All Nippon Airways), the company bringing this themed jet to the skies, is more than happy to oblige! Check out the commercial, complete with the jet soaring majestically through cloudy skies, below.

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Live-Action Attack on Titan films’ poster, 2nd movie title unveiled

The official website for the two Attack on Titan live-action films unveiled a new poster for the movies on Friday. Theaters in Japan will begin displaying the poster on April 25.

The first movie will open on August 8, and the second movie will open on September 19.

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e.l.f. Cosmetics delights Frozen fans with an Elsa makeover in a book

I subscribe to a handful of beauty gurus on YouTube, and the moment Frozen turned out to be such a mega hit, I knew I had to brace myself for a rush of Elsa-inspired makeovers taking over my subscription list. True enough, the Elsa-themed tutorial videos came in like a wrecking ball and suddenly my YouTube feed was flooded with women sporting blonde braids and smokey purple eyelids.

The thing about these makeup tutorials is that many of these YouTube beauty gurus have a rather extensive collection of makeup palettes and tools, so they can easily create different looks, but the average person might not own products in all the colors required to replicate Elsa’s look. That, was until e.l.f. launched their Disney Elsa makeup series that provided the full package at affordable prices. Check out the lineup after the break!

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Attack on Mega Shark? New foe for American B-movie icon looks suspiciously familiar to anime fans

American film studio The Asylum is the “creative” team behind some of the movies with the closest names ever to blockbuster hits. The company’s catalogue features standouts such as Snakes on a Train, The Da Vinci Treasure, Transmorphers, The Day the Earth Stopped, and, in perhaps its greatest feat of coming as close as possible to just outright copying another movie’s title, The Terminators.

There’s a point at which imitation gets to be so blatant it stops being flattering, and ordinarily we’d be appalled at The Asylum’s lack of artistic integrity. We’ll give the studio a pass this time, though, since it’s about to give us an unofficial crossover as compelling as Mega Shark fighting an obvious copy of an Attack on Titan giant.

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“Insta in my Hand” is the latest smartphone trend among high school students in Japan

The latest social media craze to hit Japan is called “Insta in my Hand,” for which net users share photos which look like they’re holding a transparent version of their Instagram or Twitter homepages in the palm of their hands. The boom was apparently imported from South Korea earlier this month, after Key, a member of K-Pop group SHINee, uploaded his own “Insta in my Hand” picture to his Instagram account. Japanese high school students have since tweaked the trend to include “Twitter in my Hand” shots as well.

Now you too can create your own “Insta in my Hand” images with our handy English guide, right after the jump!

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Lonely kids at all-boys school in Kyoto create giant bra out of curtains for invisible breasts

The logic behind single-gender schools is keep the pupils focused on their studies, and not the growing allure the opposite sex holds for them. Of course, it’s not so easy to make the adolescent male mind forget about the female form. As we’ve seen before, in the absence of real girls, sometimes boys will start making their own, maybe even out of thin air.

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Man, inspired by IS video, threatens to behead ex-girlfriend

Police have arrested a 33-year-old Yokohama man on suspicion of threatening to kill his former girlfriend in a series of messages on the LINE app.

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Upcoming male “female cosplay” event draws attention online and our interest

Cosplay is, of course, a popular pastime of otaku, and one of the most popular types of cosplay right now is the gender-norm-breaking “otoko no ko.” As we’ve explained previously, otoko no ko are men who identify as male and like wearing women’s clothes…and who often happen to look damn good doing it too!

And it seems that otoko no ko numbers are growing too, if the Internet is any indication. Though otoko no ko cosplay events have been around for a while, a contest coming up this weekend is drawing attention online.

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Beautiful Japanese singer is still hot at 46: It must be all the Pocari Sweat!

We know how much you love reading about super-hot women in their forties who look like they’re in their twenties despite being busy mothers, or in some cases even grandmothers. So we thought you’d be interested in hearing about Japanese singer Chisato Moritaka, who is just as beautiful today at the age of 46 as she was way back in 1986 when she became the poster girl for the Pocari Sweat electrolyte drink.

But what’s her secret?

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Disgruntled Japanese men share a list of common male woes before and after marriage

Ladies, do you think that life is all fun and games for your male counterparts? As a multitude of men would have you know, that’s certainly not always the case.

The following list chronicling all the expectations and financial burdens placed on Japanese men both before and after marriage has been circulating the web. Of course, not to rule out the many challenges that women also face, myself being a woman, perhaps it would be better to just say that life can be a real drag for everyone.

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Nightingale floors: The samurai intruder alarm system Japan’s had for centuries

For centuries, Japan has taken pride in the talents of its craftsmen, carpenters and woodworkers included. Because of that, you might be surprised to find that some Japanese castles have extremely creaky wooden floors that screech and groan with each step.

How could such slipshod construction have been considered acceptable for some of the most powerful figures in Japanese history? The answer is that the sounds weren’t just tolerated, but desired, as the noise-producing floors functioned as Japan’s earliest automated intruder alarm.

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No need to ask for blood types – Find out personalities via first names

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could figure out someone’s personality type without actually sitting down and, you know, getting to know them? Who has that kind of time nowadays? Think of how much less small talk you’d have to go through if you could instantly know the personality of that cute guy over there just by asking his name. Momotaro? No, thank you. Ken? I’m interested.

An interesting chart from a magazine surfaced via Twitter the other day. It describes personality types based on the first sound of your name. It’s geared toward Japanese names, but it may work for non-Japanese names too.

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