Make sure to visit this historical onsen once before you die, or just do it right now with Google

Nestled in the mountains of Nagano sits the Ryokan Kanaguya. It’s an inn with over two and a half centuries of history and seems to walk that fine line between quaint and extravagant. It’s also a part of the ever-growing list of bathhouses said to be the inspiration for the Ghibli classic Spirited Away.

Simply by tweeting some promotional photos of Kanaguya from its website, one user managed to net over 24,000 retweets. Needless to say, it’s an attractive holiday destination. But before you go booking a room, why not take a brief virtual tour of Kanaguya via Google Street View which appears to be well on its way to mapping the entire world inside and out.

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Want to make music, but can’t play an instrument? Casio app turns your hums into full tracks!

Music is pretty much one of the best things in life–some people might even say it is the best thing in life. Playing an instrument is supposed to do all sort of great things for us, but most would agree that getting started with music can be pretty difficult. While DAWs like FL Studio exist to help us produce whatever we hear in our heads without strumming a single chord, digital production is quite a bit more difficult than most people realize. From programming drums to synthesizing new sounds, it can be just as time-consuming as learning to play guitar. “Why can’t I just whip out my smartphone, hum a little ditty, and let it do all the hard work of producing a track?” you might be thinking.

Well, soon you will be able to, thanks to a new app from Casio. You won’t even need to hum all the way through–it’ll generate a whole song from one section!

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Man arrested for robbery in Shandong had just visited temple to give thanks for not getting caught

There’s something about tales of inept criminality that we just can’t resist, especially when it seems like a case of fate conspiring against the wrong-doer. Like the man arrested for robbery in China’s Shandong province on Thursday who was on his way back from a temple, having gone to give thanks for not being caught.

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Plow the town red with Yanmar’s sleek and stylish line of tractors

About a year and half ago we brought word of Yanmar’s concept tractor the Y-Concept YTO1 Advanced Tractor. Boasting the sleekest design to grace any tractor and other high-tech features, the Osaka company aimed for a whole new way to look at farming. However, like many concept vehicles, no one was holding their breath for it to actually materialize on the market.

However, this spring Yanmar came through on their promise of futuristic farm-wear for sale in limited quantities to the public, but still no tractor. Then, out of the blue on 19 November it came. The first models of the YT Series tractor were announced for sale in May of 2015.

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The weirder the better? These Japanese zakka are hot sellers in Korea

There are many Japanese products that are popular overseas, such as Japanese snacks, beauty products, character goods… the list goes on. Character franchises aside, some of the more common reasons why people living outside of Japan purchase Japanese products is because they generally tend to be produced under higher quality and hygiene standards, and more often than not come in temptingly beautiful or cute packaging.

Japanese zakka (sundries/miscellaneous goods), however, are popular for entirely different reasons. Check out these Japanese zakka that a Korean retailer has picked for their website to get a clearer idea of what tempts the purse strings of Korean consumers!

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Catch a rare glimpse of a half blue, half smoggy sky in China

A picture is worth a thousand words, and these photos are no exception. What happens to a usually smoggy sky after a large spell of rain? One Chinese Weibo user was able to document the unusual sight for the rest of us to see!

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New Lotte chewing gum promotion features cool guys to suit every taste

Lotte’s new advertising campaign for its range of gum products takes inspiration from ikemen “cool guys” often featured in anime and otome dating sim games. The company has released their new “Gum Boyfriend” advert debuting five guys, each with their own different personalities and quirks corresponding to one of Lotte’s brands of refreshing gum. But which chewy bad boy is your favorite?

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Question reveals how foreigners feel about speaking Japanese, getting English in return

Living in a foreign country has its trials and tribulations. There are all new customs and sometimes a new language you have to learn, creating a situation that can be really frustrating and depressing. Then one day you wake up, turn on the TV and suddenly, “Huh, I kinda get what’s going on here,” and you know you’re finally ready. It’s time to speak to the locals…with confidence!

In Japan, a very interesting thing happens though. You may speak close to native level and yet the Japanese person will respond back in ENGLISH. Has this happened to you?

How do you feel when you speak fluent or reasonably good Japanese to a Japanese person and they insist on answering you in English?” Foreigners were asked this question on Japan Today and it was shared by  Madame Riri, a Japanese blogger. What do both parties have to say about this? More after the jump!

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Our Japanese reporter visits an American sushi restaurant in Japan

In this era of increasing globalization we see more and more cases of foods jumping across cultural boundaries and changing in the process. Japan is no different with foods like pizza topped with scallops, curry which tastes sweet as pudding, and ramen burgers.

And of course this culinary door swings both ways such as the United States’ take on sushi in creations like the California roll. However, now we are seeing an interesting twist in the migration of sushi with New Port Sushi located in Okinawa. Here American style sushi can be enjoyed in Japan. After our reporter Nakano was finished vomiting up his glass of root beer, we sent him in to check it out.

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We don’t know what Vanadium is either, but Asahi put it in a drink for you anyway

On November 18, Asahi released its new Fuji-san Vanadium Natural Water Hot, apparently banking on the idea that regular convenience store-going human beings would both a) know what Vanadium is, and b) actually want to consume just plain hot water out of a bottle.

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Nearly five percent of Japanese are addicted to gambling – even though it’s still “illegal”

What do loud noises, small shiny balls, and bright lights have in common? Pachinko parlors. Pachinko, which can be described as a cross between pinball and slot machines, is a favorite pastime in Japan, despite gambling being illegal (because it’s not technically gambling). The players, who often spend hours sitting in front of these noisy, bright machines, win shiny steel balls, not money, so it’s not gambling, right? Right. Enter loophole: They can take their baskets of balls to a neighboring, but “separate,” establishment to exchange the balls for cash prizes. How convenient!

Pachinko parlors are often huge, gaudy buildings, common even to countryside towns. If you pass one early in the morning, there will often be a line of people rounding the corner, waiting for the doors to open. Many people, especially men, love pachinko. Some members of the government, however, are starting to believe that their citizens love it a little too much.

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“We don’t want to be girls. We just want to be cute!” The future of crossdressing in Osaka

Tokyo’s Onna no ko kurabu, or Girls’ Club, has a simple mission statement: it’s a place where anybody can enjoy dressing in girls’ clothing. The bar’s staff aims to help men who may be crossdressing for the first time, providing clothes to choose from as well as a dedicated make-up service.

And now, Girls’ Club is spreading the cuteness a little further, with the opening of a second store in the heart of Osaka’s entertainment district.

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Endangered critters in China get health check, diagnosed with acute cuteness 【Photos】

Remember when you were in school and had to do that dreaded health and fitness check in PE class? Turns out those trials aren’t just for little homo sapiens.

A few days ago, workers at the Pu’er Sun River national park were checking the health of their endangered charges ahead of some research projects and got some pretty adorable snaps in the process.

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Beautiful faces and floors – Five great ways to reuse the water from rinsing rice

While out shopping the other day, I picked up a bag of prewashed rice. The grocery store was having a sale, so it was just as cheap as the unwashed kinds, and I figured, “Hey, there’s no advantage to having to rinse it myself is there?”

But as it turns out, the water left over after you wash the rice, called togijiru in Japanese, is actually pretty useful, as shown by these five ways you can reuse it instead of just dumping it down the sink.

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“Common habits of Japan’s low earners”: What this survey tells us, and what it doesn’t

A survey out this week asked 200 salarymen – office workers in Japan – about their work and lifestyle habits. The findings have been reported in the Japanese media under headlines such as “The bad habits of low earners” and “People on a low income pee in the bath – but why?!”

But this kind of survey tells us more about the survey creator’s attitude towards low-income citizens, than it does about the employees who answered it.

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Who knew frozen apples could taste so good!: Simple dessert recipe for the diet-conscious

If you’ve been on an apple diet, you know the pain of having to munch on nothing but apples all day long. Sure, they are sweet and juicy, but the same old apple can get boring. Just when you’re getting sick of the fruit, it’s time to start exploring more delicious ways of enjoying apples to spice things up a little. We have come up with a super easy way of making delicious apple compote that will satisfy your sweet tooth and not ruin your diet! I personally think this is one of the best discoveries we’ve made so far!

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Check out these cool ways to enjoy hot springs in Oita, including eating and breathing them

Oita, on the eastern coast of Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, has taken to billing itself as Onsen-ken. And while that title loses a bit of its rhyming appeal once it’s translated into English, it’s hard to deny that it really is the Hot Spring Prefecture, as Oita boasts more hot springs than anywhere else in Japan.

As a matter of fact, Oita has so much geothermal water that it can get creative with its most attractive and relaxing natural resource, as shown by these unique ways locals and tourists can enjoy the prefecture’s hot springs.

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The top 10 spots in Tokyo to make an anime pilgrimage

A bulk of the anime we know and love are set in real-life locations in Japan. Often, the stories are based on a specific location mentioned in the anime, such as Ikebukuro where popular anime Durarara! and its sequel are set. In other cases, the setting is not mentioned but fans are quick to identify the location using scenes found in each episode. One such example would be the hit franchise The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, which featured scenery from Nishinomiya in Hyogo Prefecture. Avid anime fans have had a long tradition of making pilgrimages to key spots in their favorite series through an activity known as Seichi Junrei. There’s now even a website dedicated to documenting these spots and they have recently released a ranking of the wards in Tokyo that contain the most number of pilgrimage spots.

If you only have a couple of days in Japan to go on a pilgrimage, this ranking should probably come in handy!

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Nissin Cup Noodle is offering a promotional life-size water-dispensing cow

Yes, you read that title correctly! As part of their promotional campaign for the “Milk Seafood” flavor of cup noodle, Nissin is giving away a life-size plastic cow water dispenser to one lucky instant ramen fan. Simply fill up your cow with water, wait for the cow to heat up, and then “milk” out as much hot water as you need to fill up your Cup Noodle. Join us after the jump for a look at the amusing commercial behind this wacky promotion!

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Can you spot the problem that led to the recall of this otherwise cute Japanese New Year’s card?

While people in Japan don’t send Christmas cards to each other, it’s customary to send New Year’s cards to relatives, friends, and work associates. Called nengajo, these are delivered on New Year’s Day, and typically feature whatever the Chinese zodiac animal for the year is.

However, since the end of the year is a busy time for most people, it’s not hard to imagine that some of the artists, distributors, and even buyers of these cards are too busy to really stop and scrutinize them, which is how one nengajo ended up with a very unusual ram on it.

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