We make a Russian Kentucky Fried Chicken sushi ginger sandwich

Our Japanese reporter Ahiruneko is an admitted gari (pickled ginger) maniac. Whenever he goes into a sushi restaurant he’s sure to polish off as much of the pink sweet and sour flakes as he does actual sushi. Yes, for Ahiruneko, sushi just wouldn’t be sushi without gari.

But one day he heard some troubling news. Word had it that Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Russia were selling a chicken sandwich topped with gari. “What are the Russians thinking?!” thought our reporter as he set out in search of these mythical creations…

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What’s the difference between a “good” otaku and a “bad” otaku?

The word otaku has a long and complicated history in Japan. Originally, it was strictly a pejorative, a label used to mark those with an unhealthily intense interest in anime and other bits of minutiae-heavy hobbies. But while there are many who still use the word in that scathing sense, “otaku” has slowly built up another image as a badge of pride worn by those with a strong and enduring passion for the specific niches of art or technology that appeal to them.

That means that Japanese society, for arguably the first time, is starting to accept that being an otaku can be either a positive or a negative force in a person’ life. But what’s the difference between a good otaku and a bad otaku? One Japanese educator has an answer.

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Crackers soaked in sea urchin available for a limited time, skull-rattlingly delicious

I’d like to fancy myself a man of refined tastes. When I eat ice cream it certainly ought to be rose flavored. My colas? Well, they better be of an unexplained taste. And when it comes to crackers, I accept nothing less than those doused in the essence of sea urchins.

And now you can too! All you have to do is pick up a pack of Waza No Koda Wari Noko Uni Shoyu crackers at your local food vendor this winter season.

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New Japanese-style Häagen-Dazs brings us chestnut and azuki red bean ice cream this fall

Zeitaku is one of those lovely Japanese words that sounds as elegant as its meaning. As the word for luxury, it conjures up images of high-class ryokan accommodations with private outdoor rotenburo baths, multi-course kaiseki meals served by elegant ladies dressed in kimonos and extravagant purchases at department stores on the Ginza shopping strip.

While most of those luxuries are, sadly, out of reach for many of us, there’s one affordable item that comes to mind when Japanese people are looking for a bit of zeitaku when a friend decides to visit or as a treat after a long day. That small symbol of luxury is the rich, creamy ice cream of Häagen-Dazs, and now they’re releasing an amazing new chestnut and azuki red bean Japonais flavour to add a bit of class to the upcoming fall season.

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Super Mario Maker level recreates intense Vocaloid hit with carefully positioned music blocks

Nintendo fans have been hard at work these past few weeks churning out all kinds of creative levels in Super Mario Maker for the Wii U. Even if you don’t have a copy of the game yourself, if you’re a fan of Mario you’ve no doubt had fun watching videos showcasing the mad-cap levels people have come up with and the rages of gamers trying to beat the hardest courses.

The level we’re showcasing today, however, focuses on not what an insanely tricky course looks like, but what you can do with music in the game by bringing Vocaloid into the Mario world.

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We ask Japanese people about their favorite aspects of eight different cultures

We often hear about foreigners’ favorite parts of Japanese culture, like trains running on time and unparalleled customer service, but it’s not every day that we hear from Japanese people about their favorite parts of foreign cultures.

With that in mind, one of RocketNews24’s Japanese-language writers decided to interview a few well-traveled Japanese people and hear some of their favorite aspects of the different cultures they’ve experienced and how they compare to their own.

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A week’s work on a Tibetan sand mandala, captured in eight mesmerizing minutes of video

Artwork takes many forms, from charcoal drawings to oil paintings, clay sculptures to wood carvings. All these types of mediums are durable in a sense, able to last many years if properly cared for. But what would you think of an artist who, after spending weeks on a project, purposefully destroys his masterpiece only a few days after its completion?

That is, in fact, part of the ritual of Tibetan sand mandala, which are symbols in Indian religions, particularly Buddhism, that symbolize the universe. Watch the incredible time-lapse video below of three Tibetan Buddhist monks as they labor away creating one of these beautiful, transient works of art!

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Why does Burger King’s black burger turn poo green in the U.S. and the U.K., but not Japan?

If you’ve gone on a few overseas trips, you may be familiar with the phenomenon of travel poo, wherein your stool takes on a different hue for a few days as you adjust to local ingredients. It’s far less common for the opposite to occur, but that’s what seems to be happening with Burger King’s black burgers, which have become a repeating success story in Japan.

Burger King is currently offering its darkly colored sandwich in the U.S. and the U.K., but many are reporting that while the company turned the burger’s bun black, the burger is turning their poo green. But what’s behind this transformation, and why didn’t it happen in Japan?

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10 Cats have a fancy dinner with salad and kimonos【Video】

With a public holiday coming up on Monday, it’s a three-day weekend here in Japan. As you might imagine, some of us—ahem—are having a little trouble applying our fidgety brains to the task of bringing you the latest Nippon news. There’s been a lot of interesting and important developments this week that we should cover, like the shuffling of Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet and two Nobel Prizes going to Japanese researchers andOH LOOK, “10 CATS” HAS A NEW VIDEO!!!1!

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Suntory comes out with sweet Lipton tea drink for Halloween — the Pumpkin Tea Latte!

With Halloween just around the corner, we seem to be virtually surrounded by pumpkins here in Japan. Not surprisingly, in addition to the usual pumpkin ornaments and decorations on display, we’re seeing a sudden increase in pumpkin flavored foods and sweets as well.

Japan has gotten into the Halloween spirit to such an extent this year that you can buy limited edition pumpkin-flavored tea in a bottle at supermarkets and convenience stores. And when a beverage involves not only pumpkin but tea from Lipton and a cute Halloween label to boot, well, let’s just say it gives us a lot to be happy about!

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Japanese employment site reimagines web developers, accountants, and more as anime RPG heroes

Career arcs in Japan used to be simple. You finished school, got a job, and worked there until it was time to retire. Along the way, you were paid a salary calculated strictly on the basis of how long you’d been with the company.

That’s not necessarily the case anymore, and as more and more Japanese switch employers, and even industries, they need a baseline from which to evaluate the pay of potential posts, which is where Japanese website Kyuryo Bank comes in. Yes, Kyuryo Bank has all the salary-related numerical data and progression charts you’d expect, but it also has something truly unique: awesome anime-style illustrations of professions ranging from public accountant and lawyer to web designer, pro blogger, and yes, even “chicken sexer.”

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The softest way to defeat your enemies: New plush hadokens are available for preorder!【Video】

We doubt there’s anyone who’s ever played (or even heard of) Street Fighter that hasn’t wished they could throw their own “hadoken” fireballs. Even if Ryu isn’t your favorite fighter, you have to admit, his special projectile move is nothing short of awesome. It looks awesome, sounds awesome, and is awesome to use!

While we still haven’t perfected our ki-energy-throwing technology, we do have good news for all you hadoken-lovers! You can now preorder this 12-inch plush hadoken to beat up all your enemies with, one soft projectile at a time!

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Wanted: 2,300 people to dance like the walking dead at Halloween zombie party village in Tokyo

Halloween just keeps getting bigger in Japan. While stores are full of all sorts of cute paraphernalia to mark the celebration and a number of Halloween activities are marked on the calendar, there’s one very special event that’s bigger and more unusual than any other in Tokyo. In fact, it’s so popular the organisers sold all 2,000 tickets in one evening and are now offering an extra three hundred tickets to those who get in quick by applying online.

It’s the Zombie Party Village, which comes alive once a year with thousands of walking dead—all of whom are free to dance to their unbeating heart’s content without being bothered by angry mobs and cross-bearing priests. If you’d like to be a part of the 2,300-strong zombie dance collective, read on to find out all the details after the break.

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Second-year Japanese high school student creates amazingly realistic dioramas

When I was in high school I thought I was pretty good at drawing, only to take a look at some of my work 10 years later and realize how hideous most of it looked. In fact, it’s more than a little embarrassing how proud I was back then over a couple of notebooks of ugly doodles.

But unlike myself, there are some really creative young artists out there producing top-notch work in between classes and studying. One recent example currently circulating the Japanese web is a collection of intricate dioramas put together by a second-year high school student.

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Four years after nuclear incident, chilling Fukushima photos show healing is still not complete

In 2008, Polish photographer Arkadiusz Podniesinski travelled to Chernobl for the first time to document the aftermath of the Ukranian nuclear disaster. He would return multiple times, filming two documentaies in the process.

With more than 20 years having passed since the Chernobl incident and Podniesinski’s first trip to the site, the tragedy must have seemed like a relic of the past, but then came the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear crisis. More than four years later, access to much of Fukushima is still restricted due to dangerous amounts of radiation, but Podniesinski recently traveled to the affected area and brought back haunting images that drive home how abruptly the end of life as residents knew it came, and how many sings of the devastation still remain.

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Get ready for the weekend by reading Japanese Twitter users’ funniest train stories

For most people in the country, the trains in Japan are relatively pleasant outside of rush hour, though they’re generally not exactly entertaining. Which is probably a good thing, because an entertaining train would probably be an annoying train! But if you ride them long enough, there’s a good chance you’ll accumulate a few funny stories.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be in Japan to hear the good ones—Twitter users are happy to share them online! Below, we’ve gathered a few of our favorites to give you a good laugh. So hop aboard as we take a look at some of the funniest train-related stories found on Twitter.

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Woman in China misses bus stop, jumps out of bus window instead 【Video】

Missing your bus stop has to be one of the worst feelings in the world. You’re trapped inside a vehicle going increasingly further away from the place you wanted to go, you’re suddenly surrounded by unfamiliar territory, and you’re going to have to waste a lot of time just to get back to your original destination.

Still, no matter how bad it gets, most people would never even think to attempt what one Chinese woman did. After realizing that she missed her stop, she climbed out of the bus’s window to exit as quickly as possible. Read on and watch the insane video, but whatever you do, be sure not to try this at home!

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Japan Post continues the New Year’s stamp tradition with cute Year of the Monkey story

Last winter, while people in Japan were getting ready to send their nengajo (New Year greeting cards) to family and friends, Japan Post did something amazing. Instead of releasing just any ol’ stamp for the Year of the Sheep in 2015, they made what was obviously a continuation of the stamp from 12 years prior. You see, in 2003, there was a darling sheep knitting a scarf on one of their special stamps, and in 2015 that same sheep was proudly wearing the finished product.

The story was a nice, feel-good moment for many, and people starting wondering whether this was a one-time occurrence or if Japan Post was going to continue this “stamp story” two years in a row. We are happy to say that they appear to be starting a tradition, as the Year of the Monkey is also getting an adorable back-story!

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One Piece manga creator’s work schedule is absolutely insane

Man, being a professional manga artist must be a great life, right? For passionate and artistic individuals, it’s hard to imagine a sweeter deal than making a living just by dreaming and drawing, thinking up new worlds and bringing them to life.

And things must be even better if you’re the creator of a hit series, since not only are you bringing joy to thousands, or even millions, of fans, you’re also getting paid handsomely to do it. But even if you’re convinced you’ve got the skills to make it as a manga pro, before you go quitting your desk job you might want to check out the insane schedule of the most successful artist working in the industry today, One Piece’s Eiichiro Oda.

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New art book “Illustration 2016” gathers 150 of today’s best pro and amateur illustrators

If you love art and illustration, you’re probably aware of plenty of non-professional, up-and-coming artists who showcase their work on sites like Tumblr and Twitter. In fact, fan art can be of such a high quality as to surpass the original work, and now there’s a new art book on sale in Japan which aims to “capture” the entire illustration scene at the present moment, showcasing work both amateur and professional by some of today’s most influential artists.

Illustration 2016 features work by 150 artists of different backgrounds and is the perfect guide for those who are into fan art and illustration of all kinds.

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