Johnson Town: A little piece of America in Japan… where all the residents are Japanese 【Pics】

Groups of people moving to a new country often settle in the same area together, creating a little neighborhood reminiscent of their old lives in their new homes. In the U.S., we have a Chinatown or Little Italy in almost every big city, and Japan has the same thing too. They even have something you may have never heard of: Little America towns that used to house U.S. military personnel.

But what happens when the military decides they don’t want to live there anymore? Then you get a place like Johnson Town in Saitama Prefecture, where you’d swear you were walking around rural America, if not for the fact that it’s entirely populated by Japanese people.

What is one of these Little America towns in Japan like? And, most importantly, do they have good American-style food? A reporter from our Japanese sister site went to investigate and bring you all the answers, some of which may surprise you.

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X Japan’s Yoshiki hints at a possible collaboration with BABYMETAL

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that BABYMETAL sprang up out of nowhere from the rock/metal ground and has grown into a flourishing band with a heap of hardcore fans. They’ve performed in both Europe and America and featured the acclaimed guitars of metal band DragonForce on their single “Road of Resistance.” It seems like there’s nothing that can stop these cute girls and their head-banging tunes, especially now that another extremely popular rock star has hinted he’d like to collaborate with BABYMETAL too.

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The art of cooking ramen – Two foreigners find it’s a lot harder than they first thought 【Video】

If you grew up eating instant ramen noodles or survived through university on the stuff, you would probably scoff at someone who says that making ramen is difficult. They’re probably not talking about the just-add-boiling-water stuff you can find in your supermarket for 10 cents a pack, though – in Japan, true ramen doesn’t come easy, taking many hours to make the perfect broth and lots of skill and precision to serve up a perfect, steaming bowl of noodles.

If you’ve ever been to a ramen shop in Japan, the speed and accuracy with which the chefs whips up some noodles and broth makes it look super simple. But as American YouTuber Ramen Adventures found out, it’s a lot harder than it looks! Check out the video of his experience and see what all goes in to making a good bowl of ramen.

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The Sexy Robot from 1983 is back in glorious 3-D form

Back in the 1980s, at the hight of Blade Runner and The Terminator‘s popularity, everyone was fantasizing about the future of humanity and the role robots would play in it. Although both movies had a bleak outlook on the future of the world, others were picturing the future of robots in a totally different, much sexier, way.

One such individual was Hajime Sorayama, whose masterpiece, Sexy Robot, was first published in 1983. Now, in 2015, it’s getting a revival, complete with a brand new 3-D model. It’s too bad that sexiness is already sold out, though…

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Japan’s oldest sushi train serves up unorthodox Blueberry Cream Sushi

Around the internet there is a Japanese term, majikichi, which is short for “Maji de kichigai jimiteru kara yamero” or “Stop because you seriously seem to be losing your mind”. Needless to say it’s a convenient word.

Perhaps a good example of majikichi is in the sushi world. With all of Japan’s less traditional sushi restaurants known as “sushi trains” competing for people’s attention, they often come out with some eye-catching toppings, and sometimes things go too far.

In the true spirit of journalism, our reporter Nakano has been out and about finding the most majikichi sushi in the land from bacon sushi to rice omelet sushi. Now his travels bring him to Japan’s first ever sushi train chain Genki Sushi and their latest offering: Blueberry Cream Sushi.

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Waku Waku Gates and Magic Seats make Honda minivan cooler than it should be

Motor vehicles can generally be divided into two camps: function and style. On one end of the spectrum you might find head-turning sports cars that look sweet and can outrun both Smokey and the Bandit. On the other you’ll find minivans: the wonks of the automotive world.

Despite being extremely handy in daily life, minivans are so intrinsically uncool that even an “ironic cool” valued by hipsters cannot be found in them. However, there is something special about the latest Honda StepWGN that’s making people say “Cool! I want one!” and “That’s pretty awesome.”

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Franco-German artist is making a torii gate made of speakers

A Franco-German artist is tasked reinterpreting an iconic symbol of Japanese culture. The torii gate is usually seen outside of Shinto shrines as a marker designating an entrance into a sacred space. Benoît Maubrey is creating a more interactive version than the traditional red ones found throughout Japan.

Meriken Park in Kobe will be the site of a torii made entirely out of 300 recycled speakers. The sculpture is functional and includes a four-way channel so visitors can speak to one another through the gate using a microphone or their smartphones. When it’s not in use, the gate will emit varying kinds of white noise.

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The female cosplayers (and their occasionally male characters) of Summer Wonder Festival

Last weekend, it was once again time for Japan’s model and garage kit enthusiasts to gather for the summer iteration of Wonder Festival, held at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba Prefecture. But while the event’s primary goal is to showcase the talents of those recreating anime and video game characters in plastic and resin, you’ll also find plenty of fans bringing their favorite heroes and heroines to life in flesh and cloth, as Wonder Festival has also become a major draw for cosplayers.

But would the soaring temperature during this year’s Summer Wonder Festival keep cosplayers in their air-conditioned homes? Not at all, and we figured if they were going to brave the heat, we would too, so we grabbed our camera and headed for the convention.

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South Korean skin and allergy clinic uses unusually crude ads to attract new patients【Videos】

While many Japanese believe hay fever, or kafunsho as it’s known here, to be something unique to Japan, there appear to be just as many suffers of pollen allergies in South Korea and other parts of Southeast Asia. For those unfortunate enough to be stuck with the nasty symptoms these allergies bring on, spring and summer can be the worst seasons of the year, leaving many to seek professional help for their nasal and respiratory issues.

But with the abundance of allergy medications now on the market and competition for business between clinics, it can be pretty hard to get your name out there. Among all those commercials for featuring happy patients enjoying active lifestyles after treating their allergies, one clinic in South Korea specializing in atophy, rhinitis, and asthma has decided to shake things up a little with their unusual advertisements full of lowbrow humor.

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Add a bit of adventure to your tour of Asakusa with a ninja experience!

There are many things that draw people to Japan, from pop culture to the traditional tea ceremony. One of the highest on that list is probably those mysterious masters of stealth, the ninja, who have left and indelible impression on millions of people around the world.

While most of us will never get to actually be ninja, it’d be nice if we could at least try it out for a day, right? Obviously, to get the full ninja experience, you’d need to head out to a place like Iga, but if you’re just hanging out in Tokyo for a quick trip, we have a fun compromise for you! Next time you’re sightseeing in Asakusa, try stopping by the Ninja Taiken Dojo.

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Sailor Moon and her pals are ready for tea time with these cool cup-hugging figures

While each member of the core cast of Sailor Moon has her own personality, the one descriptor that works across the board for the Sailor Senshi is “helpful.” Even protagonist Usagi, for all of her lack of willpower regarding the temptations of junk food and video games, is always ready to lend a hand to those in need when the chips are down.

Case in point: Not only will the hit anime’s magical girls protect your town from interdimensional monsters on a weekly basis, they’ll even keep you company during your coffee break, in the form of these cheerful Sailor Moon figures that’ll cling to the edge of your cup as you sip your beverage.

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“I say! Rice again!!”, “Peeked in my loafs.” We decipher more hilarious misheard anime lyrics

I can never really tell what any of the musicians I like are singing about. I’ve always chalked it up to my poor hearing, but I’ve found comfort in all the misheard lyrics videos out there that provr I’m not the only one.

When a song isn’t in your native language, it makes it all the easier to hear completely weird and wacky things, like we showed you before with YouTuber AzukanoAMVs’ video “Otaku Lyrics 101″. Due to popular demand, we now have a second installment to bring on the LOLs once again! Be warned, once you hear it, it can’t be unheard.

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Pikachu dance video teaches how to shake your tail in preparation for annual Pokémon outbreak

In just a little over a week, the city of Yokohama is going to be overrun with Pikachus for the second year in a row. And as awesomely adorable as it was seeing them parading about town last year, this iteration of the seemingly annual Pokémon event promises to be even more exciting, as the beloved Pocket Monsters are set to dance their way through Yokohama’s bayside Minato Mirai district.

With the festivities almost ready to get started, the Pokémon Company has released this handy instructional video to help fans get ready by teaching them how to do the Pikachu Dance (which may or may not include a moonwalk).

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Taiwanese illustrator gives Dragon Ball characters bizarre, gender-swapped erotic novel cover makeover

While you may be inclined to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon curled up on the couch, binge-watching Game of Thrones and consuming eight entire pints of Chunky Monkey ice cream (just us?), a certain demographic in Japan would much rather stretch out on the tatami with a nice, wholesome… erotic novel.

See, while the romance novel section of a western bookstore is a lonely wasteland, tucked away in the far corner, illuminated by nothing but a single bulb swinging lazily from the ceiling, erotic novels and manga are comparatively more accepted and, dare we say it, widely read in Japan and a handful of other Asian countries, such that the formulaic cover illustration template that near every publisher of the books seems to use has evolved into a kind of cultural shorthand for cheesy, kinky escapades.

So, let’s keep that in mind as we take a look at this Taiwanese illustrator’s collection of cool, gender-swapped Dragon Ball character book covers. You’re welcome to appreciate the raw talent and attention to detail here, just, uh… remember which section of the bookstore you’d be finding these in if they were real.

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Forget the flowers, these Japanese households are growing potted felines! 【Pics】

Don’t be alarmed if your kids aren’t exactly enthusiastic at your suggestion to grow vegetables in the backyard this summer. After all, why would you grow cabbage or tomatoes when you could just as easily grow a potful of kitties, like these Japanese families are doing?

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Paint your room in Ayanami Blue with official Evangelion paint

While there’s no way you could call the Evangelion franchise underappreciated as a whole, one part of the anime classic that often gets overlooked is its effective use of color. Add a couple of splashes of green and black to a field of purple, for example, and any fan will instantly think of the show’s central robot, Eva Unit-01.

Likewise, it’s impossible to imagine Rei Ayanami, Evangelion’s most famous female character, without the otherworldly fragile aura imparted by her distinctive blue hair. The color is so iconic that one Japanese paint company has even started selling a new shade, Ayanami Blue, that’s an exact match or Rei’s trademark tresses.

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New Japanese luxury bus tour seats only 10 passengers, tickets cost over US$1,200 each

How do you picture being transported to your fantasy vacation spot? A giant cruise ship? A seat in the first-class section of a jumbo jet? How about… a bus?

Not quite sure about that last one? Well the Japanese company Isetan Mitsukoshi Travel is trying to change your mind by offering luxury bus rides from Tokyo to all over Japan. And we’re not exaggerating with the use of the word luxury here: each bus seats only 10 people, and the ticket will cost you around 150,000 yen (US$1,211).

Can such a price tag possibly be worth it? Read on to find out!

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The JK business: New documentary examines the Japanese schoolgirl industry

From traditional culture to the latest in “Cool Japan,” Japan has a lot to boast about. Yet there’s another side to the island nation which has stirred up international contention over the past few decades.

Even those unfamiliar with specific components of Japanese popular culture have likely heard about the popularity of high school girls in Japan, as school uniform-clad girls often appear in the latest advertising, music videos, TV anime, and other forms of the country’s media. Dig a little deeper and you can also find a service industry which involves high school girls providing a range of services to older men in return for payment. Known colloquially as the “JK business” (the “JK” is derived from joshikosei, or “female high school student”), this phenomenon often includes such services as “JK walking” or “JK massages,” which may or may not be veiled fronts for prostitution in actuality.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to the darker side of the JK business through the lens of a short foreign documentary which has raised considerable debate online.

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Kesho Danshi: Visiting Yushima’s sublime transgender bars

Miya Inoue is the kimono-clad owner of the chain of bars in Tokyo’s Yushima neighborhood operating under the Kesho Danshi brand staffed primarily by transgender women. She also built the interior of the first location herself by hand, drawing on her previous work experience as a carpenter. As the “Big Mama” of Kesho Danshi, Miya spends her time managing the staff at three locations, chatting with customers, and, amazingly, remembering everyone’s name. Oh, and did we mention she’s written an inspiring book about her life?

If you’re looking for good conversation and a fun place to drink in Tokyo, you can’t find a much better place than sitting across the counter from Miya or any of the welcoming staff members. Click below to take a visit to all three of the Kesho Danshi locations and listen in on our chat with “Miya Big Mama” yourself.

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This 4K video of Kagoshima filmed by drone will settle your summer vacation plans【Video】

Living in Tokyo is pretty awesome. There’s not much you can’t find in the city and there’s always something fun going on — but every once in a while, a video or a photo will grab our attention and make us sigh forlornly thanks to a gorgeous landscape. Sure, there are some great beaches around here, but there’s just something about this drone video of Kagoshima that makes us stop and say wow.

If you’re stuck in the office or at school staring out the window and wishing you were anywhere else, this video will only make it worse. But we guarantee you’ll keep watching it over and over!

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