Traveling with Totoro (and Kiki too)! Official Studio Ghibli suitcases go on sale

Last week, we took a look at an ad for West Japan Railways that was produced by animators affiliated with Studio Ghibli. If its images of a happy family enjoying the great outdoors had you ready to pack your bags, why not make said bags anime-style too, with these My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service suitcases?

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Tired of fearing for your life while clipping your cat’s claws? Cat mask offers an easy solution

“Whenever I try to clip my cat’s claws, it goes ballistic. What on earth can I do so that it will let me?”

The above thought has probably crossed the mind of anyone who has ever had the distinct pleasure of caring for a cat. So how should you deal with a long-clawed, ferocious feline? Well, you can always purchase one of these unique masks made exclusively for kitties in need of a trim…and watch it transform into a weird-looking alien in the process!

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Japan’s 10 best restaurants, as chosen by foreign travelers

People travel to Japan for all sorts of different reasons. Many are seeking a taste of tradition and history, and plan visits to the country’s most important shrines and castles. Some are drawn by Japan’s natural beauty, heading for its mountains and forests, while still others come to throw themselves into its neon-soaked urban entertainment centers.

But no matter what’s on your itinerary, at some point you’re going to need to get something to eat, and when your stomach starts growling, you can rely on the experience of those who made the trip before you with TripAdvisor’s list of the 10 best restaurants in Japan.

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Nintendo’s Splatoon (sort of) comes to PC – Get your squid on in Splat Fortress mod

Nintendo’s Splatoon, a new IP for Wii U, was released in May to wide critical and user acclaim. Apparently the combo of squid and kid is a winner; who’d have thought it?

However, while the title being exclusive to the Wii U has been helping to boost hardware sales for Nintendo, PC gamers who are unwilling or unable to shell out for a new console have been left out of the loop. But for those desperate for some inky multiplayer action, there’s a free option coming to PC soon: Splat Fortress.

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Upcoming announcement for a Moomin theme park has fans clamoring for info 【Update: Confirmed!】

Over two years ago, the Finnish Ambassador to Japan announced that a Moomin theme park was being developed in Japan with the expected opening date in 2015. Some of our readers might be asking, “What the heck is a Moomin?” but these hippo-like fairies who originated in Finland have a very strong following and fan base in Japan. You might not be familiar with Moomin before you come to Japan, but once you get here, you grow to welcome them at your dining table.

Well, it’s already halfway through 2015, and there is still no Moomin theme park ready to take our money. Or is there? There might be a forthcoming announcement that has us all in a tizzy.

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Two die after man sets himself alight on bullet train in Kanagawa Prefecture

Japan Railways’ high-speed Shinkansen bullet trains have, since their inception, been famous for their timely arrivals and paramount safety. But that record was marred today by a self-immolation suicide that claimed the lives of two people on board a train travelling between Tokyo and Osaka.

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Japan is full of ghosts: Visiting the grave of Taira no Masakado’s head

Summer in Japan means heat and humidity — enough such that people will try to cool down by any means necessary, including enjoying a few hair-raising ghost stories. From haunted houses to horror films, there are plenty of ways to get goosebumps in Japan, but today we’ll be taking you to the location of one of Tokyo’s most famous angry spirit!

Though it’s not exactly a shinrei spot (a place where ghosts have allegedly appeared), Taira no Masakada Kubizuka is one of the most famous “ghost” spots in Japan. It’s where Taira no Masakada’s head was enshrined in order to quell his spirit…because people believed it was wrecking havoc on the capital!

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When guards attack: This is why you don’t mock the big guys with the guns!

A stereotypical scene of a visit to London includes a trip to Buckingham Palace and a touristy photo-op of a silly pose next to one of the Queen’s Guards. With their distinct, bright red coats and big poofy black hats, to many tourists they might just seem like ceremonial guards, but they are actually fully operational soldiers entrusted with an important job, and they take their job very seriously.

People seem to get a kick out of trying to get a reaction out of these guys, but you really don’t want to mess with them. Someone probably should’ve warned this kid, before he pushed a soldier a little too far and ended up staring into the barrel of his gun!

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Oops! There’s something not quite right about Nana Mizuki’s live tour publicity image…

Nana Mizuki, one of the few voice actresses in Japan who also has a successful singing career, is about to embark on a live tour, dubbed Live Adventure 2015. With 10 albums under her belt, the multi-talented seiyuu has been having annual solo concerts since 2000, and it’s no surprise that fans are abuzz over her upcoming tour, which starts on July 4. But the excitement and anticipation has not blinded net users enough to overlook some careless photo-editing that was spotted on one of the event’s publicity visuals.

Have you spotted the spooky mistakes in the photo yet? Read on to find out where they are!

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Going, going … gone! Starbucks x Alice+Olivia mugs sell out across most of Japan in a single day!

If you’re into fashion, coffee, or both, you may remember the collaborative items that Starbucks and New York-based fashion brand Alice + Olivia came up with, the first of which were released in North America about a year and a half ago. Not surprisingly, the items apparently caused a bit of a craze among fashionistas at the time (seriously, who thinks of something like a tumbler dressed up with a tutu?), with everyone clamoring to get their hands on the limited edition goods.

Well, it turns out the collaboration recently made its way to Japan, but one of the reporters from our Japanese sister site Pouch ended up finding out the hard way that the goods were in just as much demand here in Japan as they were in the U.S.!

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Plum crazy Wakayama’s local take on Tabasco sauce is made with Japanese plums

There’s a pretty lengthy list of traditional seasonings Japan uses for its indigenous cuisine, including soy sauce, wasabi, and the sweet rice wine called mirin. But one condiment from overseas that the country has warmly embraced is Tabasco sauce, a dash of which is often added to pasta and pizza in casual dining.

But foodies in Japan love taking foreign foodstuffs and mixing them with a domestic element, which is why one company in Japan is now selling a Tabasco-like hot sauce you won’t find anywhere else, since it’s made with tangy plums.

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We tried the expensive but delicious curry at Ishikawa’s Go! Go! Curry! But is it worth the trip?

Curry in Japan is not usually a fancy affair. It’s mostly found in places that are closer to a fast food level than a top-tier restaurant in Ginza — and that’s fine! Who can argue with inexpensive but delicious?

But not every curry restaurant is merely “cheap ‘n’ tasty.” Take, for example, Ishikawa Prefecture’s Go! Go! Curry, where you can get both regular curry and high-class 5,500-yen-a-plate curry! But is this US$45-curry worth the trip from Tokyo? We sent our Japanese writer Meg to find out!

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Did security spikes defeat this cat, or did the cat defeat them?

Imagine walking along the street, minding your own business, and suddenly coming across a cat hideously impaled on security spikes. What a way to ruin your day. But don’t worry, we wouldn’t bring you such depressing news on a Monday. Fortunately this kitty is fine, it’s simply enjoying a nice comfortable nap on a bed of nails.

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50 things our Japanese reporter learned while driving in the U.S.

Our Japanese-language reporter Go recently returned from a trip to the U.S. While there, he hunted for aliens and sampled the local cuisine, but mostly what he did was drive.

While Japan is filled with winding mountain passes that make for enjoyable drives, the wide-open American road has an appeal all its own. After days of barreling down the highways of the southwest, Go came back to Japan with these 50 experiences he had driving in the U.S.

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Does how you dress affect what a sushi restaurant serves you? We experiment in Ginza

Take a stroll down the streets of Ginza and you’ll have no trouble realizing it’s Tokyo’s epicenter of everything posh and luxurious. The neighborhood is packed with shop after shop boasting high-end fashion, jewelry, and dining, so it’s only natural to think that any sushi restaurants in the area cater to an upscale clientele.

That being said, three reporters from our Japanese-language sister site began to wonder what would happen if they went to a Ginza sushi restaurant dressed to varying degrees of formality and ordered a special o-makase (“leave it to the chef”) course.

Would they each be offered different menu items depending on how they were dressed? Would their bills come out to be significantly different? With these burning questions in mind (and the prospect of eating sushi in the guise of journalism), they decided to conduct a little experiment to find out for themselves!

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What sorcery is this?! New toy aquarium is populated with your own hand-drawn fish 【Video】

Certainly, it is the dream of every kid and a not-insignificant number of adults for their crude doodles of space monsters, stick figures and whatnot to suddenly spring to life. Imagine how much fun you would have if you could actually hang out with that stick figure you drew in third grade!

Let’s ignore the reality that said stick figure would probably just stare at you, handless arm extended towards you in silent accusation at how you gave it such terrible, unholy life. It would be pretty cool to just draw up a new friend to hang out with, or triceratops to ride or something just whenever, right?

Well, Takara Tomy Arts has kind of, sort of figured out a way to make dreams of bringing your drawings to life a reality, with Picturerium, an aquarium that you populate with your own doodles!

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Stop-motion karate, because we’ll never actually be karate masters 【Video】

For those of us who grew up with kung-fu movies and fighting games, sometimes it can be hard to cope with the crushing reality that we’ll never be able to pull off backflips or spinning bird kick like Street Fighter‘s Ryu or Chun-Li, no matter how hard we try.

YouTubers CorridorDigital, found a way around the years of martial arts training required to become a King of Fighters, turning two low-level “karate students” into gravity defying, super-speed karate masters with the help of a little stop-motion video and some clever camera angles.

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Girls-only karaoke offers songs, foot massages, Japanese take on gender roles

For most of us, the free mixing of men and women in our societies has been around long enough to have become completely ordinary, but in Japan, you may find some unexpected things segregated along gender lines. You’ve probably heard about the women-only train cars and capsule hotels that only allow male customers, for example. Now we have another: a karaoke place that’s just for women.

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Shenyang, China, may be a few hours’ drive from the sea, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get an eyeful of good-looking girls and guys in swimwear. Plus, you can enjoy some hearty food and drink without getting sand in it.

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Never-before-seen Miyazaki sketches to go on show at Tokyo exhibition this summer

Illustrations by legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki are among the 130 artworks going on display in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, next month.

The exhibition of background illustrations and character sketches, which have never been on public display before, celebrates the 40th anniversary of Nippon Animation’s World Animation Theatre, the weekly TV anime showcase which Miyazaki and Isao Takahata both worked on before founding Studio Ghibli together in 1985.

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