3 unusual gyoza creations from Tochigi Prefecture, the Japanese capital of dumplings 【Taste Test】

Every place in Japan wants to be famous for something or other; to have one specific dish or product that nowhere else has as much of or does quite as well. And while the port city of Yokohama might be known for its vast and varied Chinese cuisine, when it comes to gyoza – those bitesized Chinese dumplings that have been so tweaked by the Japanese that they’re often considered home-grown - Tochigi Prefeture’s Utsunomiya City is undoubtedly the place to be, with its residents proud to call their prefecture the Japanese capital of gyoza.

After taking a trip to the prefecture, we think they might just be right. Along with the dozens of delicious gyoza stalls and restaurants we encountered, we quickly stumbled upon a number of unusual gyoza-infused offerings, three of which we just had to try for ourselves. Join us after the jump for our taste test of Tochigi Prefecutre’s Gyoza Burger, Gyoza Chips and Gyoza Bread!

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Gross ramen topping: somewhere between a spit-take and not being able to look away

Ramen is an amazing food, and nothing beats traveling around Japan and eating all the different kinds. Some are certainly better than other (tonkotsu FTW!) but they all are fighting for the top spot of “best bowl of ramen ever eaten“. Some bowls of ramen you can’t wait to go back and eat again, others are categorized as “one time is enough“. But there are some bowls of ramen that you shouldn’t even taste…let alone look at. Beware; these next pictures are not for the faint of heart.

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Scandal in Los Angeles over child’s unconventional undies sparks anger online

Take a look at this picture – what’s your first impression? Personally (and perhaps due to my prior experiences as a kindergarten teacher in Japan) my first thought was: “How convenient that must be when it comes to potty-training!”

These Chinese “split pants” are considered completely normal for children to wear in China, so when a Chinese-American parent took their little boy out to play in Monterey Park in Los Angeles, they surely  weren’t expecting a concerned citizen to call the police on them.

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Japan Post to give stamps cute animal makeovers including chipmunks, foxes, and an old man

Earlier this year as the Japanese government enacted a sales tax hike, the cost of mailing a letter also increased. As a result a new 2 yen stamp had to be issued to fill the price hike, and in an effort to quell public anger, Japan Post put a picture of a cute fluffy bunny on it. Surely that’d do the trick, right?

Of course it did! In Japan, cuteness is a rock-solid commodity and the bunny stamp was a huge success. It was so popular that people came out to buy some even though they had no mail to send. And so, Japan Post set a mandate to make all of their stamps pretty before fiscal 2015.

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Man arrested for breaking into woman’s hotel room, spanking her with shoehorn

Here’s one you don’t hear every day – a man was arrested in Daisen City, Akita Prefecture last weekend on charges of  entering the hotel room of a female acquaintance through the window before proceeding to strike her about the buttocks with a shoehorn that he found in the room. But just what could prompt such behavior?

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Who needs scissors? Stylist in Vietnam slices customers’ hair with samurai sword

About a month after I moved to Japan in college, my hair was getting pretty shaggy, so I asked my host dad where I could get a trim. The place he took me to was an old-school barbershop, and I remember being surprised when instead of using electric clippers on the back of my neck, the barber used a straight razor.

Still, that wasn’t nearly as big as the shock some customers get when they walk into this hairdresser’s in Vietnam and see the stylist slicing people’s hair with a Japanese sword.

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Taiwan Rugby Union’s naked calendar: Because men have butts too【Photos】

As the internet implodes with the news that Kim Kardashian’s naked posterior is on the front of Paper magazine, we thought we’d jump right on the nudity bandwagon and bring you this exciting missive from the clothes-free front line.

That’s right, Taiwan’s rugby union players are releasing a naked calendar, and we’ve got the pics to prove it!

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Celebrating washoku and rice — an evening with master chefs and sushi roll creators (Part 1)

All of Japan was thrilled when traditional Japanese cuisine, or washoku in Japanese, became a registered UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in December last year. And one thing that is for certain when it comes to Japanese food is that we Japanese love our rice with a passion. We have various brands and classes of rice, with differing flavors and prices depending on where it’s grown, much like what you might expect with fine wine, and we all have our favorites. It’s simply an irrefutable fact that rice holds a very central place in Japanese cuisine and in the hearts of the Japanese as well.

Yes, there’s nothing quite like the sensation of inhaling the scent of steaming hot freshly cooked rice when you open the rice cooker, and as fond as we are of rice, we were delighted to have the opportunity this week to attend a reception for foreign media titled “Celebrating Worldwide Recognition of Washoku and Rice“. And when we heard that it included being served a traditional Japanese meal by a master chef from a renowned Japanese restaurant and also a chance to try making some unique sushi rolls ourselves, we knew this was definitely a reception we couldn’t miss!

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Anime’s Tetsuwan Atom/Astro Boy shows up on a pedestrian walk signal in Japan

For many newcomers to anime and manga, it can be hard to tell characters drawn by the same artist apart. In general, Japanese designs use fewer lines, especially in the faces, than those of Western comic books, and even some artists themselves, such as Touch creator Mitsuru Adachi, have been known to get their own cast members mixed up.

That’s not a problem with Atom, though. Also known as Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka’s beloved mighty robot is instantly recognizable, whether in the pages of the manga where he debuted, onscreen in one of his many anime adaptations, or, in his most recent appearance, a pedestrian walk signal in Kanagawa Prefecture.

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Sailor Moon tortilla chips come in three flavors and a whopping 18 different bags

There are a number of upsides to Sailor Moon Crystal, the recent reboot of the smash hit anime from the 1990s. Aside from benefitting from 20 years of advancement in animation technology and technique, the franchise’s proven record of success means that Crystal has a higher budget and sticks closer to creator Naoko Takeuchi’s manga than the previous adaptation did.

Still, a reboot is a reboot, and if you’ve already watched all 200 episodes of the original Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon Super S, and Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, then you’ve got a pretty big head start on many of the places Crystal’s plot is going. So if you’re the kind of person who snacks when you get bored, maybe some Sailor Moon tortilla chips will help you pass the time.

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Kentucky Fried Café – New KFC in Japan to offer upscale coffee, tea, and sweets

Although I never met the man, Colonel Sanders doesn’t strike me as a hurried individual. Anybody who’s willing to add 11 different seasonings to his fried chicken can see the value in taking the time to appreciate the finer things in life. I like to imagine that rather than rush through his meals, the KFC founder would linger at the table, at least for a few minutes, and when his schedule allowed, for periods extending to “a spell.”

That’s why I think he’d approve of KFC opening its first full-fledged café this month in Japan.

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30 hours of pumpkin carving! The making of my anime fan art jack-o’-lantern【Photos & video】

Every year for Halloween I carve a pumpkin for myself and for the trick-or-treaters to enjoy, usually based on a popular Hollywood movie with costume potential. To commemorate my post at RocketNews24, however, for this year’s jack-o’-lantern I chose my first ever anime theme! I went with one of my favorites from this fall’s line-up, Gugure! Kokkuri-san (繰繰れ!コックリさん), available on Crunchyroll.

Both heartwarming and twisted (for the non-anime-initiated), the series is an outrageously wacky, slice-of-life comedy adapted from a four-panel comic strip by Midori Endō. The large cast is led by Kokkuri-san and the young girl Kohina; the former is a motherly, lonely fox spirit (originally from J­apanese folklore) with both human and animal forms, and the latter is a hardcore bocchi (loner) with a cup noodle addiction who claims to be an emotionless doll.

Read on to learn a little more about the show and the design process, as well as to get a nicer view of the lit-up pumpkin. There’s also a time lapse video that condenses 30 hours of carving into just over 11 minutes!

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Cute cat warms harbles, achieves Nirvana in front of heater

We posted earlier this week about how Japanese cats survive the cold winter months by bogarting the sweet, sweet warmth of the space heater, but this cold little fellow is lucky enough not to have to share his oasis of warmth with any other felines or even a pesky human. How happy does that make him? Photos of kitty bliss after the jump.

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Akiba Stealth: Assassin’s Creed brought to Akihabara in “real-life” prior to game release【Video】

Imagine yourself walking through the busy streets of Akihabara (or Akiba), Tokyo’s electronics and gaming haven (a.k.a. otaku central), when suddenly, a nerdy guy busts his way out of a dark alley and does a flip over a passer-by, with guards tailing him by only inches. Surprised? Welcome to “Akiba Stealth.”

In preparation for the November 20 Japanese release of the newest game in the Assassin’s Creed series, “Unity,” the creators, Ubisoft, came out with a promotional video, entitled “Akiba Stealth,” to get the attention of the Japanese fan base. The video is supposed to be a “real-life” Assassin’s Creed in Akihabara, lovingly dubbed “Ota-ssin’s Creed.” (Get it? Otaku + assassinotassin. No?)

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Attack on Avengers! Attack on Titan’s female giant heading to New York to fight Marvel heroes

Fans of Japanese manga and American comics alike have spent the past few weeks wondering what exactly the upcoming crossover between Attack on Titan and Marvel has in store for us. Spider-Man and the Survey Corps exchanging tips over the best ways to zip around cityscapes? Deadpool and Levi fighting side by side with a combined four blades, as the merc cracks wise and the manga heartthrob sighs in annoyance?

Actually, we’re getting a fight between Earth’s mightiest heroes and anime’s tallest pantless woman, as Marvel has announced the project is titled Attack on Avengers.

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【TBT】Your favorite Nintendo games as traditional Japanese prints

Ukiyo-e Heroes are a group of artists who work in the medium of tradional Japanese woodblock printing (ukiyo-e), a style most strongly associated with Japanese culture.  This group has turned their facebook page into a virtual gallery displaying their favorite muse: video games.

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“Nomad actor” Dean Fujioka makes his American debut in ‘The Pinkertons’

Whatever your job entails, the strongest support is usually closest to home. But actor Dean Fujioka is better known in Taiwan and Hong Kong than he is in his native Japan.

The actor, musician and director, who made his American debut earlier this month in the wild west detective series The Pinkertons, calls himself a “nomad actor” – as long as there’s an international airport, he’ll go wherever his work takes him.

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East meets West in this beautifully detailed 18th century star chart

While here at RocketNews24 we pride ourselves on bringing you the latest funky news from around Asia, sometimes we also like to dig into the historical archives where we often find fascinating pieces of trivia. This time, we came across this elaborate, delicate piece of functional art from 18th-century Japan. It’s a detailed star chart that combines astronomy from both the East and West.

Isn’t it fascinating to think that even back in the Edo era there is such a forward-thinking piece which combines different cultures and systems? It looks stunning too!

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Korean netizens go nuts for Russian cosplay cutie【Photos】

Cosplay: when it’s done wrong, it’s hilarious. But when it’s done right, it can be genuinely impressive. Of course, it helps to be super-cute if you want to gain attention from your cosplaying exploits, and it’s certainly paid off for RocksyChan, a Russian cosplayer who has Korean netizens drooling over her photos and scrambling to find out more about her. This, in turn, has led to net users in Japan taking an interest in the willowy beauty. Let’s take a look at some of her best work!

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Big shrimp for dinner! Food’s greatest oxymoron taken to its most moronic level

Japan loves to wow you with cute and tiny food. Sometimes the food is so tiny you need a magnifying glass to truly appreciate its beauty. Other times the food is so cute you can barely stand to eat it. However, you don’t often hear about the opposite end of the spectrum in Japan. The “Land of the Rising Sun” isn’t known for its gigantic foods and proportions. (You can leave that to the United States.)

But perhaps some restaurants are trying to separate themselves from the pack by adopting some more “Western” ideas. A restaurant in Nagoya is selling a dish of three humongous shrimp, and it’s definitely a sight to be seen! If you’ve never seen the largest shrimp in the world before, they make jumbo shrimp look, well…shrimpy!

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