We desperately want to hire these adorable Indian freelance “idols”

We’ve already seen a lot of “boyfriend for hire” stuff around Asia, which seems to be really into the idea of paying for romantic encounters, but until now we’ve never seen someone offering their boyish good looks and charming company for free.

Meet Dev and San, two kindhearted Indian models working as freelance “idols” – a popular term in Asia for models you can hire for a variety of situations – for the low, low price of absolutely nothing.

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The top 10 Instagram photo locations for Japan in 2014 【Photos】

As we close in on the end of the year, it can be hard to remember all the places we went and all the things we did over the past 12 months. By “we,” I don’t mean just the RocketNews24 staff, since our website acts as written evidence of most of our year’s worth of frequent escapades and occasional shenanigans. Instead, I’m talking about all of the people who lived in or visited Japan during 2014.

Since we don’t have all of you under surveillance (just the half-dozen or so that Mr. Sato regularly tails throughout the day), we’re instead turning to photo-sharing site Instagram to be our judge, with its list of the top 10 Japanese photo locations that users shared over the course of the year.

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South Korean ferry disaster: Rescue ship was fitted with salmon-fishing sonar

Criticism of South Korean naval authorities has intensified as it is revealed that the country’s only salvage and rescue ship was equipped with a fish-finding sonar instead of military-grade equipment.

ATS-II Tongyeong, a naval rescue vessel, was completed in 2012 at a cost of 159 billion won (US $150.7 million). But when the Sewol ferry sank on April 16 this year, Tongyeong was back in the construction yard, unable to be deployed to the rescue mission.

Now, defence suppliers face allegations that in the weeks following the ferry disaster, they knowingly attached a commercial sonar only suitable for salmon-fishing to Tongyeong, and tried to pass it off to the navy.

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See the world as it should be with a pair of Disney Princess glasses

Disney Princesses are continuing to sway their influence on the fashion world in Japan. From umbrellas to lingerie and perfume bottles, fans can’t get enough of the elegant offerings from their favourite royal stars.

Now lovers of Disney can channel the object of their affections with a pair of spectacles from well-known Japanese eye-wear chain Zoff. There are six designs to choose from: Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel and even Elsa the Snow Queen, each featuring frames, cases and cleaning cloths with gorgeous details.

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Theatrhythm: Dragon Quest announced for Nintendo 3DS

Following Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, Square Enix has announced a new rhythm game for 2015, this time using music from the Dragon Quest series.

When Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy was announced in 2011, some commenters thought it was a joke. But the game has been an unlikely hit, and Square Enix will be looking to repeat that success with Theatrhythm: Dragon Quest.

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Musician performs beautiful projection-mapped piano themes of Laputa, Frozen, Final Fantasy

Although director Hayao Miyazaki gets the lion’s share of the credit for the sterling quality of Studio Ghibli’s anime films, you can’t discount the contributions of Joe Hisaishi. The veteran composer’s musical scores are timeless and ethereal, and there’s no better visual compliment to their mix of trepidation and adventurousness than the moving pictures of Japan’s most respected animation house.

The beautiful projection mapping that accompanies this stirring piano cover of the ending theme to Castle in the Sky Laputa is a close second, though.

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Taiwanese festival tries to put itself on the map, or blow itself up trying【Video】

Anything worth doing in excess is worth overdoing in excess. Or at least that seems to be the motto for this gathering in Taiwan. An entire street is covered in what looks like red scraps of paper, or if you’re feeling more poetic, flower petals. Turns out it’s neither of those things, and as the following video will show, “Boom Boom Pow!”

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Christmas cards are too mainstream, get your hands on these awesome anime-inspired cards!

It’s almost that time of the year! The time of the year that people who work for postal services probably dread the most. Tis’ the season for greeting cards, be it for Christmas or for the New Year. While electronic greetings have become a major trend, what with the wide range of social networking platforms we have access to nowadays, handwritten snail-mailed cards just pack that much more warmth and sincerity than mass sending a copy-and-paste kind of generic message to every friend, family member and I-don’t-remember-who-you-are on your contact list.

If you’re a manga or anime fan who likes to send cards with a touch that represents who you are, or if you know someone who would be thrilled to receive an anime-inspired greeting card, these awesome hand-crafted anime/manga-inspired cards would probably be your best bet!

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Attack on Titan teas are selling out faster than a giant can eat a human

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s this anime (and manga) called Attack on Titan… Who are we kidding? Of course you’ve heard! After sharply rising to popularity with the release of the anime in spring 2013, this post-apocalyptic story, featuring man-eating giants and tree-swinging military characters, has been everywhere from iPhone cases to bananas, even joining in collaborations with Marvel and Universal Studios Japan.

When the directors of Mori Art Museum in Ueno were thinking about what kind of special goods they wanted to sell along with their Attack on Titan exhibit, they thought, “Well, why don’t we team up with a top-line tea maker like Lupicia?” Because dainty tea is the obvious first choice to pair with a dark fantasy. Low and behold, the Attack on Titan blended teas have been selling out faster than any other product in the gift shop.

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Apple opening first non-U.S. development center in Yokohama, Japan

To many visitors, both coming from elsewhere in Japan and abroad, Yokohama seems quaint and relaxed. Sure, it’s the second biggest city in the country, but Yokohama is best known for its bayside parks, giant Ferris wheel, and Chinatown (plus its occasional Pikachu outbreaks).

But Yokohama has also been the entry point to Japan for some of its largest cultural and technological influences. It was the site of Japan’s first gas lamps, photography studio, and even brewery as the country opened itself to outside visitors and innovations in the latter half of the 19th century. Viewed from that historical perspective, it’s fitting that technology giant Apple is setting up a new research and development center in Yokohama.

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Up your cosplay game by shooting fire from your hands

Ellusionist has released the ultimate cosplay accessory—the Pyro Fireshooter, which allows you to literally shoot fireballs from your hands thanks to a $174 gadget that is “definitely not a toy.”

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We visit Hong Kong’s luminous landscape during the holiday season for an added holiday twinkle

During this time of the year, a lot of cities like to bring out elaborate light decorations to warm up their otherwise ice cold streets. Whether it’s for Christmas, New Year’s or just the heck of it, as the days grow darker the streets tend to go brighter.

So what about cities that are already known for their abundance of colorful lights? Do they to amp it up even more for the end of the year? Our reporter FelixSayaka went to Hong Kongto find out, a city that is said to have one of the most stunning skylines in the world. She came back with this handy list of places you should check out if in Hong Kong during the holiday season, or if you’re just into pretty pictures.

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We’re hard-pressed to find anything not delicious in the new tamatoro pressed tonkatsu sandwich

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that people in Japan don’t like fried food. Well, you can let them say it, but don’t believe them. As skilled as the country is with lighter fare such as sushi and nabe hot pot, Japanese cuisine can totally nail fried food, as proven by tonkatsu, or deep-fried pork cutlet.

One of the tastiest ways to eat tonkatsu is served over rice and topped with a fried egg, a dish called katsudon. Conversely, you can also slap two pieces of bread around it and make a katsu sandwich, which allows you to enjoy your cutlet on the go, or theoretically hold one in each hand and eat two at a time.

Sadly, eating your tonkatsu in sandwich form used to mean giving up all that delicious, gooey egg. That’s all changed now, though, thanks to the awesome tamatoro sandwiches now on sale in Tokyo that let you have the best of both worlds.

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17-year-old aspiring artist creates amazing Disney and Marvel fan art with colored pencils

When I was 17, I was an aspiring interior designer, but I lacked the passion, determination and talent for it, and never got anywhere in that trade. 17-year-old aspiring artist Mandy Wang, however, is probably going places with her talent and passion for drawing, seeing as she has already captured the hearts of over 70,000 fans on Instagram! Just look at the lovely drawings she creates with colored pencils and watercolor, after the break!

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Aomori’s ramen restaurant in a bus serves up steaming hot noodles in the snow

Ramen shops are a dime a dozen, so what makes this one in Aomori Prefecture so special? Well, it’s in a bus! One writer over at Another Tokyo reported on his experience at this one-of-a-kind Japanese eatery.

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Video series of cats with mikan and kotatsu is also a cute survival guide for Japanese winter

Chilly as winter may get in Japan, we’ve got to admit there are some cool things about the coldest part of the year. For example, the Christmas decorations around Tokyo are amazing, and even if you’re not feeling up to braving the cold weather, Japan offers a couple of ways to make winter more bearable even if you’re staying indoors. High on the list are mikan, the mandarin oranges that’re at their tastiest in winter, and kotatsu, the blanket-covered, heater-equipped tables that’re so cozy it’s almost impossible to pull yourself out of one once you get situated comfortably.

Don’t take our word for it, though, as these adorable cats lounging though a Japanese winter serve as far better spokescreatures for mikan and kotatsu than we ever could.

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We search for the fabled bed and breakfast inside Narita’s runway that’s just 10 bucks a night

While it’s often referred to in travel literature as Tokyo Narita Airport, Japan’s busiest international air hub is actually located in Chiba Prefecture, making it about a one-hour train ride away from downtown Tokyo (and you can tack an extra 30 minutes or so onto that if you’re not willing to shell out the extra cash for the express train). This makes Narita sort of inconvenient if you’ve got an early departure, or if you arrive late and don’t feel like spending two hours in transit before you can collapse in your hotel bed.

So our interest was piqued when we found out about a bed and breakfast built so close to the airport it’s actually inside the runway area, and once we heard the rumors that it costs just 1,000 yen (US $8.50) a night, we decided to go searching for the mysterious hotel ourselves.

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Love banana bread? Love ice cream? You can have both with this Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwich!

We certainly seem to have an affinity for bananas here in Japan. We love bananas so much, in fact, that we’ve even seen them made into sushi on occasion. So we guess it’s not unreasonable to expect banana bread to also be popular in Japan, which is apparently what the folks at Japanese confection maker Morinaga are counting on with their newly released ice cream product. Yes, their new Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwich lets you have both banana bread and ice cream at the same time!

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Professional grade mind games: Japanese company dispatches hot dudes to make your man jealous

Poke deep enough into the corners of the Japanese service sector, and you’ll come across the class of businesses known as benri-ya. Literally meaning “convenience providers,” they exist to fill all the little needs that generally aren’t common or lucrative enough to have their own dedicated businesses. For example, female-run Support One offers personal shopping, dog walking, PC setup, and even substitute grave visitors.

Support One is also willing to help customers with white lies that make their daily life easier, such as providing companions who’ll pretend to be your friends or family members at social functions. Now, the company is expanding its catalogue of social trickery with its newest service, dispatching a hot guy to make your boyfriend jealous.

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Japanese pets find ways to keep warm despite the cold snap 【Photos】

It’s been unseasonably cold around Japan this week, sending most of us scurrying for those wooly mittens and knit caps in the back of the closet lest we lose a finger or ear to frostbite.

You’d think with the layers of fur and feathers they are already schlepping around, pets wouldn’t feel the falling temps quite as much, but if Twitter photos are any indication, they are looking just as hard as we are for ways to ward off Old Man Winter.

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