Deconstructing Lolita fashion

Deconstructing Lolita fashion

Since Her Excellency Tomomi Inada, Minister in charge of Japan’s “Cool Japan” strategy, visited New York, JapanCulture•NYC has been trying to define “Cool Japan” as it relates to New Yorkers. The broad range of the term can encompass an overwhelming number of areas: Food, fashion, design, travel, the list goes on.

To focus on one type of fashion, JapanCulture•NYC turns to the expertise of New York-based accessories designer Jen Green, who attended Japan Society’s Lolita fashion discussion on February 5. In this special guest post, Jen deconstructs the Lolita look and phenomenon for the uninitiated.

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Women, money and time: Behind the scenes with Japan’s “King of Hosts”

Women, money and time: Behind the scenes with Japan’s “King of Hosts”

Meet Naoki. He pulls down US$30,000 a month, has his own TV show and music group, and is called “an ideal man” by one of his many woman clients. Is he some kind of doctor or finance wizard to be making that kind of dough? Nope, he’s a host, one of scores of men that work in the seedy bars of Kabukicho, drinking with the ladies of the capital and charging them for the privilege.

A new video by VICE Japan takes a look at Naoki’s bizarre and booze-soaked world.

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Japan’s pets approve of Muji bean bags, put on a masterful display of laziness 【Photos】

Japan’s pets approve of Muji bean bags, put on a masterful display of laziness 【Photos】

Last week, we brought you Japanese retail company Muji’s guide to getting nothing done thanks to the comfort and unparalleled lethargy inducing qualities of the mighty bean bag chair. Well, it seems that some of our canine and feline friends have been paying close attention, and no sooner had their owners picked one up, immediately began showing us all how to use Muji’s popular bean bag chairs properly.

Judging by these photos, these little guys are clearly the true relaxation ninjas of the land.

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Giant Patlabor robot stands tall in Tokyo even as film’s director calls it “useless” 【Photos】

Giant Patlabor robot stands tall in Tokyo even as film’s director calls it “useless” 【Photos】

When surveys are done asking people which neighborhood of Tokyo they’d like to live in, Kichijoji often tops the list. It’s not hard to see why, as it’s filled with fashionable cafes, restaurants, and bars (including one with an airsoft firing range), and nearby Inokashira Park is one of the capital’s best cherry blossom viewing spots.

Safety is also an important concern in choosing a place to live, and at least for a day, Kichijoji had this in spades, as the Ingram, the giant robot used in the Patlabor science-fiction films, showed up last weekend.

Even as the Ingram was standing tall though, the films’ director, Mamoru Oshii was tearing down the dreams if aspiring mecha pilots everywhere by firmly stating his belief that we’ll never see giant bipedal robots in any practical, real-life application.

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Monster parents evolve: The unbelievable demands and complaints made by parents in Japan

Monster parents evolve: The unbelievable demands and complaints made by parents in Japan

‘Monster parents’ aren’t anything new in Japan–the complaints by and about overbearing, demanding mothers and fathers have been on the increase for nearly a decade. But thanks to a report by the FujiTV program Nonstop, the issue has catapulted squarely back into the public conscious.

The show posted some of the crazier complaints allegedly made by these loudmouthed parents to schools and their kids’ teachers, sparking angry and bewildered comments online. We’ve collected some of the best (worst?) below.

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Bizarre Tokyo shop sells retro sunglasses by the literal bowlful

Bizarre Tokyo shop sells retro sunglasses by the literal bowlful

Before you jump directly to the comments section to scold me about the proper usage of “literal” and the dangers of hyperbole, just know first off that the long-running Ikebukuro institution Rougan Megane Hakubutsukan (老眼メガネ博物館, or literally, “Aging Glasses Museum”) actually sells bowls full of retro sunglasses. And for just 280 yen (US$2.80) at that.

And, besides enabling writers like me to use the phrase “literal bowlful” in relation to something that isn’t a food item, Rougan Megane Hakubutsukan defies expectations in a lot of other ways, too.

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Attack on Titan to run on Adult Swim’s Toonami Block

Attack on Titan to run on Adult Swim’s Toonami Block

Adult Swim, the American television network paired with Cartoon Network, announced on Saturday that it will run Attack on Titan in its Toonami programming block. The anime series will premiere on the network on Saturday, May 3 at 11:30 pm ET.

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Vine Boin Bounce: In which we start a new dance craze and have a punny good time

Vine Boin Bounce: In which we start a new dance craze and have a punny good time

While most of the articles you find on our lovely site are about Japanese news–be it current events in the anime world or photos a hundred years old–sometimes we like to just kick off our shoes and have some fun too.

For example, four of our colleagues from the Japanese side of the site (great for reading practice in case you’re studying the language!) decided to make these, shall we say unique Vine videos. We won’t say that they’re the weirdest thing you’ll see today…but only because we never know when some deep sea divers are going to find new, bizarre fish.

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See what 13 stuffed toys look like after a wash at the home spa

See what 13 stuffed toys look like after a wash at the home spa

People in Japan love their soft toys. And with so many cute characters to choose from, it’s easy to understand why. But with love comes a sense of responsibility, which means there will eventually come a time when your favourite stuffed character will have to face the wash. The only thing is, with their adorable, life-like expressions, a wash-and-dry for a stuffed toy ends up looking like a day at the spa followed by a visit to the amusement park!

Check out the adventures of some crazy Japanese plushies, as documented by their owners, after the jump.

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Japanese constitution nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Japanese constitution nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize has an unprecedented nomination: the Ninth Article of the Japanese constitution. The Ninth Article renounces the right to engage in war or to maintain a military. The group advocating the nomination, the “Constitution’s Ninth Article for the Nobel Peace Prize,” is based in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Housewife Naomi Takusu (37) came up with the idea. She started an online petition last May and garnered 1,500 signatures in just five days. She contacted the Nobel Committee, from whose response she learned that candidates can only be nominated through certain channels and must be individuals or groups. She changed her strategy and tried again for 2014.

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Drivers spill the beans while saving the planet with Nissan’s two-seater electric vehicle

Drivers spill the beans while saving the planet with Nissan’s two-seater electric vehicle

In October last year, Yokohama City joined forces with Japanese automobile manufacturer Nissan for a special project dubbed Choi-Mobi Yokohama. Furnishing the historic port city with a small fleet of rentable, ultra-compact electric vehicles, Nissan set out to examine the feasibility of making such modes of transport commonplace in urban centres. Allowing anyone with a valid license to zip around the city – emission free, of course – for just 20 yen (US$0.19) per minute of use, ultra-compacts like the Choi-Mobi are tipped to be a useful replacement for taxis and private vehicles in urban areas in future years.

The concept alone was enough to have tech-heads and environmentalists alike grinning from ear to ear, but on April 1 this year, Nissan asked a group of Choi-Mobi renters to use their time together inside the vehicle to convey important messages to one another, telling not April Fools but “April Truths”.

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BABYMETAL invasion of the West marches on, everyone welcomes new kawaii overlords【VIDEOS】

BABYMETAL invasion of the West marches on, everyone welcomes new kawaii overlords【VIDEOS】

It’s been less than a year since we interviewed BABYMETAL and prophesied their coming domination of the globe, and in that time they’ve released a new, full-length album, racked up over five million views on one video alone, and made plans to invade England. While the UK probably isn’t the best target for a military attack–we hear they get pretty grumpy and call the RAF on you–the country seems particularly susceptible to cultural aggressions, making the group’s British debut at Sonisphere Festival UK the perfect opening offensive!

But the group’s popularity isn’t limited to the metal community. They’ve gotten attention from major media outlets around the world–it’s only a matter of time before we see the girls jumping around on Oprah’s coach, declaring their love for chocolate.

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Hamster babies steal our hearts, leave us begging for more

Hamster babies steal our hearts, leave us begging for more

Everyone loves hamsters. From the Internet masses cooing over their adorable keisters to snakes who refuse to eat them, there’s something about their furry round bodies that reduces us to piles of squealing glee. They’re just so cuuuuuuuute!

And what’s the only thing cuter than a hamster? Well, if you said “Baby hamsters,” then you are clearly psychic! We’d tell you to get out of our heads, but we’re too busy “awww”ing over these photos.

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Celebrate Korea’s loneliest holiday with black noodles for one 【Recipe】

Celebrate Korea’s loneliest holiday with black noodles for one 【Recipe】

Valentine’s Day is known all around the world and many of our readers will be familiar with the East Asian tradition of following it up with White Day. In Japan and Korea, women are expected to give chocolates to the men in their lives, in some cases to every man they know (referred to as giri choco, or “obligatory chocolate” in Japan). White Day arose as a way to balance the inequity (or maybe just to sell more sweets). On March 14th, men are supposed to give sweets to the women they return feelings for. Sadly for the women, they are usually white sweets like marshmallows, hard candies, white chocolate or something else similarly boring. While men are not obligated to give sweets to women they do not have feelings for, they are expected to spend 3-4 times as much as the gift they received was worth.

South Korea has innovated a new holiday along the same theme: Black Day! Black Day falls on April 14th and is celebrated by people who didn’t receive anything for either of the more well-known love-themed holidays. On Black Day, single people all over the country get together to eat a dish of black noodles called jjajangmyeon, which is a well-known Korean comfort food. It consists of noodles in a sauce made of black soybeans with veggies and protein (typically pork or seafood). Similar to curry udon, it’s not incredibly healthy but is extremely satisfying!

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Calling all ladies out there: How to win the heart of a man with AB blood type

Calling all ladies out there: How to win the heart of a man with AB blood type

In many Asian cultures, blood type is said to determine one’s personality or unique characteristics. If you’re not familiar with the traits associated with each blood type, check out our handy guide here (and see if what it says about you is accurate or not!). That said, people with AB blood type are known to be slightly mysterious and the most creative thinkers of the bunch. They may engage in unique hobbies, display genius tendencies, and continually startle you with unexpected surprises the more you get to know them.

So what’s a lady to do when the object of her affections happens to be a gentleman with type AB blood? Perhaps the following handy tips will help you snag his heart if nothing else does!

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We try “Bubble Soccer,” body slam and laugh the entire time

We try “Bubble Soccer,” body slam and laugh the entire time

Bubble Soccer, as you might have guessed from the image above, is a game in which every player wears a giant plastic bubble while playing soccer. It’s like any normal soccer game, except you bounce off of your opponent and crash wildly to the floor. But it’s cool, you’re in a bubble so it doesn’t hurt too much. April 4 saw a very special event, one of only a few ever held in Japan, at the Ramos Ruy Indoor Futsol Field in Tokyo. Participants were invited to try their hand at this crazy sport and we showed up for the occasion.

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How to take a bath for only 0.0000076 yen using ordinary plastic bottles

How to take a bath for only 0.0000076 yen using ordinary plastic bottles

With Japan entering the new month with a higher sales tax, people are beginning to feel the squeeze. In addition, April is the time of year when many people make big changes in their lives such as moving out on their own. This is already an expensive time made even more so by the economic climate.

One such person is Omocoro writer ARuFa. He feels that he has successfully come up with a way to reduce your water bill drastically by taking baths that would only cost 0.0000076 yen (US$0.000000075). This is his story.

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A ribbiting new style for an age old item

A ribbiting new style for an age old item

Ask any group of Japanese people what animal they don’t like to touch, and overwhelmingly the answer you get back is going to be…frogs! Which is why it may seem very strange that costume maker @Shin_1223 has designed a unique backpack that is made to look like this wet and slimy creature.

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Doraemon in Nirvana: Chiang Rai’s White Temple like a beautiful, bad pop culture pipe dream 【Photos】

Doraemon in Nirvana: Chiang Rai’s White Temple like a beautiful, bad pop culture pipe dream 【Photos】

Approaching Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai’s so-called White Temple, is a surreal experience. It looks like a massive sculpture of ice and snow shimmering through Thailand’s tropical heat. But that effect barely scratches the surface of the weird at this Buddhist wat, where Doraemon hangs out with the Buddha, bushes are decorated with the decapitated heads of Freddie Kruger and Pinhead, and the penalty for smoking is eternal damnation.

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We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

Eating and drinking are two of our favorite necessary life functions, since they’re both so much more fun than sleeping and breathing. So when we heard, back in January, about a new beer from Suntory that’s specially designed to go well with Japanese food, our three months of anxious waiting until it was scheduled to go on sale started right away.

Well, spring is finally here, and we’ve just recently experienced the joys of stepping outside without an overcoat and admiring the cherry blossoms, so now it’s time for the last item on our checklist of vernal pleasures, as we sample a can of Suntory’s new Japan-centric brew, the all-malt Wazen.

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