Studio Ghibli animators’ West Japan Railway ad has us ready for summer! 【Video】

The hot summer months of July and August are almost upon us, and for families with young children, you know what that means…SUMMER VACATION! That’s right, like in many other parts of the world, families in Japan will be thinking about how and where to spend their summer holidays, including plans for travel. It seems quite fitting, then, that West Japan Railway Company, or JR West Japan as it’s commonly called, has recently announced the launch of the “JR West Japan SUMMER TRAIN!” campaign to showcase the appeal of traveling in western Japan by rail.

And it so happens that there’s something unique about this campaign that makes it hugely appealing to anime fans in particular — the commercial for the campaign features animation created by members of the Studio Ghibli team, and their beautiful artwork is immediately recognizable.

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The bare essentials: Lingerie-and-wig-only Sailor Moon Cosplay

The first rule of cosplay is that there are no rules. If you don’t want to follow a certain character’s look to a T, then you don’t have to. In fact, there’s all sorts of ways to enjoy cosplay. “Casual cosplay” is one such option. And now, it turns out that lingerie cosplay is another!

Check out this Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus lingerie and wig only cosplay from Geek x Girls! Warning: some of these pic are a little NSFW!

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Distinctive Japanese Häagen-Dazs lids proving unusually versatile

Ice cream manufacturer Häagen-Dazs is pretty popular in Japan. The company has a large enough market share to run near-constant ads inside subway and above-ground train cars; usually a pretty good indicator of market success since ads on JR trains cost, approximately, all the dollars that ever were or ever will be.

One reason for the brand’s popularity in Japan – other than, you know, it tastes good – is the fancy, sturdy packaging used for individually-portioned cups. Now, most people just like them because it contributes to the brand’s premium mystique, but it turns out a lot of Japanese Twitter users are finding recently that the sturdy, distinctive plastic lids have a huge variety of neat, bonus utility and decorative uses even after all the ice cream inside is gone.

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Impressive replicas of iconic Japanese tourist spots made from curry

As kids we were always told not to play with our food but someone didn’t get that memo at a recent curry exhibition. Online marketplace Rakuten recently hosted a one-day event showcasing regional curry dishes from all over Japan, and the curry creations were very playful, and some were downright awesome. As if the spict foodstuff wasn’t already delicious enough, it got even better with iconic Japanese tourists spots replicated from curry!

Check out some of the dishes after the jump. It’s tourism for your taste buds!

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Luhu – the little cat who always looks sad 【Photos】

Luhu is an adorable kitty from Beijing. But this pet has a problem. Even when he’s having a great time, Luhu looks like he’s having the worst day ever.

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Blackboard art contest produces entries that will take your breath away

Idle hands are the devil’s play things, so why not occupy them with a monetary prize incentive? Japanese blackboard maker Nichigaku noticed that students have been creating some very impressive artwork on school blackboards. So what better way to promote Nichigaku’s product than to sponsor a nationwide chalk art contest?

Students all over the country submitted incredible pieces of art that turned that “boring thing you stare at every class” into something beautiful that you can’t believe was created with just chalk. Join us after the jump as we show you some of the best submissions from the Nichigaku Blackboard Art contest.

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Use this new Japanese pad to keep your cat in one spot with the power of magic circles!

Last year, the Internet went gaga over the discovery that, for reasons that remain a mystery to nearly everyone, (some) cats, when presented with a circle on the floor, will enter said circle and just sit there. In what is probably the most effective way to make the notoriously free-spirited animals “stay,” these cat circles, which are called “neko hoihoi” in Japan, appeared in numerous videos, photos, and tweets online. From tape to hula hoops to dirty clothes, the cat-catching circles can, seemingly, be made of anything!

But now you no longer need to actually make a cat circle — instead you can buy an adorable little tatami reed flooring mat from a Kyoto company. Give your room a little class and trap your cat all at the same time! It’s probably easier than trying to use a computer when your adorable kitty wants attention.

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This ultimate Zelda piano medley will blow your mind, or at least get stuck in your head

Gamers, what is it for you that makes a game great? Is it the plot or storyline? The visuals? Characters? Great games undoubtedly need a bit of all of the above, but the music is especially important, since it will stick with you even when you switch off the console or finish the game entirely.

Some songs are beautifully moving, while others are unbeatably catchy, a good example of which would be the music from the Legend of Zelda games. So, of course, what could be better than a medley of all the best Zelda tunes? What about a mind-blowingly crazy one done on the piano?

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Shibuya’s Hachiko has a new feline pal, and they look absolutely adorable together!

As you’ve probably noticed by now, cats and dogs are very much adored in Japan. Every now and then, a new furry face rises to online stardom, much like how celebricats Maru and the dearly departed Tama captured the hearts of people across and outside of Japan.

When it comes to famous canines in Japan, there’s none who surpasses Hachiko, the legendary faithful dog who even got a movie made in its name.We knew Hachiko was popular among humans, we just didn’t know he was popular among the felines too! Check out Hachiko with his new kitty pal!

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“Pokémon LIFE”, the Pokémon magazine for adults, debuts with free Pikachu card case

You never really grow out of wanting to be a Pokémon master. Even if you’re no longer a kid and now have a 9-5 job with bills and responsibilities. This new “Pokémon lifestyle magazine“, aptly titled Pokémon Life, is aimed at working adults who still have a fondness for their beloved childhood franchise.

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All-real pictures show why Japan’s “Lady of Eternal Youth” doesn’t need photoshop【Photos】

Masako Mizutani , also known as the “Lady of Eternal Youth”, is a Japanese model with legions of international fans. Mizutani is famous for supposedly looking young enough to be in her twenties – the same age as her daughter. The youthful-looking 46-year-old regularly updates her blog with photos and selfies, but as well as praise and admiration, these pics have attracted allegations of Photoshop fakery.

Determined to prove that Masako’s beauty is the real deal, our reporter Nakano grabbed his camera and headed to a special “age-measuring” event the model was appearing at. Let’s take a look at his photo report!

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Want to shake hands with an adorable otter? You can right now at this Tokyo aquarium

Tokyo’s Ikebukuro is an archetypical part of the concrete jungle of Japan’s capital. The neighborhood is even home to Sunshine 60, one of the tallest buildings in a city that’s already packed with massive skyscrapers.

With so much space to work with, Sunshine 60 houses a shopping center, restaurants, planetarium, museum, and even a parlor for playing the Japanese board game go. But what convinced us to visit recently was the complex’s aquarium, which right now is offering a chance to shake hands with its adorable river otters!

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Fake-out front-zippered t-shirt will literally give you the chest of a swimsuit model

Earlier this month, we took a look at a revealing front-zippered swimsuit being sold by Japanese novelty goods chain Village Vanguard. Retail is a tough business, though, and we can imagine some shoppers are unconvinced that they should spend their money on a garment that consists of such precious little fabric.

So Village Vanguard is back again with a front-zippered t-shirt that provides more coverage for your upper body than the swimsuit, and in an extra-generous gesture, they’ll throw in the boobs for free (or at least a picture of them).

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Taiwan’s watermelon bread will delight your senses, confuse your tastebuds

Japan loves unusual watermelons. You’ve probably heart of square watermelons before, but what about pyramid and peanut-shaped watermelons? Or heart-shaped ones? It can’t get any crazier than that, right?

Well a new challenger has appeared: watermelon bread. Yes, that’s right, watermelon bread. It’s green on the outside, red on the inside, and even has black “seeds” sprinkled throughout. Your taste buds will never be more confused, or more excited, than when they take a bite of this.

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Osaka International Airport has a sake tasting machine for 100 yen a cup

There are many lovers of nihonshu (often called sake in English) in Japan, but a challenge of a true nihonshu fan is finding that perfect brand to suit their tastes. With the hundreds of different kinds each with their own flavors and ways to serve, you might drink for years without being able to settle on a type to call your favorite.

In addition to time, it can also be a burden on the wallet to go through bottle after bottle searching for that right one. Luckily, Mr. Sato stumbled upon something that might help speed up and cheapen the sake selecting process.

It’s a sake taste testing machine in Osaka International Airport that sells cups from nearly 30 different brands for only 100 yen (US$0.81) each.

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Weapons, drugs and racism among 15 things a minor could buy in Showa Japan

History in Japan is divided into the eras over which certain emperors reign. For example, now we are in the 27th year of the Heisei Era under Emperor Akihito. Before 1989, Japan was in the Showa Era, which began in late 1926.

Japan went through a series of major social changes during this period, which runs right through World War II and the saw the growth of the bubble economy. Fans of history are probably familiar with the political and business aspects of these changes, but not as much is seen of daily life in Japan during this tumultuous time.

So, here’s a little look at what things were like back then in a list of 15 things that a child could purchase during the Showa Period. Cue the Breaking Bad steel guitar riff.

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Whimsical Ghibli Studio-style animation appears in bread commercials【Videos】

It’s been almost a year since Studio Ghibli announced it was halting production after director Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement, and also since the studio’s most recent movie, When Marnie Was There, played in theaters. However Yoshiharu Sato, one of the studio’s animators who helped direct and design My Neighbor Totoro and served as a key animator for Porco Rosso and The Secret World of Arriety, has given Ghibli animation fans something to look forward to with his recent work on Francois company’s Slow Bread commercial series.
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Five more Japanese words we’d love to import into English

Sometimes, the Japanese language is a pain in the butt. Seriously, how is it that in the millennia over which it evolved, no one ever said, “Hey, guys, why don’t we come up separate words for ‘leg’ and ‘foot’?”, which are both ashi in Japanese?

But speaking Japanese isn’t all frustrating head-scratchers. As we’ve talked about before, it also has some handy, expressive terms and phrases that don’t have direct English equivalents. So today we’re dipping back into our Japanese dictionaries for another batch of words we’d love to import into English.

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Rest in peace, Tama – Japan’s stationmaster cat passes away at 16, company funeral to be held

It wasn’t long ago that we were wishing a happy birthday to Tama, the adorable feline that was given the title of Ultra Stationmaster by Wakayama Electric Railway. Having just turned 16 in April, Tama, who lived at Kishi Station in Wakayama Prefecture and delighted travelers on a daily basis, was incredibly young for a stationmaster.

16 is a fairly advanced age for a cat, though, and the sad news has just come that Stationmaster Tama has passed away.

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Hayao Miyazaki may be retired, but these Studio Ghibli tattoos will last forever 【Photos】

It’s kind of ironic that even though director Hayao Miyazaki regularly expresses his distaste towards obsessive fandom, fans obsess over his films like no one else’s. And it’s not just anime loyalists, either, who find watching his works to be a life-changing experience, since they’ve also won the hearts of millions who just love animation or strong filmmaking in general.

There even seems to be a sizeable overlap between people who admire Miyazaki’s movies and body art. So while the anime legend himself might not personally approve, today we’re taking a look at a collection of impressive Studio Ghibli-inspired tattoos.

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