culture

Maiko beauty secrets: Skincare tips from Japan’s apprentice geisha

Just as with full-fledged geisha, it’s customary for maiko, as geisha apprentices are known, to wear a layer of white face powder, called oshiroi. But those who’ve seen one of Japan’s traditional entertainers close up often marvel at their smooth, healthy skin, remarking that they would be just as beautiful with all of those cosmetic coverings washed away.

But in much the same way that their polished speech and refined mannerisms are the result of years of training, maiko also have a careful routine they follow to keep their skin looking as delicate and pleasing to the eye as it does.

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Sayonara, sushi: 21 little things that people miss after leaving Japan

As a reader of RocketNews24, chances are you already have a pretty big soft spot for Japan. You may even already be living in the Land of the Rising Sun or have plans to fly out just as soon as circumstances allow.

But sometimes, even when we love a place with every fibre of our being, we just can’t stay forever. Family anxiously awaiting our return; work commitments; financial constraints and more mean that, at some point or other, many of us have to wave goodbye to Japan and return to our respective homelands.

Some of the things people miss about Japan will be immediately obvious, but others tend to sink in only a few weeks or months after returning home. Today, we’re taking a look at 21 of the little things, in no particular order, that Japan does so uniquely or so incredibly well that foreigners really start to pine for them once they finally say sayonara and head home.

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The Steeds of the Gods: The Shinto horses that no mortal may ride

Somewhere around the 500th step on the long approach to Kompira-san shrine in Kagawa Prefecture, you’ll find a small stable housing two special horses. They are pretty as a picture, but don’t get any ideas about hopping on for a ride, feeding them a little carrot, or even giving them a friendly pat.

These thoroughbreds are shinme, the steeds of the gods, and they are not for mere mortals like us.

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Run for the hills! “Breakup Prevention Kits” complete with condom hole-pokers on sale in Japan

Hey, guys! So… sex! Pretty great, right? Feels good. Increases feelings of closeness and intimacy with your partner. Relieves stress. Probably lengthens your lifespan, too, unless you’re into something super kinky. Yup, intercourse is one of the few enjoyable miracles of being alive that we get to experience in this dark, lonely existence as inconsequential pinpricks amidst a vast and uncaring cosmos.

Too bad I’ll never be doing it again. Not now that I’ve learned this Japanese “Breakup Prevention Kit,” complete with discreet condom hole-poker, exists anyway.

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“Pop” daruma dolls so popular you’ll have to wait three years to get one

Daruma are a kind of roly-poly wishing doll in Japanese Buddhism. You draw one eye in while making a wish, and then fill in the other when your wish comes true. Given their sweet purpose and blob-like shape, traditional daruma are already pretty charming, but a woodcarving shop in Kagawa Prefecture has found a pop makeover makes them even more attractive, so much so that there is a 3-year waiting list to get one!

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Combine your love of Godzilla, ukiyo-e and fashion with these fresh kicks from TeeFury

Recently, we brought you the news that you can now view an online animated sketchbook version of works by famous Japanese Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. But what if you’re not content just looking at beautiful art online? What if you could see it every time you look down at your feet? Well, with these awesome printed sneakers from TeeFury.com, you can get some culture into your wardrobe while still looking cool!

Oh, and as an added bonus, they’ve stuck Godzilla’s ugly monster mush into the design, too!

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The most crowded place in Tokyo? Might be the Kanda Matsuri festival, but it’s still awesome

Even in a city as packed with people as Tokyo, some places, and times, are more crowded than others. So when and where can you find the largest, densest mass of humanity? Some would say the Yamanote loop line during the morning rush hour. Others would vote for Shibuya’s scramble crosswalk intersection on a Saturday night.

But before you go awarding the crown to either of those two candidates, take a look at the massive crowds that came out for the Kanda Matsuri festival last weekend.

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Japanese farming simulator rewards players with actual crops delivered to their door

Remember back in the day when all of your older relatives and the kids you knew from school but never speak to any more would send you invites to play Farmville? Remember how seeing a new notification on your Facebook toolbar that just turned out to be yet another invitation to play f’$%ng Farmville would fill you with impotent rage?

Well think about how different your reaction might have been if your “friends” hadn’t been backhandedly asking you to help them raise their not-actually-existent virtual ducks and cabbages, but were in fact asking you to help them put real, actual food in their mouths.

One Japanese startup, Telefarm, is hoping that the future is online games that reward players for good performance with actual products delivered to their door. And they’ve been running a farming simulator prototype for a little over a year now to test that model’s feasibility.

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For chivalry, Japanese man tells female store clerk “I aint got nothing to say to you!”

Japan has a reputation for outstanding customer service, and as such you’ll usually find courtesy and pleasantness on both sides of retail transactions. As polite as clerks are, most shoppers are just as respectful towards the hard-working individuals who’re ringing their purchases up.

Still, not every customer is a joy to deal with, and one young women working at a convenience store thought she was encountering an extremely rude male customer who refused to be served by her. As it turns out, though, the man she’d mistaken for a chauvinist was simply following his own particular code of chivalry.

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Stirring animated version of Hokusai paintings is like watching anime from the Edo period 【Video】

If there’s one Japanese artist just about everyone is familiar with, it’s Hokusai. Even if they don’t know the late Edo-period painter by name, his landscape series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji is instantly recognizable, with The Great Wave off Kanagawa and South Wind, Clear Sky, better known as Red Fuji, perhaps the most famous works in all of Japanese painting.

Hokusai passed away in 1849, meaning he never got the chance to work in the mediums of motion pictures. Had he been born a bit later though, and had the desire to move into animation, perhaps the result would have looked a little something like this video.

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Japan celebrates Children’s Day by flying beautiful carp streamers 【Photos】

While people in Japan put up decorations to celebrate different holidays, most of them are placed inside the home, such as the dolls for Girls’ Day/Hina Matsuri in March or the vegetables displayed during Obon in the summer. Out in public, though, though, you’d be hard-pressed to tell one Japanese holiday from another, with the exception of Children’s Day/Kodomo no Hi on May 5.

That’s because when Children’s Day rolls around, all you have to do is look up at all of the beautifully awesome carp streamers flying overhead,

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Unmanned lost and found station with car keys shows just how safe and honest Japan is

It’s hard to really explain just how little street crime there is in Japan, and how much that affects the ways people go about their daily lives. Sure, you could rattle off statistics about the ridiculously low number of muggings or thefts per capita, or you could point to this video showing a completely unmanned lost and found station with some very valuable property left lying around with no fear that anyone other than the rightful owner will claim it.

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President Obama thanks Prime Minister Abe for all the cool anime during official visit 【Video】

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is currently making a diplomatic visit to the United States, where he was received by President Barack Obama. The two heads of state recently appeared before the press in a ceremony where the American President reiterated the importance of cooperation between the two countries, and also thanked Japan for all that cool anime.

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How to do Japanese karaoke the right way: Six tips for newbies, mic hogs and nervous singers

Karaoke in Japan tends to be a little different from in the west, and it comes with its own set of rules and etiquette that it’s a good idea to learn if you want to keep being included in karaoke parties.

Whether it’s your first time ever singing in (semi-)public or you’re a seasoned karaoke veteran back home, these six tips for not being a total karaoke bore will help make your singing sessions super special (and not at all humiliating…).

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Smoking while walking near kids or wheelchairs? Why not just swing a knife around?

Many cultural guidebooks contend that eating while walking is considered rude in Japan. That’s not entirely accurate. Sure, walking down the street while munching on a hamburger will make you look gluttonous, maybe laughably so, but no one’s going to get offended by your mobile meal.

What will upset some people, though, is smoking while walking, and not just because of the horrible stink and health effects of secondhand smoke. Puffing away while moving down the sidewalk can be downright dangerous to nearby kids and the wheelchair-bound, as this manga artist’s illustration reminds smokers.

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The remarkable art of giving and receiving change in Japan

If you’re tired of receiving vacant smiles and flippant customer service at your local grocery store, you may want to make a trip to Japan, where the customer always comes first and every transaction is concluded with a graceful bow.

This remarkable attention to customer service even extends to the handling of cash transactions in shops around the country. Akin to an art form, a simple payment to a store clerk in Japan will inevitably set off a series of steps and precise movements to satisfy the needs of both parties and respectively complete the exchange. Come with us as we take you through the steps of a simple transaction in Japan. The attention to detail and the clever reasons for it will surprise you.

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Tokyo exhibition on cultural impact of anime and video games adds list of series to be examined

On any given day in a Tokyo summer, you can expect the weather to be hot, rainy, or a sticky mixture of the two. As such, it’s usually a good idea to have a couple of indoor activates in mind in case you need a break from the sweltering heat.

Thankfully, Japan’s capital is filled with museums, and one will be holding a special exhibition on the cultural impact of anime, manga, and video games. We’ve been looking forward to this event for a while, and now there’s even a partial list of titles that are scheduled to be highlighted.

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Who has better manners? Blogger lists three things foreigners do that impress even the Japanese

One of the first things you notice when you visit Japan is how nice and polite everyone seems to be. Shop staff bow to you, people greet you in the hotel lobby, even the guy at the combini sprints across the store to open up the second register when there’s more than one person waiting to be served.

But spend any prolonged amount of time here and you’ll realise that there are plenty of rude people here too (just like in the rest of the world…). And there are even a few niceties we in the west generally perform as a matter of habit that just aren’t part of the Japanese way of doing things.

So just how are Westerners unintentionally schooling the Japanese in manners?

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Mama Cards! All the social trickiness of Japanese business cards with none of the economic gains

Japan has a lengthy protocol for the proper way to exchange business cards. There are rules of etiquette that govern how to hand to over your own card, how to respectfully read your counterpart’s, and even how long to wait before putting it away.

Outside of the business world, you might think you’re safe from this troublesome trapping of corporate culture. Recently, though, some mothers in Japan have started making personal name and contact cards to give to other moms they meet through their kids’ school and extracurricular activities, and are discovering that being outside the office doesn’t make things any simpler.

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Pay to have a cute girl squeeze your rice balls at “Galmusu”, Akihabara’s onigiri idol cafe!

Onigiri are the perfect Japanese snack food. Portable and (generally speaking) healthy, they consist of a small ball or triangle of rice containing one of a huge variety of fillings, wrapped in seaweed or coated with some kind of seasoning. While most of the onigiri you can buy at convenience stores here in Japan are probably filled and shaped by machine, it’s traditional to roll ’em yourselves by making a squeezing motion with your hands. And now you can combine your love of onigiri with your love of cute idol girls by heading down to “Galmusu”, a new cafe where, for a small fee, a cutie will squeeze your rice balls for you right in front of your eyes!

We sent one of our Japanese reporters to investigate this new form of edible performance art!

Oh, but before you read on, we should probably mention one thing: our reporter usually can’t stand anyone handling his food

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