Dine like a samurai on the night of the Ikedaya Incident at Kyoto-themed restaurant in Tokyo

If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Kyomachi, the old streets of Kyoto, there’s a special dining establishment in Tokyo that will take you there. The Kyomachi Koishigure restaurant features private dining rooms, red bridges, bamboo corridors and a running stream so you can enjoy all the traditional beauty of Kyoto without having to leave the nation’s capital.

And now, for a limited time only, the restaurant will take you back in time to the late Edo period, with a special “fair” that recreates the infamous Ikedaya Incident, a significant moment in Japan’s history when a group of masterless samurai were ambushed at Kyoto’s Ikedaya Inn.

As part of the experience, diners can enjoy a specially designed menu inside a recreation of the inn, and staff dressed as members of a sword-wielding police force who “ambush” your private room every time you place an order.

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Survey reveals the top five times Japanese travelers realise just how Japanese they are

Whether we like to admit it or not, where we were brought up has a huge impact on the person we become. From our way of thinking to what foods we prefer, it’s hard to deny that our environment shapes our personal identity.

While some people come from nations that are veritable melting pots of backgrounds, languages, and cultures, others come from a country with much more homogeneity. Japan is one such country, and its people have a strong sense of identity—though they may not readily admit it.

But often during a trip to a foreign country, there comes a moment of self-realization where they become aware of just how Japanese they really are. A recent survey asked Japanese travelers to identify the five moments they felt most Japanese when abroad. The results are really quite telling.

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Japan’s all-female Takarazuka theater has enlightened 31.5:1 female to male bathroom stall ratio

In Japan, you’ll sometimes find extremely classy restrooms in surprising places, like sparkling-clean highway rest stops. But does that same metric apply to locations that you would expect to have swanky bathroom facilities?

It does in the case of the Takarazuka Grand Theater, home of the famous all-female Takarazuka Revue, which not only has an opulent restroom waiting for its guests, but also an extremely enlightened ratio of male to female bathroom stalls.

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Nobel Prize for Literature eludes Japan’s Haruki Murakami yet again, and he couldn’t care less

Winning a Nobel Prize is a pretty big deal, to put it lightly. Many people would even say that it is the most prestigious award out there. Knowing that, no one would ever call a Nobel Prize a nuisance, right? Well…

Haruki Murakami, one of the most famous authors to come out of Japan, is not really interested in winning a Nobel Prize and actually kind of wishes people would stop nominating him.

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Introducing the delightfully strange “Bakeneko Festival,” full of kitty cosplayers

The bakeneko (“monstrous cat”) is but one of the many, many yokai of Japanese folklore. For centuries, Japanese people suspected that cats held mystical powers – due, it appears, both to cats’ aloof behavior and to the animals’ yokai-like physical features, such as their slit eyes and ability to move around silently. Even today, some elderly Japanese folks still harbor superstitions about cats.

One ability of the bakeneko, legend has it, is the ability to walk around on two legs (which we’ve actually seen demonstrated in real-life), which makes the yokai a fairly easy choice for cosplay. In fact, there’s a whole festival dedicated to bakeneko celebration and cosplay! And, before you ask, yes, of course we’re going to it.

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We ask Japanese people about their favorite aspects of eight different cultures

We often hear about foreigners’ favorite parts of Japanese culture, like trains running on time and unparalleled customer service, but it’s not every day that we hear from Japanese people about their favorite parts of foreign cultures.

With that in mind, one of RocketNews24’s Japanese-language writers decided to interview a few well-traveled Japanese people and hear some of their favorite aspects of the different cultures they’ve experienced and how they compare to their own.

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Japan’s biggest Obon dance festival makes its international debut in Paris

There are many different reasons to visit Japan, but something that should be on everyone’s bucket list are the matsuri, or festivals. Summer is a big time for festivals, especially in August when the Obon festival is held, during which many people travel back to their hometowns in order to honor their family and ancestors. With so many families together in their hometowns, it is the perfect time for a matsuri full of songs, dancing, and long-standing traditions.

One of the biggest Obon celebrtions in all of Japan is the Awa Odori festival in Tokushima Prefecture, which over a million people attend each year. The dancers who are dressed in their traditional clothing and musicians that pound out the beat in tune with your heart are truly a sight to behold, but if you can’t experience the traditional festival in Japan, why not try to bring it to your country as one French journalist did?

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Japanese artisan keeps traditional culture of yabumi alive with this adorable arrow letter set

From carrier pigeons to messages in bottles, there’s something uniquely appealing about using the forces of nature to carry a passage of prose between two human beings. With Japan’s long history of archery, messages once travelled through the air in the form of yabumi (lit. arrow text), a folded letter attached to an arrow that acted as a speedy delivery service between individuals or warring clans.

Sadly, the culture of yabumi dwindled and gradually disappeared as we moved slowly towards the world of much less dangerous (though sometimes just as impactful) emails and instant messaging. One traditional artisan is keeping the culture alive though, with a new letter set that contains everything you need to create your own yabumi, this time with adorable, user-friendly arrows.

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Japanese man’s parents present Notice of Expiration of Child-Rearing Services on 20th birthday

Unlike in the U.S., legal adulthood in Japan doesn’t begin until the age of 20. But while that means an extra two years to enjoy the benefits and protection society affords to minors, everyone has to grow up sometime, and for one Japanese Twitter user the transition was especially abrupt.

On his 20th birthday as his parents presented him with a written notice congratulating him on graduating from childhood and celebrating his newfound freedoms, while spelling out exactly what they, and the world, now expected of him as an adult.

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Open stall indicators, fresh flowers, and the superb cleanliness of a Japanese highway restroom

On long car trips in the U.S., I didn’t really find the prospect of using a highway rest stop bathroom significantly more appealing than just holding it until I got to my destination, whether that meant waiting until the next city or the next state. Honestly, given how filthy a lot of the public toilets were, I was generally happier with a deserted stretch of road or a grove of trees I could pull over near.

In Japan, though, it’s a different story, as this video of a rest stop bathroom shows it to be cleaner and classier than the one in many people’s homes.

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In Japanese elementary schools, lunchtime means serving classmates, cleaning the school 【Video】

Last month, we took a look at how in Japan many children are expected to commute to school without their parents’ help starting in elementary school. That’s not the only amazing display of responsibility that’s part of everyday life for Japanese kids, though.

Not only do Japanese schools not have school busses, they also don’t have food-serving or cleaning staff. That means it’s the students themselves who’re responsible for distributing school lunches and keeping the building clean, and the diligence with which they go about their tasks would put many full-blown adults to shame, as shown in this video of all the things Japanese grade schoolers are expected to do during a typical school day in addition to studying.

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How do people in Japan feel about eating whale? We asked five people for their opinions

If you hail from one of the many developed nations that comprehensively frowns on the practice of whaling, you may have the image that an appalling number of people in Japan eat whale meat. And while that may be true in relative terms compared to extremely low number of people who regularly eat whale meat in several parts of North America and Europe, whaling can be a divisive topic even within Japan. Some Japanese have no problem with dining on whale from time to time, treating it like just a meatier, gamier fish. Others think eating whale is a custom that’s long past its time and needs to be rethought.

To get a preliminary understanding of some of the many different opinions on the issue that exist in the country, we interviewed a number of Japanese people and asked them whether they were in favor of or opposed to whaling and eating whale meat.

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Hotel offers guests the chance to experience the 1,000-year-old lifestyle of the Heian Period

Japanese history can be a lot of fun to explore, from the Sengoku era to the modernization of Japan in the Meiji Period. We’re sure everyone has their own favorite time period, but one that doesn’t always get the respect it deserves is the Heian Period. Lasting roughly from 794 to 1185, the period was a relatively peaceful time in Japan that saw a blossoming of culture in everything from literature to music.

Unfortunately, we can’t just hop on a plane and go back in time to see everything for ourselves. But there is a hotel in Shikoku where you can experience a bit of the Heian life for yourself complete with period costumes, games, and architecture! So whether you’re a history buff or just need a major change of scenery, you’ll want to check out Gosho Yashiro no Mori!
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Bali style: Is that a penjor or are you just happy to see me?

Penjor were pretty much the first thing I noticed about Bali. As soon as we left the airport, they began towering over our car from both sides of the street: long-necked, graceful swoops of bamboo arching and bobbing over the road, their strips of paper and coconut leaves fluttering in the air.

But what were these charming decorations? What was their significance? That took a little longer to find out. And to be honest, I’m still not sure I know.

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Samurai Studio: Tokyo’s new photo studio where you can get your picture taken in samurai armor

Even in the modern era, you’ll find plenty of occasions in Japan to dress up in kimono, such as for festivals, fireworks exhibitions, or other special events (and considering how relatively easy it is to do, it’s something you really should try at least once). But as much as Japan may love its traditions and history, there aren’t too many occasions when you get to strap on a set of samurai armor, so when life gives you the opportunity to do so, like at this new photo studio in Tokyo, you won’t want to let it pass you by.

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Top 10 things even Japanese people think they’re too obsessive about

It’s no exaggeration to say that Japan is pretty obsessive when it comes to societal safety and manners. Japanese people often go to ridiculous/disgusting lengths to stay safe and to make sure that visitors are aware of all the unspoken rules that permeate throughout the country.

But sometimes it’s all just too much, even for the native Japanese themselves. So we present to you a list of the top 10 things that even Japanese people think they’re too obsessive over. Are you just as paranoid as they are, or would you be considered a carefree spirit in Japan? Read on to find out!

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Free Zen-like mobile game about broken pots contains the wisdom of ancient Japanese philosophy

Do you think putting together broken bits of pottery sounds like fun? No, me neither. And I’d never imagine something that’s so tedious in real life would make a good basis for a game. However, that’s the theme behind this free Android app which draws upon an ancient Japanese philosophy and, after reading some reviews, I was convinced that I had to give it a go myself.

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Four things to hate about looking for an apartment in Japan as a foreigner

Seeing as how the entire English-language RocketNews24 team is composed of people who at some point moved to Japan, we’re pretty big proponents of living here. One unpleasant part of the package, though, it that since you can’t claim the whole country as your residence, living in Japan means finding an apartment in Japan, which is generally agreed upon as one of the least enjoyable parts of the expat experience.

Why? For the following four reasons.

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The surprising and little-known Japanese art of gyotaku: culinary prints made with real fish

Japan has a fascinating art history. From early cord designs on clay vessels in the Jomon period (c. 11000–c. 300 BC) through to picture scrolls, ukiyo-e woodblock prints, and the distinctive style of animation that exists today, people in Japan have always found unique ways to capture the world around them for the rest of the world to see.

One little-known art technique from the 1800s is now making a comeback, and while its roots are firmly planted in Japan’s traditional history, it’s a method of printing that people all around the world can enjoy. All you need is paper, some paint and a nice-looking fish.

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Furikake rice toppings gaining popularity in US, but are Americans doing it wrong?

Until recently, rice-loving Americans looking to add a little zing to their favorite grain would need to trek out to the nearest Asian grocery store to pick up a pack of furikake rice topping. But now, according to Japanese media, the toppings are gaining traction on the US west coast and is becoming more widely available.

Furikake consists of a mish-mash of ingredients that have been dried and powdered and, in Japan, is intended specifically and only to be sprinkled atop a steaming hot bowl of sticky Japanese rice; which explains why many Japanese people are reacting with shock at how the Americans are choosing to deploy the condiment.

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