food

National Tanuki Cake Habitat Map aims at conserving the once-beloved but now endangered dessert

National Tanuki Cake Habitat Map aims at conserving the once-beloved but now endangered dessert

Tanuki, also known as Japanese raccoon dogs, hold a special place in Japanese culture. Often the center of folktales for their large testicles, magical abilities, and easygoing attitude, you can see them depicted in works of art all over the country.

However, now the tanuki is threatened. Not the actual animal, but a cake created in its image known as the tanuki cake. For many middle-aged Japanese people the mention of such a treat would awaken fond childhood memories. Despite this, the tanuki cake population in Japan has plummeted in recent years to the point of being critically endangered.

That’s why the website Tanuki Cake No Aru Toko Meguri has established the National Tanuki Cake Habitat Map, so that we may monitor and perhaps conserve these noble animal-shaped cakes.

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Toma Toma Sparkling: Taste-testing the tomato juice that will give you a hangover

Toma Toma Sparkling: Taste-testing the tomato juice that will give you a hangover

Last week, we brought you news that Japanese brewing company Suntory was releasing an alcoholic, summer-only tomato-juice drink called Hajikeru Tomato no Sake Toma Toma Sparkling, or just Toma Toma Sparkling for short. Some of us here at RocketNews24 apparently aren’t big fans of tomato juice, a fact which leaves the rest of us (i.e. the righteous and upstanding) baffled. Since it’s one of my top three non-alcoholic drinks, after orange juice and acerola juice, I was more than happy to take up the task of taste-testing this strange new concoction from Suntory.

So, how does Toma Toma Sparkling fare? Is it delicious, fizzy tomato juice that will give you a hangover or is it an abomination better poured down the toilet?

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“That’s normal!” – Angry waitress voluntarily munches cockroach after customer finds it in his food

“That’s normal!” – Angry waitress voluntarily munches cockroach after customer finds it in his food

What would you do if you found a cockroach in your food while dining in a restaurant?

If you said “complain to the management” or “report the place to the department of sanitation”, you’d be wrong. Well, at least according to one waitress at a restaurant in Chengdu, China who told a customer that it was “normal” for creepy-crawlies to make it into restaurant food, and promptly swallowed the cockroach he had found to prove her point…

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Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】

Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】

For most of the year, the tiny town of Inakadate in Aomori Prefecture doesn’t get a lot of visitors. With only some 8,000 residents, most of whom make their living through agriculture, there’s not much to do there, unless you feel like staring at the farmers’ fields.

Every summer, though, droves of visitors come to do just that, as Inakadate’s rice paddies transform into gigantic works of art. And this year is no exception.

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Fans lined up to get a mouthful of Exile singer’s tasty chocolate banana

Fans lined up to get a mouthful of Exile singer’s tasty chocolate banana

Starting 19 July Fuji TV will be holding the “Odaiba Shintairiku” event featuring live performances from various artists along with other attractions.

Among these attractions is Izakaya Eguzairu, a bar and grill featuring dishes designed by the members of the top pop group Exile. While much of the menu is standard fare such as Hiro’s spaghetti or Aran Shirahama’s chicken and rice, it’s the dish dreamt up by vocalist Takahiro that has everyone saying “I want to eat Takahiro’s banana” online.

We sent our reporter Nakano-san in to get to the bottom of Takahiro’s Chocolate Banana.

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Watermelon bagels arrive in Japan, then in our bellies【Taste test】

Watermelon bagels arrive in Japan, then in our bellies【Taste test】

There’s a lot that I love about summer. The additional hours of daylight, awesome fireworks festivals, and the chance to wear a summer kimono are all big plusses in my book.

Still, even I have to admit Japan can get uncomfortably hot at this time of year. A cold beer or cup of sake are both refreshing ways of beating the heat, but there are times when chilled alcohol isn’t an option, such as when I have non-drinking related work to do and/or am already hung-over.

So in order to stay both sober and cool, I eat as much watermelon as I can every summer. And while I don’t think Japanese chain Bagel & Bagel designed their new watermelon bagel just for me, I figured I’m still in the target demographic, and decided to try it out.

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Pork skewers, spicy fish cakes, and beer backpacks – We look for baseball grub at Nagoya Dome

Pork skewers, spicy fish cakes, and beer backpacks – We look for baseball grub at Nagoya Dome

Even though she grew up in Nagasaki, when it comes to baseball our Japanese-language correspondent Aya cheers for Nagoya’s Chunichi Dragons. Sure, the Softbank Hawks, who play out of Fukuoka, would be closer to her home town, but ever since Aya’s Dragon-loving friend took her to her first baseball game at Nagoya Dome, she’s been pulling for the serpentine team.

The Dragons have given their fans plenty of memories over the years, with the sweetest being the club’s Japan Series championship in 2007. But do they also provide a tasty meal at their home stadium?

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We try an ice cream bar in chili pepper oil, begin to think the internet is just screwing with us

We try an ice cream bar in chili pepper oil, begin to think the internet is just screwing with us

Fresh off Taiwan’s discovery that pudding and ramen are pretty tasty together and despite the widespread disgust and horror it produced, Chinese netizens have now come up with a new unlikely taste sensation: Chili oil & an ice cream bar.

As weird as it initially looked, I could kind of see the pudding ramen working out, but I draw the line at this ungodly combination. I’d have to have accidentally swallowed drain cleaner to want to consume thi…oh, hang on. My phone’s ringing…

Okay! Looks like I get to try out the newest food craze from China’s internet! I can’t…wait.

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Little Texas: The Tokyo country bar for all of Japan’s cowboys【Photos】

Little Texas: The Tokyo country bar for all of Japan’s cowboys【Photos】

You can find just about anything you want in Tokyo. The city is a wonderful melting pot of new and old, domestic and foreign, low and high brow. With everything from a vibrant French quarter to gorgeous temple gardens, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting bored in Japan’s capital. Even so, we have to admit that we were a bit surprised to find a country bar–let alone a country bar with such authentic shows and delicious food! But that’s exactly what Meguro’s oldest country bar, Little Texas, has. With everything from license plates covering the walls to amazing bands on stage, you are guaranteed to have a great time–even if you don’t know the difference between a steer and a bull!

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Japanese snack giant Calbee makes its chips the star ingredient with unusual fast food venture

Japanese snack giant Calbee makes its chips the star ingredient with unusual fast food venture

Here at RocketNews24, we’re no strangers to the culinary charms of extremely meaty hamburgers. Time and again, we’ve seen chefs in Japan push the burger envelope by offering increasingly massive sandwiches.

Today, though, we’re looking at the polar opposite: a bun-based sandwich with no meat at all. While a lack of beef may run counter to our baseline burger beliefs, there’s one important detail that turns this from sacrilegious to scrumptious.

The patty has been replaced by potato chips.

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An afternoon in Kagurazaka, Tokyo’s French Quarter 【Hidden Tokyo】

An afternoon in Kagurazaka, Tokyo’s French Quarter 【Hidden Tokyo】

Kagurazaka is one of the most attractive and interesting enclaves in all of Tokyo. Its name in kanji, 神楽坂, literally translates to “God Music Slope”, referring to kagura, the spiritual music traditionally dedicated to Shinto gods. Located at what used to be the outer edge of Edo Castle, the gentle slope that still runs through Kagurazaka today was once filled with the sounds of music emanating from the Imperial Court.

Today, this is one of the few remaining areas of Tokyo where you’ll find exclusive geisha houses hidden off the main street and kimono-clad women shuffling through narrow cobblestone alleyways. It’s also the best place to experience a taste of France, as it has the largest concentration of French restaurants in Tokyo, and a vibrant French expat community. You’ll even hear the strains of accordions as they pipe Parisian music through speakers on the street!

Join us after the jump as we take a stroll through the area and reveal why a visit to Kagurazaka should be on your list of places to see in Tokyo.

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Here are the limited edition Frozen foods you can buy in Japan

Here are the limited edition Frozen foods you can buy in Japan

Japan has officially caught Frozen fever and you’d be hard pressed to go on any Japanese forum without seeing at least one strange, crazy, or completely cool post about the movie. It seems Japanese manufacturers have caught on and a storm of Frozen foods in limited edition packages have been produced in celebration of the July 16 release of Anna and the Snow Queen, the title given to Disney’s chilly hit animated feature in Japan. Let’s take a look at just a few!

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Kobe’s not just for beef, as this awesome street stall hot dog with ham and bacon taught us

Kobe’s not just for beef, as this awesome street stall hot dog with ham and bacon taught us

Given that Japan has so few cultural stigmas about alcohol, it’s not surprising that once the drinking starts, it can easily go on into the wee hours of the morning. Of course, it’s only natural to start feeling hungry if it’s been several hours since dinner, and even if part of you knows that stuffing your face at 1 in the morning isn’t the healthiest decision, alcohol and willpower seem to occupy the same space in the human bloodstream, and the former usually makes room for itself by pushing the latter out.

Thus Japan the proud culinary tradition of the shime, the post-drinking meal before staggers home and falls asleep. Ramen is by far the most popular shime choice, but on a recent trip to Kobe we found something at least as good: a freshly grilled hot dog with ham and bacon.

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Häagen-Dazs Japan’s newest flavour sounds perfect for when you have the sniffles

Häagen-Dazs Japan’s newest flavour sounds perfect for when you have the sniffles

One of the few fun things about having a sore throat or something nastier like tonsillitis is that you have a legitimate excuse to lie on the couch in front of the TV and eat ice-cream.

And now – although we’re imagining makers Häagen-Dazs is hoping that more than just the sickly few will appreciate it – there’s a brand new flavour that sounds perfect for those feeling a little under the weather: Lemon Ginger Float.

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American rice ball restaurant takes liberties with classic Japanese snack

American rice ball restaurant takes liberties with classic Japanese snack

The humble onigiri rice ball is the traditional Japanese answer to the sub sandwich: it’s a no-frills, on-the-go snack that balances carbs and protein and doesn’t require utensils. And just like subs, onigiri come stuffed with a huge variety of fillings, from salmon flakes to meatballs, seaweed to shrimp tempura.

And, just as “healthy” American sub sandwich chain Subway is making huge headway in Japan recently, onigiri are apparently making the journey the opposite way to American shores… But something has definitely gotten lost in translation.

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Commercial takes on one of the proudest traditions of girls’ anime: the romantic wall pound

Commercial takes on one of the proudest traditions of girls’ anime: the romantic wall pound

We’ve been impressed by Nissin’s clever ads for Cup Noodles more than once. With previous ads featuring breakdancing samurai, battlefield language barriers, and fanatic idol fans, we’ve usually come away with chuckles or goose bumps, and sometimes even both.

Now Nissin is back again with a skewed look at another piece of pop culture: romantic leads in girls’ manga that pound on the walls.

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Tokyo restaurant’s awesome pickled avocados contain 30 years of flavor

Tokyo restaurant’s awesome pickled avocados contain 30 years of flavor

Recently, we dined on a gigantic, gooey, and glorious cheeseburger. We were glad we did, but honestly, in one sitting we consumed enough beef to last us a week.

So for our next meal out we decided to head for the opposite end of the dining spectrum in both ambiance and ingredients, and headed to a different part of Tokyo to try their pickled avocados with a flavor that’s been over 30 years in the making.

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The sake from Evangelion goes great with Japan’s poisonous blowfish…from a can 【Taste test】

The sake from Evangelion goes great with Japan’s poisonous blowfish…from a can 【Taste test】

We’re not shattering any illusions when we point out that the hit anime Evangelion is a work of fiction, right? Japan hasn’t built a new capital in the mountains of Kanagawa Prefecture, aliens aren’t attacking the country, and as far as we know, no one’s turned into a puddle of Tang because they couldn’t find a way to deal with their loneliness.

But there is one thing you’ll see in Evangelion that’s 100 percent true to life. The brand of sake hard-drinking character Misato regularly enjoys, Dassai, actually exists, and we recently tried a bottle. Not only that, since one of the many themes Eva deals with is confronting your fears, we decided to pair it with a snack that just might kill us.

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Feel like being creative with your food? The Direct Food Printer may be the gadget for you!

Feel like being creative with your food? The Direct Food Printer may be the gadget for you!

Okay, so you may have grown up being told not to play with your food. But now, there’s a gadget that takes the concept of being creative with your food to a whole new level, making it in fact quite irresistible even if you’re not as artistically inclined as food artist Tisha Cherry. It’s the TP-101E Direct Food Printer sold by ink and printing material maker Creative Print.com, and … you guessed it, it prints letters and pictures directly onto food! Now who wouldn’t want to play with a machine like that?

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【TBT】Tokyo’s Pico Pico Cafe: Where video games meet coffee

【TBT】Tokyo’s Pico Pico Cafe: Where video games meet coffee

Despite having visited the town of Kichijoji in Tokyo on a near daily basis for over a year, it wasn’t until I sat down with video game developer James Kay and started chatting about our mutual love of pixels and coffee that I learned about Pico Pico Cafe, a cosy corner perched at the top of a eight-storey building just minutes from Kichijoji station.

After dropping the staff a line, RocketNews24 headed over for a coffee and a chat. We hadn’t gone two steps inside, however, before we found ourselves completely enamoured with the unique cafe’s warm, homely interior and – perhaps most of all for this life-long gamer – the subtle dashes of video game culture in every other nook and cranny.

Tons of cool photos after the jump.

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