Fukuoka

Unsettling softball-playing scarecrows keep Japanese town entertained, creeped out

Living in the Japanese countryside has many advantages, from access to the freshest produce to breathing clean air, but for many who love the big city, the slow-paced lifestyle and lack of attractions can make rural life quite boring.

But one Japanese man living in a town outside of Fukuoka in southern Japan is showing us life doesn’t have to be boring when you have access to several dozen scarecrows, old softball uniforms and an open rice field. Every November after the rice is harvested, he dresses scarecrows up as softball players and has them “play” a month-long game, keeping score the entire time.

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Which foods define Fukuoka’s amazing culinary scene? The Internet votes 【Poll】

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka, you probably know about its amazing food that has people from all over the country booking trips there just to stuff themselves silly. Between the rich, pork broth and firm noodles of the famous Hakata Ramen and the spicy delight that is mentaiko (marinated cod and pollack roe), Fukuoka is a place visitors leave having to loosen their belt a few notches.

With so many delicious things to come out of the city, an online poll set out to see which dishes people think are the epitome of the Fukuoka food scene. Click below to see the results and vote on what you think is the best food to come out of Fukuoka!

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When a goddess speaks, you listen…unless she’s telling you to kill someone

Criminals have to come up with some pretty extravagant excuses for why they commit crimes. Sometimes, their reasons are really out there. Take the Oscar Pistorius case, for example. He acknowledges that he fired the shots that killed his girlfriend, but claims that he thought he was protecting her from a possible intruder. It’s then up to the courts to determine whether or not the defense’s theory holds any water. But what do you do when the working theory is, “Amaterasu, the sun goddess, told me to kill my mother.”

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Fukuoka’s “Wisteria Tunnel” delights visitors with pretty pastel petals

Anyone who has visited Japan during hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season will definitely agree –  they’ve got some really gorgeous flowers over there. But Japan’s not all sakura, you know! In fact, there’s a veritable cornucopia of beautiful blooms to appreciate at different times of the year. If you’re too impatient for the springtime sakura, you can get a head start by checking out the plum blossoms that start to peek out during the tail-end of winter. And if you’re still not satisfied after feasting your eyes on the sakura itself (or feasting on snacks during hanami, as the case may be), why not plan a summer visit to the “Wisteria Tunnel” located in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture?

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Japanese high schooler fails driver’s license test 20 times, tries to hire someone else to take it for him

How far would you go to pass a test? At all points in our life, tests determine whether we succeed or fail with little remorse for how much grueling effort actually went into studying for it. One test in Japan is extremely taxing and foreigners and Japanese alike shudder at even the thought of taking it. We are talking about the Japanese driver’s license test and one first year high school student from Fukuoka who had failed the written portion 20 times, finally resorted to cheating in order to try and pass it.

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Smash & Eat: We try a playful Korean sweet you have to hit with a hammer to enjoy

They say girls love sweets because the endorphins released when eating them help to get rid of bad moods and make everything better. But if we’re being honest, most people of any gender want their foul moods to be whisked away by the delightful taste of sugary sweets! However, sometimes your problems can’t be solved with just cakes and ice cream and you still have so much pent-up frustration that can only be released by DESTROYING something. If you run into this kind of situation, we have the perfect solution for you: a popular sweet from Korea that must first be smashed with a hammer before you can enjoy it.

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Digital-age robber epically owned by analog granny at convenience store in Fukuoka

What started off as a basic robbery attempt turned into a mortifying experience for one wannabe robber in Fukuoka Prefecture. Seriously, either the konbini gods were conspiring against him or he met his ultimate match in an old woman, but either way, his attempt at crime was completely foiled thanks to an unusual series of events.

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Aliens scheduled to land in Fukuoka at the end of July!

Aliens. We’ve always speculated on their existence. Do they already live among us or are they waiting in space to make their appearance suddenly and violently known to us? We recently believed that they might be real with their sudden attendance at a baseball game earlier this year, but those aliens were ejected from the stadium and locked away before we could get their story.

Perhaps, we will now ascertain the truth! Five cousins of the aliens from Independence Day have crashed their brown, corrugated spaceship in Japan and finally we have the proof we’ve always longed for. More about why they’re here, how long they’ll be staying, and how we can learn more about them after the jump.

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Need a change of scenery? 3 Japanese cities now rank in list of world’s most livable cities

Everything has been coming up Tokyo lately. Recently ranked no. 1 on a Trip Advisor survey, Japan’s capital city has now come in at No. 2 on Monocle’s list of most livable cities for 2014. That’s two positions up from their ranking last year!

Cities across the world were ranked based on criteria such as economics, society, functionality, as well as ease of everyday living and happiness of people. But it’s not just Tokyo that’s feeling the love recently – two more Japanese cities made it onto the list of great places to live!

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“Daaangerrrr!” Fukuoka town experiments with new road markings

Road signs are a dime a dozen out there. The typical driver usually only focuses on what is directly in front of their car, oblivious to almost everything else. Advertisers know though, that it is possible to catch the eye of the driver. They choose strange images or bold words to catch their attention. It really works! How many times can you remember looking at a sign because it was abnormal?

A small town in Fukuoka Prefecture has been taking notes and have come up with their own unusual traffic signs to help slow down cars on some of their dangerous roads.

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Ten-year-old illustrator getting national attention for his unique style of portraits

Up-and-coming artist Mondo draws with a somewhat skewed sense of proportion very much like any other 10-year-old boy. However, from beneath the superficiality of his sometimes jarring contours, the unmistakable sense of his subject can be felt.

The impact his images create has been earning him a lot of respect around his hometown of Fukuoka and recently a growing fan-base around Japan. In addition to his public appearances where he draws visitors’ portraits, he has a blog on which he posts a daily illustration displaying his ever-growing talents. Check out his work after the jump.

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We try Akane Farm’s Pinching Eggs with yolks so thick you can pick them up

Tamago kake gohan is fairly simple Japanese dish. Simply take a raw egg and put it on some rice. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you could always mix some soy sauce in with the egg for an added zing.

Being so simple you’d think it doesn’t really matter how you get it. However, our ever-plumping reporter Kuzo recently found a place that serves up a tamago kake gohan like no other. For starters, the eggs have yolks so strong that you can pick them up with your fingers.

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Local Fukuoka idol already breaking big across Japanese internet

This morning Japanese websites all over lit up with pictures of Fukuoka-based idol Kanna Hashimoto. After images including the one above broke on message boards, idol fans across the nation tipped Hashimoto as their choice for the next superstar calling her “seriously, an angel” and admitting “I hate idols, but she’s cute…”

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Canadian Micaela Braithwaite sworn in as new Kawaii Ward Mayor

Fukuoka City’s virtual administrative district Kawaii Ward welcomed its newest mayor yesterday, Canadian Fukuoka resident Micaela Braithwaite. Braithwaite will be the second mayor of the “cute district” following former AKB48 member Mariko Shinoda who left the post earlier this year.

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Clever naming has New York diners raving about Japanese-style cod roe and pigs’ feet

Among the many colorful expressions in Japanese you’ll find kuwazu girai, which is used to describe a knee-jerk dislike to something unfamiliar before you’ve given it a fair shot. Kuwazu girai literally translates to “hating it without having eaten it,” and it was exactly the problem restaurateur Himi Okajima was having at his eatery, called Hakata Tonton, in New York’s Manhattan.

Okajima is a native of Fukuoka in southern Japan, and orders weren’t exactly pouring in from American customers for two of his hometown’s favorite dishes that were on the menu: pigs’ feet and cod roe.

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Japan Sets Guinness Record for Longest “Human Chair”

On October 28, more than 1,300 people gathered at a park in Onojo City, Fukuoka Prefecture, for one noble purpose: to sit on each other’s lap.

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Our Reporter Accepted as Special Resident to “Cute Ward,” Welcomed by Mayor Mariko Shinoda of AKB48

Our correspondent Kuzo has been extra busy recently eating single noodle udon, disgusting ramen, and encountering thousands eerie of dolls. However, when he returned home, he was welcomed by a large envelope with the return address: Kawaii (Cute) Ward, Fukuoka.

Could it be? Earlier he had applied for special resident status of the Japanese administrative district of all that is cute.  Now it looks like he has his answer.

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Help the Police Find Grenades and Land Yourself  $1250 – Per Grenade!

In these hard economic times there aren’t many ways to make a buck.  The Fukuoka Prefectural Police are pitching in during these cash strapped times.  All you have to do is help them locate some deadly unexploded ordnance.

Yes, on 30 March, Fukuoka Prefectural Police announced that they will be giving cash rewards to anyone who can provide tips leading to an arrest of anyone in possession of grenades.  And I’m announcing that I’m cancelling my trip to Fukuoka.

In what’s called the Grenade 110 Incentive Program (110 is the emergency number for police in Japan) you can receive a whopping $1250 (100,000 yen) per grenade that they find on a suspect. It starts on 2 April and is open to anyone in the country.

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Everyone knows JAL and ANA, but have you heard the name “StarFlyer” while strolling through Haneda Airport? StarFlyer boasts a fleet of fashionable aircraft featuring all-black exteriors and cabin interiors. The first sight of a bitchin’ all-black airplane zooming down the runway will take anyone’s breath away.

StarFlyer planes travel most between Tokyo and Kita-Kyushu, but the airline added flights between Tokyo and Fukuoka on July 1. I flew to Fukuoka on business last month, so I figured I’d give StarFlyer a try. Other than the stunning black of the body and interior, I took note of six features of StarFlyer planes:

 

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Daifuku are a Japanese confection where small, soft mochi rice cake is stuffed with a sweet filling, usually a sweetened red bean paste called anko. While there are many well-known variations of daifuku, such as the strawberry-filled ichigo daifuku, I recently came across an unfamiliar variation during a business trip to Fukuoka: small tomato daifuku. Read More

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