A diner’s guide to oden: Japan’s weird-looking, super-popular winter dish

When it comes to Japanese food, everyone and their grandmother knows the classics like sushi, noodles and tempura. But one food that always takes visitors to Japan by surprise, and which has just this month started showing up in convenience stores again, is oden. Rarely seen outside of Japan, many of the ingredients in this incredible savoury pick ‘n’ mix look almost alien to non-Japanese eyes, and so visitors are often wary of trying it for themselves.

With this in mind, today we’d like to introduce you to a handful of typicaloden ingredients, teaching you their names and telling you a little bit about each of them, so that the next time you pass a food cart or duck into a conbini and get a waft of that unmistakable aroma, you won’t be afraid to order some for yourself.

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Getting a haircut in Japan: A survival guide

Getting a haircut in another country – in a foreign language – can be a daunting experience. We’ve all heard stories about that one unfortunate soul who, just wanting a trim, indicated a few centimetres between thumb and forefinger, only for the hairdresser to think that was how much they wanted to remain on their head and start lopping off hair left, right and centre.

Japan being Japan, of course there are a few surprising and funny things they do at salons that are different from back home too! But with some simple words and phrases under your belt, you can visit a Japanese hair salon with confidence.  Join us after the jump for a guide to surviving – and hopefully enjoying – a haircut in Japan!

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Gift-giving guide: The double meaning behind everyday items

The act of gift giving is a special sort of science. Between all of the holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and special moments in between, we get a lot of practice with presents, and yet sometimes it’s still so hard to pick out the perfect gift for any certain someone. Still, we’ve all heard horror stories about well-intentioned presents having the complete opposite effect. Now, not to increase your anxiety over gift giving, but did you know that many everyday items carry rude connotations when given as gifts, at least in certain cultures?

You’d like to think that anyone would be happy to receive something useful as a present, but then remember how it feels when your friend offers you a piece of gum. Perhaps it’s their favorite flavor and they just really want to share, but nonetheless you’re left with a nagging worry about how badly your breath must stink. These misunderstandings can happen on a much larger scale when cultural differences come into play. So, to help you all out, here’s a little guide to gift-giving manners.

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“Hyper Penis Ranking” Website Asks Japan’s Men to Measure Up and Rank In

We promised you more “WTF?” in 2013 and we’re delivering it. Get the kids out of the room and be sure that your mother is busy dusting the cat; the men of the world are about to remove their pants and measure their manhood in the name of science.

Regular readers will know that we’ve given breasts more than their fair share of column inches here on RocketNews24, so it’s only fair that penises – ever the source of locker-room anxiety, bravado and ridicule – come under the spotlight for a while.

When it comes to size, the only thing that concerns men anywhere near as much as women’s breasts is their own manhood and how they compare against the competition. But short of spending too much time in public restrooms and sneaking sly glances at those either side of him (n.b. not advised), how is a man to know where he stands in the world? When he takes a lover to bed for the first time, how is he to know whether to expect gasps of awe or spirit-crushing chuckles?

Well, thanks to this website that contains literally millions of measurement entries, there’s a safer way for both curious and cocksure (sorry) men alike to know just where they rank in the trouser department.

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Robot Guide Scheduled To Work Atop Tokyo Tower Needs a Name

With the recent opening of the Tokyo Sky Tree, it’s older little brother, Tokyo Tower has its work cut out for it to gather tourists.  In an effort to break out of the shadow of the tallest tower in the world, Tokyo Tower plans to add “Japan’s first autonomously moving robot with a signboard.”

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An Illustrated Guide to the Implications of not Washing Your Hands After Using the Restroom

Earlier this month, we shared the following graphic illustration on our Japanese site depicting the shocking truth about what happens when you don’t wash your hands after using the restroom:

The picture had quite an impact on our cleanliness-obsessed Japanese audience, who began to wonder: if, shaking hands with someone who didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom is virtually the same as shaking their junk, what are the implications for other things we touch with out hands on a day-to-day basis?

We here at RocketNews24 also value good hygiene and think the image above does a great job at visualizing why you should too. However, we realize that not all people are as passionate about hygiene as the Japanese, which is why we gathered our most artistically inclined staff members (so, the one guy who doesn’t draw stick figures) to compose this illustrated guide to the implications of not washing your hands after using the restroom.

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An Illustrated Guide to the 12 Creatures That Haunt the Crowded Trains of Tokyo

Tokyo. Japan’s capital and home to roughly 12,790,000 people, making it the world’s most populous metropolis.

Running through this great city is one of the world’s most extensive urban rail networks, composed of surface trains and subways that carry some 40 million passengers daily. Cheap, safe and efficient, trains are undoubtedly the most convenient form of transportation in this concrete labyrinth—if you know how and when to use them. 

Depending on what lines you take and when you take them, boarding a train in Tokyo can easily feel like voluntarily walking through the gates of hell.

This is especially true of the crowded cars of the morning and evening commuter rush and many people therefore try to avoid these trains when possible. This is not only because they are packed shoulder-to-shoulder with passengers, oh no. Even more unpleasant are the bizarre and unnatural creatures that lurk exclusively on these trains.

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