history

Classic Japanese painting “Picture Scroll of a Fart Battle” is exactly what it sounds like

Classic Japanese painting “Picture Scroll of a Fart Battle” is exactly what it sounds like

The earliest weapon associated with the samurai was the longbow, and many were also proficient with polearms. Neither is what first springs to mind for most people when they think of Japan’s warrior class, though. To many, the image of two opposing samurai grasping their swords, ready to duel, is by far the more iconic image.

But while the bow is technically the most traditional, the polearm arguably the most practical, and the katana certainly the most dramatic, none of these are anywhere near as funny as the depiction in this centuries-old scroll of samurai battling each other with their farts.

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That scene from “Frozen” and 10 other fascinating jobs that have gone extinct

That scene from “Frozen” and 10 other fascinating jobs that have gone extinct

Long before we had color television, microwave ovens, mobile phones and the all-mighty Internet, many things had to be done manually and took more time and effort to accomplish. While you may be reading RocketNews24 on your computer or mobile gadget now, the latest news and information used to be only available on handwritten sheets many moons ago.

In many cases, improvement and changes to traditional methods bring greater convenience to the masses, but gone with the olden ways of things are fascinating jobs that once existed to make life easier for the people of their era. How do you think people woke up on time for work before alarm clocks were invented?

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Step aside, Hachiko! Yamaguchi’s Cat Temple offers a samurai tale of feline fealty

Step aside, Hachiko! Yamaguchi’s Cat Temple offers a samurai tale of feline fealty

Nearly every guide book for Japan mentions Hachiko, the dog who patiently waited every day for nine years in the 1920s and ‘30s in front of Shibuya Station for his master to come home, never knowing that the man had passed away at the office. It’s a touching story of devotion, and one so well-known Hachiko now has his own statue near his waiting spot.

However, some argue that Hachiko didn’t come to the station every day because he was hoping for his master to return, but because of the free handouts of food he got once he became a local celebrity. Could it be that the friendly pooch actually isn’t the epitome of animal-human loyalty?

Maybe that title would be a better fit for a cat that lived hundreds of years before Hachiko was even born, and displayed such fealty to its samurai master that its entire species is honored at their own Cat Temple.

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Samurai grooming tips that kept Japan’s warriors looking their bushido best

Samurai grooming tips that kept Japan’s warriors looking their bushido best

A couple of weeks ago, we shared some historical photos of Japan’s most attractive samurai. Sure, with the arsenal of specialized soaps, lotions, and multi-bladed, razors available these days, it’s not unusual to find handsome models, movies stars, and Internet writers. But how did these guys manage to look so good without all these modern luxuries?

It turns out that along with sword fighting and horseback archery, a strict grooming routine has long been part of the samurai tradition.

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Why doesn’t Japan like first-person shooters? Old characters and World War II, says Sega exec

Why doesn’t Japan like first-person shooters? Old characters and World War II, says Sega exec

Not so long ago, Japanese developers absolutely dominated the console video game market. As time went on, though, developers from other nations started chipping away at that massive market share, particularly as consoles and PCs become more similar to each other in performance profiles.

In particular, Japanese studios haven’t responded to consumer demand for first-person shooters. Franchises such as Electronic Arts’ Battlefield and Activion’s Call of Duty are practically a license to print money, with incremental, near-annual updates that open the floodgates on huge revenue streams for their publishers.

But could the reason Japanese video game makers haven’t embraced the first-person shooter have something to do with Japan’s history?

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New Japanese energy drink designed to help samurai, salarymen accomplish mighty deeds

New Japanese energy drink designed to help samurai, salarymen accomplish mighty deeds

As part of a society where industriousness is prized above just about anything else, many people in Japan feel like they could use a boost in the middle of the day. Austrian Red Bull and American Monster have booth made headways into the Japanese market, but this month sees a new entry to the energy drink battleground with the indigenous Samuride, which promises to invigorate you with ingredients used by Japan’s famed warriors.

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Step into a Ghibli fairytale at this castle in the sky in Hyogo Prefecture

Step into a Ghibli fairytale at this castle in the sky in Hyogo Prefecture

Japan is home to an enormous number of famous ruins and castles, with fascinating histories that transport us back to an era of clan warfare and old allegiances which remain at the heart of local tales today. As strongholds for the Lords and clans of old Japan, many castles have a commanding view of surrounding lands but none more so than this spectacular castle in Hyogo Prefecture. Often referred to as the Machu Picchu of Japan, and looking every bit like Ghibli’s famous floating castle from the animated movie Castle in the Sky, these ruins are expecting an unprecedented number of visitors this year. And with photos as stunning as these, it’s easy to see why.

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Centuries-old Japanese cookbooks give a peek at the dinner tables of the samurai

Centuries-old Japanese cookbooks give a peek at the dinner tables of the samurai

One thing that surprises many recent arrivals to Japan is that chefs put as much effort into the presentation of their food as they do the flavor. This has got to be a recent development though, right? Being able to take the time to delicately craft your meal into a feast for the eyes is a luxury that must be born out of the ease and convenience of a stable, technologically advanced, modern society.

It turns out, though, that Japan’s appreciation for the aesthetic qualities of cooking stretch back hundreds of years, as proven by these dishes made from centuries-old cookbooks.

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Happy 2,674 birthday, Japan! Now blow out all those candles!

Happy 2,674 birthday, Japan! Now blow out all those candles!

“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear Jaaapaaaan! Happy birthday to you!!! Yah! Now, blow out your candles! All 2,674 of them!”

Today is a national holiday here in Japan: It’s Kenkoku Kinenbi, or National Foundation Day in English. The day is a celebration of the foundation of Japan, which occurred on February 11 in 660 BCE.

Or was it?!

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The best place to live in the Japanese countryside? Kyushu, poll respondents say

The best place to live in the Japanese countryside? Kyushu, poll respondents say

Sometimes, it seems like all of Japan is slowly being drawn into Tokyo. As the county’s economic, educational, political, and even entertainment capital, for many people born elsewhere in Japan, it’s not so much a matter of if they’ll move to the country’s biggest city, but when.

But as in any society, not everyone in Japan is enthralled with urban living. After enough time in the concrete jungles of Japan’s major metropolises, anyone can find themselves thinking about packing up and moving someplace where the horizon is dotted with forests instead of skyscrapers.

Here are three places to consider if you’re ready to make the dream of living in the Japanese countryside into a reality.

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Suicide cakes – Sweets to die for

Suicide cakes – Sweets to die for

Among the many kinds of tasty sweets indigenous to Japan, you’ll find the monaka. Monaka consist of two wafers, traditionally sandwiched around a dollop of the sweet red bean paste called anko.

Different confectioners put their own unique spin on monaka, such as infusing it with citrus or mixing ice cream in the filling. But while we’ve eaten plenty of variations on the tasty treat, our intrepid reporter Mr. Sato recently brought back one we’d never heard of before: suicide monaka.

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Awesome Japanese expressway rest stop lets you travel back in time, dine like a samurai

Awesome Japanese expressway rest stop lets you travel back in time, dine like a samurai

Growing up in Southern California, I was no stranger to long road trips, whether up the coast to visit relatives, or out to Las Vegas to visit the craps tables. Along the way I’d pass many freeway rest areas, with amenities whose quality ranged from “a good place to use the bathroom as long as you cover your nose” to “a good place to use the bathroom, as long as you have a friend with you to make sure you don’t get shanked by a hobo.”

So imagine my surprise when I moved to Japan to find that its highway rest stops (called “parking areas” by Japanese motorists) are spotless. Plus, they’re often great spots to munch on regional specialties or pick up local souvenirs. And if you happen to visit one particular parking area, you can even go back in time.

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3 larger-than-life ninja tales

3 larger-than-life ninja tales

More than likely, you’ve heard of the legend of the ninja, the stealthy hired hands and spies for regional warlords in feudal Japan. But considering how popular ninjas are in the modern world, from video games to ninja-themed American bars, it can be pretty hard to separate historical fact from fiction. And today we have three stories for you about this secretive bunch that may help to give a little more light to the mythos surrounding ninja and the truth behind some of these larger-than-life tales. Click below to read three anecdotes (of varying veracity) about what made ninjas into the legend they are today!

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Five fun facts about the flag of Japan

Five fun facts about the flag of Japan

You’ve seen it flying high above government buildings and waved wildly during the Olympics, but how well do you actually know the Japanese flag? Let’s take a look at five facts about that familiar dotted flag.

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Learn about Japanese history with cute smartphone samurai warrior cats!

Learn about Japanese history with cute smartphone samurai warrior cats!

Earlier this year, we brought you news of cute earphone jack puppies, perched atop owners’ smartphones in a number of irresistibly cute poses. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any cuter, the company behind the adorable animals announced an update to the series with an extraordinary litter of samurai warrior kittens.

If you like your cats with a side of history, this could be the most perfect gift you could ever wish for.

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Wreckage of World War II-era Japanese submersible aircraft carrier found off Hawaii

Wreckage of World War II-era Japanese submersible aircraft carrier found off Hawaii

Japan and the nations the English-speaking RocketNews24 team hail from are on good terms these days, but just a few generations ago things weren’t so friendly. While the greatest scientific minds of Japan today focus on putting solar panels on the moon or turning algae into fuel, during the 1930s and 40s weapons development was a much bigger growth area than green energy.

Recently, the wreckage of one of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s most advanced pieces of equipment from World War II was discovered off the coast of Hawaii. What exactly was it? A submarine, or maybe an aircraft carrier?

It was both.

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101 scenes of old Japan: A collection of photos taken over a century ago

101 scenes of old Japan: A collection of photos taken over a century ago

We previously presented photos once used to promote tourism to Japan over 100 years ago. Now we’d like to show even more glimpses of life in Japan during that time. These photos show people at work, rest, play, and war. Some are black and white, others are meticulously handpainted in full color. There’s a lot of variety in these images but they all construct a bigger picture of what it was like to be here back in the 19th century.

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“Good luck with the exam!” US comic depicting Japanese WWII pilot met with chuckles in Japan

“Good luck with the exam!” US comic depicting Japanese WWII pilot met with chuckles in Japan

Although they are sometimes considered to be the pastime of kids and teenagers, modern comics and graphic novels often deal with some incredibly heavy and moving content. Craig Thompson’s Blankets, for example, is a spellbinding journey that will melt any adult’s heart, and despite using mice as protagonists, Art Spiegelman’s retelling of his Holocaust survivor father’s experiences in Maus was so moving that it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

The following American comic deals with equally heavy content: the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. The comic lost a little credibility amongst Japanese readers earlier today, however, when one netizen noticed that it shows one of the pilots preparing for the attack by donning what appears to be a headband much more likely to be worn by school kids studying for a big exam than someone going on a mission from which they may not return.

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Evangelion? Cool. Katana? Cool. Evangelion and katana? Very cool!

Evangelion? Cool. Katana? Cool. Evangelion and katana? Very cool!

Evangelion, known to its fans simply as Eva, has already earned itself a spot in history as one of Japan’s most popular anime ever. The franchise has such wide appeal that its characters have been used to promote everything from lingerie to cheeseburgers.

Now, Eva’s cast of teenage protagonists is helping to drum up interest in something a little more traditional than the high-tech robots they usually pilot with their newest promotional crossover, the Evangelion and Japanese Sword Exhibition.

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Why old Japanese women have names in katakana

Why old Japanese women have names in katakana

Amidst all of the controversy flaring up in Japan over “kirakira names,” the question was raised concerning a rather peculiar name trait shared by many old Japanese women. A large number of aging grandmothers have names written in katakana, the phonetic alphabet that modern Japan usually reserves for foreign words. It’s a trend attributed to the Meiji and Taisho eras (roughly spanning the years 1868 to 1926), and sure enough, it’s no coincidence. Read More

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