Hokkaido

So that’s what they mean! SWAT hand signals as explained by a working Japanese mother

So that’s what they mean! SWAT hand signals as explained by a working Japanese mother

If we had a 100 yen for every action movie that showed scenes of SWAT teams sneaking around waving hand signals at each other, we’d probably have, um, a lot of yen. At least enough to buy a Happy Meal or something. But have you ever looked closely at those hand signals? For most of us, they could be making it up on the spot and we’d probably never know! Fortunately, this is the Internet and everything you could ever want to learn about anything is probably available online.

And that includes hand signals! For a few years now, charts explaining the hand signals that sneaky tactical groups use to communicate silently have floated around on the web, though their explanations have always been a bit…straightforward. “Stop.” “Look over there.” “Holy crap, they’re shooting at us!” All pretty standard fare, we suppose. But standard fare is never good enough for the Internet, and thus “Hand signals commonly used by mothers with babies” was born!

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Hokkaido police on look out for creepy one-man game show

Hokkaido police on look out for creepy one-man game show

Who wouldn’t want to be a game show host? It’s a relatively easy gig, making money while making other people happy with fabulous cash and prizes. But with only a few shows to go around it can be a highly coveted job.

Perhaps that’s why some people decide to start their own game on the streets. However, without all the slick production value of a major studio backer you’re bound to look like some kind of wack-job. Sure enough, that’s what happened to one young man who’s now gotten the attention of Hokkaido law enforcement.

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Girl who lost father in last year’s deadly Hokkaido blizzard pens heart-wrenching thank-you letter

Girl who lost father in last year’s deadly Hokkaido blizzard pens heart-wrenching thank-you letter

While Tokyo’s recent blizzard showed us the lighter side of natural disasters with amusing snow sculptures and insane images of overly panicked urbanites, these kind of storms have the potential to be very deadly and serious if you are caught outside. Last March, a violent storm hit the northeast part of Hokkaido and took the lives of nine people.

One of the most tragic stories to come out of this storm was a young girl who lost her father after he used his own body to protect her from the freezing temperatures and strong winds. On the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, the girl asked one of Japan’s biggest newspapers, the Yomiuri Shimbun, to publish a heart-breaking letter thanking the country for the huge outpouring of support over the past year.

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Meanwhile, in Hokkaido…

Meanwhile, in Hokkaido…

There has been a lot of news over the record snowfalls in many parts of Japan. However, from people all along the Northwestern coast and in Hokkaido a collective “What about us?” could be heard.

As a reminder, one Hokkaido resident tweeted out this photo of their local Lawson. We’re sure of that because the sign is the only visible part on the store. It looks as if it worked too as the photo is currently doing the rounds on the internet and getting retweeted over 16,000 times.

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Seamen in Hokkaido shocked to discover bright lavender crab

Seamen in Hokkaido shocked to discover bright lavender crab

On 18 January, a shipment of crabs from Russia arrived at a port in Japan, some of which were bought up by wholesaler Marusan Mikami Shoten. After opening up their haul of red king crabs (an expensive favorite of Japanese seafood lovers) workers were surprised to see one of the large arthropods was shaded a rich lavender color all over.

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Mysterious Santa puts smiles on childrens’ faces with a generous gift of 3,000 books!

Mysterious Santa puts smiles on childrens’ faces with a generous gift of 3,000 books!

Christmas is just around the corner, and ’tis the season to be giving! While some of us have yet to even start on our Christmas shopping, an anonymous Santa has already presented three schools in Hokkaido, Japan, with a whopping gift of over 3,000 books in total!

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Virtual date DVD features real crab and tons of creepiness

Virtual date DVD features real crab and tons of creepiness

At least once a week, it seems as if a story breaks and sets off every Japanese commenter with a keyboard, leading them to bemoan the fall of their once proud nation. It could be anything from freezer divers to Pokémon cheaters that gets people going, but most of us usually just shake our heads and move along.

This time, though, they might be on to something. The release of a new choose-your-own-adventure-style “dating sim” DVD has left us utterly bewildered.

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Hunting: The newest growing hobby of Japanese women

Hunting: The newest growing hobby of Japanese women

As you probably know gun ownership in Japan is quite rare, but it certainly does exist. The main reason for people to own firearms (almost always rifles or shotguns) is hunting–which is still mostly dominated by old men. However, one demographic is growing even as the overall number of hunters is shrinking: Young women!

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We try a rice bowl served with a still-moving squid

We try a rice bowl served with a still-moving squid

Up north in Hakodate, Hokkaido, there is a restaurant chain called Lucky Pierrot, known around the country for their uniquely large hamburger and fried squid dishes. It’s absolutely delicious and a popular draw for tourists. However, this was not why our man Kuzo was sent to the town.

His mission was to track down a restaurant serving “Active Dancing Squid Rice Bowl” (Katsu Ika Odori-don). Videos of this dish have stirred up controversy around the world by using what appears to be a living squid atop a bowl of rice and other ingredients.

Apparently, when soy sauce is poured over the squid it begins to move and “dance,” much to the delight or horror of those watching.

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The airport that’s practically a theme park — Shop, eat, play at the New Chitose Airport!

The airport that’s practically a theme park — Shop, eat, play at the New Chitose Airport!

If you’ve ever visited the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, there’s a good chance that you went through New Chitose Airport. Being the largest airport on the island, it serves as the gateway to Hokkaido for the numerous tourists that visit both from within and outside of Japan. Yes, when it comes to Hokkaido, we Japanese are just as enthusiastic about the beautiful snow, fresh seafood, tasty ramen, delectable sweets, relaxing hot springs and scenes of vast natural beauty as visitors from abroad.

But did you know that New Chitose Airport, which you may only briefly pass through as a traveler on a tour, could be a destination all on its own? After undergoing some expansion work in recent years between 2010 to 2012, the airport is now a seriously impressive shopping, dining and entertainment complex. Here’s a look at just some of the things you can enjoy at this airport that looks and feels like a theme park. If you thought that airports were nightmarish places where you want to spend as little time as possible, this may change your mind!

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Obachan power strikes again as middle-aged women buy giraffe for local zoo

Obachan power strikes again as middle-aged women buy giraffe for local zoo

Obachan are a powerful force in Japan. While the term literally means aunt, it commonly refers to middle-aged women who have done their time in the lower ranks of the female order and are finally at an age where they can do and say as they please. Stories of strong-willed obachan are not uncommon in the news, with some forming their own political party and others even starting their own rock groups. Proving that nothing is out of their reach, one group of obachan in Hokkaido have now done something that no one ever imagined they would: They raised over 54 million yen (US$548, 000) and bought a giraffe for their local zoo.

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These doughnuts from Hokkaido are unbear-ably cute!

These doughnuts from Hokkaido are unbear-ably cute!

A long time ago, in a place quite far, far away, there was an area of Japan so remote that the indigenous people called it sir etok; literally the end of the earth. Known today as Shiretoko, the peninsula at the northeastern tip of Hokkaido remains a place of untouched beauty, traversed by a unique population of brown bears.

So what does a visitor to the end of the earth bring back to the rest of civilisation as a reminder of the beauty and the bear? Given that live bears don’t act kindly to being captured, a cute alternative has popped up in miniature, edible form. Wrapped in a cosy doughnut ball, these little cubs are flying off the shelves like hotcakes. We bought a variety pack to take a closer look at what makes these adorable souvenirs so popular.

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Ever wondered what Japanese prison food tastes like? Try it firsthand at the “Prison Cafeteria”

Ever wondered what Japanese prison food tastes like? Try it firsthand at the “Prison Cafeteria”

Without actually getting arrested and being thrust into the confines of a prison cell, there is little if any chance of us being able to taste real prison food. However, this doesn’t stop many of us wondering on the odd occasion what all those guys doing hard labor actually eat day after day. It could possibly be the most revolting thing known to man but if only there were a way to at least try it…. In this vain, our RocketNews24 reporter Kuzo searched high and low for a place where all of us upstanding citizens can try the stuff without resorting to breaking the law. Thankfully, this is Japan, so it didn’t take long for him to track down a cafeteria in northern part of Japan that specializes solely in Japanese prison food.

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Need a ride? Take a trip to Awesome Town with Japan’s new fleet of anime taxis!

Need a ride? Take a trip to Awesome Town with Japan’s new fleet of anime taxis!

Hokkaido and its capital, Sapporo, are known for many great things: beer, chocolate, butter ramen, and a giant snow festival to name a few. Now the city is adding a fleet of extraordinary cabs to their long list of must-try experiences. The taxis, decked out in all sorts of wild, anime-inspired designs, are proving to be a hit with locals and tourists alike. But with nothing to gain from advertising, why are the cab drivers doing it?

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Japanese woman found guilty of murder after refusing to accept welfare

Japanese woman found guilty of murder after refusing to accept welfare

On 16 May Kumiko Osawa was found guilty by Sapporo District Court after pleading guilty to the assisted suicide of her 70-year-old mother. According to the prosecution, Osawa had agreed to kill her mother after the two nearly ran out of money. In addition, about one year prior to this they had refused to accept government assistance as a matter of pride.

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Satisfy a Royal Craving – We Try Ice Cream Fit for an Emperor

Satisfy a Royal Craving – We Try Ice Cream Fit for an Emperor

Even royalty can get a sweet tooth from time to time, and in the blistering heat of a Japanese summer, what could be a better way to satisfy the urge for sweets than a big bowl of ice cream? Of course, when dealing with the imperial family, not just any old brand of ice cream will suffice. That’s why in 1968 a special recipe for handmade ice cream was developed for their royal highnesses, the Emperor and Empress of Japan. It’s called Snow Royal and can still be purchased from Snowbrand-Parlor (雪印パーラー) in Hokkaido..

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【Erection 2012】 Japanese PC Shop Offers Savings on Erotic Games to Customers who Vote

Japan’s 46th general election is a little over a week away, and if there’s one demographic that could care less, it’s the otaku. For the obsessive Japanese nerd, it doesn’t matter what political party wins the election, so long as they can buy the latest shiny toys and spend quality time with their 2-D lovers.

Still, while otaku may feel like the major political issues of this election, like energy policy and social security, are of no concern to them, their lifestyle isn’t completely unaffected by the decisions of the higher ups. For example, some worry that joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) would bring changes to copyright laws that could threaten the thriving doujin, or fan-made works featuring licensed characters, market. You hear that, otaku!? No more Final Fantasy porn!

That’s right; you can always count on porn to get otaku moving. That’s why PC Shop MK, a software shop in Sapporo, Hokkaido that specializes in new and used erotic games, is offering huge discounts for customers who vote in the December 16 election.

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Nocturnal Ramen Shop in Sapporo, So Yummy That People Line Up For it in the Middle of the Night!

Nocturnal Ramen Shop in Sapporo, So Yummy That People Line Up For it in the Middle of the Night!

Isonokatsuo is a ramen shop in Suskino, the drinking district of Sapporo, Hokkaido, that opens its shutters around the time the city night life starts revving up into full swing and continues to serve up hot bowls of noodles until 7  o’clock the next morning.

All-night ramen shops are not unheard of in Japan, but Isonokatsuo is known for making ramen so delicious that people line up for it in the middle of the cold Sapporo night. On a recent trip to Hokkaido, one of our reporters decided to burn the midnight chili oil and try out Isonokatsuo for himself.

Check his report below!

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Here, Have Some Chocolate Cow Poop Mochi From Hokkaido

Here, Have Some Chocolate Cow Poop Mochi From Hokkaido

About half of the milk in Japan is produced in the beautiful and vast countryside of Hokkaido, the largest of Japan’s 47 prefectures and northernmost of Japan’s four main islands. As such, cows have become a symbol of the prefecture. Walk into any souvenir shop in the prefecture and you’re bound to find a few locally-produced snacks with bovine-inspired packaging.

On a recent trip to Hokkaido, one of our reporters came across one such snack that was a little less run-of-the-mill than your usual butter cookies: “Cow Poop?” chocolate mochi.

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Land-Grab!!! Plots of Land in the Hokkaidō Countryside from Just One Yen per Square Metre

Land-Grab!!! Plots of Land in the Hokkaidō Countryside from Just One Yen per Square Metre

It may not be the most bustling of towns, but for those of you in the market for real-estate, have we got a good deal for you!

Your own plot of land from just one yen per square-metre!

Yup, one yen! That’s 0.01 US dollars!!! 0.009 Euros!!! 0.01 Panamanian balboa!!! Holy bargains, Batman!

Bizarrely, there’s no catch. No “but it’s infested with rabid ferrets!” or “but you must spend the night in a haunted house with Rosie O’Donnell!” punchline. The town of Chippubetsu in Hokkaidō is genuinely offering habitable land for the incredible price of one, single yen. And, as a result, is receiving an unprecedented amount of attention from both the media and Japanese internet users. Someone in Chippubetsu is getting a lot of pats on the back for coming up with this initiative, we’re sure… Read More

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