Japan

Digital artist brings traditional Japanese ukiyo-e to life as animated GIFs, adds lasers and UFOs

When someone mentions GIFs, it usually calls to mind one of two things; funny TV show clips posted as responses on forum threads, or a burning desire to assert to anyone and everyone that it’s definitely g-if and not j-if, no matter what the creator says.

However, despite their usual inanity, these sputtering animations can actually be mini works of art in their own right. One Japanese ‘gif artist’ has used modern-day computer wizardry to bring to life traditional ukiyo-e scenes in humorous and entrancing ways.

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World War II ended 70 years ago — here’s the planned US invasion of Japan that never happened

On August 14, 1945, US President Harry Truman announced the unconditional surrender of Japanese Emperor Hirohito, thereby ending World War II.

The surrender came after months of bombing raids across the Japanese countryside, two atomic bombs, and the Soviet Union’s declaration of war on the island nation.

The iron resolve of the Japanese was a major factor the US anticipated while planning the invasion of mainland Japan. The culture known for literally putting death before dishonor with practices such as hara-kiri would not, by any stretch of the imagination, go softly into surrender.

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The cosplay of Comiket 88: Sailor Moon, Splatoon, Love Live! and more【Photos】

Comiket 88, the world’s largest dojinshi fair, is now underway at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition centre. And while thousands of people are already rushing to buy some of the best and rarest anime, manga and video game merch money can buy, others were there for one thing only: cosplay.

Despite the beating sun and intense humidity that comes as standard with Summer Comic Market (you did read our Comiket survival guide, right?), the almost complete lack of shade outdoors did not deter Tokyo’s cosplayers, who stood out for photo after photo, striking their best poses and wowing our reporters with their incredible outfits.

Join us after the jump for a look at some of our favourites!

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North Korea establishes its own time zone in order to stick it to “wicked Japanese imperialists”

Were they granted the ability to manipulate time and space, we’re fairly certain that most world leaders would choose to go back in time in order to benefit their own country somehow, replaying disastrous moments in their history and righting wrongs that would later cost them dearly. (One can only imagine a world in which the likes of Katie Hopkins and Donald Trump were never put in front of a camera…)

But today, totalitarian dictatorship North Korea declared that it would be turning the clock back by just 30 minutes, thus establishing “Pyongyang Time”, in order to mark its independence from the “wicked Japanese imperialists” who meddled with their clocks to begin with.

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Sanrio mascots promote pacifism on 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender

On August 14, 1945, Japan announced its surrender to the Allied Forces it would come to be known as V-J Day before signing the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri on September 2. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender but the anniversary is also in the midst of debate over constitutional revisions with criticism honed in on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Sanrio has seemingly voiced its option, albeit through the mouths of its popular mascots, in the latest issue of the company’s Ichigo Shimbun magazine. The magazine includes an article reflecting on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender and is titled “Let’s think about what we can do for peace” with a sub-headline reading “No more war!” It calls for readers to research war through popular media and the memories of those who lived during that time.

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10 incredible tales of kindness on Japanese trains, as told by foreigners

We recently regaled you with Truly Terrifying Japanese Train Stories told to us by foreigners, which included everything from runaway trains to perverts and nuns. Today, we’re going to relate to you foreigners’ stories of unbelievable acts of kindness they’ve experienced on Japan’s trains.

You’ve probably already heard a few stories of Japanese people doing good deeds, like lost property being returned or someone helping out the hapless foreigner who doesn’t speak the language. But Japan’s special brand of kindness goes much deeper than this. You know, things that when you see them they make you think, “Wow, that would never happen in my country!”

Join us for some miso soup for the soul: stories of extreme kindness on Japanese trains, after the jump. Read More

Man-nipples become tools of “sexual harassment” during summer, complain Japanese women

There’s been a lot of hoo-haa recently over nip-nips, hasn’t there? On the western internets, ladies are in a huff that their female nubbins are being covered up by the online censors, but in Japan it’s male nurples that are getting on everyone’s nerves.

Turns out that Japanese ladies can’t stand the sight of male chesty-buds, and in this hot weather, lots of businessmen are going out and about without undershirts on. The result? A barrage of constant eye-trauma for the ladies who say that the men who are flaunting their areolas at them are committing sexual harassment! Oh my!

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Better than mosquito repellent – The most eco-friendly (and spiritual) way to repel pests in Japan

There’s no need to use toxic substances to kill off unwanted insects in Japan, because there’s a much more eco-friendly method they’ve been using for hundreds of years. Although it may not be scientifically proven, many people feel this is still the best way to get rid of everything from garden aphids to mosquitoes. And if the method has endured for centuries, it must be at least somewhat effective right?

This uniquely Japanese insect repellent is far cheaper than commercial insecticides, easier to implement, and you only have to use it once a year in spring or early summer. And the best part? It involves Japanese sake!

What’s the secret? We’ll let you know after the jump.

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From shady trash collectors to “compensated dating” – 5 crimes peculiar to Japan

Japan is often perceived as a safe country. The nation of 127 million people boasts some of the lowest rates in the world for serious crimes such as murder, robbery, and rape. In addition, Japan continually ranks high on the Global Peace Index. And while it may sometimes seem like stalking and crime against children is rampant in Japan (the stalking rate hit a record high of 22,823 this year, up from 21,000 in 2013), this perception comes largely from widespread media exposure. In the U.S., for example, it is estimated that 6.6 million people are stalked per year.

While serious crime may not rank as high as in other developed countries, there are plenty of the other offenses that Japan excels at, and the country has its share of unscrupulous nationals. These are the things you probably haven’t heard so much about. Today we look at five crimes, some of them strangely Japan-specific.

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100 fuzzy, friendly foxes fascinate foreigners at Kitsune Mura aka “Fox Village” 【Videos】

Rachel and Jun are a Japanese-American couple who make informative and adorable videos about their life together in Japan. Recently, they visited Kitsune Mura – aka Fox Village – which is home to around 100 adorable and friendly foxes which you can play with for only 1,000 yen.

“I can’t even believe a place like this exists,” gushed Rachel, (who visited the park along with some fellow YouTuber friends), and we have to agree – but luckily for us, they all made several videos all about their trip!

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Super Mega Important Debate: Are Japan’s futons awesome or simply awful? 【Poll closed】

Happy weekend, everyone! Congratulations on surviving another week!

But before you run off to smother yourself with butter and startle donkeys by shouting the names of under-appreciated actors from the 1980s (hey, we don’t know what you do with your spare time), we have one little question to ask you: are Japanese futons awesome, or are they awful?

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Impressive replicas of iconic Japanese tourist spots made from curry

As kids we were always told not to play with our food but someone didn’t get that memo at a recent curry exhibition. Online marketplace Rakuten recently hosted a one-day event showcasing regional curry dishes from all over Japan, and the curry creations were very playful, and some were downright awesome. As if the spict foodstuff wasn’t already delicious enough, it got even better with iconic Japanese tourists spots replicated from curry!

Check out some of the dishes after the jump. It’s tourism for your taste buds!

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The top 10 funniest train happenings, as told by Japanese Twitter

What happens on the train stays on the train. Unless, of course, you decide to tweet about it.

Japanese Twitter users love to post about the crazy things they see going on during their time on the train, ranging from the slightly out of the ordinary to the downright bizarre. And now, for your reading pleasure, we have the top 10 funniest Japanese train tweets so you can see how the Japanese commute compares to your own.

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Confessions of a gaijin: 12 things we do that we’d never admit to Japanese people

In Japan almost everyone hangs out their laundry to dry rather than using costly, energy-guzzling clothes dryers. Foreigners have no problems complying, but one quickly learns that underwear is special–you don’t hang it out with the rest of your clothes where others might see it (or try to see it). The “smallies” are to be hung up inside. When you think about it, it does make sense. But other things are harder for foreigners to get used to and yet others just don’t make sense at all to us so are harder to incorporate into our lifestyles here.

Pooling responses from expats living here in Japan and the RocketNews24 staff, today we’re sharing the most common things that we just can’t quite embrace like the Japanese do, no matter how hard we try. Join us after the jump as we reveal the secret life of gaijin…but shhhh, don’t tell anyone!

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Super Mega Important Debate: Tokyo or Osaka? 【Poll Closed】

You knew it had to happen at some point. Sooner or later we were bound to ask you to choose which of Japan’s biggest and most famous cities is best. That’s right, folks, it’s Tokyo versus Osaka; Kanto versus Kansai; east versus west.

Click the link, make your choice, argue about it in the comments section. No biting, hair-pulling or bringing our mothers into it.

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Sayonara, sushi: 21 little things that people miss after leaving Japan

As a reader of RocketNews24, chances are you already have a pretty big soft spot for Japan. You may even already be living in the Land of the Rising Sun or have plans to fly out just as soon as circumstances allow.

But sometimes, even when we love a place with every fibre of our being, we just can’t stay forever. Family anxiously awaiting our return; work commitments; financial constraints and more mean that, at some point or other, many of us have to wave goodbye to Japan and return to our respective homelands.

Some of the things people miss about Japan will be immediately obvious, but others tend to sink in only a few weeks or months after returning home. Today, we’re taking a look at 21 of the little things, in no particular order, that Japan does so uniquely or so incredibly well that foreigners really start to pine for them once they finally say sayonara and head home.

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Our Japanese reporter’s US trip goes horribly wrong when his luggage somehow ends up in Ecuador

Today, we’d like to share with you the experience of one of our reporters on a domestic flight in the United States. Hailing from Japan, home of the airport that hasn’t lost a piece of luggage in 20 years, our reporter Yoshio wasn’t expecting the unthinkable to happen on his brief 45-minute flight – but somehow, his bag went missing. And ended up in Ecuador!

Join us after the jump to hear his story, featuring insurance claims, flight changes, and at least one trip to buy new underwear.

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Six things Tokyo has less of than any other city in Japan

Being the capital city, Tokyo very often tends to come out on top when it comes to rankings – it’s the top tourist destination for foreign visitors, the safest city in the world, the most populated (in fact, the most densely populated place on earth), has long been one of the most expensive (that dubious honour now belongs to Singapore, apparently), was recently declared the most satisfying city…we could go on.

But the student section of Japanese website MyNavi published a list this week of six national rankings that Tokyo comes at the bottom of – things it does worse at than any other city in Japan. Let’s take a look at what they found!

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Just how fast is Japan’s new maglev train? See for yourself【Video】

It may not be due to begin ferrying passengers between Tokyo and Osaka for another 10+ years yet, but Japan’s magnetic levitation (maglev) train is already zipping up and down a special section of test track in Yamanashi Prefecture, and it’s nothing short of spectacular.

Check out our video of this thing in motion – oh, and try not to blink because you really might miss it.

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Mochi hot cakes: The Japanese pancakes you don’t even need a rice cooker to make!

There’s a reason we say “selling like hotcakes”, and that reason is that hotcakes are awesome. These fluffy, light little circles of joy were sent to make snack time delightful and fill the world with rainbows and sunshine.

But if you’ve ever looked down at your little pancakes and thought “hey, this just isn’t Japanese enough for me!” then we have the answer for you. Mochi, Japan’s favourite rice cake, is said to make hot cakes even fluffier and even more awesome. But how do you add a solid, square block of mochi to a bowl of pancake mix anyway?

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