Cheapo News: We found this supermarket chain selling stupid cheap bento in west Japan

If we had to pick one thing that represented how Japanese food maybe isn’t quite as healthy as generally perceived, it would probably have to be the bento lunchbox. Bento are readily available practically everywhere in Japan—when not being handmade for you by a parent or spouse, usually in the shape of Pokémon characters and the like—and are widely consumed by office workers and other day laborers as a cheap, convenient lunch.

Despite healthy origins back in the old days, bento—perhaps by design—have become increasingly unhealthy, with your standard box available from a retailer or food truck usually weighing in at a thousand calories (or frequently even more) and containing a bunch of fried food in addition to huge portions of rice.

But heck, when a filling, albeit cholesterol and calorie-packed bento sets you back only a measly 200 yen (US$1.50) over at discount supermarket Lamu, well, we’ll happily do the extra time on the treadmill.

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We pig out at Aizuya, the Michelin Guide-featured takoyaki shop

In Japan, takoyaki (somewhat unappealingly translated as “octopus balls”) is known as “B-Class Gourmet” food. Takoyaki is the domain of sometimes shady street vendors and national chains where there are literally no chairs whatsoever on the premises. They’re meant to be consumed while still blazing hot, fresh off the special cratered griddle used to make them, chewed and swallowed at lightning speed while you suck in air to make them just cool enough that they don’t burn a hole in your esophagus on the way down.

Therefore, takoyaki is not, one would think, within the purview of the Michelin tire company’s prestigious Michelin Guide for world-renowned restaurants. But, surprisingly, the 2016 Michelin Guide contains not just one but several restaurants specializing in takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and other “B-Class Gourmet” foods famous around Osaka and the Kansai area.

One of those featured restaurants, Aizuya, is, it turns out, actually rumored to be the restaurant that flat-out invented takoyaki. And since that sounds like a good premise for an article, and gives us an excuse to stuff our faces with this delicious local street food, we went to check it out.

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Kyoto has had enough of rude tourists, created an infographic to show how to visit politely

With thousands of temples, beautiful gardens, geisha and maiko (geisha-in-training), and more history than you can shake an encyclopedia at, Kyoto is the place to be when visiting Japan. So with so many tourists from around the world crowding into the city, a few are bound to step out of line.

Thankfully TripAdvisor Japan created a handy infographic showing how to politely visit Kyoto. Kyotoites are understandably protective of their city and its cultural and historical treasures, and some will not hesitate to correct you if you’re doing something rude or wrong. So to be sure that everyone is on the same page, here are a few simple rules to keep in mind when you visit this wonderful city.

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Attack on Kansai: manga creators post free comic translated into the Osaka area dialect

There seems to be no stopping the enormously popular manga-turned-anime series (and soon-to-be live-action film) Attack on Titan with fans all over the world who can’t get enough of its terrifying world. Attack on Titan has seen crossovers and fan-made tributes before, but last week the manga creators themselves surprised fans when they published a special online comic of the first issue completely translated into the Kansai dialect spoken in western Japan around Osaka.

Attack on Titan announced the free comic by posting a picture of the redesigned cover showing well-known symbols of the Osaka area, such as the Hanshin Tigers baseball team, takoyaki and of course, purple-haired obachan.

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Kansai and Kanto prove again that they are each distinct regions when it comes to food

Tokyo and Osaka are only about 2.5 hours away by bullet train, so perhaps you wouldn’t think they’d be that different. But while Kanto (Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba) holds the image of a glittering metropolis, Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara) is full of the old, historical aspects of Japan. The most commonly cited difference is the dialects of the two regions. For example, dame in Kanto-ben is akan in Kansai-ben, both meaning something like “wrong, no good.”

So when Japanese people were polled about their food habits, it wasn’t so surprising that the two regions answered very differently.

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Kansai scraps “power off” mobile phone ban on trains; Kantō won’t budge

There are seemingly endless things one is not allowed to do on Japanese trains: eat or drink, put on makeup, talk on the phone, take up too much room. Most of these are sensible if strict, making life more pleasant for everybody in a jam-packed carriage. There’s one rule that’s a bit more unusual, though, and that’s the requirement that you switch your phone off near the priority seats.

Mobile phones can interfere with pacemakers, ran the conventional wisdom. So to give passengers with medical equipment a safe haven from electronic interference, most train companies asked passengers to switch phones off completely in certain areas. This summer, rail companies in Kansai more or less ditched that policy, saying it’s no longer necessary. Tokyo, meanwhile, shows no signs of changing the rules. Read More

The differences between people in Kansai’s most famous cities, as told by Buddhist Gods

As in most countries, the Japanese tend to generalize the personalities of people who come from certain regions. Just like you can easily tell the difference between a Californian and a New Yorker, not just by accent but by general attitude and overall vibe, the Japanese have long held that you can spot an Osaka native in Tokyo from a mile away and vice versa.

Tokyoites, according to Japanese in other regions, are kind enough but are always busy and therefore have little time to spare for passing strangers. The people of Kansai, on the other hand, are said to be a lively bunch – more openly friendly if cantankerous than the rest of their countrymen.

But did you know that, in Kansai especially, overall personality changes city to city? Don’t take our word for it, just ask these Buddhist Gods:

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Astronomer warns of major earthquake in Kansai as early as next week

After last month’s false alarm of a large earthquake over our mobile phones, Nara and surrounding area residents’ blood pressures are finally getting back to normal. Well, don’t put away those paper bags yet. Now there’s another reason to worry. Research out of Yatsugadake Nanroku Observatory is suggests that we can expect a major earthquake of at least magnitude 7 to hit somewhere in the Kansai area from next week.

Earthquake-prone Japan is no stranger to proclamations of doom so it’s hard to get too worked up. However, the head of the observatory, Yoshio Kushida has made this prediction with a truly unique method that if correct could revolutionize earthquake prediction. Rather than looking down at the ground, Kushida suspects we can detect earthquakes better by watching the skies.

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161 Dachshunds Rescued From Abusive Breeder in Osaka, In Need of Homes

The Osaka Animal Welfare and Husbandry Department announced that it is desperately seeking homes for some of the dogs rescued in a major seizure of breeding dachshunds last year. Read More


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