Saitama

Johnson Town: A little piece of America in Japan… where all the residents are Japanese 【Pics】

Groups of people moving to a new country often settle in the same area together, creating a little neighborhood reminiscent of their old lives in their new homes. In the U.S., we have a Chinatown or Little Italy in almost every big city, and Japan has the same thing too. They even have something you may have never heard of: Little America towns that used to house U.S. military personnel.

But what happens when the military decides they don’t want to live there anymore? Then you get a place like Johnson Town in Saitama Prefecture, where you’d swear you were walking around rural America, if not for the fact that it’s entirely populated by Japanese people.

What is one of these Little America towns in Japan like? And, most importantly, do they have good American-style food? A reporter from our Japanese sister site went to investigate and bring you all the answers, some of which may surprise you.

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Soak yourself in 100% pure hot spring water at home for less than 100 yen!

In the land of earthquakes, typhoons, blistering summers and mountains of snow in the winter, Japan’s plentiful and luxurious hot springs are Mother Nature’s way of letting us know that she doesn’t totally hate us.

But the number of true hot springs – where water naturally comes from the ground rather than being pumped in and then heated – is lower than you might imagine. Many places such as the new “hot spring” being built in Shinjuku have their water shipped in from a real hot spring source.

And now, if you live in the Kanto area, you can ship in your own hot spring water too! Why pay entry into some huge complex when you can soak in your own home bathtub away from the leering eyes of RocketNews24 journalists or tattoo-prudes. Oh, and did we mention it’s ridiculously cheap?

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Upcoming announcement for a Moomin theme park has fans clamoring for info 【Update: Confirmed!】

Over two years ago, the Finnish Ambassador to Japan announced that a Moomin theme park was being developed in Japan with the expected opening date in 2015. Some of our readers might be asking, “What the heck is a Moomin?” but these hippo-like fairies who originated in Finland have a very strong following and fan base in Japan. You might not be familiar with Moomin before you come to Japan, but once you get here, you grow to welcome them at your dining table.

Well, it’s already halfway through 2015, and there is still no Moomin theme park ready to take our money. Or is there? There might be a forthcoming announcement that has us all in a tizzy.

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15 million flowers are in beautiful bloom right now at Saitama’s field of Heavenly Poppies

As Japan gets ready to flip the calendar from May to June, it’s a perfect time to get out of the house and spend some time outdoors. If you’re the sort who hates cold weather, it’s finally warm enough to spend the afternoon outside with no need of a jacket, and if you can’t stand the heat, you’ve only got a few weeks left until the onset of the steamy rainy season and sizzling midsummer weather patterns.

And to sweeten the deal, right now there’s a perfect spot for your sojourn with nature, this breathtaking field of over 15 million flowers in Saitama Prefecture known as the Heavenly Poppies.

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Japan’s “Underground Temple” now up for virtual touring in Google Street View

Running underneath Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture, lies the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel – a sprawling network of waterways as long as its name. Its 6.3 kilometers (3.9 miles) of tunnels are intended to divert flood water from area rivers.

Also, since the massive project was completed in 2009 its enormous columns and walls are in relatively pristine condition giving the place an almost magical atmosphere. As a result it’s earned the nickname of the “Underground Temple” and has been frequently used in movies and music videos.

Tours run regularly for free which you can join, or just take a peek right now from the comfort of your browser with Google Street View.

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‘Dressed Omurice’ might just be the most beautiful omurice we’ve ever seen 【Video】

Ask Japanese kids what their favourite foods are and you’re as likely to get the answer “hamburg” or “curry rice” as you are “sushi.” Japanese food is popular around the world, but less well known to foreigners is the proliferation and popularity of yōshoku dishes – Japanese western food. Yōshoku makes up a sizeable part of the menus of family restaurants in Japan, as well as being popular home-cooked food. Staples include the aforementioned hamburger steaks (no buns) served with demi-glace; curry and rice, eaten with a spoon; naporitan spaghetti in a ketchup-based sauce; and of course omurice, chicken-and-ketchup rice topped with a thin yellow omelette.

There’s always room for a little more innovation, though. Like this restaurant in Saitama that’s turned the old favourite, omurice, into a beautiful swirl of eggy perfection.

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Ritzy Japanese cop breaks Rolex wristwatch during arrest, sends suspect US$6,000 repair bill

With famously low crime rates and an honest society that returns wallets full of cash, Japanese cops usually have it a bit easier than their overseas counterparts. But while they may have some extra time on their hands, Japanese police officers still are put in the line of danger catching the bad guys and keeping Japan safe.

One cop in Saitama Prefecture was reminded of this reality when he was got banged up pretty badly and broke his expensive Rolex watch a couple of years ago while pursuing a man suspected of exposing himself to a young girl. This cop shocked his colleagues and the public last week when Japanese media reported that, after arresting the suspect, the police officer took the man to court and sued for him for damages including more than 700,000 yen (US$5,949) to repair the watch!

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Spooky “radiation fog” turns Saitama cityscape into Silent Hill overnight

Halloween may be over for this year, but the weather gods in Saitama clearly hadn’t got the message on Wednesday morning this week, as the city was shrouded in a mysterious thick fog – with an even more mysterious name!

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Japanese constipation survey reveals the most and least poop-frustrated prefectures

There are certain topics that although you may be interested in, one just doesn’t bring up in polite company, the least of which being the regularity of a country’s bowel movements. But luckily our poop-curious friends over at Glico (as in the major Japanese snack company) recently completed a survey about constipation that gives us a very personal look at the health of Japan’s number two habits. The aptly named “Lifestyle and Constipation” survey has revealed which Japanese prefectures are keeping things downstairs regular and which ones are all clogged up.

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Mysterious fire materializes inside Saitama train station on Tuesday

On Tuesday evening, commuters at Urawa Station in Saitama Prefecture were in for a bit of a shock when an abandoned piece of corrugated cardboard suddenly burst into flames. The fire was soon extinguished by station attendants, but the question remains: what caused the mysterious incident?

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Saitama kids see soccer ball floating in river, turns out to be human skull

On 2 July at approximately 5:30pm, a group of junior high school students were playing around the banks of the Ara River in Toda City, Saitama Prefecture when they spotted something floating near the river’s edge.

Thinking it was a soccer ball, the trio of 15 year olds began to pull it in with a tree branch. However, upon closer inspection the “soccer ball” turned out to be a human skull.

This horrific discovery has alerted everyone to a grim reality about Saitama Prefecture: it’s sorely lacking in physical education, especially competitive sports. Read More

Over 2,000 Saitama residents to get refunds from the police for “erroneously” issued tickets

For those who woke up in Saitama Prefecture this morning, you might have noticed something particularly pleasant in the air, like the entire region just got a little happier. That’s because on 22 May the Prefectural Police announced that they would be giving refunds and apologies to 2,400 people who were given tickets and demerit points because of an improperly conducted eight-year crackdown on driving violations.

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Saitama man robs 7-Eleven with knives, steals 3 onigiri

A 7-Eleven convenience store in Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture was the scene of a daring late-night armed robbery earlier this week as an unidentified young man held clerks at knife-point and made off with a total of three onigiri rice balls, whose combined value came to approximately 300 yen (US$2.94).

He’d have gotten away with too, if it hadn’t been for the bread delivery guy…

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Aomori? Here! Fukushima? Here! Saitama? Here but I have a cold…

Homeroom, that fateful time of day before real classes start where the teacher calls roll to see which kids successfully rolled out of bed that morning. Some countries don’t have an official “homeroom”. They just call your name and classes begin. But in Japan, homeroom is a whole different beast. And the surprise of one Twitter user at how homeroom is conducted in Saitama Prefecture versus the rest of the country makes for a good laugh, especially because of the comments from other people around Japan.

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Saitama man sues police after getting pulled over for picking his ears while driving, wins about three bucks

In the middle of this month, 41-year-old Kazunori Terashima must have felt some sense of satisfaction as his bankbook showed a transfer of 350 yen (US$3.33) from the Saitama Public Safety Commission. After struggling against the police for two and a half years over an improper traffic stop he had finally won his inalienable right to clean his ear in traffic.

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Police pick up man “addicted” to throwing cups of urine at women

We all have our vices. Some like a drink or a smoke while others fancy a wager on the ponies every now and again. No matter who you are there’s something you rely on to help get you through the day.

As bad as those previously mentioned habits might be, at least they don’t involve assault charges. The same can’t be said for one middle-aged man arrested for allegedly indulging in his irresistible pastime of throwing cups of urine at women from his car. If they don’t have a rehab for that one yet, they really should get on it.

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New train carriages on Tokyo’s Saikyo Line allow more sardines to be squeezed into the can

Bringing commuters to Tokyo from neighboring Saitama Prefecture, the Saikyo Line, operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East), is one of the busiest in the metropolitan area. During morning rush hour its trains are packed to 200 percent capacity. On June 30, however, E233 Series trains were introduced to the line, and officials are hoping the new carriages, which are a whole 15cm wider, will reduce crowding by ten percent.

That’s right. Now instead of having to endure bone-crushing, suffocating, sucking-the-will-to-live commutes in trains packed to 200 percent capacity, riders will be able to breathe, and perhaps move just a little, while enjoying the relative luxury of a train crammed to just 190 percent capacity!

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Want to Grow a Bonsai Tree? There’s an App for That

Saitama Prefecture might be known abroad for its connection to famous anime like Lucky Star and Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, but it’s better known in traditional art circles as a modern center for bonsai, the ancient practice of cultivating miniature trees. In fact, there is even a section of Saitama City called Bonsai Village that was once selected by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as one of the 100 most scenic towns in Japan.

The prefecture has now created a smartphone game called Twit Bonsai to promote Saitama’s bonsai attractions, and although you may think pruning a virtual tree sounds like the height of boredom, the app is gaining an unexpectedly enthusiastic following. Read More

Beautiful Japanese City Councilor: “I don’t wash my face or go to the bathroom”. Loses Job, Might be a Yakuza Alien.

Asuka Tachikawa, 27, famous for being a “beautiful city councilor,” has had pressure put on her to quit her job because she is actually an alien in disguise trying to ruin the city of Niizu in Saitama (near Tokyo).

Elected as a city councilor in February this year, the Saitama Prefectural Electoral Office has decided that her election is invalid because she may not have lived in the city for more than the required 3 months. In other words, she is an alien.

But what evidence do they have?
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Gifu, Kyoto Rack Up Highest Averages in Japanese Boob Size Survey, Saitama Falls Flat

Cosmetics website “LC love cosmetic” (www.lovecosmetic.jp)  shared the results of a quick-and-dirty survey it conducted about women’s bust sizes, and the surprising facts are certain to titillate men (and women) with certain – ahem – outsized preferences.

The website, which bills itself as being “for two persons who love,” posted a list of Japan’s 47 prefectures arranged by average cup size, and for persons who love two large, shining orbs, there are no better places in Japan than Gifu and Kyoto Prefectures, where E is the norm.

For those who don’t like speed bumps between themselves and their lovers, Saitama Prefecture and its A-cup average beckon. The national average fell between B- and C-cups, with a majority of prefectures in East Japan at B and a majority of those in West Japan at C. Read More

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