Celebrating Bruce Lee’s 75th birthday with a Hong Kong pilgrimage

Had he not died at 32, this year would have been Bruce Lee’s 75th birthday. To honor the occasion we took a whirlwind pilgrimage through Hong Kong!

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Samurai Studio is open and we were the first in line!【Photos】

When we wrote about Samurai Studio earlier this month, we have to admit we were more than a little excited to head down and try it out ourselves. Hey, who doesn’t occasionally (or constantly) wish they could run around dressed in Japanese armor with a couple of swords strapped to their side?

Samurai Studio opened for its 10-day limited run today, and we were literally the first in line! In case you’re on the fence about going or just want to see what the process is like, you’ll want to check out our full report, complete with lots and lots of photos.

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Thinking about moving to Nara? Here are eight things that may surprise you!

Moving to Japan from another country can be a bit of a culture shock. Some handle the transition without any problems, and others can find it initially overwhelming. But it’s easy to forget that Japan isn’t one giant monolith, and the various prefectures can be wildly different—so much so that moving to a new prefecture can bring plenty of surprises even for those born and raised in Japan!

A great example is one of our own RocketNew24 Japan writers, Masami, who shares some of the things that surprised her after moving to Nara. Here are nine that may resonate with you!

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7 incredible Japanese destinations that tourists haven’t discovered yet

Japan is often known by tourists for its most popular attractions, like Mount Fuji, the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto, and its amazing shrines and temples.

But there’s a lot more to the island nation than that.

We took a look at a Quora thread that asked, “what are some of Japan’s best kept secrets,” and rounded up some places that might not be in all the guidebooks, but are definitely worth a visit.

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Over 20 Museums, Galleries and Zoos in Tokyo are free for today only!

Today (October 1) is Citizen’s Day in Tokyo, celebrating the independence and welfare of the area’s residents. And what better way to do that than by giving them free access to over 20 of Tokyo’s cultural attractions from museums to art galleries to gardens and even zoos.

Now, considering it’s Citizen’s Day you might be thinking that such a deal is only open to people living in Tokyo, but no! Anyone who can get out here today and today only can get free admission to the following places.

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Hokkaido’s “White Shell Road” is gorgeous, makes us want to take a road trip! 【Photos】

In Hokkaido, there is an area of hilly countryside along the Souya Cape in Wakkanai, with peaks reaching from 20 to 400 metres above sea level. The area, known as Souyakyuuryou, features an idyllic backdrop of the Soya Strait, and with its wind farm and rolling hills it’s said to be reminiscent of the Netherlands. (It also reminds some people of the Ghibli classic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind!)

But by far the coolest thing about the area is that it also has a country road that used to be a plain old dirt road until they decided to make it pretty – with crushed white shells!

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Test your bravery: Japanese taxi company to offer “taxi tours” of ghost spots this summer

Japan, as we’ve noted before, is allegedly full of ghosts. Now you may or may not believe in such things, but plenty of people in Japan are sure they exist, from the ghosts of murder victims to the spirits of seafood. In fact, there are numerous shinrei (ghost/spirit) spots, where unearthly apparitions are believed to appear regularly throughout the country.

Many of these spots have been identified and information about their locations can be found online. One might assume that this is to help people avoid accidentally going to a place filled with spooks — but that’s not entirely the case! In fact, some want to go to the shinrei spots — and a new taxi tour in Yokohama will gladly to take you on the night ride of your life!

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Titans Attack on Kyushu with the upcoming re-opening of Attack on Titan Exhibit

Following the success of the Attack on Titan Exhibit at the Ueno Royal Museum last winter, the exhibit and the Titans are moving down to Kyushu just in time for summer vacation.

Although it mostly remains the same as the one shown earlier in Tokyo, this time around the exhibit includes extra shots of the Titans out and about exploring some of the southern island’s most famous tourist spots. Apparently even Titans need a break from attacking and devouring mankind every now and then!
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This amazing sand sculpture museum is tiny Tottori Prefecture’s hidden tourist gem

Remember when Tottori Prefecture finally got a Starbucks after all these years of being one of the few places in the world without one? Oh man, that was crazy.

Tottori is just one of those places. The kind of area that’s so quiet and uneventful that not even Starbucks, the corporate giant that’s more than happy to smother historic cultural heritage sites with their over-roasted beans and pricey lattes for a quick buck, spent decades more or less pretending it didn’t even exist. The Prefecture’s population of just over half a million is shockingly small by densely-populated Japan’s standards, and it’s just generally ignored by the rest of Japan as a place that, well… doesn’t have much to see, to put it kindly.

But wait a second! What’s this?! Tottori has been sitting on an amazing tourist draw in the form of a sand sculpture museum that features mind-boggling, award-winning and massive sand sculptures and they basically haven’t even really told anybody about it.

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Japan is full of ghosts: Visiting the grave of Taira no Masakado’s head

Summer in Japan means heat and humidity — enough such that people will try to cool down by any means necessary, including enjoying a few hair-raising ghost stories. From haunted houses to horror films, there are plenty of ways to get goosebumps in Japan, but today we’ll be taking you to the location of one of Tokyo’s most famous angry spirit!

Though it’s not exactly a shinrei spot (a place where ghosts have allegedly appeared), Taira no Masakada Kubizuka is one of the most famous “ghost” spots in Japan. It’s where Taira no Masakada’s head was enshrined in order to quell his spirit…because people believed it was wrecking havoc on the capital!

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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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RocketNews24 reporting from America…n World shopping complex in Iwate Prefecture

Tired of being called “uncultured” by those around them, our reporters Mr. Sato and Yoshio made a road trip to Iwate Prefecture and all of its historical sites such as the Chusonji Golden Hall and Kenji Miyazawa Fairy Tale Village. It was the perfect place to learn more about Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

However, as they drove along Route 4 heading for the over-900-year-old Morioka Hachiman Shrine, something unusual caught Mr. Sato’s eye. “It’s a big red Ferris wheel!” he shouted, immediately forgetting about the site where Emperor Ojin’s spirit is enshrined.

Grabbing Yoshio’s arm, he forced the car to an off ramp and closer to the Ferris wheel, which they would soon learn was not just any old wheel, it was the American World Ferris wheel!

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Get spirited away in China’s Ghibli-esque tourist complex

Studio Ghibli’s acclaimed film Spirited Away is beloved around the world for its touching story and beautiful animation, and the whimsical setting has a real-life counterpart. Jiufen, a mountainous area of New Taipei City in Taiwan is said to be where creator Hayao Miyazaki drew a lot of his inspiration for the film, and many tourists visit the area to feel like they’re stepping into the magical world of Spirited Away. But it turns out there’s also somewhere similar in China! Check out these photos and videos of the incredible place.

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Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building now accepting applications to watch first sunrise of 2015

With 2014 winding down, it’s time to make plans for the new year holidays. For many people in Japan this means finding a place to watch the first sunrise of the year, or hatsu hinode; a common custom of the season.

However, many Tokyoites may be unaware that the perfect spot to view the sunrise is standing in plain view: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. This 243-meter (797 ft) building has a pair of observation rooms which offer the greatest views in the city and is a spot popular amongst tourists, though few ever think of when it comes to New Year’s Day, assuming that because it’s a government building it would shut down for the holidays.

But ever since 1995 the building has been opening its doors to a handful of visitors, giving them the chance to take in the first sunset of the year from high above the city. Here’s how to apply for a spot on the observation deck.

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Creepy or cute? Feel the Panda Train’s intense gaze before sightseeing in resort town Shirahama

Though the “Panda Train” that runs between Kyōto and the beach resort town of Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture has been around for a few years, Japanese netizens recently have been making quite the hubbub over photos of its panda seats. Online reactions range from “Kawaiiii!” to “It looks like it’ll hug me to death!”, but most agree that they’re simply confused by the presence of polyurethane pandas on a train heading to a former honeymoon Mecca.

While Shirahama (lit. “White Beach”) is famous for its beautiful sand, hot springs, and remarkable rock formations, many in Japan are surprisingly unaware of its other claim to fame: pandas. Read on to learn more about the crowd-pleasing train and a theme park complex called Adventure World, which has a panda-breeding and research facility with an impressive track record that’s second only to mainland China. If you’re already tired of the cold this winter, this article may give you some ideas for next summer!

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Number of tourists visiting the Great Wall of China last weekend more of a sight than the wall itself

The crowded image above might appear to be another pro-democracy rally like we’ve been seeing a lot of in Hong Kong recently, but actually it’s just business as usual for a historic landmark on a long holiday.

With 1 October being National Day in China, people are taking advantage of their one week off to head on down to one of the most famous World Heritage Sites around. However, since a considerable amount of people share the same holiday plans, for one week this testament to mankind’s engineering prowess is eclipsed by a testament to mankind’s determination for sightseeing.

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Travel back in time to the Sengoku Era at Sekigahara War Land

On October 21, 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu won the famous Battle of Sekigahara which secured his way to rule the shogunate of Japan.

Today, the battlefield where more than 200,000 people perished is but a remnant of ancient history. It is an ordinary town, and only the most maniacal of history buffs would show up to trace the roots of Sekigahara. However, in the center of that town, there is actually a ‘theme park’ where you can learn about history and the famous battle right where it took place, known as the somewhat awkwardly named “Learn! Play! The Immersive War Museum – Sekigahara War Land”.

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Six random, but very cool, sightseeing spots in Japan

For most, a trip to Japan usually involves hitting as many of the big sights as possible. Tokyo Tower, the ornate temples of Kyoto, Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb Dome, the “floating” torii gate of Hiroshima’s Miyajima Island, and of course the famous Shibuya Scramble intersection are all top tourist spots. But what if you’ve lived in Japan for a while or already seen most of the more famous sights? The good news is, there are tons of smaller locations that, while they may not top many people’s lists of must-see spots, are definitely worth checking out if you have the time or are simply looking for something a little off the beaten track.

Thankfully, a handful of Japanese net users recently provided us with a list of locations that they’d personally like visitors to their country to know a little better. Join us after the jump for six smaller, but equally cool, spots to add to your sightseeing list.

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Five amazing Japanese Starbucks locations that let you keep sightseeing as you take a break

Unless you’ve got the deep pockets to take taxis everywhere or the ample patience necessary for a bus tour, sightseeing in Japan means a lot of walking. As exciting and fascinating as the country can be, hour after hour on your feet is enough to leave anyone looking for a place to sit down and have a drink, which is part of the reasons why you can always find a Starbucks near Japan’s major travel destinations.

Still, vacation only lasts so long, and many tourists don’t want to waste their time in a new city sitting in a boring old coffee house that looks just like the one in their hometown. Thankfully, the world’s most popular coffee house has gone all out with the design of these five Japanese Starbucks locations, making them sightseeing attractions in and of themselves.

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Tokyo Tower celebrates Tanabata with a beautiful case of the summertime blues

Since the opening of the Tokyo Skytree in 2012, Tokyo Tower is no longer the tallest or most fashionable structure in Tokyo. Still, the 56-year-old steel giant has managed to hang onto its reputation as one of the city’s most romantic locales, thanks in part to its location in quiet, sophisticated Shiba-koen as opposed to the boisterous Shitamachi district where the Skytree stands.

This month, Tokyo Tower is doing a little more to set the mood, with a beautiful light display that ties in with Japan’s Tanabata star festival.

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