Tokyo

Tokyo train delayed due to the strangest of reasons

The JR East Musashino Line sure has an impressive track record when it comes to trains being delayed due to unusual circumstances. And after a most bizarre early morning collision on Friday last week, the rail line can add another reason to that list. 

Although the details of the incident are still murky, one thing is for certain–no one ever expected this to happen in the middle of Tokyo!

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Filled to bursting point? Rush-hour crush on Tokyo subway leaves train with broken window

The Tokyo metropolitan subway system is notorious for being incredibly crowded at rush hour, with commuters packed into narrow train carriages like sardines in a can. You’re probably familiar with images of white-gloved train conductors literally pushing people onto trains in an attempt to squeeze just one more body on before departure.

It can be very scary being squished into a mass of people like that, and this particularly holds true in case of sudden incidents such as the one that occurred this week when the window of a train literally broke due to the pressure of all of those heaving bodies. Join us after the jump for images of crushed glass and scenes of utter chaos! Okay, it’s actually only a few cracks, but still…

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1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours

On March 15, 2013, the Shibuya Station Toyoko Line above-ground train quietly shut down for good, to be replaced with a new section of subway track connecting Shibuya Station and the nearby Daikanyama Station. Converting the line from above-ground to underground was a massive operation, requiring a grand total of 1,200 engineers and countless man-hours.

But, even if you’d been living in Tokyo at the time, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the construction, because it all occurred during the train line’s off-hours… over the course of one single night.

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Barbie head shoes: the new craze making heads turn in Harajuku

Barbie, the popular fashion doll from America, has been a style icon ever since her creation back in 1959. Now, at the age of 55, the controversial bombshell is hitting the streets of Harajuku – quite literally - this time inside the clear soles of some amazing, if kind of creepy, shoes.

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Police called in for civet disturbance in Tokyo

Walking down the street in Tokyo, you never know what you might bump into, especially if you happened to have been around Aoyama Itchome Station in Minato Ward on 14 November. During the afternoon, a masked palm civet was seen darting around the streets by several witnesses.

The masked palm civet was connected to the SARS outbreak about a decade ago and unleashes an anal spray when threatened. But that didn’t stop passers-by from trying to get the best photos for their Twitter feeds… Not at all.

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Gross ramen topping: somewhere between a spit-take and not being able to look away

Ramen is an amazing food, and nothing beats traveling around Japan and eating all the different kinds. Some are certainly better than other (tonkotsu FTW!) but they all are fighting for the top spot of “best bowl of ramen ever eaten“. Some bowls of ramen you can’t wait to go back and eat again, others are categorized as “one time is enough“. But there are some bowls of ramen that you shouldn’t even taste…let alone look at. Beware; these next pictures are not for the faint of heart.

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The originator of the strawberry daifuku, Tamaya continues to be a step ahead of competition

Daifuku is a widely popular type of Japanese confection consisting mainly of an outer layer of mochi (gelatinous rice paste) with an anko (sweet bean paste) filling. The result is a mildly sweet treat with a comfortably smooth texture.

There are many variations of daifuku including ichigo daifuku containing a whole strawberry inside of the mochi and anko, which have become hugely popular all around Japan. However, do you know where this trend started?

Our hungry reporter Mr. Sato does, and he went down to the first store ever to sell ichigo daifuku, Tamaya, to try their wares himself. He found that not only are they the original, but they may just make best ichigo daifuku in all of Japan.

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Choose your own toaster at the specialty toast restaurant in Tokyo

There’s a lot of freedom and innovation when it comes to dining in Japan. For every Michelin-starred restaurant in Tokyo, there’s an equally impressive place where you can dine with maids, hang out with cats or even watch boys make out.

Now there’s another must-visit eatery to add to Tokyo’s ever-growing list of unique cafes and this time the star of the show is the humble slice of bread. At Centre the Bakery in Ginza, you can choose your own toaster, take it back to your table and enjoy freshly made toast.

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Slow News Day Special 2: Use obvious clues in this photo to find out what this “bird” really is

Sometimes, you’re surfing around on the Internet to find weird Japan news to write about and can’t seem to find anything except one of those old “I thought this thing was that thing, but it was another thing,” Twitter comparison pictures and you kind of just have to run with it. I know, oddly specific scenario, but we’ve all been there, right?

Like, check out this thing that looks like a bird. We already know it’s not a bird, but can you use some of the clues in the photo to figure out what it really is?

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Classy pipes, intestines, and a taste of the past all can be yours from Asakusa vending machines

If you ever visit Tokyo, the district of Asakusa is a worthwhile spot to wander around in. It has a healthy mix of tradition, entertainment, food, and shopping that should please anyone looking  for a small but all-encompassing Japanese experience.

But there’s one other unique feature that Asakusa has and it’s one that’s surprising even the most entrenched Tokyo residents. Apparently, Asakusa is home to an enormous selection of wildly unusual vending machines. And coming from a land positively peppered with automatic vendors, that’s saying a lot.

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Japanese high school holds annual contest to decide the prettiest “girl” in school

The whole concept of an all-boys high school is kind of cruel when you think about it. You take a bunch of young men who have only recently hit puberty and are practically oozing hormones out of their pores and lock them in a prison-like environment filled with nothing but other males for the majority of their teen lives.

So it’s understandable that at least one Japanese all-boys high school, faced with an utter lack of girls to ogle, chose to get a little creative… by holding an annual beauty pageant to determine the prettiest “girl” in school.

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Late-night all-you-can-eat yakiniku for only 980 yen? Yes, please!

Imagine that you’re in Tokyo and having so much fun that you miss the last train home without even realizing it. You consider all the ways to kill time until the morning, but nothing appeals to you at all…so might we suggest some late-night all-you-can-eat yakiniku?

Join our intrepid reporter Mr. Sato as he tries out a yakiniku restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo which offers a special late-night all-you-can eat yakiniku deal. Even if you can’t make it there in person, don’t be afraid to live vicariously through his mouth-watering photos!

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600-yen Chinese buffet opens in Tokyo, Americans rejoice

Although slightly paradoxical, there’s kind of nothing more American than the good ol’ Chinese buffet.

The Chinese buffet is an American fixture that takes an imported cuisine (basically the only thing America really has) and twists it to suit American tastes. Over the years, it’s become a classic staple of the American diet, fortune cookies and all. Also there’s probably something to be said about the American dream – “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” and all that – beneath all the MSG and faux duck meat. Whatever.

So American expats, nostalgic for their weekly family fix of spicy staples like General Tso’s chicken and other incongruous Asian fusion dishes, must be rejoicing at the news that there’s now a Chinese buffet in Tokyo serving all-you-can-eat Chinese classics for a measly 600 yen (US$5.50).

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Nicocafe dishes up a serving of surreal with manga meat, half an umaibo, and rice teishoku

Niconico is Japan’s biggest video sharing website – apart from that other one - and this week sees their unique café and creative space re-open in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.

The new nicocafe aims to bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds with its online interactive ordering system, which allows viewers watching at home to order items to be delivered to the guests at the bar!

We’re not sure how happy you’d be to actually receive some of these menu items, though…

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New ‘Shrine Cafe’ in Tokyo offers fortune-telling and counseling services with your tea

Hey everyone, how has 2014 treated you? Did you finally get that dream job you wanted? Or maybe you moved, or found a significant other?

With only a little over two months left in the year, you might find yourself already looking forward to what the new year has to offer. If you’re especially eager to get a ‘sneak-peak’ of what 2015 has in store for you, then this new Shrine Cafe located in Tokyo’s Takadanobaba neighborhood may just be the perfect place for you. It only opened its doors on the 14th of this month, but it already promises to fill a niche in Japan’s already abundant and eclectic cafe scene.

But wait–just what the heck is a shrine cafe??

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Louvre masterpieces heading for Japan for first time in six years

Every year, a small number of Japanese tourists in Paris are struck by an extreme form of culture shock. This psychological distress, caused by the gap between the idealised, romantic image of the French capital, and the reality of the noisy, dirty city, is known as “Paris Syndrome”, and at one point, the Japanese embassy was even running a 24-hour hotline for distressed citizens requiring assistance.

Next year, however, Paris comes to Tokyo, as some of the finest masterpieces of the Louvre museum are to be shown at the National Art Center, Tokyo. The exhibition is entitled ‘Louvre Museum: Genre Painting – Scenes from Daily Life’, and will be the first Louvre exhibition in Japan for six years.

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Six of the “20 Coolest Arcades in the World” are in Japan! Want to know what Japan makes of that?

Mashable recently put out a neat list called ‘The 20 Coolest Arcades in the World’, and Tokyo took more spots than any other place! Well, we wouldn’t expect anything less from the birthplace of the video game industry, really.

Turns out though, Japanese netizens were a bit baffled by Mashable’s choices: “That’s cool??” they spluttered into their keyboards. “That’s not even an arcade!”

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South Korean design company turns subway maps into beautiful artwork you can hang on your wall

The first time I went to Tokyo alone, I got lost within the first five minutes of arriving at Shinjuku Station, unable to comprehend why there were so many transfers to different lines going in different directions. Without mobile data on my phone, I was basically one of the ‘internet-less lost gaijin’ crippled by the lack of Google Maps who ended up befriending the station master at every transfer station because, without them, I would probably have had to spend the night hanging out with the buskers on the streets.

The maps in Japanese subway stations are not only confusing, they also look like multi-colored spaghetti or weird roller coasters, and I can clearly recall thinking how nice it would be to have a better-looking representation of the city’s train lines. Thankfully, it looks like South Korean design company Zero per Zero has fulfilled my wish with their subway map designs, which are becoming a hot topic on Reddit.

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Tokyo court rules that hotels must pay NHK fees according to the number of rooms with TVs

Last year, we brought you news of a court ruling in Yokohama which stipulated that anyone who owns a device capable of receiving a TV signal, regardless of whether they’ve entered into a contract with NHK (Japan’s public broadcasting station) or not, is legally obligated to pay the NHK licensing fee. An important point to note is that the fees are only paid once per household, and not according to the number of TV sets or devices capable of receiving a signal in the house.

However, a recent court decision seems to be taking the issue of NHK licensing fees in a whole new direction. On October 9, Tokyo District Court ruled in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit that the management company behind three Tokyo hotels must first enter into a contract with the public broadcaster. Furthermore, the hotels, all three of which had refused to enter into contracts despite repeated requests from NHK, must also pay their overdue licensing fees in proportion to the number of hotel rooms with TVs.

Just wait til you read how much money that all comes out to be…

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Cat man from Kyushu walks nine cats in a stroller, draws crowds in Tokyo

Japan is known for having a unique culture that perfectly balances two extreme worlds of tradition and fun. From cat cafes to cosplay-clad posers in Harajuku, it’s the light-hearted, anything-goes attitude on the streets of Tokyo that brightens the serious, traditional side of society which likes to rein in anything different and out of the norm.

It’s little surprise then, that people have been drawn to one of the newcomers to the street scene in Tokyo, a recently retired man who goes by the name “Kyushu Neko Ojisan” (lit. The Cat Man from Kyushu). Retirement for this gent means he’s now free to walk his nine adorable cats in a baby buggy around Tokyo. And his crowds of admirers are growing with every stroll he takes.

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