Tokyo

Is new “One Piece” plane awesome fan service or just a cynical cash grab?

Is new “One Piece” plane awesome fan service or just a cynical cash grab?

In what can now officially be called a budding trend, the Japanese domestic carrier Skymark has announced it will be painting over five of its Boeing 737-800 model planes with characters from the popular and long-running manga and anime, One Piece.

Two designs – presumably on the left and right sides of the plane – will feature group shots of some of the series’ most popular characters to date, including main character Monkey D. Luffy, Roronoa Zoro, Nico Robin, Nami, and that reindeer thing. A separate graphic of Luffy will greet passengers as they enter the plane near the boarding door.

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Tokyo woman arrested for streak of poo-throwing incidents over neighbor’s “noisy” car door

Tokyo woman arrested for streak of poo-throwing incidents over neighbor’s “noisy” car door

On 1 July, Tokyo Metropolitan Police announced the arrest of 53-year-old Yuri Hamajima on suspicion of disturbing the peace. If proven guilty this will come as a relief to Ms. Hamajima’s neighbors who woke up every morning for six months wondering if a pile of human excrement was waiting outside their home.

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“Awesome! Lemon Coke is back!” say tens of consumers in Japan

“Awesome! Lemon Coke is back!” say tens of consumers in Japan

After a grueling nine year wait, the two dozen or so hardcore fans of Lemon Coke can finally triumphantly shrug their shoulders and go, “Meh,”, as the company has announced it’s bringing back the mildly tolerated legend after a long hiatus.

The new Lemon Coke, now with slick new packaging that includes a spiffy yellow cap, will be re-introduced to 16,622 7-Elevens throughout Japan, probably to the glorious, collective nonchalant grunts of thousands. Based on promotional photos, the Coke seems a little more transparent than usual, indicating that there must be a whole lot of lemon juice in there.

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Saudi Arabian TV tempts would-be thieves in Tokyo to test Japan’s honesty

Saudi Arabian TV tempts would-be thieves in Tokyo to test Japan’s honesty

Besides great sushi, great customer service and ubiquitous vending machines, another great thing about living in Japan is the relatively low crime rate there. Although the country certainly has its criminals (including very cute and cuddly ones), visitors, tourists and expats in Japan routinely extol how Japanese culture has created a society where even a wallet full of cash will be returned to its owner most of the time. After hearing about Japan’s reputation for being an honest, rule-abiding country, a Saudi Arabian TV show created a social experiment to see what would happen when they left a very conspicuous wallet on the busy streets of Tokyo.

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Freak hailstorms hit Tokyo in June as winter rises from its icy grave

Freak hailstorms hit Tokyo in June as winter rises from its icy grave

The weather in Tokyo can be a little unpredictable in June. Spring still wasn’t that long ago, and sometimes we’ll get a day with a cool breeze or nighttime temperatures low enough that you’ll want a windbreaker, or at least a long-sleeved shirt.

On the other hand, midsummer is just around the corner, and steamy, sweltering days with high humidity and temperatures aren’t at all unusual. On just about any day the cloud layer has the potential to turn into a squall, too.

One thing Tokyo usually doesn’t see at this time of the year, though, is hailstorms.

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Japanese girls are not just skinny any more!? Chubby girls are in!

Japanese girls are not just skinny any more!? Chubby girls are in!

Naomi Watanabe, a famous female comedian, has started a fashion brand for plus-sized girls named “PUNYUS”. PUNYUS has been in the spotlight since the brand launched this spring, because it is part of a new trend to focus on chubby girls, and also it is remarkable for a comedian to produce a fashion brand compared to the many slender fashion models that have their own brands.

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Need a change of scenery? 3 Japanese cities now rank in list of world’s most livable cities

Need a change of scenery? 3 Japanese cities now rank in list of world’s most livable cities

Everything has been coming up Tokyo lately. Recently ranked no. 1 on a Trip Advisor survey, Japan’s capital city has now come in at No. 2 on Monocle’s list of most livable cities for 2014. That’s two positions up from their ranking last year!

Cities across the world were ranked based on criteria such as economics, society, functionality, as well as ease of everyday living and happiness of people. But it’s not just Tokyo that’s feeling the love recently – two more Japanese cities made it onto the list of great places to live!

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It’s sweet cupcake heaven — Magnolia Bakery opens very first shop in Japan to huge crowds!

It’s sweet cupcake heaven — Magnolia Bakery opens very first shop in Japan to huge crowds!

Before we had mouth-watering croissant doughnuts and doughnut sandwiches, we had … good ol’ cupcakes! But we’re not talking about just any ordinary cupcake here. We’re talking about cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery in New York, made famous the world over by the hit TV Series Sex and the City. And yes, the TV series was an enormous success in Japan too, meaning that countless Japanese fans were left coveting not just gorgeous Manolo Blahnik shoes, but the delectable looking Magnolia Bakery cupcakes as well.

So, you can imagine how absolutely thrilled fans of the cupcakes were about Magnolia Bakery opening their very first store in Japan in the Omotesando area of Tokyo this week. And prove their enthusiasm they did, as throngs of fans showed up on opening day of Magnolia Bakery Tokyo on June 16. Now, as a passionate fan of all things sweet, as well as a devoted follower of American TV dramas — Sex and the City in particular — I knew I simply had to be there for the grand opening. And while the wait was long, the sight that greeted me in the shop was sweet indeed! But first, let us tell you just how long the wait was …

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Take a look at Japan from a whole new angle — from the air! 【Video】

Take a look at Japan from a whole new angle — from the air! 【Video】

Now, chances are you’ve already seen many pictures and video footage from Japan, especially of tourist areas in cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. But this video, shared about a month ago on Vimeo, offers a look at these cities from a very unique perspective — from up in the air! The video, filmed by a tourist visiting Japan, was taken from the perspective of a remote-controlled drone attached with a camera. And while some of the shots captured are of well-known tourist spots, Internet users both inside and outside of Japan seem to have been impressed by how the unique angle gives the familiar scenes quite a new feel! Let’s see what some of the popular sites of Japan look like from up above.

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Amazing time-lapse video turns Tokyo into a floating, endless metropolis

Amazing time-lapse video turns Tokyo into a floating, endless metropolis

Two features of Tokyo make an immediate impression on visitors. First is the sheer size of the teeming metropolis, as it seems to envelop you from all sides. Second is the otherworldly atmosphere imparted by its futuristic architecture, intricate network of crisscrossing train lines, and the fields of neon that come to life like blooming flowers after sundown.

These two characteristics have been captured, interpreted, and enhanced in an entrancing new video from Yokohama-based visual artist Darwinfish105 which gives the impression of floating through a Tokyo without borders or end.

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Unexpected Japan suicide facts are equal parts depressing and uplifting

Unexpected Japan suicide facts are equal parts depressing and uplifting

Live in urban Japan long enough and, as shocking as it sounds, you’re eventually going to have the distinctly unpleasant experience of riding a train that hits and more than likely kills a human being.

Even if you aren’t experiencing it firsthand, walking into a Tokyo train station only to notice yet another train delay caused by what is euphemistically described as a “bodily accident” (jinshin jiko, or 人身事故) is at least a weekly occurrence. It’s enough to make you think Japan must be wrestling with one hell of a suicide problem.

Which is true. But it’s not quite as bad as the Western media would have you believe. Here are five facts about suicide in Japan that are about as uplifting as we have any right to expect from facts about suicide:

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Kamon kamon kamon kamon…branding? Pumps to bring out your inner feudal warlord

Kamon kamon kamon kamon…branding? Pumps to bring out your inner feudal warlord

Japanese family crests (or kamon), have been passed down through the generations for centuries, although these days they’re mostly seen in the patterns of kimono or the logos of sushi restaurants, as well as on flags and armour. Kamon are circular, often featuring animal or plant motifs.

These family crests have found a new home now, though – as logos on cute shoes! These kamon pumps, from an Ikebukuro-based cosplay store, use the actual family motifs of four armoured generals (“busho” in Japanese) from the Sengoku period, to make up this new feudal warlord series. We do love it when Japan combines old and new!

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The number 1 ‘most satisfying’ city in the world is….TOKYO!!!

The number 1 ‘most satisfying’ city in the world is….TOKYO!!!

The world is a huge place, and where you spend your hard-earned money and time off is a big decision. With so many fabulous locations around the globe, how do you choose what is the best destination for you? The answer seems obvious: ask the people. With tools like Yelp and Wikitravel, crowd sourcing your best vacation spot is easier than ever.

One of the most popular travel sites, Trip Advisor, has released a survey asking its users to rank its top 37 cities, and Japan has something to celebrate before the World Cup even begins: coming in at #1 in the world!

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【TBT】A day in the life of a Japanese anime director

【TBT】A day in the life of a Japanese anime director

If you thought being an anime director was all cosplay groupies and cool action figures, think again. Turns out it’s long, long hours in front of a computer, less-than-fancy convenience store dinners and tons of office all-nighters.

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The Tokyo bar where servers are princes, customers are princesses… and everyone’s a girl

The Tokyo bar where servers are princes, customers are princesses… and everyone’s a girl

Kyabakura hostess clubs, where men pay to spend time with a girl who will pour their drinks, light their cigarettes, and generally lavish them with attention, are a common sight in Japanese cities. The equivalent for female customers is a host club, where women can be waited on by smartly-dressed male hosts. A newer addition to Japan’s nightlife scene are cross-dressing bars, which fulfil a niche gap in the industry.

At Bar Prince, in Tokyo’s Nakano ward, the boyish-looking staff in ruffle-trimmed “little prince” outfits are all cross-dressers. The bar operates a strict women-only policy which extends to staff as well as patrons. At hostess clubs, the customer is king: but at this club, the stated mission is to treat every customer like a princess.

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Bored with hotels? Abenomics bringing new lodging options for foreign tourists in Japan

Bored with hotels? Abenomics bringing new lodging options for foreign tourists in Japan

With Japan’s population steadily decreasing, the country is finding itself with a bigger and bigger surplus of vacant houses—7.75 million of them, according to a 2008 survey. That makes more than 10% of all housing units in Japan unoccupied and that is set to increase to 30% by 2030.

But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic reforms, lovingly dubbed “Abenomics,” hopes to turn this vacancy problem into a cash cow for property owners by changing hotel laws and loosening restrictions on renting out your home to tourists planning their ultimate Japanese vacation. And to jumpstart the initiative, a Japanese real estate giant has teamed up with a home rental website to match up homeowners to prospective overseas tourists who want to experience a more authentic Japan.

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7-Eleven’s Premium Popcorn is apparently so good it barely even exists

7-Eleven’s Premium Popcorn is apparently so good it barely even exists

We’ve already talked about Japan’s penchant for limited stock and limited-time seasonal items, but I’m starting to get the impression manufacturers and retailers are playing us for fools. Zipping down to the grocery only to find that at least some of the basic items you wanted are sold out is a common headache in Japan, as if retailers are hoping we’ll all be like, “Oh man, white bread must be really trendy right now. Guess I’ll buy five loaves next time.”

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is downright diabolical about this kind of stuff, with a constantly shifting roster of goods that seem to come and go arbitrarily, which Japanese consumers have apparently picked up on because they’re currently in a crazy purchase panic over 7-Eleven’s delicious new Premium Popcorn.

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U.S. may demand compensation from Japan for having the nerve to snow on its planes

U.S. may demand compensation from Japan for having the nerve to snow on its planes

Few can forget the massive snow storm that swept over most of Japan’s main island of Honshu this February. Obscene amounts of snow accumulated everywhere, throwing cities into panic, shutting down Disneyland for the first time in years, and even completely destroying U.S. warplanes like some kind of snow-based Godzilla villain.

But now the U.S. is wading into some touchy political territory, announcing that it’s currently investigating whether or not to demand compensation from Japan to pay for the planes because, come on, obviously that’s Japanese snow.

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Falafel, beer, and water wheels: Shibuya and Harajuku’s tucked-away treasures 【Hidden Tokyo】

Falafel, beer, and water wheels: Shibuya and Harajuku’s tucked-away treasures 【Hidden Tokyo】

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the bustling, beautiful megalopolis of Tokyo, then the city really is yours – you just have to know where to look. And if you want to get away from the tourist trail and get down close to the beating heart of the capital, a journey into the back streets of the 23 wards is where you’ll wind up.

Come with us as we take you into different neighbourhoods and spend an afternoon exploring some of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets. Today we’ll take you around some of Shibuya’s lesser known backstreets, where you can chow down on falafels, pick up some of the best coffee and soak up a hip, laid-back atmosphere.

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This table tennis player shows that “nothing is impossible” 【Video】

This table tennis player shows that “nothing is impossible” 【Video】

Have you ever given up on something you wish you’d persisted with? We’ve all quit something at one point or another in our lives and there are many reasons for giving up. It sounds great to be able to play an instrument effortlessly, master a sport or become fluent in multiple languages, but once the reality of just how much work goes into a skill sinks in, it can often feel impossible.

Meet Ibrahim Hamada of Egypt, a table tennis enthusiast who says, “Nothing is impossible as long as you work hard.” That may sound like the kind of thing that can only be said by the exceptionally naive, but that is not the case here. He was involved in a train accident when he was 10 years old, and he lost most of his arms as a result. At 13, he was determined to find a way to play again.

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