Tokyo

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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A man-made cave of wonders: the world’s biggest underground storm drain in Kasukabe, Japan

Deep beneath the ground, 19 miles north of Tokyo, lies a truly incredible feat of engineering. The G-Cans Project is the largest storm drain on earth, a colossal series of underground silos and tunnels, built to protect Tokyo from flooding during typhoon seasons. Its main hall (actually an enormous water tank) is held up by 59 columns each 25 metres high, and is known as the “Underground Temple”.

The facility is free to visit by guided tour, and the folks at Another Tokyo, a Japanese website introducing off-the-beaten-track places from around the country, recently went to check it out. This is what they found!

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(Self) Attack on Censorship! Gruesome titans skip humans and eat fast food in Tokyo station ads

If you’re a fan of the wildly popular manga and anime series Attack on Titan, then you’ll be more than familiar with the violent and jarring scenes of gigantic monsters biting off and chewing human heads, arms and various other body parts. But while you might expect such gruesome images in your comic books, commuters riding the Tokyo subway might not appreciate seeing such gory poster images on their way to work every morning.

So when advertising a new Attack on Titan exhibit opening next month at a Tokyo museum, the poster designers decided to creatively self-censor their own work with some very cleverly placed food items.

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Not sure if zombie outbreak affecting only cute college girls or found weird niche fetish site

Here’s something to make “Not Sure if…” Fry’s head explode out of sheer confusion. It looks like there may or may not be a zombie epidemic spreading throughout Tokyo which affects only young, college-aged girls.

…Or it could be a strange, niche soft porn site for lonely Japanese lovers of horror and very cute girls.

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Tokyo Disney Resorts to introduce plethora of new attractions for 2015

Supposedly 2014 was the “Year of Universal Studios Japan,” as the park introduced radical changes and saw a substantial spike in attendance. This must have made Mickey Mouse and Co. a little nervous, as Tokyo Disney Resorts is introducing an almost comical number of new events and attractions for 2015 in what could be a scramble to maintain their long reign as king, or perhaps magical princess, of the theme parks.

At the moment there’s not a lot of information about the new attractions, but it seems that many of them are aiming to bring a little more traditional Japanese culture to The Happiest Place in Japan. In no particular order, here are the new planned events and attractions for Tokyo Disney Resorts in 2015:

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Tokyo’s moe temple is now selling Buddhist goddess anime figures

A few years ago, a temple called Ryohoji in Tokyo’s Hachioji district started to use moe girls – cute-sexy adolescent anime characters – to promote the temple. They put up a new sign at the entrance with moe girls explaining the temple grounds. The temple has become a minor tourist destination for pilgrimaging otaku, and is commonly known as moe-dera (“moe temple”).

Until the moe temple came along, people interested in both Buddhist iconography and youthful cartoon girls had to enjoy their two hobbies separately. But now, the clever people at Ryohoji have come up with this official moe figure of Benzaiten. Maybe they thought the goddess needed a little anime improvement…

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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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Chinese man cleans up after his countrymen, single-handedly repairs Japan-China relations

If you’re an Apple fanboy living in Japan, you may have noticed – while waiting in a ridiculously long line for your latest gadget – that there was a huge number of Chinese nationals waiting in line along with you.

That’s because, for the last couple of years, heading out to other countries to buy up the latest Apple products and sell them for a profit back in China has become a popular pastime for China’s more enterprising scalpers.

But this year, when Apple stores unexpectedly sold out of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 + before lines could dissipate, things got a little out of hand with the remaining Chinese customers, who reportedly stormed at least one Tokyo-based Apple store and wrecked the place – in addition to leaving piles of garbage out on the streets. Which would not have gone down well had it not been for the actions of one man.

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Monthly “Propaganda” event in Tokyo is a paradise for the trans and crossdressing communities

As another one of those tricky wasei-eigo words, “new half” refers to transsexual individuals and those people who identify more with the opposite gender. A new Japanese term has also established itself within the past several years to denote the same thing–男の娘, which is pronounced as otoko no ko (the usual way to say “boys”) but written with the kanji for otoko no musume (“young women-men”; musume refers to “young ladies” as in the name of the sensational idol group Morning Musume).

Thanks in large part to the prevalence of otoko no ko in popular manga, social media sites, and video games, casual crossdressing events are enjoying a relative boom of popularity in Japan, and nowhere is this phenomenon more visible than at the monthly Propaganda event held in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Best of all, there are no strings attached–everyone is welcome, from professional drag queens to adults just looking to experiment with a different way of having fun! More details after the jump.

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M5.6 earthquake in Tokyo brings some weird photos to Twitter

Japan is no stranger to earthquakes, meaning every time one occurs, the Japanese Twittersphere is bombarded with photos of the aftermath. There have been some major quakes that were no laughing matter, but usually, the tremors that occur result in nothing more than otaku griping about their toy…sorry, action figure collections getting knocked off the shelves. Japan’s most recent earthquake was centered around Ibaraki Prefecture and came in at a somewhat calm M5.6, delivering a few more photos of fallen treasures. From toppled heads to teetering TP, let’s take a look at some of the most popular photos taken after the earthquake. 

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The most crowded train lines during rush hour in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya are…

Even though I could praise Japan’s efficient public transportation system for hours on end, there’s one major drawback about it that has left me traumatized on several occasions and never fails to induce terrifying flashbacks whenever I’m surrounded by too many people. You can probably guess what I’m talking about, right? Yup, it’s about how unbelievably crowded the country’s trains and subways can get during rush hour.

Anyone traveling in the Greater Tokyo Area or other metropolitan centers of Japan should be forewarned that the experience is not for the faint of heart–nor for the claustrophobic. I mean, you know it’s a bad sign when there are actually station staff on hand during peak rush hours to squeeze as many passengers as possible into each car. That said, if you’ve traveled or happen to live in Japan’s capital, you can undoubtedly sympathize with the following ranking of the most crowded train and subway lines in Tokyo at rush hour. And just so you don’t think Tokyo gets all the love, we’ve also thrown in the lists for Osaka and Nagoya, too!

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