Tokyo

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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Reddit user claims common Tokyo chain has “best ramen ever” for just US$6, we investigate

A decade or two ago, the big Japanese food export that everybody raved about was sushi. Sushi joints cropped up all over the place, with the more authentic places employing highly skilled Japanese chefs slinging expertly crafted sushi at exorbitant prices. In places like New York City, sushi was the go-to food if you wanted to eat out but keep it at least a little on the healthy side.

Then, Westerners apparently took a look at all the diet food in their grocery stores and bland sandwich wraps in their food trucks and decided to revolt. Suddenly, wraps, sushi and other healthy foods were replaced with cronuts, cupcakes, “all the bacon and eggs you have,” and, of course, ramen. Delicious, fatty, greasy ramen quickly replaced sushi as the hip Japanese food and Westerners are willing to pay top dollar for it.

Of course, some Japanese (primarily the slightly feral citizens of 2chan) argue that, for all the money they’re shelling out, Westerners couldn’t pick out a truly great bowl of ramen to save their lives. So, 2chan was unsurprisingly amused when Reddit user lemonpls posted to a foodie subreddit that he’d found the greatest bowl of ramen he’d ever had in his life… at a common fast food chain in Tokyo.

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Smash & Eat: We try a playful Korean sweet you have to hit with a hammer to enjoy

They say girls love sweets because the endorphins released when eating them help to get rid of bad moods and make everything better. But if we’re being honest, most people of any gender want their foul moods to be whisked away by the delightful taste of sugary sweets! However, sometimes your problems can’t be solved with just cakes and ice cream and you still have so much pent-up frustration that can only be released by DESTROYING something. If you run into this kind of situation, we have the perfect solution for you: a popular sweet from Korea that must first be smashed with a hammer before you can enjoy it.

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Dog-carrying accessory spotted on Japanese train is awesome, borders on animal abuse

You know those hilarious baby pouches that parents use to strap their kid to their backs, and the kid instantly falls asleep, because that’s what babies do? And then the baby’s limbs just wobble around while the parent walks and you have to do a double take because it kind of looks like the baby is dead at first?

Well, those pouches are apparently also being used on dogs in Japan lately.

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Are Women-Only train cars illegal in Japan?

File this one under things we hope don’t fall into the wrong hands: Those Women Only train cars in Japan aren’t actually enforceable under the law.

All foreign men in Japan can recount their first harrowing experience of obliviously stepping onto a train, only to find that literally every single other passenger was a woman. There’s a moment of confusion and, if you’re lucky, a good Samaritan politely explaining that wieners don’t belong here, followed by the terrible realization that you’ve broken not only an official rule set forth by the train company but also an unwritten social rule, which is kind of almost worse. But, from here on out, you can rest assured that even though you’re committing a social taboo, you’re not breaking any laws!

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What if the 1945 Hiroshima bomb had been dropped on Tokyo instead?

On Wednesday of last week, the city of Hiroshima marked the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing. When the bomb detonated in the air above Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, it destroyed the city and killed up to 140,000 people. Almost everything in a one-mile radius of the target site was immediately razed to the ground. On August 9, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing a further estimated 70,000.

Hiroshima was chosen as the primary target for a number of reasons. The US wanted a target city with an urban area of at least three miles diameter. It also had to have been untouched by other air raids, so that the weapon’s impact could be accurately observed. Hiroshima was also thought to be the only potential target city that did not have any Allied prisoner-of-war camps.

But what if the A-bomb had been detonated over Tokyo instead? Or Osaka? Using statistics collated by Dr. Mark A. Carlson at the University of Nebraska, the Japanese Huffington Post has produced this interactive Google map answering just that question.

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Here’s what $5 million buys in housing markets across the globe

If you’re looking for a pricey vacation home for the end of summer, we’ve checked out what $5 million can get you in real estate around the world. Our friends at Point2Homes helped us find everything from a tiny apartment in Monte Carlo to a 16,000-square-foot mansion in Qatar. Needless to say, $5 million should get you pretty far no matter what city you live in.

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Two men die in apparently separate suicides after jumping in front of the same train

Komabatodamae Station was the scene of a bizarre suicide yesterday as two men who seemingly had nothing to do with each other took their own lives by leaping in front of the same train.

At around noon on 11 August, an express train struck and killed the men after they jumped into its path about 20 meters apart.

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Something for the weekend? Love doll exhibition opens in Ginza – and yep, it sure looks creepy

“Bored of Tokyo”, you say?! It’s impossible to run out of things to do in Tokyo! Ever-evolving fashion, more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, and hundreds and hundreds of art museums and galleries…

“Oh yeah! Art! Like that erotic gallery in Ginza that’s been taken over by sex dolls for the month of August! Tell me more about that!”

Oh. Well…if you insist.

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The top 5 places to see the sun set in Japan

Japan may be known as the Land of the Rising Sun for good reason. The Japanese are extremely reverential to the sun and, if you can find a spot somewhere that doesn’t have a skyscraper blocking your view, Japanese sunrises are impressive and breathtaking to behold. They also happen at like 4 a.m., when no one in their right mind is awake – and those that are are likely enormously drunk and just getting ready for bed.

So for a lot of people, you might be better off watching the sun set in Japan. It’s equally gorgeous depending on location, and even in the middle of summer, the sun starts to slip behind the horizon around 6:30 or 7 p.m., so catching that perfect sunset is easy to work into your plans and doesn’t require remaining awake at some ungodly hour.

Of course, some places are better than others for catching a great Japanese sunset. While it’s cool and all to watch the sky turn all kinds of magnificent colors and the neon lights of the city winking on one by one from whatever street you happen to be standing on in the middle of Tokyo, it’s just not the same without a perfect backdrop and that eye-searing, crimson glory of the sun itself visibly sinking behind the landscape.

Here are our top five picks for watching the sunset in Japan (in no particular order):

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One Piece takes over Yamanote train for 15th anniversary

The One Piece anime is turning 15 this year, and one of the birthday surprises includes a One Piece takeover of JR’s Yamanote Line.

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