Tokyo

New banana shake-flavored Tokyo Banana cakes come out — in bright prints!

New banana shake-flavored Tokyo Banana cakes come out — in bright prints!

Visitors to Tokyo may be aware of a popular local sweet called Tokyo Banana sold here in the city. They’re cute, yellow, banana-shaped sponge cakes with banana custard cream filling inside. And yes, they’re as good as the description sounds, which is why the cakes are a well-loved treat in Japan, and seemingly in other  parts of the world as well, as I’ve actually heard people from Singapore and Malaysia mention that they’re fans of the cake.

One of the reporters at our sister site Pouch is also apparently a big fan, so when a new version of Tokyo Banana came out this month, she naturally had to get her hands on some! And what’s so special about the new Tokyo Banana cakes? Well, to start with, they’re only sold at one location — Tokyo Station to be exact — and not only do they come in a different flavor from the regular cakes, they come in beautiful, colorful prints!

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【Thursday Throwback】Free Admission: 12 of Tokyo’s Best Kept Secrets

【Thursday Throwback】Free Admission: 12 of Tokyo’s Best Kept Secrets

Expensive Tokyo living got you down? Are you staring another three-day weekend in the face and wondering what havoc it will wreak on your wallet? You’re in luck! There are plenty of places to enjoy yourself for free all over Tokyo, if you know where to look. RocketNews24 has sifted through the many options and has come up with 12 suggestions that will not disappoint. Try them next time you have a last-minute date or cobwebs in your billfold!

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Tokyo enlists civilian “water monitors” to prove its water is delicious

Tokyo enlists civilian “water monitors” to prove its water is delicious

Even though tap water in Tokyo is perfectly safe to drink, and in most cases indistinguishable from bottled water, the metropolitan government is concerned about the bad rap it gets from citizens who will not give it a try. In October, the Bureau of Waterworks, charged with providing clean and tasty water for Japan’s largest metropolitan area, wrapped up a 25-year-long project to connect the majority of Tokyo residents to great-tasting and specially treated water from the Tone River system.

According to an NHK article, the government agency wants to get the word out that their water is just as good as any store-bought bottled water and has asked 700 private citizens all over Tokyo to become “water monitors” and test their home’s tap water for minerals and judge its quality.

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12 urban legends about Tokyo Disneyland

12 urban legends about Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland is a magical place, what with all the joyous rides, concerts utilizing incredible animatronics and performers who seemingly never tire, mostly not-terrifying mascots available for photo ops, and children mysteriously vanishing from the park every year, never to be seen again.

Wait, what?

Okay, so the last one may or may not be an urban legend. Like any public place that gets massive amounts of traffic and a lot of media attention, Tokyo Disneyland attracts its fair share of urban legends. Some of these legends apply to Disneyland locations worldwide, while others are exclusive to TDL. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting/frightening ones:

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Boxers, manga, umbrellas… ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Boxers, manga, umbrellas… ABSOLUTELY FREE!

We all know there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, but in Japan, you might just be able to get free tour rides, free vegetables, and even free boxers! Some of these services even deliver the free items right to your doorstep without charging a single cent!

Sounds too good to be true. Getting a little skeptical here, aren’t we? Details after the cut!

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We made monjayaki with a Pon de Monja doughnut!

We made monjayaki with a Pon de Monja doughnut!

Yesterday, we wrote about Mister Donut’s new Pon de Umaimon series, which are basically savory varieties of the doughnut ring leader’s signature product, the Pon de Ring. Speaking of savory doughnuts, some genius in the office thought, why not go all the way with it! So we attempted the ironic stunt of making a monjayaki with a monjayaki flavored doughnut to see if it blends in with the real deal.

Monjayaki is a Kanto dish, so we had our very own Tokyo native, Mr. Hatori, work the monja magic for us!

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“Hamsters are friends, not food!” says Japanese snake Ao-chan

“Hamsters are friends, not food!” says Japanese snake Ao-chan

Back in school we learnt about the predator-prey system, the brutal but entirely natural way in which Mother Nature keeps things in balance. It’s a cruel world out there in the wild, but that’s just how it is.

But things don’t always go as planned, even for great Mother Nature. There are exceptions every once in a while, like this pair of miracle buddies, Gohan-chan the hamster and Ao-chan the snake, who seem to get along just fine.

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Cute cat stands sacrifice themselves to hold up your smartphone

Cute cat stands sacrifice themselves to hold up your smartphone

It’s about time cats did something for us. We’ve pampered them on the Internet and in convenience stores for years, and all they ever did in return was learn how to poop in the litter box.

Cats are finally giving back now with these cute but somewhat disturbing smartphone stands that depict various cat breeds heroically holding up your smartphone so it won’t topple over.

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Specialist French fry stand “And the Friet” opening today in Tokyo

Specialist French fry stand “And the Friet” opening today in Tokyo

If you’ve ever yearned for an authentic potato chip in Tokyo, then it’s time to get excited because specialist french fry shop, “And the Friet”, is set to open in the Hiroo district today!

The Belgian-style stand will offer six types of cut, half a dozen potato varieties including a Belgian variety flown in especially, and a choice of seasonal dips and sauces. It’s time to get your friet on!

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Honda’s UNI-CUB is our laziest dream come true

Honda’s UNI-CUB is our laziest dream come true

The good people at Honda, seemingly having read our minds, introduced at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show this beautiful luxury chair-vehicle hybrid that we never knew we’d always been waiting for.

Gone are the days of actually having to get out of your seat to retrieve the remote, or that last broken chip from the Pringles can that somehow found its way into the seat cushion of that chair you never use. In fact, with the new UNI-CUB the only reason you’ll ever need to get out of your seat again is to give a standing ovation to Honda’s brilliant – and probably equally lazy – engineers.

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Feed your inner monster with adorable Totoro cream puffs

Feed your inner monster with adorable Totoro cream puffs

Sometimes food is so beautifully prepared it seems like a shame to eat it. And yet, the beautiful preparation makes it that much more enticing. The Japanese are without a doubt the masters of this skill, ranging from the exquisite jewel-like arrangements of chic kaiseki-ryori to the saccharine adorableness of the average kid’s bento.

But we’ve discovered an almost-too-squee-inducing-to-eat treat that should appeal to adults and children alike: cream puffs shaped like Ghibli animation favorite Totoro.

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Late-night adult escape game “Escape from Virginity” may lead to confusion

Late-night adult escape game “Escape from Virginity” may lead to confusion

The popularity of “escape games” has been growing recently in Asian countries and Japan is no exception. Our own Mr. Sato took part in one not too long ago where he had to solve a series of puzzles to progress through levels and reach the end. In his case, the end consisted of a train car stocked with alcopops.

This time a unique escape game event is scheduled for after midnight on 17 November at the Asagaya Loft in Tokyo titled “R18 Real Escape Game: Escape from Virginity.” Some readers may find this name shocking at first, but after learning what really goes on at this event we can see it’s not exactly as the name suggests.

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Japanese man awarded by British government for honoring POWs, being generally awesome

Japanese man awarded by British government for honoring POWs, being generally awesome

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II recently made a Mie Prefecture man an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire, which we think means he’s some kind of knight now or something. That or “Hand of the Queen” if standard Game of Thrones rules apply.

What did the lucky man, Sir Isao Toji, do to deserve such a distinction? Well, for the past 20 years, Toji has held an annual memorial service for 16 British servicemen who died in Japan as prisoners of war during World War II.

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Bunnies, birds of prey and ice cream: These novelty cafés in Tokyo are worth your attention

Bunnies, birds of prey and ice cream: These novelty cafés in Tokyo are worth your attention

In a city as big as Tokyo, you can visit thousands of stores for a simple coffee and a light snack. If a café or coffee shop wants to earn itself some online attention or news coverage, it has to bring something truly unique to the table. These four specially themed cafés have managed to do just that, earning themselves a spot on Naver Matome’s list of “Novelty Café’s that I’d like to Take a Peak at.” Let’s see for ourselves what the Japanese Internet found so interesting.

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Is Halloween in Japan evolving?

Is Halloween in Japan evolving?

A recent Ameba News Japanese blog post asked a 37-year old American woman her thoughts on Halloween in Japan, and based on her answer you’d think Halloween in Japan was somehow expressly responsible for all the unhappiness in her life.

The woman asked the blog author, “Why do adults in Japan get drunk together and wear costumes on Halloween? Don’t they know it’s a holiday for kids?”

Her response seemed to be dripping with condescension, which inspired us to dig into just what Halloween is about in Japan and how it differs from the US, and if our research is any indicator, the holiday has really come into its own out here over the past few years.

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Are Japanese beauty salons the best in the world? We weigh in

Are Japanese beauty salons the best in the world? We weigh in

Beauty in Japan is serious business. This might be the explanation for why “beauty salon” in Japanese shares a kanji character with both “graduate school” and “hospital.”* The treatment you’re liable to get at a Japanese beauty salon often far outpaces that of Western salons; typically you can expect a thorough scalp massage and drink service at the very least, and shoulder and hand massages and in-depth style counseling are not uncommon either.

And that’s just scratching the surface. Here is a list of differences between Japanese and Western hair salons:

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Prison Culture Festival: All the fun of incarceration, none of the crime!

Prison Culture Festival: All the fun of incarceration, none of the crime!

The first weekend in November, Japan’s largest prison facility, Fuchu Prison, will be holding its annual culture festival! Everyone’s invited to visit the grounds and experience all the fun, food, and friendly atmosphere – things that are not often attributed to prison life. It’s just like the cultural festivals run by high school students, but imagine that the students are all convicts dressed in grey pajamas and locked up in their classrooms. Flyers for the event list educational exhibitions, musical guests, and even a “prison adventure” bus tour behind the heavily guarded walls!

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Eight Tokyo observation towers – all free, all awesome

Eight Tokyo observation towers – all free, all awesome

One of the best reasons to come to Tokyo is to experience the sheer energy of being in the biggest city in the world. There’s no better way to get an idea of the massive scale of Japan’s capital than with a bird’s eye view from hundreds of feet above its streets.

Unfortunately, the city’s two most famous observation towers, Tokyo Tower and its younger sibling the Tokyo Skytree, both charge hefty admission prices. But if you just spent your last bit of cash because you couldn’t say no to the chance to buy hot coffee in a can, here are eight spots that offer awesome views of Tokyo that won’t cost you a single yen to see.

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Meet some unexpected web-footed friends – at the penguin bar in central Tokyo!

Meet some unexpected web-footed friends – at the penguin bar in central Tokyo!

You know life is good when it’s Friday night and you can hole up in a bar with some friends to enjoy a relaxing drink or two (or three or four). But you know what may be even better? How about being holed up in a bar where you can watch cute sea animals while having a drink? It turns out there’s a bar where you can do exactly that – right in the middle of Tokyo!

Yes, the recently opened Penguin no Iru Bar (literally, “the bar where there are penguins”) lives up to its name by actually being home to live penguins that customers can view right in the bar. Wow, real live penguins at a bar? We definitely had to go see this ourselves, since it’s no big secret that we’re quite fond of penguins here at RocketNews24. So, what exactly was this unique penguin bar like?

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Japan votes on the musical act they most want to see in the Olympic opening ceremony

Japan votes on the musical act they most want to see in the Olympic opening ceremony

With the Olympic Games slated to return to Tokyo in 2020 a lot of prep work needs to be done. And as facilities are being planned and developed there’s also the difficult task of providing entertainment, particularly in the opening ceremony. China’s powerful and impressive ceremony raised the bar for what’s expected of a country in terms of presenting their culture in a fun and meaningful way.

To get the ball rolling, the Japanese Olympic Committee held a survey asking everyone which musicians they would most like to see appear at the opening ceremony. A total of 143,394 people responded and the following top twenty artists were recently announced.

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