Tokyo

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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F1 driver visits Japanese game arcade, burns pixels on Mario Kart

F1 driver visits Japanese game arcade, burns pixels on Mario Kart

In case you hadn’t heard, F1 racing has come to Japan this weekend, and people are excited! Couple the race with a three-day weekend, and you can believe that a ton of people are heading out to Mie Prefecture to catch the big event. Though not quite as popular as soccer or baseball, it’s impossible to deny the draw the motorsport has in the country.

It also means all of the non-Japanese drivers are checking out some of the local culture. Like Red Bull Racing team driver Sebastian Vettel, who made a stop in Tokyo that has become a big hit online thanks to a video showing the German checking out a Japanese game arcade and trying his hand(s) at arcade Mario Kart!

Now, the million dollar question is: Do his real-world driving skills translate to a big win in the game world??

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Simple tricks to make the most of your Japanese shoebox apartment

Simple tricks to make the most of your Japanese shoebox apartment

The standard comparison to an average Tokyo apartment is to a shoebox. Okay, taken literally, that’s an unfair comparison, but it’s true that Tokyo’s huge population and extremely limited space leads Japanese architects to wedge tiny apartment cubicles into every nook and cranny, often resulting in bizarre, Lilliputian floor plans.

True, things aren’t as bad as they are in some parts of Hong Kong, but making the most of Tokyo’s miniscule living spaces means thinking like an extremely tiny engineer. It also means making sacrifices.

Here are some quick tips and simple steps to making the most of your new miscroscopic Japanese home, brought to you by clever Japanese Netizens:

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World Order celebrates 2020 Summer Olympics selection with synchronized robot dance around Tokyo

World Order celebrates 2020 Summer Olympics selection with synchronized robot dance around Tokyo

You might recognize the suit-clad men pictured above from their many other choreographed dances around Japan. For those unfamiliar, these seven men make up World Order, a dance group led by retired mixed martial artist, Genki Sudo.

Their newest video, “Welcome to TOKYO” was made to celebrate the selection of Tokyo as the site for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.  The group can be seen dancing around famous landmarks around the capital of Japan such as Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower, and Kabuki-za Theatre. Watch and be amazed by the beautiful places and robotic businessmen Tokyo has to offer.

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NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

Naotake Odake, former managing director of the Japan Tourist Bureau (JTB) and once director of the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau, spent years of his professional life traveling to cities across the globe in order to promote Tokyo as a worthwhile tourist destination. In his travels, he noticed a trait shared by all the major cities: they each had a unique and well-recognized landmark embodying the history and culture of the land. According to Odake, a structure of this sort is vital to bolstering a spirit of pride in any given population. Unfortunately for Tokyo, he believes that this sort of historical landmark is something that Japan’s capital city severely lacks. What he has against Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower, or Tokyo Skytree, I’m really not sure. But, it is for this reason that Odake has taken the lead as the chairman of a non-profit organization which hopes to rebuild the Edo Castle’s innermost tower. “In order to present Tokyo as a proud tourist city, we need something like Edo Castle,” he says. But will the payoff really outweigh the costs?

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It begins! First Tokyo iPhone5S buyer lines up for phone 10 days before it goes on sale

It begins! First Tokyo iPhone5S buyer lines up for phone 10 days before it goes on sale

It’s become an annual ritual. Every year, Apple releases a modified version of a product already available and people begin to migrate towards the glowing white apple in their cities to congregate and await its glorious arrival.

This year, however, one Japanese iPhone5S user-to-be may have jumped the gun on his pilgrimage to the Apple store in Ginza, Tokyo. Arriving 10 days before its release, he sits patiently waiting for it to come.

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Tokyo Olympic stadium looks like aliens landed downtown

Tokyo Olympic stadium looks like aliens landed downtown

As we’re sure you’ve heard, Tokyo was selected by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Of course, no host city would be complete without a ludicrously over-designed Olympic stadium that looks like a race of aliens that watched Blade Runner on VHS one too many times took a wrong turn somewhere and landed their space ship downtown. Welcome to New National Stadium!

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Tokyo bookmakers’ favourite to host 2020 Olympics

Tokyo bookmakers’ favourite to host 2020 Olympics

With just two days to go until the host city for the 2020 Olympic Games is announced, sports fans and economists all over the world are busy listing each of the three candidates’ strengths and weaknesses in an attempt to guess the overall winner. According to the bookies, however, Japan’s capital city is already the odds-on favourite to clinch the title.

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Green Tokyo: 5 cool examples of urban agriculture

Green Tokyo: 5 cool examples of urban agriculture

With its massive urban sprawl and busy streets, Tokyo doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of place you would find farmland, but Tokyoites are waking up to the fact that growing your food closer to home means more food security and less pollution from transport. The problem is finding the space in the city and cultivating–if you will excuse the pun–the expertise. But where there is a will, there is a way, and some Japanese have found truly ingenious ways to bring farming to the big city.

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What pleasures await? Ginza bar staffed by former and current porn stars

What pleasures await? Ginza bar staffed by former and current porn stars

We’re sure there’s never been a man on this earth – and especially Japan – that never had at least one day dream about dining with or being, erm… served by a porn star. Except for maybe Amish men, on account of the no Internet or TVs thing.

Now that dream can come partially true at Ginza’s Yuri bar, a concept watering hole somewhere between a hostess club and an after-work business meeting space that is staffed by porn stars both retired and currently appearing in films with titles we probably can’t write here.

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