Serious accidents from walking while using smartphone up over 50 percent in Tokyo

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you’ve certainly seen it and may have even done it yourself a few times. Walking while staring down at a smartphone has become a troubling pedestrian habit, even in Japan where it’s called aruki-sumaho. As the technology rapidly becomes more widespread, you’d expect people to get a little savvier and a little safer while using it. However, a study by the Tokyo Fire Department revealed that the number of accidents where a victim had to be taken away in an ambulance after walking while using a smartphone last year has increased to 1.5 times the number in 2010.

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A guide to Tokyo’s best cat cafés

It’s Cat Day! The one day in Japan that celebrates our feline friends. In honor of this occasion, we’ve put together a list of a dozen cat cafés around Tokyo, so even if you don’t have a furry face waiting for you at home, you can still enjoy some time with kitties on their special day.

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Tokyo artist sketches strangers around town like one of his French girls

One of the major differences between photographers and pen-and-paper artists is that a pen-and-paper artist is apparently allowed to stare for extremely long periods of time at complete strangers, sketching them in minute detail to take home and add to his/her collection and possibly publish on the Internet. But if a photographer takes a picture of a stranger, oh boy, it’s lawsuit time!

Take Tokyo-based artist hamahouse, for instance. This guy appears to spend a lot of time sketching complete strangers in Tokyo,and nary a soul seems to mind. Sure, it helps that he’s extremely good at what he does and people’s facial features are sort of made purposely vague in his sketches, but let’s keep in mind a photographer’s work is done in an instant – but a sketch artist needs to sit and stare at you for at least 10 minutes to complete his work.

Here’s a glimpse of hamahouse’s really very cool sketches:

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Tokyo shop makes ramen for foreigners by adding sugar, something called “Japanese sprit!!”

With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, restaurateurs in Tokyo are already thinking about how they can appeal to the crowds of foreign tourists set to descend on the city. Most of them are focusing on spiffing up their English menus and adding pictures, but some eateries are actually cooking up new menu ideas to appeal to the non-Japanese palate.

We got word that a ramen shop in Shinjuku had concocted just such a dish, so we naturally went to check it out.

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Nine ways Tokyo is the number one city in the world

Tokyoites went to the poll last week to do their civic duty of picking a new governor. In the end, the people chose Yoichi Masuzoe, who has gone on record with his desire to make Tokyo the “number one city in the world.”

Of course, your city doesn’t toss out the term “mayor” and replace it with “governor” for its elected leader without already having some legitimate claims to greatness. Masuzoe has yet to specify exactly what benchmarks he plans to use in making good on his pledge, but here are nine things for which Japan’s capital already occupies the top spot.

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From hot spring to hot pot: One restaurant in Tokyo is actually serving wild monkey

Imagine yourself sitting down to a delicious warming winter meal. There’s nothing like nabe (Japanese hot pot) on a dark, cold evening. And there are so many choices! Pork, chicken, fish, seafood, monkey… Hang on a second … MONKEY?!

As soon as they heard that monkey hot-pot was on the menu at the Sakagura Niigata restaurant in Tokyo, a reporter from our Japanese sister site headed out to find out if it could possibly be true. Here’s what they found.

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Tokyo’s heaviest snowfall in 16 years inspires one-of-a-kind displays at Tokyo Disney Resorts

It’s sure to happen to everybody at least once in their lives: You save up for months and spend far too much time planning and packing for that perfect trip with your family or significant other, only for unexpected inclement weather to come along and ruin it all.

At Tokyo Disney Resorts, not all is lost, even if you end up going on the worst snow day in 16 years of Tokyo history. Disney, after all, has a reputation to keep as the “most magical place on earth,” so the already tirelessly hospitable staff sometimes kick it into overdrive on bad weather days to give some consolation to guests.

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“Sexist” pro-nuclear politician elected as Tokyo’s newest governor

Yoichi Masuzoe, the politician who once publicly stated that women “are not normal” during their period and “couldn’t possibly” be relied upon to run the country because of it, has been elected as governor of Tokyo, it has been announced.

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Kanto region gripped in the grip of a couple inches of snow: “I have to change my underwear!”

On 8 February, the skies over Tokyo and much of the Kanto region darkened. Ominous clouds suddenly began to steadily sprinkle the urban center with fluffy flakes of snow. However, in an area not used to such weather conditions, chaos ensued. Residents urged loved ones to stay indoors if possible while others flocked to supermarkets to load up on supplies. Our own Kuzo – who’s no stranger to reporting from dangerous environments such as North Korea and the spa-resort town of Évian-les-Bains, France – took to the streets of Tokyo to see how everyone was coping with the nearly three inches of snow that had strickened them.

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Snowfall in Tokyo sees customers clearing shelves across the region

If you’re in Tokyo today you’re probably indoors staying warm and gazing out the window at a very different scene thanks to Tokyo’s first real snowfall of the season. Hopefully you’ve stocked your kitchen with more than a battered bottle of Kewpie mayonnaise and stray packets of ramen seasoning because if you’re thinking of heading out to the shops for a quick snack, there’s a good chance you won’t find anything there. It seems the city is full of nervous shoppers acting like bears going into hibernation, hoarding stocks despite an abundance of 24-hour convenience stores and fully-functioning delivery services. After seeing these photos, we’d hate to see supermarket conditions in a blizzard or even worse, in a major catastrophe.

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Foggy night transforms Tokyo government building into Final Fantasy dungeon

Located a short stroll from Shinjuku Station, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, or Tocho, as it’s commonly called, is one of the city’s most easily recognizable landmarks. Its design is distinctive, stately, powerful…and honestly, if you stare at it too long, it starts to look a little sinister.

Driving this sentiment home were a few Japanese Twitters user who worked a little photo editing magic to prove that Tocho would make a perfect dwelling for an RPG boss in a title from video game giant Square Enix.

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Moving to Tokyo? Here are the three best, most reasonable neighborhoods to live in

Committing to an apartment in Japan can be nerve-wracking. On the plus side, there’s no penalty for breaking your lease, but on the other hand, you can expect to pay somewhere between four to six months’ worth of fees and deposits to your real estate agent and landlord. This being Japan, they’d like that in cash, and before you move in, of course.

Long story short, bouncing around from one apartment to another is cost prohibitive, so you want to make sure you choose a location you like. For everyone who’s looking for a place to live in Japan’s capital, we asked a real estate agency for the three best, most affordable neighborhoods in which to live in downtown Tokyo.

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Cyclist in Tokyo ordered to pay $459,000 after collision leaves 74-year-old woman dead

A Tokyo court has ruled that a cyclist must pay 47 million yen (US$459,000) to the family of a 75-year-old women he collided with and killed in 2010.

The pensioner, one Mrs. Mitsuhiro Azuma, was struck by the cyclist on a pedestrian crossing in Tokyo’s Ota Ward after he ignored a red light. The court heard that Mrs. Azuma suffered a head wound when she was knocked to the ground, from which she died five days later.

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This might be the skinniest house in Tokyo…and it’s on sale now!

Housing in Tokyo is notoriously cramped, but this is ridiculous! With a total of 7.2 ㎡ (77.8 square feet) per floor (that’s smaller than the inside of Japan’s famously crowded train carriages), this towering five-story house packs a lot of rooms into a petite frame. So if you’ve ever fancied living in a tiny triangle, now’s your chance because this baby is on sale now!

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Ignore the name, Kitchen Dive’s bento are cheap and delicious!

There are only three reasons one could possibly fathom going to any establishment that’s known in American English as a “dive”: Cheap beer, cheap beer, and greasy burgers.

Now apparently you can add a fourth reason: Cheap, delicious bento lunch boxes, thanks to whispered-about bento  shop, Kitchen Dive. With just a handful of locations around Tokyo, we’d never actually seen one in the flesh before and almost thought they were some apocryphal legend; some cruel prank older, wiser salarymen were playing on the newbies, maybe (“Oh yeah, there’s a shop selling 200 yen bento. Right around the corner. Caaaan’t miss it.”).

Finally, we spotted an honest-to-goodness, 24-hour Kitchen Dive in the unassuming Kameido area of Tokyo and the 100 yen coins in our pockets practically flew out of their own accord.

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Biker gang crashes Coming of Age Ceremony in real life anime moment

The Coming of Age Ceremony is the Japanese celebration that officially marks the passing into adulthood of all boys and girls that turned 20 the previous year. It’s normally steeped in tradition and – unlike some other countries’ coming of age rituals where kids put their hands in fire ant mounds or drink 15 beergaritas or whatever – it’s generally a pretty subdued affair until the youngsters-only after-party.

But one Setagaya Ward Coming of Age Ceremony saw things get pretty rowdy this year when a gang of bikers – called bosozoku – decided to crash the party. Bosozoku (literally, “wild running clan”) are groups of teens and 20-somethings that share a love of impractically kitted-out motorcycles, breaking traffic laws and all-around crude behavior.

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Fishermen (illegally) save endangered Japanese fish species

In a somewhat complicated story we’re not sure is heartwarming or kind of devastating, three middle-aged Tokyo fishermen have accomplished what experts thought was impossible by single (triple?)-handedly bringing an area fish species back from the brink of extinction by illegally catching them.

The three men, according to their accounts, caught the fish and, upon learning that they were on the endangered species list, contacted experts and aquariums for advice on breeding them – either for the sake of fishkind or for the sake of tons of delicious illicit fish meat.

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See a Tokyo from the past as you’ve never seen before — in vivid colors and brushstrokes!

Before the capital city of Tokyo was given its current name in the late 1800s, it was known as Edo and served as the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate. The era now referred to as the Edo Period effectively ended with the last Tokugawa shogun Yoshinobu Tokugawa relinquishing power to Emperor Meiji in 1867, thus drawing the age of the shoguns to a close. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find a collection of vivid paintings depicting Tokyo sometime after the end of the Edo Period but still strongly reminiscent of a past era when the city was called by its former name. Quite interestingly, these paintings happen to be the work of an American artist who travelled to Japan near the end of the 19th century. So, come join us and take a look at Tokyo through the eyes of a foreign visitor to Japan over 120 years ago. It’s certainly nothing like the Tokyo we know today!

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Tokyo woman mugged for 3,000 yen, haggles mugger down to 1,000

At about 6:00am on 26 December, a young woman was walking down a street in Nakano, Tokyo. Suddenly, she was confronted by a man brandishing a knife and threatening, “Get out all your money and nothing will happen.”

The woman in her 20s complied and passed over 3,000 yen (US$30). You’d think the crime would be nearly complete, but in a truly Columbo-like moment the woman had just one more thing to ask the mugger.

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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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