travel

Celebrate May with a visit to Mei and Satsuki’s house from Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro

Our love of the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro has truly blossomed during the month of May. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better after we heard about Totoro’s Forest in Saitama Prefecture, complete with a house for black dust bunnies known as Kurosuke no Ie, it seems there’s even more reason to celebrate, with an exact replica of Mei and Satsuki’s house open to the public in Aichi Prefecture.

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Five of Japan’s most beautiful and unique hidden train stations

Traveling by train in Japan is a fun and scenic experience, and sometimes the journey can be even more enjoyable than the destination. Shinjuku Station in Tokyo might be famous as the busiest in the world, but once you get outside the capital you can find many unique and unpopulated stations in stunning settings. Read on to discover five of them.

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China begins blacklisting tourists caught engaged in uncivilized behavior, four names so far

In recent years there have been numerous incidents involving Chinese tourists that have cast the nation’s people in a less than flattering light, such as when a young Chinese visitor to the Luxor Temple in Egypt carved a message into a relief that dates back three millennia.

A few years and incidents of pooping on airplanes and trains later, we had the case of three Chinese visitors to Japan who were arrested for sexual assault because, they maintained, adult videos led them to think that such behavior was considered normal in Japan.

At first the Chinese government tried to address these issues with a poster to educate potential travelers on how other countries people might react to certain behaviors. However, now the China National Tourism Administration (NTA) is upping the stakes and establishing a blacklist of tourists found to be disturbing the peace, and recording their names publicly.

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Free Wi-Fi now available on Tohoku Shinkansen, inside Tokyo’s Yamanote Line stations

Every now and then, Japan takes a shine to something that’s new to it but much more common overseas. Chairs, for example, were pretty much nonexistent in the country until the late 1800s, but now you’ll find them in just about every home except the most bare-bones of bachelor pads. Beer (one of the greatest beverages to enjoy while sitting on said chairs) is another foreign concept that’s gained mainstream popularity.

Likewise, although it’s taken some time to catch on, the number of places offering free Wi-Fi in Japan has been steadily increasing over the last few years, and is now available on the Tohoku Shinkansen and all of the stations on Tokyo’s most convenient train line.

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Mario World: The awesome Nintendo-themed apartment you can rent for your next short stay in Tokyo

One of the great things about services like Airbnb, which help travelers and independent lodging owners find each other, is that they let guests find exactly the type of accommodations they want. For example, you might not have any need for the business center or room service of a traditional hotel. Maybe your personal checklist instead includes laundry facilities, a kitchen, and a full complement of awesome Super Mario interior accents.

If so, this short-term apartment in Tokyo is just the place for your next stay in the capital.

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Skiing samurai shreds the slopes with katana ski pole

Every ski season in Japan brings with it an army of skiers and snowboarders keen to make tracks in fresh, world-class powder snow. But how can you make your mark when you’re surrounded by hundreds of people decked out in ordinary ski jackets and snow goggles?

One keen warrior-loving skier found a solution to this problem by donning some heavy samurai armour on the slopes. And just to make sure he had everyone’s attention, he decided to forgo the ski poles for a long, single-edged sword known as a katana.

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This “revolutionary” Japanese compression bottle is our 100-yen shop find of the week【Video】

Like many people, our reporter Go Hatori likes to decant his lotions and potions into portable mini-bottles for travel. It saves space in his luggage for other items, looks neater, and shows the world that you are a well-organised, fully-functioning member of society. The problem with those little bottles which have a spray or pump attachment, though, is they can be wasteful. Once you’re down to the last centimetre or so of product, it just refuses to come out.

So when Go discovered this tiny straw-less pump bottle in the 100-yen shop (“where everything’s 83 cents approx!”), he was over the moon!

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Spring walking event provides guided tour around Totoro forest loved by Hayao Miyazaki

Just north-west of Tokyo, in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, there’s a beautiful stretch of greenery known as Totoro’s Forest. Containing fields, hills and rice paddies, this is hallowed ground for any Ghibli fan. Not only is this the actual inspiration for the animated film My Neighbour Totoro, the land itself is so beloved by Studio Ghibli legend Hayao Miyazaki that he’s made a generous donation to protect the area from housing developments, participates in regular volunteer events and is said to take daily walks through the woods.

Now, for two days this spring, you too can take a stroll through Totoro’s magical forest, with a walking event organised by the Totoro no Furusato Foundation. Stopping at a number of scenic locations and covering a distance of 15 km each day, you never know who you might meet during this special event!

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Five crazy, nasty Japanese love hotel stories (from a former employee)

When it comes to exterior design, there are two schools of thought for love hotels, the short-term accommodations for consenting Japanese adults who want to get friendlier than is advisable in public. Some try to blend in to their surroundings, hiding in plain sight with a low-key, windowless ground floor and miniscule sign. Others go the opposite route, lighting themselves up in blazing neon and announcing their presence to the world in a manner as uninhibited as their patrons are about to be.

The love hotel staff, on the other hand, is always discreet, since the whole point of the business is to shield guests from prying eyes. But make no mistake, each love hotel has a full complement of workers, and we recently spoke with one who shared her experiences with us, and rest assured things she’s seen things get crazy and nasty.

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Eight ways to troll your fellow passengers while flying economy class: An illustrated guide

Flying to japan takes a long time. Depending on where you’re flying from and how many layovers you have, it can take 10 hours, 20 hours, or even more. And if you’re not rich, then chances are you’re stuck in economy class, cramped, uncomfortable, and forced to listen to at least three nonstop crying babies going off like sirens.

But no more! We here at RocketNews24 have assembled a list of eight ways to make your next economy flight much more enjoyable. Nothing gets the good vibes flowing like a good trolling, so get out from under your bridges and grab your clubs: it’s time to mildly annoy your fellow passengers.

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Beautiful hotel on the Shikoku coast will make you feel like you’ve warped from Japan to Greece

Japan is an island nation. That means that wherever you go, you’re never all that far from good seafood, but also that you can’t get to any other countries without hopping on a plane or ocean liner.

So you might find yourself doing a double take when, while driving down the road in Kochi Prefecture, you come across a hotel that looks more like it belongs on the coast of Greece than Japan.

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“Japanese Harry Potter” hopes to fly around the world on a broomstick, document it on Instagram

Everyone loves a good themed Instagram account. Especially when the subject matter is both simple and intriguing. It doesn’t hurt when the photographer has a great eye for framing a shot, either. And if you throw a hint of cuteness in there, you’re practically guaranteed followers.

Take Instagram user halno‘s account, which features a plethora of beautiful shots of himself and friends leaping gleefully into the air with a broomstick jammed between their knees. This “Japanese Harry Potter” has over 263,000 Instagram followers who can’t get enough of his adorably goofy aerial antics!

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Cuddly koalas pose in business class as part of trip to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday

To celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday, Australia sent four koalas to the Singapore Zoo for what is possibly the best birthday present ever. As one of Australia’s national animals, these four fuzzy marsupials were given top-notch treatment as they were upgraded from the cargo hold to “Koala Class”. Pictures appearing on Qantas’ Facebook page showed exactly how good people and bears have it in business class.

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Kansai International: The airport that’s never lost a passenger’s bag

One of the many things we love about Japan is its amazing customer service, from intelligent packing to omnipresent station attendants who pop out of the walls to help you.

So we weren’t too surprised to hear that an airport in Japan has been judged to be the best airport in the world for baggage handling. And the details of the top-notch service that helped Kansai International Airport clinch the title are really quite impressive. For starters, the Osaka airport hasn’t lost a single item of luggage in over 20 years.

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Japan’s abysmal ranking for rice consumption even catches Japanese Netizens off-guard

Think Japan loves it some rice? Well, you’d be right. Japan is definitely a rice consuming nation, and the little white grains are most certainly one of Japan’s staple foods. But would you believe the country doesn’t even break the top 10 nations when it comes to rice consumption?

It appears neither would Japanese Netizens, as a chart making the rounds on the Japanese interwebs has onlookers incredulously dropping their morning baked goods.

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Nine things that may shatter your dreams of living in Kyoto

Kyoto now welcomes 50 million tourists a year who come to experience Japan’s traditional culture and architecture, plus catch a glimpse of the city’s famed geisha. But, as anyone who lives in a tourist hot spot knows, living there is not the same as a short visit.

As such, the following is a list of some of the things that Kyoto locals probably have the urge to remind tourists of from time to time, so allow us to shatter your illusions with some of the realities that come with living in Japan’s ancient capital.

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Forget Tokyo’s giant Gundam statue, we wanna visit this plastic-bottle Gundam in Tochigi!

We’re pretty big fans of Odaiba’s full-scale Gundam statue, which towers over Tokyo Bay at an incredible 18 metres tall. But there’s nothing quite like homespun charm, and we’re equally delighted to discover the existence of a plastic bottle version, built single-handedly by one enthusiastic sake shop owner in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

Our friends over at off-the-beaten-track Japan travel site Another Tokyo went to check it out last month, and this is what they found.

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Narita Airport’s new budget terminal has running track floors, mattress-inspired sofas 【Video】

Narita Airport is the Tokyo area’s largest access point for air travelers. This month, the terminal added a new terminal specifically designed for low-cost carriers and budget travelers, but as this sneak peak video shows, affordable can overlap with innovative and stylish, as Terminal 3 is set to prove that you don’t have to spend big to help people travel in ease and comfort.

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You should visit Osaka’s first rescue cat cafe so I don’t have to

I’m going to confess something that, this being the Internet, I’m almost certain is going to make me deeply unpopular and possibly get me fired from my writing job: I hate cats.

I hate ’em. I hate them so much that, apropos of nothing, the very idea of cats and how much I hate them pops into my mind a few times a day even when there are no cats around to spur my ire. I hate them when the three or four strays in my neighborhood wake me up in the middle of the night with their incessant mewling and fighting. I hate them when they get too close and trigger my allergies. I hate them in a box, I hate them with a fox, I hate them with a mouse, and I certainly hate them in my house.

That said, I think the new rescue cat cafe, SAVE CAT CAFE, which opened in Osaka on April 1, is just the cat’s meow.

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Tokyo’s busiest train lines to get luxury “one-man” express pods by next April

Japan is well-known for its packed commuter trains. For decades, smartly dressed men and women have shuffled wordlessly into train cars each morning, all painfully aware that they will soon be getting up-close and personal with total strangers and have nowhere to run, hide, or even breathe freely until their stop. Glove-wearing station staff pack passengers in as tightly as they’ll go without them popping out the other side, each firm shove accompanied by a polite word or phrase thanking passengers for moving all the way inside the car or warning them to keep their various appendages clear of the (just barely) closing doors.

But earlier today, Japan was given a glimpse of a much more civilised, luxuriant commuting experience that may soon put an end to these sardine-can shenanigans. Better yet, this logistical revolution is coming soon: not twelve months from now, commuters will be able to zip into Tokyo in style, lying back in comfortable faux-leather chairs inside sleek, aerodynamic private pods that resemble something out of Minority Report.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the next generation of luxury travel, and its name is Kosoku.

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