weird

We try ramen from a can on the backstreets of Tokyo【Taste Test】

Akihabara has a well-deserved reputation as having Japan’s highest concentration of anime and video game shops, not to mentioned maid cafes. There’s one other thing it’s known for, though, and that’s weird vending machines.

And no, we’re not talking about Japan’s fabled panty vending machines, but rather automated sales of odd canned food. A few years back, Akihabara came to be known as the place to score canned bread. Next came the canned oden craze.

On a recent trip to the Tokyo neighborhood, however, we stumbled across something we’d never seen before when we spotted a vending machine that spits out hot cans of pre-cooked ramen.

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Cat Sushi figures return to Japanese vending machines! Our collection (and lives) are complete

We recently added to our collection of weird Japanese toys by buying a couple of Doggy Bread Figures. But while the canine fans in the RocketNews24 office were happy, our resident cat lovers couldn’t help but sigh in sad reminiscence of the good old days when they could decorate their shelves with cat sushi.

Well, the worlds of Japanese cuisine and cute kitties have once again collided, as there’s a new batch of really (and surreally) cute sushi cat figures on the market, and we’ve already compiled a complete set.

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Thirsty? How about some cider made with Japanese cat nip?

Even though you can find Coca-Cola in every convenience store in Japan, for the most part the country isn’t all that into carbonated soft drinks. So if you’re selling a fizzy, non-alcoholic beverage, you need some kind of unique hook.

Pepsi has made a habit of periodically releasing unusual flavors such as chestnut or cucumber-flavored sodas, but we’ve also seen smaller, regional producers put out some creative concoctions such as cider that tastes like tomatoes, tea, or olives. Even still, beverage makers haven’t exhausted every possible taste, as right now in Yokohama and Osaka you can get your hands on cider made with silver vine, or Japanese catnip.

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Kyoto mascot bridges the gap between weirdly cute and just plain weird

As one of the most scenic sections of one of Japan’s most beautiful cities, Kyoto’s Arashiyama isn’t exactly hurting for tourists. Still, the neighborhood is looking to attract even more visitors, and in doing so has decided to employ Japan’s current favorite travel marketing technique by creating a yuru-kyara, or local mascot.

Designers actually had multiple ways they could have gone with this, such as playing up the area’s historic temples or beautiful bamboo groves. In the end, they drew their inspiration from the Togetsukyou Bridge, which was first constructed in the early 9th century.

But while that’s a fine choice, we can’t help but question the final design for the character, in which a portion of the bridge is dumped on the back of the vaguely humanoid creature called Wataru Tsukihashi.

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This Japanese Febreze ad looks a bit like the start of a kaiju movie 【Video】

Before moving to Japan, I always liked to imagine that Japanese TV shows would be a cross between Takeshi’s Castle and Iron Chef. In reality, television here is far less entertaining, and seems to consist predominantly of carefully orchestrated panel shows and broadcasts which are so plastered with gaudy graphics and subtitles that I often feel as if I’m reading more than I’m watching when I sit in front of my TV set.

Thankfully, Japan’s primetime ads are usually far more quirky and entertaining. Take this recent commercial for odour-removal spray Febreze, for example, which features a giant, gurning sun dual-wielding bottles of the stuff.

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Swimsuit idols that you can date and marry

Pop idols exist in this strange space between reality and fantasy. While they are living, breathing individuals, they are set on a pedestal and rarely get to interact with people one on one. While groups like AKB48 may be tied to a certain location to serve as a symbol of pride for one area’s people, outside of meet and greet events, fans cannot really get to know them. Of course, the biggest taboo of all is for a pop idol and a fan to begin dating. But one brave group has decided to step forth from the binds of their image. Meet the members of the idol group Happening Girls. These four lovely ladies depicted here are unique in the idol community because they are allowed to foster relationships, date, and even marry their fans.

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Japanese flutist keeps her cool, plays beautifully even with a butterfly crawling across her face

Part of my job at RocketNews24 is providing English titles for the videos on our YouTube channel. So my knee-jerk reaction when stumbling across a clip, from a different source, with the title “flute performance butterfly stop the face” is to point out the capitalization and syntax errors.

But you know what? Full points to whoever thought it up anyway. That jumbled cocktail of nouns and verbs just about perfectly captures what would run through any of our heads if we experienced what the woman in the video did: a butterfly crawling around her face in the middle of an important flute performance.

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Spotted in Japan: “Wild Bacon”

Sometimes when you’re hungry for a delicious, savoury treat, even regular bacon isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need WILD bacon.

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English-learning smartphone app teaches Japanese students to say “I just took a dump”

While the English edition of RocketNews24 is primarily focused on Asia in general and Japan in particular, our Japanese-language sister site, Pouch, covers stories from around the world. Sometimes, the source information they work with is in English, so Pouch’s team members are always on the lookout for ways to brush up their language skills.

So we weren’t shocked to hear that one of Pouch’s writers, Marie, had recently gotten really into a new English-learning smartphone app. What did surprise us, though, was when we took a look at the phrases she was learning, including such nuggets as, “I just took a dump.”

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Squirt hand (job) guns – Weird trigger placement on animal-shaped toys promise a dirty deluge

When you stop and think about it, designing squirt guns is actually a pretty hard job. In an era where people have smartphones, video games, and the wonders of the Internet to keep them entertained, how do you get people to seriously consider shooting tiny sprays of tepid water at one another a viable entertainment option?

One idea is to go for a unique design, like the company that decided to model its guns after bears and leopards. That’s playful, unexpected, and eye-catching right? Unfortunately, guns and four-legged animals ordinarily have very different shapes, and in this case, trying to mash the two together meant the trigger ended up in a place you really shouldn’t touch a grizzly unless you’re looking to get mauled. 

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Burger King Japan’s black burgers look unbelievably gross in real life

Burger King recently launched two new hamburgers in Japan that feature black buns and cheese with matching squid ink black sauce. Ads, like the one above, made the burgers look pretty unappetizing. But the burgers, known as the Kuro Diamond and Kuro Pearl, look even worse in reality.

Here are some examples:

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Leg-based marketing campaign at Tokyo Game Show catches eyes, leaves attendees scratching their heads

On our visit to the Tokyo Game Show, it seemed like just about every flat surface outside and around Makuhari Messe, the event’s venue, was plastered with ads for upcoming horror title Psycho Break. Inside nearby Keihin Makuhari Station, though, there was a different advertising blitz going on.

Adorning the train station’s walls was a series of posters showing nothing but legs. We’re sure they caught the eyes of plenty of male attendees, but just what the heck are they advertising?

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Kid’s video of whirlwind Japan tour reveals otaku paradise, pervy action figures

Everybody’s got that story. The story of why they decided they wanted to go to Japan in the first place. Unsurprisingly, for a lot of people it’s manga, anime and even J-Pop. For a lot of guys, it’s the girls. For (comparatively fewer) girls, it’s the guys. Some like the food. Some like the “Old Japan” feel of Kyoto and Kamakura. A few even go for the outdoor activities.

And some go for the pervy action figures.

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From plums to panties, the strange and beautiful bento of Keisuke Umeda【Photos】

When you think about the media that artists can work in, ink, paint, stone, metal, wood, and glass all spring readily to mind. We could take an even broader view and include things such as film, sound, and even light. But even then, we’d still be overlooking the creations of Keisuke Umeda, who brings to life scenes of beautiful nature, disturbing juxtaposition, and offbeat humor through the medium of boxed bento lunches.

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Civil servant suing Fukuoka over employee drinking ban, asking for one yen in compensation

In Japan, work comes first. For most people, their professional life takes priority over their family, romantic, and personal lives, with long hours and short vacations being the norm.

Given that environment, it’s no surprise that after their shift ends, many people want to stop off at a bar for a cold beer to wash the taste of work out of their mouth. For a one-month period, though, that wasn’t an option for civil servants in Fukuoka City, due to a temporary ban on drinking outside their homes. Obviously, this wasn’t a popular rule among workers, and one man was so upset he’s now suing the city, asking for a single yen in compensation.

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N.Y. man’s Japanese T-shirt announces “I am not Sato,” we couldn’t agree more

Among RocketNews24’s bilingual writing team, you won’t find a single person who hasn’t, at some point, linguistically crammed their foot in their mouth (personally, I know I’ve gotten my knee and most of my thigh past my pearly whites on at least three separate occasions). So while we can definitely appreciate the humor involved in a strange language screw-up, we know we’re not immune to such things ourselves, and that the rest of the world can weird up its Japanese just as often as Japan stumbles over English.

Case in point: this man spotted napping on the subway in the U.S., who felt the need to inform his fellow passengers who can read Japanese that he is, in fact, not Mr. Sato.

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Horsemeat sushi: For when you’re tired of spicy tuna and California rolls

Although “sushi” is often thought to mean raw fish, that’s not actually what the word means. The name actually refers to vinegared rice, and some varieties of sushi don’t contain any fish at all.

Kappa maki, for example, are rolls of seaweed, rice, and cucumber, while inarizushi is made with rice and fried tofu. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re in the mood for non-seafood sushi but also don’t want to go vegetarian, you can try horse sushi, like we recently did.

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Sweet dreams, MasterCard: People in Japan are putting their wallets to bed in tiny futons

We all have our funny little habits and daily rituals. Some of us don’t feel settled at night unless we’ve put all the dishes away or spoken to our loved ones on the phone. Others can’t head to bed unless they’ve first checked that the front door is locked or whipped the shower curtain open to ensure there isn’t a monster, murderer, or acid-spitting xenomorph in there waiting climb out of the tub after they’ve fallen asleep.

But did you know that some people in Japan are now getting into the habit of putting their wallets to bed before themselves?

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What does a man putting on a bra sound like? Buy the audio track and find out!

I’ve written about a lot of strange things from Japan during my time, but this one definitely takes the top spot so far. Have you ever wanted to know what sort of sounds men make in their downtime? Or wanted to capture them on tape so that you could replay them again and again? No, me neither. But apparently there’s enough demand for people to make a CD of these sound effects, and said CD reveals some surprising things going down in this ‘men’s time’.

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You know bento boxes? Those cute, lovingly-designed lunchboxes that Japanese mothers make for their kids or, if the guys are lucky, their husbands? Well sometimes even something as sweet and innocent as a bento can be perverted…

Warning: NSFW images ahead.

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