Casey Baseel

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Casey Baseel spent his formative years staring in frustration at un-subtitled Japanese TV programming shown on Southern California’s international channel. Taking matters into his own hands, he moved to Tokyo to study the language, then found work in Yokohama a decade ago teaching, translating, and marketing hotels he can’t afford to stay in. When not participating in the eternal cycle of exercising to burn the calories form his love of Japanese food, Casey scours used comic and game shops for forgotten classics, drags his wife around the country in a quest to visit all its castles, sings karaoke not nearly as well as he thinks he does, and counts the days until the summertime bars open on Enoshima Beach.

All Stories by Casey Baseel

Dirt cheap all-you-can-drink sake sampler in Tokyo saves us money plus a trip to Akita

Sake is often referred to as “rice wine.” Some would argue the term is misleading, since unlike wine, sake is brewed, but Japan’s traditional spirit does have something in common with the world’s favorite grape-based alcoholic beverage. As with wine, depending on the ingredients and exact production process, two different types of sake can have very different flavors.

This can make searching for one that suits your palate a complex, if not unpleasant, task. There’s also the fact that most of Japan’s best-tasting sake is produced far outside of its major urban centers, which is why we were surprised and thrilled to find a restaurant in downtown Tokyo offering a sampler of sake from distant Akita Prefecture for just 500 yen (US$4.90). Our excitement only grew when we found out that the deal is also all you can drink.

Read More

Nankai Railways and Gundam combine their love of mobility to create the Gundam train

In a way, it’s slightly ironic that Gundam, Japan’s most venerated giant robot, is honored with a huge statue that stands in the Odaiba district of Tokyo. The original series in the franchise was titled Mobile Suit Gundam, but that 18-meter (59-foot) isn’t going anywhere since not only is it incapable of walking, Odaiba is an island and we’re pretty sure it can’t swim, either.

Coming soon, though, is a more logical wat to pay homage to the franchise: a Gundam train.

Read More

60-meter Attack on Titan monster comes to Kawasaki, so we do too 【Photos】

In the eight years since it opened, the Lazona shopping center in Kawasaki has become the city’s highest-profile entertainment hub. Conveniently attached to Kawasaki Station, Lazona makes a great place to grab a bite to eat or shop for the latest fashions or electronics.

But like many of the visitors who made the trip to Lazona on April 10, we weren’t there for dining or bargain hunting. We came to see the projection-mapped 60-meter Colossal Titan from hit anime Attack on Titan.

Read More

Japan’s public broadcaster goes thug-style, tags the house of man who refuses to pay fees

We’ve talked before about the oddities of how Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, goes about collecting its fees from ordinary citizens. Rather than sending you an official bill in the mail, collectors will come to your door and ask you for a stack of cash to cover the 13,600 yen (US$133) Japanese residents are technically supposed to pay.

However, many people refuse to pony up the money, since there’s no official penalty for nonpayment, and many feel that NHK’s programming is sub-par and rarely watch it. However, should you make one particular NHK collector walk away empty-handed, he just might mark your house for all to see, as he apparently did to one person we talked to.

Read More

Cast photos released from live-action Lupin III movie

Recently the upcoming live-action Attack on Titan movie made waves by landing a lead actor and filming location, but the giant-fighting tale isn’t the only anime set to leap to the movie screen with a human cast. We’re just four months away from the release of the live-action Lupin III film, and producers have released the first stills of its cast of roughish outlaws.

Read More

Gotta eat ‘em all with this awesome new Poké Ball bento box

While in America the stereotypical school kid lunch of a sandwich, apple, and some crackers can easily be tossed in a paper sack, things are a bit trickier in Japan. Japanese parents packing a lunch for their child usually include rice and a number of side dishes, which all need to be placed in sturdy containers so they don’t get crushed or spill during the trip to school, all of which then get placed inside a single, larger container called a bento box.

But why settle for a bento box when you could have a bento ball, especially a Pokémon bento ball?

Read More

Notes from the Evangelion payroll department – How much does Shinji earn?

Many critics and fans credit the success of hit anime Evangelion to the way in which the franchise realistically examines the psychological effects of one of Japanese animation’s standard plot setups, in which a teenage boy must pilot a giant robot to save the world from alien attackers. To its credit, Evangelion does a fine job of answering how the mind of Shinji, its young protagonist, would react to the fear of putting his life on the line, the pressure of acting as humanity’s savior, and the sexual frustration of having the hots for almost every one of the few women he’s had a conversation with, but there’s one question the show’s never dealt with.

How much does Shinji earn?

Read More

Japanese fashion mag’s bust augmenting technique: button your shirt wrong

It’s often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, which in many ways is true. However, society generally frowns upon the practice of unattached women wandering around town carrying trays of delicious steak in order to attract a mate. When steak isn’t available, though, breasts make a handy substitute for catching a guy’s attention.

Now, a women’s fashion magazine in Japan claims it’s discovered a technique to instantly visually enhance any woman’s bust size, and all it requires is a button-up shirt.

Read More

Advice for new employees in Japan: Never take your temperature

My very first job in Japan was with an established, well-known company that’s one of the top enterprises in its field. The company’s nationwide scale and decades of operations seemed to mark it as sophisticated and experienced enough to appreciate the value of a good employee support system, so I was a little surprised during the training session for new employees when we were told, “If you’re going to take a sick day, you have to tell your manager at least 24 hours in advance.”

The problem is, coming down with the flu isn’t like getting free shipping from Amazon, in that it usually doesn’t take more than a day. Unfortunately, my old employer never taught us how to know we’d be sick two days ahead of time, but another Japanese company has an effective way of sidestepping the issue entirely: never check to see if you have a fever.

Read More

Keep in touch with all your Scout Corps friends with this Attack on Titan iPhone case

In creating the monstrous villains smash-hit manga and anime Attack on Titan, author Hajime Isoyama said that one of the feelings he wanted to convey was the terror of facing an adversary you have no way of communicating with. He hit the mark perfectly, as the Titans’ inability to speak or even meaningfully change their expressions makes them uniquely unnerving foes.

But no matter how big a fan of the series you may be, we human beings, on the other hand, need to be able to talk to one another, which is where this awesome iPhone case, modeled after the swords wielded by Attack on Titans heroes, come into the picture.

Read More

Adorable judo girls still years away from making us scared, already able to make us smile

In a way, small children are scary. Their language skills aren’t fully developed, so you can’t negotiate with them. When they’re angry, their lack of adherence to societal norms means they’re likely to scream at or even bite you. Really, the only thing that keeps them from being paralyzingly frightening is the superior size and strength we have as full-grown adults.

So when we first heard about toddlers practicing judo, which would eventually allow them to use our strength against us, we assumed they must be terrifying. Then we watched this video, and learned that they’re somehow even more adorable as a result of their training in Japanese grappling techniques.

Read More

Eight Japanese words we’d love to import into English

Recently, we talked about how Japanese, while a tough language to learn, isn’t quite as difficult as some horror stories make it out to be. Still, if English is your native language, certain Japanese grammar rules, like saying “wa” and “o” to mark the subject and object of your sentences, can seem like a major hassle.

With practice, though, these things start to become automatic. Even better, the Japanese language is filled with incredibly handy phrases that we’d love to import into English.

Read More

Five reasons nerds make great boyfriends: Japan’s geeky otaku list their pros

As cultural attitudes continue to evolve in Japan, some groups that have spent decades being socially ostracized are finally seeing the tides turn in their favor. For example, while the covers of most men’s fashion magazines are still plastered with photos of incredibly slender guys, the country has recently been showing some love for heavyset males as well.

One demographic that still tends to have a hard time landing a date, though, are the otaku, Japan’s catch-all term for obsessive fans of anime, video games, computers, and anything traditionally geeky. But could the popular image of otaku as the bottom feeders of the dating pool be a case of women overlooking their hidden merits as boyfriend material?

Read More

Japanese railway sets up literal love seats with special seating for couples

In plenty of situations, Japan’s reliance on public transportation is a life-saver. Need some extra time to study for that test in first period? Pull out your notebook and review on the train to school. Had a few drinks too many? Park yourself in a seat on the subway, take a 30-minute nap, and arrive at the station with just enough power to walk home and get your key in the door.

Now, a railway in Chiba Prefecture is looking to give a hand not just to procrastinating students and heavy drinkers (who are, of course, often one and the same), but to young lovers, too, with its special priority seats for couples. That’s right, singletons, you just got one more reason to hate clingy couples.

Read More

Food, hard liquor, and guns all on the menu at Tokyo’s airsoft bar

When you want to blow off steam, there’s nothing like blowing something away, which partly explains why Japan’s interest in airsoft guns, which fire BB-like ammunition, continues to grow. But even though work is a major source of stress, most people don’t have the time to drive out to one of Japan’s rural airsoft fields (or catch a plane to the awesome urban set-up in Korea) after their shift ends.

Thankfully, though, there’s a way for Japanese professionals who’ve had a rough day at the office to fire off a couple rounds without putting a hole in their living room wall, as we found out at a Tokyo restaurant with its own airsoft shooting range.

Read More

The 11 Cat Islands of Japan 【Photos】

In the never-ending debate as to whether cats or dogs are the superior animal, it’s pretty safe to say felines have the edge as far as tranquility is concerned. For example, an island full of stray dogs is likely to be visited by animal control, whereas an island covered in cats instead gets visited by tons of tourists.

This ability to live in general harmony with the human population means that Japan is filled with places that have earned the nickname “Nekojima,” or “Cat Island.” Today, we take a whirlwind photo tour of 11 of them.

Read More

Our batch of homemade Oreos – Why didn’t we think of this before?

 

Pretty much everyone loves Oreos, and therein lies the problem. Even if you just picked up a pack on your last visit to the grocery store, odds are you, or someone else, has already gone through whatever stock you had in the house.

Case in point: right now we’re completely out of Oreos, and we’re not about to go out to buy more in the downpour that’s drenching Tokyo right now. While some people with less vision (or healthier eating habits) might patiently endure the hardship of no cookies, we decided instead to make our own Oreos from scratch with an incredibly simple recipe.

Read More

Divine prevention – Japan using Shinto symbols to combat litter and public peeing

One of the trickier questions to answer about Japan is whether or not it’s a religious society. On one hand, the ideas of daily prayer, weekly visits to a temple, or consulting religious texts or advisors in times of personal crisis are about as foreign to most Japanese people as playing a game of cricket or eating a plate of grits and gravy.

Still, spiritualism is a big part of life in Japan. Most visitors to a shrine might not spend more than a few seconds reflecting on their place in the universe, but they’ll still toss a coin into the collection box in hope of pleasing the deity said to make its home there. Even as many Japanese people claim to have no religion, most homes include an alter with a place to hang photos of deceased relatives and offer incense.

The vagaries of theology in Japan are now being turned to in an effort to curb a growing problem in many neighborhoods, as people are putting up small versions of the torii gates that mark Shinto shrines to prevent people from illegally dumping waste, whether produced by their lifestyles or bodies.

Read More

Two Attack on Titan animated feature films on the way – first to open this year

With the upcoming live-action Attack on Titan having found its lead actor and filming location, fans assumed they were going to have to wait until the film’s scheduled release in 2015 to see humanity’s desperate struggle against the monstrous Titans come to the big screen. Right on the heels of those announcements, though, comes another surprise from the franchise known for its twists and shocks.

Two animated compilation movies are coming, and the first will be in theatres before the end of the year.

Read More

Swanky Sailor Moon styles selling now at Tokyo department store

With three months to go until the delayed beginning of the long-awaited new Sailor Moon TV series, fans have a lot of time on their hands. Some have filled this with dressing their dogs up like characters from the hit anime, while others have undressed to reveal their Sailor Moon lingerie.

But what if you want not just anime-themed underwear, but outerwear as well? If that’s the case, one Tokyo department store is ready to be your one-stop shopping destination with a whole store of clothing inspired by the pretty guardian herself, Sailor Moon.

Read More

  1. 1
  2. ...
  3. 192
  4. 193
  5. 194
  6. 195
  7. 196
  8. 197
  9. 198
  10. ...
  11. 223