Fran Wrigley

Fran grew up on a farm in Northumberland, England’s most northern and least populated county. She relocated to Nagoya in 2011 to teach English and find better edamame beans. On arriving in Japan, she enthusiastically abandoned a lifetime of vegetarianism and now spends her weekends on the trail of the perfect miso katsu. When not attempting to sing k-pop at karaoke, Fran can often be found loitering in old camera shops, or on a hike wishing the manual camera in her backpack wasn’t so heavy.

All Stories by Fran Wrigley

Giant 25cm-long ‘miracle goldfish’ found after hiding in Japanese aquarium for seven years

Of all the underwater creatures you can find in aquariums, a goldfish might not seem too special. But there’s one goldfish in Shima Marineland in Japan’s Mie Prefecture with a life-story more exciting than most.

Thrown into a tank as food for a larger species, this plucky fish not only escaped predators, but managed to slip into a water filtration tank where it survived undetected for seven years – growing to a length of 25cm (10 inches) – before being discovered by aquarium staff.

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“Gotta catch ’em all, son!” Japanese dad gets game-addicted kid to quit – by making it a chore

You can learn all kinds of things on the internet. How to fix your leaky tap, how to get your baby to go to sleep in five seconds, and now, how to get your kid to step away from the console.

On the Japanese Twitterverse this week we read of one father’s unusual method of getting his son to stop playing video games – by making Pokémon compulsory.

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Get your own angry mob of medieval Japanese peasant farmers with these collectable sets!

Fictional depictions of Japanese medieval warfare tend inevitably to focus on samurai, the military nobility. Whether the medium is cult movies or collectible models, Japan’s common foot-soldiers barely get a look-in compared to their samurai masters.

Ukrainian company Redbox, however, aims to buck this trend by producing plastic figurine sets of the Japanese peasant infantry.

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Patrick Schwarzenegger comes under fire in Japan after pranking stranger at Kyoto temple

Twenty-one-year-old Patrick Schwarzenegger is currently visiting Japan with his famous mother Maria Shriver, and has so far enjoyed a dip in a traditional hot spring, faced off with a sumo wrestler and eaten enormous amounts of sushi. So far, so fun.

But he’s also come in for some heavy criticism after uploading a video of himself pranking an unsuspecting visitor to a Kyoto temple.

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We try Tom Yum Pizza, the new Domino’s pizza that tastes just like the soup 【Taste Test】

Our reporter P.K. Sanjun is something of a tom yum goong fan. In fact, P.K. believes this spicy/sour Thai/Lao soup is one of the three great soups of the world (the other two are bouillabaisse and shark fin soup, since you asked).

So when P.K. heard that Domino’s Pizza in Japan was launching a tom yum goong pizza, he was somewhat skeptical. “They don’t even have tom yum pizza in Thailand!” he points out. But in the interests of investigative journalism, P.K. put aside his misgivings and ordered one spicy soup-flavoured pizza. And boy, did he love it.

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Someone in Taiwan has just discovered an alien-like worm that we’re pretty sure is Flubber【Video】

A mysterious green sea creature with what appears to be a long, pink tongue has been captured on camera in Taiwan. The footage of the creepy sea worm was uploaded to Facebook by Wei Cheng Jian, who said he came across it while fishing in Penghu.

Commenters quickly identified the creature as a ribbon worm, a slow-moving carnivorous sea worm. We’ve got a better idea though – at last, it’s proof that Flubber is real!

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Honesty experiment in China ends with losses of 20 percent for participating convenience stores

Two stores in China trialled unstaffed shops this week, in an experiment to see whether customers would pay up without being prompted.

Convenience stores in Beijing and Hangzhou were temporarily replaced with automated payment systems and advertised as “completely unstaffed”. Sadly, the experiment was not an unqualified success. While most customers proved to be honest, some chose to pay only a fraction of their bill, and in some case nothing at all.

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Japan has a pill to cure your pre-speech jitters, and it’s got carrots in it

Agaranzai is a new Japanese herbal medicine which claims to lessen headaches and anxiety brought on by public speaking. Basically, it’s marketed as a cure for the jitters. The makers suggest taking it before making a speech at a wedding, giving an important presentation at work, or going to a job interview. But what’s in it, anyway? And should we buy it?

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Now you can take a virtual 3-D tour of Gunkanjima, Japan’s “ghost island” 【Video】

Hashima, also known as Gunkanjima, “Battleship Island,”  is an uninhabited island off the coast of Nagasaki which James Bond fans may recognise as the spooky deserted island of bad guy Silva in Skyfall. Access to Hashima, which has been abandoned since the 1970s, is highly restricted – tours do run to the island, but visitors are only permitted to access certain viewing points, and are not allowed anywhere near the crumbling buildings for safety reasons.

But now that researchers from Nagasaki University have created a stunning digital 3-D model of the entire island, you can explore the area from the comfort of your own armchair! The team used camera drones and laser scanners to capture 28,000 images of the site, splicing them together to render the island, and you can check out the results below!

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Can you spot the ghostly figure in this spooky seaside snap?

Takeshima is a picturesque spot off the coast of Aichi Prefecture. Connected to the mainland by a 387-metre (1,270-foot) causeway, the tiny island is covered in lush greenery, and the only building is a shrine in the centre, which is said to be almost 900 years old.

But after one Twitter user uploaded some photos from a recent trip to the island, other netizens were quick to point out something rather creepy about one of the snaps. Let’s see if you can spot it!

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Watch Yuka Kinoshita, Japanese “Big Eater” and YouTube sensation, devour 5 pounds of natto rice

You know that feeling after you eat too much of something really delicious? When your stomach hurts and you’re filled with a curious mix of regret, pain and contentment? We reckon Yuka Kinoshita, Japanese competitive eater, knows that feeling well.

So, let’s watch a video of her making her way through 5.5 pounds (2.5kg) of rice and sticky natto beans!

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Dragon Ball “should have ended with the Frieza Saga”, says Akira Toriyama’s former editor

The first editor of the Dragon Ball manga has revealed that he thinks the franchise should have ended with the Frieza ArcKazuhiko Torishima, who worked closely with Akira Toriyama on the first half of the Dragon Ball manga, made the surprisingly frank comments in an interview that was recently broadcast on Japanese TV.

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These 19th-century Japanese miniature landscapes show that size isn’t everything

The Tōkaidō is perhaps the most important road in Japan’s history. Built in the 17th century, it connected the country’s two powerhouses: it runs from Kyoto, the imperial capital, to Edo (now Tokyo), the seat of the Shogunate. As well as being an important political and trade route, depictions of the Tōkaidō in art in literature were abundant and popular.

The best-known of these is Utagawa Hiroshiges’s series of ukiyo-e woodcut prints, The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō. Ukiyo-e woodblock printing like this continued to flourish in Japan until the 19th century.

Less famous than Hiroshige is the relatively unknown ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Yoshishige, who produced his own prints of the 53 stations along the Tōkaido – by depicting each station in the form of a potted landscape.

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Short film ‘Tokyo Roar’ is an arrestingly beautiful homage to the enigma that is Tokyo【Video】

Filmmaker and travel enthusiast Brandon Li’s latest venture ‘Tokyo Roar’ is a love letter to the world’s ultimate metropolis. This remarkable short film encapsulate’s Tokyo’s unique blend of traditional and modern, urban and nature – all in under four minutes.

But it’s not all rose-tinted positivity here. While Li’s video takes us on a winding tour of Tokyo’s dazzling streets – through pachinko parlours and hobby shops, before peeping in at bamboo groves and Shinto shrines – we also glimpse homelessness, loneliness, the grind of the daily commute.

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You’ve got the Golden Touch! Namie Amuro invites you into her world with interactive music video

Japanese queen of pop Namie Amuro is back with a new studio album out June 10, and a clever music video released last week. The video for single ‘Golden Touch’ is a “simulated interactive” experience which asks you to become part of the scenes being depicted – simply by placing your fingertip in the centre of the screen throughout the track.

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Just six Shiba Inu chillin’ out at a pizza party【Photos】

Here at RocketNews24 we advocate responsible pet ownership. So don’t rush out and buy a Shiba Inu just because they’re totally, incredibly, frickin’ adorable. Stay at home instead! And look at these amazing photos of a family in Hong Kong that has six Shiba.

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Beauty queen and “too cute to be true” Japanese model Ami Takeuchi released her first idol DVD on May 17 at a handshake and photo event for fans. Takeuchi’s DVD is not only the model’s first – it’s also being touted as the first ever idol DVD by a “new half” – the Japanese term for a trans female.

And at the launch event, Takeuchi spoke of the need for change, and her hope that Japanese society can become a place where it is easier for trans people to come out.

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Natto allergy is caused by jellyfish stings, says surprising Japanese study

Surfers could be at greater risk of developing an allergy to natto, a Japanese study has found. And the unlikely culprit is thought to be jellyfish stings.

Natto, the sticky fermented soy beans that are as as polarising as Marmite, is a traditional and common Japanese food. Allergy to natto is rare, but research from Yokohama City University Hospital suggests it could be more prevalent in people who spend a lot of time in the water and have been repeatedly stung by jellyfish.

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How hentai are YOU? Find out with this Japanese personality test!

This Japanese personality test, which is doing the rounds on Twitter this week, claims to reveal the inner workings of your subconscious by putting you in an impossible situation and asking you to choose between four equally unpleasant options.

We’re not making any claims about the accuracy of this test, but we do think it’s pretty hilarious. Join us after the jump to find out how big a pervert you are.

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“Where are all the laser beams?” Our reporter heads to Nevada’s Area 51 on a top-secret mission

For conspiracy theorists, Area 51 is a location of high intrigue. Often called the most secret place on earth (well…the United States, anyway), this government base in Nevada is thought to be used for weapons testing and experimental aircraft – although very little is known about what really goes on there. Some of the more out-there theories include meetings with aliens, development of weather control, and even time travel.

Our Japanese reporter Go Hatori is a seasoned traveller and, when he’s not trolling would-be scammers online for his own amusement, loves nothing more than to take a solo trip somewhere mysterious. So Go headed into the Nevada desert – with a secret mission of his own!

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