shiraishi island

Shiraishi Island needs YOUR character ideas!

If you went to your town council meeting in your country and told them you wanted to make a cutesy mascot to represent your city, you’d probably get a few smirks from the council members. If you further told them that the character would be androgynous and hardly recognizable as any particular animal, you’d get a few laughs. Then, if you told them it didn’t even need to have a mouth, that it could be frumpy and clutsy, and that this could be a main draw to your town, you’d have been laughed out of the town hall right then and there.

But this is Japan, where characters are biiiig business. The Japanese have taken the concept of Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and The Muppets to a whole new level. With huge success. And now, one junior high school student is hoping to tap into the power of the mascot character to achieve something far more noble trying to get rich: reviving her community and bringing much-needed tourism to the tiny island on which she lives. But she needs your help.

This, RocketNews24 reader, is your chance to get involved in Japan’s mascot frenzy! Submit a character idea to represent this small Japanese island–and who knows, maybe your idea will be chosen! Interested? Read on!

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Wacky Japanese beach culture: A ton of fun in the sun!

From whacking watermelons with sticks to burying your friends in the sand or holding sweltering Japanese style BBQs, Japan has a very specific beach culture. We’ve introduced some of these activities before on our site, but this time, we’ve supersized the experience by adding more activities–and extra cheese!

We’ll introduce 13 beach scenes that you’re bound to experience on any trip to a Japanese beach, and present most of them in a six-second Vine video. We picked one of our favorite places to Vine from: Shiraishi Island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea where one of our writers happens to live. This tiny island of 560 people in Okayama Prefecture, is one of Japan’s best kept secrets: the beach is never crowded, the sea is tranquil, the sunsets superb, and the beer never stops flowing.

Get ready to take the plunge into the sea of Japanese beach culture with a local to show you la plage–Japanese style!

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We go octopus hunting, learn how to turn octopus heads inside-out

The Octopus is a mysterious creature. So mysterious he has even been suspected of murder. But in Japan, the octopus is usually first met on the plate. Whether as an ingredient in salad or Sexual Harassment sushi the octopus is considered the most efficient seafood because there is no waste–every part of the octopus is eaten–even the head.

Today, we invite you along on a virtual octopus hunt. Join our cephalopod-hunting reporter as she shows you not only how to catch an octopus, but how to turn its head inside out. As an added bonus, by the end of the article, you’ll have a full understanding as to why the mollusk’s scientific name is “octopus vulgaris.”

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On a small island of 570 people, 92 are named “Amano” But, why?!

When we think of an Asian country where many people have the same last name, Korea usually comes to mind. With just 250 surnames in use, half the Korean population bears one of three names: Kim, Lee or Park. Compare that to Japan that has over 100,000 surnames. So when we hear of a place in Japan where over 20 percent of the people share the same last name, it’s enough to pique our curiosity.

Meet the Amanos: Amano-san the ferry port manager and Amano-san the grocer; Amano-san who owns the liquor shop and Amano-san who serves curry lunches; Amano-san the plumber and Amano-san the carpenter. They’re all different people who live on the same small island and who, believe it or not, are not related.

How can this be? We bet you can’t guess why!

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