Paula Gerhold

Paula Kaye Gerhold was born in Anaheim, California and subsequently moved a few hours north to the city of Bakersfield at a young age. Despite that handicap, she's worked all her life to get out of that town and into bigger cities with broader selections of entertainments and fields of study. She graduated, with honors, from San Francisco State University in 2010 with a major in the Japanese Language and a minor in Pacific Asian Studies. After studying abroad for one year at Waseda University, she decided to move to Japan in order to work and play the days away. From the age of nine and continuing into the present, Paula has been self-studying Japanese by going to karaoke, reading comics, and watching Japanese stage plays.

Posted by Paula Gerhold

Bootleg food, cars, and movie characters: The diverse world of Korean knock-offs of Japanese products

It has been suggested that there are no more original ideas in the world anymore, that every thought or invention has already been considered by someone before. Whether you believe this particularly pessimistic theory or not, the line between coming up with the same idea and “borrowing” one from someone else may not be quite as blurry as you may think.

Japan, like many other countries, is no stranger to cheap knock-offs of its products circulating in the global market. China is most commonly under fire for making bootleg Japanese merchandise to sell in their own country. However, today’s featured product pakuri (slang for “rip off” or “steal”) comes from Japan’s next door neighbor, Korea. The following are a bunch of slightly “modified” products sold in Korea that are liberally inspired by their original Japanese counterparts.

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All-you-can-eat cookies!!! Aunt Stella’s cookie buffet opens in Ikebukuro Station

Japan is wild about dessert cafes and pastry shops. From donuts to pretzels to cakes, the nation’s sweet-tooth knows no bounds, and you’ll find baked sugary treats almost anywhere in the city. “So what makes this new store special?” you ask. Well, it’s not your typical sweet shop, but in fact an all-you-can-eat cookie buffet!

This Wednesday, a new location for the popular dessert chain Aunt Stella’s Cookies opened up in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro. And Aunt Stella has cooked up a bunch of tasty specials to celebrate the move!

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Time to celebrate Halloween, Japan-style with jack-o’-lantern sushi!

Unlike America and other Western countries, Japan is only starting to get into the swing of Halloween. Over the past few years the country has come a long way toward embracing this eerie Western holiday. Now when fall comes around, it’s a lot easier to find stores bedecked with black cat posters and ordinary restaurants festooned with orange pumpkin garlands. Most department stores have a token costume section on display, and sometimes bigger cities will have events for kids to wander around in costume with their parents. One district in Kanagawa Prefecture has really gone the extra mile to give people a frightfully good time this October!

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His coolness is over 9,000!!! Vegeta’s voice actor starts a new rock band!

Most Japanophiles in the world have heard of the smash hit anime, Dragonball Z. Recently the series gained yet another surge of popularity due to its 2009 remastered broadcast, hooking a whole new generation of fans. But how many viewers have kept up with the voice actors who worked on DBZ since the show’s final episodes aired? For instance, did you know that Ryo Horikawa, the voice of Saiyan prince, Vegeta, just recently started up a rock band?

Are his badass readings breaking your scouter yet? Just wait until you hear who else has joined his team…

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Indonesia’s Google Street View car guilty of three hit-and-runs

Last week on September 14, Jakarta’s police managed to catch up with an AWOL fender-bender felon. This particular culprit was a bit too high profile to fly under the radar for long, especially considering the panoramic mapping equipment attached to his car!

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Fashion for the young at heart! A different take on what it means to get older in Japan

We’ve no doubt all seen some horrendous fashion crimes out on the streets before now, perpetrated by people of all ages, but older people in particular seem to get a bad rap when it comes to dressing themselves for the times, with endless jokes made about things like mom jeans, grannie panties and middle-aged men in sandals and socks.

The creators of the Japanese fashion blog L’idéal, however, decided that it was time to take a stand and right the wrongs unintentionally done to the country’s elderly. Showcasing some of the coolest and most beautifully dressed older Japanese women we’ve ever seen, L’idéal challenges stereotypes and hopes to change our outlook on this estranged generation.

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Gotta ride ’em all! JR West and Pokémon team up for the release of a new ICOCA train pass

The West Japan Railway Company, also known as JR West, is celebrating 10 years since the launch of its ICOCA smartcard passes. And they’re doing it in style!

Introducing the JR West and Pokémon Center Osaka limited-edition collaboration railway card! Now you can ride all over Western Japan with your Pikachu train pass, which comes complete with a pop-up stand of the cute critter’s head, for just 2,000 yen (US$20)!

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The scent of battle: New line of perfume based on Attack on Titan anime

Japanese fans can’t get enough of Shingeki no Kyojin: Attack on Titan. It wasn’t enough just to watch the anime and read the manga. Next they wanted to dress like a Titan and drink like a Titan. Now they’re taking it one step further so that they can even smell like a Titan! Preorders are now available for a new line of Attack on Titan aroma frangrances!

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Set fire to the presses! Japan impressed by Canadian cosplay shop’s smoking dragon hoodie!

Ever felt like you just really needed to be a dragon for a day or two? Maybe wish you could look the part when on a rampage at the office or in your school quad? Calgary Cosplay is here to help with their newly-released dragon suit specially designed to make your dreams a reality!

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Newly released Kuroko no Basuke collaboration apparel sells out despite mediocre fan reactions

People from every corner of the globe are pumped for the new season of the anime Kuroko no Basuke (or the laughable English title, “The Basketball which Kuroko Plays”). In honor of the start of the fall anime season, Japanese clothing brand, earth music & ecology came out with a new line of clothes inspired by the characters in the show. Though the brand itself is quite trendy, comments on the basketball-inspired cardigans and dresses were lukewarm at best.

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New design for beloved character Hello Kitty! Now she’s the cutest… tooth on the block?

The Sanrio brand’s most recognized and beloved character, Hello Kitty, has been through thousands of incarnations in the past. But, one of the more recent ones has Kitty collectors and enthusiasts scratching their heads.

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Attack on Titan’s author causes a stir with his less-than-stellar sketches

On September 1, fans flocked to the Utsunomiya branch of Animate to attend an autograph event for Shingeki no Kyojin: Attack on Titan‘s author, Hajime Isayama. During his Shinkansen train ride to Tochigi Prefecture, the artist doodled up some ideas for pictures to draw along with his signature when meeting with his fans. He took a snapshot that quickly spread through the Twittersphere of what everyone assumed would be a superb work of art…

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More Shingeki no Kyojin merchandise! Introducing the Titan costume suit!

How cool would it be to be able to change into a towering giant at will? How many Shingeki no Kyojin: Attack on Titan fans have been wishing they could turn into a massive Titan, just like the series’ main character, Eren Yeager? Well Cospa, the online anime apparel and merchandise site, is here to help you transform into the wall-crushing, man-eating beast of your dreams with the newest addition to their Titan cosplay lineup!

*Super-strength and speed sold separately.

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Fans of AKB’s Haruka Shimazaki despair over freaky Sailor Moon makeover

It really warms your heart to see more Japanese celebrities show their support for cosplay. It’s one of the flashier hobbies that anime fans can boast and is getting more popular by the day. Cosplay websites abound with fashion tips and suggestions for various costumes styles, poses, and makeup options for just about every conceivable costume on the market.

But AKB48 star, Haruka Shimazaki, might want to do a bit of rethinking before offering up her own anime makeup (AniMake for short) suggestions, as her most recent attempts caused a despairing cry to ring out from among her adoring fans…

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The Nintendo family is expecting! Too bad Twitter knew about the 2DS since 2011

Following its announcement last week, Nintendo’s newest hardware, the 2DS, has been causing quite a stir among gaming fans worldwide. Opinions have been flying left and right, some positive and some negative, for this kid-friendly device. Is it a waste of time and energy making a product that’s a downgrade from that which already exists? Or is this a good solution for parents who want to buy their young children an affordable, portable gadget?

But before all this domestic kerfuffle, one gifted Twitter user can now say that he predicted this very predicament a full two years before the new hardware was even a twinkle in the eye of its developer.

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Now that’s what I call super-size! Lotteria’s special September & October mondo burger promotion!

Fed up with Japanese-sized fast food portions? Tired of ordering a large and getting something that might fit in a happy meal in a North American store? Lotteria’s got a fall special that is sure to make any American burger enthusiast’s day! Back by popular demand are the Lotteria’s Super Cheeseday and Super Fryday sandwich deals!

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Swank is key! Most young Japanese part-timers wish they worked at Starbucks

Japan has a few really helpful resources for those in search of jobs. Besides their useful Hello Work program, they have a very popular website and magazine called an, publicized by pop idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu herself. The site lets you search want ads and find places that are hiring in your area and field of expertise. In particular, a lot of college students and people new to the workforce turn to an for help finding employment.

an recently conducted a survey of first-time part-timers to try to find out what places are happenin’ in the modern world of fresh-faced young workers. The results were interesting, to say the least. Who knew how many people longed to become a Starbucks barista??

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Fans become melancholic themselves over the announcement of the end of the Haruhi Suzumiya manga!

The manga for the fan favorite series, “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu), drawn by Gaku Tsugano, will release its final chapter in the next edition of the monthly manga magazine, Shonen Ace (on sale 9/26), and fans are already feeling a little bit down in the dumps.

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Cosplayers invade the Kyoto subway system to promote upcoming event!

The Kyoto subway was swarmed by mobs of cosplayers last weekend, alarming some commuters and intriguing others. Though Japan may be thought of as the “land of cosplay,” it’s actually extremely rare to see this many layers (shortening of “cosplayers”) out and about in public. Cosplay is all well and good at certain events, but a major no-no in areas where it can cause trouble for the uninitiated.

So what were all these guys (yes, mainly guys) doing on the subway? Why, promoting the upcoming Kyoto Manga Anime Festival and it’s connected cosplay event, GO-TAN! of course!

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The top 10 words to describe Japanese people (according to foreigners)

There isn’t a country in the world immune from stereotypes. All people form opinions about places and their inhabitants based on whatever they can glean from the food, tourism, and art of the culture. But not all sweeping generalizations have to be mean and unfounded. The results on a thread asking for the “perfect words to describe Japanese people” were surprisingly positive!

Here are the most common adjectives that Westerners chose when characterizing the people of Japan.
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