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.

Posted by Casey Baseel (Page 509)

Who Needs a Cherry on Top? Osaka Café Crowns its Parfaits with Cake

Tokyo’s restaurants may have more Michelin stars, but for many Japanese foodies, the real culinary action is in Osaka. Particularly if your tastes run more towards good honest grub than haute cuisine, Japan’s second largest city is the place to be.

The people of Osaka enjoy a good meal so much that they coined the phrase kuidaore, to eat until you collapse. But even with this image firmly entrenched in our minds, the city has found a new way to surprise us with its gastronomic decadence.

On a recent day out in Osaka, our reporter stopped by a café and ordered a truly hard-core parfait. It wasn’t that the parfait was so big, and no, it didn’t contain any shocking ingredients. What blew our minds about this parfait was its topping.

It was a slice of cake, and it was so big it wasn’t even trying to fit into the glass.

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99-Year-Old Tea Shop Offers Something New: Green Tea Beer

Being in Japan gives you plenty of opportunities to knock back a beer. The country is filled with pubs, and alcohol consumptions is so accepted that should you tell people, flat-out, “My hobby is drinking,” they’re more likely to ask you to recommend a good bar than to stage an intervention. At the same time, Japan has countless places to sip a relaxing cup of tea, whether it’s the strong, frothy variety used in tea ceremonies called matcha, or hojicha, for which the green tea leaves are roasted before steeping. But with two tempting beverage choices to relax with and only so many hours in the day, how can anyone be expected to choose between tea and beer? As it turns out, you don’t have to. Read More

New Dating Sim Follows Time-Tested Story Blueprint of Boy Meets Alpaca

Video games have made pretty steady progress into the cultural mainstream. Even people who aren’t gamers themselves can at least see the entertainment potential of a Mario title with its breezy fun, or the sweeping adventure of a Final Fantasy.

A genre many people have a harder time wrapping their heads around, though, is the dating simulator. Sure, driving games like Gran Turismo let us tune and race cars so expensive we can’t even talk the dealer into giving us a test drive in real life. And while Japan does have a royal family with princesses, the country’s lack of fire-breathing dragons means our chances of having to pick up sword and shield to go rescue them are slim, at best. But a game about going on dates? Couldn’t we just, like, ask someone out in real life?

Apparently some developers feel the same way, and have decided to spice up their dating sims with scenarios that take full advantage of video games’ unique style of escapism. Read More

Despite Japan’s famously strong work ethic, even offices here have some employees who coast through the day, oblivious to their more industrious coworkers who exasperatedly wonder how their paychecks remain so similar when their levels of dedication are anything but.

Economist Taiichi Kogure touches on some of these points in his latest work, The Mindset of People Who Will Always Have Low Salaries, which hit bookshelves in Japan last month. Inspired by the book, Livedoor News posted the following editorial analogy based on Kogure’s concepts, titled “Your Salary Isn’t Determined by Your Efforts or Value.” Read More

Today’s Reason to Come to Japan: Free Curry Refills

Big eaters in Japan have a saying: “Curry and rice isn’t something you eat. It’s something you drink.” And as with any beverage, nothing’s better than free refills.

We’ve talked about it before, but it’s worth repeating. The Japanese curry chain CoCo Ichibanya (also known as just CoCo Ichi), provides a free refill of curry sauce to any customer one who asks for it. Read More

Special Edition Ultraman Popsicles May or May Not Melt in Three Minutes

My wife, in her infinite patience, has taught me several things about Japanese culture. Thanks to her, I’m familiar with the proper way to offer incense at a grave, and also how important it is to bring a little present to your neighbors on all sides when moving into a new apartment.

But perhaps the lesson with the biggest impact on my daily life was when she taught me just how good Gari Gari-kun popsicles are. Read More

Japanese model Eri Sakurai says she has stumbled across a way to increase her breast size without resorting to cosmetic surgery. The 30-year-old credits a sudden temporary chest inflation in her past to the unlikely superfood of McDonald’s hamburgers. Read More

Okayama Prefecture lies in west Japan, three and a half hours from Tokyo by bullet train. Known for its castle, 17th century garden, and folktale of Momotaro the Peach Boy, it’s a laid-back, slow-paced kind of place, so we can understand the difficulties local bus operator Ryobi Group faces in trying to promote the region as a travel destination for young people.

So Ryobi has made the cornerstone of its newest marketing campaign something young Japanese males will enjoy: a bus tour guide who’s also a cute anime idol. Read More

I think I speak for all of the male writers here at RocketNews24 when I say that we have no trouble finding dates. For example, I’m so attractive that I have to beat women off with a stick. Or, was it that the last woman I asked out beat me with a stick? Sorry, my memory is a little fuzzy these days. Probably from being hit in the head with sticks.

But for our loyal readers who lack my powerful pheromones (B.O. is a kind of pheromone, right?), we present seven tips for attracting girls in Japan, as originally compiled by Niconico News.

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Since 2007, Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Men manga comic series has followed the daily lives of two young men who just happen to be the revered central figures of Christianity and Buddhism. The divine figures have reincarnated, not so save the souls of humanity, but to spend some time enjoying a low-key lifestyle while sharing an apartment in the comparatively sleepy town of Tachikawa in West Tokyo. The story follows their day-to-day lives, including Buddha’s fascination with the manga based on himself and Jesus’ long locks and wispy beard getting him mistaken for Johnny Depp by schoolgirls at a local convenience store.

To celebrate the upcoming theatrical animated adaptation of Saint Young Men, publisher Kodansha is allowing the free reproduction and use of a portion of the series.

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For the past few years, Kyoto Animation has been one of Japan’s hottest anime producers. With hit titles such as K-ON! (a story of cute girls occasionally playing rock music) and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (a story of cute girls occasionally bending the fabric of reality), the studio’s fans have been eagerly waiting to see what Kyoto Animation’s next offering would be.

Earlier this year, Kyoto Animation started a firestorm by producing a short animated teaser focusing on the members of a high school swim team, all male with delicate facial features and ripped abs. Some cried foul that Kyoto Animation would produce even a short clip that didn’t showcase a single cute girl, but others were excited by the prospect of watching a group of guys strip down to Speedos and work their lithe bodies through the water, going so far as to start petitions begging for more.

Kyoto Animation recently answered their prayers by announcing the production of a TV series adaptation of the swimming story, and fans around the world gushed with enough emotion to fill a pool. Read More

UNESCO’s advisory board has released the results of their analysis of Mt. Fuji’s bid for World Heritage Site status. The mountain and its surrounding area have been deemed “fit for certification,” with the title expected to be officially given in June. Read More

Canned Ice Blasts Let You Literally Stop Cockroaches Cold

Japan is a great place to be in the summer. For the culturally minded, there are festivals at centuries-old shrines, dazzling fireworks displays, and neighborhood folk dances with everyone wearing summer kimonos or yukata. If your thought process is a little baser, the all-you-can-drink beer gardens on the rooftops of department stores, along with much higher socially-accepted hem lines than in many other parts of the world, aren’t half-bad either.

But there’s one thing no one likes about summer here: the hordes of cockroaches.

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There are a lot of counterintuitive things about working in a Japanese company. When you come in the door, you always say, “Good morning,” even if you’ve been at a conference all day and it’s 4 p.m.. Office romances are accepted, if not expected and encouraged.

And one of the best ways to put yourself on the fast track to promotion is by getting blotto with the boss. Read More

Here at RocketNews24, one of our reporters’ duties is chronicling the intriguing or shocking culinary options we come across. Whether it’s giant cheeseburgers in Japan or gasoline-roasted clams in North Korea, we’re happy to taste test them for the entertainment and edification of you, our readers.

But not this time. Read More

Japan’s Newest and Cheapest Good Luck Charm: Bread Crust

Remember when you were a kid, and your mom would check for monsters under your bed, put band-aids on your scraped knees and elbows, and cut the crusts off your sandwiches? Wouldn’t it be great if someone would still do that for you?

No matter how much you offer them for the service, the employees of Japanese bread and snack producer Yamazaki Bread won’t come to your house and protect you from the Boogey Man, because seriously, have you seen the guy? Way too scary. They do have your bread needs covered though, with their popular series of crust-free Lunch Pack sandwiches.

But despite the lack of crust being a major selling point for Lunch Pack, people in Japan aren’t complaining when one with a bit of brown on the edge slips through, because fans say it’s a sign of good luck. Read More

Imagine you’re a comic book fan, browsing for something new to read. Intrigued by what you’ve heard about Japanese manga, you pick one up and open it to the first page. And wow, there’s a dead body in the first panel! What an intense opening. But wait, why is the corpse getting stabbed again, then suddenly standing up and running about? Is the character a zombie or something?

No, you’re just reading the panels out of sequence. Unlike the left-to-right flow of comic panels in the English world, manga are designed to be read from right to left, then top to bottom, starting on the right-hand page before continuing to the left.

Confused? Manga creator and critic Kentaro Takekuma says you shouldn’t have to be, and he has a plan to change all that. Read More

Burn Rubber with Competition-Spec Mario Kart Erasers

As any professional road racer or weekend canyon carver can tell you, nothing gives a bigger boost to a car’s performance than a great set of tires. Taking that idea to its illogical conclusion, toy manufacturer Takara Tomy figured the hottest ride must be an eraser car. And one styled like a Mario kart, no less. Read More

Imagine you’re a young buck at a singles’ party at a swanky Tokyo restaurant. As you regale the ladies with your testosterone-dripping tales of regular shark wrestling, frequent motorcycle racing, and occasional motor-shark racing, you mentally calculate whether or not you have enough protein powder in the kitchen cupboard to make two breakfast shakes, because you know there’s no way you’re going home alone tonight.

Unless, of course, the guy next to you starts talking about his collection of Sword Art Online Blu-rays. Read More

Nine-Patty Evangelion Cheeseburger has a 0.00001% Chance of Failing to Fill You Up (3D Photos)

The most recent theatrical installment of the long-running anime series Evangelion was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 24. While it’s official English title is Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo, the film has a completely different Japanese title, Evangelion Theatrical Version: Q. Because if there’s one thing creators Studio Gynax hate, it’s giving a definitive answer on anything related to their mega-hit franchise.

But if there’re two things Gynax hates, the second is passing up a merchandising opportunity for Eva (as the fans call it), which is where the Evangelion Q cheese burger comes in with its nine patties.

Did we mention we bought two? Read More

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