Fran W

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.

Posted by Fran W

Malaysia clinic left red-faced as student gets five days off school with a case of “Chicken Chop”

A clinic in Malaysia has shot to fame after accidentally diagnosing a student with “chicken chop”.

An image of the medical certificate, which was given to a secondary school student suffering from the chicken pox, has been circulating on WhatsApp, causing much amusement – and embarrassment for the clinic in Sungai Buloh.

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Don’t know whether to buy diamonds or candy for White Day? Sweet Jewels could be just the trick!

On White Day, an unabashedly commercial holiday on March 14, Japanese men are expected to buy presents in return for the chocolate they received on equally commercial holiday Valentine’s Day. And with a recent survey showing that limited-edition desserts and sweets are top of women’s wish-lists for White Day, this new offering from confectioner Ameya Eitaro could tick all the boxes.

With designs based on real diamond cuts such as the Koh-i-Noor and the Pasha of Egypt, these are one sweet treat that certainly looks expensive.

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We go to Kanazawa to meet Bao, the miniature pig who works in a pork restaurant【Video】

Kanazawa City in central Japan is famous for fresh fish and seafood, kaga yasai (15 types of vegetables, officially ordained as “local”), and delicious rice and sake. But it’s not all fancy shellfish and obscure vegetables. The aptly named restaurant TABOO in Kanazawa has a real live miniature pig as its manager!

“But, surely the pig’s not actually there in the restaurant?” wondered our reporter Yoshio. “If so, he probably just works weekends.” What’s more, isn’t working in a pork restaurant something of a dangerous endeavour for a pig? “What if he’s already been eaten?” There was nothing for it – Yoshio’s mind was made up! He must head to Kanazawa for himself and attempt to secure an interview with this most unusual of restaurant managers.

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We bet you don’t love natto as much as these Shiba Inu puppies! 【Video】

Natto is an acquired taste. I mean this literally – people who have eaten the sticky, kind of stinky, fermented soybeans from childhood are more likely to enjoy it than those who first encounter it as adults. But it’s also what people euphemistically call “an acquired taste”, which is to say, a lot of people think it’s gross.

These adorable puppies don’t seem to mind the stink though, as they lick their bowl clean, wolfing down Japan’s most famously unpopular food. Yum!

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Here’s what happens if you buy all the drinks in the combini and mix them together 【Video】

If you were ever let loose on a self-service drinks machine as a child, you’ll know the peculiar delight that comes from mixing soft drinks together. Orange soda topped up with coke? Sure! A little bit of everything? Why not! It’s an experiment in taste and colour, as wide-eyed (and later stomach-achey) kids discover, just because you like all the individual components, doesn’t mean you’ll like the end result.

Japanese YouTuber Hajime has taken this sense of childish wonder to a new level – and on an adult budget, too. He bought every single drink on sale in his local convenience store, mixed them all together, and reviewed the taste. Because, well…why not!

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Narita Airport shuttle buses – Cheaper than the train, but which bus is best?

Most tourists to Japan will come in and out through Tokyo’s Narita Airport. But like many international airports, Narita is not exactly on the doorstep of a major destination city, and travellers headed for Tokyo will usually make the 60-kilometer (36-mile) journey to the metropolis via the Narita Express, a high-speed rail service with a single-trip fare of 3020 yen (US $25.34).

What’s perhaps less well-known is there are two budget bus services that take you from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station for as little as 900 yen. Tokyo Shuttle and The Access Narita seem to offer similar airport shuttle services, but which is the better option?  And can they match the Narita Express in comfort and convenience? We sent one of our Japanese reporters to test out both services and find out!

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Fan film ‘Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope’ – two years in the making, but well worth the wait【Video】

A fan-made sequel to Dragon Ball Z has racked up 3 million views on YouTube, and sent fans into a frenzy of anticipation for the following episodes – if the rest of the series gets funded. The pilot episode of Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope is based on animated special ‘The History of Trunks’, a DBZ sequel that tells the story of (you guessed it!) the young warrior Trunks.

In the words of every fan ever: “It’s better than ‘Dragonball Evolution’!” On the one hand, that’s not saying much, as Dragon Ball Evolution got spectacularly bad reviews. But on the other hand, when a fan-made film is better than one with a Hollywood budget, that’s certainly something to be proud of.

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‘Dressed Omurice’ might just be the most beautiful omurice we’ve ever seen 【Video】

Ask Japanese kids what their favourite foods are and you’re as likely to get the answer “hamburg” or “curry rice” as you are “sushi.” Japanese food is popular around the world, but less well known to foreigners is the proliferation and popularity of yōshoku dishes – Japanese western food. Yōshoku makes up a sizeable part of the menus of family restaurants in Japan, as well as being popular home-cooked food. Staples include the aforementioned hamburger steaks (no buns) served with demi-glace; curry and rice, eaten with a spoon; naporitan spaghetti in a ketchup-based sauce; and of course omurice, chicken-and-ketchup rice topped with a thin yellow omelette.

There’s always room for a little more innovation, though. Like this restaurant in Saitama that’s turned the old favourite, omurice, into a beautiful swirl of eggy perfection.

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Japanese people share their family mottos, from “Eat first, think later” to “New Year, new pants”

Kakun (家訓) literally means “family precept”, and refers to the principles that an individual Japanese family lives by.

These might consist of a list of rules for children to follow – run-of-the-mill stuff like “treat others as you would like to be treated”, “don’t tell lies”, and “respect your elders” – or, a family’s kakun might be a single defining motto that applies to all family life. Kakun might be written on parchment and framed on the wall; or it might just be a phrase your mother (or father!) yells at you when you forget to put your socks in the wash again.

Japanese site Naver Matome recently put together a collection of Japanese Twitter users’ interesting and unusual family mottos. Here’s our pick of the bunch!

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Wander through the forest with Princess Mononoke in these beautiful photos from Oregon cosplayers

Tesla Cosplay are an all-female group who describe themselves as “five girls from Oregon who decided to add a little ‘awesome’ to their lives”. And looking at these photos from their recent Princess Mononoke shoot on location, we think they’ve achieved that aim!

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Twitter is all aflutter over a magical Tokyo Disney proposal, but will it get a fairytale ending?

Tokyo Disney Resort is a popular date spot among Japanese people, and also serves as the setting for a fair number of wedding proposals. But getting down on one knee in front of a huge crowd of people is not without its disadvantages. When one plucky young man proposed to his girlfriend in front of the Cinderella Castle in Tokyo Disneyland last week, he set off a chain of events that looks to have ended with a little less magic and sparkle than he anticipated.

While many people were delighted to see the romantic scene unfold, other visitors took to Twitter to grumble about the inconvenience the man had caused by proposing in such a busy place, delaying the scheduled parade. And now, the guy’s ex-girlfriend has waded into the debate too.

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Well ok, maybe a little bit faked.

Here at RocketNews24, there’s only one thing we like better than badly photoshopped pictures, and that’s brilliantly edited photos that make the President of the United States look like a massive otaku.

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Ultimate TKG: We’ll never eat tamago kake gohan the old way again! 【Sora Kitchen】

Tamago kake gohan (or TKG to the cool kids) is a wonderfully simple Japanese meal, made by beating an egg and then pouring it over cooked rice. And the staff in our Tokyo office are pretty big fans. Our writer Yoshio even goes so far as to say that eating tamago kake gohan is one of the little moments in life when he feels lucky to be Japanese.

So when we discovered this unconventional recipe for Ultimate TKG, we just knew we had to give it a try – and the results were even more ultimate than we imagined! Join us after the jump for a step-by-step guide. All you’ll need is a bowl of cooked rice, an egg, and a strong wrist.

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Seven awesome 1990s PlayStation commercials from Japan to tug at your heartstrings

In Japan, as in the rest of the world, the PlayStation brand is famous for its wacky, original adverts. So much so that the keen beans over at YouTube channel Yawaraka Uchū Kenkyūjo (‘Soft Space Laboratory’) have put together a bumper collection of classic PS1 commercials that range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Sharp and impactful, these short ads (in keeping with Japanese advertising norms, most are a mere 15 seconds long) are a nice little insight into the ins and outs of 1990s Japanese TV commercials. Join us after the jump for our pick of the bunch!

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Lifelong SaGa Frontier fan makes real-life princess outfit that’s a true labour of love【Photos】

Late-nineties roleplaying game SaGa Frontier may have had mixed reviews in North America, where critics slammed its non-linear gameplay as lacking in focus, but the game was a huge success in Japan.

And 17 years on from the game’s original release, one Japanese fan has finally achieved her lifelong dream of recreating the dress of Princess White Rose (aka Shirobara Hime), and she’s got the pictures to prove it!

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Escaped hamster went on overeating rampage, may have eating issues 【Photos】

We’re pretty keen followers of the Japanese site Hamster Sokuhou (“hamster newsflash”). But if there’s one thing that site has long been missing, it’s hamster-themed news…until now!

Because entertainment news site Hamster Sokuhou, which actually has nothing to do with rodents at all, has finally done what it says on the tin and brought us something hamster-related to write home about, with this Japanese Twitter user’s tale of one greedy little pet who escaped in the night.

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Five surprising things about working in a cafe in Canada, as chosen by a Japanese girl

We asked a Japanese girl who has worked in cafes both in Japan and Canada to compare the two. Here are the top five things that surprised her, from the concept of “ladies first” to free drinks.

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“The bills! The bills!”: A Japanese woman’s experience giving birth in the United States

Receiving any kind of medical treatment in a foreign country can be a daunting experience. And when one of the writers from our sister site Pouch gave birth to her second child in the United States, where she was living at the time, she was naturally expecting the procedures to be different from her native Japan. But there were a number of things that shocked, amazed and downright confused her about giving birth in the US – not least the incredible cost incurred.

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“Passport confiscation robs us of rights”: Japanese journalist prevented from travelling to Syria

Japan’s Foreign Ministry has come under fire for confiscating the passport of a journalist who was intending to travel to Syria. War correspondent Yuichi Sugimoto, 58, was planning to visit Syria to cover events in refugee camps later this month, but was ordered to surrender his travel documents to authorities.

Under Japanese law, the ministry can confiscate a person’s passport to protect their life, but this is the first time the law has actually been used. Critics say the action contravenes the constitutional guarantee of freedom of movement and foreign travel.

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Top five ways YouTuber Ashiya is turning Japanese, or “You know you live in Japan when…” 【Video】

If you’ve ever lived abroad, changed schools, or even just been to your cousin’s house for the weekend, you’ll know that our environment shapes the way we think and behave. I used to work with Americans who laughed at the fact I would say I was “going to the toilet” – apparently that sounded overly specific and was a bit too much information for their liking. Back in my native England, I found that if I asked where the “bathroom” was, I would be oh-so-comically directed to the room with the bath in and asked why I needed to wash in the middle of the day.

Many people find that spending time in another culture does change their actions, right down to unthinking mannerisms. That’s what Russian YouTuber Ashiya has been thinking about lately too, as she shared her top five ways she’s become more Japanese since living in Tokyo.

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