Oona McGee

Half-Japanese Oona McGee hails from Sydney, Australia, where she worked as a journalist and copywriter before making the move to Japan over a decade ago. Now she spends her days exploring the streets of Tokyo with her laptop and camera, always in search of new cafes, restaurants, events and stories to share with our readers. As an experienced food and travel reporter, Oona has travelled extensively through all 47 prefectures of Japan, and is constantly researching new destinations and drawing up itineraries for her next adventure.

All Stories by Oona McGee

Sumo Wrestlers Greet the World From Tokyo on Google Maps

On April 23, the Ryōgoku Kokugikan sumo hall in Tokyo underwent a massive makeover on Google Maps. Now, the street view reveals a line-up of smiling sumo wrestlers. Once you get past them, you’re free to explore the entire building inside, from the seating area, to the food and souvenir stands and even the sacred dohyō, the ring where the bouts are held. We bring you all the best parts to explore, in easy to navigate clips straight from our page, after the jump.

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Schick Brings us Limited Edition Evangelion Goods For Rei-zor Sharp Enjoyment

It’s a good time to be an Eva fan in Japan right now. With Lotteria campaigns and Sega giveaways to coincide with the DVD and Blu-ray release of Evangelion 3.33, we’ve been running around town with some serious Eva fever. And the only cure… is more Eva!

Coming to the rescue is Schick, joining the tie-in celebrations with four different razor holder figurine sets, seven earphone jack accessories, and a chance to win an Eva clock. Plus, an animated interview with Gendo, to get his take on the razor series.

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Tsukiji Fish Market Vendor Releases Tuna For Home Assembly

If you’ve ever been to Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo (the largest seafood market in the world), then you’ve probably dodged speeding forklifts, gotten lost in a maze of stalls, and seen professionals wielding metre-long knives, filleting expensive tuna according to traditional methods that go back centuries.

Well now you can take the Tsukiji experience home with you (minus those pesky forklifts) thanks to a special bluefin tuna designed and manufactured by Yamawa, a third generation fish wholesaler from the markets.

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Grumpy Cat is Not Pleased After Japanese Wool Felt Artist Shaves The Furry Bits

Wool felt crafting is fast becoming a popular hobby these days. With new techniques and innovative designs, more and more people are taking out their needles and dusting off their glue guns to test the boundaries of the craft. The results are wide and varied; some crafters choose to create cute, brightly coloured toys and accessories, and others prefer to sculpt half-shaved animals with pissed off faces.

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We Take the McDonald’s Potato Holder For a Test Ride

After our recent report on the April 24 release of the McDonald’s hands-free “potato holder,” we headed out and grabbed one for a test run.  Available for free with all large-size value sets, these plastic holders are only around for a limited time! But, with no car, how could we possibly do justice to the hands-free design, good for eating-on-the-go? That’s when we spotted our pink mama-chari (mama-chariot, a style of bicycle popular with mums in Japan) leaning against the wall of our driveway. With no shame whatsoever, Minoru, our test rider for the day, popped the plastic potato packet into the drink holder on the bicycle, inserted the large serving of fries and set off for a culinary trip around the block. Would they survive? Or would they fall? And how would our rider hold up?

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Ever Wanted to Give Your Eraser a Cute Haircut? Well Now You can!

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a hairdresser, then you’re probably always on the lookout for a willing model to work on. Well, now you can sit down and relax because these cute eraser heads are here to help you out! Called the “Rubber Barber”, these adorable erasers will happily deal with your mistakes in return for a sweet new haircut. Hairdresser or not, these cute little erasers will have you rubbing every surface in sheer delight!

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K-pop Group 2PM Apologises for Copying and Pasting Japanese Fans

Japan and Korea have never had an easygoing relationship. So it’s little surprise that Japanese netizens were up in arms when the above photo appeared online. Taken at Tokyo Dome during a concert by hot Korean boy band “2PM” (which has a related group called “2AM”), it shows an enormous audience packed with enthusiastic K-pop fans on their feet, hands in the air, giving it up for the handsome lads.

But looking closely, it’s obvious that some of these fans aren’t genuine. In fact, they’re crudely implemented digital reproductions. So how and why did this happen?

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Suicide Prevention Month: Depressing Posters Cause Controversy in Kobe

As part of efforts by Kobe City to prevent suicides, a number of huge posters (each measuring 2.1  by 1.35 metres), have been set up on local subway platforms at Sannomiya Station, in Kobe’s Central Ward. While some have commended the effort, it seems that the crowds of commuters aren’t all on board with the somewhat depressing content, as the move has been generating a lot of criticism from the public.

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Akihabara Inspires a Rare Picture Jockey Performance

If you have an eye for detail, you might just recognize the place in the image above. It’s an awesome rendering of Tokyo’s Akihabara. And it’s from the skilled hand of a former quantum physics researcher turned picture jockey. 

John Hathway (pseudonym), the Japanese artist who created the picture, is known as a picture jockey (PJ) because he builds images the same way a disc jockey mixes tracks; by improvising with new patterns and arrangements and blending backgrounds to create totally unique and exciting works of art.

Now he’s teamed up with Tokyo Otaku Mode, a popular site for all things otaku, to celebrate their 10 million-plus likes on Facebook. They thanked fans in a unique way, with the release of this gorgeous image, and a rare picture jockey performance.

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Is that Soy Sauce you’re Chugging? No, It’s Nanchatte Orange!

Hot on the heels of our incredibly successful cola transformation test, we couldn’t resist another weird and wonderful drink challenge. This time, we decided to try a drink called Nanchatte Orange (literally fake orange). It’s an orange juice sold by “Cheerio Japan” but with one catch: it looks exactly like soy sauce.

Saying it looks like soy sauce doesn’t really do justice to how much this looks like real soy sauce. This is practically identical to the real thing; in fact, the reason we came across this drink was because we walked by the drinks fridge at the convenience store and it caught our eye. Our first thought was, “What is soy sauce doing in the drinks fridge? And why is it sitting next to the apple juice?”

Needless to say, we were on it in a flash and out the door, taking it back to the office with salty thoughts and expectations. So what would black orange juice from a soy sauce bottle taste like? Well, allow us to introduce you to this very unique drink…

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Sparrow Becomes a Life-Size Earphone Jack Cover!

In Japan’s Twitter world, this bird is causing quite a flurry. The Java sparrow in these photos is so adorable and righteously perched that at first glance, it looks real. But alas, no real sparrow would pose for photos so sweetly and demurely. At least that’s what twitter user “Bado” found when he tried to take photos of his real pet sparrow on top of his smartphone.

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We Try One of the World’s Most Unique Boiled Eggs

Surely, this has to be one of the most unique boiled eggs in the world. In case you can’t make it out properly, we ought to explain that this is a duck egg. With a duck embryo inside. And that strip of black there is indeed baby duck fur. It’s an image so frightful to some that eating it became a featured challenge on TV shows like Survivor and Fear Factor. To others, however, this is simply a delicious Filipino street delicacy.

Keeping an open mind, we plucked up the courage to try one of these babies (pun very much intended) while on a recent trip to the Philippines with one of our Filipino friends. But what did it taste like? And what does a whole baby duck feel like inside your mouth? We give you everything you need to know, complete with mouth-watering photos.

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Little Witch Academia: the New Anime Taking the World by Storm 【Video】

Meet Little Witch Academia, the newest anime to pick up fans at lightning speed, both abroad and in Japan. Released on the Internet only a few days ago, on Friday, April 19, this 26-minute gem has already stacked up thousands of views and received an enormous amount of praise, particularly from fans outside Japan. The storyline is captivating (it’s about the school-life of a group of young witches-“magic girls”-studying at the Little Witch Academy), and the characters are so likeable that fans are already calling out for merchandise.

We’re predicting big things for the animation studio behind this work, so get on board before all the cool kids do and check out the entire clip, complete with English subtitles, after the jump.

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Eat Pray Love… and Drink Starbucks Coffee in a Breathtakingly Beautiful Balinese Village

Starbucks is well-known for taking up residence in some unusual places. They’ve had a pop-up store in Tokyo and they even have a historical western-style house house in Kobe.  But in the beautiful mountain village of Ubud, Bali, there’s a more subdued Starbucks. Set up in an old storehouse, and blending perfectly with the environment, you wouldn’t instantly think this was part of a global coffee franchise.

We went to check out this unique coffeehouse and found it to be incredibly beautiful and serene. Out of all the Starbucks stores we’ve visited across the world, this is by far the one we recommend the most. With an exceptionally unique atmosphere, we bring you four reasons why this may very well be the best Starbucks in the world.

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DVD release of Evangelion: 3.33 Brings Us a Q Burger, a Spear of Longinus, and the Chance to Win a Life-Size Rei Doll

April 24 is a special day for Evangelion fans, with the DVD and Blu-ray release of the 2012 movie Evangelion 3.0. To commemorate this exciting event, popular burger chain Lotteria is offering up a nine-level monster cheeseburger that cleverly plays on the “Q “ in the Japanese part of the home release title: Evangelion: New Movie Edition Q (Q sounds like kyuu, which is nine in Japanese) and the English part of the home release title: Evangelion 3.33 (3+3+3=9). Cheeky puns with buns! While the burger looks like something only Mr. Sato would eat nine of, the free present with purchase and the chance to win a 158cm-tall Rei doll has us very excited.

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Don’t like drinking with the boss? No Promotion For You!

In Japan, husbands often hand over their pay packets to their wives, who are the chief financial controllers for the household. Husbands then receive a fraction of their pay in the form of a monthly allowance, which has to cover costs such as cell phone charges, lunches and all-important networking and relations-building nomikai, or work drinking parties.

According to a survey by Shinsei Bank, the average office worker receives an allowance of 39,600 yen (US$398) a month. But when the average cost for attending a drinking party is 2,860 yen ($28.75), and one lunch is an average of 510 yen ($5.13) a day, many workers are now choosing to skip out on after work drinks. What they don’t realise is that this attempt to save some yen is actually jeopardising their careers.

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Increasing Demand for Anime-Inspired Japanese Nail Art: Ita Nail Boom!

Ita (痛), meaning pain, is the latest buzzword doing the rounds in cool Japan. It’s used to describe something emblazoned with an anime or manga design, so bright and out-there that it’s painful to the eye. A suit with a cute anime girl pattern inside? That would be the itasuit. A car completely covered in graffiti-style tags and wide-eyed characters? The itasha. And what about nails with different character designs on each nail? That’s itanail. And according to a recent online survey, itanail is becoming more and more popular by the day.

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Studio Ghibli Denies Live Action Adaptation of Kiki’s Delivery Service, We Dream Up Other Possible Ghibli Adaptations

There were rumours recently about a live action version of Ghibli’s Kiki’s Delivery Service. What’s more, these reports claimed that Takashi Shimizu, the horror film director who brought us nightmare-inducing classics like The Grudge, would be sitting at the helm of the project. A horror take on the story of a cute 13-year-old witch? It  seemed too good to be true! Well, it was a sad day when Studio Ghibli released an official statement quashing the salacious rumours, saying, “We have no involvement in the matter.”

But live action versions of Ghibli films aren’t just the stuff of dreams; Princess Mononoke has a stage version that just premiered in London and is coming to Japan in a matter of days! What we would give to meet just one of our favourite Ghibli heroines in person! Inspired by all this talk of adaptations, we took a look at some of the Ghibli films we thought deserved to exist in the real world.

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Amazeballs! Real-Life One Piece Characters Discovered!

One Piece is the hugely successful comic book and animation series about a team of friends who go in search of the famous treasure of the same name. When the writer and illustrator, Eichiro Oda, recently revealed that many of the One Piece characters are based on real-life public figures and celebrities, he created a different type of treasure hunt for his legions of fans. Who was which character? Where did he draw inspiration from? After what must’ve been hours of research, one fan came up with this concise gallery.

But some of these pictures show way more than a passing resemblance. It’s almost as if he sketched every detail of the real-life figure into his One-Piece character, from their pose to their jewellery and accessories. The inspiration for Paulie is even wearing an identical shirt and jacket! Twitter users are now arguing over the fine line between homage and rip-off. What do you think? Check out the characters in more detail below… Read More

The Five Most Popular Snacks in Japan

Have you ever opened a pre-packaged snack and then, before realising it, found you devoured the whole thing?

This was the question put to 906 readers of an online news site in Japan. Out of the 906 people in the survey, 618 said they had unwittingly scoffed the lot. But what are Japan’s most irresistible snacks? And what makes them so impossible to resist? Take a look at some of the comments from respondents as we bring you an inside look at the top five…

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