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

Japanese drinks company attaches free “rental umbrellas” to its vending machines in Osaka

Japanese vending machines are a great example of the culture of convenience so prevalent in Japan. Whether you’re after orange juice that looks like soy sauce, or a hot, clam-packed miso soup to cure your hangover, if you want something fast, the nation’s vending machines will be there for you, come rain or shine.

Now one of the country’s largest drinks manufacturers, DyDo, is catering to customers who actually do find themselves caught out in the rain, with a free “rental umbrella” service attached to a number of their machines in Nishi Ward, Osaka.

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New Japanese toilet paper dispenser tears off sheets, folds the ends into a point for you【Video】

With their heated seats, hidden sensors and warm water cleansing systems, Japanese toilets are used to being the centre of attention in hotel bathrooms, public restrooms and ordinary residences all around the country.

Now its time for their next-of-kin to get an upgrade, with a new machine set to revolutionise toilet paper dispensers, making it possible to automatically cut sheets and even fold the final edge into a neat little triangle for the next person to use.

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Evangelion Shinkansen gets range of souvenirs, including its very own bullet train ekiben obento

A train journey in Japan is much more than a means to a destination; with spotless carriages and unique tie-in promotions, riding the Shink is an event in itself. And with the Evangelion Shinkansen bullet train scheduled to start running from November 3, things are set to get even more exciting as passengers can now ride the rails from Osaka to Fukuoka and back inside a train dressed up as a giant bio-machine.

To mark the special occasion, Japan Rail West is releasing a whole range of commemorative Eva bullet train goods for travellers in the country, including stationery, snacks, and an awesome ekiben bento that comes in a keepsake ceramic shinkansen-shaped container.

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Travel from Kansai Airport to Osaka aboard the Star Wars: The Force Awakens express

The Limited Express Rapi:t that shuttles passengers back and forth between Kansai Airport and Namba Station in Osaka has been offering some fun rides lately. The train’s distinctive deep blue exterior was given a red makeover last year in a Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn promotion and it even received its own superhero earlier this year.

Now passengers are in for another treat with news of the train’s next big adventure: as a jet-black ambassador for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens enterprise. With awesome interior and exterior details, including a wrap that features all the new characters from the upcoming movie, this is bound to be a welcome sight for visitors landing at the airport from November this year.

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Limited edition Star Wars sweets are the cutest collection of edible characters in the galaxy

Star Wars fans in Japan have to be the luckiest group of Padawans on the planet. From samurai figurines to cup clingers to ukiyo-e woodblock-style covers, limited-edition releases in the Land of the Rising Sun are blessed with extraordinary details that can’t be found anywhere else in the galaxy.

Now it’s time for Japanese confectionery chain Ginza Cozy Corner to weigh in on the celebrations, with a stunning lineup of cakes, tarts and limited edition tins that feature some of the cutest characters from the movie alongside some edible dark foes. We’ll need to summon up every ounce of the force within to bite into these because these are the most amazing sweets we’ve ever seen!

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Evangelion x Japanese Sword dolls take a trip to traditional Japan with katana blades and kimono

It’s been 20 years since the critically acclaimed Evangelion series first came to life on the small screen, and to this day it remains one of the most successful animated series to ever come out of Japan.

With such a dedicated legion of fans, the merchandising has been off the hook, with everything from burgers to lingerie and even a bullet train getting the Eva treatment. But amongst all this, there’s one special limited-edition range that’s really striking a chord with Japanese fans, as it takes the tough, sexy heroines of the series out of their futuristic battle cockpits and re-imagines them as katana sword-wielding ladies in kimono.

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Evangelion SIM-free smartphones and life-sized figures on sale at 7-Eleven

Convenience stores around the world are known for stocking everyday items like toiletries, magazines, snacks and soft drinks.

But in Japan, the konbini is also a place to send and receive deliveries, buy movie and theatre tickets, and pick up a life-sized Eva doll and Evangelion SIM-free smartphone.

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Japanese rock star Yoshiki performs while debuting edgy kimono collection at Tokyo Fashion Week

One of the most talked about collections at Tokyo Fashion Week was the YOSHIKIMONO First Collection, a range of rock star kimonos created by a Japanese rock star so famous he goes merely by his first name, Yoshiki.

As a musician, composer, songwriter, and record producer, Yoshiki has a wide variety of creative interests and now he’s stepping out into the world of fashion with a collection of edgy kimonos featuring unorthodox prints and unusual obi wraps.

During his show at fashion week, the audience was blown away by Yoshiki’s artistic vision as his kimono-clad models walked around him on the runway while he provided the soundtrack to it all with a classical piano recital.

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This adorable tubby bunny wants to pole-dance for you【GIF】

When we’re down in the dumps, there’s nothing like a cute animal to get us back in a good mood. While cats are the undisputed overlords of internet animal therapy, there’s one little bunny that’s bringing a smile to thousands of Twitter users in Japan with nothing but some adorable dancing skills and a pole.

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Cosplay in your sleep with this giant anime-style “pigtails pillow”【Pics & Video】

The creative team at Bibi Lab have been at it again. The inventive brand dedicated to bringing weird and wonderful items out into the world have delighted us with life-sized human-shaped pillows, mosquito net jumpsuits and even sailor-style schoolgirl uniforms for men.

Now there’s another item we’ll be adding to our growing collection of Bibi Lab products: the giant anime-style pigtails pillow.

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Attack on Titan car navigation system stars Survey Corps, a walled city and checkpoint giants

The live-action Attack on Titan movies may have been a bit of a disappointment, but we’ll always have the glorious anime. And now the animated protagonists from the acclaimed series are bringing their world into ours and guiding us around it with an amazing new tablet and car navigation system.

Filled with special extras including the opportunity to “rank up” according to distances travelled, a choice between “return to the wall” or “Survey Corps outer expedition” route views, and an appearance from a Titan when we pass through convenience store checkpoints, it’s bound to make trips to the grocery store much more exciting!

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Discovery of Death Note-inspired hit list in New Hampshire school has families on high alert

Death Note, the popular manga series turned live-action movie from Japan, follows the story of a bored young genius and his discovery of a supernatural book called the Death Note, which has the power to take the life of anyone whose name is written in it by the owner.

The sinister storyline has now influenced a real-life turn of events at a high school in the United States, where a self-styled “Death Note” was found, containing the names of 17 students, including the dates of their deaths and the manner by which they would be killed.

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Hobbyist turns Volks Super Dollfie girls into amazing Dancing Dolls

Japanese company Volks has been making Super Dollfie dolls for more than a decade. The ball-jointed doll-figures are designed to be fully customisable, with removable wigs, interchangeable appendages and resin parts that can even be sanded for reshaping.

One Super Dollfie fan has taken the concept of customisation to a whole new level by melding the cute doll parts with robot skeletons, which allows the dolls to dance, play violins, and take part in some awesome samurai-style katana swordplay.

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Wear your cats on your hands this winter—They’ll wag their tails with every smartphone swipe

We all know how much cats love to be the centre of attention. And when it comes to being the star at home, felines know their biggest competition comes in the form of computer and television screens—those strange boxes that their owners stare at for hours on end when they should be offering tummy rubs and relaxing head scratches.

Cats know the best way to wipe out these distractions is to sit in front of, or sprawl out on top of, said screens. And now there’s a way they can take control of our phone time too: by covering our hands when we go to use our cellphones in winter. In fact, it makes them so happy, they’ll wag their tails in approval every time we swipe the screen!

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Dine like a samurai on the night of the Ikedaya Incident at Kyoto-themed restaurant in Tokyo

If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Kyomachi, the old streets of Kyoto, there’s a special dining establishment in Tokyo that will take you there. The Kyomachi Koishigure restaurant features private dining rooms, red bridges, bamboo corridors and a running stream so you can enjoy all the traditional beauty of Kyoto without having to leave the nation’s capital.

And now, for a limited time only, the restaurant will take you back in time to the late Edo period, with a special “fair” that recreates the infamous Ikedaya Incident, a significant moment in Japan’s history when a group of masterless samurai were ambushed at Kyoto’s Ikedaya Inn.

As part of the experience, diners can enjoy a specially designed menu inside a recreation of the inn, and staff dressed as members of a sword-wielding police force who “ambush” your private room every time you place an order.

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Illustrator creates beautiful “Bicycle Boy” watercolour series inspired by Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli, Japan’s famed animation house, has a remarkable talent for captivating audiences around the world with inspiring storylines and loveable characters. What really brings them all to life, however, are their animated backgrounds; beautiful palettes of light and shade and inky hues that draw us into their magical worlds and have us never wanting to leave.

There’s one background illustrator in Tokyo who knows just how to recreate the atmosphere of a Studio Ghibli movie and now he’s bringing out the beauty of Japan’s narrow roads and suburban landscapes in a series of illustrations entitled “Bicycle Boy”. Using a real-life setting from Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart, the picturesque journey of a boy and his bike through the streets of Japan is so beautiful we’ll happily follow him wherever he goes!

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JINS MEME: Award winning glasses track your physical state and concentration levels

Thanks to the world of smartphones, we’re now able to connect to ourselves on a physical level in a way we never could before. Fitness apps and wearable devices like the Fitbit wristband allow us to monitor everything from the number of steps we take to our walking speed and heart rate.

While activity trackers usually take physical data from our wrists, Japanese eyewear brand JINS is taking a very different approach by monitoring not only our physical but also our mental state, with the new JINS MEME glasses. Using a number of built-in sensors to gather data from the eyes and body, now you can monitor everything from posture to alertness levels and find out how your body and mind “age” alters throughout the day.

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Japanese artist captures the beauty of Tokyo street scenes and cafes on coffee cups 【Pics】

When you’re travelling in a foreign city, the sights, sounds and aroma of your surroundings can be so beautiful that there’s an overwhelming desire to capture it in a way a photo never could. Next time you find yourself in this predicament, you might want to stop by a cafe and take out a pen like this artist, who captures the atmosphere of Tokyo beautifully with just some coloured pencils, pens and a humble paper coffee cup.

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We try cute meals, drinks and sweets from Namja Town’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal menu

We recently brought you news of the enticing Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon-themed menu at Namja Town, an indoor theme park operated by Namco, in Tokyo. The themed offerings were really quite something, and after spending so much time poring over the unbelievably cute items on offer, we found ourselves itching to stop in for a visit!

And visit we did. Come with us now as we eat everything from Luna P-Ball, Sailor Moon’s Moon Stick, and even Tuxedo mask’s pocket watch. These incredible edibles are absolutely adorable and filled with so many surprising details they’re almost too cute to eat! Almost…

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The ultimate hangover cure! Hot canned miso soup, packed with the power of 70 clams

One of the most wonderful things about a Japanese winter is the abundance of hot drinks that become available at convenience stores and vending machines on street corners. There’s nothing quite like popping a coin into a machine on a freezing cold night or while making your way to work, only to have a piping hot can delivered into your frozen palms; it’s an experience that’s almost as satisfying as actually drinking the hot beverage and warming yourself from the inside out!

Stumbling across a good hot soup other than corn potage when scouring the drinks display is always a rare bonus and now that’s something we can look forward to, especially after a night of drinking, with the new canned miso soup from Nagatanien. Filled with the power of ornithine, an amino acid abundant in clams, this is a traditional hangover remedy from Japan, now packed in a can!

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