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

Turn your cat’s toilet trips into day-spa visits with this adorable “onsen” litter box

While dogs have no trouble emptying their bladders and bowels on busy streets in broad daylight, proudly locking eyes with you as they let rip right there on the pavement, members of the feline world are much more reserved when it comes to answering the call of nature. Even in the comfort of their own homes, kitties need their own space to do their business; no self-respecting cat would want the eyes of their human on them while they’re trying to go.

So it’s no wonder this clever new idea is getting a lot of attention in Japan. It’s the cat onsen, which houses your pet’s kitty litter box and comes complete with a cute spa-style noren curtain to provide some much needed privacy. Once your cat finishes using the kitty litter “sand bath” inside, they’ll emerge looking as fresh as a daisy!

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Kimutaku to star in Blade of the Immortal live-action film directed by Takashi Miike

When one of Japan’s most controversial directors teams up with one of its sexiest actors to make a film about the manga world’s most cursed samurai, the ripples of excitement that usually surround a live-action movie announcement turn into a veritable tidal wave.

The upcoming film adaptation of Hiroaki Samura’s manga Blade of the Immortal is set to be one of the most anticipated films of 2017. Until then, fans of the original manga series will have to wait to see what lies in store when 42-year-old boy band member and heart-throb actor Kimutaku takes on the role of a masterless samurai living in an immortal body.

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Sword Art Online anime movie announced, will feature all-new storyline from creator Reki Kawahara

Japanese fans of the Sword Art Online light novel series know all about the importance of attending the seasonal Dengeki Bunko festivals in Tokyo. This is the main stage on which Japanese publisher ASCII Media Works and its Dengeki Bunko imprint make all their big announcements regarding the series, and it was no different at the Dengeki Bunko Autumn Festival held in Akihabara on Sunday, where it was revealed that Sword Art Online will be made into a new anime movie, with an all-new storyline from its creator Reki Kawahara.

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New Evangelion lingerie and roomwear range features five favourite characters and a penguin!

The world of intimate apparel has taken an animated turn recently, with online fashion retailer SuperGroupies creating bra and panty sets inspired by the female pilots’ plugsuits from Neon Genesis Evangelion and popular lingerie and women’s apparel brand Peach John releasing Sailor Moon lingerie.

Now Peach John is coming out with its own Eva-inspired line of roomwear and intimates, featuring matching bras and panties with gorgeous Evangelion details, a nightie and even a Pen Pen onesie to lounge about the house in.

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Cute shoe range from Sanrio features bejeweled loafers and pumps with My Melody armchair heels

There are shoes, and then there are SHOESdainty little works of art that adorn your feet, turning heads as you walk by and acting as conversation starters with complete strangers. In Japan, of course, fashion gets taken to the next level of cuteness and never more so than with the new range of My Melody showstoppers from Sanrio.

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“Miyako” – one of the most beautiful, feels-inducing Japan videos you’ll ever see【Video】

If you’ve ever visited Japan, chances are your first stop in the country has been a big, bustling metropolis like Osaka or Tokyo. While the enormous flat screens, heaving intersections and impressive skyscrapers make for some memorable photo moments, it’s the serene, picturesque country towns that really hold the true essence and beauty of Japan.

For those of us who can’t make a trip out to soak in the serenity of the countryside, there’s a short, three-and-a-half minute film that will transport us there. If you loved Chihiro’s tranquil train ride in the Studio Ghibli movie Spirited Away, you’ll love this touching video, which introduces us to a stationmaster called Miyako, who waves at all her departing passengers—and keeps waving until they disappear into the horizon—showing us just how moving a simple gesture can be.

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Evangelion Shinkansen service takes off on November 7 with life-sized Eva cockpit on board

As far as joint collaborations go, the Shinkansen Evangelion Project is set to go down in the annals of history, with Japan Rail West joining up with the hit anime franchise to make our wildest dreams a reality, by bringing out a special Eva-themed bullet train to shuttle customers from Osaka to Fukuoka and back on the Sanyō Shinkansen line.

Since the announcement of the project, we’ve been waiting on the edge of our seats for more details, and finally JR West has come through with news of the launch date, along with never-before-seen images of the train’s interior, which includes Eva-themed seats and window blinds, and a designated “cockpit room”.

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New range of futons for cats feature traditional Japanese patterns, made with tails in mind

One of the great pleasures of visiting Japan is the chance to sleep in a futon, traditional Japanese bedding that’s freshly laid out on the floor every evening. When you’ve got a nice thick mattress pad, a fluffy, quilted duvet cover and a compact buckwheat pillow, a night sleeping on tatami straw floors is a night few foreigners forget.

Now you can share the traditional Japanese bedtime experience with your feline friends, with a gorgeous new range of futons created especially for the discerning four-legged customer. From the gorgeous Japanese prints to the matching pillow and the ergonomic, tail-friendly design, this is the best chance yet for obliging humans to finally reclaim their beds!

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If Darth Vader owned an iPhone, he’d probably keep it in a stunning wooden ukiyoe Star Wars case

There’s always been a strong connection between Japan and the George Lucas-helmed Star Wars franchise. From the samurai-influenced Darth Vader and Stormtrooper costume designs through to the film’s storyline, which borrows heavily from Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 film Hidden Fortress, Lucas himself is the first to admit he owes a lot of his creative inspiration to the Land of the Rising Sun.

So it’s nice to see that Japan is reciprocating the love with a number of Star Wars creations of their own. From samurai-styled figurines to ukiyo-e woodblock prints, these Japanese-styled homages to the epic American film franchise are the perfect way to get ready for the December 18 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And now you can carry the force wherever you go, with a gorgeous wooden iPhone 6 case that’s so beautiful even a Sith Lord would stand in line to buy one.

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Giant black cat appears in Shinjuku Station, gives gifts in exchange for nose rubs【Pics & Video】

You never know what you might find when you’re walking the streets of Tokyo. You could stumble upon nine cats in a stroller along the Omotesando shopping strip or enjoy a chance encounter with costumed meerkats on a sunny street in Ginza.

But it’s beneath the city where the big surprises lie. For the rest of this week, deep within the underground labyrinth of passages, shops, and platforms that make up Shinjuku Station, you’ll find a huge black cat. And this particular feline is especially spectacular as it responds to a nose rub by opening its mouth and dispensing presents to passers-by.

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The surprising and little-known Japanese art of gyotaku: culinary prints made with real fish

Japan has a fascinating art history. From early cord designs on clay vessels in the Jomon period (c. 11000–c. 300 BC) through to picture scrolls, ukiyo-e woodblock prints, and the distinctive style of animation that exists today, people in Japan have always found unique ways to capture the world around them for the rest of the world to see.

One little-known art technique from the 1800s is now making a comeback, and while its roots are firmly planted in Japan’s traditional history, it’s a method of printing that people all around the world can enjoy. All you need is paper, some paint and a nice-looking fish.

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Ready for a dose of feels? Grab the tissues because this daughter’s love is beautiful【Video】

We here at RocketNews are a soft bunch at heart. We’ve been affected by tear-inducing, feel-good videos from countries like Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand, and now it’s Singapore that’s got us by the feels with a touching new clip.

Based on a true story, this commercial plays more like a short art film, with atmospheric shots and superb acting that seems too real to be rehearsed. Come with us as we take a peek into the life of a graduating high school girl who looks after two younger siblings and her widowed, wheelchair-bound father, as she sacrifices her education and future for her family. Oh, and bring that box of tissues with you – you’ll be needing it!

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Pokétryoshka: Pokémon Russian dolls we want to own in real life

Matryoshkas have been entertaining children and adults alike since they first appeared in Russia well over a century ago. The tantalising sense of discovery that comes from opening up a wooden doll and revealing a series of increasingly smaller dolls nested inside is a simple pleasure that satisfies our sense of curiosity and provides hours of entertainment.

Now, a clever illustrator has come up with the genius idea of creating matryoshka dolls in the shape of Pokémon characters. And just like the original Russian doll sets, these cute designs slowly turn back time, revealing the evolution of each character from adult to baby. Say hello to the Pokétryoshka: nesting dolls we want to own in real life.

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Four moments when Japan’s single men are glad they’re not married

We all know marriage and live-in-partnerships have a lot going for them. From constant companionship to support when you’re stressed with work or family problems, the idea of cohabiting with that special someone is powerful enough to sweep even the most jaded singleton off their feet.

In Japan, where pre-marriage cohabitation is still considered somewhat taboo, married life is a serious commitment with traditional roles that involve self-sacrifice and obligation, not only to one’s partner but to their extended family. So what do the single men of Japan think about marriage versus the bachelor life? A recent survey reveals the moments men are glad they’ve never put a ring on it and the interesting reasons why.

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Japan: one of the few countries in the world where married couples must have the same surname

With Japan consistently appearing in the lowest ranks for gender equality in industrialised nations, the adoption of Prime Minister Abe’s recent bill to promote the role of women in the workplace has been a welcome development in what remains a traditionally patriarchal society.

What the headlines fail to mention, however, are the archaic laws entrenched in the country’s Civil Code that continue to hold women back, including same surname requirements upon marriage, and differences in the minimum marriageable age and re-marriage prohibition period for both sexes.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has again called for a revision of Japan’s current laws, slamming the country for being one of the few industrialised nations where it remains illegal for married couples to have different surnames.

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Studio Ghibli tattoos feature our favourites from Totoro, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle

We here at RocketNews love Studio Ghibli and its cast of adorable animated characters. We save all our yennies to splurge on licensed merchandise and never miss a chance to visit tourist sites where we might bump into acclaimed semi-retired director Hayao Miyazaki.

One thing we’re yet to do is adorn our bodies with permanent ink tributes to the Ghibli stars. Thankfully, there are fans out there much braver than us who have made the leap, giving us a huge collection of beautiful tattoos for us to sift through. Take a look at 12 of our favourites, from the films My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

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Minecraft builder creates gorgeous floating city of Laputa from Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky

Minecraft has shown us time and time again that it’s much more than just a sandbox game made up of tiny blocks and flat-faced sheep. We’ve seen clever builders create everything from Super Mario Bros. gameplay to Japanese-language classes and even the entire country of Japan.

Today, we bring you something straight out of the world of Studio Ghibli: the floating city of Laputa from the animated film, Castle in the Sky.

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Mobile purikura comes to your phone with new face-slimming lens

Beauty ideals can be strange things. In Japan, the concept of hattoushin, a perfect 1:8 head-to-body ratio and the idealisation of kogao, or small face, reign supreme.

This obsession with creating a slim face has brought about some weird and wacky contraptions. If you don’t have time to stick to a routine that includes face rollers, cheek-lifting masks and facial exercises, there’s now a quick fix at hand: a lens that slips over your phone camera to give you that kogao look.

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Fourth-generation ikebana artist displays mastery of the Force with amazing new lightsaber rings

The world of custom jewellery has been impressing us lately, with Evangelion couples’ rings and designs based on Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda and even Sailor Moon.

Now it’s time to turn our attention to a galaxy far, far away, where lovers can carry the force on their fingers with matching Star Wars rings featuring gorgeous lightsaber details.

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Catbus from Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro found in Finland!

Out of all the things we wish would spring to life from Studio Ghibli’s animated films, the catbus from My Neighbor Totoro would have to be at the top of the list. Who wouldn’t want to ride an enormous, fluffy, bright orange cat over hills and through forests on their daily commute?

As with all great things, if it can’t exist in real life, it can at least exist in the imagination. And there’s one imaginative lad who’s found a way to bring the catbus to life in the cutest way possible. All it takes is two ingredients: a fluffy, compliant cat and some Finnish beer.

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