Rachel Tackett

Despite being born and raised in one of the more sparsely populated regions of the U.S, Rachel has found her true home in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, where all of the narrow truths that she grew up with no longer apply, and she is free to experiment with a wealth of exciting new pastimes. Highly qualified as a “Dabbler in Many Things,” Rachel’s hobbies include reading, blogging, singing, cosplaying, attending theater productions, and drawing for her doujinshi circle, Amyused. She also does work translating and typesetting manga for a number of (legal, I swear) digital distribution sites and boosting their popularity through social networking management.

All Stories by Rachel Tackett

Niconico user makes cute, petable Pokémon with needle-felted plushies 【Videos】

This fall has people across the globe down with a case of Pokémon fever, ever since the release of Nintendo’s first 3-D Pokémon game set, X and Y. Thanks to one of the game’s brand-new features, Pokémon Amie, it’s possible to build greater bonds with our battling monsters than ever before, by petting, feeding, and playing games with them. Still, not even that comes close to the adorable magic of having an actual creature to cuddle.

Niconico Douga user, Tatsuno’otoshigo (meaning seahorse), filled that hole in her heart by crafting her own Pokémon plushies with needle felting! Her ever-expanding pokédex of wooly little monsters is the envy of many collectors. But it’s hard to say if she’d be willing to trade. Her videos reveal exactly how much love she puts into each and every pokémon.

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Japan’s first black cat café feels appropriate for the season 【Photos】

Halloween is just around the bend, and Japan has us up to our eyeballs in ghosts, skeletons, spider webs, and black cats. Especially black cats, much to our delight!

In the city of Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture, our RocketNews24 sister site Pouch has discovered what has to be Japan’s first exclusively black cat café. It’s called Cat Café Nekobayaka -black cat centimeter-, and in the spirit of Halloween, how about dropping in for coffee and a bit of playtime with their jet black beauties?

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Photographer captures the beauty of traditional Japanese gardens at the Katsura Imperial Villa 【Photos】

When it comes to traditional Japanese landscaping and architecture, the Katsura Imperial Villa (aka Katsura Rikyu) is often referred to as a paramount example of Japanese sophistication and refinement. Located in Kyoto, a city famous for its temples, shrines, and gardens, the unquestionable majesty of the Katsura Imperial Villa manages to wow not only the proud people of Japan but architects and aficionados from across the globe.

One might assume that beauty of this sort can only be appreciated in person, but in 2010 Yasuhiro Ishimoto, a well-recognized photographer and “Man of Cultural Distinction” as designated by the Japanese government, released a photo book which somehow captures both the beauty and the spirit of the space. You’ve got to see to believe the masterpiece that this man captured on film.

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Wear your love of Madoka Magica to work with these discreetly nerdy neckties

Being an anime fan in a Japanese business environment can be rough. Due to the terrible stigmas still surrounding otaku, being open about one’s two-dimensional interests can sometimes lead to discrimination in the workplace. Luckily, for those hard-working anime lovers who wish to wear a symbol of the series that they adore without attracting unwanted attention from their office peers, Cospa has a new line of anime-themed neckties, which capture one’s true otaku spirit while putting up a professional front.

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This Japanese island is filled to the brim with felines!

About eight miles off the coast of Ozu City in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture, there lies a tiny landmass, less than a mile wide, which is completely overrun by cats! This little island is home to only 15 human residents, all of retirement age, but houses more than 100 kitties! These frisky felines have been multiplying like mad over the past 10 years or so, but only in the past couple weeks has the island caught the attention of the Internet, immediately becoming a hit tourist attraction, in spite of not having any hotels, restaurants, or even vending machines! Keep reading to see what locals and visitors alike have to say about the island’s “catty” conditions.

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Popular new Japanese love pillows seem dirty but promise to smell clean

Well, wouldn’t you know it? Just because app developers are releasing a program which would allow otaku the interactive experience of sleeping next to Hatsune Miku doesn’t mean that Japan’s commonly found love pillows are losing any ground. In fact, two of Animate’s most recent pillow case and perfume sets sold out within a day of release! There’s nothing about this item set that isn’t to some extent creepy.

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Windows 8’s app store is infested with rip-off Nintendo titles

It’s been almost a year since the Windows 8 operating system was released to the general public. Its aim was to combine the convenience of downloadable apps with the familiarity of a PC desktop in a touch-focused environment, giving us what could have been the best of both worlds. Instead, the Win8 app store struggles against its primary competitors, iTunes and the Android app store. It’s doesn’t help that developers focus the majority of their programming prowess on developing apps for the older and more trusted operating systems, iOS and Android.

However, there is one branch of the computer app market where Win8 has a distinct advantage, and that’s its library of highly recognizable rip-offs. Just look at this list of free game apps which make nefarious use of Nintendo’s most popular video game characters!

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Hilarious stories of computer fail: Turns out not everyone in Japan is tech savvy

When it comes to technology, Japan is thought of as one of the world’s leaders in quality and innovation. Japanese cell phones, televisions and cameras have long been considered some of the best in the world. But what about personal computers? How many people whom you know would pick a Fujitsu over a Mac or an HP?

The truth is that Japan is a bit behind when it comes to using home computers. Most of the functions that a computer serves can also be performed using cell phones and word processors, so a lot of Japanese people fail to see the point of owning one, and may only gain an introduction to computers if their work requires it. Many schools do not have computer labs for the students to use, and many households do not even have so much as a home computer for the family to share. This means that many Japanese people do not come into contact with computers until they are well into their adult lives. This can lead to some strange misunderstandings, as the things we consider to be common computer knowledge become amusingly misunderstood.

Naver Matome collected a fun sample of stories from people whose friends and family had trouble with their computers. Their ignorance is our bliss in this amusing collection of computer fail.

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Japanese Internet addict almost drowns infant son by mistake

On October 9 at 1 A.M., emergency responders in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture received a call from a frantic young mother whose baby boy had nearly drowned in the bathtub. If only she hadn’t been distracted by the Internet, this horrifying ordeal could have been avoided entirely.

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New cosplay seller enters stores across Japan, just in time for Halloween

We’re well into fall now, and it’s time to start preparing for some horror-filled festivities on October 31. Japan is getting all geared-up with ghosts and skeletons clearly on display and plenty of Halloween parties planned for the days leading up to the turn of the month. But of course, what’s a Halloween party without a good costume? And what’s a good costume without a band of beautiful girls ready to promote it?

Clearstone costume maker recently released a new cosplay series called Tokimeki Graffiti, modeled and promoted by the idol group, DenpaGumi.inc. Already, whether for the quality of the costumes or the influence of idols, sales are really skyrocketing!

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Tokyo Disneyland’s cast creates magic in the kingdom

At Tokyo Disneyland and every other embodiment of Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the staff are all referred to as “cast members.” It may seem strange at first to refer to the people sweeping the sidewalks and answering phones the same way you would an actor in a play, but the fact is that all the theme park is a stage and the staff are but players, doing all they can to make the magic of Disney come alive. It’s their primary job to bring a sense of joy and wonder to every last visitor to the park, and yet the magic can manifest itself in some truly surprising ways! Here are a few of the first-person accounts given by people impressed by the Tokyo Disneyland cast.

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Magic mackerel! This bitter fish has beautifying bowels

Fall is the season for mackerel pike. In traditional Japanese restaurants and homes across the nation, it’s quite common to find a complete silvery fish, from head to tail, plopped atop one’s plate.

As an American, I was very confused the first time I found myself faced with a full mackerel for a meal, and I wasn’t really sure where to start. I knew that the meat of the fish was buried in there somewhere, but I had no idea what to do with the rest of the innards. Growing bolder with each poke of my chopsticks, I took one bite of the mackerel’s bitter bowels and promptly decided against eating fish guts ever again. Although, looking back, I might have been a bit hasty with my decision. As it turns out, the consumption of mackerel viscera actually comes highly recommended for its large supply of beautifying vitamins! Looking at the highly touted health benefits of the mackerel’s digestive organs, these particular fish guts might be worth another go.

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Wanna sleep next to Hatsune Miku? There’s an app for that!

Up until now, lonely otaku wishing to tuck in with their favorite anime character had to rely on the cotton-blend comfort of their beloved dakimakura, aka “love pillows.” I’m sure it’s nice to wrap around the 2-D image of one’s imaginary lover, but it must be a bit of a letdown considering that a pillow only satisfies two of the major senses: sight and touch. Just think how far these fan’s crazy fantasies could carry them if sound and scent also came into play.

Well, Vocaloid fans rejoice, because a member of Nico Nico Douga’s engineering department has put together an application which allows the user to not only see and interact with a 3-D virtual model of Hatsune Miku in her bed, they can also hear, touch, and even smell her! Talk about dreams come true!

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Amazing Japanese grade-schooler enters fast track to playing soccer for Real Madrid 【Videos】

These days, it’s not uncommon for Japanese soccer players to be placed on foreign teams. Shinji Kagawa with Manchester United and Yuto Nagatomo with Inter Milan are just two examples of Japanese athletes who play for teams abroad.

Now, the island country can lay claim to a new rising star, a nine-year-old soccer player who recently signed a contract with the world-famous Spanish soccer club, Real Madrid. Read on for a full introduction to this talented young player, as well as some videos of his amazing play style!

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American casting for Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) TV series receives harsh Japanese criticism

Starting this November, the first episode of a new romantic young adult series, Boys Before Friends, will be released to American audiences. The series is based on Japan’s hit manga, Hana Yori Dango (aka Boys Over Flowers). Already, the series has inspired the creation of anime, novels, and live action television dramas from Japan, Korea, and China. However, what should be a highly anticipated American adaptation of this much appreciated manga is encountering a lot of skepticism, especially from the Eastern side of the globe. It makes sense that some changes have to be made to implement an American setting for this Japanese tale, but how much change can the story endure before the tone of the original is totally lost?

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This cat wearing glasses is quite the looker!

There’s no discrediting the fact that dogs can achieve a wide range of expressions when you draw on some eyebrows, but the fact of the matter is that cats still maintain a higher level of sophistication than dogs could ever even dream of. Don’t believe me? Check out this fancy feline wearing some really sleek spectacles! No dog could ever achieve an expression that harnesses such critical disdain and yet sends you head-over-heels in love.

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Lost in translation: When all else fails, throw in some gestures

Thanks to Japan’s ever-increasing attempts at globalization and English education, the most recent generations growing up in Japan have all been exposed to foreign language classes. Some even started as young as preschool! However, because the island nation remains so homogenized, most Japanese citizens don’t come across many opportunities to practice and properly hone their skills. I’d say that with the exception of those who use English for work or have experienced living abroad, by the time they reach adult-hood, the majority of Japanese people only know enough English to not make any sense when attempting to speak it! They simply toss a few English words into a Japanese sentence structure and expect it to make sense.

This poses a problem for the foreign tourists who visit Japan without learning the native language and rely on English signs and helpful English speakers in order to get around. Luckily for both the lost tourists who don’t speak Japanese and for Japanese locals who can’t remember their English, there is a third language which can overcome all great language barriers and promote mutual understanding: body language and interpretive gestures. Although, sometimes these wordless conversations can seem a bit surreal in hindsight, which is why the Japanese site, Naver Matome, put together an interesting collection of Japanese people’s experiences flailing at foreigners.

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Japanese blog trolls its readers with “advice” for meeting Disney characters, hilarious results

In a very misleading blog post titled “How to easily meet with a lot of characters at Disneyland,” our good friends over at Omocoro decided to troll their readers by taking pictures with random fixtures around the park and pretending that they met with Disney stars. The results are quite adorable, thanks to the addition of googly eyes, though many of the readers less acquainted with the site’s usual antics were woefully disappointed by the comedic content, having hoped for something of actual use.

For those who aren’t aware, Omocoro prides itself on being completely counterproductive. They are the ones who brought us such wonderful pranks as the build-it-yourself Lego bed and the life-size zebra apartment installation, as well as the ever-popular gem, a failed attempt at using Photoshop to turn their ugliest male writer into a sexy-looking lady. Usually, Omocoro saves their meanest tricks for their own staff members, but it seems someone really wanted to take a trip to Tokyo Disneyland on the company credit card this summer….

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Bandai gets a head start on Christmas cakes

After years of living in Japan, I’ve noticed that the island nation has quite a few merry misconceptions about what it means to have a Western Christmas celebrationReplacing Santa’s cookies with a strawberry-topped Christmas cake is just one of their many mix-ups, though at least they have the gift-giving part right.

Now, you might be wondering why it is that we’re posting about Christmas when it’s barely even October! As it turns out, Japanese parents hoping to surprise their kids with a sweet treat from Bandai have to start planning for the holidays NOW. The Premium Bandai online store has just opened up reservations for their 2013 line of character-themed Christmas cakes called Chara Deco Christmas. These cakes come with toys and other neat treats suited to young fans of everything from Kamen Rider to Pokemon.

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Have you seen this runaway robot?

Owning a Roomba or other automated cleaning robot to take care of floor dust can be such an awesome convenience. But you’d better take care and show them some appreciation, because these handy tools have been known to escape when overworked and left unattended. Remember the rogue Roomba that restlessly cleaned the streets around Tokyo’s Kanda train station? Well, it’s happened again in a different part of the world, but this time it’s the owners who sounded the alarm.

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