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

“Thank you Jesus!” Foreigners’ awesome reactions to Japanese foods 【Videos】

I still remember my first time coming to Japan, when my host family sat me down for dinner with nothing but chopsticks to tackle an entire grilled fish complete with head, tail, and everything in between. They watched me expectantly as I stared down at my plate, unsure of where to start. Was I supposed to eat the head? Should I scrape the scales off first? Was it customary to bite into the middle, bones and all?! I hoped that one of them would start eating first, to give me some sort of clue as to what I should do, but they kindly urged me to dig on in, laughing heartily when my only response was a meek little, “How?”

It was an embarrassing experience and felt a little demeaning at the time, but the fact remains that Japanese cuisine features a lot of mainstream dishes that we simply don’t find in the Western world. While some cultural favorites like sushi, have more-or-less made their way onto the world market, common dishes such as zaru soba and shabu shabu are rarely found outside of Japan.

Keep reading for a look at some of the interesting reactions foreigners have to Japanese food, as well as some helpful how-to’s on how to proceed, should you find yourself faced with one of these unfamiliar Japanese dishes.

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Saga Prefecture broadcasts its appeal by dancing to AKB48 【Video】

Saga Prefecture lies in the northwest corner of Japan’s island of Kyushu. This past week, in an unusual attempt at self-promotion, the Saga Prefectural Office uploaded a video of hundreds of workers from its various divisions happily dancing to the new AKB48 single, Koi Suru Fortune Cookie (Love Fortune Cookie). With more than 480,000 views on YouTube so far, the up-beat video certainly beats a boring old poster campaign!

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Japanese pro boxer condemns the law for classifying him as a dangerous weapon

On September 9, Hozumi Hasegawa, a second-division professional boxer competing successfully at a world level, made a very angry post to his blog condemning the nation’s laws for preventing him from raising his hand against anyone outside of work, regardless of the circumstances.

We’ve probably all heard the story in unspecific terms: rumor states that a trained fighter must register his own fists as lethal weapons. It would then stand to reason that any scuffle involving that person would put him on the receiving end of severe charges for battery and assault with a dangerous weapon. Could it be that all the hearsay is actually true?!

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Brighten your day at the Magical Art Museum in Ueno 【Photos】

From now until October 6 at the Ueno Royal Museum, a very special art exhibit is on display called Trick of the Light『Magical Art Museum』~Art in Wonderland. This unique collection of modern art encourages participation from visitors, rather than mere observation, creating an individualized artistic experience for every person taking part.

The magical exhibit houses 19 installation art pieces put together by 11 very talented artists. Felix Sayaka, talented reporter for our Japanese sister site, Pouch, visited the museum to give us all an illuminated introduction to four of the exhibition’s stellar works.

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Japan waits with baited breath for local distributor of spreadable beer

These past few days, the Internet has exploded with word of Italy’s new beer spread. For a land like Japan, where beer is more than just a popular choice of beverage and is more-or-less central to their lifestyle, the invention of spreadable beer is cause for great excitement. Soon, rather than have a handful of snacks with their mugs full of beer, they’ll be spreading blobs of beer over their favorite snacks!

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Best job ever? Japanese man makes 1 million yen for three months of gaming

For all you fellow gamers out there, both hardcore and casual, how many hours have you wasted away powering up the pixels on your computer screens and game consoles? How many paychecks have disappeared into the latest expansion packs? How many hours of sleep have been lost to an addiction to online multi-players? Society doesn’t always understand, but we know it’s worth the time and the money when we get the fierce gratification of overcoming an in-game challenge. If we could, I’m sure many of us would love to make a living off of the lives we lead in the virtual world.

For one Japanese man, referred to by his handle name, Moru-chan, that dream is a reality. Moru-chan spends approximately 12 hours a day doing nothing but gaming for a paycheck of one million yen (US$10,043)! He’s earning this money by basically living out three months of his life in the online world of fantasy role-playing game, ArcheAge. RocketNews24 has the scoop here in an exclusive interview with this very lucky man at the one-room apartment provided to him by his company.

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These misshapen breads have questionable “character” 【Photos】

Whether it’s a ploy to improve sales figures or a means to satisfy their own creative urges, these Japanese bakeries have a thing for character-inspired breads. They’ll produce pastries of any given shape, from Pokemon to pandas and even the famous Mt. Fuji! However, some shops exhibit a bit more skill than others. Here’s a look at some of Japan’s more unfortunate attempts at baking character bread. Read More

Korea’s elementary schools witness worrying trend of do-it-yourself face-lifts

It’s no secret that South Korea has an astounding affinity for plastic surgery. While it would be unfair to suggest that the entire population is keen to go under the knife, the percentage of Koreans calling in for a nip and a tuck is literally eye-widening and jaw dropping, in addition to nose elongating and chin altering.

Unfortunately, this attitude towards altered appearances has apparently caused a curious trend in elementary school students. In an effort to appear more like the celebrities they see on TV, grade school students in South Korea are practicing something they call “self-cosmetic surgery.”

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Press conference about Miyazaki’s retirement streaming live on Niconico

For those who haven’t heard the news, Hayao Miyazaki, often referred to as “the Walt Disney of Japan,” is formally retiring from the feature film industry. To address the countless questions and concerns of disappointed fans, Miyazaki will be attending a press conference on Friday, September 6, to discuss the details of his retirement. This meeting will be streamed live on website, Niconico, for the whole world to watch.

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Daruma dolls now in 30 different colors to decorate your homes and bring you good luck

How much do you know about daruma? Historically, there was the man called Daruma-daishi (aka Bhodhidharma), a Buddhist monk who is credited with spreading the practice of Zen Buddhism into China. Then, there are the daruma dolls, paper mache prayer tokens made and distributed throughout Japan for the sake of health, longevity, and success. These limbless dolls have an approximate 400-year history of bringing encouragement and good fortune to the people of Japan. However, in recent years the production and subsequent purchase of daruma has fallen. People are losing track of their daruma dolls, forgetting the purpose for which they serve, or at a loss of where to buy them in the first place.

Now, in an effort to bring back appreciation for the humble daruma, the Kagoyaka company in Yamanashi Prefecture is modernizing the traditional doll into something they call the Koshu~Color Daruma.

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Earlier this month, the Katamachi branch of the Chinese food restaurant Gyoza no Osho (King of Gyoza) in Kanazawa City, Japan, shut down after a group of men decided to drop in on the royal dumpling restaurant dressed in nothing but their birthday suits.

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Imitation is the greatest form of flattery: Is Chinese animation really a “rip-off”?

Over the past few years, China’s animation industry has greatly expanded and produced many all-new domestic works. However, these “original” animations have been placed under a lot of suspicion from sources both domestic and foreign for their blatant mimicry of Japanese and American animation sources. Many accuse China’s fledgling animation industry of relying on rip-offs to sell.

In response to these claims, an opinion piece titled “How Chinese Animation has Progressed Through ‘Imitation,’” was posted on one of China’s major cartoon and comics information sites. The column insists that China’s domestic animations should not be thought of as rip-offs but as inspired copies made for the sake of further developing their infant cartoon industry.

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Man accidentally morphs into Dragon Ball’s Piccolo, seeks professional help

For those of you who are fans of Dragon Ball, what would you call Piccolo’s most defining feature: the turban, the heavy-set brow line, or perhaps the long, pointy ears? If you ask us, the first thing to register when staring at a screen shot of the awesome alien warrior is his undeniable Hulk-like greenness.

Late last month, a man from Western China managed to achieve this startling shade of green skin, though not of his own volition and not without consequence, either. And what was the cause of his seemingly alien ailment? Snails.

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Language of the otaku has infiltrated our Internet forums

I’m sure that many of our readers are acquainted with the Japanese word otaku and its assimilation into English. For those that aren’t, it is a special label given to people who are especially obsessed with what might be considered nerdy hobbies, particularly those related to Japanese anime and manga. In Japanese, it can refer to any person with an obsession, whether it be half-naked figurines or interior design, but it almost always carries the negative connotation of being obsessed to the point of anti-social behavior. In the Western world, however, being an otaku is a badge of honor for many. People who like Japanese manga, anime, and games will often self-identify as otaku and join together with others of like interests over the Internet and other social outlets.

For better or worse, this circle of online anime fanatics has adapted a small vocabulary of Japanese words, creating a sub-set of Internet slang that bridges the language gap between these two similar cultures. Japanese pop culture enthusiasts worldwide cling to words like baka, moe, hentai, and more. But is this particular aspect of otaku culture a healthy thing to have spread? For example, there’s also the potentially disillusioned concept of “mai waifu.”

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Rodin’s “The Thinker” goes thoughtless in Japan

This fall, Takara Tomy Arts is releasing a new line of funny figurines inspired by one of the world’s most well-known statues, “The Thinker.” Only in this case, the chiseled man appears much too preoccupied to be thinking much of anything, turning this thinker into The Thoughtless.

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Hot new item for habitual nose pickers

The feeling of wanting to pick one’s nose is something that every boy and girl can relate to. Unfortunately, society frowns upon people who blatantly go on a booger hunt. In Japan, even blowing your nose in public can be considered bad manners! We’re not sure how sniffling up your snot for hours is better than dispelling it all in one go, but that’s beside the point.

Bandai has a brand new product to ease that natural urge. When your nose has an itch that you’re just twitching to pick, here’s a prosthetic nose that you can pick even in public!

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Japan questions imagery in risque portraits by New Zealand Prime Minister’s daughter

The current prime minister of New Zealand, John Philip Key, has been big in the news lately owing to his 20-year-old daughter, Stephie Key. Stephie is currently studying in France at the highly acclaimed art school, Paris College of Art, and is causing quite a stir with her newest string of risqué self portraits. Controversial as the work might be, it’s also quite cutting-edge, as one of her pieces was chosen to promote Paris Design Week on the second week of September.

But, it’s neither the nudity nor the artistry that caught the attention of Japanese news outlets. You see, many of the pictures contain words and themes that are obviously intended to be Japanese, but leave actual Japanese people scratching their heads.

Caution: some pictures contained in this article are not safe for work.

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Relationships 101: Survey shows the dating experience of average Japanese school kids

Ah, young love. It’s that thing that happens when our hormones run rampant across our hearts. So many people fall victim to it in their formative years, though that’s certainly not a bad thing: after all, getting some experience with schoolyard romance can help build a foundation for future relationships. And boy is it fun!

Recently, Trend News revealed the results of an online survey asking Japanese people to think back to their school days and respond with a comment about how many people they dated. 300 men and women in their 20s and 30s were asked over the course of two days, and results show an average of 2.8 relationships for each of the former students. Here’s how the results break down.

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Nintendo’s favorite plumbers doing parkour gets big praise in Japan 【Video】

For those who don’t know, parkour is a non-competitive sport where people propel themselves through their environment by running, climbing, and flipping their way across city structures like a giant jungle gym. A couple of days ago, Nintendo of America released a documentary-style video called “Finding Luigi: Legend of Parkour,” likening the amazing jumps and flips that the character can perform to the real-world practice of parkour.

Around the same time, fans of Nintendo put together their own parkour video, “Mario Bros Parkour,” wherein two sporty guys play the parts of the famous plumbing brothers as they flip their way through a 3-D enhanced world.  Read on for a peek at both of these awesome videos!

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