Steven Simonitch

Writer / Translator

Though a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Steven currently resides in Nagano, Japan, where he is known by the old lady at the supermarket as "the white guy who always buys 2 packs of natto." Having finished a 2 year stint teaching English with the JET program, Steven now spends his days writing silly things about Japan while vainly insisting to his parents that he's a "journalist" working for an established "newspaper."

Aside from writing banal stories about hot Asian women and cheeseburgers, Steven is also working with dojin circle Creative Freaks to localize their fitness app/ Japanese dating sim series, Burn your fat with me!! (known as Nensho! in Japan).

Posted by Steven

The Masked Philanthropist is Back! Japanese Orphanage Receives Mystery Donation from Tiger Mask

On Christma Day, 2010, an anonymous donor left ten 30,000 yen ($360) randoseru backpacks outside a Japanese orphanage in Gunma Prefecture. Attached to the bags was a card signed by Naoto Date, the secret identity of fictional Japanese wrestler Tiger Mask, who, in the popular 1960s manga by the same name, fought for orphans after being raised in an orphanage himself.

The story was picked up by the press and a week later, on January 1, 2011, a similar donation of backpacks was left at an orphanage in Kangawa Prefecture, again with a note signed by Naoto Date. By January 11, over 100 “Tiger Mask” donations, ranging from backpacks to toys, food, and monetary gifts, had been reported at various children’s facilities across the country.

After that, little was heard from Tiger Mask, aside a second donation to the original orphanage in Gunma on Christmas Day, 2011, which failed to inspire a wave of charity as it had the previous year.

Has Tiger Mask forgotten about the children of Japan?

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Japan Inadvertently Summons Tentacle Monster Into This Realm with Holiday Potato Salad Recipe

This Christmas, Japanese retail conglomerate Aeon is conjuring an ancient evil from a centuries-long slumber— and bringing it to the dinner table for your family to enjoy!

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Two New Ghibli Films Out in Summer 2013, Posters Revealed!

In case you needed another reason to hope the world doesn’t end on December 21, Studio Ghibli has officially announced it will release two new films on the same day in summer 2013.

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Beautiful HDR Time-lapse of Tokyo Will Make You Want to Travel to Japan. Now.

One of the many wonderful things about modern technology is that it not only allows us to visit new places from the comfort of our homes, but also to experience familiar places in completely new ways.

For example, I have visited Tokyo numerous times over the three years I have called Japan my home and I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what the city is all about: skyscrapers, bright lights, crowds of busy people, corn man. But run all that through high-dynamic-range (HDR) imaging, record it in time-lapse, and watch it on YouTube in 1080p and the city sights I know so well take on a completely different, almost otherworldly, appearance.

Check out the video below!

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Japanese High School Girl Beauty Pageant Open to Online Voting, May Not Accurately Represent Japanese High Schools

The photos above are the contestants for the upcoming Kanto Miss JK Contest, a beauty pageant to be held on December 27 in Shibuya, Tokyo to decide on the cutest Japanese high school girl in Kanto, the region on the main island of Japan encompassing Tokyo and the prefectures around it.

Before we say anything too malicious, we’d like to acknowledge that perceptions of beauty—or “cuteness”, in this case—can vary greatly among different cultures. However, as many Japanese netizens have pointed out, a thick mask of makeup and hair dyed brown or blonde is hardly representative of a typical Japanese high school girl, let alone a cute one.

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Anime Princess Marriage Certificates Big Hit with Japanese City

It seems like nearly every city, town, and village in Japan has a cute mascot character to represent it. Usually these are yuru-kyara, anthropomorphic characters often designed with qualities representing whatever that municipality is known for.

The city of Suwa, Nagano, however, knows that the worth of a mascot character should be judged not by how well it represents the region, but by how well it sells. And in Japan, nothing sells better than cute anime girls.

That’s why they came up with Suwa-hime, or Princess Suwa, a young anime princess from medieval Japan with her own manga, voice actress, and line of original figures and goods.

Since her creation in 2011, Suwa-hime has been such a success that the city has even started printing her on their official marriage certificates, and the nerdy public official who came up with her is likely basking in splendid vindication of his hobby for the first time in his life.

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Amazing AU Commercial Turns Tokyo Into Night Club— With Daft Punk!

Some Japanese companies are known for making really clever commercials, others are known for making some really dumb commercials (looking at you Sony).

Mobile carrier au (pronounced “A-U”) has proven itself a part of the former camp with its fantastic new commercial, “FULL CONTROL/Xmas”, which shows what Tokyo might look like if it were turned into one giant night club.

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High-Speed Chocolate: A Look at the New Shinkansen Kit Kat and Other Cool Japanese Kit Kat Packages

Japan gets all the cool Kit Kats. Since 2000, Nestlé has introduced over 200 flavors and varieties of the chocolate bar to Japan, from chestnut and espresso to baked corn and soy sauce.

Some flavors come and go with the seasons and others are exclusive to certain regions; at the souvenir shops of my home prefecture Nagano you can find the tasty Shinshu Apple flavor and the questionable Ichimi Ground Red Pepper flavor.

One of our Japanese reporters recently came across a new variety of Kit Kat at Nagoya Station that we thought was pretty cool. While the Kit Kat bars themselves are the regular milk chocolate flavor—which, mind you, differs from country to countrythe box art is inspired by the Tokaido Shinkansen line and should be familiar to anyone who has ridden the bullet train in Japan.

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Many of you are probably familiar with Rule 34, an arbitrarily-numbered internet rule which states: if it exists, there is a porn of it.

We’d like to propose a Rule 24: “If it exists, someone in Japan has a fetish for it.

Because really, in just the past month we’ve seen serialized videos of Japanese girls diving into mud and manga about a boy with a gun for a penis.

And now we have Tonsure Market, a series of over 50 videos of Japanese women having their heads shaved bald.

That’s it. Read More

Fan-Made “Dragon Ball Z: Saiyan Saga” Trailer is Finally Out! Take Notes, Hollywood

Big-budget live-action remakes of anime and manga are tricky business. One one hand, you’ve got to please the fans, who you know will be sitting in the theater with pen and paper scrutinizing every scene. But you also have to make money, which often means watering down the source material to make it digestible for regular movie-goers. As a result, live-action remakes are usually denounced by fans (and critics), but still manage to turn a profit in the box office.

This is why we love DragonBall Z: Saiyan Saga, a live-action non-profit Dragon Ball Z trailer made by fans not because they want to make a buck, but because they love the series so damn much.

The 5 minute 44 second trailer was finally released on YouTube yesterday after months of production, and looks absolutely amazing. Check it out below!

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Grab Your Camera: More Middle-Aged Japanese Men Crossdressing in Public

We’ve run quite a few stories about crossdressing in Japan over the past few months, which may have some of you wondering if dressing up in drag has become something of a fashion craze among Japanese men.

It turns out it has among one demographic, according to Nikkan Spa, who reports that over the past few years there have been an increasing number of reports of normal, middle-aged Japanese men walking around Tokyo in drag.

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Japan Has a Fashion Magazine for Elementary School Girls, May Be of Interest to Child Molesters as Well

During a brief stint teaching English at a rural elementary and junior high school in Japan a few years ago, I was surprised to see how much more fashionable Japanese kids are than their American counterparts.

Not actually at school; they were all in their school or gym uniforms on schooldays (though many elementary schools now allow personal clothes). But when the weekend hit, many of my students would transform into little fashionistas and roam the local shopping mall—with a parent or guardian, of course.

I always wondered where they picked up their fashion sense from, and after seeing a few pages from JS Girl, a semimonthly fashion magazine for elementary school-aged girls in Japan, I think I finally get it, and it makes me a little sad.

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‘Tis the Season to Get Lucky: Condoms One of Japan’s Best-Selling Christmas Items

Yes, you read the title correctly: while Americans are stocking their shopping carts with presents for their friends and family, Japanese shoppers are fighting over the last box of Mega Big Boys.

Okay, that may be slightly exaggerated, but according to JEX Condoms, sales of condoms in Japan increase by roughly 8% around the winter holidays, the bulk of which is thought to occur before or during Christmas Eve.

But why? Do Japanese people have nothing better to stuff their stockings with? Not quite, and to understand why condoms sell so well on the holiest of nights, we need to take a look at how the holiday is celebrated by many people in the country.

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Japan’s “Rent-a-Boyfriend”Dispatch Service: Because Japanese Women Get Lonely Too

Japan provides its lonely men with plenty of way to find sweet respite from the emptiness and isolation of everyday life—provided you have the cash. And we’re not just talking about prostitution: you can rent a girlfriend at Moé Date for day of “simulate romance” or find a cuddle partner at Soine-ya to help you rest easy at night.

But what about the ladies? Women get lonely too, so it seems unfair that such services would only be available to men.

Believe it or not, even before either of the above establishments were in business, there was Soine-ya Prime, a dispatch service where women can hire a handsome young man to lay with her in bed for a night.

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SoftBank Funds New Social Network for Collectors and Cosplayers

Want to share your plastic Gundam model collection with your friends but too embarrassed to upload it to Facebook?

On November 29, Japanese internet company SoftBank and subsidiary Yahoo! Japan launched WONDER!, a social network where otaku can upload photos of their PVC figures, plastic models, cosplay, and original illustrations.

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