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

We Visit Otaku Cooking School, Kitchen a la Mode, Find it Isn’t Just for Nerds

One of the most common stereotypes of nerds, or otaku as they’re known in Japan, is that they cannot cook and subsist on a diet of instant noodles and soft drinks.

Kitchen a la Mode is a new cooking school in Akihabara that hopes to get otaku off their chairs and into the kitchen by providing simple, hands-on cooking lessons with cute girls.

You may remember reading about Kitchen a la Mode on our site last month. Curious as to how the school has been doing since opening, RocketNews24 sent its handsomest American correspondent (me) to Kitchen a la Mode to experience moé cooking firsthand. Check out his (my) report below!

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Watch the Opening Minutes of Evangelion 3.0 & Official Utada Hikaru Music Video Now

After three years of waiting and months of promotional tie-insEvangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo finally debuted in theaters across Japan at midnight tonight.

To get fans pumped up for the long-awaited release (as if they weren’t enough already), Nippon Television Network aired both of the previous Rebuild of Evangelion movies over the past two Fridays— Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone on November 9 and Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance last night— and topped it off with a special treat by broadcasting the first six minutes and 36 seconds of Evangelion 3.0 after the ending credits of last night’s showing.

We are pleased to bring you those six minutes and 36 seconds, as well as the newly-released music video for Sakura Nagashi, the Evangelion 3.0 theme by Utada Hikaru, below.

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New Japanese “Rent-a-Girlfriend” Service Offers Simulated Romance, and Probably a Little More

There are many young Japanese men who, even if they want to go on a date, have little confidence in their ability to carry out an engaging conversation with the opposite sex. Maybe they’ve been so caught up in work that they’ve forgotten what constitutes interesting table talk, or maybe they’ve never even been on a date before. Maybe they’ve never even spoken with a woman before.

Whatever the case, there are guys out there who feel lost when it comes to showing a lady a good time. To those men, we recommend “Moé Date”, a new Japanese dating service where you can rent a girlfriend for a day of real simulated romance. What better way to get back in the game than with a little warm up, right fellas?

That said, we sent one of our own dried-up correspondents, Daiichiro Tashiro, on a three hour Moé Date to find out if the service could reignite the flame of passion that once burned in his heart.

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Japanese Man Creates Incredible LEGO “Pop-Up Book” That Opens to Reveal Buddhist Temple

LEGO reconstructions of famous structures, while certainly impressive, are nothing new. Japanese LEGO artisan Talapz, however, brings his miniature brick models to a whole new level by turning them into fantastic colorful pop-up books.

Check out a video of his latest creation, the famous Japanese Buddhist temple complex, Todai-ji, below.

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【Fixed】 Collection of Ingenious Short Skits From the Japanese Program That Brought Us “Matrix Ping Pong” Now on YouTube

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgM11RtGjeI?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent&w=640&h=360%5D

Kasou Taisho, or All Japan Kasoh (Costume) Grand Prix, is a semi-annual televised contest in which amateur groups or individuals perform short skits which are rated by a panel of judges.

Many of the skits make extensive use of kurogo: stagehands dressed in all black to imply they are “invisible” to the audience while they move around props or actors on stage. This allows performers to create clever illusions and “fake” special effects, such as in the classic “Matrix Ping Pong” skit, which you can see above.

Having been on the air for more than 30 years, the show no doubt has an extensive library of short, funny video clips—or as we call it these days, internet crack. And finally figuring out that crack sells, Kasou Taisho has posted nearly 100 of their finest skits from over the years for your viewing pleasure on YouTube.

We hope you weren’t planning on doing anything productive over the next half hour…

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【Video】How to Communicate With Your Pet Hedgehog Using Your Feet

While all those spines may make the hedgehog look like one of the last animals you’d want to let run around in your house, certain species of the animal are actually fairly popular pets in certain parts of the world.

The African pygmy hedgehog, for example, is one of the most popular domesticated species and have been known to cozy up to their owners quite nicely.

Koutaro Maeno, a Japanese entomology researcher living in the West African country of Mauritania and proud owner of two African pygmy hedgehogs, has uploaded some rather bizarre video showing just how…tolerant the beasts can be of humans.

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SoraNews24 Taste Test: Korean Feces Wine

As reported last week, SoraNews24 recently brought back two bottles of Ttongsul, or “feces wine,” from South Korea.

After running the story on our Japanese site, we received a fair bit of criticism from our Korean readers, who insisted that Ttongsul no longer existed in the country and this is just something Japan contrived to smear “mud” on Korea’s good name.

Getting our hands on the beverage was certainly no easy task, and we can tell you for certain that you won’t find bottles of it being sold on the shelves of Korean supermarkets. We imagine most Koreans today have never laid eyes nor lips on the beverage, nor would they want to.

Yet, believe it or not, here we are with two bottles of feces wine and only one thing left to do: serve a glass to the cutest girl in our office.

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Cosplay Undressed: Japan’s Newest Cosplay Trend Shows How Heroes Take Off Their Clothes

The latest fad among Japanese cosplayers on Twitter is showing that you don’t actually need to be wearing a costume to be in character.

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Make Citrus Your Bitch With the Citrus Sprayer

Nothing livens up a salad or a roast chicken breast like a bit of fresh lemon, but isn’t it a pain to have to do all that cutting and squeezing? Don’t you just wish you could grab a lemon off the tree and pump it dry on the spot?

Well, now you can with Citrus Sprayer, a clever little utensil that turns fresh citrus fruit into a natural spray bottle!

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On a recent trip to Naha, Okinawa, our correspondent spotted a Starbucks t-shirt which, at first glance, looked like a factory reject, but turned out to be a clever tip of the hat to traditional Okinawan culture.

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Korean Feces Wine is a Real Thing and We’ve Got Two Bottles of it, Contains Cat Bones as Well

Ttongsul, or “feces wine”, is a Korean drink made by pouring soju, a distilled grain alcohol,  into a pit filled with chicken, dog, or human feces, and leaving the mixture in the pit for three to four months until it ferments. It is then extracted from the pit and drank straight, with the belief that it can cure illness and help in the aid of bone fractures.

It sounds like the stuff of urban legends, but Ttongsul is indeed a real beverage that, while by no means popular, can still be found if you know where to look.

How can we be sure? After nearly six months of extensive research, RocketNews24 was able to track down a private Ttongsul vendor in South Korea and procure a bottle of the elusive feces wine ourselves.

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Disturbing Pikachu Statue Spotted at Chinese Animation Festival

We’ve seen creepy Pokémon art before, but these statues seen at an animation festival in China are enough to give even a Haunter nightmares.

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One Piece Creator Eiichiro Oda’s Take on Himura Kenshin is…Insulting, at Best

Ruroni Kenshin, or Samurai X, as it was originally known in English, is one of the most beloved manga of all time.

Some would say it’s even better than the best-selling manga of all time, One Piece. Others would point out that they’re both good in their own right and shouldn’t be compared. After all, both are representative works of Shonen Jump magazine, and One Piece artist, Eiichiro Oda, even used to be an assistant for Nobuhiro Watsuki when he was working on Ruroni Kenshin.

In fact, Oda respects his former sensei so much that he even contributed a stylized portrait of Ruroni Kenshin‘s hero, Himura Kenshin, to the most recent issue of Shonen Jump. 

The only problem is it looks nothing like Kenshin.

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Edible iPhone 5 Case Made From Rice Cracker Protects Your Life but not Your iPhone

On the eve of a large-scale natural disaster, preparedness is everything. Sure smartphones can keep us in contact with the rest of world when traditional communication networks are down, but Twitter won’t help you much when food supplies start running low.

That’s where the “Survival Senbei iPhone 5 Case” comes in. This special case is made entirely from Japanese brown rice and salt, baked into a crispy golden-brown senbei rice cracker that fits snugly around your iPhone 5.

An iPhone that you can eat in times of crisis: this must be the future that Steve Jobs envisioned for the device! You just might want to avoid walking around with it your pocket…

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Sh*t Japanese Girls Say and Other Hilarious Truths From an American Living in Japan

Shit Girls Say is a comedy web series that pokes fun at the cliches and stereotypes associated with young female speech.

Of course, there’s a good chance you probably knew this; the videos have racked up more than 32 million combined views to date and spawned countless parodies exploring the quirky verbal mannerisms of black girls, single girls, Asian moms and more.

Well now Japan is finally in on the joke with “Sh*t Japanese Girls Say.”

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Blow Your Hair Out with this Colt Peacemaker Hair Dryer

The hair dryer is an essential tool for any woman who wants beautifully styled hair. The Colt Peacemaker is an American single action revolver and iconic pistol of the Wild West.

What do they have in common? Not much. But put together, they make the most badass blowdryer (or poorly-designed firearm) this side of the Mississippi.

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Gangnam Style as Performed by an Adorable 4-Year-Old Japanese Girl

Some of you may remember Kazuki, the adorable Japanese 4-year-old diva who’s cosplay habits are encouraged by her mother and posted to YouTube via her channel, Kazuki’s Room.

In her latest performance, Kazuki has finally jumped on the internet fad bandwagon and covered Gangnam Style. Her moves may not be accurate and her costumes may only be vaguely similar to Psy’s, but it doesn’t matter because she’s just so darn cute.

Check the video after the jump!

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【Survey】When do Japanese People Have Their First Kiss? When Did You Have Yours?

Japanese men aren’t known for being the most romantically aggressive bunch. Many young Japanese women lament over having to take the lead just to get out of the dugout and onto first base.

If Japanese guys are so reluctant to get touchy-feely, you’ve got to wonder: at what age do Japanese people have their first kiss?

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