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

While most of us use YouTube to upload homemade productions and watch funny cat videos, much of Japan still turns to their domestic video sharing site, Nico Nico Douga.

Yet whereas YouTube sees content from users across the world, Nico Nico Douga has remained primarily an exclusive club for Japanese speakers since it began in 2006. An English language beta website, Niconico.com, was launched in early 2011, but failed to generate interest even among foreign users of the Japanese site, due in part to the separation of Japanese and English videos between two domains.

Perhaps realizing that they’ll never be able to attract a sizable userbase from YouTube, Nico Nico Douga has shifted its strategy away from encouraging original English content to making its Japanese content more accessible to English speakers, replacing the English website with an English interface for the Japanese domain, nicovideo.jp.

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12-Year-Old Japanese Smartphone Developer Wins Award for Debut App, “Math RPG”

As smartphone usage continues to grow in Japan, more Japanese developers are tinkering with the devices to make apps of their own. And since developer tools and information are made available for free online, just about anyone can break into app development so long as they have an idea and the willingness to learn.

In fact, making a smartphone app is so easy, even a grade-schooler could do it— just look at 12-year-old Gaiya Ohara, Japan’s youngest smartphone developer and sole creator of the award-winning iOS app, Math RPG.

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Doing it Wrong: 20 Laughably Bad Chinese Character Cakes

The aesthetic quality of a character cake can be judged by the degree of reluctance felt before cutting into it. Some cakes are so well-crafted that taking a knife to them would be nothing other than desecration of art. Conversely, some cakes are so insultingly terrible that basiac survival instincts would compel most people to take knife in hand and stab them out of their misery.

A series of images recently shared on Chinese Facebook ripoffsocial networking site Renren suggests character cakes in China fall into the latter camp.

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Hatsune Miku Should not be Made Into Yakisoba and Here’s Why

Remember those Hatsune Miku steamed buns? Those were pretty cute, even if they didn’t hold up in the heat too well. But most of the time, the virtual idol’s turquoise/grey color palette doesn’t make for the most appetizing themed dishes. Yakisoba is no exception.

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Once upon a time, nobody read RocketNews24 because it was really really bad. RocketRevival is a weekly corner that takes a look at some of our more passable articles from that bygone era that still hold valuable lessons today.

Over the past ten years or so, sushi has become one of the most popular dishes in the world and has mainstreamed the consumption of raw fish in countries that previously wouldn’t think of sticking a fork in a salmon without grilling it first. While some people may still feel apprehensive when trying sushi for the first time, it usually only takes one bite of faith and you’re hooked.

On a trip to Thailand, however, one of our reporters found a seafood dish so raw that even the most sushi-loving Japanese might think twice before sticking it between their chopsticks.

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Like many other little girls, 4-year-old Kazuki loves to play dress up, dance around the room and sing her heart out. What sets her apart from other toddler divas though, is that she has a mother just as enthusiastic about her playtime habits as she is.

When Kazuki says she wants to become Hatsune Miku, mom wastes no time in hitting the sewing machine. Once her custom outfit is done, mom sticks a microphone in her hand, starts the music, and its lights, camera, action.

Not wanting to keep her daughter’s talent to herself, Kazuki’s mom created the YouTube channel “Kazuki’s Room” to share their playroom productions with the world. We’ve posted a few of the best below. Just make sure to have a pillow or something soft on hand to squeeze the life out of because these videos are unbearably adorable.

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Zen and the Art of Flushing: Japanese Man Installs Bamboo Fountain on Toilet

Among other things, the toilet is a place for peaceful introspection. It provides an isolated and quiet space for us to devote a few minutes from our busy schedules to just sit and think.

Some people seek to enhance the spiritually soothing properties of the toilet by adorning their bathroom in calming pastel colors or setting a bowl of potpourri or other aromatic atop the toilet’s porcelain tank.

One Japanese person, true to his culture, has taken excremeditation to new levels by installing a working traditional Japanese bamboo fountain on top of his toilet.

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Why Japan Doesn’t Give a Gangnam Sh** About PSY

I remember showing “Gangnam Style” to my Japanese friends and coworkers only a few weeks after it was uploaded to YouTube in July. While, like millions of other viewers, I thought the video was best thing to come out of YouTube since Charlie the Unicorn, I was surprised to find that most Japanese people I showed it to would just stare at the screen and mumble a disinterested “hmmmm.”

Were they seeing the same video I was? Did they not notice the horse-riding dance and the rhythmic pelvic thrusting in the elevator? Were they deaf to the addictive melody and blind to the tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendos? I mean, come on people: he’s screaming at her butt.

At the time, I thought maybe I just had dull friends. But after over 400,000,000 views, numerous international media appearances, an American record deal and still only minimal sign of interest from Japan, I’m compelled to think that there is something about PSY and Gangnam Style that the Japanese are simply unable to accept.

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Sexy Dance Performance at Korean All-Boys High School Results in Hormonal Chaos 【Long Version】

Some of you may be familiar with South Korean female dance team Waveya from their sexy dance rendition of international K-Pop hit “Gangnam Style” (see below).

While unable to match the raw sexual energy that made PSY’s original music video so successful, the video has gotten over 40 million views on YouTube and has helped the five-piece unit make a name for themselves domestically.

Last month, for example, Waveya was asked to perform at an all-boys high school in Korea. The girls took the stage and began working their sexiest, most seductive moves on stafe in front of the crowd of adolescent males and, as you might imagine, it wasn’t long before every guy in the room found himself standing erect with excitement.

You know, to see Waveya. Because they’re famous now… Pervert.

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Calendars featuring photos of sexy models posing provocatively are nothing new, but leave it to Japan to come up with a calendar where the date is written on the exposed skin of a woman’s body —and actually make it look artistic.

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Japanese Couple Arrested for Stealing $300 in Hotel Amenities

One of my favorite things about staying at a hotel is all the complimentary stuff they let you take home. From toiletries to beverages, bathrobes to coffee makers, each visit to a hotel is like a smorgasbord of free everyday items—the only limit is your suitcase!

Some people claim that not everything in the hotel is free. That aside the cheap toiletries  everything in the room is hotel property and taking it home is “stealing.”

Yeah, sure. Even if that is true, what are they going to do, call the Hotel Gestapo?

No, but they will call the police, as one Japanese couple found out after being arrested for stealing nearly $300 worth of hotel amenities.

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Here, Have Some Chocolate Cow Poop Mochi From Hokkaido

About half of the milk in Japan is produced in the beautiful and vast countryside of Hokkaido, the largest of Japan’s 47 prefectures and northernmost of Japan’s four main islands. As such, cows have become a symbol of the prefecture. Walk into any souvenir shop in the prefecture and you’re bound to find a few locally-produced snacks with bovine-inspired packaging.

On a recent trip to Hokkaido, one of our reporters came across one such snack that was a little less run-of-the-mill than your usual butter cookies: “Cow Poop?” chocolate mochi.

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Cut Into the Face of an Angel This Christmas with Fourth Limited Edition Evangelion Cake

Japanese anime production studio Khara wants to make sure you’re excited for the upcoming Evangelion: 3.0 movie and they’re proving their sincerity by serving you the Third Angel Sachiel’s head on a platter.

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Inspiring or Inconsiderate? Foreigner Plays Guitar for Frustrated Train Passengers While Stranded in Typhoon

On Sept. 30, Typhoon Jelawat struck the eastern part of Aichi prefecture, Japan and then proceeded to move north, causing flight delays and affecting public transportation across the eastern region of the main island.

In Tokyo, train schedules throughout the city were disrupted and one section of the JR Chuo Line was even forced to shut down before trains could make it back to their stations, trapping passengers inside the cars until weather conditions improved.

Now, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that nothing can ruin a day (week?) like being held up in an unexpected transportation or traffic accident. The general mood among passengers in those stranded cars must have been pretty sour. Which is why it’s amazing one foreigner had the pluck to take out his guitar and start serenading his fellow passengers while they waited for the storm to pass.

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Japanese Protesters Attack U.S. Military Aircraft with Kites

It’s easy to understand why residents of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa would be upset with the deployment of twelve new Osprey hybrid aircraft to the Futenma U.S. military base.

While the U.S. assures the Japanese government that the aircraft are safe, an accident in Morocco that killed two U.S. Marines in April and then another in Florida in June make them a hard sell for Okinawans, especially since the Futenma base is surrounded by crowded residential areas.

So it wasn’t surprising when hundreds of protesters raised banners and chanted outside Futenma on Monday to show their concern over the safety of the aircraft, the first six of which arrived at the base that morning.

It was surprising, however, when, the next day, two groups of Okinawans gathered at a park near Futenma to protest the arrival of three new Osprey by flying kites near the aircraft as they attempted to land.

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Fuji TV Introduces Awkward “Digital Announcer,” No One Sure if They’re Supposed to take Her Seriously

Fuji TV proved itself the forerunner of equal opportunity employment for digital labor earlier this week when they announced they had brought CG character Lune Anri on board as the network’s newest announcer.

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