Japan

Major Electronics Producer Sharp Forms Capital Alliance with Korea’s Samsung

Japanese electronics maker Sharp has in recent years seen a slump in sales. What is arguably required for the company to remain afloat in this tough consumer market  is a change in business strategies. As one of Japan’s most renowned sellers of liquid crystal displays, Sharp is hastily searching for ways to revamp its administration.

First there was talk of a possible alliance between Sharp and Taiwanese major electronic company Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. However, coming to a deadlock in investment negotiations, Sharp changed course by forming an alliance with a company that was arguably up until now its biggest competitor on the market, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. It was announced this week that a capital alliance between the two companies is in its final stages of negotiation.

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Hurl Obscenities at the Crane Game from the Comfort of Your Own Home! Online Remote UFO Catcher Opened

Crane games, claw machines, UFO catchers, whatever you want to call them can be found scattered all across East Asia taking in reams of cash with promises of prizes ranging from giant stuffed phallic mushrooms to game consoles.

Oh, how I look back fondly on lining up my plastic pincers precisely over a PSP only to have them go limp at the last minute. The nursing staff and I had many a chuckle as they stitched up my knuckles from punching repeatedly into the Plexiglas window.

Thanks to Netch and their remote web browser operated crane game, instead of getting charged with destruction of property I can get enraged in front of my own computer screen!

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Age-old Activity of Hitomoji Given a 21st Century Facelift by Students’ Human Emoticon

The above photo has been getting a lot of buzz on Twitter recently, possibly because it has a deeper message than even the students who made it intended.

Students spelling out messages en masse with their bodies is nothing new in Japan. Called hitomoji (human letters) it’s long been used in celebration of milestones for businesses and school graduations. This one, however, is just that little bit cooler.

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Domino’s Pizza Japan Teams Up with Hatsune Miku, Releases Fantastic Cringeworthy Video

Domino’s Pizza stepped things up a gear yesterday when it announced that it is partnering with digital pop idol Hatsune Miku for its latest promotional campaign. As well as allowing them to order pizzas without actually having to speak to anyone, the new Domino’s Pizza feat. Hatsune Miku app for iPhone lets customers enjoy private performances from the singing humanoid by pointing the iPhone’s camera at special app-friendly pizza boxes.

Perhaps even better than the campaign itself, though, is the cheesy video that Domino’s launched yesterday to introduce the app, which features company president Scott Oellkers doing his best to look excited about having his photo taken with the teal-haired star. Corporate enthusiasm aplenty after the break.

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Secret Walls in the Subway: Japanese Customer Service at its Best

Japan has a way with customer service. From elevator ladies whose only job is to push the floor buttons to shop keepers who greet every patron with a hearty I rasshaimase (Welcome!), there’s no shortage of examples of great service. One such example has crept up from the depths of the subway to surprise and delight the people of the Internet: secret walls!
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Korea’s Ban on Pachinko Pinball Gambling Sees an Increase in Gamblers Coming to Japan

In Japan, pachinko – a game similar to pinball but with multiple balls in play and minus the flippers – has always been a big business.  “Pachinkoten” (dedicated pachinko parlors) have become about as commonplace as temples and hot springs, and it’s not uncommon to see small crowds of men waiting outside such establishments early in the morning, waiting for them to open.

A phenomenon that is particularly noticeable in recent years is that of the large numbers of Koreans coming to Japan to gamble. Up until seven years ago, Korea’s pachinko industry was booming. However, when gambling laws were introduced to combat the recent rise in addictions, many players were left out in the cold with nothing to fill the gap. But with a thriving pachinko scene just a couple of hours away on the plane, many Koreans are heading to Japan to pick up where they left off.

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Tokyo Disneyland Hosts Its First Gay Wedding

A while back, we reported that Tokyo Disneyland had agreed to offer its wedding packages to same-sex couples in Japan. This month, the very same lesbian couple that encouraged the company to do so became the first to get hitched at the park, with Mickey and Minnie in attendance, of course. Read More

Floor Space Oddity: David Bowie Café to Open in Ginza for Month of March

Now that everyone has probably sobered up from last year’s Rolling Stones and Suntory collaboration, a new rock legend is bringing a slightly classier offering to Japan.

For just a few weeks of March, in Ginza, Tokyo you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Thin White Duke – David Bowie.

To promote The Next Day – his first album in 10 years – Sony will be converting part of their building into the David Bowie Café with a special selection of food and décor.

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Tokyo Store Launches Concierge Service to Help Clueless Men Shopping for their Girlfriends

With White Day little over a week away, thousands of men in Japan are currently feeling the heat. Having received gifts from their loved ones on Valentine’s Day, it’s now time to return the favour by buying their sweetheart something that simultaneously says “thank you” while acting as a token of their affections.

But when most men think of the words “great gift”, they often envisage things like video games or iPad-controlled helicopters, and the chances of such items going down well with their wives or girlfriends are slim to none.

Thankfully, help is at hand! Available at Tokyo’s Tokyu Hands department store, the White Day Concierge service is designed to help male shoppers on the hunt for a romantic gift find something that their other half may actually like, rather than just a female Tenga toy with a ribbon tied around it and the promise of a shoulder rub.

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Kitty-vision: Hello Kitty and Niconico Video Get Together for a Sweet Collaboration

If you’re a Hello Kitty fan, here’s something that you won’t want to miss. In one of the coolest collaborations we’ve seen in a long time, Kitty-chan’s parent company Sanrio has joined paws (sorry) with quirky Japanese video site Niconico to produce a series of limited edition chocolate boxes.

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College Survey: Number of Members in Japanese Music Groups Proportional to Level of Sucking 【Music Video Blowout】

A chart surface on the Internet recently titled: 100 American College Music Majors Analyze Japanese Musical Talent and the Relationship with the Number of Members.

How exactly this information came together is unknown, but the name suggests that 100 American music students were surveyed about several Japanese music acts past and present. Those results were then plotted against the number of members in each band.

The results certainly do suggest that there is a correlation between the number of members in a music act and the perceived crappiness of said act. So lets examine this more deeply with some samples and a translated version of the chart above.

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Google to Photograph Street Views of Evacuated Town in Fukushima

It wasn’t just the earthquake or tsunami of March 11, 2011 that shattered the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture, it was the subsequent radiation. Slowly creeping across the once fertile land, it ripped families from their homes and banished them to evacuation centers elsewhere. Today, nearly two years after the worse nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the entire 86 square miles of Namie have been declared uninhabitable due to high levels of radioactive cesium. Even if families wanted to return, they can’t.

Amid this tragic loss, Google Street View is giving the people of Namie a chance to visit the town they were forced to flee.

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Stage Adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke Coming to Japan this April!

The British stage production of Studio Ghibli’s 1997 animated classic Princess Mononoke, originally only intended for audiences at London’s Diorama Theatre this April, will be brought to Japan, it was announced earlier today.

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Pensioner Dies After Being Denied Treatment at 25 Different Hospitals

A 75-year-old man from Saitama Prefecture, Japan, has died after being refused treatment as many as 36 times at 25 different hospitals in an around the prefecture, Japanese website The Mainichi has revealed.

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s Iggy will Hold Your Door Open for You (and Pee Against it)

Fans of the manga and animé smash JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and its notoriously ill-mannered dog Iggy will be pleased to know that they can now get their hands on a doorstop modeled on the pooch.

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Oreimo English Textbook Coming! Learn Useful Phrases Like “My Little Sister Likes Porn Games”

Set to be published on 10 April is My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute and Brush Up on Middle School English by Chukei Publishing.

As the name suggests, this book lets students bone up on the required English curriculum set to the backdrop of the My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute popular series of erotic game (eroge) otaku themed light novels. Yes, someone actually made this.

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Sony Wants to be Number Three, Thinks it “Could Buy Apple and Samsung” in the Future

The world may well be completely besotted with iPhones and Samsung-made Android devices right now, but Sony isn’t prepared to take a back seat and watch its profits and reputation go down the U-bend. In a recent conference, head of Sony Mobile Kunimasa Suzuki pledged to step up and reclaim ground lost in recent years. Rather than making unrealistic promises and declaring out-and-out war on the iPhone, however, the Japanese tech giant is keeping things realistic and is aiming at third place in the world’s mobile market.

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