Japan

New iPad App “The Legend of Momotaro” Brings Japanese Folk Tale to Life

Telling the age-old story of a hero born from a giant peach, Ghost Hand Games’ new app The Legend of Momotaro landed on our iPad last weekend. Promising an inspiring interactive experience while telling the classic Japanese tale, we fired it up right away. A couple of hours of reading, listening and screen-tapping later, we were left with no doubt in our minds: technology really can do great things for an old reading experience.

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Propaganda is an ugly art. History is full of distorted and racist imagery of one nation’s enemies during times of war. Looking back on them now we can chuckle at the absurd lengths people went to in an effort to instill hate in one another, but they often remain shocking nonetheless.

This series of paintings from North Korea surfaced on the internet around 2010, but it’s uncertain exactly when they were created. Judging by the American uniforms they’re most likely Korean War era. We can also see this by the one where US soldiers are depicted sawing open a guy’s head (they got lasers to do that nowadays).

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The Nihlistic Bus Schedule Advertisements of Tsukuba, Now in English!

Think back to the last time you saw an advertisement for a bus schedule.  Difficult isn’t it? Even on the off chance you have seen one before, it probably wasn’t so attention-grabbing as to stick in your memory.

It’s not like bus schedules need advertising anyway.  Either you use one or you don’t, no amount of persuading will likely change that.

Nevertheless, Tsukuba Tekken, a travel and rail association affiliated with Tsukuba University in Japan, has for years been designing quirky advertisements for their on-campus bus schedules.

Displayed in limited locations around the university, these posters have become a local legend both for their mystery and unorthodox content. So sit back and enjoy these advertisements translated into English.

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Father Bites and Kills Own Son for Being “Possessed by a Snake”

Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture was the site of a bizarre death of 23 year-old Takuya Nagaya at the hands his father, Katsumi Nagaya. The victim was repeatedly assaulted including bites before succumbing to injuries.

The father having been arrested on suspicion of assault had said “I did it to drive out the snake that had possessed him.”

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2013 Lucky Bag Fail Update: A Happy Ending! (Brought to you by Acer)

You might recognize this beaming face standing in front of the Shibuya Apple store, deliriously waving a t-shirt in the air. After standing in line and living on the streets for eight days in a quest for a lucky bag containing a MacBook Air, our hero was disappointed to find that his efforts were fruitless; the best item in the lucky bag he received was an iPod nano and a grey t-shirt.

Disappointed and exhausted, he consoled himself, sighing, “I like the Acer that I already have and I probably wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to use a MacBook Air…” He trudged home, defeated and MacBook Airless.

But this story has a happy ending! Here is our hero’s account of the events that transpired after his epic 2013 Apple lucky bag fail:

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Japan’s First Missionary Flustered as Christianity Did Not Compute with the Locals

Saint Francis Xavier was a missionary during the 16th century who is credited for bringing Christianity to parts of Asia previously unaware of the religion. Even today several churches bearing his name or likeness can be found in Japan, China, Indonesia, India and more.

Although he was successful at establishing a foothold for later missionaries to operate in Japan, his task was not easy.  The patience of this Saint was taken to the limit by potential followers complaining about gaps in logic with concepts such as hell and creation.

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A Very Berry Ramen Experience — “Susususustrawberry Ramen”

Here at RocketNews24, we’ve certainly brought to you our share of stories on unusual ramen noodles, from chilled blue ramen to ramen that’s too disgusting to eat. Well, once again, one of our reporters was brave enough to try another very, shall we say, “interesting” ramen. And yes, as you can tell from the picture, it contains … strawberries. Read More

We Get the Dirt on this Season’s Fad Ingredient. Hint: It’s Dirt.

There is a chic French restaurant in Tokyo’s Gotanda district known to those in-the-know. It’s called Ne Quittez Pas, and it is famous for using high-quality seafood and produce from Kanagawa’s Misaki region. However, they’ve just unveiled a new full-course menu created around a rather peculiar ingredient: actual dirt. Of course, we had to check it out. Read More

Japanese Researchers Unravel the Mechanism Behind the Cause of Depression.

A research team from universities in Nagoya, Japan, has come one step further in developing an effective medicine against the debilitating disorder that is depression.

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Google Maps Easter Egg Lets You Street-View Famous Open-Air Hot Springs Bath

On 15 January, a tweet emerged revealing a secret Google Maps Street View available nestled deep in a valley in Nagano Prefecture.  The tweet simply read “Open-air bath on full display in Street View.”

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Japan as it Once Was: 20 Stunning Photographs

Surrounded by multi-story buildings and forever glued to our computers and smartphones, we often forget that the world we live in was once a much simpler place. People took time over writing letters, arranged to meet with friends and loved ones well in advance and, without streaming video and compact, waterproof music players to keep us entertained, took the time to appreciate the little things in life.

As a reminder of Japan’s once much more subdued yet intrinsically beautiful lifestyle, RocketNews24‘s sister site Pouch presents us with the following collection of photographs, which feature stunning Japanese gardens, arching wooden bridges over rivers, and ordinary folk just going about their day some 100 years ago.

So grab yourself a cup of tea, switch your phone to silent mode and take a few minutes to appreciate just how different life in Japan used to be.

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McDonald’s Japan Gives Away Free Breakfasts to Ease Monday Blues

Freeeeeeeeeeee!

McDonald’s is already known for cheap prices, but it’s about to get a whole lot cheaper: as in free. At least it will if you stop by for breakfast on your way to work Monday. Read More

Desperate to Pee? Let Someone Else Shoulder the Burden with this Genius Invention: the Pee Baton!

Gadget-laden robot cat from the future Doraemon is something a national treasure here in Japan. Since the appearance of the original manga of the same name back in 1969, the subsequent TV series has been watched by multiple generations and is still on the air today. As well as remaining popular with adults and kids alike, the Japanese Foreign Ministry once declared the mechanical time-traveller the country’s official “animé ambassador”, meaning that the earless mechanical cat is sure to be around for a long time to come yet.

Perhaps the thing that people love most about Doraemon, though, is his seemingly bottomless pocket, from which the character produces all manner of gadgets and inventions in order to assist his human pal Nobita. Although the “dokodemo doa” (lit. “anywhere door”) is often given as the answer to the age-old conundrum “Which of Doraemon’s gadgets would you most like to have?”, it doesn’t stop people imagining what else could buried deep down in there.

In that vein, Yahoo! Japan recently announced the winner of its 2012-2013 Adults Only Doraemon Contest, in which contestants were asked to come up with an invention that they’d like to pull out of Doraemon’s pocket and use in real life, with the top prize being awarded to 50-year-old Rieko Honjou for her “Pee Baton”.

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Japanese Teacher Suspended for Hugging Students While Singing to Them

When I was a junior high school student my music teacher used to jab a meter stick into my gut while I played Mary Had a Little Lamb on the trumpet.  Good times.

Still, that guy could win teacher of the year next to a 55 year-old man who was suspended from his Shonan Ward high school in Kanagawa Prefecture for inappropriate behavior with some female students.

How inappropriate? For starters, he composed an original love ballad.

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Which Company’s Employee Would You Like to Marry? Nintendo Tops Rankings in Japan

An Internet survey asking Japanese men and women aged 20 to 39 which company they would like a potential marriage partner to work for ranked Nintendo number one.

The survey, conducted November 28 and 29, 2012, received 500 valid responses. Filling out the top five were All Nippon Airways (ANA), Tanita (electronic scales), Google and Apple. Reasons given for choices were wide-ranging including, “It’s a hot company,” and “My partner is unlikely to gain a middle-aged bulge (working there).”
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Something Dark And Bittersweet Is Brewing in Japan For Valentine’s Day — Chocolate Beer!

If you enjoy beer, I’m sure you’ll agree that beer has no season — a cold glass of beer in the hot summer can be life-savingly refreshing, but a beer in the dead of winter along with a piping hot dish like nabe (Japanese hot pot), can also be heavenly.

One of the reporters from our sister site Pouch introduces us to a unique beer that you may want to savor slowly after a nice meal. It’s a special 2013 line-up of chocolate beer, and it’s available only around Valentine’s Day in Japan! Read More

Chinese Air Pollution Expected to Cross Over to Western Japan

For days now Beijing has been suffering from a prolonged spell of the worst air pollution in the city’s history, a crisis so bad that it has been dubbed the “airpocalypse”.

The air has been classified as hazardous to human health and has already sent countless people to the hospital for respiratory ailments. The city is blanketed in a thick grey fog that is said to smell of coal and sting the eyes, leading officials to close highways, force the cancellation of flights and outdoor activities, and warn people in affected areas to remain indoors.

According to a researcher at Kyushu University, China’s giant toxic cloud of pollution is now expected to cross over to western Japan sometime later today.

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Japan Considering Bringing Back 6-Day School Week, Teachers Not Overly Enthusiastic

In a review of the current five-day school week currently being used in public schools across Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said it is considering Saturday classes and a re-introduction of the six-day school week that was phased out between 1992 and 2002.

New curriculum guidelines mandating increased classroom hours resulting from a re-examination of the Ministry’s Yutori Kyoiku, (pressure-free education) program were introduced to elementary schools last year, and fully implemented in junior high schools this year. In seeking the use of Saturdays, the Ministry hopes to improve the academic ability of the nation’s youth by securing more teaching hours. It also hopes to dispel concerns of a widening “education gap” between public schools and private schools, many of which continue to implement Saturday classes.
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Sony Unveils New Walkman for Swimmers– Light, Sturdy and on Sale for Under $170 this February

If you’re of the sporty persuasion and wish that you could take your tunes to the pool without having a funny-looking contraption strapped to your goggles or having your earphones fall out every other stroke, Sony’s newest addition to the Walkman series will definitely be of interest.

Scheduled for a February 16 release in Japan, the new NWD-W270 series features a compact, lightweight design and boasts 4GB of onboard storage space. Plenty of delicious images and details after the break.

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China’s “Prepare for War” Orders Unsettling in Japan

With the transfer of power occurring in China, it’s only natural for new policies to be put into effect either for the improvement of society or for purely superficial demonstrations of power to both domestic and international rivals.

Currently a lot is being made on online message boards of reports coming from Chinese media outlining new orders for 2013 which apply to all branches of the People’s Liberation Army. Some Japanese media outlets have been interpreting these orders as “prepare for war… presumably against Japan.”

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