Japan

The Ultimate Dragon Ball Costume: The Balls Themselves

Comiket 81, hadn’t disappointed for a moment in its quality and variety of cosplayers. Walking through the market I was treated to the best in amateur costumes. Although I may have dubbed Garo as The Most Kick-Ass Cosplay of Comic Market 81! this time around, I feel there is another costume worthy enough to honor. It was a Dragon Ball costume – literally, a costume of the actual Dragon Balls that the series is named after.

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Japan Tobacco Unveils 1000 Yen Pack of Smokes

Japan Tobacco Inc. (JT) has announced that it will begin selling a premium brand of cigarettes for smokers who enjoy a rich aroma. The brand, called “The Peace”, will begin a gradual country-wide roll-out on February first.
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Does Your Bum Need a Cleaning, America?

Do you know what a washlet is? It’s that strange device you often find attached to the toilet in Japan. You know, the one that shoots a cleansing spray of water at your anus after you take a dump!

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The Most Kick-Ass Cosplay of Comic Market 81!

Comiket 81, the world’s largest self-published comic book fair, was held 29 December, 2011 at Big Sight in Tokyo. Like Comikets before it, the cosplayers came out this year in full force. Yet, among the standard cosplay fair was one who stood out in the crowd like no other.

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A Fast-Food Joint to Visit Before You Die

First Kitchen is a Japanese fast-food chain that has been rapidly expanding in the Kanto and Kinki areas. Readers in Japan have probably been to a First Kitchen at least once, but did you know that there is a branch with phenomenal views that rival high-end resorts and skyscraper restaurants?
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About 70km from Fukushima Daiichi, on the boarder of Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures lies the city of Shirakawa. It’s was a pleasant city with lots of green space that was mentioned by Basho in his famous poem The Narrow Road to Oku. Every year they hold the Daruma Ichi festival that celebrates Daruma dolls, traditional toys that symbolize perseverance and good luck.

However now the background radiation is at times 0.60μSv which is about three times the average dose of radiation we receive during our daily lives. Here, a tearful mother of two confesses to reporter investigating financial compensation something that a mother should never have to say: “I wish my daughters were never born.”

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Discovering the Best Strawberry Shortcake in Japan

Japanese strawberry shortcake is different from the kind usually eaten in the United States in that it’s more like an angel food cake with whipped cream icing and sliced strawberries. Amongst Japanese people, strawberry shortcakes are considered a classic dessert. In Sugamo, Tokyo, is a bakery where it is said that the finest shortcakes in Japan are produced. The French Pound House Bakery is found in a quiet residential district, only a five minute walk from JR Sugamo train station.

Because they have received a lot of media exposure, their strawberry shortcake is still their top selling item. Even though they try to keep up with demand, they often run completely out of sponge cake.

For such a good reputation, I felt that it was necessary to find out for myself.

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Six Business Hotels in Tokyo You Can Spend the Night in For Under 3,500 Yen

When deciding to travel in Japan we are faced with a rather large assortment of hotels that don’t exist in our home countries, one of which is the “business hotel”. The label of business hotel may conjure up images of the infamous “capsule hotels” for some, while for other’s it may have the sense of a dank, narrow, room that was occupied by the cast of Mad Men. I suspected such things at first until, in an effort to save money, I bit the bullet and tried a few out.

I can now confidently say that despite their label, business hotels are actually rather comfy – some of them downright elegant!

These hotels don’t skimp on the amenities. For instance, it wouldn’t be hard to find a business hotel that offers air conditioning, humidifier, or even an air purifier. Most have fairly spacious bathrooms and offer a complimentary breakfast. Even if you are just looking for a place to have a brief romantic rendezvous, a business hotel can be a cheaper alternative to a dingy motel or robotic love hotel.

Let’s take a look at 6 prime business hotels that can be found in the Tokyo area. All hotels charge rates less than 3,500 yen (US$44.80) per person when two people are staying in the room at a rate of 7,000 yen total ($89.60).

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Ever since the Great Tohoku Earthquake led to one of the worst nuclear disasters at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant people have been left with a lot of uncertainty. Information has not been coming from places of authority in a free and timely fashion. News broadcasts often tell stories of contaminated food and radioactive puddles near schools. Still, these stories are after the fact and often hard to process given the complex nature of radiation.

Luckily, on 27 December, Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute (KURRI) announced they are working with Fukushima Transportation Inc. to begin testing a system to monitor radiation in Fukushima City that is in real time and is accessible by anyone over the internet.

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Apple’s Lucky Bag Returns for 2012! We Are in for Some Massive Line-Ups Again

Apple has given word that they will be selling Lucky Bags (Fukubukuro) again this New Year’s! The sale will begin on 2 January at 8:00am.

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The Fermented Soy Cheesecake Challenge

Natto, for those of you that haven’t been introduced to the smelly, sticky Japanese foodstuff, is fermented soy beans. And if you do know natto, you probably also know that Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture is the place to go for the good stuff. Well, recently a venerable Mito natto company started selling a rather surprising new item: natto cheesecake. That’s right, a cheesecake made from fermented soy beans. Read More

According to a book recently published by Tomohiko Suzuki, a freelance journalist who went undercover as a laborer at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant for two months this year, people who were unable to repay loans from yakuza gangs were forced to work at the site as a means of repaying their debts. Tokyo Electric issued a refutal, calling the claim that organized crime would be allowed to influence the recruitment process “groundless”.
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Transexual Model With Body That Men Go Crazy For, And A Cosplayer To Boot!

Kayo Sato is a famous model in Japan who confessed that “she” was a “he” on a TV show in 2010. She has been pretty popular since then among not only men but also girls due to her femininity and cuteness.

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Japanese Packed Lunches That Are Hard to Swallow; Edible Batteries and Bathroom Cleansers Enough to Make Andy Warhol Blush

Recently a lot of attention has been directed at Japanese mothers’ painstakingly crafted packed lunches called charabens (character bentos). It’s something of a competition for mothers to send their children off to school with not just the best tasting or healthiest food, but also the most creatively arranged. The BBC ran a feature showing how housewives attend classes to arrange rice, seaweed, and other ingredients into characters ranging from Hello Kitty and Totoro to Michael Jackson and Barack Obama.

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Need a Last Minute Christmas Present? How About a “Whale Sword”?

On Yahoo Shopping, a site famous for its oodles of unique merchandise, an ornamental sword is attracting a lot of attention. It’s called the “Whale Sword” and it’s a model of a style of ornamental sword used in the pre-war days, with a blade close to a meter long. Who wouldn’t want that in their stocking?

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What Recession? World’s Largest Uniqlo to Open in Ginza

Uniqlo, the clothing retailer who has achieved ubiquitous status in Japan is continuing its ambitious plans to expand worldwide. In order to achieve their goal of earning 5 trillion yen (US$60 billion) by 2020, they have been aggressively building larger and larger flagship stores around the world.

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BREAKING NEWS: Captain Jack Sparrow Now Manages Cake Shop

As I was taking a walk through the city the other day, I encountered a cake shop with a fantastic exterior like something out of a fairy tale. It had a very cheerful ambiance, and on closer inspection, I noticed a remarkable figure. Could it be? Star of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Jack Sparrow, selling pastries? Captain Jack managing a cake shop?
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This Year’s Hot Chirstmas Gift for that Special Someone You Never Want To See Again: The Frank Mulle…I Mean Miura Watch

Are you looking for something to give to that special someone in your life? Choosing the right gift is a huge burden for many of us this time of year, especially with so many options to choose from.

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6 Reasons Disneyland’s Secret Restaurant Club 33 Is Awesome

Did you know that there is a secret, members-only restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland called Club 33? The majority of memberships are corporate accounts, allowing them to do business entertaining there, but there are also individual members. Don’t get your hopes up, though, because they aren’t accepting applications. If you want to get in the door, no matter who you are or how much money you have, you have to be invited by a member.

But what is this mysterious Club 33 actually like? We’ve tracked down someone who was invited to enjoy a luxurious evening there, and according to him, these are the six most amazing things about Club 33.
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Calbee Plus Store Opens in Harajuku, Offers Hot Potato Chips Straight From The Fryer!

Snack food giant, Calbee, opened up their latest Calbee Plus store in Harajuku on 7 December, where you can buy their famous potato chips straight from the deep fryer. Calbee already has shops located in Kyoto and New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, but this newest store gives Tokyoites their first chance to enjoy piping hot potato chips.

I rushed out to get a first-tongue taste.

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