Japan

On the 16th of this month, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department announced the results of a bicycle safety enforcement campaign they implemented on the 10th. In those six days, 1571 people were issued warnings for illegal behavior, and over half of those were to people wearing earphones or headphones while riding. An additional 27 people were issued tickets. Read More

Ramen Shop Serves Mountains of Meat, Gets Customers and Laughs

There is a ramen shop in Japan that will pile the sliced pork higher than anything you’ve ever seen. It’s name, fittingly enough, is Niku-ya (Butcher Shop), and according to their sign, “We’re not a ramen restaurant, we’re meat specialists.” It definitely seems like they want to emphasize that end of the business rather than the noodles.

While it does look like a ramen shop and their customers are there to order ramen, their main selling point is definitely their meat. It’s said that their pork ramen has the largest portion of roasted pork slices of any shop in Japan! Well, we had to go check that out. Read More

A Must-See Visual of Japan’s 2011 Earthquakes

On March 11, an unprecedentedly large earthquake struck northern Japan, marking 2011 as a disastrous year for the Japanese. This video shows the fierce power of that quake and the cascade of aftershocks that came in the months to follow as nothing less than horrific. Read More

Pop Quiz: Is This A Gigantic Camera Or A Tiny Cart?

Looking at this picture closely you can probably tell it’s a tiny cart, although it seems an equally odd idea to make a huge camera.

I bought this from Tokyu Hans the other day on a whim after hearing about it from the internet. Before you think I’m crazy I should mention, it’s remote controlled!

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How Lens Maker Sigma Saved My Life

Among lens makers, Sigma is a brand famous the world over. They’ve been in the news recently for their February 8th announcement of the 46 megapixel DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merril models, but this article is actually about an experience I had with them late last year. Read More

A lingering topic of the Fukushima incident has been how to go forward. Should nuclear plants in Japan be improved or discontinued. What have been revealed to reporter Hirotoshi Ito by industry insiders are the massive business deals being prepared behind this important social issue.

According to Ito, what we don’t see occurring is what he calls “backspin business” which is profit made off of situations that undo previous progress. Key players that once had the now-dubious honor of building a strong, clean, and safe nuclear power infrastructure are making preparations to profit from its damage.

For example, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has long struggled with the task of disposing of nuclear waste. Local residents of all TEPCO’s desired locations have been understandably hesitant to accept tons of radioactive material into their neighborhoods. Luckily for TEPCO the wasteland of the likely to be decommissioned Fukushima Daini (Number 2) Reactor is now the perfect place for them to set-up a decontamination factory.

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Welcome Home, Arisa: Missing Woman’s Body Found Nearly 11 Months After Tsunami

The corpse of a woman found in January in the ruble of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, has been determined by DNA testing to be that of 24-year-old Arisa Miura, an employee at the disaster preparedness office at the city hall, which was washed away in the March 11th tsunami last year. Following the results, her body is finally being sent home. Read More

What Could Be More Fun Than A Crazy Delicious Stick Stick Party?

A new toy has pushed its way into the crowded Japanese market. Called the Crazy Delicious Stick Stick Party, it sells for 699yen (US$9). We got our hands on one of these babies to try it out a get a stick party started, but first the name probably needs some explanation.

If you walk into any convenience store across Japan and scour the lower shelves, under all the chocolate bars and gum you will find one of Japan’s most popular snacks, Umaibo (literally ‘delicious stick,’ which we will use throughout the remainder of this article for comedic effect). Delicious Stick is like a giant, rod-shaped version of that cheese-flavored snack of mysterious ingredients that goes by many names: cheese puffs, cheezies, cheese curls, cheese balls, and so on. However, in addition to cheese flavor, Delicious Stick comes in a wide range of flavors, including chocolate or shrimp and mayonnaise. At 10 yen (US$0.13) a pop they’re a pretty good little snack.

By using Crazy Delicious Stick Stick Party, you can – get this – cleanly cut one Delicious Stick into several smaller sticks. According to the name of this toy, making four smaller Delicious Sticks from a single large one will result in a “crazy stick party”. We rushed in to investigate this claim.

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Steve Jobs Much Better at Marketing than Cooking

It’s well known that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away on October 5th last year, was a huge fan of Japanese food, and not just high-end sashimi and sushi, either. He reportedly enjoyed more quotidian fare like hearty udon noodles.

He even went so far as to develop his own Japan-inspired menu item for Apple’s company cafeteria, Cafe Mac. But is it really any good? Read More

Anyone who is familiar with Japanese culture knows about the packaged lunch known as “bento.” A bento can be found homemade or bought from a supermarket, convenience store, or restaurant that specializes in bento. One particular subset of bento is known as ekiben, or, the “station bento.”

As its name implies, you can buy a station bento on the platforms of major train stations across Japan. The station bento is beloved by travelers in Japan because they use ingredients famous or native to the region that you buy them, letting you experience the taste of an area even if you are just passing through. However, there is just one shortcoming to the station bento – it’s cold.

Luckily, thanks to the leading researchers in the field of bento technology, this is no longer the case!

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Although he has rarely been seen in Western countries, Doraemon is an animated cat whose popularity rivals that of Mickey Mouse in Japan. From his beginnings in manga in the 70s, Doraemon has made the leap to TV and film animations and was appointed Japan’s first animated cultural ambassador. Now the Doraemon story lives on in a series of TV commercials for Toyota.

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Read the Short Story that Captured the Hearts of Japan

The following is a translation of a short story originally taken from a 2008 book by Haruhiro Kinoshita and posted on a blog called One Minute Impressions. The story struck a chord with tens of thousands of people across Japan as it spread through social networks.

There Was This Cashier

She moved from the countryside to go to a university in Tokyo. She joined many extra-curricular activities but always got turned off quickly . One after another, she jumped from club to club looking for something better.

When it came time for her to find work, she got a job with a manufacturing company, but she couldn’t continue working there. Three months after starting she felt she couldn’t see eye to eye with her boss. It didn’t take long for her to quit.

The next job she got was for a distribution company. She worked there for six months but came to realize the job was different than she had hoped it to be. Shortly after, she quit.

From there she joined up with a company that manages medical statistics and information, but this too didn’t do it for her.

This job just isn’t for me.

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[On Location at Somin Naked Festival] I Was So Cold I Actually Thought I Was Going To Die

Japan’s premier naked festival, Sominsai (Somin Festival), was held this year on January 29 at Kokuseki Temple in Iwate Prefecture.

The name “naked” is somewhat misleading though, as participants are required to wear a fundoshi, a piece of white cloth which can best be descried as a traditional Japanese G-string. This scant clothing offers little protection from the blistering, below-freezing cold participants are expected to endure. Nevertheless, the toughest of men from across Japan come to test their mettle by trekking through grueling icy course from the temple to the river that’s cold enough to make you feel like you’re dying.

I know this because I took part.

That’s right, your fearless reporter put his life at risk to bring the experience of Kokuseki’s Sominsai to you, our beloved readers.

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Otomo Exhibition Features Original Drawings from Akira, Domu and More

This is an exhibition you won’t want to miss, particularly if you have even the slightest artistic inclination. 3331 Arts Chiyoda is hosting a collection of renowned manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo’s original drawings. Read More

A 22 year-old in her 4th year of university in Kanazawa ordered an iPod through an internet auction but received a shock when she discovered the iPod once belonged to her. Another 22 year-old 2nd year university student, who sold her the iPod, was arrested on suspicion of stealing it from the woman’s parked car last December.

The woman had reported the robbery to police but was left with little hope of recovering it, so she turned to internet auctions to find a similar model on the cheap. By the beginning of January she was able to win a bid on one for only 5,000 yen (US$65), a third of the price she originally paid.

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Taiwanese Students’ Live-Action Recreation of Popular Anime is a Slam Dunk

Basketball’s popularity in Japan today can largely be credited to the mega-hit manga and anime series Slam Dunk. Since its beginnings in the 90s, its popularity had spread beyond the borders of Japan and even to this day it continues to hold a world-wide fan base.

Now, thanks to the National Taiwan University of Arts’ Department of Broadcasting’s Class of 2010, Slam Dunk has been lovingly recreated as a live action video. A hit on YouTube, the video is a rather meticulous reenactment of the opening sequence of the animated version.

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Japan’s Annual Running of the Students

There is an annual student event at the prestigious private college Ritsumeikan University. It’s called the Igakukan Dash, after the hall where it takes place.

Every year, just before the final deadline for turning in theses, a few desperate latecomers will come dashing through the hallway to get their papers in on time. Naturally, a large crowd of spectators always gathers to cheer and heckle these deadline daredevils. Read More

Would You Like Thousands of Baby Fish To Go With Your Pasta?

Near Musashi-Kosugi Station in Kanagawa Prefecture, there is a restaurant called Italian Izakaya: Natura that constantly has line-ups outside. Regardless of the day, it seems the place is always wall-to-wall with customers.

While Natura is said to have good food in general, the real buzz is spreading about their specialty: Whitebait Piled on Peperoncino Pasta – 880yen (US$11). Whitebait refers to immature fish that are collected, cooked and eaten whole in large numbers, and are popular in Italian cuisine.

We decided to go to Italian Izakaya: Natura and investigate what all the fuss is about.

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Ramen Shop’s Strangely Persuasive Billboard Brags “Nothing Good Here!”

Wherever you go in the suburbs of Japan, you can bet that there will be a ramen shop along the main road. They usually offer a large parking area and have the run down look of shops that have been in business for years and years. They’re the kind of places long-haul truckers like to stop for a meal and a nap.

One such ramen shop has made news recently when its rather unique billboard was blogged about. In bold, black letters, the sign reads, “There’s nothing good here!”
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Jason Voorhees Spotted Donating School Supplies To Japanese Orphanage On Friday The 13th

A Yokohama Ward Office was shocked on 13 January, when they received a visit from the infamous immortal homicidal monster depicted in countless horror movies, Jason Voorhees. This time, however, rather than wielding a blood-stained machete, Jason hit the office with a donation of 10 Randoseru backpacks.

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