All-Japan Kendama Champion Takes Game to The Next Level

First of all, you might be wondering, “What’s kendama?” Well, it’s a popular children’s toy that is kind of like a cup-and-ball game on steroids. However, rather than a single cup, this game has three of varying sizes, and they aren’t so much “cups” as they are shallow saucers that are meant to hold the ball. And if that’s not enough, there’s an extra spike that you’re expected to skewer the ball on exactly through a pre-made hole. The purpose of this game being not only to get the ball into a cup but to also juggle it between cups or spike without dropping it.

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Diamond Head’s Sunrises Are Unmatched Anywhere

Hawaii’s Oahu Island is home to an inactive volcano known as Diamond Head. At a height of 232m it is by no means a tall mountain, but it’s a huge draw for tourists and is the biggest sightseeing spot around Waikiki. The reason for its popularity is the spectacular view it offers.

Getting up extremely early so I could catch the sunrise, I caught a taxi to the entrance of Diamond Head’s trail. While two to three hours are recommended to enjoy the whole mountain experience, only about forty minutes are needed to get to the top. It seemed like an easy enough trek, even for someone like me who rarely climbs mountains.

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WTF is a Fuckin’ Sale?

Recently, a lot of fuss was made over an advertisement spotted near the Amerikamura (American Village) area of Osaka. Although overlooked by most Japanese who walked by, the posters hit English speaking foreigners like a slap in the face. It read: “Fuckin’ Sale — All 20% Off”.

This poster and the ensuing controversy surrounding it raises more questions than it does answers for both Japanese and Western people.

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Your iPhone Was Made by a 13-Year-Old Girl for 48 Yen/Hour

The Apple products we’ve grown used to seeing everyday, like the iPhone4S and iPad 2, were made by 13-year-old Chinese girls working 16-hours a day for just 48 yen (about $0.60 US) an hour.
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Tokyo Clinic to Test Internal Radiation Exposure

On January 16th, a clinic was opened in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward to check the levels of internal radiation exposure. The clinic, loosely translated as Radioactivity Premium Dock, offers a complete body scan for radiation levels, among other services, which the general public can access for a fee. The company hopes to reduce anxiety resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and to help the public manage their health.
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Duct Tape Da Vinci Discovered in Hawaii

Kalakaua Avenue, the main strip of Waikiki, is littered with high class hotels and brand name shops and it is by far the best place to spend evenings after enjoying the sunset on the beach. It was on this street that I discovered a young man with a very unique talent.

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A humble hair salon has become the center of attention in Tokyo because of its seemingly impossible ability to change men’s appearances completely.

Residents in the flyer distribution area of Dear-Logue hair salon (Shimokitazawa area) discovered this mind-blowing secret tucked in their junk mail and quickly took to the internet to spread the word. “Yesterday in Tokyo, I came home as usual, but when I checked my mail – I noticed this incredible flyer” wrote one bemused blogger.

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I’m sure there’s a lot of iPhone users out there among our readers. Heck, every time I get on the subway I can see five people using them in any direction I look. But how many of us ever think about the wallpaper we use on our phones?

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Another handy new feature that came along with the recent iOS5 update has been discovered! With this little hack you can listen to your favorite YouTube videos without having to stare at the actual video, which most of the time is just a still photo of an album cover for me anyways.

Using this feature closes the full YouTube application and lets you run just the audio stream in the background. As I type this I can almost hear all Apple devices’ batteries breath a collective sigh of relief.

This should sound familiar for those of you who used to do this iTunes, because it’s exactly the same thing, except using YouTube. For those who are new to this, don’t fret. It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to enjoy a new level of App freedom.

– How to Play YouTube Audio-Only Streams

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The city of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefection announced on January 11th that it was setting up a free program to test the levels of radiation in private homes. The program is part of a measure to help evacuees maintain ties to their communities by creating jobs called the Cultivating Bonds Assistance Project. Around 20 people will be hired to conduct the tests.
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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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Epic Advertisement Recounts 10 Years in the Life of a Family

We often take the simple invention of the light bulb for granted. Even though our lives have their bright and dark moments, we are always under the reliable warm glow of our lights.

This is the premise of a new commercial by Toshiba, created to promote its new LED light that they claim lasts 10 years, that follows the life of one bulb as it lights a family’s life for 10 years (3653 days including leap years).

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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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