Pokémaniacs, ready your credit cards because Amazon Japan launched their Pokémon Store, a special page dedicated to the sale of all things Pokémon, on October 17.

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French Commentator’s “Radiation” Joke Angers Japanese Government

Following Japan’s 1-0 victory over France in the friendly football (soccer to our North American readers) match last week, a French variety show host made a joke that has touched a nerve here in Japan.

Alluding to Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima’s impressive skills on the field, the show presented an edited image of the player, showing him with four arms.

The show’s presenter then suggested that Kawashima’s additional limbs might be the result of “the Fukushima effect” and that they had grown after exposure to radiation leaked from the nuclear plant damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. While the joke went down well during the show, many Japanese are understandably very upset…

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Japan’s Armed Forces Show Their Playful Side: Moé-Style Attack Helicopter Wows Crowds

“It just goes to show that we really do live in a peaceful country.”

A quote from an internet user sums up the mood perfectly after Japan’s Self Defence Forces unveil a unique attack helicopter covered with manga-influenced designs and colours.

Presented as part of an air show in Chiba prefecture last weekend, the quirky new helicopter quickly stole the show, with hundreds of people taking photos and video to share on the internet.

Whether we’d ever see a helicopter like this fly into battle or not, there’s no denying that it has an awful lot of charm.

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Flower Gundam Takes Over Tokyo!

Gundam has been standing watch over Diversity Tokyo Plaza in Odaiba all by himself for quite some time now.  He’s been holding down the fort fairly well, but it looks like Gundam is in need of some flower power.  That’s where the Tokyo Gundam Project 2012, an initiative aimed at promoting the green movement and tree planting, stepped in.  Thanks to this initiative, Flower Gundam, with the strength of 10,000 flowers, is now helping normal Gundam keep watch.

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Like to Sleep on Public Transportation?  Protect Ya Neck with the UpRight Sleeper

A while back we brought you some techniques on dealing with people who sleep on your shoulder during train, bus, or plane rides.  However, the problem wouldn’t exist if many of us weren’t train sleepers ourselves.  In Japan, you’re guaranteed to see at least one person sleeping if you ride the train after 6pm.

Even if a sleeper could avoid their fellow commuters they still run a high risk of hurting their own necks by sleeping upright.  Luckily an American company has come to everyone’s rescue with the UpRight Sleeper.  Now, if they can just convince people to wear the thing…

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Chinese Man Sells His Legs for $60,000 in Guangzhou

Would you buy a pair of legs at US$60,000?

Last Tuesday morning, a man was spotted in Tianhe District of Guangzhou selling his legs. While sitting in the middle of an overhead bridge, the man wore on his legs a cardboard sign that read: “Legs for Sale! $30,000 each!”

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Cool Japanese Music Video Brings Back 8-Bit Google Maps…Kinda

Remember Google’s 8-bit Google Maps April Fools’ prank from earlier this year?

Japanese four-piece all-female rock band, Negoto, have taken the idea to the next level by integrating their new music video with an 8-bit map of Tokyo so that it tracks the singer’s location as she goes on a grand adventure across the city.

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Lotteria’s Tower Cheese Burger: The Reality of Five Patties Covered in Melted Cheese

Major Japanese fast food burger chain Lotteria is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year.  In commemoration, they have brought back the infamous Tower Cheese Burger, five beef patties with five cheese slices, and introduced a five layered shrimp patty burger— each for only 500 yen (about $6.25 US) !

Sounds like great value for anyone with a carnivorous appetite, and, in case five patties sounds too overwhelming, you can also knock the tower down to three or four. Either way, they stack ’em high!   …or they try, at least… 

As you can probably tell from the picture above, we recently found out that reality isn’t always what the advertisements make it out to be.  Is this supposed to be a lesson in facing up to the truth? Read More

Japanese Cabinet to Reward Nobel Prize Winner with New Washing Machine

It’s great that we have the Nobel Prize to give credit to the often unspoken heroes of the scientific community who continuously change our lives for the better. For example, Professors Sir John Gudon and Shinya Yamanaka’s work on stem cell research could potentially save countless lives and improve everyone else’s.

With that in mind, after a recent cabinet meeting Minister Makiko Tanaka unveiled their plan to present Prof. Yamanaka with – cue Price is Right music – a brand new washing machine!

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Biryani Restaurant in the Middle of Tokyo Offers a Delightful Taste of Spice with Your Rice, Open One Day a Week

We Japanese love rice; we’re quite obsessed with rice, in fact. We all have our favorite brand of rice, depending on the specific type of rice and the location it was grown (yes, location is very important and can greatly affect the price of the rice), and some people shell out a fortune to buy super-expensive “high-end” brand rice. But not many Japanese people are familiar with biryani, the spicy flavored rice common in India and some Muslim countries as well.

One of our reporters at the Pouch site recently had the chance to taste some excellent biryani right in the middle of Tokyo and shares with us her experience. Her report follows below. Read More

While most of us use YouTube to upload homemade productions and watch funny cat videos, much of Japan still turns to their domestic video sharing site, Nico Nico Douga.

Yet whereas YouTube sees content from users across the world, Nico Nico Douga has remained primarily an exclusive club for Japanese speakers since it began in 2006. An English language beta website, Niconico.com, was launched in early 2011, but failed to generate interest even among foreign users of the Japanese site, due in part to the separation of Japanese and English videos between two domains.

Perhaps realizing that they’ll never be able to attract a sizable userbase from YouTube, Nico Nico Douga has shifted its strategy away from encouraging original English content to making its Japanese content more accessible to English speakers, replacing the English website with an English interface for the Japanese domain, nicovideo.jp.

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Japanese Man Takes Customized Street Legal Porsche 962C for Sunday Drive, Goes to the Convenience Store

The Porsche 962C was the premier car of the 80s, winning back-to-back 24 Hours of Le Mans in 86 and 87 along with a slew of other series during that decade.  It was an inspiration for one Japanese man, whose dream was to own one himself.

So he purchased one of the very few street legal Group C Porsche 962’s in existence. And he allowed us a peak at a simple afternoon drive behind the wheel of one of the greatest race cars ever.

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Life on a Budget and How the Salarymen and Women of Japan Make Ends Meet

Whichever way you look at it, life in Japan is expensive.

As well as Japan’s food, drink and fuel ranking among the world’s most expensive, compared to many western countries, land in particular is sold at a premium, meaning that accommodation can be costly, and even those with enough capital to consider purchasing a car often abandon the idea when they realise that they cannot afford to buy or rent the necessary parking space.

CNN’s “World’s Most Expensive Places to Live 2012” placed Tokyo and Osaka first and third, respectively, and thanks to the strong yen and weak dollar/euro/everything, coming to live in Japan has never been more financially challenging.

With this in mind, budgeting expert Yoko Hanawa at Yahoo! Japan shares some ways in which Japan’s businessmen and women tackle everyday life in this tough financial climate, and introduces a few ideas of her own that are worth paying attention to.

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Twitter User Offers Theory on Ghibli Characters’ Past, Japanese Internet Goes Mental

Those of you fortunate enough to have been introduced to Studio Ghibli’s animated feature films will know that they’re of the highest quality and easily rival Disney’s own productions.

Back in my native UK, comparatively few people have met with Ghibli’s heart-warming animated creations, with some people, in fact, falling into the trap of thinking that anything foreign and “a bit manga” is probably not for them. Thanks to the UK’s relative reluctance to embrace the movies, it was not until I was 15 years old when, one rainy Sunday afternoon, My Neighbor Totoro was shown on cable TV that I first became aware of Hayao Miyazaki’s work. At the time, I had no idea what I was watching, but have been a huge fan ever since.

Over in the studio’s native Japan, however, Studio Ghibli has become something of a national treasure since its establishment in 1985, with the studio’s near-annual releases always eagerly awaited, and usually met with both an abundance of praise and mounds of cash.

For most Japanese, Ghibli characters like My Neighbor Totoro’s Satsuki and Mei, Spirited Away’s Chihiro, or broomstick-riding Kiki from the movie of the same name, form a part of their childhood or are attached to fond memories, perhaps even more-so than Mickey, Donald and pals are toWesterners.

So when one hawk-eyed Twitter user suggested that perhaps certain Ghibli characters have cropped up in more than movie without us realising it, internet users understandably paid attention…

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How to Organize Zen? Japanese Buddhists’ Adapt to Western Views of Their Religion

What do you think of when you hear the word Zen?  For most people, “organized religion” probably isn’t a phrase that pops up immediately.  This can be a bit of a predicament for Zen Buddhist missionaries working in places like Europe and North America.

The word, which comes from a Japanese translation of the Chinese word chán, literally means meditation, and has developed a romantic sense of being purely in the moment and devoid of all thought.  This concept has been focused on by various artists in Western culture like Jack Kerouac, with a diminished emphasis on the less sexy doctrines and worshiping of Buddha that are very much a part of the whole religion.

This image dichotomy is something that the Headquarters of Missionary Work for the Soto School of Buddhism in Europe has to deal with all the time.

Excite News Japan recently went to interview them on the state of modern Soto Zen Buddhism abroad. Check our rundown of their findings below!

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Vice Principal Picks Up Forgotten ATM Cash, Police Pick Up Vice Principal

Let’s play a little game, shall we?

You’re walking down the street one day when you stumble across a watch on the ground. On closer inspection, you realise it’s a rather swanky gold Rolex, and it looks genuine. You look around for the owner, but no-one is in sight, and there are no residences or open stores nearby.

What do you do?

Pocket the watch to sell later or make your own, or hand it in at your nearest police station? Be honest now…

How about if, instead of finding a watch on the street, you discovered a small stack of cash, sitting unattended beside an ATM? And it’s no paltry sum either- about US$2,000. Would you take it or leave it behind?

A middle school vice principle in Kōchi prefecture, Shikoku, decided on the former… Read More

12-Year-Old Japanese Smartphone Developer Wins Award for Debut App, “Math RPG”

As smartphone usage continues to grow in Japan, more Japanese developers are tinkering with the devices to make apps of their own. And since developer tools and information are made available for free online, just about anyone can break into app development so long as they have an idea and the willingness to learn.

In fact, making a smartphone app is so easy, even a grade-schooler could do it— just look at 12-year-old Gaiya Ohara, Japan’s youngest smartphone developer and sole creator of the award-winning iOS app, Math RPG.

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Your Japanese TV Commercial Favourites, All Under One Funky Beat

I think I’ve just found my new favourite YouTube channel.

Thanks to a tip-off from an awesome RocketNews24 reader, I’ve discovered Eclectic Method; audio-visual remix masters and providers of horribly funky beats, whether the sampled videos were intended for musical enjoyment or not.

The video that pulled me in, however, was the group’s fantastic Japanese TV commercial remix…

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