The neighborhood of Ximending is located in the Northeastern part of Taipei, and is the Taiwanese hub of fashion and Japanese culture. Often referred to as the “the Harajuku of Taipei,” many fascinating sights can be seen just by walking up and down the streets, looking around at the numerous shops, and observing the customers that fill them.

Your reporters in Taipei recently stumbled across a food vendor that sells a corn dog-like concoction made by baking a sausage, coated in hotcake batter, in a special iron grill shaped like a penis.

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The 2001 comedy film “Shaolin Soccer” caused a sensation at Hong Kong box offices, becoming the highest grossing film in Hong Kong cinema history at the time. The film tells the story of a group of six Shaolin monks who draw on their acrobatic and martial arts skills to play soccer and spread the word of Shaolin kung fu to the masses.

While the superhuman ability of the monks in the movie is something confined to the realm of fantasy, the real warrior monks of the famous Shaolin Monastery are currently training to make ‘Shaolin soccer’ a reality.

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With a death toll exceeding 2000, the coastal town of Ishinomaki, Miyagi was one of the hardest hit during the Tohoku Earthquake and resulting tsunami. Here, in the aftermath of the disaster, 15-year-old Shuuya Kikuchi spent hours wading through ice-cold water and rescuing elderly people trapped in their cars.

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Following the Texas Burger 2, the next in McDonald’s Big America 2 series was the Idaho Burger, offered from January 28th to February 11th. With the Idaho Burger, McDonald’s Japan aimed to create a flavor that represents the “meeting of beef hamburger and the blessings of American soil.”

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A recent Taiwanese fad involves photo studios that offer a special ‘transformation’ service. Women have their hair and makeup done professionally, choose from a selection of fancy clothes, and have their own glamorous photo shoot. These studios are known for being popular with female travelers, but in the city of Gaoxiong there is a certain photo studio that specializes in glamming up men to look like women.

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Ramen is an extremely versatile food, and you’d be hard pressed to find a flavor and topping combination that doesn’t please the tongue. Many people enjoy putting this all-purpose dish to the test, adding increasingly more unconventional ingredients to see how the taste holds up. One such novel ramen dish has recently caught our attention: ice-cream cone ramen.
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“We all are in hardship, but hang in there”

This is from a handwritten note posted onto the entrance door at the City Hall building in Natory City, Miyagi prefecture. The note was written by Takuya Saijo, a government employee who worked at City Hall. He lost his 8-month old son Naoto in the tsunami of March 11, 2011. His wife Yuriko is still missing. Read More

Most custom gaming keyboards are designed to give the user an edge by allowing for more efficient control. However, Japanese game maker Circus saw an untapped market, and decided to produce their own customized keyboard with focus on aesthetics over functionality. Read More

Responding to the ongoing devastation caused by last Friday’s earthquake, popular Japanese actress/gravure model Asami Tada has updated her blog (NSFW) with an appeal to join her in donating an “Adult’s Thousand Paper Cranes.”

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Convenient Store Prioritizes Food Distribution to Disaster Areas, “In Accordance With Our Mission as a Convenience Store”

Major chain convenience store, Lawson, has stated that it is prioritizing the delivery of food from distributors across over the country to refugee shelters and stores in the earthquake-affected Touhoku region.

The initiative was announced on the Lawson website, stating: “We wish to offer our deepest sympathies to everyone affected by this disaster. We pray that those who lost their lives may find happiness in the next world, and that rescue may reach those who need it as soon as possible. We at Lawson, in accordance with our mission as a convenience store, will be maximizing priority of food distribution to stores in disaster-stricken areas.

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Panic in Shinjuku Area of Tokyo after the Big Shake

・A long queue for a public phone, due to jamming of the mobile network.

・There was no sign of breaking windows.

・Public transportation such as JR commuter trains and subways stopped

・People tried to catch taxis to return home, but there were not enough available.

・Shinjuku Gyoen Park usually charges for entrance, but they opened for free as an evacuation shelter.

・Some people went to their Kobans, which are neighborhood police sub-stations, to gather more infomration.

・Technologies like WiFi worked well, although the mobile phone network became flooded. Some people used their computers on the street to get news or communicate with their families via Skype.

・A crowd tried to get the latest news from a big screen on a building near the Shinjuku South Exit.

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Wanna Try Frog Ramen?

Have you ever eaten frog meat? Frog is a common ingredient in the cuisines of some of the world’s cultures, but would you think of frog meat as a topping for Japanese food such as ramen?

A ramen restaurant in Nagoya does exactly that. The owner loves the taste of frogs so much that he started using fresh frog meat for his main ramen dish. He even changed the same of his restaurant to “Kaeru”, the Japanese word for frog.

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Ah, the peaceful city of Kamakura. Only an hour train ride south of Tokyo, its abundant temples, shrines and other historical landmarks make it a fantastic getaway from the turbulent life of the nearby metropolis.

Near Kamakura Station sits the small crêpe shop Kokuriko, which holds a reputation among the locals for serving the most delicious crêpes in the area. It’s known in particular for its characteristic thin and crispy crêpes; though rather flat without any extra fillings, the combination of savory batter and a medley of rich sauces compensate volume with zest.

Naturally, Kokuriko is popular with many tourists who often eat their crêpes as they stroll toward their next sightseeing destination. Let’s say you order a Whipped Cream and Banana Crêpe (450 yen) and decide to make your way to see the Great Buddha.

And then, tragedy.

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Social network service Twitter provides users with a legitimate platform to casually write whatever thoughts may come to their head. Unsurprisingly, there have been many instances of people posting thoughts they probably should have kept to themselves. The fallout from these cyber-gaffes is usually limited to people having a few laughs at the poster’s expense, or some loss in credibility for those with more celebrity.

However, several ‘tweets’ on Chinese Twitter clone Zuosa have recently caused an uproar among the Internet masses for their cold-heartedness, and the utter lack of common sense requisite to post them.

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Night of the Living Shrimp Salad: Live Seafood Dish “Yam Goong Dthen” Popular with the Ladies in Thailand

Over the past ten years or so, sushi has become one of the most popular dishes in the world and has mainstreamed the consumption of raw fish in countries that previously wouldn’t think of sticking a fork in a salmon without grilling it first. While some people may still feel apprehensive when trying sushi for the first time, it usually only takes one bite of faith and you’re hooked.

On a trip to Thailand, however, one of our reporters found a seafood dish so raw that even the most sushi-loving Japanese might think twice before sticking it between their chopsticks.
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Last year McDonald’s Japan released its wildly popular Big America promotion, which, as the name suggests, was a series of quarter-pound hamburgers based on the Japanese image of the United States. Since it was probably inconvenient to use a hamburger as a topping for hamburgers, McDonald’s Japan instead devised four unique burgers themed on several American locations and their ‘representative’ cuisines: the Texas Burger, New York Burger, California Burger and Hawaiian Burger.

Oh yes.

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As you may know, tempura is a popular Japanese dish of deep-fried seafood or vegetables. While it was originally introduced to Japan by Portuguese missionaries and traders in the 1500s, the Japanese spent centuries perfecting the dish we know and love today. Now, following in their ancestors’ footsteps, a bold group of young Japanese men have truly brought tempura into the 21st century. Read More

On December 1st, Capcom released the popular “Monster Hunter Freedom 3” in Japan for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) system. The game is almost a national icon. People camped-out in front of stores over the night before the release. Read More

When looking at a map, many people may often use their own country as a standard by comparing it with the geographic features and locations of other countries. The Japanese, however, have gone an extra step and created a map that uses their own country as a standard for the world itself. Read More

The onigiri is the centerpiece of the Japanese lunch. For those not in the know, onigiri are balls of white rice usually wrapped with nori, a specific species of seaweed. Of course, the most iconic form is the rounded, three-corned variation with a single strip of nori wrapped around the bottom; however, given its simple construction, the variety of shapes, sizes and tastes of onigiri are nigh endless. Recently, one enterprising user of Japan’s largest Internet message board, 2channel—often shortened 2ch—has used his ingenuity to compact this traditional finger-food into an even more portable form. Read More

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