Current Head of 500 Year-Old Koga Ninja Clan Lecturing at University

On 31 January, Mie University’s Social Studies Department announced the hiring of their newest teacher – “the last living ninja” Jinichi Kawakami.  Would-be students from all over are lining up to learn from the 21st head of the approximately 500 year-old Koga Ninja Clan.

Mie Prefecture, which is home to Iga city and its famous ninja museum, intends to spread the word of ninja culture to Japan and beyond, with the added benefit of promoting their own ninja-based-tourism industry.

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We Order A Massive 2 Kilogram Steak And Feel Manlier Than Ever!

When western people visit Japan they often complain about the small size of the portions served to them at restaurants, especially when it comes to steak.  The average Japanese steak weighs in at around 150-200g (5-7oz) which would make for a decent sized American hamburger but little more than a frozen dinner-caliber steak. Read More

Behold The USB of the Future, No More Fumbling To Put It In Right-Side-Up

Buffalo Kokuyo Supply Inc. has announced they will release a new USB hub sometime in the end of February.  What sets this USB hub apart is that you will be able to connect your USB cord facing either way (upwards or downwards).

This comes as welcome news to everyone who has had to squint into their USB jack to see what side that little piece of plastic is on, and then still somehow manage to put it in the wrong way.

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North Korean Souvenirs Unwelcome in Japan, Travelers Must Throw Everything Away

Our correspondent who travelled to North Korea recently met with an unwelcome reception at Narita airport as he returned via Beijing.  “Customs officials, without any idea it was about to happen, spent about 10 minutes going through my things” he described. “It’s a sketchy country, so I guess they have to do these things, but still – it’s disappointing.”

The result of the search was that he had to give up every single souvenir he got in North Korea.

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McDonald’s “Broadway Burger” Is More “Off-Broadway” Yet Delicious Nonetheless

The newest in McDonald’s Big America Series of US themed hamburgers, the Broadway Burger has been released amid much confusion over its name.  No one can really understand what’s so “Broadway” about this thing.

Anyone who has been to Manhattan knows it’s the home of some of the finest restaurants in the world.  Only on Broadway can you see a world-class play and then walk up the street to a plethora of restaurants for your choice of international cuisine. Read More

Around the world women often turn to bizarre-looking contraptions in the quest to look more beautiful and Japan is perhaps home to some of the strangest.  Sometimes it even seems like beauty product makers are playing a huge joke on their customers by making them look more ridiculous than beautiful.

The latest of such products is Hana-Tsun (Pointy Nose), produced by Glim Inc., who are no strangers to thinking outside the box when it comes to beauty products.

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Japanese Shoppers Buying Tomato Juice Like There’s No Tomorrow, Or Like There’s A Fat Tomorrow

Supermarkets all across Japan have been struggling to keep up with demand for that barely-tolerated gritty beverage known as tomato juice.  This is the latest in an ongoing series of food fads many in the country believe to be effective in reducing weight like cabbage and bananas.

At the beginning of February one supermarket in Osaka had a well-stocked shelf of tomato juice daily, most likely catering to the odd person avoiding blood clots or making Bloody Marys.  However, on the weekend of February 10, hordes of shoppers descended on their supply of juice like so many locusts on a farm.  By the 14th, the staff was turning desperate dieters away as new shipments could not reach them in time.
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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

How to Open a Beer With Your iPhone

You buy a beer on your way home, happily thinking of that moment when you can crack it open and relax with a frothy brew. But then you can’t find the bottle opener! You know it was around here somewhere, but no matter how much you search, you can’t find it. Everyone one has had this frustrating experience, right?

Actually, you can get that cap off even without a bottle opener. Of course, a bottle opener is best, and the other methods carry certain risks, but desperate times call for desperate measures! We decided to try out various different methods for removing bottle caps, including one that puts your iPhone to a new use. 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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A North Korean Wearing Pink Discovered Over 100 Meters Under Pyongyang

North Korean capital, Pyongyang, is home to the deepest subway system in the world. Its lowest point is said to reach 150m underground. A Japanese traveler to North Korea who was the source for our previous article Investigation of North Korea Reveals Their Fried Chicken Is Pretty Good has given RocketNews24 a glimpse into what it’s like to ride this subterranean wonder.

“A local guide brought me to the entrance of Puhŭng Station. To get to the train you have to take an escalator ride over 100m down” he said. While taking pictures of the station his guide warned that “taking too many pictures is very suspicious around here.”

He went on to explain it was morning rush hour when they arrived and there were many people passing through. In the station there were some automatic gates operating but most people opted for the old-fashioned gate, showing their tickets to a station employee.

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Investigation of North Korea Reveals Their Fried Chicken Is Pretty Good

In these days of globalization there are very few countries that can keep themselves shrouded in a veil of mystery like North Korea does. Although there is information out there, it can be hard to get a clear picture of what life is like in such a guarded nation. For example, how do they eat?

North Korea would never allow Western businesses like McDonald’s or KFC to get their greedy capitalist hands on its people, but that doesn’t mean they reject the fast food format itself. In February, 2012, one lucky Japanese traveler in Pyongyang was able to experience what a North Korean fast food shop was like first-hand and document it.

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China McDonald’s Finally Brings Curly Fries to The Asian Masses

China’s McDonald’s restaurants are pretty much the same as they are in other countries. They have the fries and burgers that we all have come to know and love. They use a different kind of oil for frying that’s out of this world, but that should be expected of a country that has centuries of experience in the art of fried food.

Now it seems McDonald’s China has also staged a coup in the fast-food realm and adopted the curly fry! We rushed in to investigate how they match up.

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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

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