Doing it Wrong: 20 Laughably Bad Chinese Character Cakes

The aesthetic quality of a character cake can be judged by the degree of reluctance felt before cutting into it. Some cakes are so well-crafted that taking a knife to them would be nothing other than desecration of art. Conversely, some cakes are so insultingly terrible that basiac survival instincts would compel most people to take knife in hand and stab them out of their misery.

A series of images recently shared on Chinese Facebook ripoffsocial networking site Renren suggests character cakes in China fall into the latter camp.

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Japan’s Gyūdon Giants Launch Pricey New Dishes After Facing Financial Losses

While hamburger chains like McDonald’s Japan may be forever shaving yen off their prices and launching campaigns like free hamburgers and coffee, stores like Yoshinoya and Sukiya, home of the original Japanese fast food, gyūdon, are about to become a little more expensive.

The stores, which have been locked in fierce price wars for years, have, until recently, hoped to attract customers by offering rock-bottom prices and seasonal offers, but are beginning to feel the strain.

Is the businessman’s staple dish about to get a dash of sophistication? Or will the same-old beef bowl simply receive a bigger price tag?

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Cassette to iPod Converter Helps ‘80s Kids Keep Their Tape Collection Alive

We all love new technology, but when the arrival of a new generation of hardware signals the end of another, it can be kind of sad.

Vinyl will always be considered classic, but VHS and audio cassettes have sadly gone the way of the dinosaurs, with MiniDiscs (remember them?), and maybe one day CDs, soon to follow.

While CD quality sound is universally recognised as being superior to MP3 music, and despite MiniDiscs still hanging on in Japan years after the west turned its back on them, highly compressed MP3 is fast becoming the format of choice for millions of people, meaning that more and more of our once-loved possessions are relegated to sitting on the shelf or in a desk drawer somewhere.

So what are we to do with those Backstreet Boys cassettes? What fate awaits forgotten Bon Jovi tapes that rattle around the glove-box of a car whose stereo no longer has a tape deck? Are we destined never again to hear their muffled warbles and grainy beats?

Help is at hand!

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Tokyo Flashmobs Leave Japanese Smiling and Wanting More

It is a seemingly uneventful sunny afternoon in the park filled with the usual kinds of people who come out to enjoy themselves.  Suddenly there is a street performance before your eyes which looks utterly spontaneous as more and more people join in. That’s right! Flashmobs have finally come to Japan! Read More

While Exports of Bonsai Increased 10 Fold Around the World, a Revival in Bonsai is Hoped for in Japan.

Bonsai Farmer Mr. Yamachi explains the art of bonsai to eager listener Mr. Remo a Swiss man and his family in Takamatsu’s Kokubunji cho.

The word “Bonsai” needs no translation. It is renowned internationally as a beautiful form of art which condenses nature into enjoyable little plants.

Recently, exports around the world of these little trees have increased by leaps and bounds. Hugely popular across Asia, Europe, and America, Bonsai exports to these areas have hit a record high, 10 times what they were only ten years ago.  With the onset of autumn, as exports reach full-scale, people who work in the bonsai business hope that bonsai can regain some of its popularity domestically as well.

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Hatsune Miku Should not be Made Into Yakisoba and Here’s Why

Remember those Hatsune Miku steamed buns? Those were pretty cute, even if they didn’t hold up in the heat too well. But most of the time, the virtual idol’s turquoise/grey color palette doesn’t make for the most appetizing themed dishes. Yakisoba is no exception.

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First of all, let it be known that I like meat.

Chicken, beef, turkey, pork; it’s all good. While I’m by no means shy of vegetables or fish, I love to cook, and there are few meals that I enjoy more than a good chicken curry, a classic beef lasagne, home-made hamburgers, or a nice, simple, piece of medium-rare steak.

But when food comes to me with its face still intact, I’m not so happy.

In the past, a few vegetarians have told me “If you couldn’t bring yourself to kill and prepare meat then you shouldn’t eat it.” Personally, I wouldn’t care to chop down a tree and painstakingly make individual sheets of paper, either, but I’m still happy to use the stuff on a daily basis, but even if it makes me a wimp, or immoral, I’m still happy to eat meat so long as I don’t have to get my hands dirty. So long as there are no eyes looking up at me from the plate, and preferably nothing that screams “I used to be alive, you know!”, I’m happy to tuck in.

So when I came across ITMedia writer Wataru Kato’s first-hand experience of eating a whole, roasted rodent, it was with both a curious mind and a slightly churning stomach that I read on, wondering whether, were I presented with the same dish, I could bring myself to eat it, let alone sit with it staring back at me.

The rodent in question is a specially bred Peruvian guinea pig, quite far removed from the kind of creature you might spot scuttling down a dark alley or up a drain pipe.

Nevertheless, we recommend tackling this particular story after you’ve finished your next meal.

Hold on to your lunch…

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Why Japanese Girls Are a Better Catch Than Japanese Men: The Thoughts of a Japanese Cabin Attendant

In this age of global travel and internet communication, meeting and even getting seriously involved with someone from outside your country is a very real possibility. For that matter, how do Japanese women and men rate as romantic interests? Takako Matsushita, a Japanese cabin attendant who has also appeared on T.V. and in magazines, offers her perspective on how Japanese women may get higher marks than Japanese men in the international dating market. And her message? Japanese men need to watch out, or all the nice ladies in Japan may be snatched up by foreign men! Read More

Can Men and Women Really Be Close Platonic Friends? Survey Says Your Girlfriend Might Not Think So

Ladies do you think you could possibly get along with a guy just as well as you do with your female friends?  Not in exactly the same way, but on the same level without it changing into something romantic.  And fellas, do you really think the “friend zone” exists with a woman or is that just her way of getting you off her back.

Japanese bridal information site Bridal Souken conducted a study last March asking 3096 single men and women between the ages of 20 and 50, “Is a friendship between a man and a woman real?” According to the results many more men and women think it is than isn’t, but the deeper we go we can see that gender is but a single piece of a bigger puzzle.

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You Can Only Listen to This Song Once In Your Life

To promote their new album Meeteen (ミーティン), quirky pop-rock ensemble Dainari><Konari (Greater Than >< Less Than) released a highly exclusive song online.  In fact, it’s so exclusive that once you listen to it it will remain locked forever.

Full of questions I embarked on this journey, worried that the song may be so catchy that I’d go crazy if unable to hear it again.

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Fish of Love: Koi Carp with Heart-Shaped Mark Becomes Firm Favourite Among Tourists

Thanks to the unusually shaped red mark on its head, a koi carp has brought busloads of tourists to its home in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan, as word spreads of the “heart fish” and excited sightseers jostle for position to get a snap of it.

The fish, naturally oblivious to the reason for the attention it is suddenly receiving, now spends most of its day treading water near the bridge in Kenroku-en gardens, peering up at excited tourists’ faces, thankfully unable to hear the shrill cries of teenage girls proclaiming how “kawaii!!” it is…

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The Best Sushi We’ve Ever Eaten【You, Me, And A Tanuki】

You, Me, And a Tanuki is a weekly featured blog run by Michelle, a Californian who is currently one of only two foreigners living in Chibu, a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan. Check back every Saturday for a new post or read more on her website here!

Hidden down a road, a little ways away from the main port of Nishinoshima, Shimane prefecture, is a tiny sushi restaurant.

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. Approaching the front of the establishment, you can even see the owner’s laundry hanging to dry in the upstairs window. But inside, Zen Sushi will amaze you.

A little mom and pop establishment, the owners prepare fresh sushi made with fish caught in the waters of the Oki Islands. Peering through the front windows, you can enjoy views of the turquoise waters that these fish call home.

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Once upon a time, nobody read RocketNews24 because it was really really bad. RocketRevival is a weekly corner that takes a look at some of our more passable articles from that bygone era that still hold valuable lessons today.

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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Cockroaches Ending 2012 Season with a Bang, Stories of our Black Buddies Coming Fast and Furious

As the summer cools back down to a comfortable autumn, the cockroach index has slid to a 1 across much of Japan. But before they go to sleep in many parts of the world, it looks like our little black friends are squirming their way into the headlines to give us something to remember them by.

We’ve all probably heard the tale of Edward Archbold who mysteriously died after winning a cockroach eating contest in the USA.  However, in China, roaches making quite a stir – by getting stirred into the food.

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“Heavy Metal Idols” Perform for Audience of One Lucky Yahoo Auction Winner, Not a Dry Eye in the House

This photo might make you think that times are tough for the “heavy metal idols” in Alice Juban, oft referred to as the “sisters of rock.” Actually, it was an unprecedented promotion for the innovative idol group.

This September, major auction site Yahoo Auction opened a new category, Knowledge and Skills. Tucked away in there was a very special item up for bid: the girls of Alice Juban.

That didn’t sound right.  I didn’t mean the girls were selling themselves. They were selling the rights to an exclusive live performance for the winning bid in Shibaura, Tokyo on 10 October.

It turned out to be a really surreal event, and I don’t mean because of the usual hockey masks, chainsaws, and stage diving. It was a surprisingly touching performance that moved everyone in the room to tears.

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26 Amazing Things About Japanese Budget Hotels

Having a hard time deciding the accommodation for your holiday in Japan? Tight on budget, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort? Don’t worry, because Japanese budget hotels are cheap (usually about 3000yen or US$38 per person, per night) and yet provide top-notch service! You probably won’t find anything that is more value for money than this in other countries.

Here we bring you 26 reasons why Japanese budget hotels are so amazing!

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Foreign Employee Named Lawson Working at Lawson Convenience Store Blows Minds Across Japan

Convenience stores- in Japan: they really do live up to their name.

Pay your bills, pick up stuff you ordered on Amazon, send a FAX, buy concert tickets, withdraw cash, buy milk; whatever you need to do, they’ve usually got you covered.

Although 7-Eleven is Japan’s undisputed king of combinis, as convenience stores are fondly known over here, blue-and-white-striped Lawson is never far behind, and has a special place in many shoppers’ hearts.

So when news surfaced that a foreigner named Lawson is working part-time at a convenience store of the very same name, people understandably went a little bit nuts.

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