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We try Japan’s latest instant noodles: pineapple ramen (with 3-D photos!!)

With so many different ramen restaurants in Japan, you have to do something pretty special to get yours to stand out. One establishment that certainly qualifies is lengthily-named Papapapa-Pine, whose claim to fame is its ramen with chunks of pineapple and broth made with the juice of the tropical fruit. But with only one branch in Tokyo, most people living in the capital haven’t had a chance to try this unique concoction.

That all changed on June 3, though, when instant ramen based on Papapapa-Pine’s went on sale at the Daily Yamazaki (also known as Daily Store) chain of convenience stores. We dispatched our crack reporters for an immediate taste test.

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Mammoth GameCenter CX 10th anniversary project underway

“GameCenter CX”–also known as “Retro Game Master” in the West– has captured the hearts and minds of literally millions of video game fans across the globe since first airing in 2003. The premise of the show is simple: middle-aged, self-confessed game otaku and part-time comedian Shinya Arino pits himself against a series of treasured but often fiendishly difficult old-school video games, playing through them with the help of his cheeky “assistant directors”, a pile of snacks and stack of cooling towelettes to stick to his forehead.

The show has already spawned nine DVD boxsets in its native Japan, with English translations of many of the shows made available to Western audiences both in DVD format and online. But now, the show’s parent company has announced that a special 10th anniversary project is underway that will purportedly take an entire year to complete.

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These abstract Street Fighter motion sculptures will melt your mind 【Video】

We’ve seen some pretty quirky artistic interpretations of arcade fist-and-fireball fest Street Fighter in our time, but this one quite took our breath away.

Before you say it, yes we know the above image looks like little more than a mass of triangles suspended in midair, but we’re absolutely positive that once you’ve seen the following video in motion, you’ll swear you’re watching the characters from everyone’s favourite arcade fighter performing their signature moves before your very eyes.

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One more reason to hate Mondays: bad beef

Ah, Mondays! I’m sure you’re just like me in that you always wake up 30 minutes before your alarm goes off, bursting with energy at the idea of getting a start on spending the next five days at the office. Or, more accurately, you may be just like me in that you have a tendency to lie in order to cover up just how much you hate Monday mornings.

But when duty calls, you’ve got to go. As you struggle to convince your body to drag itself out of bed, maybe you try to sweeten the deal by promising yourself a tasty dinner as a reward for not just creating your own little three-day weekend by calling in sick. Yeah, you can make it through your shift if you’ve got something to look forward to at the end of it, like maybe some high-grade beef. And why bother cooking at home when Japan is filled with yakiniku (Korean barbeque) restaurants?

Not so fast there, cowboy. It turns out Monday is the worst day to go out to eat yakiniku.

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Japanese artist recreates Matsumoto Castle out of cardboard

Matsumoto-jo, also known as “Crow Castle,” is located in Nagano Prefecture and has been designated as a National Treasure of Japan. Surprisingly, the photo above isn’t that of a professionally made model of the famous castle. A Japanese artist that goes by the moniker, Upunushu, created this replica of Matsumoto Castle entirely out of cardboard. Each intricate detail, from the stone walls to the tiny emblem designs below the roof, were made by hand.

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Strap on your thinking caps: bath salts based on popsicle based on soup go on sale

We’ve talked before about how Gari Gari-kun, the popsicle/shaved ice hybrid, is among the most refreshing treats produced by modern society, especially during the hot, humid summer months.

But Japan is a country where a daily bath, as opposed to just a shower, is a way of life. Since most people bathe at night, this presents a problem if you’ve just cooled yourself off with a nice after-dinner Gari Gari-kun and don’t want that feeling to go to waste from soaking in a pool of hot water. Thankfully, toy manufacturer Bandai has a whole lineup of Gari Gari-kun themed bath salts, based on the some of its most popular popsicle flavors, such as soda (really a mix of apple and citrus), pear, and corn…wait, corn?!

Perhaps we should start at the beginning.

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Hanging Gardens of Singapore: the PARKROYAL on Pickering

We’ve all heard about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world and I’m sure we all wish we could go back in time and see them at the height of their glory. For me, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon might have been the best, even if they probably didn’t actually exist.

Unfortunately, no one’s figured out how time travel works yet. Fortunately, though, PARKROYAL on Pickering seems like a pretty amazing substitute. (And, starting at US$180 a night, probably cheaper than time travel too.)

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Needle Master: Swedish artist wows net users with stunning video game embroidery

Believe it or not, the above image is not a still taken from an old 16-bit video game. This is the work of Per Fhager, a Swedish artist whose stunning needlework is currently taking the internet by storm.

From Nintendo classics like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros 2 to old-school shooters like Pop’n TwinBee and Blazing Star, Per’s mercilessly detailed work really has to be seen to be believed.

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Beautiful works of art made with Microsoft Excel

A few weeks ago, we featured a video that showed each step to drawing Gundam using Microsoft Excel. The whole RocketNews24 office couldn’t believe that something as cool as a giant robot can be made using the most boring Office program available.

Another Excel artist, 73-year-old Tatsuo Horiuchi of Japan, has been getting attention online recently for his beautiful scenery pictures created by only using shapes in Microsoft Excel.

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Eat your heart out, Tom Cruise: Belgian man makes his own samurai armor (and it’s amazing)

Unable to afford the real deal and being too tall for a store-bought replica, one Belgian man by the name of Danny has crafted a suit of samurai armor for himself. And, while there are lots of amazing cosplay costumes out there, this one may very well be the best I’ve ever seen.

A fan of warriors of various cultures, from vikings to the samurai, Danny seems to have had a great affinity for armor, helmets, and weapons from a young age. In fact, he started collecting Japanese swords at the tender age of 16. (Quite a bit more productive than 16-year-olds these days.) Read More

From Russia with love (for J-pop), we present trilingual cover band Pudra

It’s taken several years, but as anime and computer generated vocaloid songs continue to grow in popularity abroad, Japanese pop music has solidified a passionate overseas fan base. Go to YouTube and do a search for the opening or closing theme of a major recent anime hit, and you’ve got a decent chance of finding a foreign fan doing a cover, either while strumming a guitar or with the vocal-less karaoke mix from the song’s single playing in the background.

But that’s not good enough for Russian band, Pudra (meaning “powder”). This quartet of teenage girls goes all out with their anime song performances, with full arrangement and polished videos. And while many foreign cover artists rewrite lyrics in their native languages, Pudra sings all of their J-pop renditions in their original Japanese. Read More

Japanese mom shows daughter how it’s done with awesome old-school gaming notebook

Every generation, something comes along that people are just sure is going to ruin kids’ minds. Recently it’s social networking websites. In the 1950s it was blue jeans and rock ‘n’ roll. If you had a time machine, and for some reason got tired of riding on the backs of dinosaurs and decided to instead interview cavemen about the parenting issues they faced, I’m sure you’d find some of them complaining about how the young whipper-snappers in the neighborhood are wasting all their time with this new-fangled “fire” thing.

When I was growing up, the big menace was video games, but just like all the things listed above, they turned out to be mostly harmless (but watch out, blue jeans become quite a bit more dangerous if you combine them with fire). Video games have now been around long enough that some hardcore gamers have kids of their own, such as the mother of Twitter user maki_pq, whose enthusiasm for the Dragon Quest series far outpaces her daughter’s.
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The future is up: The next ‘world’s-tallest-building’

Burj Khalifa is a tower in Dubai that stands an awe-inspiring 829.8  meters (2,722 feet) tall. With that height, it is currently the world’s tallest building, as well as being Tom Cruise’s favorite thing to climb.

But all that might change in just six months, if everything goes according to plan for one Chinese company. Well, minus the Tom Cruise part.
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80-year-old Japanese man conquers Everest, 81-year-old Nepalese rival hot on his heels

George Mallroy, one of the first Britons to attempt to conquer Mount Everest back in 1924, famously said of his desire to climb the mountain that he did so “because it’s there.” In the case of two of the mountain’s most recent visitors, “because I can” might be a better mantra.

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We devour a mountain of ramen (toppings)

By far the plainest, most bare-bones name for a guy in Japan is Taro. Look at just about any sample application form in the country, and nine times out of ten the applicant’s name will be listed as “Taro.” When coupled with a girl’s name like Hanako it’s the equivalent of “Dick and Jane,” showing up in children’s stories and textbooks.

Nonetheless,the name Taro is something of a classic, and a common choice for first-born sons. But change the first kanji character Taro is written with and you get “Jiro,” meaning more or less “second son.” Jiro doesn’t have quite the cachet of Taro, as it has a perpetual little brother-like ring to it.

Restaurant chain Ramen Jiro doesn’t play second fiddle to anyone, though, especially with creations like this.
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JSDF’s new helicopter may or may not be fake, a real-life transformer

All this anime is clearly getting to Japanese people’s heads. Japanese media has fallen hook, line and sinker for this seemingly impossible, anime-inspired helicopter design, breathlessly reporting that Ghost in the Shell-style vehicles are being designed by the (Japan Self Defence Force) JSDF right now.

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Pigs fly (in broth form) as ANA serves up in-flight Ippudo ramen

Japan has earned plenty of foodie cred over the last few years. Tokyo has topped multiple lists of the best cities in the world to eat out in, morning talk shows showcase delicious, hole-in-the wall restaurants and bakeries almost every day, and this month even provincial Hiroshima got its own Michelin Guide.

But even with a nation of enthusiastic diners and gastronomic craftsmen ready to serve them, airline food is, for the most part, nothing to get too excited about. Unless you happen to be flying ANA internationally, that is, where you can now get Ippudo ramen. Read More

Japanese iPad artist is the Leonardo da Vinci of digital finger paints 【Video】

In the future, great works of art will need to be located near museum power outlets because, apparently, the iPad is rapidly becoming the next generation canvas.

iPad artists have wowed us before with astonishing works of art, but most of them rely on paintbrush-like styluses. Japanese artist Seiko Yamaoka, however, is cranking out eye-poppingly realistic copies of famous paintings using that most clumsy and smelly of tools: the human fingertip.

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Star Wars Characters Journey to the West as Classical Chinese Warriors

With the next Star Wars movie due for release sometime in 2015, it’s an anxious wait before fans get to see their favourite characters once again. And who knows what will happen to Yoda and the gang now they’re owned by the house that made Mickey? For now, though, you can put those worries aside because we’ve found something to take your mind off things. It’s part Death Star, part Chinese warrior and 100 percent totally awesome. Check out six famous Star Wars characters who look like they’ve stepped back into the Six Dynasties of ancient China!

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Silly Pun Leads to Great Dessert – Special Strawberry Shortcake Available Just Once a Month at Japanese Convenience Store

In almost every company in Japan, payday is on the 25th of the month. While this means every month feels a little like Christmas, it also means that if you’ve been partying a little too hard for the last 30-odd days, around the 22nd, your bank balance might be looking pretty dismal.

But no matter how much you try to cut back, man can’t live on bread alone. Looking to treat yourself to the most meager luxury possible, you might stumble into a branch of the Japanese convenience store Lawson, where there’s a special treat to brighten your day that’s available only on the 22nd of each month. Read More

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