Go fly a (humongous) kite: Zama’s Odako Matsuri【Photos】

If someone in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, tells you to go fly a kite, don’t be hurt. They are probably just inviting you to the Odako Matsuri or Giant Kite Festival! And with hundreds of years of history, 13-meter paper and bamboo kites, and a bonfire using said kite as the finale, you’ll be glad you were invited.

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BABYMETAL invasion of the West marches on, everyone welcomes new kawaii overlords【VIDEOS】

It’s been less than a year since we interviewed BABYMETAL and prophesied their coming domination of the globe, and in that time they’ve released a new, full-length album, racked up over five million views on one video alone, and made plans to invade England. While the UK probably isn’t the best target for a military attack–we hear they get pretty grumpy and call the RAF on you–the country seems particularly susceptible to cultural aggressions, making the group’s British debut at Sonisphere Festival UK the perfect opening offensive!

But the group’s popularity isn’t limited to the metal community. They’ve gotten attention from major media outlets around the world–it’s only a matter of time before we see the girls jumping around on Oprah’s coach, declaring their love for chocolate.

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Can you handle the heat at Fukugonji’s annual firewalking festival?

Over the course of a year, we humans can accumulate a lot of mucky emotions. We inevitably forget the dangers that certain fiery passions, like anger and envy, can do to our psyches. In order to remind ourselves to retake control of these troublesome fires that burn within us, we must take a walk through physical flames and let the fear of literal fire burn away our emotional impurities.

At least, that’s the idea behind Fukugonji’s annual firewalking festival! Each year, on second Sunday of December, this Zen Buddhist temple in Aichi Prefecture invites all members of the public to step across their scorching coals and reclaim inner purity at the Fukugonji Akiba Grand Festival. This year, the festival promises to be particularly entertaining, as well as spiritual and somewhat scary, as one might expect from firewalking.

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We pick up a new good luck charm at the Tori no Ichi Festival in Shinjuku

Japan’s urban and rural areas alike are dotted with temples and shrines, but there’s no practice of attending regular services at them. Instead, visitors primarily come to offer a few yen as a donation, say a quick prayer, and pick up one of the plethora of good luck charms and amulets sold there, many of which have specific purposes such as passing an important exam or finding a new love.

But every member of our team is already out of college, and so popular with the opposite sex that we’re starting to feel bad about not leaving any for the rest of the populace. Looking further down our to-do list, we noticed that “build mansion with supermodel grotto” was preceded by “achieve economic success,” so we decided to head to our local Shinto shrine for Tori no Ichi, Japan’s annual festival for buying good luck charms for success in business.

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Wine-fueled mayhem in Japan’s Napa Valley: Katsunuma Wine and Grape Festival

When you think booze and Japan, wine is probably the last thing that comes to mind, and not without good reason. This is a country where the average wine list can be summed up as “red or white?”, both of which will come probably from an ancient box in the back of the fridge and chilled to near-zero temps.

The country is not without its fans of wine culture, though. In fact, Japan even has a wine-producing region, home to 31 wineries and an original grape variety! Katsunuma, sometimes called the Napa Valley of Japan, is tucked into the mountains of Yamanashi Prefecture, just an hour and a half from Tokyo.

RocketNews24 went to check out this grapey paradise on the occasion of the Katsunuma Wine and Grape Festival, where rumor had it 500 yen would get you unlimited wine for the day.

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Shenanigans at Osaka summer festival lead to one arrest

July and August tend to be the seasons where summer festivals get kicked into full swing. Much like festivals in any country, the festivities are often accompanied by various stalls selling drinks and snacks. Other stalls can be found offering games that you know are probably rigged, but just can’t help trying.

For one such stall runner, 45-year-old Tsutomu Morikawa, poor price planning led to a date with the police.

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What did Japan wish for at this year’s Tanabata festival?

Held each year on July 7, the Tanabata festival has its roots in the folktale of a young married couple, symbolized by two stars in the night sky, who toil away at their trades separately, able to meet just once a year. It’s a little like the situation in many Japanese families where the husband gets transferred by his company to another prefecture and his wife stays behind to continue her own career or look after the kids. Just replace “office workers” with “cowherd and daughter of the king of heaven” and “prefectural border” with “the Milky Way,” and you’ve got a close approximation.

The story of the two lovers finally being able to see each other has taken on a broader connotation of wishes coming true, and Tanabata is commonly celebrated by writing a wish down on strip of paper, then tying it to a stalk of bamboo.

Department stores and shopping centers usually have displays where visitors post their wishes. Since they’re then on display for others to see, you can get a glimpse of current trends by checking them out. “My family’s safety,” “success in business,” and “health” are three old-standbys of Tanabata wishes, but what else were people hoping for this year?

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