New York Times makes a surprising pick for the best city to visit in Japan

Sure, Tokyo and Kyoto are nice, but this northeastern town is their top Japan travel pick.

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Hot springs website reveals the most popular user-picked onsen in all of northern Japan

The winning spot grabs the people’s vote for all of northern Japan for the fourth year in a row.

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Latest design for gorgeous stylized Japanese Coca-Cola cans spotlights Tohoku festivals

You’ll want to grab this pretty commemorative Coke can if you’re in northern Japan.

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Visiting the hotel half-destroyed by the 3-11 tsunami is a powerful reminder of what was lost

This preserved Tohoku building goes from completely devastated to practically unharmed in just a few floors.

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Ghibli scarecrow protects rice fields in countryside Japan

Pikachu and Ash also watch over the crops, which were once destroyed by the tsunami in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

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Pokémon and Iwate team up to elect Geodude as the tourism ambassador to the prefecture!

It even has a theme song and a bizarre costume.

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The best way to drink Japanese sake? From an edible squid bottle!

After this taste test, you’ll never want to go back to using regular drinking vessels again.

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12th Angry Tea Table Flipping Contest held in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture

Regular event calls out the best tea table upenders around.

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2018 Tohoku Kizuna Festival aims to unite the people of northern Japan

This “Festival of Tohoku Bonds” continues to pay homage to six of northern Japan’s most important annual festivals all at one time and one place.

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Why does my cat’s poop stink so much? Japanese scientists bust the myth behind feline turds

It’s neither diet nor parasites, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Nestle Japan releases new yoghurt Kit Kat to raise funds for typhoon-affected regions

The new release is a great example of how big companies can support local businesses in the wake of a disaster.

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Is any “fowl” play involved? Nope, Morioka Zoo’s animals just like to sleep in weird positions

Morioka Zoo in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture has a host of both fierce and cuddly animals on its premises. Among the zoo’s current highlights are opportunities to see a baby giraffe, make dinner for the elephants, and feed raw meat to a lion. Oh, and did we mention that the animals there seem to have a penchant for looking dead while simply taking a snooze? 

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RocketNews24 reporting from America…n World shopping complex in Iwate Prefecture

Tired of being called “uncultured” by those around them, our reporters Mr. Sato and Yoshio made a road trip to Iwate Prefecture and all of its historical sites such as the Chusonji Golden Hall and Kenji Miyazawa Fairy Tale Village. It was the perfect place to learn more about Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

However, as they drove along Route 4 heading for the over-900-year-old Morioka Hachiman Shrine, something unusual caught Mr. Sato’s eye. “It’s a big red Ferris wheel!” he shouted, immediately forgetting about the site where Emperor Ojin’s spirit is enshrined.

Grabbing Yoshio’s arm, he forced the car to an off ramp and closer to the Ferris wheel, which they would soon learn was not just any old wheel, it was the American World Ferris wheel!

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Newsflash: AKB48 members attacked by saw-wielding “fan” at handshake event【UPDATED】

At 4:55 p.m. today, the company behind many of Japan’s larger idol groups, AKS, released a statement regarding an attack on members of AKB48 and event staff during a handshake event in Iwate Prefecture this afternoon.

Members Rina Kawaei (19) and Anna Iriyama (18), as well as a male member of the venue staff, are said to have been injured, with a 24-year-old male taken into police custody.

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Wow, Japan, is that a giant wooden phallus in your hot springs, or are you just happy to see m–oh. I see. Well, uh, I’ll just be on my way then. Um…maybe one quick photo…

As you are surely already aware, Japan has quite a few unusual, phallic festivals allegedly intended to be fertility rites for couples hoping for children. They’re also great attractions for curious tourists or anyone who wants to try frosted penis-bananas. Iwate Prefecture, perhaps not wanting to be left out, has a phallus festival of its own. Its standout feature? The phallus riding event! And, great news, ladies, they’re taking applications!

(Before clicking below, use your best judgement about whether or not this is something you should be reading at work.)

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‘I wonder if you’ll have a grandchild when you get this letter?’  These are the words written by a woman 10 years ago, before she lost her life in the March 2011 tsunami. Her mother and father were shocked to find the letter containing them arrive in the mail this January. While there was no Hollywood movie ending where their beloved daughter turned up alive and well, the letter has at least given them a chance to hear some of the things she never had the chance to tell them in life.

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Nearly 290,000 people still living in shelters two and a half years after the Tohoku disaster

The devastation from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami will not soon be forgotten. It has left an indelible footprint on the collective consciousness of Japan and, indeed, the rest of the world. While photos of Japan’s speedy response in many of the stricken areas are certainly inspiring, it’s important to remember that the prefectures worst hit by the natural disaster are still in the process of recovery, with a great many citizens continuing to live in refugee shelters.

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A century of culture: Isao Tomita and Hatsune Miku pay musical tribute to author Kenji Miyazawa

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Kenji Miyazawa’s Death, and as a tribute to the celebrated writer a revival of the Ihatov Symphony was performed in his hometown of Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture on 29 August. The symphony was composed by Isao Tomita, a true originator of electronic music in Japan and features Hatsune Miku the iconic vocaloid who embodies the trail blazed by Tomita decades ago.

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The monument for the Iwate miracle tree, which as you might remember was the only pine tree out of 70,000 left standing following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, is finally nearing completion. The project, though, has not been without its fair share of troubles. Read More

Following the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan, the sheer scale of the tsunami which smashed into northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011 was unprecedented. Coastal communities were devastated by waves which at their highest reached 40.5 meters above sea level, travelled up to 10km inland, and swept everything along with them. Mud, debris, cars, boats, houses, and fire.

The small town of Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture was one of the hardest hit. About 10 percent of the population perished or went missing, including the mayor and many town officials. Iwate’s leading local newspaper, the Iwate Tokai Shimbun, was unable to continue operating as their printing press was washed out to sea, and two of their reporters were killed.

In 2012, a group of journalists banded together to once again start reporting the news from Otsuchi to support the town’s recovery, using the Internet to connect with people. Tsunami survivors have shared their stories of terror, panic, suffering and hope for the future through this new newspaper, known as the Otsuchi Mirai Shimbun (“Otsuchi Future Times”). These stories have been translated from the original Japanese into English by a team of 28 hard-working volunteers from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., and published on the second anniversary of the disaster as a Kindle ebook.

Here are some excerpts from these true stories of survival:

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