Must-haves: Drunk in public Japanese capsule toys

Capsule toys from vending machines are a big deal in Japan, often putting our less-inspired ones to shame. Case in point, these new miniature figures introduced by the Tama-Kyu company, that depict people who are intoxicated in public!

SoraNews24 reports:

The series, named #YopparaiNau (Drunk Now), is made up of five different lushes, each in a different predicament and measuring about five centimeters (two inches) in height.

All the greatest hits are there:

...“Person Wearing a Pylon” ...“Person Sleeping on the Side of the Road” ...“Person Hugging a Telephone Pole” ...“Person Hugging a Telephone Pole” ...“Person who Needs a Waste Basket.”

The cost? 300 yen (approx. US $2.72) each.

Get a closer look at all five figurines at SoraNews24.

Thanks, Lynn!

images via PR Times Read the rest

What do Japanese people think of the "Japanese Only" ramen shop?

The owner of a ramen shop in Japan thinks non-Japanese people are more likely to have and spread coronavirus, so he put a hand drawn sign in front of his restaurant that says "Sorry!! Japanese Only Sorry!!!"

In this video Yuta, host of the YouTube channel That Japanese Man Yuta, interviewed Japanese people to find out what they think about this. As you might guess, some people are in favor of banning foreigners from the shop, while others think it's wrong. Read the rest

French photographer explains how she was able to take photos of Yakuza bosses' wives

Photographer Chloé Jafé worked as a hostess in a Tokyo bar to meet and gain the trust of members of the Japanese mafia. Six years later, she published a photography book called I Give You My Life, which according to BBC, "reveal hidden sides to the wives of men in the Japanese underworld – including the tattoos that cover their bodies."

Image: Vimeo Read the rest

Fun new Japanese anti-drug video featuring creepy cannabis bats

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government presents this new public service announcement to warn children against cannabis bats, among other things. Rough translation of the video description via Google Translate:

In Tokyo, we created educational videos, posters, and leaflets for the younger generation to raise awareness of the prevention of substance abuse. The contents are easy to understand about the dangers of drug abuse such as cannabis and dangerous drugs, the effects of abuse, and how to decline when invited.

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If you lose your keys, phone, or wallet in Japan, you will probably get it back. Here's why

When I was in Tokyo in 2017, I left my daypack in a taxi. I asked the person who was running a cooking class I was attending if there was anything I could do about it. He made a phone call and within an hour the backpack was returned. This article in Mental Floss explains why it's so easy to recover lost items in Japan. The reason is that large cities like Tokyo have lots of tiny police stations, called kōban (交番) in every neighborhood. People who find purses, wallets, etc., take them to the nearest kōban. Here's how it works, according to Mental Floss:

In 2018, 4.1 million missing items were turned in to police, and the chances of reuniting them with their owners is pretty good. That same year, 130,000 of 156,000 lost phones (83 percent) were returned and 240,000 wallets (65 percent) went home.

Missing items are typically held at the local koban for one month in case the owner retraces their steps and comes back. After that, they’re sent to a Lost and Found Center at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, where the item is cataloged, searched for information relating to its owner, and then put into an online database that the public can check. Belongings are held for three months. After that, they might be handed over to the person who found it. If not, they become the property of the local government, where they might eventually trickle down to secondhand thrift sales.

Image by Suikotei - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

Kapibara-san, Capybara plush toys from Japan

Japan is increasingly obsessed with capybaras, the best rodent and very likely the best animal of all time. Accordingly, there's a plush toy craze to go with it: behold Kapibara-san.

No animal is complete without its own cute character in Japan—and capybaras have Kapibara-san (link in Japanese). By one estimate, over 5,000 items (link in Japanese) now bear the face of the character, which was launched in 2005. According to Kapibara-san’s owner, toy giant Bandai, capybaras are known for their ”happy, natural, and easygoing lifestyle” and loved for their healing effect on humans.

The photo above was posted by Tryworks. Kapibara-San are available on Amazon, but eBay has better deals.

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Video of a cool old Tokyo neighborhood slated for redevelopment

One of my favorite YouTube channels is Nippon Wandering TV, in which a guy walks and bikes around Japanese streets with a GoPro camera. In his latest video he bikes around Keisei Tateishi station in northeast Tokyo. and takes a look at an old neighborhood that is going to be plowed to make way for redevelopment. "Tokyo plans to redevelop this neighborhood and the retro street, old hidden bar izakaya will be all gone in the near future," he writes. "I miss these old alleys, but it can’t be avoided."

Image: YouTube/Nippon Wandering TV Read the rest

Here's a simple recipe for making Japanese style fluffy pancakes

A while back I posted about the kind of fluffy pancakes you can get in Japan and how one guy said he makes them in a rice cooker. I still haven't tried it yet, but here's a simple recipe that I'd like to try from Kitchn:

Here’s how to make it at home: All you do is grease the insides of your rice cooker, pour your pancake batter in, set it to “cook/warm,” close the top, and for a 10-cup rice cooker, set the timer for 45 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it. Don’t worry if the giant pancake appears “wet” when you open the top. It’s just condensation from the steam. But do yourself a favor and give it a touch: it should feel firm and bouncy.

Image: Flipper's Pancake in Tokyo by Mark Frauenfelder, CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

Tokyo installing public urinals made from iron to stop a rash of toilet smashing

For a decade, people have been destroying public toilets across Tokyo. Over the last six years, vandals have broken 85 toilets just in Hikarigaoka Park. What a pisser. Now, Tokyo officials have commissioned ironworks Ito Tekko to construct iron urinals for public use. From SoraNews24:

People in Japan were conflicted, feeling both pride in the quality engineering of these urine collectors as well as shame that it has come to this.

“I know people who like to smash toilets won’t agree, but I think these are great toilets.” “I had no idea so many toilets were getting broken.” “I think we should deal with the underlying issues of toilet smashing first.”

(via Fark) Read the rest

Street interview: what do Japanese think of the coronavirus?

YouTuber Yuta hit the streets of Osaka to get people's opinion on the coronavirus. Most are in agreement that China has been lying and withholding information about the seriousness of the virus. Read the rest

Here's how to plan for a trip to Japan

I've been to Japan at least 8 times, so I feel like I am pretty good at knowing what I need to do before I go. This video, "Must-Do Things Before Flying to Japan" has a number of useful tips, like how to book a good restaurant in advance, how to get a SIM card, how to book tickets to Disneyland, how to get a rail card, how to get a visa (most countries give you 90 days with no visa required), and which medications not to bring with you. Read the rest

Coming soon to Japan: a 60-ft walking Gundam robot

Who cares about the Tokyo Olympics, when a 60-foot walking RX-78-2 robot is going to be stomping around nearby Yokohama in October? It will have 24 degrees of motion and will weigh 25 tons, according to New Atlas. It sounds pretty impressive, and the video above makes it seem cool, but Yoshiyuki Tomino, who created Gundam in the late 1970s, has some harsh words for the project: "It's boring. It rubs me the wrong way ... It's just not interesting ... It feels like they're going backwards, trying to reproduce a 40-year-old original."

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First person video of a bike ride through Shinjuku, Tokyo

I love watching Nippon Wandering TV (NWT), where a guy straps on a GoPro and walks and bikes around Japan. I often run the videos on a second screen while I work just to listen to the ambient sounds of traffic, footsteps, and pedestrian chatter. In this video, NWT hops on a bike and pedals around Shinjuku, a lively ward in Tokyo.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Rice cooker pancakes look delicious

Whenever we go to Japan, we gorge on the fluffy souffle pancakes they serve in special pancake cafes there. Our favorite pancake cafe is Flipper's, but we also like Gram and Happy Pancake.

We were recently in Singapore and I took a video of a stack of 3 jiggly Gram pancakes being served to Carla:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mark Frauenfelder (@frauenfelder) on Jan 4, 2020 at 10:38pm PST

We've tried making these pancakes at home, but we can't achieve the same kind of bounciness and fluffiness. So when I saw this tweet about a guy who cooked a pancake in his rice cooker, I did a Google search for "pancake in a rice cooker" and learned that this is something people actually do and now I'm excited to try it myself.

Image: Flipper's Pancake by Mark Frauenfelder Read the rest

City official in Japan who tried to jump between subway platforms to be "punished"

NHK World News reports the man in a subway platform jumper video has been identified as a Nara City official and "faces punishment."

Image: Twitter video screengrab Read the rest

25 useful Japanese words for everyday conversation

I wasn't expecting to learn much from this video about 25 useful Japanese words because I thought I would know them all, but there were quite a few that were new to me:

uso (no way!) chicchai (tiny and cute) harahetta (I'm starving) dekai (huge) umai (tasty, more casual than oishii) majide (you're not joking?) dasai (uncool) kakkoii (cool or attractive) sugei (incredible) tsukareta (I'm exhausted) Read the rest

"Animals" escaping from Japanese zoos part of unintentionally funny drills

Every year in Japan, animals escape from zoos in a planned exercise. Except they aren't really animals, they're humans in animal costumes. And they aren't really escaping, they're part of an annual drill to train staff on what to do when a real animal does. While funny to watch, escaped animals are no joke in a country known for earthquakes.

Director of Tama Zoological Park, Yutaka Fukuda, told Metro in 2015:

‘In the event of a big earthquake, a tree could fall on a cage, or many other things could occur that may lead to an animal escape.

‘We think it is very important, and it is our responsibility to carry it out with seriousness.’

Look for the real lions, their reactions to the drill are priceless.

Thanks, Julie!

screenshot via The Guardian Read the rest

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