Pokémon Cafe at Shibuya Parco opens January

Written by: William on December 19, 2014 at 6:58 pm | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Gotta catch ‘em all. Or should that be “eat and drink ‘em all”?

Shibuya Parco will open the Pokémon Cafe (Pokémon cafe Ω Ruby & α Sapphire) next month.

Opening January 9th, the pop-up cafe will be around until the end of February at THE GUEST cafe & diner, on the seventh floor of Parco 1 in Shibuya.

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

It will feature a menu of Pokémon-themed dishes, snacks and latte art, along with selling official merchandise. Customers who place an order will get a free coaster and the cafe will also have a “photo spot” for the serious fans.

You take a look at some of the drinks, dishes and desserts on the menu here.

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

Shibuya Parco has previously hosted a Funnassyi-themed cafe and Tokyo also recently saw Snoopy and Woodstock cafes open in two locations.

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TV Tokyo election screen captions reveal unusual sides to politicians

Written by: William on December 19, 2014 at 9:05 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

If we’re honest, Japanese television is not acclaimed for its sophistication or journalistic integrity.

And the coverage of the recent Lower House election last weekend did little to boost that reputation, especially the screen captions employed by TV Tokyo.

The channel is known for doing things a bit differently to other broadcasters but it might have taken this policy for being alternative to a new level this time.

Its captions gave extra “tidbits” about the politicos that were frankly sometimes funny, often surreal — and always politically irrelevant. Perhaps the channel knew how silly the election was and just wanted to make light of the situation?

Here are some of our favorites, which delighted Japanese netizens.

tv tokyo japan election broadcast caption politicians funny

Eisuke Mori (66)
Former Justice minister. Approved execution of 9 people. Went with daughter to GLAY concert with 200,000 people. “I strain my back once or twice a year.”

tv tokyo japan election broadcast caption politicians funny

Masatoshi Akimoto (39)
Was once turned away by a taxi because he is anti-nuclear power.

tv tokyo japan election broadcast caption politicians funny

Shinjiro Koizumi
His first love was kindergarten teacher.

tv tokyo japan election broadcast caption politicians funny

(former Prime Minister) Yoshihiko Noda
His special skill is a strong punch.

tv tokyo japan election broadcast caption politicians funny

Katsuya Okada (61)
“Top class” for numbers of questions. Has trouble parking.

tv tokyo japan election broadcast caption politicians funny

Karen Makishima (38)
Has dissected a wild boar. Holds a license for trap hunting.

tv tokyo japan election broadcast caption politicians funny

Katsutoshi Kaneda
Recently worries about his metabolism.

See more on Grapee.jp and Itai News.

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“Dreamer Nippon Inemuri” music video pays tribute to sleepy commuters

Written by: William on December 17, 2014 at 9:30 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

We’ve all seen them. We’ve all pitied them. We’ve all admired them.

Japanese trains are full of odd sights — but perhaps none so odd as the spectacle of people managing to get some shuteye no matter how crowded or what position they are in, whether standing, sitting, kneeing or (unfortunately for those around them) leaning. No matter how fast the train is going, no matter who is watching — the Japanese are able to sleep anywhere.

Even more impressively, they are more often than not able to wake up in time for their stop. It must be some sort of innate ability taught when salarymen join major corporations.

japan sleep doze train passenger commuter nippon inemuri dreamer tokyo

A new music video called “Dreamer Nippon Inemuri” is proving popular because it pays tribute to these sleepy commuters, featuring a series of shots of people sleeping while riding a train. (“Nippon Inemuri” literally means “Japan dozing”.)

japan sleep doze train passenger commuter nippon inemuri dreamer tokyo

japan sleep doze train passenger commuter nippon inemuri dreamer tokyo

The roughly 50 sleepers were filmed by digital marketing planner Kairi Manabe over two days on public transport. We’re not sure if this counts as infringing on their rights but the results are interesting to watch — not least to admire the tenacity of these train passengers determined to get some sleep no matter what.

The music for the video is by Yusuke Emoto.

japan sleep doze train passenger commuter nippon inemuri dreamer tokyo

japan sleep doze train passenger commuter nippon inemuri dreamer tokyo

The video is actually a Web commercial for Home’s, a real estate portal site which offers a function where you can filter searches based on the commuting time. In other words, it’s encouraging you to move somewhere that’s closer to work! “A long, long way to bed” as the video poignantly says at the end…

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Top Google Search keywords and search trends in Japan in 2014

Written by: William on December 17, 2014 at 8:26 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Google has shared shared the top search terms in Japan for 2014.

google search keywords top results buzz trend japan 2014

Here are the top search terms, which were of course originally in Japanese and so vary slightly from the translation or English equivalent.

Overall Searchword Ranking

1. Yahoo
2. YouTube
3. Facebook
4. Weather forecast
5. Rakuen
6. Amazon
7. Pazudora (Puzzle & Dragons)
8. News
9. Yahoo! Auction
10. Twitter

Trending Words

1. World Cup
2. Yo-Kai Watch
3. Sochi Olympic
4. Typhoon
5. “Frozen”
6. Kei Nishokori
7. Yuzuru Hanyu
8. Dengue fever
9. Ken Takakura
10. Mt Ontake

Trending News

1. World Cup
2. Sochi Olympics
3. Typhoon
4. Dengue fever
5. Mt Ontake
6. Ebola virus
7. Nobel prize
8. Earthquake
9. Asia Games
10. iPhone6

Trending Males

1. Kei Nishikori (tennis player)
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (figure skater)
3. Ken Takakura (actor)
4. Ryutaro Nonomura (politician)
5. Takajin Yashiki (singer, TV personality)
6. Mamoru Samuragoch (composer)
7. ASKA (musician)
8. Sota Fukushi (actor)
9. Noriaki Kasai (ski jumper)
10. Robin Willians (actor, comedian)

Trending Females

1. Haruko Obokata (stem cell biologist)
2. Mao Asada (figure skater)
3. Ayaka Shiomura (politician)
4. Zawachin (celebrity impersonator)
5. Kanna Hashimoto (music idol)
6. Nippon Erekiteru Rengou (comedy duo)
7. Seiko Yamamoto (wrestler)
8. Takako Matsu (actor)
9. May J. (singer)
10. Keiko Kitagawa (actor)

Trending Deceased Persons

1. Ken Takakura (actor)
2. Ken Utsui (actor)
3. Eiichi Ohtaki (actor)
4. Takajin Yashiki (singer, TV personality)
5. Robin Williams (actor, comedian)
6. Keiko Awaji (actor)
7. Takako Doi (politician)
8. Junko Ouchi (fashion critic)
9. Yoshiki Sasai (stem cell biologist)
10. Akio Sanpei (writer)

Trending TV Dramas

1. “Hirugao” (Fuji)
2. “Ashita mama ga inai” (NTV)
3. “Hanko to Anne” (NHK)
4. “Gochisousan” (NHK)
5. “Shitsuren Chocolatier” (Fuji)
6. “Massan” (NHK)
7. “First Class” (Fuji)
8. “Roosevelt Game” (TBS)
9. “Kuroda Kanbei” (“Gushi Kanbei”) (NHK)
10. “Gomen ne seishun” (TBS)

Trending Characters

1. Doraemon
2. Jibanyan (from Yo-Kai Watch)
3. Funassyi
4. Pikachu
5. Kumamon

You can also check our round-up of the top trends of 2014 in Japan, as well as the Twitter buzz words.

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What were Japan’s biggest trends in 2014?

Written by: William on December 15, 2014 at 11:04 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Following last year’s top trends and major buzzwords and memes, we are going to take a look back at the big trends and topics for 2014 in Japan. We already examined some of the main Twitter buzz of the year, but what about the overall trends?

japan volcano eruption mountain mt ontake hikers climbers flee escape

Natural Disasters

Sadly there is rarely a year in Japan without natural disasters. Mudslides in Hiroshima in August killed over 70.

Even more dramatically, Mt Ontake suddenly erupted, killing over 50 hikers. Nikon provided one of the most heartwarming stories of the year, however, when they restored a digital camera of one of the deceased and returned the data to his family.

Tax

While Abenomics continued to falter, the nation was hit by a comprehensive price hike when the sales tax, for years a very modest 5%, was bumped up to 8% in the spring. One day everything changed, since shops and restaurants started advertising prices without tax included in an effort to persuade consumers that their items were still cheap, only to frustrate and confuse at the register when the actual price is revealed.

While sales tax in Japan remains far lower than most industrial nations, it was a big shock for a population whose wages had no increased in real terms for decades. It ended up becoming the Kanji of the Year.

japan sales tax hike 2014

Self-Immolation and Politics

As the Shinzo Abe government continued to push forward with controversial changes to the Constitution after the introduction of a worrying state secrets law last year, there were two shocking acts of protest. One man attempted to kill himself by self-immolation in the heart of Shinjuku one Sunday, while another succeeded one evening in November in Hibiya Park.

The government’s newly introduced “right to collective self-defense” then became one of the “words of the year”, though for all the wrong reasons. Members of the Abe government were also accused of having ties to ultra-nationalists and race hate groups.

Abe apparently made a gesture of reconciliation with China when he met with Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in November, though the lack of enthusiasm on both parties’ faces showed how they really felt about each other. Was this the world’s most awkward head-of-states handshake ever?

shinzo abe xi jinping handshake apec summit

Wails and Whales

In late March, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s “scientific whaling research” was illegal, though it has not yet halted the nation’s disputed annual hunt.

Meanwhile, Hyogo politician Ryutaro Nonomura became a global sensation for his incredible, tearful apology at a press conference as he attempts to explain his suspicious expenses to the public.

Ghostwriters and Liars

The year also saw a “modern-day Beethoven” exposed as a fraud who had a ghostwriter composing his music for years. Oh, and he wasn’t even really deaf.

Even more seriously, the female scientist at Riken who claimed to have discovered STAP cells was found to have doctored part of her paper. It was later withdrawn and Haruko Obokata was made a scapegoat, vilified by the media who had so hyped her up in the first place. Riken also backpedalled over its support for its young “star” and her supervisor eventually committed suicide.

Tennis

Japan’s biggest sporting success is an easy one: Kei Nishikori went on to become World No. 5 and secured a place in the finals of the US Open, the first male Asian ever to reach the last match of a Grand Slam tournament. “There’s no one left I can’t beat,” declared the confident Nishikori at one point (though he was ultimately beaten by Croatian player Marin Cilic).

gu kabe-don event ginza store

Kabe-don

A fun one to end with. The word seemed to come out of nowhere and now it is being used for marketing events by GU and Morinaga. Originally a phrase for describing how you might “pound the wall” when your neighbor is being loud, now it seems to mean when a guy traps a girl against a wall and leans in for a smooch.

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Top Twitter hashtags and trends for Japan in 2014

Written by: William on December 11, 2014 at 10:00 am | In LIFESTYLE | 1 Comment

Twitter Japan has announced the top ten hashtags and top ten trends for Japan in 2014.

Anime-related hashtags accounted for four of the top ten, while number 8 was taken by a hashtag for Gravure idol selfies. The top hashtag was #nhk24.

top twitter trends hashtags japan 2014
 
Top trending themes include receipts showing the increase in sales tax on products, as well as plenty of sport like Sochi, Formula 1, and tennis star Kei Nishikori. Less positive moments of the year included the STAP cells scandal and natural disasters such as the Hiroshima landslides and Mt Ontake eruption.

top twitter accounts japan 2014

Trending celebrity Twitter accounts included right-wing politician Toshio Tamogami, comedian Daisuke Muramoto, and Satoshi Fukase from the band Sekai no Owari and (ironically, his girlfriend), Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

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GU holds “Kabe-don” event at Ginza branch, hot guys trap female customers against wall

Written by: William on December 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm | In LIFESTYLE | 5 Comments

UNIQLO spin-off GU recently held a kabe-don event at its Ginza branch as a promo for a holiday season sale.

Does the idea of having a hot guy leaning up against you inside a clothes store, slapping his hand against the wall to trap you in his intimate embrace, inspire you to purchase some fast fashion?

Well, on December 5th GU had a pair of attractive Japanese guys offering just this “service” at its Ginza store.

gu kabe-don event ginza store

gu kabe-don event ginza store

All you had to do was head to the GU outlet in Ginza, pick one of the special holiday season items in the promo, and then ask the men if the clothes suited you. One of the hotties would then tell you how good you looked while doing a kabe-don on you.

Judging by the pictures and official video, the women were apparently pleased to have guys leaning in on them, perhaps because ordinarily they would have to drag their unenthused partners around on a clothes shopping spree. The idea of a guy taking the time to go around with them in a store — and even compliment and try to get romantic between the aisles — is seemingly a fantasy for some female consumers.

gu kabe-don event ginza store

gu kabe-don event ginza store

Kabe-don has been one of the trends of the year, with the Morinaga “Kabe-don” Cafe in Harajuku creating headlines for its sheer audacity (it used an artificial waiter), as well pictures of apparent kabe-don poses spreading on social media.

Kabe-don refers to a certain position where a man places his hand against a wall, keeping his female partner there so he can lean in for a smooch. The kabe part means “wall” while don is the sound of the hand hitting the surface.

gu kabe-don event ginza store

At the GU event some lucky girls got both guys doing a double kabe-don on them. And this wasn’t a sexist event either, since male customers were also treated to the same experience.

gu kabe-don event ginza store

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Snickers offers free (but crazy) haircuts at Hungry Barber hair salon in Tokyo’s Omotesando

Written by: William on December 4, 2014 at 7:48 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Want a free haircut? Of course!

But the free cut being offered by Mars Japan Limited for six days at weekends in Omotesando comes at a different sort of price. It’s kind of insane.

While Japan already has its fair dose of odd fashion and beauty trends, many of which manifest themselves as larger-than-life hair styles or wigs, this might be the best hirsute promo we’ve seen in the capital.

snickers hungry barber crazy hair cut style salon omotesando

The Snickers Hungry Barber will be open for customers over December 12th to 14th, and December 19th to 21st. Based as a pop-up at Zerobase Omotesando (5-1-25 Minami-Aoyama, Minato Ward, Tokyo), patrons can choose from one of eight styles, including “techno”, heavy metal, mohican, “omakase” (leave it to you), “half & half”, and “bakuhatsu” (explosion).

Please pick your cut from the menu below.

snickers hungry barber crazy hair cut style salon omotesando

If you want a free mohican, you also have to pose for a photo of your new cut with a bar of Snickers, and then upload it to social media. After all, getting your head buzzed is all about creating marketing buzz.

We should point at that while some of the outlandish haircuts might be home in certain districts of Tokyo, the tony Omotesando neighborhood is usually known for luxury fashion and chic tastes.

snickers hungry barber crazy hair cut style salon omotesando

Hey, at least you can console yourself with the chocolate bar?

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ALMA Music Box telescope captures radio waves from a dying star, turns them into music

Written by: William on November 19, 2014 at 9:00 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

What would a melody from a dying star sound like?

ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is a state-of-the-art radio telescope developed and operated by 20 countries and territories across Asia, Europa and America.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Connecting 66 parabola antennas deployed in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, ALMA works as a giant radio telescope with a diameter comparable to the size of the JR Yamanote Line. It detects faint radio waves emanated by distant celestial objects to study the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planets. Obtaining a clue to the origin of life is another goal of ALMA.

In 2011, ALMA observed radio waves from a dying star R Sculptoris. Made in collaboration with the Tokyo and New York-based agency PARTY, the resulting ALMA Music Box utilized this data, translating the 70 different radio images onto 70 musical discs, one for each frequency. In other words, the music for this music box is supplied by a red giant star 1,5000 light years away, a melody from a soon-to-be supernova.

As the makers told Wired:

As the disc spins around the player, little teeth pluck the holes and emit a twinkling sound. It sounds sweet, like a lullaby coming from the mobile above a baby’s crib. But there’s a sadness to it, too, perhaps because we know the star is in the process of dying out forever. As Masashi Kawamura, co-founder of PARTY, puts it: “It’s made to sound like a requiem for the star in a way.”

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

ALMA Music Box is a new kind of visualization project to try to find a way to make the uses of the ALMA telecope more accessible to non-astrophysicists. It is now on display at 21 21 Design Sight’s “The Fab Mind” exhibition until February 1st.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Impenetrable science projects in Japan often come up with very sophisticated ways to “advertise” their achievements to the public. NIMS (National Institute for Material Science), for example, has made a great series of videos called “The Power of Materials”.

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