Image of The Day: Sailor Moon Puppies!

Cosplay has been turning quite some heads lately. Just this week we showed you Japanese students who preferred intense cosplay outfits over graduation gowns. And don’t forget cosplay making it in mainstream media in Singapore with IKEA’s new online campaign.

As impressive as all that is, it doesn’t get the title of our all-time favorite cosplay. No, that title may actually go to these adorable puppies in hand-made cosplay outfits.

An instagram user named mayama_ya has an entire account dedicated to cute things that she makes. Lucky for us, her current interest has been these squeal-worthy cosplay outfits for her puppies.

The instagram account was only created early this month, but she has already gathered over 800 followers. So what’s so special about these outfits?

They are none other than Sailor Moon costumes.

Popular manga and animated series Sailor Moon is one of Japan’s most successful franchises. The English adaptations of both the manga and anime series became the first successful shōjo title in the United States. The franchise has not only stolen the hearts of Japan and the US, Sailor Moon has gained popularity worldwide.

It’s no wonder that these puppies are stealing hearts. Check them out below.

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Dating Culture Shock: The Good, Bad and Fetishism of Modern-Day Dating in Japan

Story by Paul Nakayama. 

After decades of the singles scene in America, columnist Paul Nakayama discovers the good, bad and fetishism of modern-day dating in his ancestral home of Japan. 

Why would I forsake the moderate temperatures of Los Angeles and spend six weeks in the freezing, ball-numbing winters of Japan? The same reason I’ve always tortured myself— a girl. Well, and ramen. Really, really good ramen. But mostly, it’s for a girl. And while I was there, I made a few observations about the dating scene in Japan. They aren’t about my personal experiences per se, because this is my column and not my diary — I mean, journal. Men don’t keep diaries … not that I keep a journal. Wow, jet lag is nature’s crystal meth.

I should start by explaining that I was in Fukuoka, which is in southwestern Japan. If Tokyo, where I usually party in Japan, is like New York, then Fukuoka is like Chicago. In Fukuoka, like Chicago, people tend to get married while they’re still in their 20s or early 30s. So many of my girlfriend’s friends were already married. Otherwise, the first words from the single ones to me were, “Do you know any single men?”

Despite the marital aspirations of most of the people I met in Fukuoka, there was a contradictory and disappointing social trend, one that I’ve seen often in Asia. Cheating is a common occurrence. I don’t know the official numbers, but I met a lot of married men with mistresses and a lot of girls that were dating married men. It’s no surprise that in 2013 AshleyMadison.com (the affair-friendly website) made Japan its first Asian market. You can’t see my face, but I’m frowning, like I’m tempted to drive around Japan in a pickup with a TV in the back streaming Before Midnight.

But to get back on a positive note and to get back to the single people that are in search of true love, how do they find one another in Japan? While online dating is on the rise, the predominant method is undeniably the goukon, or group blind date. Basically, it’s a system where a single man and woman who know each other invite approximately four friends to meet at a restaurant or gastropub. It’s safer and less stressful. And genius. Oh, how I wish this could’ve been a possibility in my earlier years. The money saved from failed first dates aside, I — I mean, my friends — would’ve been spared all the emotional scars of humiliation. You know, like those horrible moments of dance-walking up to a girl at a club where she vehemently shakes her head “no,” and then having to shuffle back to the bar in shame. At goukon events, it becomes pretty clear who’s interested in whom, and it’s already established that everyone there is looking for something serious, meaning attendees can’t use the “I’m not ready for a relationship” line.

As great as goukons are, they aren’t infallible. Everyone is a friend of a friend, so at least there’s a level of trust. But honestly, how many of you know the sexual proclivities of your friends? Whenever my friends start dropping details, I cover my ears and sing Katy Perry songs. I heard this great/awful story of one goukon match gone awry. Apparently, they dated for a few weeks, but the guy always came up with some excuse not to let her go to his apartment. She finally found out why: he was an underwear fetishist with huge stashes of ladies’ used underwear. He’d buy them from vending machines. (They actually exist! I was as shocked as you to learn that it’s not an urban legend.) He’d even wear them to work. I may be embellishing at this point, but he might have peed on her, too. You know, I take it back. Goukons are perfect. Someone please go out there, host a goukon event and send your favorite stories to the Audrey office.

Now, once you’re dating, Japan has a whole slew of interesting and unique cultural options. For example, many people still live with their parents (or their spouses) and lack privacy, so many couples go to “love hotels,” which is essentially an upscale, usually gimmicky, pay-by-the-hour motel. They usually come equipped with karaoke, which is what I like to combine with sex (I didn’t watch porn growing up; I watched music videos). Another interesting difference is in the holidays. Christmas is Japan’s Valentine’s Day. It’s the busiest night of the year for restaurants. Interestingly, on Valentine’s Day in Japan, girls give chocolates to boys. Then a month later, on White Day, boys reciprocate. I don’t quite understand it, but it is kind of sweet.

It was a fascinating experience to hear everyone’s dating stories during my time in Fukuoka. In my case, I’m a Japanese American dating a Japanese girl, so I suppose we can pick and choose the best of both dating cultures. I like the idea of having two major romantic holidays, so we agreed to that. It was also comforting to both of us that I have no interest in wearing her underwear nor does she in mine. There are no love hotels in the U.S., at least not of the same hygienic and entertaining quality as found in Japan, so any music we make in the bedroom will have to be of our own making. Katy Perry, anyone?

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here

You Won’t Believe This Youthful Woman is a Grandmother

There is a saying about Asian women that I’m sure we’ve all heard before: Asian women look so young.  Many of us walk into an R-rated movie in our mid-20′s and are prepared to get our IDs checked and we can’t even think about going to a bar without the bartender giving an us an “are you sure you’re old enough?” look. There was even a hilarious comic created to show the average Asian aging process.

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Despite all this, there are still some Asian woman who can impress us with their unbelievable youth. One example is this Japanese woman shown with her two daughters AND grandchildren. The 42-year-old grandmother is circled in the following picture because many people are unable to identify which woman is the oldest.

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Kazuko Inoue, who was crowned winner of the Kansai Bimajo beauty pageant last year, was married at 19 and had her first daughter the same year. Additionally, both of her daughters also married young which accounted for Inoue’s young age. Despite this, there is no denying that Inoue has maintained her youth magnificently.

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What Happens When Japanese Students Have No Dresscode For Graduation?

Graduation in the U.S. is quite different from culminating ceremonies in Japan. While we generally imagine shiny graduation gowns and square-shaped caps, Japan doesn’t typically require such an outfit. Instead, junior and highschool students wear matching uniforms while college graduates wear formal clothing. This usually means men in suits and women in kimonos.

But the Kanazawa College of Art is not like other colleges. Graduates are apparently allowed to wear absolutely whatever they would like. So what happens when Japanese students have no dresscode for graduation?

Some of the best cosplay ever.

Of course, all the efforts put into their graduation costume has gained quite some popularity for the school and has gotten media attention.

Check out some of the creative graduation costumes below.

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Tearjerker Alert: Parents Receive Letter From Their Daughter Three Years After Her Death

The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, otherwise known as the Great East Japan Earthquake, left Japan shattered in 2011. With a magnitude of 9.0, this earthquake is the most powerful recorded earthquake to ever have hit Japan.

According to the National Police Agency, there were 15,884 deaths, 6,147 people injured, 2,636 people missing, 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, 272,788 buildings ‘half collapsed’ and 747,989 buildings partially damaged.

Among those who died in this tragic earthquake was the daughter of a 59 year-old father and a 51 year-old mother.

Although the identity of this family remains hidden, Kotaku reports, “The daughter graduated high school in 2003 and got a job as a bus guide in Kyoto. After that, she returned to her hometown of Otsuchi and got part-time work. It was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The daughter was in Otsuchi town hall, which was swallowed by the tsunami. She was never found.”

The parents were left grief-stricken and the father reportedly stopped caring whether or not he lived or died.

Suddenly, three years after the death of their daughter, the parents received a letter from her.

“Mom and Dad, by the time you get this letter, perhaps you’ll have a grandchild?” the daughter wrote. “I think I’ll be married with a child, but what if I’m all alone?”

The parents quickly wondered if their daughter was still alive. After all, her body had never been found. Instead, they discovered that she wrote the letter ten years ago on January 10, 2004. She had used a service called ”Heartful Letter” which will hold your letter and deliver it ten years later.

“Dad and Mom, you have taken so, so much care of me,” she wrote, “From now on, I will take care of the both of you.”

The touching letter was enough to pull the couple out of their grief. They have decided to live of happiness that would make their daughter proud.

The Real Reason Behind Japan’s Surgical Mask Trend

Even if we don’t understand it, we’ve all seen it before– the strange trend in some Asian countries to wear surgical masks.

So what’s the reason behind this phenomenon? In some cases, the justification is perfectly understandable. For instance, residents in China are often seen wearing masks because of the poor air quality. In some cases, this is even a requirement. During a runway show in Jiangsu province last year, models were forced to wear surgical masks because the smog was far too dangerous to inhale.

So what about Japan? According to Rocketnews24, there are 5 main reasons for the popular mask trend.

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1.) For health purposes.
While China residents wear the mask to protect themselves from the unfit air quality, Japanese residents wear the mask for any sort of contagious disease. However, the mask is not used to protect themselves. Instead, it is used to protect other people. Because Japanese residents often come in close contact with one another, it is common courtesy to wear a mask if you are sick.

2.) To avoid social awkwardness.
Rocketnews24 reported that the mask is sometimes used by an individual who simply does not want interaction. A Japanese psychologist added, “When we deal with others, we have to judge whether to do things like smile or show anger. By wearing a mask, you can prevent having to do that. The trend of wearing a mask to prevent directly dealing with other may have roots in the current youth culture in which many of them are more accustomed to communicating indirectly through email and social media.”

3.) For warmth. 
Tired of wrapping a scarf around your face to keep it warm? Why not try a surgical mask?

4.) For the lazy.
Have you ever wanted to go out, but you’re too lazy to put on make up? Or maybe you have a pimple and you’re just too tired to cover it up. Maybe its just one of those days when you just want to leave the house for a quick errand and dolling yourself up seems like a hassle. Apparently, Japanese women have decided that a quick way around this is the surgical mask.

5.) In the name of fashion.
We certainly expected this one. As the popularity of the mask grows, more and more people are finding ways to incorporate it into their outfit. Black masks and printed masks were created for that very purpose.

 

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Traditional Chinese Instrument Creates Best Super Mario Bros. Cover EVER

Who doesn’t like a good cover of Super Mario Bros. music? We’ve seen this with just about every sort of instrument imaginable– using a piano, using the guitar, using a harmonica and even using wine glasses.

So what sort of instrument can produce the best cover? As it turns out, the most fitting instrument may be something we didn’t expect at all. A traditional Chinese instrument called the sheng may be our top contender.

You may be unfamiliar with the strange device, but it has actually been around since 1100BC. The sheng is a mouth organ made of wood, metal, or a gourd with a blowpipe and at least 17 extending pipes made from bamboo or metal.

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Although  the sheng is used primarily to play Chinese classical music with other traditional Chinese instruments, there seems to be room for its beautiful sounds here in modern times.

In the video below, a Japanese student is seen doing a sheng cover of the Super Mario Bros. theme song as well as many of the songs and sound effects from the original game. We even get to hear as Mario accumulates coins.

Needless to say, this impressive cover is on its way to viral fame. Check it out for yourself.

 

 

The Rise of the Asian Male Figure Skater

Story by Olivia Ouyang.

On a night when mistakes abounded, history was made. The men’s free skate competition was far from memorable, with falls occurring left and right. However, it was an evening for the books. For the first time in the history of Olympic figure skating, an Asian male won the event. Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu skated far below his abilities, falling twice during his program. However, he was able to edge out the competition and solidify the rise of the Asian male skater.

The Japan Figure Skating Championships is considered one of the hardest competitions simply because of the depth of the country’s field. Its two other representatives, Tatsuki Machida and Daisuke Takahashi, finished fifth and sixth respectively. Takahashi, who made history in 2010 by becoming the first Asian man to win the World Championships, did not even make the podium at Japanese nationals. However, given his experience, which includes a bronze medal at the prior Olympics, Takahashi was given a spot on the team.

It is worth noting that all three medalists are of Asian descent. Silver medalist Patrick Chan is of Chinese descent; both his parents immigrated from Hong Kong to Canada in the early part of their lives. Chan created a stir a few years ago when he told Reuters that he wished he could skate for China because the country appreciates their figure skaters whereas Canadians only value hockey. The statement was later retracted. The three-time World Champion was a contender for the gold medal, trailing Hanyu by less than four points. After Hanyu’s errors, the door was open for Chan to step in and clench the gold. However, the veteran skater made numerous errors and was unable to close the gap.

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After the short program, only 3.5 points separated third and eleventh place, leaving the bronze medal was up for grabs. It was Denis Ten, the 2013 World silver medalist, who rose to the occasion. Representing Kazakhstan, Ten is of Korean descent. His great-great-grandfather was Min Keung Ho, a Korean general in the war against Japan for independence in the early 20th century. Ten rose from ninth the third place with one of the best programs of the night.

Michael Christian Martinez, the first figure skater and only athlete from the Philippines at these Games placed a respectable nineteenth place. Read more on his story here.

The ladies’ competition gets underway today. Unlike the men, Asian women have dominated the past two Olympics, beginning with Shizuka Arakawa’s victory at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Reigning Olympic champion Yuna Kim of Korea is competing here in Sochi to defend her title. Also in the mix is Mao Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist who is looking to improve on her prior finish and get gold.

This Adorable Video Will Make You Want to Visit Rabbit Island

In Japan, the island of Ōkunoshima has become a well-known tourist attraction. However, the popularity of this island may not be for reasons that you would typically expect from a tourist spot. The main attraction of Ōkunoshima island are the adorably, fluffy rabbits which scamper all about the area.

The island served as a secret military installation in World War II. The Japanese used the island to produce poisonous gas. Because the island was far enough from the major cities, the army believed it would be the perfect location to experiment with dangerous mustard gas.

Unfortunately, the story gets rather sad here. Rabbits were brought onto the island as test subjects for the poison. At the end of WWII, the facility was shut down and the rabbits were released into the wild.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, it is said that only eight rabbits were released into the wild by school children, but with the predator-free environment, the bunnies multiplied and became a group of over 300.

The rabbits, who have become so accustomed to humans that they have no problem hopping into human arms, gave the island its popular nickname.

In the following video, a young girl is seen attracting a swarm of bunnies. Needless to say, it’s too cute not to watch.

 

 

 

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