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Smartphone app finds empty restroom stalls in Tokyo subway station, makes pooing easier than ever

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 08:00 PM PST

Because the last thing you want to do is wander through one of Tokyo's massive stations while trying to hold in a dump.

With pretty much the busiest mass transit system in the world, Tokyo also has some seriously huge subway stations. Major hubs in the Tokyo area are made up of seemingly endless corridors connecting various lines, shopping centers, and restaurant rows, and some are so complex that they can literally double as RPG dungeon maps.

For example here's a map of Tokyo Metro's Ikebukuro subway station.

The four areas marked in red are restrooms, and while it's nice to have multiple options, you'll also notice that each is pretty far from the others. So should you hear nature calling and make your way to one bathroom, only to find every stall occupied, you've then got a spine-tingling, sphincter-clenching trek of several minutes before you can try your luck at another restroom.

Thankfully, Tokyo Metro is making it easier to procure public-use pooping places. As of December 1, you can use your smartphone to check, in real time, which bathrooms in Ikebukuro Station have vacant stalls.

The newly added Toilet Vacancy Information Provision Service of the official Tokyo Metro App lets you know both the total number of stalls and how many are currently unoccupied for the restrooms located near the Marunouchi, Yurakucho, and Fukutoshin Line platforms, as well as the Echika Ikebukuro shopping complex. The information is updated constantly by sensors which register whether the stall doors are closed (and thus the stalls occupied), then send the data to Tokyo Metro's server, which relays it to users of the app. So don't worry, there're no cameras involved, so it's not like the app relies on facial recognition software to determine how many people are making a pooping face at any given time.

▼ The door-check system means that the app can't calculate the number of open urinal stalls, however.

The Tokyo Metro app is free to use and can be downloaded here for iOS and Android devices. To start with, the Toilet Vacancy Information Provision Service will only be offered for Ikebukuro Station as a test of the program's usefulness and viability, which will run from December 1 to February 28. Depending on the results, Tokyo Metro may expand the program to other stations as well, but at the very least, it'll be taking the guesswork, and legwork, out of finding an open stall in Ikebukuro this winter.

Source: IT Media, PR Times
Top image ©SoraNews24
Insert images: PR Times

Coca-Cola “Slim Bottle” City Designs range showcases top tourist spots in Japan

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 07:00 PM PST

Each bottle can only be purchased in the specific tourist spot it was designed for, so tracking down all nine requires a Japanese road trip of epic proportions.

Customers in Japan are used to splurging on their favourite sweets and drinks when they come out in awesome limited-edition flavours, but for soft drink giant Coca-Cola, there’s a different path to generating excitement, and it comes in the form of a unique bottle range called Coca-Cola "Slim Bottle" City Designs.

The iconic red-and-white label is now being joined by some of the most unique designs the world has ever seen, with nine new bottles featuring some of Japan’s most well-known tourist destinations. Five of the designs – Hokkaido, Tokyo, Kyoto, Setouchi, and Kumamoto – first hit the market from June this year, and now, from 20 November, there are another three designs to add to your collection.

Seeing as each bottle is limited for sale only in the area that appears on its design, tracking down all nine is no easy task, but we’ve got the whole range here for you to look at so you can see all the details that went into each of the gorgeous designs.

First up, let’s start at the very northern tip of the country with the Hokkaido bottle, which was first released in June and can only be purchased in the country’s northernmost prefecture.

The design here features well-known Hokkaido landmarks like the Sapporo Clock Tower, the Sapporo TV Tower, Hakodate's Goryokaku Tower, and the statue of Dr William Smith Clark, an influential American professor who taught in Hokkaido in the late 1870s.

There’s also an image of the prefecture and a series of beautifully detailed snowflakes, in reference to the area's renowned snowfall.

Like all the bottles in the range, this one comes with the corresponding tourist spot printed on the back of the product.

Those who visit Japan’s capital city will be able to look out for the Tokyo bottle, which was also released in June and is limited for sale mainly in the Tokyo area only.

This one shows the famous city skyline, including the iconic Tokyo Tower and what appears to be the Rainbow Bridge and Shinjuku high-rises.

Travelling south, we arrive at the country’s ancient capital of Kyoto, an area steeped in tradition, which is reflected in the beautiful design of this bottle, which was released in July this year.

Here we see a kimono-clad maiko looking out over an arched bridge and what looks like Daimonji-yama, a Kyoto mountain known for "Gozan Okuribi", an event where the huge kanji character on the mountainside is set alight to celebrate the end of Obon, the festival of the dead. This bottle is only available to purchase in the Kansai region of Japan.

Next, we move on to Setouchi, a region that includes the Seto Inland Sea and the coastal areas of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu.

This design appears to pay homage to the region's famous floating torii gate, located at Itsukushima Shrine, and the Seto Ohashi Bridge that connects the mainland with the island of Shikoku over the Seto Inland Sea. This bottle will be limited for sale in the Shikoku and Chugoku regions of Japan.

▼ Rounding off July’s three-piece collection is the Kumamoto bottle.

It looks like Kumamoto Castle, the city's most revered structure, which suffered devastating damage following a series of earthquakes in 2016, is at the centre of this design. This bottle will be available to purchase on the island of Kyushu only.

The next design in the series pays homage to the prefecture of Yokohama located just south of Tokyo.

This area is best known for being a port city with a huge ferris wheel. Home to big ships and plenty of seagulls, this design also appears to show an image of the Yokohama Landmark Tower, which is the second tallest building and the fourth tallest structure in the country, standing at 296.3 metres (972 feet) high.

Now we come to the newest members of the collection, which were just released on 20 November. First up, we have Saitama, which might not be on many itineraries for foreign tourists, but remains a popular place to go for locals, given its proximity to Tokyo as it’s located just a short train ride away from the capital city.

One of Saitama’s most well-known landmarks, the Toki no Kane (“Bell of Time”) clocktower, has a history that dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868). The 16-metre (52-foot) high wooden clocktower stands tall over the historic town of Kawagoe, with its bells still chiming four times a day. This bottle appears to show the clocktower alongside an image of the boat rides at Chichibu’s Nagatoro Line Descent, where boatman manoeuvre their boats with distinctive long poles.

The next newly released bottle pays homage to the city of Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture.

This city has a proud samurai tradition, stemming from the fact that many of Japan’s most powerful feudal lords, including Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, were born and raised in Aichi Prefecture. It looks like a sword-weilding samurai and an image of Nagoya Castle, one of the city’s most famous landmarks, is at the centre of this design.

Finally, we have the Ueno bottle, which can be purchased at outlets around central Ueno in the city of Tokyo.

Ueno Zoo, the country’s oldest zoo, is famous for its mother-and-cub pandas, as this was the first cub born at Ueno Zoo in five years. This cute bottle seems to show the pandas enjoying themselves by Ueno Park’s Shinobazu Pond, which is often depicted in historical works of art.

With the adorable limited-edition bottles being highly sought after, we have a feeling that there’ll be more designs joining the current range soon. What places and designs would you like to see on Coke bottles in the future? Let us know in the comments section below!

Photos © SoraNews24

Final Fantasy Brand Manager Shinji Hashimoto hints at big things for the series next year

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 06:00 PM PST

Could one of the biggest game franchises of all time be getting a makeover?

In a recent video by YouTubers EDAMAME Arcade Channel, hosts Kabukin and Tom Lee got an exclusive interview with Square Enix’s Final Fantasy Brand Manager Shinji Hashimoto. Chiefly they discussed the rising popularity of the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game and the first ever World Championship Tournament currently being held in Tokyo, but while there is great information in the bulk of the video about FFTCG, the real exciting stuff about Final Fantasy in general can be heard at the end.

When asked, “Not strictly speaking FFTCG, what’s next for Final Fantasy?”, Mr. Hashimoto responds that, following this year as the 30th anniversary of the Final Fantasy brand, they’ve got multiple teams working on new titles, and 2018 is going to be a “big year”.

Of course, this answer is sufficiently vague enough to not actually be a satisfying answer, but that’s the standard for this kind of interview. It might still be enough to get fans excited for what could be on the way, though. Even the hosts looked at each other like kids who had just entered the biggest candy store in the world!

The cherry on top, however, was next: when asked to deliver a message to the fans of Final Fantasy, Mr. Hashimoto thanked the fans for 30 years of support, and then hinted that something new could be in store for them.

Even though this is probably a blanket statement to boost appeal for the brand, and although the cynical among us will tell us it doesn’t mean anything, we can still get our hopes up. After all, there have been many exciting and unusual things that happened this year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the franchise:

▼ The projection mapping show in Yokohama

Plus, they’ve already announced some cool stuff coming up in 2018 too, like The Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Exhibition ~Tales of Farewell~ and a Final Fantasy Virtual Reality Ride at Universal Studios Japan. But what about games?

Some YouTube commenters suggested that a new game for the Nintendo Switch may be in the works, while another wondered if they’re going to announce the next installment of the series, Final Fantasy XVI. We already know that a FFVII remake is on the way, although it was announced two years ago and it still doesn’t have an official release date. If it’s anything like FFXV, we might be waiting a while.

What’s most curious is that Mr. Hashimoto said that “something new” is coming in 2018. What could that mean for the series? A total overhaul of the game system? A completely different genre of game? Japanese fans also speculated what could be next, but few could think of anything that wasn’t a remake of some sort:

“Will it be going back to its roots and have a more medieval feel? That might be fine for Japan but I don’t think it would go over well overseas…”
“Since last time it was a host company of handsome guys this time it will be a cabaret company of lovely ladies.”
Must be a Switch revival of FFCC. It has to be since Square Enix is putting all of their resources into the Switch right now.”
“Probably another smartphone game.”
“I think it’s a FFI remake.”

Whether Mr. Hashimoto is hinting at the FFVII  remake, a Switch game, or something else totally new, or, even if he’s just building hype for announcements for 2019, we can rest assured that fans will wait loyally, though perhaps impatiently, and their enthusiasm will not be quelled. After all, they waited 10 years for FFXV, and people still stood in line in the freezing cold to buy it.

Source: My Game News Flash
Featured Image: YouTube/Edamame Arcade Channel
Insert Images: YouTube/Edamame Arcade Channel, YouTube/Final Fantasy XIV, YouTube/PlayStation

Tokyo taking a stand on walking up and down escalators

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 05:00 PM PST

But are people willing to undo the long-running social custom of only standing on one side of an escalator?

Like many countries, Japan has an unwritten rule that those who are willing to ride an escalator by standing still should keep to one side, while people in a rush who want to climb the moving steps are allowed access on the other side.

This is a rather mysterious custom that some say began during the 1970 Osaka Expo, but no one knows for sure. Interestingly enough, different parts of the country have come to designate either the left or the right for standing, making it really easy to spot tourists.

But now, the Tokyo Metropolitan Physical Therapy Association and Japan Elevator Association want to put an end to all of this, citing safety and inefficiency as major flaws in the system.

By putting up posters in Tokyo’s Nerima Station this summer they have tried to raise awareness to the benefits of standing on both sides of an escalator.

While the posters highlight the dangers of walking on escalators and the nuisance it can cause by hitting people you walk past, these groups are hoping people will appreciate that standing actually makes more people get to the top faster than the current method.

They cite London’s Holborn Station Experiment in which escalators where made to be standing only on both sides so that passenger flow could be analyzed. As a result they found that about 30 percent more people could pass through when people stood on both sides compared to having only standing people on one side.

On the surface it makes sense, by putting the majority of standing escalator riders to one side, a lot of valuable space is wasted. However, these results depend on various factors such as the size of the escalator and flow of people. In cases of shorter escalators, standing both sides can turn out to be less efficient.

Also, even though everyone is getting to the top faster when standing on both sides, those who either want or need to get to the top faster to catch a train, get to a restroom, or whatnot are greatly slowed down. This means that the people who benefit from this efficiency aren’t necessarily the ones who are looking for it.

During the Nerima Station campaign, passengers were asked how they felt about standing on both sides of an escalator, with greatly mixed responses. Those opposed to it tended to frequent busier stations while those in favor of it tended to have elderly or physically challenged family members.

This brings us to the most important motivation for this campaign and the reason standing on both sides should be mandatory everywhere. Some people can’t easily stand on one side only due to injuries or paralysis from strokes, Parkinson’s disease or a variety of other reasons. Being forced to stand on a side that requires them to use the affected parts of their body while other people constantly brush past them can turn a simple ride into a stressful nightmare.

This is sure to be a problem when the 2020 Paralympics comes to Tokyo, and with it a wide range of differently abled people hoping to get around in relative peace. So, if you want to help, get out there and be that “jerk” who blocks the walking lane on your local escalator. In doing so you can combine the fun of anti-social behavior with the joy of helping improve accessibility in your community!

Especially in Japan, where train schedules can be brutally precise, it’s hard not to sympathize for people who are in a hurry at stations. But for those people, stairs are usually available and a great way to get a quick work-out. Meanwhile, those who can’t take advantage of the free exercise can still get to where they’re going a little faster and much more comfortably, and then everyone wins.

Source: Norimono News, Londonist
Top image: JR East
Insert Images: PR Times, Mori

First-ever permanent Pokémon cafe set to open in Tokyo alongside new Pokémon Center megastore

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:30 AM PST

Missed your chance to eat at the limited-time Pokémon restaurants? The new eatery will be ready for you whenever you come to town.

In recent years, Japan has seen a number of themed restaurants pop up, many of them drawing inspiration from popular anime series. However, most of these are limited-time affairs, meaning that if you're only going to be in Japan for a short trip, it's a role of the dice as to what otaku dining options you'll have.

But next year Tokyo is getting a Pokémon restaurant that fans can eat at any time. Like its limited-time predecessors, the permanent Pokémon Cafe will feature food, drinks, and décor that draws on decades' worth of Pokémon anime and video game aesthetics.

The new Pokémon Café will be located inside the Takashimaya department store in Tokyo's Nihonbashi neighborhood, a short walk from either the Nihombashi subway station, as well as Tokyo Station, which is accessible by both subway and surface trains.

Also coming to Takashimaya Nihonbashi is a new Pokémon specialty shop, to be called the Pokémon Center Tokyo DX. In Japan, "DX" is commonly used as an abbreviation for "deluxe," though the Pokémon Company hasn't made any promises that the Pokémon Center Tokyo DX will be any larger than the other already-huge Pokémon Center branches in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan. Most Pokémon Centers do have certain exclusive pieces of merchandise, though, and the presence of Mew in the store's logo suggests the Pokémon Center Tokyo DX will be the best place to shop for merch for the mysterious Pocket Monster.

The permanent Pokémon Café and Pokémon Center Tokyo DX are scheduled to open simultaneously on March 14.

Source: Pokémon official website via IT Media
Top image: Pokémon official website

Now you can rent an anime itasha in Japan for the authentic otaku driving experience

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 08:00 AM PST

Not ready to convert your own car into a shrine for your favorite anime characters? No problem, this rental car company will loan you one!

Anime and cars have always been two of my great passions, and so I can see the appeal of itasha, cars covered with anime character artwork. It's basically the same concept as wearing a T-shirt of your favorite anime series, just with an automotive application.

But there's a key difference, in that you can (and should) change your shirt daily. If you're, say, headed out to spend the day with fellow otaku, you can wear that Attack on Titan shirt with pride, but if you're going out to a fancy restaurant with your boyfriend or girlfriend's parents, you can put on something more appropriate instead. On the other hand, once you turn your car into an itasha, it's not a quick or cheap process to undo.

Now, though, Nissan has come up with a brilliant way to let you sample the itasha life for a day.

Like many automakers in Japan, Nissan has its own car rental chain. From December 1, Nissan will be offering customers the chance to rent a special Note e-Power hatchback with livery featuring the schoolgirl idol cast of hit anime Love Live! Sunshine!!

A follow-up to the original Love Live!, Sunshine!! takes place in the seaside Shizuoka Prefecture town of Numazu, and its background art incorporates a number of actual locations from the city. As such, Numazu, like a number of other real-world anime settings, has seen a jump in tourism from anime fans coming on "pilgrimages" to the area, and so Nissan Rentacar's Numazu Station branch, located right outside the rail hub, is the proud branch offering the anime ride.

▼ The backside is especially packed with idols.

The Love Live! Sunshine!! car is available for rental daily from 8 a.m. or 2 p.m., priced at 8,640 yen (US$77). No mention has been made of how long the rental lasts, but since there's only one rental itasha on offer, the rental period would seem to be roughly six hours, which should give you plenty of time to see the local sights and snap pictures to show off to fellow fans.

▼ Remember, U.S. travelers, you can drive in Japan as long as you have an International Driver’s Permit, which is a $20 translation you can get in minutes from any AAA branch.

For this first foray into itasha rentals, Nissan Rentcar is limiting availability only to the Numazu Station branch. But the company has locations across Japan, including in the otaku mecca of Tokyo's Akihabara neighborhood, so if there turns out to be enough demand for the Love Live! Sunshine!! car, we might eventually see rental itasha offered elsewhere too.

Related: Nissan Rentacar Numazu Station branch
Source: Love Live! Official website via IT Media
Images: Love Live! Official website

Perfect-location Osaka hotel’s rates start at just 15 bucks, give you no reason not to visit

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 07:00 AM PST

Unbeatable price still puts you in the heart of the city's entertainment district.

For many travelers, all they're really looking for in a hotel is a place to sleep. Sure, luxury amenities might sound nice, but if you're spending your days sightseeing and your nights sampling the local dining and nightlife options, you're going to be asleep for most of the time you're in the hotel, and all those unused facilities and fancy furnishings are just adding to your bill.

The problem, though, is that less expensive hotels are often stuck in out-of-the-way neighborhoods, and with nothing interesting to see you might end up spending more time in your bare-bones hotel room than you'd imagined. But that's not a problem with Wasabi Osaka, a capsule hotel that's located right in the heart of Osaka's entertainment district, but with rates as low as 1,700 yen (US$15) a night. Even when we stopped by on a Saturday night, we paid just 2,500 yen.

Wasabi is just a five-minute walk from Namba Station, providing immediate access to the restaurants, pubs, bars, and shops of Namba, Osaka's most lively neighborhood and a must-visit for any trip to the city.

▼ The hotel has an English website where reservations can be made, and the wasabi-colored sign makes the hotel easy to spot.

Head up to the second-floor common area, and you might at first think you've stumbled into a bookstore by mistake, since Wasabi has a collection of 5,000 books from around the world for guests to peruse at their leisure. There's also free Wi-Fi, if you've got important stuff to read online.

In addition, Wasabi provides complimentary soft drinks, both hot and cold, and miso soup.

Guests can check in anytime between 3 p.m. and midnight (check-ins after midnight carry an additional 500-yen fee). However, you're given free in-and-out privileges, so the smart thing to do is to come early to secure a sleeping space, then head out to explore the city.

As with all capsule hotels, sleeping spaces are cozily proportioned, but that doesn't mean that Wasabi cheaped out on the bedding. The futons are from Nishikawa Sangyo, a respected Tokyo-based company whose roots go back all the way to the year 1566.

While many capsule hotels only accept male guests, Wasabi also welcomes female travelers, who're given their own secure sleeping floor.

The shower area is remarkably clean, with soap and combination shampoo/conditioner provided. Towels can be rented for 200 yen, assuming you didn't pick one up beforehand at the 100-yen store.

If Wasabi's low rates have you thinking you might be staying in Osaka long enough to use up all your clean clothes, there's an on-site laundry area.

Breakfast is offered for 450 yen, with options such as rice balls, pancakes, and ham and eggs. You will have to order it the night before, though. Alternatively, this being Namba, there's no shortage of inexpensive cafes and places to pick up food within easy walking distance of the hotel.

With rates that are less expensive than a moderately fancy sushi dinner, Wasabi Osaka makes staying for a few nights in Osaka an extremely affordable travel plan. And if you need a great way to get to Osaka in the first place, we can help you with that too.

Hotel information
Wasabi Osaka / わさび大阪
Address: Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Chuo-ku, Sennichimae 2-9-7

Photos ©RocketNews24

Promotional video for new Girls und Panzer movie shows girls dancing while cleaning a tank

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 06:00 AM PST

Suds, brooms, tanks, and dancing. What more could you want?

A new video starring girls in high school gym clothes dancing while cleaning a tank recently dropped on YouTube, and it’s bizarrely entertaining. Some might wonder if it’s some kind of marketing ploy for the Japan-Self Defense Force, or if it’s part of some kind of military convention, but it’s actually a promotional video for the upcoming movie sequel to the anime Girls und Panzer!

Girls und Panzer features high school girls who practice the ancient art of sensha-dou, or war-tank fighting. It sounds strange, but it was wildly popular, and has also been released as a manga series, novel, OVA, video game, and animated film. It was so beloved by fans that it inspired multiple gimmicks, like tank noodles, tank sushi, and even decorative items. It’s even caused a surge in popularity of the Japan Self Defense Force.

The latest addition to the Girl-Pan collection is this promotional “dance movie” entitled “SEN-SHA”, which, without a clarifying kanji, can be conveniently interpreted as either “car washing” or “tank”. Since this is the newest installation in about two years, the new movie has been highly anticipated, and this video does plenty to boost the hype, as the clip is carefully designed to be very loyal to the designs in the anime, from the costumes and hair to the sets and props.

▼ The five main dancers are made up to look like the main characters of the anime.

▼ The tank used in the video is a movie prop. It’s a Panzer IV, which plays a pivotal role in the anime.

▼ This storage yard is a replica of one that appears in the anime.

We also love the inexplicable and somewhat shady appearance of Japanese pro wrestler Masahiro Chono, who for some reason drives the girls and their tank to the storage yard. He’s known to be a big fan of the series, but why he is included in the video is a mystery that may never be solved.

Though it’s a quirky advertisement for the new movie, we can’t deny that it’s a pretty entertaining video. Dance scenes in water showers, tutting (a dance style using only hand movements) while riding in a tank, and large group choreography designed by the dance troop s**t kingz make for pretty neat viewing, regardless of whether you’re a fan of the anime or not.

The new movie, Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter Part 1, is the first of a six-part movie series, and is set to be released in Japanese theaters on December 9. It takes place after the original series, so if this dance video has piqued your interest and you haven’t seen the anime yet, go check it out before you see The Final Chapter Part 1. 

And in other movie news, get hyped with us because the Fullmetal Alchemist live action film is also coming out soon!

Source: Net Lab
Images: YouTube/Bandai Vision

Ghibli reveals genre of Hayao Miyazaki’s next anime, and that it’s also working on new CG film

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 05:00 AM PST

"Ghibli will continue making movies," veteran producer vows as Miyazaki returns to the genre that made him a legend.

Hayao Miyazaki coming out of retirement for the second time may have been a forgone conclusion, but that doesn't mean the anticipation is any less intense for his upcoming anime film, titled How Will You Live? Miyazaki's latest project is expected to premiere in Japanese theaters in or around 2020, and given the immense international acclaim he's acquired in the latter half of his career, should reach overseas audiences not too long after.

The film shares its title with a 1937 novel by Genzaburo Yoshino, which follows a teenager's emotional development and his relationship with his peers and uncle. However, much as Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, (which was billed as his final film upon release in 2013) was not an adaptation of the book of the same name, neither is Miyazaki's How Will You Live?

Instead, the new anime will be a fantasy action/adventure, as revealed by Studio Ghibli producer and career-long Miyazaki collaborator Toshio Suzuki, who’s seen Miyazaki's annotated storyboards for the first 20 minutes of How Will You Live? "The content of the film is very different from what you'd expect from the title. It's a grand fantasy. Looking at the storyboards, I could easily understand why Miya-san changed his mind about retiring," Suzuki said, using the nickname he often does for Miyazaki. "He couldn't have his career end with The Wind Rises. His reputation, after all, was built on his fantasy action/adventure works."

It's true that The Wind Rises, a fictionalized story of the life of the developer of Mitsubishi's World War II-era Zero fighter plane, was much more grounded in real-world settings and situations (its fantastic dream sequences not withstanding). And while they may not fit into the standard blockbuster mold, it's true that many of Miyazaki's most memorable works, such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky Laputa, and Spirited Away, contain significant fantasy adventure elements, as well as heart-pounding acton scenes. 1997's Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki's first attempt to put an endnote on his career as an anime filmmaker, also fits into the category.

Suzuki also took the opportunity to assert that while Ghibli has taken an extended breather, releasing no feature-length anime since 2014's When Marnie Was There, the company isn't done making animation by a long shot. The producer revealed that concurrent with the new Hayao Miyazaki production, Studio Ghibli is also working on a CG film to be directed by the elder Miyazaki's son, Goro, director of the 2011 Ghibli anime From Up on Poppy Hill and the 2014 CG TV series Ronja, the Robber's Daughter.

"Ghibli will continue making movies," Suzuki declared. "That's the path we follow, and all we can do is continue, until the day we can't anymore."

Source: Cinema Today via Otakomu, The Japan Times
Top image ©SoraNews24

Tokyo Disney Resort plans 300-billion yen expansion, rumored to be third Tokyo Disney theme park

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:00 PM PST

Expansion to have attractions exclusive to Japan, with Frozen area expected.

Since its opening in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland has enjoyed the status of being Japan's premier theme park. That prestige steadily grew over the years as the addition of hotels, shopping centers, and eventually a whole second theme park, Tokyo Disney Sea, were added to the vicinity, together forming the Tokyo Disney Resort of today.

In recent years, however, Osaka's Universal Studios Japan has been grabbing headlines and attracting visitors with a slew of tie-ups with non-Disney franchises, including Harry Potter, Final Fantasy, Nintendo's video game properties, and a slew of popular anime series. There's also a Studio Ghibli theme park coming to Aichi Prefecture, filled with the whimsical wonder of the animation house behind My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.

But Tokyo Disney Resort isn't just resting on its laurels. Oriental Land (the company that actually owns and operates Tokyo Disney Resort, under a licensing agreement from the Walt Disney Company), is planning a massive expansion of the resort, with a budget of 300 billion yen (US$2.68 billion).

The new additions will increase the size of Tokyo Disney Resort by some 30 percent. While Oriental Land hasn't specifically announced that the expansion will be a third park, speculators believe that to be a likely scenario, considering the budget's similarity to the 340 billion yen Disney spent in building Disney Sea, which opened in 2001 (the planned three billion expansion is the largest of its kind since then).

Oriental Land wants the expansion to include exclusive attractions that can't be found in other Disney theme parks around the world. A Frozen area seems like a given, considering that there isn't enough room within the confines of Tokyo Disneyland or Disney Sea to create attractions appropriate in scale to the film's immense popularity.

The Nhon Keizai Shimbun reports that Oriental Land hopes for the expansion to be ready to receive guests in 2023, which, if doable, would roughly match up with the Ghibli theme park's projected early 2020s opening.

Sources: Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko, Kyodo Tsushin, Nihon Keizai Shimbun via Jin
Top image ©SoraNews24