- Gyoza No Osho aids snow-stranded drivers with 500 orders of free fried rice and noodles
- Sailor Moon and My Melody team up again, this time for a super sweet themed cafe
- Subpar AKB48 performance in Thailand earns scalding remarks from netizens 【Video】
- Starbucks sakura milk solves the Starbucks dilemma travelers face in Japan
- Japanese vending machines set to become cooler than ever by selling sub-zero soft drinks
- Large amounts of snow reported for… What the hell is that?!
- Anime isn’t like reality: High school days edition
- Akihabara pub offering monthly all-you-can-drink passes with durations up to half a year
- We track down a special dish hidden inside Yodobashi Akihabara 【SoraNews24 Taste Test】
- Stray cat in Japanese mountains guides visiting humans out of woods in the dark of night【Video】
Posted: 07 Feb 2018 08:00 PM PST
A touching gesture that is both heartwarming and potentially heartburning.
Currently, many areas in Japan are dealing with heavy snowfalls causing havoc in transportation routes across the country. One heavily hit area is Fukui Prefecture where, along Highway 8 running through Maruokamachi in Sakai City, a line of over 1,200 cars and trucks up to 30 kilometers long sat trapped as snow continued to pile up around them.
▼ Just loop this tweet about 2,500 times and you’ll get about one tenth of what it was like
And inside each of these vehicles were people growing increasingly tired and hungry. Luckily, many kind souls were there to help.
Employees of the Gyoza No Osho (King of Gyoza) branch along this stretch of highway banded together and began cooking up their stock of fired rice and ankake yakisoba which are fried noodles served in a thick soy sauce and loaded with vegetables and meat.
▼ “It looks like one of my company’s trucks stuck in Fukui’s heavy snow got some free stuff from Osho No Gyoza. Thank you Marukamachi Osho!”
Cooking all through the afternoon, they prepared about 500 servings and handed them out to cars all along the frozen highway. One truck driver from Osaka told NHK, “I’m really happy because there was no food and my stomach was empty. Thanks to them, I can keep working at clearing the snow around my vehicle.”
Actually, that Gyoza No Osho branch had been closed since 6 February because of the blizzard but had a large supply of unused ingredients that would have just gone to waste had they not prepared these emergency rations.
As such, readers of the new online were touched at this large act of greasy generosity.
A few suspected that this was some sort of publicity stunt, but it seems as though it was handled by lower level staff of this branch rather than executives forcing them out into the hard environment. The assistant manager Yukinori Nakayama said, “We just want to cheer up everyone who is stranded in their cars. I hope they can feel a little better.”
It was far from an isolated act of humanity either as elsewhere along the chain of stuck vehicles, other businesses and residents offered food and some trucks even offloaded their supplies to hand out to other motorists, many of whom had been stuck for over a day.
This also isn’t the first time Gyoza No Osho was impressed people with their altruism. Another branch in Kyoto gained fame for having provided free food to struggling university students for years. So, if you have a craving for some dumplings, why not choose the gyoza kings with a heart of gold… Just don’t go naked, because they really hate that.
Posted: 07 Feb 2018 07:00 PM PST
They’ll be fighting your hunger by moonlight, and winning love all day with these adorable menu items!
In continuing with the Sanrio-sweet combination of My Melody and Sailor Moon collaboration goodies, the pairing will now be featured in a themed cafe – called the Sailor Moon x My Melody Candy Parlor – that we simply can’t wait for! Here’s a look at the fun lineup of food, drinks, and desserts that would be too cute to eat, if they didn’t look even more delicious:
Sweet and savory “doughnut” burgers (1,490 yen/US$13.62)
This dish features My Melody and Sailor Moon with two doughnut-style burgers – one savory, with avocado, and one sweet, with berries. A mashed potato “cupcake” comes alongside with a salad.
Sandwiches with pink-and-blue Vichyssoise soup (1,490 yen)
My Melody and Sailor Mercury play on these colorful sandwiches, served with a salad and an eye-catching pink-and-blue Vichyssoise soup.
Cheese risotto with framboise powder (1,290 yen)
The cheese risotto is fiery red, just like Sailor Mars! Sprinkle some bright red raspberry powder over this dish for an extra pop of color and flavor.
“Candy” salad (1,290 yen)
Who knew salads could be so cute? Sailor Jupiter and My Melody sit atop a healthy green salad dressed up like a little wrapped candy, and is garnished with tiny “roses” made of ham.
Sailor Venus surprise-inside cake (1,490 yen)
Sailor Venus’ bright yellow cake is not only sweet – it holds a special surprise inside! The raspberry sauce accent is made to resemble Sailor V’s “Love Chain Encircle” attack.
Pink pudding a la mode (1,390 yen)
My Melody and Sailor Mini Moon are sitting pretty in pink! Pink pudding and pink ice cream are dressed up with colorful sprinkles and fruit garnishes.
Candy Parlor parfait (1,290 yen)
My Melody and Luna adorn this Candy Parlor-original pastel-colored parfait, made with layers of ice cream and whipped topping.
Colorful ice cream cake (1,190 yen)
This mountain of ice cream includes a color for each of the six Scouts, with accents of heart and candy-shaped chocolate pieces.
Melon soda float (990 yen)
Bright green and super sweet, this soda float made with melon soda comes with an original Sailor Moon and My Melody collaboration key chain.
Ice latte with colorful meringues (990 yen)
Six colorful meringues, one for each of the Scouts, join Luna and My Melody in topping this creamy iced latte.
Strawberry soda (790 yen)
Sweet, cool, refreshing strawberry soda comes in a glass bottle featuring a cute Candy Parlor-original illustration.
Character art hot latte (690 yen)
Latte art doesn’t get much more adorable than this. The character you get is chosen at random, but they’re all so cute, there’s no reason to be disappointed no matter which one you get!
Our readers living or travelling outside of Tokyo will be happy to know that the cafe will be open in four locations throughout Japan, the first of which will be opening in Osaka from February 17, followed by the Sapporo and Nagoya locations from April 6, and finally the Ikebukuro location in Tokyo from April 20, so hopefully there will be one open near you!
池袋パルコ本館/Ikebukuro PARCO Honkan
名古屋パルコ西館/Nagoya PARCO Nishikan
Source: The Guest, PRETTY GUARDIAN SAILOR MOON 25th Anniversary Project
Posted: 07 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST
Apparently it was so bad that Thai music fans wondered, “Are these really idols?”
AKB48 is a massively successful “idol group” made up of more than 100 girls and young women. Their popularity stems from the concept of “idols you can meet”, and with some of their CDs fans can receive a ticket that admits them to a “handshake event” with different members. Needless to say, diehard fans buy multiple copies so they can get multiple tickets, so that they can shake an idol’s hand multiple times, and that’s part of the reason why AKB48 has dominated the sales charts and become such a cultural phenomenon, in spite of the fact that some would say they aren’t very good at singing or dancing.
Despite their unrivaled success in Japan, they aren’t quite so popular in other parts of Asia. Last year, after performing alongside Korean female idol groups, who are known for their intense choreography and strong vocals, they were heavily criticized by Korean and even Japanese netizens for their subpar performance. Unfortunately, in netizens’ eyes, they don’t seem to have improved, as just last week, foreign spectators were disappointed with the group’s performance at Japan Expo Thailand 2018.
Serving as the main event of the Expo, which invited a lot of Japanese celebrities, six members of the group performed seven of their most popular songs, including “Aitakatta”, “Heavy Rotation”, and “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie”. Afterwards, their Bangkok sister group, BNK48, joined them on stage and performed a song together with them, before a short Q&A session with fans.
Despite this portrayal of their best, fans were not impressed. After the performance, Thai attendees were apparently heard to remark things like, “It didn’t look any better than an elementary school talent show,” and “Did they really have to sing?” When a video of the performance was uploaded by a Korean YouTube channel, it was soon swarmed with negative remarks from many other foreign viewers:
Some Japanese idol fans even agreed with the comments:
Other fans defended the group:
In the idols’ defense, from watching the clip, you can tell that they have some microphone trouble at the beginning of the performance, which could have thrown them off of their game a little bit. Plus, in an interview afterwards, the girls did say that they were pretty nervous before the performance, and it’s likely that the songs in the above video were at the beginning of their show, before they got used to the stage and the audience.
▼ You can see from this fan video that the audience is having a good time. The singing sounds much better in this video, too.
Whatever the case, idol singers have a lot to worry about. When you have to try not to fall in love, or be constantly wary of gifts from fans, and are always afraid of being attacked at handshake events, it can make it pretty hard to give a stellar performance 100 percent of the time. In fact, it’s fair to say that, in general, it’s pretty hard to be an idol, and like everything else, you really have to accept the fact that you can’t please everyone.
Posted: 07 Feb 2018 05:00 PM PST
New dessert beverage lets you enjoy a uniquely Japanese taste without having to sit around in the same chain you have back home.
So when you come to Japan, you're likely to encounter something I like to call the Starbucks dilemma. On the one hand, the Seattle-based coffeehouse has become such a major part of the cafe scene in Japan that it has a constantly rotating menu of delicious, Japan-exclusive items, which we expats here at SoraNews24 believe is one of the great things about living in the country.
On the other hand, as tempting as Starbucks’ only-in-Japan matcha green tea mocha and Pink Medley Tea drinks may be, odds are you didn't fly all the way to Japan to sit in a branch of the same chain that has multiple locations in your home town. And yeah, you could just get one to-go, but Starbucks' pricing really does include a built-in premium to cover the cost of those stylish interiors, making takeout orders kind of a waste of money, and time, if there's a long line of locals going through the lengthy verbal process of ordering custom-made coffees. Finally, as tasty as Starbucks' sweet drinks are, they're also pretty filling, and you probably want to save some room for all the other great food and drink Japan has to offer.
But there's a solution to all these conflicting desires coming soon, with Starbucks' Sakura Caramel Milk with Mixed Berries.
The petite and pink dessert beverage is a cup of creamy milk seasoned with cherry blossom and rich caramel flavors, with pulpy bits of berry stirred in. At a size of 180 grams (6.3 ounces), it won't leave you too stuffed to continue your culinary conquest of Japan, and at just 219 yen (US$1.99), you won't feel bad about not soaking up Starbuck's in-house atmosphere as you sip it.
As a matter of fact, you couldn't drink this while planting yourself on a Starbucks sofa anyway, since the Sakura Caramel Milk with Mixed Berries is available exclusively at convenience stores, which in Japan also means extremely speedy clerks who will ring you up and have you back on your sightseeing course in no time at all.
The Sakura Caramel Milk with Mixed Berries goes on sale February 13. Oh, and if you decide you do want to spend some time at a Starbucks branch in Japan (like maybe the gorgeous one that opened in Kyoto last summer), we can help you pick out something from the in-house Japanese menu too.
Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:30 AM PST
New machines to go into service in time for Japan’s steamy summer months.
Ironically, one of the coolest things about Japanese vending machines is that they dispense hot beverages during the winter. Your options aren't limited to tea or coffee, either, as machines stocked with warm cans of soup can also be found all over.
So it's a little sad when spring rolls around and most machines cycle out their hot drinks, but this April Asahi Soft Drinks is giving us something to look forward to as well.
Starting in April, Asahi will be debuting new vending machines with drinks chilled all the way down to -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), which is 10 degrees colder than the typical temperature at which cold drinks come out of Japanese vending machines. While that would result in a solid block of ice for bottled water, -5 degrees is just above the freezing point for Mitsuya Cider, the specific carbonated drink being offered in this extra-chilled version.
▼ Mitsuya Cider has a sweet citrus taste, first went on sale in 1884, and was once accused of having a potentially deadly marketing campaign.
While Mitsuya Cider has been popular for well over a century, it's not quite ubiquitous enough to have its own dedicated vending machines, and so the super-cold 430-milliliter (14.5-ounce) bottles will share space in the machine with other Asahi beverages kept at the standard five degrees. If it turns out to be a hit, though, we could see more sub-zero drink options in time to help us through Japan's notoriously hot and humid summer.
Posted: 07 Feb 2018 07:00 AM PST
Twitter user finds way to make winter more enjoyable… or possibly less enjoyable depending on who you are.
The less snowbound areas of Japan really know how to make the most of their occasional dumpings of white powder. While many are just content making a fort or snowball fight, those in Tokyo and other urban areas are busy making snow Pokémon, Hachiko clones, or girlfriends.
And then we have this…
▼ “I filled up my parent’s car.”
The picture shows a car’s windshield covered in disembodied white faces staring out and challenging anyone who dares drive their newfound home.
At the bottom a mask can be seen showing how these faces were molded. It appears to be a type of wooden mask used in Japan’s traditional theatre Noh. Dating back nearly 700 years, noh involves actors wearing different masks to identify their characters gender, age, species, and more.
▼ The facial expressions on these masks change depending on the angle you look at them
And when filled with snow they make a great surprise for your parents when they wake up to go to work the next day. I can’t help but imagine staring at the vehicle trying to think of a way to gracefully remove the dozens of human faces from my car without looking like a lunatic to my neighbors.
In the case of Twitter user “Skull” (@skull0502), it had snowed more overnight giving the work a more ghostly appearance.
The vandalistic visages racked up over 70,000 likes and comments such as:
There were also several comments calling this a “pakutsui” which is a shortened version of “pakuri tweet” or “rip-off tweet.” Sure enough, two years earlier Twitter user Kyo pulled the same eerie stunt.
However, it doesn’t seem fair to call Skull a rip-off since he seems to have made it himself just taking the idea from someone else. Calling him a “rip-off” would be like calling everyone who made a snowman ripping off the original neanderthal or whoever did it first.
Fun activities like decorating cars with snow faces of the damned is something that should be undertaken freely by everyone until it becomes a part of our shared winter wonderlandscape.
Source, featured image: Twitter/@skull0502
Posted: 07 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST
As new freshmen get ready to start high school in Japan, a reminder that a lot of what they've seen in anime isn't how things are really going to be.
With the Japanese school year winding down, some graduating high schoolers are enjoying the last bento boxed lunches their moms will ever make them. But the education system is a cycle, which means come the spring, the kids who're about to graduate from junior high will be entering high school.
In the English-speaking world, high school is sometimes said by especially wistful-minded adults to be "the best years of your life," but that's nothing compared to how thoroughly romanticized the three years of Japanese high school are. With so much of the country's popular fiction, especially anime, being set in high schools (whether of the modern-day, science fiction, or magical variety), no doubt many soon-to-be high school students in Japan are looking forward to the start of the defining chapters of their own life stories.
But as we've seen before, anime doesn't always subscribe to the idea of "art imitating life." Many of the stock scenes and tropes found in high school anime exist only in the hyper-stylized narrative space of Japanese animation, and so Twitter user @official_satani has prepared a list of common anime elements that probably aren't going to be part of anyone's real-life Japanese high school experience.
The tweet reads:
So if you were planning to recreate the plot of your favorite anime, in which the protagonist and his pal have rooftop lunchtime brainstorming sessions as they gaze out over the school and lock eyes with the stern student body president who's halting their formation of an otaku-indulgent just-hanging-out-with-friends-style extracurricular program, you're probably out of luck. Granted, the rules for starting new clubs vary from school to school, but they're generally not as wide open as they are in anime series, and instead require some sort of ostensible academic merit.
▼ Not on @official_satani’s list, but also worth mentioning: The guy sitting next to the window isn’t any more likely to secretly have world-saving superpowers than anyone else.
The harsh dose of reality quickly racked up thousands of retweets, but it's not all bad news. Another Twitter user offered a semi-rebuttal that's both reality-based and yet still optimistic.
Because as enjoyable as anime can be, real life is often wonderful in ways all its own.
Posted: 07 Feb 2018 05:00 AM PST
Four other restaurants in Tokyo also start selling unprecedentedly generous unlimited-beer-and-cocktail passes.
Here at SoraNews24, we may not be able to tell you the market rate for stocks, bonds, or key commodities such as crude oil or gold. What we do keep our finger on the pulse of, however, is the market for all-you-can-drink deals, and we can say that somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000-3,000 yen (US$18-$27) is what most izakaya pubs in Tokyo will charge you for a two-hour session of unlimited alcoholic beverages.
Considering that a draft beer will usually set you back about 500 yen or so, all-you-can-drink plans (or nomihodai, as they’re called in Japanese) can save you some cash if you're planning a night of moderate-to-heavy drinking. But what if you see several such nights in your future? Then what you'll want to get yourself is a monthly all-you-can-drink pass.
Yes, such wonderous things do exist, and as of February 5 are being issued by five izakaya in Tokyo. The system first began at the restaurant Yuyu in Akihabara, where one-month passes were offered for sale in October. While the customer response was overwhelmingly positive, somehow an entire month of unlimited drinks still wasn't enough for some thirsty patrons, who began asking for longer-duration covenants.
Andmowa, the restaurant management company that operates Yuyu, has heard those pleas, and responded with four available all-you-can-drink pass lengths. 3,000 yen (US$27) gets you one month of unlimited booze. A two-month pass costs 5,000 yen, a three-month pass 7,000 yen, and for seriously committed drinkers, a six-month pass is 13,000 yen, which computes out to just 2,167 yen (less than US$20) a month at the most economic rate.
▼ The more you drink, the more you save!
Roughly 250 varieties of alcoholic beverages are included in the deal, including draft beer, so it's not like you're stuck sipping on watered-down cocktails.
In addition to the Akihabara Yuyu, the other currently announced Andmowa affiliated restaurants in Tokyo that are offering the passes are Kitaroku (Kanda Station branch), Taketori no Hanashizuku (Nishi Shinjujku), Waka no Daidokoro (Shinbashi), and Sekitori Goten (Yurakucho). In Tokyo's neighboring prefectures, the restaurants Nagoyaka (Kawasaki Station), Kitaroku (Kawasaki Station), Sake to Nagomi to Niku to Yasai (Ichikawa Station), Taketori Kakureya (Urawa), and Nagoyaka (Omiya Station) are also giving customers passes to buy their drinks by the month, and Andmowa eventually plans to expand the program to 30 of its eateries/drinkeries.
Two things to note: First customers are asked to order two food items coming in for their unlimited drinks (in general, almost all izakaya require some sort of food purchase for customers on nomihodai plans). Second, the pass is good for one two-hour all-you-can-drink session per day during its effective duration, so it's not like you can sit there knocking back cold ones around the clock. However, two hours of unimpeded drinking per day should be enough to satisfy just about anyone, and if you absolutely need a 24-hour all-you-can-drink deal, Tokyo can accommodate you on that front too.
Posted: 06 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST
If you know where to look, you’ll be able to try a jugful of noodles that nobody wanted the owner to create.
These days, a good portion of customers make their dining choices based on the ‘Gram. Which means business owners everywhere are scrambling to come up with unique-looking dishes that diners will want to photograph and share on social media, adding followers to Instagram accounts, and money in pockets, in a continuous cycle that appears to be growing more and more every day.
Mr Sato, our resident foodie expert here at SoraNews24, recently heard about a little-known menu item starting to gain traction with foodies in the capital. And this particular dish isn’t served at a high-class restaurant or a cute, pastel-walled eatery. Instead, it’s served inside a well-known Akihabara electronics store.
Mr. Sato was eager to find out what all the fuss was about, so he headed down to Akihabara and made his way to the iconic Yodobashi Camera electronics store. Here, on the eighth floor, is a food court, and Mr Sato wandered around until he found what he was looking for: an izakaya tavern called Yotteba.
If you weren’t aware of what to look for, chances are you would miss it, but Mr Sato’s eye was trained to zone in on one particular dish, and it wasn’t long before he found it.
▼ Mr Sato had made the journey to try this jugful of noodles.
The small poster outside the tavern featured the “Tsukimi Soba Jug” in all its glory. Available only for a limited time, it proclaimed “Recommended for SNS“, (social media is called “SNS” in Japan) as well as “Even Yodobashi was surprised“.
Mr Sato was surprised too, especially by this part of the poster, which revealed that the concept of the dish was born from the mind of Yotteba’s Akihabara outlet manager, who wanted to develop this as an original product for the store. When those around him were against it, telling him to give up on the idea, he took down the naysayers by adding it to the menu anyway, and the Tsukimi Soba Jug was born.
Mr. Sato, who knows all too well what it’s like to stare down opponents who get in the way of one’s dreams, was intrigued by this backstory, which added an extra tasty flavour to the already much-hyped dish.
When the jug of noodles arrived at the table, though, our reporter wasn’t sure whether to eat it with chopsticks or simply chug it down like a beer.
▼ The noodles were served in a Dewar’s Scotch whisky glass, adding to the confusion.
After comparing it to his glass of Oolong tea, Mr Sato decided to drink the thing on the right and eat the thing on the left, taking up a pair of chopsticks to complete the task.
Tsukimi translates to “moon-viewing” in Japanese, and is often used when referring to dishes that contain a raw or over easy egg, given its round, moon-like appearance.
Tsukimi soba is a popular noodle dish in Japan, and the one here looked just like any other…only it was sitting inside a jug. The topping looked beautiful in the slim glass container, though, and Mr Sato stopped to admire it for a moment before tucking in.
As he lifted the noodles to his mouth, the raw egg came apart, mixing in with all the other ingredients, and after his first mouthful, he was pleasantly surprised. Given that this was a tavern on top of an electronics store, and not a specialty soba shop, he wasn’t expecting much, but the quality was actually really good.
It had a great homely flavour, much like the noodles you get from a standing soba shop at a train station platform. However, unlike those noodles, which come served in regular bowls, this one was served up in a tall glass, which, as our reporter found halfway through the dish, became increasingly difficult to eat.
“Who on earth came up with this idea?” thought Mr Sato, as he struggled to eat the remainder of his meal at the bottom of the glass. “Why didn’t anyone stop him from making this?” he wondered, and then he remembered the poster.
Mr Sato realised that everyone had actually tried to stop the manager from adding the creation to the menu but he went his own way and went ahead with it anyway.
And then Mr Sato wondered if all of his own naysayers might have been on to something too, when they tried to make him listen to reason during his crazy escapades. Immediately, he shrugged the thought off, as it all suddenly became too deep for him. Almost as deep as the Tsukimi Soba Jug ramen.
Yotteba Yodobashi Akiba Store / 酔っ手羽 ヨドバシAKIBA店
Photos © SoraNews24
Posted: 06 Feb 2018 08:00 PM PST
Kind-hearted feline proves to be more useful than blank-screen car navigation system.
Cat lovers have a plethora of reasons for their feline fealty. Kitties seem to spend most of their waking moments being cute, entertaining, or simply stylish, so it's no wonder they earn a space in so many humans' hearts.
Unless you're the sort that genuinely appreciates all those gifts of dead birds, though, it's sort of unusual to see a cat you can describe as helpful. But that's exactly the sort of cat Japanese Twitter user @zc31s_Monster met while out for a late-night drive in the mountains.
@zc31s_Monster and his pal had decided to do a little off-roading, but being on a dirt path instead of a proper street meant their car navigation system was now useless, as seen at the bottom right of the image below.
But luckily a cat who apparently lives in the surrounding forest was ready to guide them back to the main road.
▼ "This way!"
While cynics might argue that the cat is actually just trying to run away, the leisurely pace at which it scampers down the path, along with the way it pauses and waits for the car to catch up, sure does make it look like it's leading @zc31s_Monster back to civilization. There's also the fact that the cat doesn't make any real effort to escape deeper into the forest, even though it stops twice by the roadside before continuing along the dirt road. "It's like he's saying 'Oh, I thought you were good from here," theorizes @zc31s_Monster's friend, "but if you need me to, I'll show you the rest of the way."
▼ A second video, showing the rest of the cat's escort activities
Online comments included:
Granted, considering that there's only one path to follow in the video, @zc31s_Monster admits he could have made it out of the woods without any help. Still, the kind-hearted, four-legged local took the initiative to lend a hand (paw) without being asked, and @zc31s_Monster reports that after the events shown in the video, he made it back to the highway safe and sound.
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