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Japanese travel provider has a clever psychological solution to reclining seat aggravation

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 05:00 PM PST

Whether the person in front of you adjusting the seat angle is a good or bad thing is all a matter of perspective, Tokyo-bound overnight bus shows us.

After cavity searches, reclining seats might just be the most vocally lamented travel complaint. Having the person in front of you begin to lean back once you've got settled into your seat on a plane, train, or long-haul bus is a special kind of annoying dread for many travelers, only exacerbated by not knowing when the leaning will stop.

One solution would be to simply do away with the reclining function, locking passengers into sitting upright like some sort of slouch-hating elementary school teacher. But no matter how good your posture is, it's not very comfortable to sit with your spine ramrod straight for an extended time, like, say, the 15-hour overnight bus ride we recently took from Fukuoka to Tokyo.

So as we climbed into the vehicle, operated by Japan's Orion Bus, we braced ourselves for the tense wait for the passenger in the row ahead of us to start leaning back. But to our surprise, Orion Bus has devised a clever response to this problem that retains full lean-back freedom, but also makes the whole process a million times more psychologically pleasant.

Just what does Orion Bus do? Simple: when passengers board the bus…

…all of the seats are already reclined as far back as they can go.

Orion does this for all their overnight buses, which encourages passengers to make themselves as comfortable as possible with the seats in this configuration when they first sit down, placing extra clothing or baggage in the overhead storage areas instead of on their lap or at their feet. By starting the seats off this way, the mental effect isn't that when the person in front of you lean back they're encroaching on your space. Instead, if he adjusts the seat to anything other than maximum recline, you're getting an expansion to your territory.

There's one more reason Orion Bus sets up its seats this way. Knowing how irritated some travelers can get over reclining seats, some extra-considerate passengers feel bad about reclining their seats at all. By starting the seats off fully reclined, passengers don't have to feel bad for leaning back, but can instead earn some goodwill if and when they move from full to partial recline.

▼ A chance to spread some happiness to your fellow travelers.

Granted, it's a tiny thing, but every little bit helps when you're going to be in close proximity to a group of strangers for the next several hours. And if this still isn't enough to help ou get to your destination stress-free, you can always splurge for a deluxe overnight bus with private rooms.

Photos ©SoraNews24

Here’s the most inspirational steak you’ll ever see, from Yoshinobu Saito

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 09:30 AM PST

You might have to stare at it a while to see why, but the signature ought to be a big give-away.

Artist Yoshinobu Saito posted a picture of a delicious looking steak on 6 February which has been gaining momentum on Twitter with over 41,000 likes. Now, as you can probably guess from the fact that he’s an artist, the reason why is that it’s actually an illustration.

It took me a while to be sure that this wasn’t some kind of hoax and that he was passing off a photo as an illustration. But when you stare closely at it for a while you can start to see elements of Saito’s handiwork.

For comparison, someone replied with an actual photograph of a steak they ate.

Saito is a freelance illustrator who did some character designs for Konami games. He works by combining 2-D and 3-D images with various software including Painter and Photoshop on a Mac, creating sci-fi, fantasy, and Kinnikuman themed illustrations.

▼ A quick look at how he does it

This steak was part of a collection celebrating 29 January, which is casually known as Ii Niku No Hi (Good Meat Day, also often held on 29 November), and celebrates delicious meat dishes. He also crafted a very realistic-looking strawberry for Ichigo No Hi (Strawberry Day) on 5 January.

The reason I called this the most inspirational steak you’ll ever see is that Saito wasn’t born with this incredible talent. Rather, it was the result of two decades of training and practice developing his art.

Here he shows his skills in 1996, when he first started, and again in 2012.

It’s the same work ethic he appears to put into his own bodybuilding routine, and as we can see, that is also yielding impressive results.

So, remember – whatever you want to accomplish in life almost never comes to you overnight. You have to put in the work, but take heart because if you stick with it and don’t give up, you’ll get there eventually.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to see more of Yoshinobu Saito’s work, check out his website and Pixiv pages linked below or follow his Twitter account, but be warned: it’s honestly difficult to tell which of his tweets are illustrations or actual photographs.

Sources: Twitter/@yonyon76, Snowin, Pixiv/Yoshinobu Saito
Featured image: Twitter/@yonyon76

Otaku crowd control could be changing with new “anime character voice” megaphones

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 07:00 AM PST

Device seeks to fire your voice straight at the bull's eye in anime fans' selective attention.

One of the defining characteristics of otaku is an impressive, near-limitless capacity to watch things. Even in this era of unprecedented plenty in anime production, hard-core fans of Japanese animation somehow manage to watch and support dozens of new series each TV season.

Listening, though, is something that otaku aren't always so good at, especially when the excitement of massing together for an anime event washes over them. Witness, for example, the sprinting hordes of otaku regularly disregarding requests from train station staff to slow down as they dash full-speed to the gates of Comiket each and every time the convention takes place in Tokyo.

But what if you gave those verbal instructions in a voice otaku simply can't ignore? That's the aim of the Animegaphone, a megaphone which changes the user's voice into that of an anime character.

The creators of the device analyzed he performances of multiple anime voice actors and actresses, then devised parameters that will convert a normal voice into an "anime" one. The hope that by mimicking a voice to which otaku feel a preexisting affinity, rowdy guests at anime events will be more likely to pay attention and comply with organizers' on-site instructions.

▼ "Please don't run!" commands a cute anime voice.

In addition to anime events, the Animegaphone's creators also think it could be useful at concerts and music festivals if calibrated to reproduce the sound of the headlining vocalists' voices.

The device's first public demonstration is scheduled for February 18 at the winter iteration of the Wonder Festival convention, which will be held in Chiba's Makuhari Messe. At the event, the voices of voice actor Hiroaki Hirata (One Piece's Sanji, Tiger & Bunny's Kotetsu) and voice actress Kotori Koiwai (Aikatsu's Nono, Non Non Biyori's Renge) will be registered and reproduced, giving anime fans one more reason to not believe everything they see/hear.

Source: Animegaphone, IT Media
Images: YouTube/animegaphone mail

We try the world’s first hot ruby chocolate drink at Japanese Kit Kat Chocolatory 【Taste Test】

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 05:00 AM PST

Natural berry flavours from the ruby cacao bean make for a hot chocolate like no other we’ve ever tasted.

Just last month, Nestlé Japan made news for becoming the first company in the world to market and produce the next big thing in sweets: ruby chocolate.

Available as limited-edition Kit Kat bars, the ruby chocolate is characterised by a remarkable new natural berry colour and flavour, extracted from the ruby cacao bean after years of development by Zurich-based company Barry Callebau.

Hailed as the first new type of natural chocolate to appear in over 80 years, the Ruby Kit Kats sold out within minutes of going on sale, but now in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day Nestlé Japan has a new treat in store, which allows customers to try the new product in hot chocolate form.

▼ The new Hot Ruby Chocolate is only available from the second floor cafe
at the Kit Kat Chocolatory boutique in Ginza, Tokyo

The ruby chocolate is the star of the show at this flagship Kit Kat Chocolatory, with a beautiful display dedicated to the product inside the first-floor shop.

The displays continue upstairs at the cafe, where images of the ruby chocolate, produced as part of the Chocolatory’s Sublime range of Kit Kats, can be found on the hot pink walls.

Here at the cafe they serve a number of cakes, parfaits, and hot drinks, but the Hot Ruby Chocolate with Raspberry is a special menu item that’s only available for a limited time, from the first of February through to Valentine’s Day.

After ordering the hot beverage during our visit, it didn’t take long to arrive at the table, and the first thing we noticed was the gorgeous, rich ruby colour of the hot chocolate, which blends beautifully into the pink surroundings.

With a single ruby-flavoured Kit Kat wafer on its side, the hot chocolate comes in a small pink espresso cup, which would be empty in seconds if we gulped its contents down like an ordinary beverage.

This is definitely a drink designed for sipping, which is a good thing, seeing as it contains the rare ruby chocolate ingredient, which deserves full attention from our curious tastebuds.

Rather than being smooth, the hot ruby chocolate had a very grainy appearance, which added a textured feel to the drink.

We didn’t know whether to start with the drink first or the Ruby Kit Kat on the side, but according to the cafe staff, it’s entirely up to the customer to decide how to enjoy the hot chocolate set.

Being the hot chocolate-loving SoraNews24 reporters that we are, we opted to try the drink first, and when we took our first sip, we were instantly blown away by the flavour.

It was hard to pinpoint exactly what was going on with our tastebuds, but whatever it was, it tasted exactly like berry. And not a sweet strawberry flavour, but a much more tart, raspberry-like flavour.

The berry flavour was so intense that we had to check the menu again to find out what the drink’s exact ingredients were. According to the menu, the drink was made from a blend of ruby chocolate and raspberry puree, which gave it its delectable sour-yet-sweet fruity taste.

 ▼ Combined with the thick and slightly grainy texture of the drink, this tasted like a hot fruit smoothie!

While the drink had a thick and creamy texture, it was still hard to pick up on any chocolate notes, so we took a bite of the ruby Kit Kat to identify the flavour we were looking for.

Once we’d tasted the Kit Kat, we were surprised to find that it became much easier to taste the berry chocolate notes hiding within the drink. Now it took on a new complexity, with the same depth of flavour that you’d find in a regular hot chocolate, and fruity top notes making way for a more mellow, creamy berry chocolate finish.

▼ To add fuel to the “to-dunk-or-not-to-dunk” debate surrounding hot drinks and sweets,
we decided to dunk for a few seconds…for research purposes.

As it turns out, if you’re thinking of dunking, you might want to think again, because although it adds some of the chocolate from the bar to the drink, it does nothing to change the flavour of either.

▼ Plus, you’ll just end up melting the chocolate off the Kit Kat,
leaving you with little more than wafer to enjoy on the bar!

With or without the dunk, this drink was a new experience for our tastebuds, and we highly recommend everyone try it if they have the chance.

If you were to blend raspberry puree with a hot chocolate made from dark, milk or even white chocolate, you wouldn’t ever be able to get the same balance of flavours achieved with the ruby chocolate blend. It’s a perfect match that will have you craving hot ruby chocolate again and again!

The Hot Ruby Chocolate retails for 1,000 yen (US$9.18), which might seem a little pricey, but considering it includes a single-wafer ruby Kit Kat on the side, which retailed for 400 yen when they were available, it turns out to be a pretty reasonable deal.

Plus, while you’re at the Chocolatory you might want to keep an eye out for their exclusive limited-edition Sakura Strawberry Special Kit Kats, which are just as pink as the ruby Kit Kats, but bursting with springtime cherry blossom flavours!

Photos © Oona McGee/SoraNews24

Japanese G-cup gravure idol saves the world with her breasts in bizarre new video

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Erina Kamiya is back, and this time she’s using her magic bosom to save the world from an incoming meteor.

Erina Kamiya has been making a name for herself in the world of Japanese gravure idols, with memorable videos like this one of her smashing through roof tiles…with her breasts.

Now the G-cup model, a favourite amongst staff here at SoraNews24, is showing off the power of her chest again, in a brand new video that sees her taking time out from an onsen trip with her girlfriends in order to save the world from a giant fireball hurtling towards Earth. Called “Breasts Save the World“, the short video is sweet, crazy, and hilarious all at the same time.

Check out the clip below:

The video starts off with Kamiya casually enjoying a soak in the bath during an onsen hot spa trip with fellow idols and Misa Kubota and Moa Tsukino.

Suddenly, the model hears the sound of a huge meteor crashing towards Earth, and as she turns to face the extraterrestrial object, she gathers her strength and readies her guns to shoot it down.

Her guns, of course, are her powerful breasts, which power up in a magical sequence, shooting out beams of energy high above the Earth and shattering the comet into pieces.

▼ Those are some powerful nipples!

All that’s left of the fireball is plumes of animated pink smoke, and three women who will live to fight another day. And it’s all thanks to Kamiya’s ample bosom.

The buxom model definitely knows how to attract attention both at home and abroad, which isn’t surprising, seeing as she’s a member of the Akihabara-based Kamen Joshi, or "Mask Girls" idol unit, who inspired the idol-singer-girl sweat-flavoured fried chicken and girls’ feet-flavoured fried chicken recently.

Still, if Kamiya decides to save the world again in another crazy sequence of events, we won’t turn away, especially if she includes her viral rapid T-shirt undressing techniques in her next video!

Source, images: YouTube/神谷えりな Kamiya Erina

Japanese public school to allow male students to wear skirts, chest ribbons as part of uniform

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 08:00 PM PST

Brand-new middle school to let students of any gender wear whatever uniform components they feel comfortable in out of consideration to LGBT youths.

In 2012, Kashiwanoha Elementary School was opened in Chiba Prefecture's Kashiwa City. Since elementary school lasts six years, this April the school's first batch of students will be moving up to junior high, and so the newly built Kashiwanoha Middle School will be opening up next door.

There are a couple of interesting things about the public Kashiwanoha Middle School. Its students will share a cafeteria and swimming pool with the adjacent elementary school, and sixth-graders will have class in the middle school section of the combined campus, to help ease their transition out of elementary school. But what's most unique is that when middle schoolers start classes this spring, students of both genders will be able to freely choose between wearing slacks, skirts, neckties, or chest ribbons.

▼ Kashiwanoha Middle School's uniforms

Originally, the school had considered not even requiring uniforms, but a survey found that roughly 90 percent of the parents of incoming students wanted their children to wear them. A committee of parents, students, educators, and local residents was formed to decide on what sort of uniforms the school should have, and a decision was reached that out of consideration to LGBT youths, the strongly gender-associated sailor suit (for girls) and straight-collared gakuran jacket (for boys) should be ruled out.

With those two traditional options nixed, the committee settled on more gender-neutral blazers for the uniform's top. But in keeping with its goal of helping LGBT students feel comfortable with what they'll be wearing to class, it was also decided that both boys and girls will be able to select whether they'd like to wear slacks or a skirt, as well as whether they'd prefer to finish off the ensemble with a tie or ribbon. While some Japanese schools allow or require girls to wear neckties, letting boys wear ribbons is a largely unprecedented move.

The school had initially been mulling over requiring students to wear whatever their selected combination was throughout the year, but has since decided that as long as their parents are willing to pay for multiple uniform components, they can mix and match the pieces in any way they wish on any day they're at school.

Kashiwanoha Middle School's decision comes on the heels of an announcement by Kanagawa Prefecture's Taiyo Middle School to promote with-slacks outfits to full uniform status for its female students, with the goal of eliminating gender differences in its required attire.

Sources: Hachima Kiko, Career Connection, IT Media
Images: Kashiwanoha Middle School