- Mr. Sato lives it up like a Harajuku schoolgirl, eats Japan’s longest soft serve ice cream cone
- Does Daiso’s fork designed especially for pasta live up to its name? We find out!
- Sexy, shirtless, heavily-armed Japanese centaur promotes ramen and sports, of course【Video】
- Japan’s biggest, baddest piece of playground equipment set to close down
- Japanese idol group bans all gifts from fans to teen singers to help protect their values
- Rice “raised on fighter jet roars” from Ishikawa Prefecture is sure to break the flavor barrier
Posted: 02 Mar 2018 05:00 PM PST
When it comes to battles against giant food, always bet on Sato.
Though he's far too much of a tough guy to let it show, we think Mr. Sato might be feeling a little down in the dumps. See, there was a time when he had sole claim to the title of SoraNews24's giant food taste-tester.
Crazy attracts crazy, though, and recently some of our other reporters, guys Mr. Sato has taken under his wing, have started their own adventures in gluttony. And that's fine; it makes Mr. Sato proud that he's being such a good sempai by helping these young bucks expand their horizons and stomach linings. But we don't want him to forget his salad days of oversized junk food, and so recently we sent him to eat what's being billed as Japan's biggest soft serve ice cream cone.
The Long! Longer!! Longest!!! snack cafe just opened its doors on March 1. Located on Takeshita Street, Tokyo’s mecca of teen fashion in the trendy Harajuku neighborhood, Long! Longer!! Longest!!! is clearly aimed at the social media crowd, boasting that it has taller/longer ice cream cones, churros, cotton candy swirls, and twirl-cut French fries than you'll find anywhere else in the country. "Long!", "Longer!!", and "Longest!!!" also happen to be the names of the three sizes they offer, and since Mr. Sato never gives anything less than maximum effort (even when his ultimate goal is to be lazy), he obviously went with a Longest!!! ice cream cone, which set him back 700 yen (US$6.60).
Watching the employee prepare the swirl was an elegant display of technology and technique.
▼ The finished product
Usually when we do our taste tests, we have to keep telling ourselves to slow down and take our time taking photos, resisting the urge to start eating right away. This time, though, Mr. Sato felt that time was of the essence, since the ice cream's towering height had him thinking it could topple over at any moment. He also recommends having your phone out and the camera app open before you get your dessert, since the less tapping and swiping you have to do while trying to keep the cone perfectly upright, the better.
Somehow, Mr. Sato managed to fire off a few selfies, though the grip necessitated by the size of his treat meant he couldn't risk flashing a "fashionable-schoolgirl-in-Harajuku" peace sign. Figuring he only had seconds left until the ice cream went diagonal, he took his first bite, and found that he didn't have quite as much to worry about as he thought he did. Long! Longer!! Longest!!! makes its ice cream with just the right amount of moisture, and while it's creamy with no trace of harsh iciness to its texture, it's not at all watery either, giving it a surprising amount of structural integrity. Flavor-wise, it's really tasty stuff, with plenty of milky goodness…so much so, in fact, that Mr. Sato ate the whole thing all by himself.
▼ Like we said, Mr. Sato always goes all in.
The cone itself is garnished with cereal flakes, and after consuming so much creamy ice cream, their crunchiness almost felt novel to Mr. Sato's teeth, and acted as a crisp ending punctuation to his dessert, and also a reminder that Mr. Sato will always be ready to eat whatever his fans want him to.
Posted: 02 Mar 2018 09:30 AM PST
You may think you don’t need such a frivolous item, but we’re here to tell you that you do.
You might know there’s different kinds of forks used for eating different kinds of food: salad forks, fish forks, fruit forks, dessert forks, and of course your standard table fork. If you’re fancy, you might even have sets that include all of these and more, with enough forks to impress even The Little Mermaid. But does your dinglehopper collection include a fork specifically designed for eating pasta? Mhm, I didn’t think so.
One-stop-shop and 100-yen store Daiso can help you out with that. And even though you’ll only be spending 100 yen (94 U.S. cents) to add one to your collection, you won’t be sacrificing on looks with this fork: in keeping with its place as part of the “Crafstman’s Art” collection, this fork, which is designed to “make pasta more delicious”, looks sleek and classy, like it should cost a lot more than a dollar. Maybe even two.
Our Japanese-language correspondent Go Hattori fell in love with this fork at first sight. The more he read about it and the more he looked at it, the more he wanted to eat spaghetti with it. “It just looks like a really nice fork,” he said, turning the unopened package in his hand.
After he brought it home, something drew his eye to packaging: the design on the bottom right hand corner that says, “Made in Tsubame”. “Tsubame?” he thought, “That reminds me of that paradise island, Tuvalu!” Carried away by his already romantic impression of the fork, he began to imagine it being molded by hand by a skilled island craftsman somewhere in the Pacific.
But then his eyes were drawn to the top of the packaging, “Made in Japan”. Oh. Nevermind.
The full title of the collection is “Craftsman’s Art: From the Artisan Village of Tsubame”, and after some Googling, Go learned that Tsubame is a city in Niigata Prefecture that specializes in metalworking. The city has been known as the “Artisan Village” for many years, and is the proud producer of about 90 percent of silverware that’s made in Japan.
In spite of not being crafted by a native Oceanic tribe as he originally thought, with this discovery the Tsubame Pasta Fork sparkled even more brightly in Go’s eyes. A fork of such impressive origins, for only 100 yen? This can’t be anything like your ordinary 100-yen fork, he thought. He couldn’t wait to try it on some pasta.
Aside from its origins and its apparent high quality, what makes this fork especially good for pasta are the ribbed outer edges of its tines, which catch the pasta and allow it to twirl easily. Go found this design appealing, but needed to make sure it was practical. After all, if it didn’t work, there was no purpose to it, however pretty it may be.
Eager to test out his new fork (and now hungry from thinking about all the pasta he planned to eat with it), Go set about preparing one of his favorite childhood meals: Pasta Coco Corn Cream Soup Spaghetti, with toast. Sprinkle a little bit of parmesan, a drop or two of tabasco, mix it up, and dip a crunchy slice of toast in the soup, and voila! You have heaven in a bowl!
But Go was prepared to put aside his toast for now. The fork was waiting. It was time. He picked up his new pasta fork and prepared to twirl his pasta…
Look at that form!
How perfectly it twirls!
It makes such a satisfying ball of pasta that holds perfectly in the grooves, and it doesn’t slide off easily, either. Twirl twirl twirl…chomp! Twirl twirl twirl…chomp! Easy and delicious!
Go’s conclusion: it works! It’s not a gag, and it’s not a hoax. It brings the deliciousness of pasta more easily to your mouth, stress free. And somehow, he said, his beloved corn cream soup pasta is even more delicious, when eaten with his equally beloved pasta fork. It lives up to its name!
Now before you rush to Daiso to get your very own Craftsman’s Art Pasta Fork, allow us to suggest that while you’re there you pick up some of Daiso’s 100-yen wine to pair with your pasta dinner, so you can pretend to have a nice fancy meal, without breaking the bank.
Posted: 02 Mar 2018 08:00 AM PST
Believe it or not, there's actually a perfectly logical reason this manly mythical beast needs both a sword and a gun.
This week, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics got their mascot characters, chosen by the votes of elementary school kids from across the nation. But while the yet-to-be-named icons are the official representatives of the games, Cup Noodle maker Nissin has created another character to represent an often-overlooked Olympic sport.
Nissin is the official food partner of the Tokyo Olympics, and also the official sponsor of the modern pentathlon event. Right now, a lot of you are probably asking "Wait, what's modern pentathlon again?" Sure, you can probably guess that it's somehow a contemporary update to classic pentathlon, and that it contains five events, but what exactly are those events?
So to help you remember the components of modern pentathalon, Nissin has created Pentaurus-kun, and instead of going with Japan's usual design aesthetic of charming cuteness, it's gone for over-the-top freakiness. Oh, and perfectly smooth and hairless washboard abs.
That's the five-member a cappella group Gospellers, one of the most popular bands of the early 2000s in Japan, reprising their 2001 hit "Hitori" (meaning "One Person") in a serenade to Pentaurus-kun, a heavily-muscled and heavily-armed masked centaur.
But this isn't a monster that Nissin borrowed as part of its cozy relationship with the Final Fantasy video game franchise. On the contrary, every part of Pentaurus-kun's design is meant to remind you of the five events in modern pentathlon. First, and most obvious, is equestrian show jumping, hence the character's centaur status. Next is fencing, which explains the mask and sword. There's also swimming, which is why Pentaurus-kun is shirtless and wearing a form-fitting spandex-like garment on his hips. Representing cross-country running are a pair of running shoes on his front feet (his rear pair are hooves), and finally, the pistol is for pistol shooting.
▼ Ah, now that we know the logic behind him Pentaurus-kun doesn't seem so cr-…nope, still freaky.
As for why the Gospellers are here, the original version of "Hitori" contains the lyrics:
But for Pentaurus-kun, they're singing:
Startling and disturbing as Pentaurus-kun's appearance may initially be, you have to admit it's actually a pretty clever move on Nissin's part, as it's definitely a memorable design that helps you remember that modern pentathlon, despite getting very little of the Olympic limelight, is a pretty cool, not to mention physically demanding, mix of badass action-movie-star skills. That's the sort of awareness boost the sport could really use, seeing as how the video claims there are only about 300 modern pentathlon athletes in the world, and a mere 33 in all of Japan, which is part of the reason the sport's inclusion in the Olympics is in jeopardy after the 2020 Tokyo Games.
And aside from athletic implications, the weirdness level here, amped up by the fact that Pentaurus-kun seems to also be a talented dancer…
…should make the character a perfect fit for quirky gachapon capsule toy vending machine merch. Plus, with his inhuman yet muscular body, and also the fact that he's willing to whip himself…
…it's probably only a matter of time until kinky Pentaurus-kun fan art starts showing up.
Posted: 02 Mar 2018 07:00 AM PST
The slide in a children’s playground in Ehime, not suitable for children, will be no more after injuries and safety worries.
At what age do playgrounds stop being amazing places of pure adrenaline-fuelled excitement? As a small child, the roundabout threatens to send you flying off, as the centrifugal force lifts your feet up and you hang on for dear life. The swings and see-saws do their level best to launch you into the sky, possibly never to return. And the slide? The slide is tall beyond compare, the ride down at breakneck speeds as the wind bats against your face…for about three seconds.
Then there comes a time when the slide becomes less exciting, the sense of speed dulls, and playgrounds become tame. But it wasn’t so for adventure-seekers in Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku in Japan. Their 60-metre (200-foot) long slide in wet weather was enough to test the bravest soul. But no more.
We’ve previously reported on the popularity of videos of sliders shooting down the slide in rainy weather before skidding across the unforgiving ground at the bottom. Japanese TV even got in on the act, dubbing it “Japan’s most dangerous slide”.
▼ A Japanese TV personality doing one of the two things that Japanese TV personalities do best (alongside declaring how delicious whatever food they’re trying is): having pain inflicted on them for laughs.
But according to news reports, the slide, which has been shut down temporarily in the past, is now being closed for good. After a temporary closure it was reopened again but in April last year a two-year-old child using the slide hit their head on a railing, and the slide was once again closed. While it reopened again after that, the city of Imabari has decided that they can’t guarantee sliders’ safety and so the slide will no longer be open to thrill-seekers, and is to replaced by a climbing rope wall aimed at six- to twelve-year-olds, which is probably less likely to go viral. The city official responsible for the closure had this to say: “As a symbol of our region, it’s a pity it has to go. We did say we just wanted people to use it safely”.
When will people learn that playgrounds aren’t places for mucking about.
▼ The slide has been roped off for the time being but will soon be dismantled.
▼ For those who never got the chance to visit themselves, here’s a video capturing the excitement, and pain.
So since Japan’s most dangerous/amazing slide is out, what does that leave us playground aficionados? We could hunt down the creepy playgrounds that feature in photographer Kito Fujio’s work, or start a new hunt for Japan’s biggest roundabout. Or maybe befriend a sumo wrestler for some extreme see-saw madness, since the sumo wrestler who kept popping up on Google Maps would probably be game.
Posted: 02 Mar 2018 05:00 AM PST
After fans continued to ignore requests regarding what types of presents are appropriate, group institutes blanket ban.
There are a lot of different ways idol singer fans show their devotion to their favorite songstresses. Some buy up multiple copies of each and every physical media release from the group. Others grab their glow sticks and perform intense wotagei dance routines from the crowd at their live performances.
And then there are super-fans who send presents directly to their favorite idol unit, perhaps specifically for the member they're fondest of. However, fans are going to have to find another way to tell the six members of Batten Showjo-tai that they're cheering for them, because the group's manager has announced that as of this month, any and all presents from fans will be rejected.
▼ Batten Showjo-tai's "Yokayoka Dance"
The statement came via Batten Showjo-tai's official blog on February 26, when manager Satoshi Kojin posted:
Kojin goes on to explain that despite repeated requests for fans not to send gifts of the specific classes mentioned, there's been no noticeable decrease in such activity, especially for gift certificates and expensive items. It's gotten to the point where disposing of the restricted presents, as well as storing them in the interim, has become such a major time drain, and Kojin goes on to express another concern: the effects such pricey presents can have on the mental development of Batten Showjo-tai's members, who range in age from 14 to 18 years old.
▼ Batten Showjo-tai's "Merry Go Round"
Kojin went on to say that fans will still be able to send fan letters to the group, but he's markedly mum on a few other issues regarding the practice of fans giving gifts to idols. Sometimes the gifts are disturbingly inappropriate, as in the case of the idol who's received semen-stained teddy bears on multiple occasions, or the male dance troupe that was given a plushie with a hidden GPS device so that the giver could deduce the location of their home or practice space.
There's also the possibility that when fans give idols extravagant presents, it's not so much patronage of the arts as it is an attempt to create a personal connection and/or sense of obligation in order to satisfy the fan's obsessive positiveness. When idol singer Mayu Tomita was stabbed more than 20 times by a fan in 2016, the attacker told police that his actions were motivated by her not accepting a wristwatch he'd sent to her.
However, just because Kojin isn't explicitly mentioning such deplorable behavior by fans doesn't mean it isn't part of the impetus for Batten Showjo-tai new no-gift rule, as it could simply be a case of not wanting to upset the delicate balance between arm's-length objectivity and personal emotional support that exists between fans and performers for the most successful idol groups. And by taking the question of whether or not to accept a fan's gift out of the idols' hands, hopefully he's also helping to shield them from unwarranted anger from unbalanced individuals who'd take such rejection personally.
Posted: 01 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PST
And it’s all thanks to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-15s (and an Ishikawa-based vendor).
Japan’s Self-Defense Force (or JSDF) regiments are not all play and no work; they participate in regular training and drilling at bases all around Japan, and sometimes they even work together with U.S. forces. At Komatsu Air Base in Ishikawa, for example, the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force often bring their planes and helicopters from Okinawa to conduct aviation training, to avoid further disturbing their Okinawan neighbors. Because of the regular flights of both U.S. and Japanese planes, the city of Komatsu is known for its noisy F-15 fighter jets.
One genius Komatsu resident had the brilliant idea of using that to his advantage, and created a product called “Jet Blast Rice”. It’s really just rice grown in the area, but marketing it as “Jet Blast Rice” makes it sound way cooler, and epitomizes the local culture, too. One Japanese netizen found it so amusing and so characteristically Komatsu-like that they had share it on Twitter, only to have it retweeted more than 50,000 times.
▼ “People in other prefectures are worried about helicopters crashing and are nervous about the Ospreys coming, but Ishikawa residents are naturally crazy enough to turn the noise of F-15 fighter jets into a business!”
According to its page on the online store, “Jet Blast Rice” was “raised near Komatsu Air Base by the noise of F-15 fighter jets”. Apparently, that’s thanks to an aggressor squadron that visited in 2016, whose F-15s really spurred on the growth of this particular rice with the roaring sounds they make as they zoom overhead. So no, it’s not just ordinary rice: it’s Jet Blast Rice!
▼ It became so popular, it earned a segment on TV!
“Jet Blast Rice” is produced by Arts Million, a company based in Komatsu that sells, primarily, T-shirts and accessories representing the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) squadrons at Komatsu Air Base. But the most charming products on their shelves are gag food items like “Self-Defense Force Curry Ramen”, which is packaged in an old-school, Showa-style design; and “Operation Fire”, which is a Russian roulette of 12 manjuu (red bean cakes), two of which are super spicy.
The shop manager, Nishi-san, seems like a guy who appreciates the funny things in life, so it’s no surprise that he would come up with something this clever. In the “About the Manager” portion of the online shop’s website, he writes:
▼ It’s probably this guy.
If you find yourself in the Komatsu area, you can buy Arts Million’s rice and other snacks at stores inside the airport. You might also be lucky enough to attend a Komatsu Air Base event, where Nishi-san will have his characteristic blue t-shirt and megaphone. Maybe you’ll even have the privilege of watching a special JSDF performance! If not, you can order their merchandise online for 540 yen (U.S.$5.04). If you happen to try some of the Jet Blast Rice Rice, let us know! We’re willing to bet it tastes like victory.
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