- America’s Fatburger opens its first restaurant in Japan, promises extra-fatty burgers
- Family Mart’s Instagramable Galactic Grape and Fantasy Peach frappes warp into stores
- 85-year-old Japanese granny wows internet with amazing piano performance【Video】
- Gotta escape ’em all in real Pokémon game “Escape from the Amusement Park of Wind”
- Japan now has a transforming giant robot/car that two full-sized adults can ride in【Video】
- Japan’s steamy ‘10,000 Kisses’ ad has viewers blushing from cuteness, intense embarrassment【Vid】
- Shibuya scramble crossing set for a makeover with new logo contest for iconic 109 building
Posted: 27 Apr 2018 06:00 PM PDT
Tokyo's Shibuya neighborhood welcome the Los Angeles-based burger institution.
At the same time that ramen and sushi are seeing their popularity skyrocket overseas, Japan is falling in love all over again with hamburgers. In addition to its indigenous burger providers, over the past few years Japan has seen a number of American hamburger chains set up locations within the country, including Shake Shack, Umami Burger, and Carl's Jr.
This weekend, Tokyo welcomes the latest arrival from the States, as Los Angeles' Fatburger hops across the Pacific to open its first-ever Japanese branch in the capital's trendy Shibuya neighborhood. April 28 marks the grand opening of the restaurant, which is located inside the Magnet by Shibuya 109 shopping/dining complex (which was known as 109 Men's until recently).
Fatburger has a reputation for extra-filling sandwiches even by American standards, and its sticking to that strategy for Japan, where its 115-gram (4.1-ounce) patties are roughly double the size of Japanese chains' basic burgers, and the meat content tops out with the 690-grm US Triple Kingburger. The Japanese branch's Australian beef is also said to have a 20-percent higher fat content than other varieties, which should match up well with Japan's preference for marbled beef. Speaking of Japanese dining culture, Fatburger will also offer alcohol at its Japanese branches, something Carl's Jr. and Burger King do as well.
Fatburger hopes to open 10 restaurants in Japan within the next three years, and we wish them the best of luck. We're always happy to have another burger option here in Japan, and when we make our first trip to the Shibuya branch, we'll make sure to arrive hungry.
Posted: 27 Apr 2018 10:30 AM PDT
Family Mart’s newest drink campaign shoots for the moon and promises a rainbow of dreamy starshine flavors.
Whether you get taken in by the craze or not, there's no denying the gravitational pull of a limited beverage. Starbucks Japan's seasonal offerings make headlines almost every holiday, and even something as classic as a Pepsi or Sprite gains an exotic edge from a unique (or equally important, limited) flavor.
Family Mart, one of the most popular convenience store chains in Japan, is no stranger to the power of a constantly rotating drink menu. Visitors can buy staple drinks like coffee, tea, and hot cocoa at the stores' Family Mart Café machines, but every season also comes with its own specialty flavors in the form of Family Mart frozen frappes.
To get your own, pick your frappe base right out of a freezer, add hot milk from the café machine, then mix it with the special extra-wide straw. Voila, a great-tasting frappe without the coffee shop price tag!
▼ Just remember to use milk to mix it, not tea or coffee. Ahem.
These seasonal frappes usually play it safe on their trip to Flavortown with flavors like milk tea, strawberry, or chocolate mint. The newest additions to the line-up are much more adventurous, and promise to boldly go where few convenience store drinks have gone before…
The dramatic ad above introduces our two new stars. On the top, billing itself as "the taste of space", is the Galactic Grape frappe. This frappe comes with colorful stripes of flavor: yellow (lemon), purple (blackberry and grape), and turquoise (orange).
Once filled with the hot milk and mulched into submission by your straw, the colors and tastes blend into a gorgeous grape-flavored galaxy that could give the Unicorn Frappucino a run for its money. It'll make for a good selfie too!
If sci-fi isn't your thing, the Fantasy Peach frappe is described as "a fanciful flavor from dreamland". Bands of dark pink (white peach), orange (vanilla yogurt), and pale pink (lemon) swirl together into a beautiful pastel concoction that wouldn't look out of place in a fairy tale. Once all those bands harmonize, the drink will taste like peach yogurt.
Both these otherworldly experiences can be yours for just 290 yen (US$2.65) per cup, and they'll be in Family Mart freezers from April 29th.
What if your tastebuds aren't especially adventurous? Family Mart has you covered. From May 6th, the stores will stock the rich and aromatic Café Frappe. Coffee beans from Columbia and Brazil form the base of this creamy classic, and it's dusted throughout with ground Ethiopian Mocha beans. It'll cost 270 yen (US$2.50) a shot.
Finally, you can grab the Banana Gelato frappe, though you'll have to wait all the way until May 13th. Crammed full of rich banana juice and pieces of banana fruit imported from the Philippines, this drink has a special twist: buy a packet of the special chocolate syrup to squirt over the top and it'll harden into a crunchy coating. As a choco-banana fan I can't wait to shell out an extra 35 yen for that! The Banana Gelato drink retails for 320 yen (US$2.95).
▼ Banana Gelato Frappe + Crunchy Choco Syrup = Chocobanana Frappe!
Are these funky new flavors going to be enough to take on the coffee kings of Japan? Could you stomach a Galactic Grape frappe taste mixed with tea instead? Most importantly, which of these frappes do you want to try? Let us know!
Posted: 27 Apr 2018 08:00 AM PDT
She has trouble standing and taking a bow after her performance, but her hands glide like the wind across the keys.
Talented musicians come in different packages, and we’ve even seen some that were a little unexpected, like a wandering samurai, a six-year-old girl, and a busty gravure idol, so we aren’t really surprised by much anymore. Nevertheless, this seemingly frail 85-year-old Japanese granny and her amazing piano skills sure have impressed us.
A video of her playing was uploaded by YouTube user kimurama1 in August, but it was shared on Twitter just the other day by @hokuro_, and now it’s got over 400,000 views on YouTube and almost 170,000 likes and retweets on Twitter. Why? Well, just watch.
You might think that for such a cute little Granny, she’s not going to be able to play anything really crazy. Maybe a slow sonata or something somewhat basic, but with the potential to be cool, like “The Entertainer.” But no, this Granny is here to impress: she’s playing Franz Schubert’s “Impromptu Opus 90 No. 4”.
“Impromptu Opus 90 No. 4” is not an easy piece; it switches keys twice and has a 10-page score, which at one time contains a non-stop stream of quarter-note chords for both hands. It’s more than eight minutes long and involves a lot of moving up and down the keyboard, but this granny is not fazed. She effortlessly plays the entire song, with the help of a page flipper, and even looks like she’s having a great time doing it.
▼ Look at those hand flourishes!
She’s not just skillful at playing the right notes in a complex melody, though; her playing is emotional and full of musical expression. She plays the Impromptu in such a way that it feels like the melody is floating around you, filling you with the emotions of it. And like a true pianist, when she finds a phrase that’s especially fun to play or is especially beautiful, she leans forward in anticipation. Her joy in the music is evident.
▼ These hands may look weathered, but they are as strong as ever.
Amazingly, half the time she doesn’t even look at the sheet music! After finishing off the Impromptu with some triumphant staccato chords, she takes a moment to relax and let it sink in that she played such an exulted piece before taking a bow with a big smile. While standing, she needs to stabilize herself with the piano and the chair, but her arms and hands needed no assistance to play the music.
At the end of a video some words are exchanged, but it’s hard to hear what is being said. The video descriptions and tweets are not clear as to what the occasion for the performance is; the video only said that it is a birthday party, though for who it doesn’t say. Nevertheless, this granny managed to impress her audience, both physical and digital, as netizens all over Japan sing praise for this unexpectedly talented pianist:
Granny’s talent and skill on the piano may be a surprise to some, but it’s likely she’s got a whole lifetime of experience in playing the piano behind her, so in hindsight we ought to have expected her to be brilliant. Besides, we should know never to be surprised by the elderly in Japan, who can be just as active, creative, or heroic as anyone else.
Posted: 27 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT
Finally, a real-world Pokémon adventure where you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car.
Many of us have probably dreamed of going on a real-life Pokémon adventure, befriending little weaponized critters and throwing balls at their faces. For a time it seemed Pokémon GO was the answer to those prayers, but only until very recently it seemed their idea of an “adventure” was months of aimless repetitive tasks.
So perhaps this upcoming escape game utilizing Nintendo’s library of pocket monsters will fill that wanderlust in the hearts of all Pokémon fans. Named Escape from the Amusement Park of Wind, it will be held in Tokyo an Osaka and lets players lose in real amusement parks.
According to the game’s website, players take the roles of participants in the Wind Festival, a yearly event that attracts legendary Pokémon. However, Team Rocket has also been drawn to the festivities and are up to no good.
After a series of strange incidents, the fairgrounds are sealed off and you must solve mysteries to unlock the blockades and escape. Along the way there will be many pokémon whom you can catch and have aid you in your sleuthing.
The Tokyo game will be held at Tokyo Dome City Attractions from 14 July to 24 September, and the Osaka edition will run from 18 July to 17 September at Hirakata Park. In either case tickets can be purchased in advance and will allow players to get their hands on an advance play guide to help them prepare.
▼ This event is a tie-in with the upcoming movie Pocket Monster: Everybody’s Story, which also features a Wind Festival.
This is a relatively laid-back escape game as well, with no time-limits and groups of one to whatever able to join. There’s also an optional simplified kids course for the tykes or adults whose attention spans have eroded from decades of playing Pokémon.
As with most escape games, there aren’t many details. How players interact with the Pokémon is the biggest mystery and really the crux to how cool this game will be. Still, it looks promising, and even if doesn’t live up to expectations, you’re still at an amusement park and can perk up your spirits with a brisk merry-go-round ride or karaoke on a Ferris wheel. You can’t lose!
Posted: 27 Apr 2018 06:00 AM PDT
Anime becomes reality with help from the creator of the original Gundam, and it even has a strange, hard-to-pronounce anime mecha-style name!
Kunio Okawara is one of the anime industry's most respected mecha designers, as you'd expect of the man who designed the original Gundam as well as the mobile suits for much of the franchise. So when word came that he'd designed an all-new robot, called the J-deite RIDE, we were pretty excited.
And hey, check it out, Okawara's design isn’t for an anime, but something that exists in the real world. That's not a scaled-down model kit, either, but a full-sized, roughly four-meter (13.1-foot) tall, actual transforming robot that two full-sized adults can ride inside!
A joint effort between three Japanese tech firms, Brave Robotics, Asratec, and Sansei Technologies, J-deite RIDE (with the first half of "J-deite" pronounced "jay" and the second half rhyming with "light"), sometimes is an awesome robot with glowing eyes. But at other times, it's a sporty two-seat car, because Brave Robotics believes that a robot that doesn't transform isn't really a robot at all.
▼ The car-to-robot transformation
In a display of well-thought-out user friendliness, the J-deite RIDE's reconfiguration mechanics don't require the driver/pilot and passenger to exit the vehicle while it’s transforming. As the video shows, the two occupants can remain in their seats as machine changes from car to humanoid form, or vice-versa.
▼ Speaking of the humans inside, the two men appear to be wearing business suits, as opposed to sleek futuristic pilot outfits.
▼ That said, this looks like a much cooler way to get to your office in downtown Tokyo than packing yourself in with other commuters on the Yamanote Line rail loop.
▼ A separate video shows the robot-to-car transformation sequence.
This isn't a still model, either. The J-deite RIDE can take steps in biped mode, and the car can operate as, well, a car, putting power to its drive wheels and turning.
▼ Step test
▼ Drive test
Before you go selling your current car (or giant robot), be aware that the J-deite RIDE isn't quite ready for mass production or private-use sales just yet. Right now, its creators are looking into focusing on displaying it at exhibitions, as well as looking into installing the model as an amusement park attraction. The first such display is coming up on May 5 at the Golden Week Doki Doki Festa at Tochigi Prefecture's Twin Ring Motegi motorsports circuit, where it'll be stealing the spotlight from the boring, non-transforming cars.
Posted: 26 Apr 2018 10:00 PM PDT
Marriage agency Zexy thrills Japanese viewers with a makeout montage both moving and mortifying.
Marriage is a tough subject for any young couple to broach, which may be why the number of newlyweds continues to steadily decrease as years go by. At least we can count on wedding planning agency Zexy to raise our spirits and daydream about candlelit romance.
You might remember Zexy from their hilariously exploitable anime dating sim ads, where you could have your husband-to-be insult you to your face or tell you he's already cheating on you. This latest ad reels all the gimmicks back in so we can remember what marriage is really about: kissing.
Lots of kissing.
Kissing in the rain.
Kissing with matching duck faces?
Alright, so the narration goes a little deeper than that. Hiroe Igeta, who plays the blushing bride, narrates the commercial with such breath-taking lines as “I'm not sure if a future with you is what's best for me, but I want to be with you while I find out” and “Whether we get married or not–just know that I love you with all my heart.” (Isn't this company supposed to be encouraging people to get married? This is top-level reverse psychology.)
Even the coldest heart will be warmed by all those cozy, snuggly scenes of Igeta and her onscreen boyfriend (played by handsome actor Yoshihiko Hosoda). The 30-second ad packs in close to twenty separate kisses, which occur in an instantaneous flurry alongside their first kiss as a married couple.
You might be thinking that twenty kisses isn't that impressive for a commercial about romance, but keep in mind that Japanese society is notoriously shy about public displays of affection. Those twenty quick cuts of Igeta and Hosoda face-battling caused quite a stir:
The theme of the commercial is '10,000 kisses', so this 30-second snapshot leaves out a whopping 9,980 kisses! At the rate of 20 kisses per 30 seconds, that means the hypothetical full commercial would take approximately 10 days, 10 hours to watch.
Just imagine sitting in front of a TV while your parents stare alongside you, your expressions frozen in that deer-in-the-headlights expression. Second after agonizing second. Minute after minute.
▼ “Just 6,987 kisses to go…”
Maybe none of us are ready for that kind of harrowing experience when watching TV, but here's hoping that Zexy's commercial inspires some cuddles amongst Japanese sweethearts – and failing that, helps to inoculate the rest of the nation from second-hand embarrassment.
Posted: 26 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT
Your chance to see your design up in lights at one of the world’s busiest intersections.
Shibuya’s 109 building is one of the most famous landmarks in Tokyo, and a dream destination for young women looking to shop for cute and fashionable clothing and goods inside the multi-storey shopping mall.
▼ All the cool girls know that Shibuya 109 is the place to be.
Located right by the famous scramble crossing, the building has been looming over the intersection with its large “Shibuya 109” sign for 39 years, and now, to mark its upcoming 40th anniversary in 2019, the building’s operators are looking to give the ageing beauty a facelift, with an all-new logo.
Designs for the new logo, which will feature on advertising for the shopping mall, as well as on the outside of the building, will be selected from the public through a special contest that’s currently running from 18 April to 20 May. Not only will the winning design change the cityscape at Shibuya’s famous scramble crossing, it will also net the winning designer a prize of 1.09 million yen (US$9,967.90), while three runners-up will be awarded 109,000 yen ($996.62) each.
The competition is open to amateurs and professionals alike, and entries can be submitted by mail or email, with details up on the official site. Although the site is only available in Japanese, the contest is open to people from around the world, and if you don’t have access to any design software, they’ve created a special Logo Maker which allows entrants to submit their ideas via Twitter.
Some of the ideas currently on Twitter range from the simplest of designs to the slightly more colourful and outrageous.
▼ Check out the short clip below for a quick look at how the Logo Maker works:
Once the contest closes on 20 May, the company will get together to shortlist four entries, which will be revealed by July. Then, the country will have a couple of weeks to cast their vote online for the winning design, with the new logo appearing at the end of July.
So if you want to change the face of an iconic building and see your work up in lights at one of the world’s most famous locations, now’s the time to get busy designing. What type of design would you like to see replace the old logo? Let us know in the comments section below!
Source, images: @Press
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