What’s it like to eat at the Pokémon Cafe in Tokyo right now?

The world’s first permanent Pokémon Cafe is feeling the blow of Japan’s international travel restrictions.

Back in March 2018, the world’s first permanent Pokémon Cafe opened alongside the Pokémon Centre megastore in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district, and we were one of the first to reserve a table.

Sadly, our Pokémon-obsessed Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun missed out on attending at the time, and after trying in vain to secure a reservation for months afterwards, the coronavirus pandemic arrived, disrupting the cafe’s business hours and forcing P.K. to give up on his dream of tasting ’em all.

However, during this time P.K.’s young daughter was fast developing a love for Pokémon, and this year the now-four-year-old had become just as keen as her father to visit the cafe, which had taken on a Disneyland-like appeal in their eyes.

With his daughter’s dreams upon his shoulders, P.K. decided to be the very best dad, like no one ever was, and attempted to make a reservation yet again. Surprisingly, he managed to get a booking with ease, likely because current travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic meant reservation battles with fans from around the world were considerably less intense.

His previous failed attempts to get in ended up being a blessing in disguise, though, because this way he was able to share his first time at the cafe with his Pokémon-loving daughter, who would’ve been too young to appreciate just how special it was when it first opened.

▼ So it was a special day when P.K. and his daughter arrived at the cafe, making their way past Snorlax, Pikachu and Mew in the lobby the cafe shares with the shiny Pokémon Centre next door.

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Disney collaborates with traditional Kyoto designers for exhibition series【Photos】

Ever wanted to rock Disney and traditional Japanese style at the same time? Now you can.

We’ve seen traditional Japanese twists on Disney characters before, but not quite like this. From February 16 to February 23, Disney will team up with a slew of traditional Kyoto designers for a unique exhibit titled Disney Kyoto Traditional Design Series at Kyoto Museum of Crafts and Design’s MOCAD Gallery. The best part? There’s no entrance fee!

Some of these design companies have been around for hundreds of years. Take Tsujikura for example. They’re a traditional Japanese umbrella (or wagasa, if you want to get technical) shop that’s been in business since 1690.

▼ Their contribution to the exhibit is these adorable Mickey Mouse umbrellas.

There are even more lavish pieces in the exhibit as well, like this Mickey Mouse kimono from Okazen, who started out over 200 years ago making clothing for for geisha and maiko apprentices.

▼ Anyone else remember this scene from Fantasia?

Besides more traditional items, there are also everyday goods on display like these ceramic cups inspired by Winnie the Pooh.

▼ They’re made by a ceramics shopped called Asahido, located in front of Kyoto’s famous Kiyomizudera Temple.

And if you’re looking for accessories? Several designers have you covered. One of them is Katoriya, a handbag and pouch shop that can be traced back to 1886 in Kyoto’s Gion district.

▼ Nowadays, they make contemporary Japanese-style handbags like these ones with a Mickey Mouse design.

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Japan’s Tenga wants to create a masturbatory aid for people to use in outer space

Self-pleasuring pioneer plans to launch research rocket to help make it happen.

Like a lot of little boys, Koichi Matsumoto had a deep interest in space. Little Koichi didn’t grow up to be an astronaut or astronomer, though. Instead, he grew up to become the president of Tenga, Japan’s leading maker of male masturbatory aids (and also its strangest fitness goods).

But even as his customers reach for their dongs, Matsumoto is still reaching for the stars, and he’s just announced the Tenga Rocket Project. A joint venture between Tenga and civilian spaceflight company Interstellar Technologies, the project aims to launch a Tenga rocket into space.

▼ “We want to shout love and peace from space” says the promotional image, referencing Tenga’s slogan of “Love, peace, and Tenga.”

The proposed research rocket would fly to an altitude of 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) before drifting back down into the ocean. However, there’s more to the project than the obvious phallic imagery and similarities of a shaft first rising and then falling with a moist splash.

The rocket will contain written messages of the hopes and dreams of 1,000 people, placed inside Tenga-shaped pods for the round-trip into space and back. Also along for the ride into space will be a Tenga Robot figure.

But the most important cargo isn’t just some fun marketing gimmick, but a piece of research equipment that Tenga hopes will be the key to the development of its next-generation …continue reading


New taiko gacha capsule toys let you play Japanese drums with true-to-life sound

Now anyone can learn to play traditional Japanese drums, and there’s a safe that needs breaking into too!

We’re always on the hunt for new and exciting gacha capsule toys, which seem to be continually upping the ante every time a new range is released. Now, there’s yet another reason to go hunting for the plastic vending machines that dispense these little miniatures, because there’s a chance you’ll come across this latest collection from Tama Kyu, famous for their “New Standard Capsule Toy” releases.

▼ Say hello to the “Maji de Naru Taiko

Maji de Naru Taiko” translates to “Taiko That Seriously Sounds“, a name that captures the feeling of surprise people will get when they hit the little drum and discover that it seriously works, replicating the sound of a genuine taiko drum.

Real drums can cost hundreds of dollars to purchase, but these little toys retail for 300 yen (US$2.89) each, making them a much more affordable option for those wanting to enjoy taiko at home. The five colours in the range are:

▼ Brown

▼ Dark Brown

▼ Red

▼ Black

▼ Gold

The design of each drum has been faithfully reproduced to look and sound like a real …continue reading


The new Godzilla vs. Kong trailer is out! Here’s what Japanese fans think of it

Does Hollywood’s newest entry in the Godzilla Monsterverse live up to Japanese expectations?

Monster movie fans are probably chomping at the bit right now because the trailer for the newest Legendary’s MonsterVerse film is out, and it promises to be an epic watch!

The trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong is a lengthy and informative two minutes and 24 seconds long, filled with explosions, tense one-liners, and insane battles between Godzilla and Kong, including one on top of what looks like a naval aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean. Whereas in previous films, it was Godzilla who came to save the day against other monsters, it seems like this time Kong is the one destined to preserve humanity, while experts try to ferret out what happened to Godzilla and why he seems to have gone berserk.

The film stars several big name celebrities, including Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, and Rebecca Hall, as well as popular Japanese actor Shun Oguri (who makes an extremely brief appearance in the trailer), and although the story seems like it takes a backseat to the special effects (as it often does in kaiju movies), the fierce battle between the monsters is sure to be highly entertaining based on the sneak peeks presented in this trailer, and there also appear to be some stunning visuals included as well.

English-language responses to the trailer were overall positive, with many making jokes about the line in the film where someone says, “Godzilla is hurting people and we don’t know why!”. People seem to be excited to watch the two giant …continue reading


Two men charged for having sex at a public bathhouse in Tokyo

Manager has had enough of people using the sento for casual hookups.

In Japan, public bathhouses, known as “sento“, are used by people of all ages, from very young children, accompanied by a parent, to the elderly. While some people simply like the ease and convenience of using a public bathhouse, which can save on water bills and cleaning at home, others like to visit the sento for the purported health benefits of their waters, which are sometimes sourced from natural hot springs, while others have no choice but to use the local bathhouse, given that some apartments in Japan don’t come with baths or showers.

▼ Sento often include both indoor and outdoor bathing areas.

Then there are others who appear to confuse the bathhouse as a place for sexual activity, which is not its intended purpose. That’s what’s been happening at one particular sento in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, where two men were caught engaging in sexual acts last November. The two men, both in their thirties, were subsequently charged with public obscenity and admitted to the charges, saying they were aware that they would be causing trouble for the establishment, due to signage on the premises, but they “succumbed to temptation”.

The men say they had no previous acquaintance with each other, and met at the public bath on the day of the incident. The sexual activity was said to have taken course over about 20 minutes in the open-air bathing area, while the door to the area was unlocked and about 15 guests were using the inside baths.

▼ This TBS News report shows the facility where the incident took place.

The manager says he has reported around 40 such incidents of sexual …continue reading


Japanese train conductor flips off rail fan photographer, prompts apology from JR

Conductor flips the bird on snowy night in Tokyo.

Japanese companies pride themselves on customer service, and that attitude carries over to public transportation providers too. Japan’s largest rail provider, Japan Railways Group (also known as JR) is particularly committed to presenting an image of its staff as courteous and capable, so many were shocked to learn that one of JR’s conductors recently flipped off a station-goer.

The incident took place last Saturday at Hakonegasaki Station, located on the Hachiko Line in western Tokyo, and can be seen in the images below.

めざましテレビで八高線で中指立てた車掌やってたしw#めざましテレビ pic.twitter.com/5y53fNqCmh

— TJライナー (@donanbus2809) January 24, 2021

As snow fell on the evening of January 23, word got out that the Hachiko Line would be running its 209-series carriages. This older model has been largely phased out of service, but issues with the weather that day prompted a temporary comeback, and a pair of train enthusiasts had come to Hakonegasaki Station to take photos from the platform. At around 8:30, though, the JR conductor at the rear of one train bird-bombed the photo by extending both his arm and his middle finger as the train pulled away.

One of the rail fans posted a video of the incident on Twitter, and some wondered if he may have been exhibiting the less-than-polite behavior that train enthusiasts are sometimes known for. He explained, though, that he had been properly standing behind the yellow safety lines marked on the platform, and that he hadn’t been using a flash, using an umbrella, or doing anything else that he felt would pose a safety risk or impeded the staff from doing their job and other passengers from getting on or of the train.

Eventually the video caught JR’s attention, and the company was able to determine who the conductor …continue reading


Zuiganji Temple Tokushima

After visiting Taisanji, the first temple on the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, I headed down the mountain and returned to my room in Tokushima City. There was still some hours of daylight left so I went to the Tourist Information Office and asked about any good gardens for viewing the Fall colors.They only had one to suggest, Zuiganji Temple at the base of Bizan Mountain. Founded in 1614 it is a

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Japan’s Moonlight Nagara train service ends, leaving a hole in overnight rail travel

A sad day for travellers, especially Seishun 18 ticket holders.

While Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains get all the limelight on the international stage, where they’re loved for their punctuality, speed and spick-and-span interiors, there are plenty of other Japanese trains equally deserving of our love and attention.

The Moonlight Nagara is one such train, reliably ferrying passengers across the land on long-haul overnight trips between Tokyo and Gifu, spanning a total of five prefectures and covering a distance of roughly 442 kilometres (275 miles).

▼ The six-hour-40-minute train journey takes around nine hours by car, using expressways.

The current rapid overnight train service, operated by Central Japan Railway Company and East Japan Railway Company, has been active since 1996. However, in recent years its popularity has declined due to competition from cheap overnight bus services, and after its schedule was reduced to busy seasonal periods only, it’s now been announced that the service will stop running altogether.

▼ The 165 series Moonlight Nagara in 2000

▼ And the 183/189 series in 2007

The announcement came as sad news for many, but nobody is feeling the loss more than users of the Seishun 18 Kippu. This discounted ticket package–limited for use during four weeks in winter, five weeks in spring, and around seven weeks in summer–contains five days’ worth of unlimited travel on local and regular Japan Railways express trains for just 2,410 yen (US$23.24) per day.

▼ We once used the ticket to travel with a discount to Korea by ferry.

Considering a one-way journey from Tokyo Station to Gifu’s …continue reading