Pikachu Outbreak 2018: World’s first Eevee march to join Pokémon summer celebrations in Japan!

Because the only thing better than seeing 1,500-plus Pikachus is seeing a squad of Eevees at the same time.

Ever since 2014, Japan’s second-largest city of Yokohama has been coming to life every August as hundreds of Pikachus overrun the area in an annual celebration called the Pikachu Outbreak.

▼ Each year’s “Outbreak” runs under a different theme, and this year’s theme is “Science is Amazing“.

One of the highlights of the roughly week-long festivities is the chance to see daily Pikachu parades around the Minato Mirai harbour district, where over 1,500 Pikachu mascots strut through the streets, get wet and wild, and bust out dance moves amongst crowds of adoring fans who come from around the country to catch a glimpse of them.

Now in its fifth year, the organisers have decided to add some extra excitement to the Pokémon festivities by introducing a world-first to this summer’s instalment: an Eevee march!

While the exact number of Eevee mascots in the parade is being kept under wraps for now, the organisers are describing it as “the world’s first big Eevee march“, which means we can expect to see a large group of cute and cuddly brown-furred creatures on display.

Given that Eevee’s been hard at work recently, visiting offices around Japan as part of the Eevee Company Visit project, we’ve got a bit of an idea of what she’ll look like on the day.

While the Pikachu parade route runs from Queen’s Square Yokohama to the Grand Mall park area, those looking to get a wave from Eevee should head to the Shinko Central Plaza in the Red Brick Warehouse district during the festivities.

▼ The Red Brick Warehouse district will also be the site for the Soaking Wet Splash Show, where visitors can cool down with Pikachu.

While the Eevee parade will only be held during the day, for the first time this year, the Pikachu parade will also be held after sundown as well, when a procession of electric Pokémon will appear in flashing-light costumes.


▼ And there’ll also be a Pikachu parade on the sea, with a digital splash show featuring other Pokémon as well!

This year’s Pikachu Outbreak event will run from 10-16 August, so don’t forget to don your Pikachu glasses and pack your Pokémon soda because this event looks set to be their biggest one yet!

Source: @Press
Featured image: @Press
Insert images: @PressPR Times

We interview Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in Japan

The Hollywood movie stars dish the dirt on their relationship and reveal why Chris has a thing for Japanese TV presenter Koji Kato.

While our Japanese-language team slogs it out at the office, reporter P.K. Sanjun has been hobnobbing with Hollywood stars, and the most recent celebrities he’s spent time with are Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

P.K. was particularly excited about this encounter, as there’s been a lot of a buzz about Pratt in Japan after he and Howard appeared on Nippon Television’s morning news programme Sukkiri last month. During the show, the stars played a game of table tennis with the Japanese presenters, one of whom was Koji Kato, who voiced the character of Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy for the Japanese dub of the film.

On a previous trip to Japan to promote Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt missed out on meeting the Japanese voice of Rocket, and expressed his disappointment by shouting out, “Koji!!! Why??!!” on national TV. The Hollywood star’s fondness for Kato earned him a place in Japanese viewer’s hearts, so P.K. was especially keen to find out more about their endearing relationship as he interviewed the Hollywood stars.

P.K.: I am honoured to meet you. Today I wore a “Guardians of the Galaxy” T-shirt just for you!

Pratt: “Oh, that’s cool!”

Howard (to Pratt)“Hey, when does shooting start for the next Guardians?”

This set off a quiet conversation between the two actors, which P.K. struggled to understand before he looked at his allotted time quickly ticking by and decided he had to interrupt them.

P.K.: Um, we don’t have a lot of time so do you mind if we continue?

Pratt: “Oh, I’m sorry. Okay!”

Howard“Okay!”

P.K.: So let me start. I just saw your film and I think it’s great! The relationship between Owen and Claire is different from the last film (2015’s Jurassic World), so I was wondering: What are your impressions of each other’s characters? 

Pratt: “Well, if I had to say one thing about Claire, it’d be that she’s the worst woman to be around ever!” 

Howard“Hahahahahaha!”

Pratt: “But really, although I like to joke that Owen thinks she’s annoying, she’s actually the best partner for him to have in such a harsh environment. They get along well but it’s like one of them is always fighting to be the leader. Despite their bickering, they’re the best partners for each other and that’s something that hasn’t changed in this movie.”

P.K.: I see. What’s it like from Claire’s viewpoint?  

Howard“Well, Owen’s a really charming guy so he can get away with saying anything, but more than anything, he’s a really dependable character. He’s constantly making the right choices and he’s good in crisis situations. He’s the type of person who would come and save you if you were drowning at sea.”

P.K.: Yeah, that dependability really came across throughout the film.  

Howard: “Yes – also Claire’s a bit too serious, even for me. Owen’s good at making her laugh and helping her realise that you don’t have to take life too seriously.”

P.K.: I see. I don’t want to give away what happens in this film, but for the next film would you like to see Owen and Claire get together or go separate ways?

Pratt: “Actually there was a lot of discussion about what type of relationship they would have for this film, with us giving our input as well. Their relationship is different in the first and second films, so we don’t know what will happen in the next one, but I’m hoping Owen gets to go out with Claire, even though she’s so annoying!”

Howard: “Hahahahahaha! Yeah, we really have no idea what will happen in the next one, but surely the two of them will always be connected somehow.”

P.K.: You’re right – I really think the characters are made for each other! Now, excuse me while I direct some questions to Chris for a second…Chris, did you know that there’s quite a buzz surrounding you online in Japan at the moment? 

Pratt: “What? Really? No, I didn’t know that.”

P.K.: It’s true – There’s a video of you going around at the moment from your appearance on the TV show Sukkiri, where you called out “Koji! Koji!”, that’s made you one of the hottest Hollywood stars online in Japan right now.

Pratt: “Oh! Koji!!”

P.K.: Everyone’s saying your reaction to Koji on TV was the best, so would you mind telling me what it is about Koji that you love so much? 

Pratt: “Okay! Actually, I went on Sukkiri again yesterday but ended up losing to Koji at table tennis on the show. I’m impossible to beat at table tennis, so I can’t understand it – Koji must’ve cheated somehow!” (Laughs)

Howard: “Hahahahahaha!”

Pratt: “But he did the voice for Rocket in the Japanese dub of Guardians of the Galaxy so he’s a fellow Guardians colleague. His performance and vocal work in the film was really outstanding, and he’s fantastic as a newscaster and comedian as well. It’s strange how I remember feeling an affinity with Koji from the beginning, even though he did cheat at table tennis!” (Laughs)

P.K.: I understand! Well, I look forward to seeing more of your interactions together on your next visit to Japan! 

Pratt: “Okay! But in order for that to happen, you’ll have to call Koji for me.” (Laughs)

P.K.: Finally, Bryce – this is the first time I’ve seen a Hollywood actress laugh so much. I thought you’d be a bit of a serious, haughty celebrity but your personality is the best!”

Pratt: “Bryce is the best! But Claire’s the worst!” 

Howard: “Hahahahahaha!”

And then, ten minutes after starting the interview, P.K.’s time with the stars was sadly over. P.K. had interviewed a large number of well-known movie stars and even Howard’s father, director Ron Howard, before, but these two seemed even more friendly and approachable than most.

Just as he was picking up his things to leave the room, Pratt surprised P.K. by saying, “Should we take a photo together?” P.K. had always avoided asking for photos with the stars in case he came across as rude or unprofessional, so he was thrilled to take up this opportunity.

▼ Pratt suggested P.K. take a selfie, so he followed the star’s advice.

Instagram Photo

And with that, Pratt and Howard had won themselves another fan for life, this time in our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun. No matter who he interviews next in Tokyo, P.K. will never forget the time he poked his tongue out like a dinosaur with two of Jurassic World‘s hottest Hollywood stars.

Photos © SoraNews24

Flooded disaster-struck region in Japan urges people to use hashtag to tell everyone they’re okay

After dealing with a natural disaster, this part of Japan is now struggling to prevent financial disaster as well.

In late June and early July, a large swathe of southwestern Japan was devastated by floods and mudslides following a series of heavy downpours, leaving over 200 dead and more than 40 missing, after millions of people in 23 prefectures were urged to evacuate.

One of the hardest hit areas was the Mabicho district of Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture, where dozens of people were killed and thousands of houses were affected after nearly 30 percent of the town became flooded with water from the Oda River, which broke its banks in the early hours of 7 July.

Scenes of devastation in the area were broadcast on TV news programmes around the country, but what hasn’t been as widely publicised is the state of the area now, particularly in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, which is one of the region’s most popular sightseeing spots.

According to Yuurin-An, a cafe and guesthouse in the historical quarter that suffered nothing more than a roof leak during the crisis, the canal-lined district escaped severe damage and is perfectly fine and open for business, but there’s one problem: now there are hardly any visitors.

After receiving successive cancellations, the owners became so concerned about the reputation of the area that they decided to take action, printing out a notice to let everyone know the area was fine, and handing the leaflets out to visitors.

The notice says “Please let people know that it’s business as usual in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter!” and goes on to explain the cancellations received after the disaster and the importance of the district as one of the representative tourist areas of not just Kurashiki, but Okayama Prefecture as a whole. In order to help preserve the future of the area, and Okayama itself, they ask that people post photos of the historical quarter on social media with the hashtag #美観地区は元気だったよ (bikan chiku wa genki datta yo, which translates to “The Bikan District was healthy!”).

This photo from Yuurin-An shows that the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter really is fine and open for business as usual.

After sending out the request online, people were quick to act and show their support for the area.

“I hesitated to attend an academic conference here, but everything was normal in the area around Kurashiki Station.”

“It’s concerning that less people are here. There’s no damage in the Bikan District and at Korakuen (one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, located in Okayama). By all means, please stop by.”

“We stopped by Kurashiki and saw no real change in the area, apart from the colour of the water in the river. We finally got to eat the parfait with a whole peach in it, which was delicious and fresh, and made a small donation by buying a peach juice afterwards.”

“We came to Kurashiki. The Bikan district was unchanged, but there was noticeably less pedestrian traffic. We got some delicious things and bought a lot of souvenirs.”

“I went to the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter today. The financial damage there is real…it was a weekday, but I only saw about one visitor every ten minutes…the denim burger was as delicious as always, and I had fun going around the stores picking out some Bizen pottery. Somehow I felt like crying.”

The situation in the area, and the support it’s currently receiving from visitors, is enough to bring a tear to anyone’s eye. If you were intending to visit the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, then rest assured that you don’t need to cancel your holiday plans, and if you’re looking to support the region, you might want to book a trip there soon. And if you do visit, don’t forget to post your photos online with the hashtag #美観地区は元気だったよ!

Source: Net Lab
Featured image: Twitter/@uurin_an

Turn a cheap ice cream into a luxury dessert with katsuobushi bonito fish flakes

This surprising recipe creates a richer, more flavourful bowl of ice cream.

Just last week, one of our Japanese-language reporters was watching Gatten!, a TV programme on national broadcaster NHK, when one of their segments immediately caught her attention.

Discussing ways to use up leftover katsuobushi bonito fish flakes, a staple in Japanese households, the presenters had some clever suggestions for viewers, with ideas like katsuobushi-infused oil, katsuobushi-infused butter, and even katsuobushi-infused alcohol drawing “oohs” and “ahhs” from the audience.

However, out of all these inventive recipe ideas, there was one that really stood out from all the others: katsuobushi ice cream. While fish-flavoured ice cream might not sound that appealing, the presenters were adamant that mixing fish flakes with ice cream actually transforms it into a more luxurious dessert. Sachi, our Japanese-language reporter, was keen to try out the recipe to see how much truth there really was to this odd-sounding claim.

For those keen to walk on the wild side of vanilla ice cream, here’s NHK’s recipe:

Ingredients:
 200 millilitres (6.8 ounces) of vanilla ice cream
 2 grammes (0.07 ounces) of dried bonito fish flakes
Pinch of salt

Method:
1: Rub the bonito flakes in the packet to loosen
2: Add the bonito flakes and salt into the ice cream and mix well

Sachi chose to use a tub of Meiji Essel Super Cup Ultra Vanilla — one of the cheapest and best-loved ice cream varieties on the market — for this experiment, and was incredibly impressed with the ease of it all.

It took less than a couple of minutes to add the fine pieces of fish flakes to the ice cream, and when she tasted it, she couldn’t deny that there was a new depth of flavour created by the addition of bonito.

However, it was at this moment that she realised she’d forgotten to add salt to the mix. Sachi grabbed a pinch and mixed it in and it was at this point that she was totally won over by the unusual combination. The plain vanilla ice cream was even more delicious than ever!

The flavour was so well-rounded and had such a rich depth to it that it tasted entirely different to the plain vanilla ice cream she was used to. The addition of salt and fish flakes brought the texture and flavour up to a whole new level, giving it a luxurious taste that made her feel like she was eating a much more expensive brand of ice cream.

While she couldn’t explain exactly why the ice cream tasted so high-class, she guessed that it had something to do with the umami from the smoked bonito fish. Since there was little fish aroma emanating from the dish, her cat was curious enough to come over and take a sniff as well.

Totally satisfied with the upmarket ice cream she’d just created, Sachi was tempted to keep some for afterwards, but according to the presenters on the TV show, the mix tends to taste a bit more salty after it’s frozen, so it’s best to eat it after the mix is freshly made.

Sachi says this is one of the easiest and best ice cream recipes she’s ever come across, and she wholeheartedly recommends trying it. If you’re looking to be even more creative with your ice cream this summer, though, don’t despair — you could always try adding ramen or soy sauce for an extra boost of unique Japanese flavour!

Photos © SoraNews24 

Japanese train passenger records journey that looks like a scene from a Makoto Shinkai anime film

People around the country are in awe of the clip, which was taken without the use of filters or any editing software.

If you’ve grown up watching anime all your life, walking around Japan can sometimes seem like you’ve stepped into the animated world of your dreams. There are neon signs emblazoned with Japanese writing, street signs with unusual symbols, and railway crossings that stop pedestrians and traffic even in busy areas of Tokyo.

For many, it’s the country’s trains that strike a chord, as anime scenes often present this mode of transport as a gateway to another way of life, slowing down the pace of the narrative with long carriages, sweeping landscape scenery, and the comforting clickety-clack of the rails.

One Twitter user in Japan recently came across a scene just like this during a rail commute, and captured it on video for the whole world to enjoy. The video looks like a hand-drawn anime playing out in front of your eyes, but no filters or editing were used in its creation.

Check out the video below:

The beautiful clip, which was filmed by Kobe-based photographer Kazuya Hashimoto, shows two Hankyu trains on the rails, making their way past rooftops, tall apartment blocks, and over bridges, as they head faithfully towards their destination.

The signature maroon colour of the Hankyu trains, which run between Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto and Takarazuka, give the trains character, and at one point it seems as if they’re racing each other to get to their final destination.

▼ Even Osaka’s iconic Umeda Sky Building on the left looks like it’s been hand-drawn.

Adding to the cinematic feel of the clip is the way Hashimoto’s point-of-view changes from the train he’s on, as the camera angle starts off low and then rises higher than the other two trains beside it, making it feel like choices made by an anime director.

Since it was shared online, the clip has received more then three million views, with people around the country in awe of the scene, saying it looks just like something from a Makoto Shinkai anime film. According to Hashimoto, the clip, which was filmed on his iPhone shortly after leaving Umeda Station, has an animated look due to the weather conditions on the day, which gave everything a slightly hazy, muted look.

It just goes to show that sometimes, real life has a way of imitating the animated world in the most beautiful way. Until the anime studio that produced Shinkai’s Your Name releases its next movie, we’ll definitely be keeping one eye out the train window for a glimpse of more anime scenes in the real world.

Source, images: Twitter/@blg3014

Hello Kitty Shinkansen Cafe: A delicious stop on the most kawaii bullet train in Japan

Get on board with the country’s cutest Shinkansen at its official limited-time cafe.

Wherever you go in Japan, there’s always something new and exciting happening to pique the interest of locals and visiting tourists, and this summer everyone’s scrambling to get a seat on the a Hello Kitty Shinkansen bullet train.

The new high-speed train, which began running on 30 June, is currently shuttling passengers to and from Osaka’s Shin-Osaka Station and Hakata Station in Fukuoka on the Sanyo Shinkansen line. Adorned inside and out with details dedicated to Sanrio’s world-famous character, this is a journey that Hello Kitty fans from around the world are keen to take, but if you’re not able to make the trip, don’t despair – the train now has a Hello Kitty Shinkansen cafe open for a limited time as well.

While a peek inside the Shinkansen itself is limited only to passengers who’ve booked a ticket on the train, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Cafe is open for everyone to visit. However, seeing as it’s located past the turnstiles inside Hakata Station, if you’re not taking a train you’ll need to buy a platform ticket, which costs 140 yen (US$1.27) for adults and 70 yen for children, and has a two-hour time limit.

Once you’re inside, the cafe is easy to find, as it shines bright like a beacon covered in pretty pink bows. Out the front is a faux Hello Kitty Shinkansen platform, which acts as a photo spot for tourists, showing Kitty dressed in her rail attendant uniform, standing next to her equally cute-looking train.

Once you’ve stopped for a photo, it’s time to head inside, where even more cuteness awaits.

▼ First, there’s a beautiful miniature model of the limited-edition bullet train.

▼ Once you sit down, you get to receive a pretty placemat…

▼ And if you order a drink with your meal you can choose from one of 20 cute coasters.

When we visited, we were given a selection of two menus: the cafe’s regular menu, which also comes with a special morning selection…

And the far more colourful and appealing Hello Kitty Shinkansen menu, which offers up goodies like: a Pollock Cream Pasta for 1,200 yen; a Sweets Plate for 1,000 yen; a Parfait for 800 yen; a Float for 700 yen; a Cream Daifuku Japanese Sweet and Coffee Set for 700 yen, and an adorable cappuccino for 700 yen.

We decided to splurge by ordering the most expensive, and most hearty, dish on the menu: the cute Hello Kitty Curry for 1,500 yen. And to make sure we received a free cute coaster, we added an iced coffee to our meal for 300 yen.

When the curry arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it looked just as adorable as it did in the picture!

Hello Kitty, decked out in an edible train conductor hat, was bursting out from the plate, surrounded by a deliciously sweet and flavourful curry. Adding to the kawaii cuteness of the meal were star-shaped carrots and a star-shaped meat patty and fried potato, along with a heart-shaped croquette. Just looking at this dish filled us with happiness as we ate our meal!

For fans who prefer to take Hello Kitty home rather than eat her, there’s also a special shop at the station, located in the Hikari Square area outside of the turnstiles.

Here fans can fill up on all sorts of limited-edition merchandise dedicated to the unique Shinkansen train collaboration, including cute keyrings and stationery.

If you’re a Hello Kitty fan heading to Fukuoka, you’ll definitely have a good time at the new store and cafe at Hakata Station. And if you’re able to step onboard the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, there’s even more cuteness in store for you, with its amazing kawaii interiors.

Cafe Information

Hello Kitty Shinkansen Cafe / ハローキティ新幹線カフェ
Address: Fukuoka-ken, Fukuoka-shi, Hakata-ku Hakata Eki Chuo-gai 1-1
福岡県福岡市博多区博多駅中央街1−1
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. every day

Related: Hello Kitty Shinkansen Official Page
Photos © SoraNews24 

Cat cafe video shows reaction of felines before, during and after an earthquake in Japan

Video shows the cats panicking before the tremors start.

On 18 June, Osaka was hit by the strongest tremor to hit the region in decades, with the jolt dislodging crockery and furniture in households, and causing damage to buildings and major transport delays.

Some of the region’s furry residents were also affected by the quake, and their interesting reactions to the tremor were captured on this security camera at CAT Cafe CATchy in neighbouring Wakayama Prefecture.

▼ Take a look at the video below:

The video, which begins a few seconds before the quake, shows a typical day at the cafe before opening hours, with cats curled up in their favourite spots. A few seconds later, though, there’s a noise, which causes the kitties to raise their heads. While there’s no tremor yet, some of the cats sense something’s about to happen, and scramble for cover.

▼ The white-and-grey cat on the ground in the middle seems like it’s not sure whether the other felines are overreacting to the noise or not.

A couple of seconds afterwards, it’s clear that the cats weren’t overreacting, and might even have experienced an event like this before, as things begin to shake and all the cats on the ground quickly bolt for safety, setting off a chain reaction that sees the room come to life with jumping cats.

Given that these felines haven’t undergone disaster preparedness training like many of their human companions, it’s interesting to see their individual instincts kick in, with some leaping for the high spots, others ducking under furniture, and one small black cat running around the middle of the room.

Thankfully, none of the cats were injured in the incident, which ended with the largest kitty in the highest basket of the room plonking itself down on the floor, as if to tell the others it’s time to stop their monkey business.

If seeing these cats has tugged at your heartstrings a little, you’ll be happy to know that they’re all searching for forever homes, with CAT Cafe CATchy offering an adoption service for all the cats in their care. Thankfully there are now more and more cat cafes in Japan that want to give kitties the best they can in life, by turning their establishments into rescue cat cafes.

Cat cafe information
CAT Cafe CATchy / 猫カフェ キャッチー
Address: Wakayama-ken, Wakayama-shi, Nobutoki 147-13 Wakayama Grand Building 3F
和歌山県和歌山市延時147-13和歌山グランドビル3F
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Website (Facebook page)

Source: Biglobe News
Featured image:
YouTube/猫カフェキャッチー 地震