Original SoftBank dog Kai-kun passes away at 16

Let’s take a moment to celebrate the life and times of a very good boy.

On 28 June, SoftBank announced that their beloved long-time spokesdog, Kai-kun, had passed away due to complications of old age. He was 16, according to the announcement.

Although often confused for a Shiba or Akita dog, Kai-kun was actually a Hokkaido dog, also known as an Ainu Dog, a breed named after the northernmost prefecture and its native people respectively. And it was in the small coastal town of Mukawa, Hokkaido that Kai-kun was born in a litter along with his sister Nene and brother Polo.

Kai-kun, who’s name literally means “sea” in Japanese, spent his early years in comfort, enjoying his favorite foods of salmon, sausages and cucumbers. However, it didn’t take long for his bold personality and healthy coat to draw him towards the glitz and glamour of show business.

In 2004, he got his first break in the NHK drama Tenka playing a dog. Later in 2006, Kai-kun landed another role, this time as a dog who fathered eight superhuman warriors in the TBS version of the classic Japanese epic Tale of Eight Dogs, adapted for television.

▼ Kai-kun appears right away and very briefly at the five-second mark, so don’t blink!

However, it was in 2007 that Kai-kun earned the role of his career as the father of the Shirato Family in the long-running series of ads for telecom giant SoftBank. As a member of the eclectic family, alongside his wife played by Kanako Higuchi and children played by Aya Ueto and Dante Carver, he quickly won the hearts of Japanese viewers and became an icon of the smartphone age.

His popularity soared through the turn of the decade, but as with many rises to fame, the small-town Kai-kun had trouble adjusting to the pressures of stardom. In February of 2014, the star caused a stir when during a press conference with noted regional mascot Funasshi, he began acting unruly.

In front of a shocked mass media, Kai-kun brazenly urinated on stage several times and attempted to hump a few people. He had to be removed from the conference about halfway through.

The fallout was immense, with many questioning why a dog of his stature wasn’t properly house trained. Shortly after, Kai-kun announced his retirement in April of that same year, citing old age as the reason.

▼ One of Kai-kun’s last appearances was as the illegitimate father of once-in-a-millennium idol Kanna Hashimoto

However, the role of father of the Shirato Family was passed down to his two sons Kaito-kun and Kaiki-kun who have been successfully carrying the torch alongside guest-stars such as Justin Bieber and Piko Taro.

They say that every dog has its day, but some dogs have everyday, and despite his ups and downs Kai-kun was one such canine. For that we would like to pay our respects and wish him well in that big farm in the sky with lots of room to run around in.

Source: SoftBank, My Game News Flash
Top image: YouTube/TheSEXmachineX
Insert image: SoftBank

U.K. authorities issue warning about anime-style video game Doki Doki Literature Club after death

Coroner shares concerns that dead 15-year-old “had used an online game called Doki Doki.”

When it was released last September, PC game Doki Doki Literature Club immediately grabbed attention for being a rare example of a Western-developed visual novel, a genre popularized by Japanese publishers that’s sort of a choose-your-own-adventure book in game form. As positive reviews started rolling in, including a glowing one from SoraNews24’s own Scott Wilson, Doki Doki Literature Club began getting even more attention for its mixing of cute anime-style girls and romantic harem elements with a darkly terrifying psychological through-line revealed in an innovative fashion.

Now, though, the game is getting attention of a more negative light, as authorities in the U.K. think Doki Doki Literature Club may be linked to the death of teenager in the town of Sunderland. The local Sunderland Echo reports that schools throughout the city have been issued a warning about the game, which originated from the Manchester coroner’s office, in which a coroner said:

“I believe the information is so concerning that this warrants my writing at this stage to make the local authorities aware of the issue so appropriate information can be disseminated.”

“This has arisen due to the fact I am conducting the inquest into the death of a 15-year-old-boy who died earlier this year. Evidence obtained suggested he had used an online game called Doki Doki [sic].”

While the cause of the boy’s death was not mentioned, the tone implies that he took his own life. Doki Doki Literature Club’s narrative, in which the player sometimes relives the same events under different circumstances, contains multiple character suicides and also scenes of self-harm, and the coroner’s warning suggests a suspicion that the game’s content may have been a contributing factor to the boy’s death.

Since the warning was issued, Sunderland educators have been spreading the word, including Hetton Primary School head teacher Nicola Hill, who said “I wanted to warn parents, especially those who might have older children, about this game. The Internet is a great thing, but it is also a minefield.”

However, fans of the game will be quick to point out Doki Doki Literature Club itself warns players before the game even begins, with a pre-start screen saying “This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.”

It immediately follows this with the additional warning “Individuals suffering from anxiety or depression may not have a safe experience playing this game,” and players must click to consent to/confirm with a statement that “By playing Doki Doki Literature Club, you agree that you are at least 13 years of age, and you consent to your exposure of highly disturbing content.” There’s also the fact that on the game’s page on Steam, under “user-defined tags for this product,” the very first is “psychological horror.”

▼ Red circle added for emphasis

With all that taken into account, it’s hard to accuse Doki Doki Literature Club of hiding its darker elements, even if what exactly they are might not be immediately apparent. Moreover, the coroner’s description of it as an “online game,” when it’s actually a digitally distributed single-player offline game, his way of describing the boy as having “used” the game as opposed to “played” it, makes it seem as though the warning might not be coming from someone very familiar with this particular game, or even games in general.

Likewise, the Sunderland Echo’s description of the game as “a psychological horror game with suicide as a main feature” makes it sound like the suicides are discretionary actions instigated by the player, as opposed to events that occur outside of their control and are presented as tragic, undesirable events within the narrative. The Sunderland Echo also mentions “violent scenes such as one of the player’s neck snapping,” but the injury is actually suffered by a non-playable character, further suggesting that the author hasn’t actually played through the game.

That said, the warning doesn’t go so far as to imply that the deceased boy was a happy, well-adjusted young lad who got tricked into playing Doki Doki Literature Club only to be sent into a suicidal depression by the game alone. And it is true that Doki Doki Literature Club deals with suicide, depression, feelings of worthlessness, and warped perceptions of reality all wrapped in a surface-layer coating of pastel-hued youthful romance.

As such, it might be that the coroner and educators are concerned about teens who’re already in a dark place emotionally becoming further affected by the game’s content, and thus want to help parents be better aware of what sort of media their children are consuming so that they can judge its appropriateness. After all, if the Suderland Echo can describe the game’s cast with “initially the characters are cute female figures, which would appeal to youngsters,” apparently unaware that the art style has its roots in visual novels where the primary goal is getting to have sex with the characters, it stands to reason that some parents would never imagine Doki Doki Literature Club’s true nature.

If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.

Source: Sunderland Echo via Yuruku Yaru via Jin
Images: Doki Doki Literature Club (captured by SoraNews24)

Love blooms after loss: Japanese netizen commemorates grandparents’ romance, gardening skills

Twitter user is taking the gorgeous blossom that bloomed after her grandmother’s passing as a token of her grandfather’s deep and abiding love.

Factual or fictitious, humans can’t escape news about death, and try as we might we can’t avoid our own mortality – nor can we avoid the eventual deaths of those we care about. It’s a topic we’re surrounded by and yet are unable to fully comprehend, and when we’re given even the slightest hint to help make sense of our loss, we grab it with both hands. Maybe that’s by using our skills to commemorate our lost loved ones as best we can; maybe we just have to do our best to live a good life in their honor. Sometimes, we get a bittersweet hint of what might lie beyond death, and that can make it easier to swallow.

Twitter user @an_nindo_fu was having an understandably rough time processing her grandmother’s death, but something beautiful came blossoming forth to help her through the process. She took a photograph and shared it with Twitter:

“My grandmother passed away. The day after she passed, this cactus flower bloomed… Even though it had never bloomed once before, not in all the 20 years since my late grandfather first planted it.”

The photograph depicts two beautiful cactus flowers in full bloom: delicate, sloping petals in pastel pink, each sporting a forest of powdery peach stamens with one long and elegant stamina sprouting from the center. @an_nindo_fu goes on to explain the flower’s relevance in flower language:

“In flower language, a cactus flower means ‘something momentous’, or ‘a love that smoulders like fire’, or even ‘a love that shall not wither’. My grandmother is deeply beloved even now…”

A user commented to the thread: “Those blossoms are really, breathtakingly beautiful. Condolences for the loss of your grandmother… I really hope she got to meet up with your grandfather on the other side.”

@an_nindo_fu responded with good cheer, saying “He’ll probably be like, ‘I was about to run out of patience waiting for you, darn it!’”

Plenty of other replies echoed this first sentiment, with many more condolences and multiple instances of “This brought tears to my eyes” and “I’m sure they’re together in Heaven now”. It was honestly a little striking how similar so many of the messages were, and how similar again they are to the things we say to people around us who are grieving; how similar, once more, they were to the comments we ourselves receive in troubled times.

Whatever your position in life on death, there’s something comforting about a gardener’s cherished plant finally coming into bloom once his wife has also been laid to rest. In times when it’s hard to know how to comfort someone, or even to comfort yourself, the world presents you with something unexpected – and even poetic – like this and helps the grief to digest. For a similarly touching (but slightly more zany) tale about processing grief, don’t miss the story about one old man’s experience with Pokémon GO at his late wife’s grave.

Featured image: Twitter/@an_nin_dofu
Source: Twitter/@an_nin_dofu

Hideki Saijo passes away at 63 years old

Veteran singer and actor Hideki Saiko has passed away at 63 years old.

In a statement is office shared that Saiko has died due to acute heart failure on May 16th, 2018.

Saiko began has career in the early 70s, landing acting roles and releasing his debut album Koisurukisetsu. He quickly gained popularity, and was considered among the very top teen male idols along with Hiromi Go and Goro Noguchi.

He is perhaps best known for covering the 70s disco hit YMCA in 1979, not only was it a massive hit in his native Japan but it went on to find success in other Asian countries as well.

His popularity in Asia helped break many boundaries for Japanese music. In 1988 he performed at an event on the eve of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul South Korea, at the time public performances of Japanese songs had been banned. 10 years later in 1998 he became the very first Japanese artist to sing in front of The Great Wall of China.

In 1999 Saiko scored a big hit with Hashire Shojikimono , one of the theme songs for the popular anime series Chibi Maruko-chan.

Beginning in 2003 Saiko began to suffer from various health problems, while he continued to perform as the years went on his condition only worsened.

In 2016 he made his triumphant return to the stage for a special performance at the FNS Music Festival. His intense rehabilitation was well documented, and despite being barely able to walk he successfully performed his signature hit YMCA.

Click here to watch Saiko’s 2016 FNS performance.

The post Hideki Saijo passes away at 63 years old appeared first on ARAMA! JAPAN.


Japan sees huge growth in jobs in the “cleaning up the homes of old people who die alone” field

Demand grows more than 10 times in size in just five years as Japanese family dynamics change.

As time passes, technology advances, and economies evolve, certain industries will shrink. For example, electronics manufacturing used to be a huge part of the Japanese economy, but it’s been in contraction for many years, with Casio’s exit from the digital camera game the most recent example.

But on the other hand, some industries can see huge growth due to socioeconomic trends. So if you’re hunting for a job in Japan, and you want to be part of a rapidly expanding field, you might want to consider a position in tokushu soji, or “special cleaning” industry.

What makes the cleaning special? Well, tokushu soji companies come in and clean the homes of senior citizens who have died alone. Back in the old days, this is something that was almost always handled by surviving relatives, often the deceased’s children, and in fact it used to be far more common than it is today for elderly parents to live with their offspring in multi-generational homes.

Things have changed, though. As families become smaller and more people move farther away from home to seek out academic or professional opportunities, the number of seniors in Japan who live alone has been steadily increasing, from roughly 4.1 million in 2010 to 6.55 million in 2016 (according to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare). In response, there are now over 5,000 companies offering special cleaning services in Japan, which is 15 times as many as there were just five years ago.

Aside from recycling or otherwise disposing of the deceased’s possessions, special cleaning companies have to clean and disinfect the home. Sometimes a significant amount of time will have passed before someone discovered that the resident had passed away, and in addition to using professional-grade cleaners and pesticides, special cleaning staff often wear protective clothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

While cleaning and waste disposal are the primary services offered, some special cleaning companies have expanded their role to coordinating funeral services. Many also believe that respectful treatment of surviving relatives is part of their duties, and the Special Cleaning Center, and industry group formed in 2013, offers training and certification programs to ensure high-quality service in both the technical and human aspects of the job.

With Japan’s birth rate steadily falling, demand for special cleaning services is likely to continue to grow, as families get smaller and the population gets older. It’s no doubt a difficult job, but it serves a valuable purpose for society, especially when someone passes away and leaves behind six tons of porno mags.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

Morbidly brilliant “Death Cafe” in Thailand makes customers ponder about their mortality

Discounts are available for the brave who dare lie in a coffin for three minutes.

There’s a ton of delightful cafes out there for the inquisitive, outfitted with stuff like virtual idol girlfriends or even bloodsucking vampires. But one recently-opened cafe in Thailand takes the cake with a macabre theme that has customers wanting more.

Kid-Mai Death Cafe is located on the busy streets of Bangkok, boldly featuring death in almost every aspect of its stylish establishment.

▼ Death works harder than everyone else it seems.

Instagram Photo

Parts of a replica funeral ceremony is on display, including a coffin, wreaths and skeletons. According to staff, the idea is to have patrons appreciate and contemplate their everyday lives, as they may not have the luxury of waking up the next day.

▼ Which is rather sage advice for the living.

Instagram Photo

▼ Thought-provoking messages can be found all over the store.

Instagram Photo

Customers can experience a fleeting death by lying down in the decorated coffin with its lid closed for three minutes, and get a 20 baht (US$0.64) discount off their total bill for their efforts.

▼ Because death also saves you money, I guess?

Instagram Photo

But what’s a cafe without coffee and drinks? Fortunately, the store has plenty of those available, and all come with exciting names like “Born”, “Elder”, “Painful” and “Death”.

▼ Kid-Mai Death Cafe, a stylish cafe where
painful death tastes better than it sounds.

Instagram Photo

Aside from the aforementioned drinks, there’s a series of beverages with gloomy names like “One year left”, “One week left” and perhaps the crowd favorite, “Last day”.

Despite all the grim reminders of death in messages found all over the store, Kid-Mai Death Cafe remains popular with customers looking for an experience of a lifetime. All the establishment needs is to take a page from Japan’s gruesome Tokyo Ghoul anime cafe and offer some grisly snacks with equally deathly names to truly complete the theme.

Restaurant information
Kid-Mai Death Cafe
Address: 1191 Phaholyothin rd. Phayathai Bangkok, Thailand 10400
Open 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Closed Sundays and holidays

Source: Facebook/Kid-Mai Death Cafe via The Nation, NextShark
Top image: Instagram/puypuy_si

Indie idol Emi Arisaka to hold memorial concert for fan with no family

Idol Emi Arisaka just might be one of the biggest sweethearts in the entertainment industry.

Arisaka is an indie idol who has been doing her thing for a decade now. She’s known for her high energy pop-rock songs and lolita inspired outfits. Over the years she’s been able to create a tight-knit dedicated fan base, mostly thanks to her treatment of them.

For a decade now one of Arisaka’s fans, a 55 year old man who went by the nickname Okkyan, has religiously attended almost all of her concerts and live events. Last year he mysteriously stopped showing up to her lives which made her a little worried.

She did a little digging and eventually found all of his social media profiles, all of them had stopped updating at the same time. Not knowing his phone number, she was able to discover Okkyan’s address by looking up his undisclosed real name. Arisaka then tried to fulfill the dream of probably every idol fan, decide to give him a visit to see if everything was okay.

When Arisaka arrived she received some grim news from Okkyan’s neighbors. Last year he was hospitalized and received surgery in-order to treat aortic dissection, a condition that severely damages your arteries. Despite being released from the hospital, his condition continued to get worse and he eventually passed away in his home in August.

Unfortunately, no funeral service was held for him since he had no immediate family. The few relatives he did have, he wasn’t close with or presumably even in contact.

Arisaka wrote a blog entry sharing that it’s always heartbreaking when someone deceased is not able to have people gather and remember them. While it’s too late to hold a funeral, Arisaka decided that she will hold a memorial concert in Okkyan’s honor instead.

The text on the illustration reads “Okkyan, wait for us in heaven

Arisaka also went out of her way to bring in the idol Flowered Gem to perform, who Okkyan was a big fan of also. The memorial concert will take place on April 11th, 2018 at the Hatsudai Doors music club.

(via sora news24)

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