There’ll be hell toupee after devil winds cause hair-raising mayhem across Japan

Last week, Japan was buffetted by dust-flinging devils winds leading to many a cancelled event, toppled bicycle, and… a flying hairpiece

Spring has sprung in Japan and with the falling of the cherry blossom petals come other delights – such as hay fever and gale-force winds. Last week, strong winds caused mayhem with many taking to Twitter to share snaps of collapsed bicycles, destroyed umbrellas, and um… errant hairpieces!

“I witnessed a tragedy as a result of the strong winds”.

▼ As this Tweeter points out, that thing looks like a freaking monster.

Another unfortunate byproduct of the devil winds (that are actually still going on right now, on and off) is the fact that, as mentioned above, their coming coincides with hay fever (kafun in Japanese) season. Pollen from the country’s many cedar trees is a major health concern in Japan and this year has said to be an especially bad one, with many people developing the allergy who previously were unaffected. With pollen allergy affecting roughly 20 percent of the Japanese population, no one’s happy that these super-weird winds are whirling up cyclones of pollen dust that have fallen and settled on the concrete surfaces of towns and cities. Bald heads can be re-thatched with fresh wigs, (or perhaps re-grown with curry or wasabi) but the nasal passages of kafunsho victims will remain under siege until the pollen season ends sometime around June.

Source: Twitter/@bosa2_
Featured image: Pakutaso

Anime fan shows his hatred for Love Live! by dragging anime idol behind his itasha car

Itasha brings the pain to plushie from rival of owner’s favorite anime series.

In Japan, cars with jumbo-sized graphics of anime characters plastered across the bodywork are called “itasha,” a mashup of the Japanese terms itai (“painful”) and sha (“car”). The implication is that these nerdmobiles are so geeky that it actually hurts the eyes of anyone outside of the fan community to look at them.

Of course, that’s just a bit of self-deprecating otaku humor. There’s no real pain involved in itasha…well, except for maybe this one.

Japanese Twitter user @SPC_pile_jp was taking a taxi through the city of Yokosuka, about an hour south of Tokyo, when a white Subaru Impreza WRX STI, covered in artwork from idol anime/video game franchise The Idolmaster, pulled up in the next lane. But as the Impreza moved ahead of the cab, something really grabbed @SPC_pile_jp’s attention, and it wasn’t the rally-bred Subaru’s giant rear wing.

Looking down below the car’s rear bumper, @SPC_pile_jp saw this.

That’s a plushie of Rin Hoshizora, who’s a different anime idol than the one on the side of the itasha. As a matter of fact, Rin isn’t even from The Idolmaster. She’s one of the main characters in Love Live!, the other schoolgirl idol anime, and The Idolmaster’s eternal rival.

▼ Rin Hoshizora

While The Idolmaster franchise, which began as a video game, predates Love Live! by several years, ever since Love Live! launched in 2012, The Idolmaster has been living in its sizable shadow. Apparently it’s all a bit too much for this Idolmaster fan to bear, so he’s decided to literally take his frustration to the streets, tying a plushie of Rin onto his car’s rear racing tow hook and dragging her along the tarmac.

The car, which was also spotted in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, has a license plate from Okazaki, which is near Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture. It’s roughly 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Okazaki to Ota, and it’s hard to imagine the Impreza didn’t keep going north another 10 kilometers or so to Akihabara to congregate with all the other itasha that gather in the otaku mecca, so that’s about 310 kilometers of automotive spite, no doubt with cheerfully peppy Idolmaster songs pumping through the car’s speaker system the whole way.

Source: Twitter/@SPC_pile_jp via Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@P10PRIMERA_Tm

Genius shares the magic phrase to instantly shut down sales pitches in Japan

Four little, and polite, words are all you need to instantly convince a pushy salesman to move along and leave you alone.

It’s pretty safe to say that no one really likes listening to sales pitches. Whether it’s a door-to-door salesman interrupting your personal time at home or a shop clerk jabbering away when you just want to browse in peace, a pushy salesperson can have you wanting to shout “Just shut up and leave me alone!”

Of course, being the civil and empathetic person you are, you wouldn’t actually hurl such harsh words at someone. Neither would Japanese Twitter user @papi_pirika, who’s developed two strategies to nip a sales pitch in the bud, one of which has turned out to be much more effective than the other.

Initially, @papi_pirika, who works as an illustrator, came up with what he thought was a pretty clever white lie. When an insistent salesperson came to his door and launched into his spiel, @papi_pirika told him “You know, I work in sales too. It’s a touch job, isn’t it?”

He figured that this would create a momentary feeling of solidarity and derail the sales pitch, and it did. The problem, though, was the salesman switched from a long sales pitch to a long list of gripes about working in the sales field, which meant that the conversation didn’t get any shorter.

So now @papi_pirika uses a different phrase, one which he says he7s had much better luck with. What is it? “Ima, mushoku nan desu,” which means:

“I’m unemployed right now.”

Getting sales revenue out of someone with no income of their own is only slightly easier than getting blood from a turnip, and @papi_pirika says his new technique is second in effectiveness only to ignoring the noise of someone knocking on his door or ringing his doorbell, which obviously isn’t an option if a clerk is hounding you while you’re browsing a store.

Best of all, it’s also a nice, nonconfrontational way of shutting down a salesperson’s speech in a mutually agreeable way. After all, whether the reason is because you’ve got no money to spend or simply want to make up your mind for yourself, the heart of the matter is that the salesperson is wasting both his energy and yours by talking to you, and the sooner that’s established, the sooner you can both move on to better uses of your time.

Source: Twitter/@papi_pirika via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso

The worst way to watch anime, explained in manga form

Aren’t hobbies supposed to be fun?

In the modern age, there are a lot of different ways to watch anime. You can watch it on Blu-ray, TV broadcast, or Internet streaming. Subtitled and dubbed options exist for the majority of series. You can choose to watch it alone, or as part of a massive fan event.

So with so many ways to consume anime, what’s the worst? Manga artist Yohsuken (@yohsuken on Twitter), makes a pretty convincing argument in these four panels, starring a bespectacled otaku who has a revelation.

▼ “Ah…while I’m watching this anime…”

“…from the very beginning, all I’m looking for is ways to talk trash about it on the Internet.”

▼ “I wonder if I can ever go back to how I was before, when I didn’t think about those kinds of things and just thought ‘This anime is fun and interesting.’”

The phenomenon of hate-watching anime is partially a sign of the times. For decades, anime was hard to get your hands on. Its commercial availability was severely limited outside of Japan, and even here, for much of the 1980s and ‘90s a lot of otaku-oriented anime was only offered in high-priced direct-to-home-video format. Sure, you could always expect a sour dissenter in any large gathering of fans, but for the most part, anime was something that you had to go out of your way to see, often at a substantial cost, and so most people went into a viewing session looking for positives.

Now, though, it’s extremely unusual for a new anime series to be anything other than a free-to-watch TV series, or a cheap-to-stream (or free, if outright pirated) series for much of the overseas fandom. Lowering the access barrier allows anime fans to consumer far more shows than they ever could before, which in terms makes them more informed and better equipped to critically analyze a show’s strengths and weaknesses.

But sometimes extensive experience comes bundled with a jaded outlook. Whereas in the past it might have taken years to gain access to enough anime to start to feel burned out, it’s now possible to stream enough Japanese animation to reach that same level of burnout in a much shorter time, which can lead to your brain instantly picking apart any minor flaws or artistic choices that rub you the wrong way.

In the same tweet, Yohsuken also offers his take on watching live-action movies.

▼ “The movie I saw today was good!”

▼ “Oh, looks like it’s getting really bad viewer reviews online. It’s doing terrible at the box office, and my friend just sent me an email saying it was ‘boring.’”

▼ “But I still think it was good.”

▼ “If your honest opinion is that a movie was good, don’t be so quick to let others, or even yourself, deny you that feeling.”

Yohsuken’s take on media consumption prompted online comments including:

“The most important thing is whether you like it, regardless of whether or not other people feel the same way.”
“Everyone is so negative these days.”
“If you like it, you like it, and that’s all there is to it.”

Granted, there’s a certain brand of fun to be had from clowning on an anime’s unintentionally silly or baffling moments. That scene in Gundam: The 08th MS Team, for example, where a guy poisons a group of people, then blows up the room with a grenade as they’re already dying before coolly walking away? Unintended comedy gold. But Yohsuken definitely has a point that if you’re primed to rip an anime to shreds from the second it starts, you might be better off watching, or doing, something else.

Source: Twitter/@yohsuken via Hachima Kiko
Images: Twitter/@yohsuken

Japanese idol group disbands after debut concert, citing members’ excessive individuality

But there’s a comical silver lining that has heartbroken fans drying their eyes.

If you want to succeed as an idol singer in Japan, being a team player is generally going to be seen as a very desirable trait. Japan is already a group-oriented society, and with idol fans showing a strong liking of multi-vocalist groups, flexibility and being able to mesh well with bandmates is pretty much a prerequisite if an idol group is going to have much longevity.

So with that background, perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a surprise this week when the official Twitter account of nine-member idol group Asakusa 45 announced “Asakusa 45’s members have too much individuality, with different musical ambitions, and so the group will be disbanding.”

What was surprising, though, was how sudden the end came. Asakusa 45 just announced its formation on April 1, and April 8, when the tweet was sent out, was the very same day as the group’s very first public appearance and performance.

Making the news especially painful was that Asakusa 45 was off to an auspicious start. Ticket sales for the debut concert, in which two other popular idol groups, 9nine and Babyraids Japan, served as the opening acts, were strong, with an enthusiastic crowd showing up for both an afternoon and evening set. Those in attendance were impressed by how polished Asakusa 45’s stage presence and chemistry was, as its two sub-divisions, one with four members and the other with five, first performed separately, before all nine idols came together to sing the full-member songs “Asakua☆2NIGHT” and “Gate of the Thunder.”

▼ Asakusa 45 waves goodbye

But the amped-up crowd’s cheers came to an end at the end of the evening concert when Asakusa 45 stood before their newly acquired fans and said, with tears in their eyes, that the band was immediately suspending its musical activities, then exited the stage. “No!” cried heartbroken members of the audience, who eventually started up chants of “45! 45!” and “Encore!” Eventually, the idols returned and let everyone in on their secret: the nine members of Asakusa 45 are actually the four members of 9nine and the five members of Babyraids Japan.

▼ 9nine

▼ Babyraids Japan

▼ Asakusa 45 having a song called “Gate of the Thunder” was also a clue, since one of Babyraids Japan’s songs is “Gate of the Tiger”

As mentioned above, Asakusa 45 announced its formation on April 1…because the group is actually a joint April Fools’ joke by 9nine and Babyraids Japan.

For Asakusa 45, each of the idols made up a completely new persona, and apparently a sizeable number of those in attendance didn’t notice the overlap with 9nine and Babyraids Japan, who, again were the opening acts, who were, again, the opening acts. Making that especially surprising is the fact that while neither of the two legitimate idol groups are household names, they’ve got respectably sized fanbases. Babyraids Japan’s official Twitter account has nearly 32,000 followers, while 9nine’s has more than 37,000. Neither group is particularly new, either, with Babyraids Japan forming in 2012 and 9nine having been around since 2005.

That gives cynics plenty of ammunition in their arguments that idol music is so blandly uniform that you can package the same person as two different artists. But on the other hand, from an April Fools’ standpoint, it’s hard not to be impressed by Asakusa 45’s long con, especially when there are so many other gags competing or attention on April 1.

Sources: Niconico News via Jin, IT Media
Featured image: Twitter/@asakusa_45

Hilarious chase ensues as tiny dog chases Google Street View car in Kagoshima

Japanese social media users fall in love as dog chases down Google Street View car many times its size.

Street View, the Google Maps function that allows you to walk around at street level can be incredibly handy, or just fun to wander around places you might never have the chance to in real life from the comfort of your chair. The cars that zip about recording all that footage though have managed to draw attention themselves, whether it’s surprising little old ladies and causing them to cycle into ditches, for goading cheerful looking sumo wrestlers into following them around.

One cute and incredibly brave dog from the town of Kumage, in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture, chased off a Google Street View car many, many times its size, a car that for all we know may have been trying to steal the boat the dog was protecting, possibly for the as yet unannounced Google Sea View, or was potentially filming for the hated Cat Street View.

Like all of these amazing finds, equally surprising is that someone was looking up a quiet dead end near the beach on the island of Tanegashima, when they must have chanced across the scene. Though even from the first image in which the dog appears, it has evidently perked up at the sight of the car so you know something cute is about to happen.

▼ “Follow that car!” as the hunter becomes the hunted.

▼ Google decided not to blur out the poor speeding dog’s features, leaving it open to identification.

With expressions varying from what may be anger to lust to playfulness, but mostly that berserk crazed look that small dogs always have, the dog seems to literally fly as it chases down the car taking its photo. The plucky canine didn’t give up easily either, as following the path the car took on Google Street View reveals quite how far it was pursued.

Japanese social media users had plenty to say about the pup, although mostly about sweet, ,curious, or frisky it looked.

“I laughed so hard when I saw how far it chased the car!”
“It’s so cute!”
“It looks like it’s saying, ‘What’s this that’s come down my road?’”
“As soon as it sees the odd-looking car, it knows something’s up.”

What’s either particularly gratifying or sinister is that the road the Google Street View car was following stops in a dead end a short distance later, so the brave pooch undoubtedly caught up with the vehicle. It would be nice to think that à la comedy films where someone chases a large mugger, the dog realised it had bitten off rather more than it could chew, and pretended to have just been out jogging. We’ll never know, but at least its bravery and cuteness has been captured, frozen in perpetuity, for our viewing pleasure and perhaps inspiration.

Source: Itai News
Images: Google Street View

World’s first moaning hiragana character either a stroke of genius or just plain weird【Video】

Foam shaped into hiragana word reacts to massaging, stroking, and poking with eye-raising exclamations.

The Japanese hiragana character あ (pronounced as “ah”) is the first alphabet that everyone encounters when learning the Japanese language. Aside from apparently being the cutest character among its brethren, it’s also used in various expressions throughout daily life in Japan.

A group of six talented individuals working under the name of Team Panai have created an object that embodies this flexible character: a foam あ. What’s fascinating is that the character responds to physical contact by emitting the sound “ah.” Depending on the manner in which it’s touched, it can range from a startled “ah!” to a moaning “ahhhhh.”

▼ Children playing with “ah” at an exhibit.

Poking the limbs of the character elicits an amusing “ah?” while firm squeezing or massaging produces a relaxed “ahhhh” sound. Giving it a hard smack causes the offended alphabet to emit a startled “ah!” or an annoyed “ah!?” and a gentle rub makes it purr a satisfying “ahhhh.” Stop giving it attention and you’ll even hear a wistful sigh from the lonesome character.

▼ This might have been the favorite exhibit for kids.

Team Panai hopes to raise awareness of the complexity of such expressions through their exhibits, making it an interesting way to teach kids the nuances of emotion through a single character.

Japanese netizens were quite amused, though some had their minds on something entirely different:

“I love it when people make such silly things.”
“Every guy will react if it’s a girl’s voice.”
“Aw man, it’s a man’s voice.”
“Please make a ん (“n”) version please.”
“Is there a female version of this?”

If only they made English versions or included other hiragana characters like the confused/astonished え (“eh”). Here’s to hoping for more!

Silly and crazy it might be to some, Team Panai’s fascinating art piece can also be considered a brilliant spin to learning languages, much like how someone thought it a great idea to transform hiragana into handsome anime men.

Source: Team Panai, Non-classic via Twitter/@rin1024, Twitter/@vjroba
Images: Vimeo/Yuki Anai