Kabuki stagehand taxi service starts, offers silent cab drivers that’ll give you a story to tell

With their drivers’ faces hidden, these taxis are a peek into Japanese theater culture.

With their white-gloved drivers, automatically opening rear doors, and doily-decorated interiors, Japanese taxis are a unique slice of the country’s modern culture. But Yokohama-based taxicab operator Sanwa Kotsu, which also serves the Tokyo area, occasionally likes to add in a dash of traditional culture to its services as well.

Previously, Sanwa Kotsu let passengers engage in a bit of yabusame horseback archery-inspired target shooting from the back of its cars, and now it’s offering the pageantry of kabuki and other classic forms of Japanese stage art with its new Kuroko Taxi service.

Kuroko are the stagehands employed in Japanese theater productions, most commonly seen in kabuki and bunraku puppet plays (and, if you’re a fan of 1990s-era fighting video games, the Neo Geo hit Samurai Shodown). Dressed from head to toe in black, including a cloth face cover, kuroko’s monochrome outfits are supposed to be interpreted as not being part of the scene, and so audiences are supposed to ignore their presence and focus on the actors, scenery, and props. The irony, however, is that kuroko attire is so iconic as to be instantly recognizable.

▼ Sanwa promises that the drivers are always smiling, even if you can’t see their mouths.

Just like their stage counterparts, Sanwa Kotsu’s Kuroko Taxi drivers remain completely silent, greeting passengers with a written welcome to the cab.

As such, the company recommends the service not only for those who want a memorable, uniquely Japanese journey, but also those who just aren’t in the mood for small talk. But while the kuroko drivers won’t be doing any speaking, they are equipped to understand your words, as their cabs are outfitted with Google translation-compatible technology that allows them to understand more than 100 languages, including English, Sanwa Kotsu says.

▼ Keeping the car as clean as his clothes.

Oh, and don’t worry. When the car is in motion, the drivers remove their face covers in order to properly see their surroundings and ensure you get to your destination safely.

Given the niche marketing, Kuroko Taxis are available by reservation, with the online form found here.

Source: Sanwa Kotsu via IT Media
Images: Sanwa Kotsu

Samurai road rage as man attacks motorist with replica samurai sword on Japanese expressway

Tailgating incident isn’t exactly the sort of duel of honor told about in tales of yore.

Japan’s expressways are often clogged with traffic, but if you’re driving in the middle of the night, you usually won’t run into too much congestion. Even still, an incident that occurred in Aichi Prefecture before dawn on Wednesday shows that having to share the road with even one other vehicle is too much for some drivers to calmly deal with.

According to the Aichi Prefectural Police, at around 2 a.m. in a westbound section of the Tomei Expressway, which connects Tokyo and Nagoya, a 43-year-old truck driver from a delivery company based in Ibaraki Prefecture moved into the passing lane to overtake a passenger car in front of him. However, after the pass was completed, the driver of the car began aggressively tailgating the truck.

The truck driver then pulled over onto the shoulder of the expressway in Nisshin City. The driver of the car did likewise, and as the motorists exited their vehicles, the car’s driver began shouting “Why don’t you get out of the damn way! I’m in a hurry!”

Despite his self-professed lack of time, the driver of the car still had enough time in his schedule to then brandish an approximately 60-centimeter (two-foot) replica katana, which he then attacked the truck driver with. Specifically, the police report says the car driver “pounded on” the truck driver with the weapon, suggesting that its blade was not sharpened. Even without a cutting edge, though, the assailant managed to break the truck driver’s right knee after landing multiple blows. The driver of the car then got back in his vehicle and drove off, either because he realized the logical fallacy of spending time beating on someone when you’ve presumably got preexisting pressing appointments, complaining about someone being in your way after they’ve already pulled over to let you pass, or because he feared the imminent arrival of the authorities.

The truck driver then contacted the police, who are now searching for the driver of the car, said to be in his 20s or 30s, and are treating the attack as an attempted homicide.

In light of the events, SoraNews24 would like to remind everyone that while out on the road, it’s always smarter to remain in your vehicle rather then stepping out of it to engage in late-night altercations, because should you happen to encounter someone with road rage who’s armed like a samurai, Japan’s real-life ninja are probably too busy to come to your aid.

Source: Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko, YouTube/ANNnewsCH
Top image: Gahag

This crazy box of heat from China is how we want to wait out winter

If you’re looking for us before mid-spring, you’ll know where to find us.

Here in Japan, the most common way to cope with the cold temperatures of the winter months is to take refuge at a kotatsu, a low table with a heater attached to its underside and a blanket that you place over your legs to trap the warmth around your legs and feet. The effect is so comfy that kotatsu have even been installed at some restaurants and at least one movie theater in Japan, but the drawback is that even as your lower half gets nice and toasty, the kotatsu leaves your upper body exposed to the surrounding chill.

Now, though, we’ve stumbled across a solution to this problem. Sure, it may not be the most elegant-looking solution, but it definitely seems like an effective one.

Chinese shopping site TMall will be happy to provide you with one of these contraptions, which essentially function like a full-body kotatsu. They even come with sections that you can open up to stick your hands out of in order to use a smartphone or read a book.

▼ Though in this case it looks like the guy is trying to work his knees into the box.

There’s even a hood so to keep the top and back of your head warm. But while these devices look like the ultimate winter refuge, their original purpose is actually somewhat different, as they’re home-use saunas designed to be used with a steam/heat pump that channels warmth through a hose that attaches near the base of the box.

This is being sold by TMall here for just 266 yuan (US$42), which seems like a serious bargain. Granted, at such a low price, we’re not sure if the machinery is sturdy enough to handle constant use until spring, so we’d recommend keeping a pair of lazy otaku pajamas nearby in case you suddenly have to vacate your fortress of warm solitude.

Source, images: TMall
[ Read in Japanese ]

Japanese chicken wing pub draws in gullible customers with sexy-legged lady trap

Restaurant serves all the food and drinks it promises, but the eye candy isn’t quite what it seems.

There’re really very few times in Japan where you have to be thirsty or sober. Not only is the country incredibly tolerant of drinking, bars and pubs are all over the urban landscape, often crammed into commercial spaces so small there aren’t even room for chairs.

But from a business owner’s standpoint, that presents a bit of a problem. How do you convince salarymen stopping off for a cold one on their way home from work to come into your bar as opposed to one of your countless competitors? If you’re the owner of Toriemon, a pub photographed by Japanese Twitter user @yukochi9118 in Miyazaki City, you let it be known that there’s not just alcohol to be found inside your bar, but also a leggy woman in a form-fitting minidress.

The site of the woman and her high hemline quickly had @yukochi9118 stepping though the cloth noren awning and into the restaurant, which specializes in chicken wings, one of Miyazaki Prefectures favorite foods. Once inside though, he found out he’d been tricked, as the legs and body didn’t belong to a flesh and blood woman, but a shapely mannequin, or possibly love doll.

Granted, after stepping past the noren and seeing that there in fact wasn’t a hot girl drinking at the bar, customers still have the option of turning around and walking right back out. But whether because they’re too embarrassed to admit what pulled them in, or out of impressed respect for the clever bit of marketing, several customers then decide to stick around for a drink or two. “Aside from myself, a few other people had fallen into the trap,” says @yukochi9118.

Other Twitter users chimed in with:

“Yep, that’d totally fool me.”
“Is that one of Oriental Industry’s love dolls?”
“I’ve got a thing for mannequins, so I’d totally have to go inside.”
“I wonder if this will also make more women feel less self-conscious about stopping in for a drink here by themselves?”

Luckily, @yukochi9118 says that the food and drinks were tasty and reasonably priced, so while the eye candy he’d been expecting turned out to be a ruse, at least this bar delivered on what bars are actually supposed to supply. As for those who simply can’t entertain the thought of dining or drinking without beautiful women in their immediate vicinity, maybe they’ll have to make the trip up to Tokyo’s breast slash café when it opens next month.

Restaurant information
Toriemon / 鳥衛門
Address: Miyazaki-ken, Miyazaki-shi, Tachibana Nishi 3-5-4, Takayama Building 1st floor
宮崎県宮崎市橘通西3-5-4 高山ビル1F
Open 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
Website (Tabelog)

Sources: Twitter/@yukochi9118, Tabelog
Featured image: Twitter/@yukochi9118

Breasts into animals – Japanese sports bra video puts critters in bras strapped on men【Video】

Video about inertia and gravity garners baffled and mixed reactions.

As a country with a penchant for fashion and an unabashed love of breasts, Japan spends a lot of time thinking about cute and/or sexy lingerie. But while there’s definitely an aesthetic element to intimate apparel, the primary purpose of a bra is to support the wearer’s breasts, the importance of which is being driven home in a very unusual way in a new video.

The video opens with a women in a lab coat asking if we know the weight of a woman’s bust. She assumes we don’t, since the nature of videos means she can’t hear us, and thus begins a procession of otherwise topless mean wearing bras. But these are no ordinary bras, because their cups hold not breasts, but small animals.

According to the video, the breasts of a woman with an A-cup bust weigh as much as a pair of cockatoos. Other equivalents are Guinea pigs for B cups, hedgehogs for C cups, rabbits for D cups, and chickens for E cups.

With that explanation out of the way, the woman then asks us to consider what will happen to all that extra torso weight during vigorous exercise. So the men begin running, jumping rope, boxing, and playing tennis and volleyball. For each, slow-motion close-ups show the animals bouncing and swaying within the bra compartments as inertia wants them to stay in place as the men’s upper bodies twist and go through other sudden motions.

After examining a multi-dimensional representation of the cups’ movement and remarking on how extensive the jostling is, the researcher peels off her lab coat, revealing that she’s wearing an extra-supportive sports bra from Japanese lingerie-maker Wacoal.

The video definitely makes a dramatic point about the discomfort that women can experience from insufficient bra support. Some online commenters, though, are also concerned about how the animals in the ad felt. While the close-ups could mean there’s some sort of camera trickery going on here, if those are indeed real, live animals being bounced around like that, odds are they’re not too happy about it.

However, even if actual animals were used in the manner implied, Wacoal might be off the hook. The video doesn’t appear on the company’s website or official YouTube channel, and only attracted attention in Japan after a Twitter user shared screen captures and a link to the video on LiveLeak. There’s also the fact that while the woman in the video is speaking Japanese, and the large-font text that names the animals and sports is Japanese as well, the video’s hard subtitles are in Chinese.

As such, even though the video is touting the benefits of Wacoal’s sports bras, there’s a chance that it’s not actually a Wacoal advertisement, and is instead one of those outlandish concept videos that marketing firms sometimes create to show off their talents without actually being commissioned or endorsed by the company whose products are featured. If that’s the case, then as strange as the video is, Wacoal’s oddest marketing maneuver would still be the time they encouraged us all to buy panties for our moms, and the weirdest official breast weights the ones from this anime.

Sources: Twitter/@Kan_TORI, LiveLeak via Hachima Kiko
Top image: LiveLeak

Male idol dance group finds hidden stalker gadget inside stuffed animal present from fan

Discovery prompts immediate change to unit’s policy regarding fan gifts.

In Japan, there’s a bit of a stigma that surrounds male fans of female idol singers, which stems in no small part from a number of high-profile cases of guys becoming intensely possessive of or attracted to their favorite female performer. But female fans of male idols can be just as startling obsessive in their desire to create a connection of any kind, which brings us to Anatashia.

Since the members of Anatashia don’t sing, they’re technically not idol singers, but the six young men who make up the dance troupe are marketed in much the same way as vocalist idol units, with their choreographed routines, trendy fashions, and smooth-faced, non-threateningly handsome good looks being their major selling points.

▼ Anatashia

As with many popular musical entertainers in Japan, Anatashia’s fans sometimes send them gifts, including stuffed animals. But one plushie they received was more than just a vessel to convey the fan’s ardent affections, because it also contained a GPS tracker.

The group’s official Twitter account released a statement, saying:

Thank you all for the gifts you send us.

However, we’re sad to inform you that inside a stuffed animal we received the other day, there was what we believe to be a GPS signal emitting device.

As this is both malicious and dangerous, from now on we will be prohibiting fans from giving us stuffed animals. Thank you for your understanding.

The intent seems to have been that the stuffed animal would end up either at the group’s practice studio or in one of the member’s homes, giving the fan a way of determining the location in order to stalk or surprise Anatashia’s members. In reaction to the news, several more scrupulous fans said that whoever gave the GPS-hiding stuffed animal should be blacklisted from all future performances and fan events, but its unclear whether the gift was mailed to the group (in which case the mailing address could be determined, and perhaps from it the sender’s identity) or if it was simply dropped into the present collection boxes that are often set up at live appearances by idols and idol-like performers.

As scary as the incident is, though, this still isn’t the grossest tale we’ve heard of of idols receiving an unsolicited stuffed animal, so at least Anatashia can be grateful for that.

Source: Twitter/@antsa_official via Jin
Featured image: YouTube/アナタシア

How much is otaku blood worth? Enough to get a free anime clear file if you donate it in Japan

Fans’ love of Love Live! can save lives, earn them an exclusive illustration of idols in blood-red costumes.

One of the reasons hard-core anime fans get so excited about limited-edition merchandise is because it’s not something just anyone can obtain simply by walking into a store and plunking down a wad of cash. No, if you want those rare items, you have to be willing to travel across Japan to attend special fan events, camp out overnight, and/or sprint to the sales venue before they sell out.

And now there’s a piece of anime merch that you have to be willing to bleed for.

Blood drives are common in major Japanese cities, with health organizations setting up donation stations inside downtown buildings and mobile units inside specially equipped buses that park in urban centers. Usually, you’re given a warm thank-you and some sugary snacks for sharing your hemoglobin, but on February 20 the Japanese Red Cross Society is sweetening the deal by giving people who donate blood a plastic file featuring an exclusive illustration of the characters from smash-hit idol anime Love Live! Sunshine!!

▼ The high school idols are dressed in blood-red outfits.

A total of 50,000 files will be available nationwide, awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. This isn’t the first time for the Red Cross to actively covet otaku blood, as in 2016 the organization offered posters of anime and video game characters in a similar promotion. However, Love Live! is a far more popular franchise than any of the Red Cross’ previous anime partners, and those who’re familiar with the obsessive passion of Love Livers (as Love Live! fans are called) might be a little concerned.

See, while any anime series has a certain number of fans willing to rock a T-shirt or pin bearing the likeness of the cast, the most dedicated Love Livers will step out for the day wearing essentially a full suit of armor, with its plates made out of multiple copies of the same piece of Love Live! merchandise. Perhaps in light of this, the Red Cross’ announcement for its Love Live! team-up includes a reminder that after giving the standard 400-milliliter (13.5-ounce) donation of blood, men must wait 12 hours before making another donation, and women 16, which should act as a safeguard against zealous fans hopping right back in line again and again to keep getting files until there isn’t a drop of blood left in their bodies.

As such, it’s unlikely that any one fan will end up with two files, but if you’d like to do your part to help and also get what’s coming to you in terms of anime goodies, a list of Japanese Red Cross blood donation sites can be found here.

Source: Red Cross Society of Japan via Otakomu
Top image: Red Cross Society of Japan