First came Shin Godzilla, and now comes Shin Ultraman!

Watching Evangelion, you might notice that its fights feel different from other giant robot anime. That’s because Eva draws most heavily not from other anime sci-fi fights, but from the rumbles between the costumed heroes and rubber-suit monsters of classic live-action kaiju and tokusatsu productions.

Eva creator Hideaki Anno has always worn his love for both on his sleeve, culminating in his directing 2016’s Shin Godzilla. Now, Anno is helming another prestige production, the upcoming Shin Ultraman, and the movie’s first trailer has just been released.

In and of themselves, theatrical features in the Ultraman franchise aren’t anything new, with close to three dozen released since 1967, including one each for the past six years. But while Ultraman is never a straight-up comedy, it’s always been first and foremost for kids, with even its in-universe dramatic moments feeling sort of hammy to grown-up audiences. Shin Ultraman, however, looks like it’s going for the same serious, mature tone that Shin Godzilla pulled off so well, making it the most critically acclaimed outing for the kaiju king in decades.

The dialogue-free teaser trailer doesn’t give us any concrete plot details, but it’s apparent that Neronga and Gabora, two Ultraman adversaries who debuted back in the original 1966 TV series, are up to no good, and also looking more unnerving than ever (in contrast, Anno seems committed to keeping Ultraman himself close to the hero’s original visual design).

Several fans also see similarities to the monstrous Aliens from Evangelion.

These kaiju (monsters) are Neronga and …continue reading


This week Charley drops in to talk with me and Anming about how he started his career in Japan with startups, ending up with his current HR position with Zenmarket.

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Industry group gives staggering figure for cost of pirated manga in just one month.

The New Year’s season is usually a pretty festive time in Japan. Along with late Christmas parties there are end-of-the-year parties (called bonenkai, literally “forget the year parties”) and start-of-the-year parties. Most people also get about a week off from work straddling New Year’s Day, which they use either to travel back to their hometowns to spend time with relatives or for pleasure trips both inside Japan and abroad.

This year, though, not a whole lot of that was happening. With coronavirus infection numbers surging, people were encouraged to stay home, and apparently a lot of them kept themselves entertained by reading pirated manga online.

According to a study by Japanese publishing industry group ABJ (Authorized Books of Japan), the Internet’s 10 largest manga piracy websites were accessed by users in Japan some 200 million times during December of 2020. That’s nearly three times the figure for January of 2020, which was around 72 million. “The increased amount of time people are spending at home during the pandemic is likely a factor,” said an ABJ representative, and the organization estimates the total cost of the content illegally viewed by Japanese users in December, had it been purchased instead, would have been somewhere in neighborhood of 41.4 billion yen (US$400 million).

While widespread piracy of anime and manga has long been an open secret in overseas fan communities, it hasn’t traditionally been a high-profile issue within Japan, particularly for manga. While prices for anime in Japan tend to be higher than officially licensed DVDs or Blu-rays overseas, manga is a fairly low-cost hobby in Japan, where weekly anthologies and collected volumes are often priced at 500 yen (US$4.85) or less, and used volumes can be bought at second-hand stores for as …continue reading


If a cold beer is all the company you need, this is the place for you.

In Japan, most pubs are set up to accommodate groups. Whether for groups of friends or groups of coworkers, you’ll find more tables than counter seats, and many pubs even have semi-private rooms that can accommodate a half-dozen people or more.

But just because you want a drink doesn’t mean you want company, and soon there’s going to be a new pub in Japan specifically so that people can drink alone.

Called Juden Highball, the pub is set to open in the city of Hakodate, in Hokkaido Prefecture. Like so many restaurant innovations these days, it’s a reaction to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. By making every seat a one-person booth, Juden Highball allows for a measure of social distancing while you enjoy a cold one and, as per Japanese drinking culture, a few side dishes to go with it.

Since being in a booth makes it harder to catch your server’s eye to order food or drinks, each seat has a self-order tablet. You also get power plugs and free Wi-fi, so you can enjoy browsing the Internet, texting friends, or otherwise supplementing your liquid entertainment.

▼ We hear SoraNews24 makes an excellent pairing with Asashi beer and karaage fried chicken.

Juden Highball, which is set to open on February 5, takes its name from juden, the Japanee word for “recharge,” symbolizing the pub’s hope that it can serve as an oasis for people who’re feeling emotionally drained from the severe lifestyle changes that have been brought on during the pandemic. Even when things eventually do …continue reading


Manage Your Weight and Promote Health with Oolong Tea

Oolong tea, originated in China, and has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese for weight management. The Suntory Kuro brand emphasizes the weight loss benefits in that it aids in the metabolism of fat and makes it difficult for fat to be stored (thus why it is beneficial to drink with fatty foods like tonkatsu and croquettes). Due to the polymerized polyphenols in oolong tea, energy expenditure is increased, boosting metabolism for up to two hours after drinking it. It will break down the fat into smaller molecules to make it easier to digest.

Aside from this fact, one of the most beneficial aspects of oolong tea is its high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants in oolong tea, primarily polyphenol and catechins, help to eliminate toxic free radicals in the body. This helps to boost the immune system, fight aging and degeneration of the body, as well as promote beautiful skin and hair.

Believed Benefits

Oolong tea is also believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It is also known to help build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis and said to prevent tooth decay, improve brain function and mental alertness, enhance mood and reduce cellulite. Also good news for those whose bodies may be a little more toxic, it can also offset the effects of alcohol and help the body excrete nicotine. Just note that too much consumption of oolong tea can flush calcium from the body, which can have a negative effect.

Oolong tea is partially oxidized, so is a cross between green tea and black tea. You will find oolong tea all over Japan. Hot or cold, you can buy ready-made bottles of oolong teas in conbinis (convenience stores) and supermarkets, or buy tea bags or leaves to brew your own blend. It …continue reading


The majority of jobs in Japan are clustered in large cities like Tokyo and Osaka. It’s commonly believed by both Japanese people and foreigners that in order to be successful, you need to work or study in the capital city. However, there are some occupations that’ll have you living out in the inaka (countryside).

For instance, many English teaching jobs are at schools in rural areas. Furthermore, thanks to the rise of remote work, some people are choosing to relocate to rural areas. There are many benefits of living in rural Japan. The cost of living is cheap, and you can live closer to nature. Additionally, you have the opportunity to learn about cultural practices and traditions specific to the region you live in. If you’re thinking about relocating or applying to work in the countryside, keep reading! We’ll tell you what it’s like to live in rural Japan.

You’ll Get to Experience a More Traditional Japanese Lifestyle

Foreigners living in cities like Tokyo can expect to have some of the comforts of home around. Although it might be smaller, a modern Japanese apartment probably doesn’t look too different from where you lived back home. With restaurants like McDonalds, Shake Shack, and KFC, you can enjoy the fast food you grew up eating. Moreover, you can go to imported goods stores like Seijoishii or Jupiter to pick up liquor, snacks, and food from around the world. Depending on how remote of an area you live in, there will be few, if any, of these luxuries available. You can order some nonperishables online, but you should expect to be eating more Japanese food if you move to the countryside.

Food isn’t the only thing that’s more traditional in rural areas. There are a lot more old buildings and houses in the …continue reading


Do Japanese ingredients like mentaiko and shiso make a good sandwich?

Dom Dom Burger: the underdog of burger chains in Japan. Well, “underdog” might be an exaggeration. Having just celebrated 50 years of business, Japan’s oldest burger chain is entirely unbothered by being overshadowed by other, more international burger chains. Their aim, after all, is to serve quality over quantity, and they consistently deliver on that promise with a regular rotation of stellar limited edition sandwiches like the Whole!! Crab Burger, which was so popular that its limited time-frame was extended by several months to February 2021.

In fact, they’ve just come out with a new concoction, which we, of course, had to try: the Meintai Atsuyaki Tamago Burger, or the Spicy Cod Roe Thick Egg Omelet Burger. This time, they’re offering a mixture of Japanese flavors…so how does it taste on a sandwich?

The Spicy Cod Roe Thick Egg Omelet Burger was released on the menu on January 23, so we wasted no time in heading to our closest Dom Dom Burger, the Asakusa Hanayashiki branch in Tokyo. There we saw a poster that looked a little familiar…

And that’s because the Spicy Cod Roe Thick Egg Omelet Burger is a new version of the super popular Thick Egg Omelet Burger from December 2017, which we have fond memories of. It’s been three long years since that delicious sandwich graced our lips, far too long in our opinion.

This new version had us salivating, so we quickly proceeded to the counter, forked over our hard-earned 400 yen (US$3.84), and waited just a moment for the staff to hand it over.

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Assault and pepper.

I remember reading somewhere that in France it’s considered rude to put ketchup on food that’s been prepared by someone else at a nice restaurant or home, the logic being that since the other person put a lot of effort in creating a certain taste, it’d be rude to drown it out with tomatoes and vinegar.

It kind of makes sense, and even though Japan doesn’t have such a custom, when served an intimately cooked meal it’s probably best practice to leave it as the server intended out of respect alone. It’s just a polite gesture, however, and nothing will probably happen here if you do choose to liven things up with some custom amounts of sauce or spices.


A guesthouse in the Ujiurata area of Ise City, Mie Prefecture, was the scene of an assault case between the owner, 46-year-old Genryu Aragaki, and a 52-year-old visitor. According to police, in October of last year the victim came to the guesthouse, nestled at the foot of the mountains near the famous Ise Grand Shrine, and had dinner. When the food was served, the victim put some black pepper on it.

However, the amount of pepper upset Aragaki greatly. He punched the guest in the head and then brandished a chef’s knife at him, shouting threats such as “I’ll kill you!” In the midst of the flurry of threats, punches, and kicks, Aragaki’s knife cut the victim in his finger, causing injuries that took two weeks to heal.

▼ By the way, the name of this place is – I kid you not – Foolery Guesthouse

After his arrest, Aragaki admitted to becoming enraged by the amount of pepper used, but denies some of the charges, claiming that he didn’t intend to cut the victim. The two men apparently had known each other …continue reading



In a development that has been anticipating for quite some time (see, for example, the remotely-trackable RFID chipped Zairyuu Kaado ID cards the Government rolled out in 2012 to keep better tabs on NJ Residents), according to a Kyodo article below the Government is using the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an excuse to enact programs digitally tracking all foreign tourists.

Nothing quite like being forced to wear the equivalent of a GPS criminal tracker for your entire stay. And it’s not a stretch to see it being applied beyond tourists to NJ Residents after that, as Covid is providing a pretense to “track and trace” those “foreign clusters”. As CNN notes, “If visitors are allowed [to attend the Olympics], their experience will likely be high-tech. The government is developing a contract tracing app for attendees using GPS that will reportedly link visas, proof of test results, tickets and other information, authorities said.”

Visas? So we’re getting Immigration involved? As Submitter JDG notes, “Obviously, it’s just a matter of time until the Japanese demand all NJ are 24/7 tracked legally in real time with an automated alert popping up on some koban monitor the minute their visas expire. That ought to end that nefarious den of crime right there! Whew.”

So with the advance of technology, the dragnet further tightens on “the foreign element” in Japan. As we have seen with the G8 Summits, the 2002 soccer World Cup, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, “Visit Japan” tourism campaigns in general, and now the 2020 Olympics, international events in Japan serve to inflame its knee-jerk “safety and security” reflexes, and justify all manner of bad overpolicing habits. They essentially become an excuse to invite foreigners in, then police them further. …continue reading