Hot Pulse

‘Japan Sumo Cup’ is possibly the most Japanese thing ever

November 25th, 2015 by

Do you like sumo? Into horse racing? Longtime fan of “Street Fighter”? Well, then do we have a game to match your specific and varied interests.

Japan Sumo Cup” is a free web-based game that — prepare yourself — lets you play as real sumo wrestlers riding actual horses from the Japan Racing Association while competing against characters from “Street Fighter.”

No, this isn’t a joke. The Japan Racing Association developed the game with the Japan Sumo Association and Capcom to help promote an upcoming race on Nov. 29, and also created the most Japanese thing in quite some time.

In this rhythm game, players can choose from different sumo wrestlers and then compete against characters from Capcom’s popular fighting series, including Blanka, Guile and M. Bison. The best part is that there are many nods to “Street Fighter” in “Japan Sumo Cup,” such as Dhalsim riding an elephant instead of a horse.

Each fighter’s stage comes with a remixed version of their background music from the original game, and they even perform their signature moves when the race gets close. Ryu shoots out his Hadouken blast and Chun-Li does her Spinning Bird Kick.

Ryu gets an extra speed boost by shooting out one of his Hadouken blasts.

Ryu gets an extra speed boost with one of his Hadouken blasts.

In order to win, players have to tap the arrow buttons on their keyboards at the right moments to rack up combos and win the race. Since the beats match the music from “Street Fighter,” old-school players who have the original soundtrack burned into their brains will have a leg up on the competition.

With this game, the JRA and Sumo Association, long the pastimes of elderly men, are clearly trying to reach out to the next generation. It kind of reminds us of when JRA put QR codes on betting tickets in 2002 or when the Sumo Association held “gokon” matchmaking events at one of its matches.

You can place your bets now on whether or not this joint venture pays off.

“Japan Sumo Cuo” can be played for free online. The site says that more characters will be unlocked later this week.

YouTubers in Japan with 100,000 fans and counting

November 7th, 2015 by

As more and more people turn off the TV in favor of the Internet, YouTube Japan is recognizing some of its top celebrities who are drawing in millions of people to their videos.

The company threw a big celebration for more than 20 YouTubers living in Japan who each have over 100,000 subscribers. The channels range from expats explaining Japanese culture to girls giving out makeup advice. Here are some of the channels honored at YouTube’s event.

1. Bilingual Chika’s fun and informational videos aim to help Japanese people learn English and to help everyone else to understand Japan. Her videos range from simply explaining grammar points all the way to reproducing English fairy tales.

2. Chihiro shares her beauty tips with the world with monthly favorites and test trials of 100 yen store makeup — Chihiro reviews it all. Scattered within these reviews are also a number of vlogs about her life.

3. Daichi Beatboxers name pretty much says it all: Daichi Beatboxer is a beatboxer named Daichi. His channel consists of performances, experimental content and collaboration videos with artists such as Hikakin.

4. Einshine’s channel has one primary theme: anime. Whether it be in his videos about gaming, vlogging or animation, the topic of anime almost always seems to make an appearance.  

5. Kobasolo is a musician, producer and charismatic goofball. Showing off his talent in full blown music videos or covers, Kobasolo’s musical skills really shine through.

6. Kumamiki’s channel is a collage of different do-it-yourself and do-yourself-up videos. In addition to her beauty and makeup tutorials, Kumamiki also vlogs and tries out a variety of food.

7. Melodee Morita is a TV reporter and director who has made her way to YouTube. On top of her travel videos, her videos feature tips on how to act, eat and exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

8. Rachel & Jun are more than just a friends. This married couple shows a unique perspective on living in Japan as both a foreigner and native to the country. Whether filming together or alone, their videos tend to revolve around topics relating to Japan.

9. SekineRisa’s channel is a guide for all things glamorous. Her videos include travel, shopping hauls, makeup tutorials or a combination of the three, and Risa does it all in style.

10. Sharla in Japan is almost like an Internet tour guide for all those looking to visit or learn more about Japan. When she’s visiting theme cafes or discussing Japanese fashion, Sharla always seems to do it with a smile on her face.

11. Takutaku is a gamer with a focus on horror games. His take on games such as “Hide and Seek and “Entity helps make the games feel a little less terrifying.

12. Dekakin runs channel where, whether combining nine hair products into one or drinking cold water in a bathtub full of ice, his humorous personality is the star.

13. Haiji’s channel is a collection of food vlogs that are sure to make your mouth water. When he’s enjoying cheap sushi or ordering two large bento at once, viewers might feel a mix of hunger and jealousy.

14. Miki Pon provides makeup and hair tutorials for every season and every cost. Those who love her style can mimic it in the real world with her product collections.

15. Suzukawa Ayako is a family-oriented mother who loves her kids and cars. Her videos range all the way from visiting museums with her children to assembling models of toy trains.

So there you have some of the top vloggers in Japan. While they may not be household names just yet, their dedicated group of fans are probably refreshing their channels right now hoping for a new video.

Finding laughs in translations that have lost the plot

October 29th, 2015 by

Move over Google Translate; Orikaeshi Honyaku is here with questionable translations that are tickling the funny bone of the Twittersphere.

Orikaeshi Honyaku (折り返し翻訳) can roughly be translated to “folded up translation.” The Orikaeshi Honyaku Dictionary site boasts the catchphrase “from Japanese to Japanese.” After inputting any Japanese phrase and hitting the search button, the dictionary proceeds to translate the phrase first into English, then into Dutch, then Italian, and finally back into Japanese.

The news of the website has spread rapidly through social media, prompting users to input lines from their favorite TV shows, old Japanese sayings and even their innermost desires.

The website encourages visitors to share the “before” and “after” directly with their Twitter followers. Users are eager to share their creation with the hashtag #折り返し翻訳.

There is no science to the madness of Orikaeshi Honyaku, but the results, while rarely accurate, are often hilarious.

“I can’t finish my report” → “There is no report”

“Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!” → “Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7!”

“I’ll eat it even if it’s gone bad” → “This food was brought up spoiled”

“I don’t want to work for the rest of my life” → “I want to work forever”

“It’s my turn!” → “That is up to me!”

Plugging in Japanese phrases that are hard to translate to begin with produced similar results. よろしくお願いします, which roughly means “Please take care of me,” becomes ありがとう (thank you), and 頑張ります, which is something like “I’ll do my best,” is simplified to 良い (good). My personal favorite is お世話になります, a phrase that means something along the lines of “Thank you you for your kindness” or “I’m happy to be working with you,” which becomes — very roughly — ”I tried differently” when put through the system.

Additionally there are a couple other interesting bugs: a search for the translation of any emoji will return a poop emoji, and typing in a famous anime title like “Angel Beats” will usually translate it into the title of a rival show.

No doubt Orikaeshi Honyaku serves to highlight the weaknesses of machine translation, but for sheer entertainment value, some things are better lost in translation.

Japan tricks out the Halloween treats

October 28th, 2015 by

Halloween is a time to carve pumpkins, enjoy a few scares and, most importantly, shovel as much candy as humanly possible into one’s own mouth. While the practice of door-to-door trick-or-treating may not be a thing in Japan, the custom of eating special Halloween snacks certainly translates. Plenty of companies, both overseas and domestic, are looking to cash in on this boom.

In fact, American doughnut company Krispy Kreme is featuring some especially creepy creations at its Japanese outlets. The “Mad for Monsters” series is available through October and includes: Spider Chocolate Custard, Maple Milk Franken, Caramel Halloween Jack and Purple Potato Monster. We’re big fans of the three-doughnut box, which comes in the shape of a coffin.


Lotte’s Koala’s March — aka crackers that depict adorable koalas doing adorable things — are dressing up, too. Be it strawberry, cookies and cream or chocolate, each cracker depicts koalas in different Halloween costumes. And if you want to your sugar crash to the next level, there’s Lotteria’s Kaola’s March shake:

In a more chilled aisles of grocery stores, be on the look-out for pumpkin pudding cups. For those who enjoy a bit more crunch than jiggle there are Kit Kat’s Halloween bars.

Of course, one crunchy pumpkin pudding treat is not enough. Luckily, Tohato Caramel Corn is featuring a similar pumpkin pudding product complete with costumed packaging that features Frankenstein’s monster and other ghouls.

After you gobble down all of these treats, you might need something to wash it all down. Well, don’t fear because many companies have released some spooky sodas.

Pepsi has released Pepsi Ghost, which features a special mystery flavor inside each bottle of witchy brew. It seems that most who have tried it are leaning toward either pumpkin or cherry as the flavor, but the jury is still out. 

Of course, tis the season of pumpkin lattes. While Lipton’s Sweet Pumpkin Tea Latte apparently hard to find, the tea has been defined as being extremely milky and rich. Both the pumpkin tea and Lipton’s infamous Yellow Label Tea are being sold in a package that features a mysterious black cat on an orange background. Unlike the pumpkin tea, however, there is no change in flavor in the Yellow Label Tea.

Toppo and High Chew are doing much of the same — new costume, same product. 

Make sure you get a taste of these snacks before they slink away back into the shadows. With so many delicious options available at once, our wallets and stomachs truly have a reason to scream.

Ginza Cozy Corner takes dessert into hyperdrive with ‘Star Wars’ cakes

October 22nd, 2015 by

One Japanese confectionary vendor is about to find the Force deep within a sweet tie-up.


The (caloric) force is strong with this one.

Ahead of the December release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Ginza Cozy Corner, which has outlets nationwide, has made a line of “Star Wars” sweets that are truly out of this world. The treats themselves are all based on people from the the films, and regardless if the characters were good or evil, the desserts will end up being sweet.

The cake set includes Darth Vader, Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, an Ewok, a Stormtrooper, C-3PO and R2-D2, each having its own unique taste. The yellow C-3PO cake is lemon-flavored; the white R2-D2 one is cheese mousse; and so on.

If that wasn’t enough to satisfy sci-fi fans, Ginza Cozy Corner is also releasing a “Star Wars” tin and pouch filled with the store’s original creations. They will also be selling an R2-D2 sponge cake that is covered in white frosting and colored biscuits.

The “Star Wars” collection will be sold at select stores beginning Nov. 1, and the nine-piece cake set will sell for ¥2,000.

For more information, visit the Ginza Cozy Corner website.

Warning: This viral video of high school girls might make you blush

October 21st, 2015 by

Cosmetic company Shiseido has recently uploaded a YouTube video that is blowing viewers’ minds with a bona fide twist.

In the promo video, titled “High School Girl? — The Makeup Secrets of High School Girls,” the camera weaves through a classroom full of drop-dead cute young women who pout and wink like true pop idols. But everything is not as it seems.

The camera zooms in on the page of a book that one girl is reading. The small text reads “Did you notice the boys in this classroom?” As the camera backs out of the room, the viewer realizes that — SPOILER ALERT — they’re all dudes.

The big gender-flipping reveal highlights the transformative properties of Shiseido’s makeup, which give you the tools to be whatever you want to be (granted, having veteran hair & makeup artists helps).

Whether this invokes deeper commentary on herbivore men or gender fluidity or whatever, the bottom line is Shiseido has struck viral-video gold.

[This behind-the-scenes video shows how the makeup specialists pulled it off.]

Sharp dials up the fan service to celebrate 20 years of ‘Evangelion’

October 20th, 2015 by

For those who have always dreamed of owning an Evangelion robot, this might be the closest you get.

Just in time for the 20th anniversary of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”  a mecha lover's wet dream (Kyodo photo)

Just in time for the 20th anniversary of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” a mecha lover’s wet dream (Kyodo photo)

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the popular “Neon Genesis Evangelion” animated series, Sharp is releasing a special smartphone that pays homage to the show both in the device’s hardware and software.

The phone itself is detailed in purple and green with a backside decorated with an Evangelion mech. Naturally the phone’s custom interface echoes the show’s iconic purple and green coloring. For the extra devout, there’s a special themed phone cover.

Perhaps the biggest fanboy perk is 365 different wallpapers that feature illustrations and concept art from the show. Its calendar app will reveal a new wallpaper each day of the year. In addition, the phone will have original character voices and sound effects from the anime.

“Evangelion” fans can apply for the phone, which costs a hefty ¥84,240, at 7-Elevens nationwide on Nov. 2 (or register online). Make sure to suit up and grab yours because the company only plans to make 30,000 units, to be divvied out in December (5,000) and April (25,000).

Tokyo plugs into Google Play Music

October 16th, 2015 by

If you haven’t heard the latest news from Google Play, you may have missed your opportunity to tune into a Google Play Billboard. From Oct. 8-24, music lovers can head over to Shibuya to, literally, plug into a selection of over 3,500 songs.

The Google Play Billboard is meant to give visitors a much-needed chance to try out its new music service. After LINE launched its music-streaming service in July, followed only weeks later by Apple Music, as Google Play Music seemed to be stuck in buffering mode with no plans to enter the market. However, after finally launching in September, Google has been going to all lengths to make Google Play Music stand out from its competitors.

Located on Supeinzaka near the Shibuya Parco department stores, the Google Play Billboard may appear, from a distance, to be any other advertisement. Within the billboard itself is 1,300 individual headphone jacks, however, continuously streaming music from noon-8 p.m. everyday. Each jack features a different song, and the song selection changes over time so that you’ll never know exactly what you’re plugging into.

Just watching all the careful efforts that went into the construction of the billboard is like watching a symphony.

The 3,500 songs that make up the Google Play Billboard playlist are hand-picked from submissions from the public that people voted for on the official Google Play Music website. The public were given six different categories to vote on — “a song you’d like to play when your significant other comes over”; “a song for when you feel that your heart is going to break”; “a song you’d personally want to leave for the next generation”; and so on.

These categories, which play into people’s emotional connection with music, resulted in hundreds of songs featuring both a wide variety of both Japanese and Western music. Visitors to the Shibuya billboard can anticipate everything from Mary J. Blige to AKB48, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to The Rolling Stones.

Additionally, anyone who signs up for Google’s streaming service by Oct. 18 will be able to listen to the Google Play Billboard’s 3,500 songs unlimitedly for free, as well as pay a lifetime reduced rate of ¥780 per month.

After only a week, the Google Play Billboard has made quite a splash on social media, thanks to the hashtags #GooglePlayMusic and #渋谷3500万曲ビルボード (Shibuya 35,000 song billboard).

Regardless of whether Google’s PR campaign hits the right note or falls flat, the Google Play Billboard has certainly proven that music can bring us all together.


Recent Posts

  • J-blip: Ipsa’s Face Melody

    Every face has a name, a story and . . . a song? That’s the idea behind cosmetic company Ipsa’s newest creation. We should, uh, take it at face value, but the company claims that its Face Melody program can measure the user’s appearance and write a unique tune based on their attributes. The application […]

  • Japan celebrates the GIFs that keep on giving

    GIFs — which stands for graphics interchange format, don’t you know — have made the Internet an even more enjoyable place than before, and we have the receipts to prove it. These digital designs were technological wonders back in the days of AOL and Netscape (Google it, kids). But they eventually went from high-tech animation […]

  • Smart absolutions: Send off your sins with just one click

    The two-step method to purification.

  • Attack of the plant hunters, green carnivores and fleshy girls

    Never promised you a rose garden, but how about a fleshy plant or a stag-horn fern?

  • Make 12th-century art using 21st-century tech

    The Choju-Giga, the famed animal caricature ink paintings displayed Kyoto’s Kozan-ji Temple have been captivating people for centuries. The four scrolls, which date to the 12th and 13th centuries and depict rabbits and monkeys getting into mischief, are often cited as the first manga comics in Japan’s history. Now art lovers can create their own […]

  • Fuji Rock bound? Make sure you survive in style

    A few items that will help you stay dry and happy during Fuji Rock Festival’s unpredictable weather.

  • Pokemon ages ungracefully with middle-aged ‘Ojisan Monsters’

    “Ojimon” is a new mobile game where players can catch middle-aged pocket monsters and make them do their bidding.

  • The new face of Japanese beauty products

    A wise woman once said that beauty is pain, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. With designer face masks, even the simple act of skin moisturizing can become fun. Face masks rose to popularity after the 2011 Korean BB Cream craze. Over the past four years, the “lazy girl” alternative to […]

  • Dominique Ansel caters to Tokyo’s (semi)sweet tooth with cronuts and s’more

    Long queues will mark the spot where Dominique Ansel wil be serving a vast array of creative desserts and, of course, his famed Cronut.

  • Load up YouTube because it’s morphin’ time!

    Summon your Megazord because the Power Rangers are heading to YouTube — and it’s all in Japanese. “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” was a hit children’s show back in the ‘90s that featured campy acting, ridiculous monsters and possibly the best theme song of all time. It was actually based on the long-running “Super Sentai” TV […]