An axis for artistic and creative-types of the Asian persuasian… Redefining Otaku Culture.

How to open an onigiri in only one second

RocketNews 24:

There isn’t enough praise we can give to Japanese convenience stores because they provide exactly what their name suggests, convenience. They stock all sorts of snack foods, expertly pre-prepared meals, and a wide selection of delicious rice balls. Those tasty onigiri are the perfect snack, portable, tasty and with very little waste.

But sometimes you are just so hungry that you need to be eating that onigiri right then and there. You try to quickly open the package, but it all just gets mangled instead. Fear not! RocketNews24 will show you how to open an onigiri in only one second. You won’t want to miss this video after the jump.

For someone who has never eaten an onigiri from the store before, they can be a little confusing to open. The casual diner won’t expect there to be tabs and numbered instructions, so they just sort of start pulling on things until the plastic and rice eventually falls apart in their hands. It doesn’t seem easy at first until someone comes along and points out that the packaging tells you how to open it. After all, in Japan, if it’s not easy to open, you’re probably doing it wrong.

As you can see, the triangular onigiri is opened by a three-step process. You pull the center tab, pull each of the sides out, and then you can start eating. But what if you could turn, “One, two, three, eat,” into, “One, eat”? It might seem impossible, but it’s actually quite easy. Just pull on the sides at the same time you are pulling the center tab. How do you accomplish that exactly? Let us show you.

With the help of your friends, you can be eating convenience store onigiri in one second flat! It’s probably going to take a bit of practice, so go grab a bunch of onigiri, gather some of your friends, and try it out! Just be sure not to waste any of the onigiri, because they are delicious.

▼ Pull the corners starting with 一 (one), 二 (two), and finally 三 (three)

onigiri 1

Canon releases a video camera that goes to 4,000,000 ISO

Japanese photographic giant Canon has released a multi-purpose camera that goes all the way to 4,000,000 ISO. With an image sensor restricted to 2.26 megapixels, a price-tag of $30,000 USD and no internal storage, the camera is undoubtedly only to be used by specialists in very specific situations. Ideal for capturing full color in extreme low light, for nature photography or surveillance, the new ME20F-SH is explained in more detail in the video above.

New Japanese luxury bus tour seats only 10 passengers, tickets cost over US$1,200 each

luxury bus top

RocketNews 24:

How do you picture being transported to your fantasy vacation spot? A giant cruise ship? A seat in the first-class section of a jumbo jet? How about… a bus?

Not quite sure about that last one? Well the Japanese company Isetan Mitsukoshi Travel is trying to change your mind by offering luxury bus rides from Tokyo to all over Japan. And we’re not exaggerating with the use of the word luxury here: each bus seats only 10 people, and the ticket will cost you around 150,000 yen (US$1,211).

Can such a price tag possibly be worth it? Read on to find out!

The company that offers this luxurious bus is Isetan Mistukoshi Travel, which sells vacation packages all over Japan and overseas. But one problem the company has had is even though the destinations they offer are great, the process of getting to them just isn’t as luxurious as it could possibly be.

Planes can be uncomfortable and trains can get crowded…if only there was a way to ship their high-paying customers off to their vacations as comfortable and relaxed as they would be when they arrived. If only….

And thus the luxury bus tours were born. The buses are said to be modeled after the business class section of airplanes, and it definitely shows. Each bus which could normally hold 45 people (if it were configured like an ordinary public bus) now holds only 10, allowing for each passenger  to spread out, lean back, and feel like they’re already on vacation while they’re en route to their destination.

One other thing is also quite reminiscent of business class: the cost. The cheapest bus tours that are only two days and one night cost around 150,000 yen ($1,211), but some others that are three days long cost 245,000 yen ($1,979) to 330,000 yen ($2,665). The trips include staying at high-class hotels and a few included outings and meals, but a significant portion of the cost is also just for the privilege of riding the luxury bus.

Isetan Mitsukoshi has put out a promotional video for their luxury bus line, which you can watch here. A warning in advance: some delicious Engrish subtitles await you.

▼ There are only 10 seats, and sometimes you may be the only one on the bus, just like this terrified-looking lady.

luxury bus 01

▼ Apparently they provide drinks and also take care of everything. Uh, in that case, maybe the tour guide could help me come up with a plan to get out of my crippling debt? Debt I got into by buying a ticket for this bus….

luxury bus 02

▼ “Highest quality,” eh? But what specifically do they do that’s so different from any other-

luxury bus 03

luxury bus 04

▼ Pretty sure I’ve seen this line used before on the pamphlet for a cult or two….

luxury bus 06

All jokes aside, the luxury bus does seem like it could be a fun way to take a vacation if you have the money to spend on it. And apparently a lot of people agree: Isetan Mitsukoshi reports that even with the high ticket prices, they’ve already sold more than half of their summer packages, with most of the customers being older retired couples and groups of women.

The bus tours go all over Japan, with current packages taking passengers on three-day trips to Nagano and Gunma. They vary season by season, focusing on visiting fireworks festivals during the summer, and most likely foliage in the fall and cherry blossoms in the spring.

Thousands show up to Ani-Com & Games Fair in Hong Kong

Channel NewsAsia:

Thousands of comic book fans, gamers and cosplayers are thronging the 17th Ani-Com & Games Fair in Hong Kong. Organisers are hoping to beat last year’s attendance of more than 720,000 people.

About 100 die-hard comic book fans and gamers camped out overnight ahead of the fair. Previous years saw larger crowds wanting to score limited edition merchandise, which organizers have since banned.

At the head of the queue was a fan eagerly awaiting a deluxe edition of his favourite videogame. “I’m here for the Playstation’s latest Metal Gear Solid video game. This year, I’ve set aside about US$1,000 to spend,” said Mr Chan.

There are also many comic characters coming to life. Cosplayer Paul Ho said: “We’re the crazy, crazy people. We take annual leave and come to the Comicon Hong Kong to support society, support the positives. I always say, you have heart, you can be the superhero.”

Mr Ho, an event organiser, paraded around the fair with friends in home-made costumes, inspired by the Avengers movie.

The dark side of the force was also strong when its most famous Sith Lord made an appearance. One would also likely need a second garage to fit a 1/6 scale of the Millennium Falcon spacecraft, which needs no introduction to Star Wars fans.

A Millennium Falcon movdel from the Star Wars is displayed at the 17th Ani-Com and Games exhibition in Hong Kong.

Hot Toys, a Hong Kong-based company that produces high-end figurines coveted worldwide, build the highly detailed model, which is 18-feet by 12-feet in size.

“We built it because we’re die-hard fans of Star Wars, we want people to love Star Wars, and that’s why we built it, but it’s not for sale,” said Chere Li, marketing manager at Hot Toys.

What is for sale and is its bestseller is the Iron Man Hulkbuster action figure that was featured on the big screen recently.

Channel NewsAsia‘s Hong Kong Bureau Chief Roland Lim also had the chance to test a product that is not out in the market yet. Sony‘s virtual reality headset, codenamed Project Morpheus, will not be ready until next year and Sony is planning for 30 games to come with it.

Hong Kong is the first in Asia for gamers to play Star Wars Battlefront, while Microsoft has set up a special wall with 200 car models to celebrate the 10th anniversary of racing game Forza.

The convention runs until Tuesday.

Lexus teases “The Heart Racing Project”, the world’s first car with a heartbeat

Coming soon from Lexus is “The Heart Racing Project.”

Created in collaboration with international advertising agency M&C Saatchi, the project is billed as “the world’s first car with a heartbeat” and will see the conceptual take on the RC F reflecting the driver’s heartbeat thanks to the implementation of biometric technology; by using a heartbeat monitor and sensors attached to the driver, the car can display the pulsating pattern via its exterior paneling.

Check out the teaser above and look for “The Heart Racing Project” to be revealed this Friday, July 24.

New York restaurants must now freeze fish before serving it raw

NY-Frozen-Fish

New York City will now face a new rule when it comes to serving raw fish. The New York Times reports, regardless of how fresh the fish is, restaurants must freeze it for an extended period of time in order to prevent bacteria and parasites.

FoodBeast (by Peter Pham):

While most places are already doing this as a precaution, the process is now law. Outbreaks of salmonella have caused major concerns in the past few years. The new rule will put those fears to ease among consumers who enjoy eating raw fish.

Starting in August, fish must be kept frozen anywhere from 15 hours to an entire week depending on the restaurants’ freezer temperature. Certain seafoods like shellfish and farm-raised fish, however, are exempt from the freezing laws.

Mitsubishi Motors to sell Illinois plant and move U.S. production to Japan

Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will stop making vehicles in the U.S. this year and close down its plant in Illinois if no buyers are found.

Bloomberg ( Jie Ma):

The Japanese automaker will cease producing its only model, the Outlander Sport, at the Bloomington-Normal plant at the end of November, it said in a statement today. The SUV will be exported from Okazaki in Japan to North America from the next model year. A final board decision is pending July 30.

Mitsubishi Motors’ move follows that of Suzuki Motor Corp., which exited the U.S. car market in 2012 after three decades. While U.S. auto demand is recovering, smaller Japanese car companies are finding it difficult to get enough orders to run their plants economically. A weaker yen also makes producing in Japan for export more viable, though Mitsubishi President Tetsuro Aikawa said foreign-exchange rates had no bearing on the decision.

Production at the U.S. plant, opened in 1988 as a joint venture with then Chrysler Corp., fell to as low as 18,500 units a year in 2009 from a peak of 222,000 units in 2000 due to the economic crisis and the end of supplying Chrysler. A slump in Russian demand since last year also dented output at the Illinois factory, which produced vehicles for export.

Aikawa said that the closure of the plant won’t have a big impact on its mid-term U.S. sales target. If no buyers are found, the company will take appropriate measures to settle the employees’ retirements, he said. Mitsubishi Motors will focus its production in Southeast Asia, Japan and Russia, he said.

Mitsubishi Motors rose for the first time in four days, trading 4.5 percent higher at 1,090 yen as of 1:58 p.m. in Tokyo trading. The benchmark Topix index fell 1.3 percent.

Watch out Spotify… Chinese web commerce giant Alibaba set to launch a new music division Alizila

Jack Ma

Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, attends the 2015 China Green Companies summit on April 21, 2015 in Shenyang, China.

Billboard:

Alibaba, the Chinese web commerce giant whose stock serves double-duty as Yahoo’s revenue shield, has announced the formation of a division to focus on the music industry.

The company’s news site, Alizila, reported on June 20 that Alibaba, which boasts a market capitalization of $207 billion, had made an announcement of the launch on June 15, though no statement to that effect is visible on the company’s site.

Alibaba Music Group will be run by chairman Gao Xiaosong, a singer-songwriter and talk show host, and CEO Song Ke, a former executive with Warner Music. One of the company’s first announcements was that it will fold its two existing music streaming apps, Xiami — which Alibaba acquired in 2013 — and Tiantian into one.

“It is hoped that [Gao and Song] will creatively disrupt and catalyze the music industry… combining their cumulative experience… with Alibaba’s capabilities in the Internet space and big data,” Alibaba said in a statement.

While Alibaba Music Group is entering a crowded international market, it is one of the few companies in China that can operate at scale in that country’s fraught music space (it established a framework to support international intellectual copyrights in the ’90s), along with Baidu, Tencent and Youku.

In March of this year Alibaba signed a distribution agreement with BMG, giving the company legal access to 2.5 million song copyrights including Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones. It also was reported to be planning a $200 million investment in another hot tech company, Snapchat. Its chief rival, Tencent, announced deals with Sony Music and Warner Music Group in late 2014.

Yamaha introduces the new XSR700, a custom-style edition of the MT-07.

The inherent risks taken by heritage companies when returning to classic designs is inescapable, as through time, the process has become quite dull and uninteresting. However, Yamaha looks to prove doubters wrong with its new cafe-inspired motorcycle, the XSR700.

In a short promotional clip, the company depicts Japanese-born custom motorcycle builder Shinya Kimura meticulously crafting the XSR700, passing a proverbial torch to a young apprentice. Already receiving high-praise from riders who’ve had the opportunity to test it, the two-wheeled racer avoids the dangerous clichés attached with retro-built automobiles, harmoniously blending high-performance parts with a clean outer-aesthetic, which includes a two-texture leather seat, an aluminum fender, headlight brackets and fuel tank, mesh side panels, exposed engine, a shorter exhaust can and a slew of other accessories. Available in Forest Green and Garage Silver, the XSR700 will go on sale in Europe this November along with its full specs, for a yet-to-be-announced price.