Around Japan in 47 rice balls: Mr. Sato buys each prefecture’s musubi all from one Tokyo shop

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Although Japan lacks ethnic diversity, it seems to more than make up for it in diversity of cuisine. Although the overarching recipes of Japanese foods can be found everywhere, you’d be surprised and how diverse the differences can be from region to region. Having your New Year’s soup in Okayama Prefecture may be quite different from Akita Prefecture’s offering. Even purchasing oden from a chain like 7-Eleven will produce different results if it’s from Osaka or Tokyo.

This is also true of another of Japan’s standard foods: rice balls also known as onigiri or musubi. To taste all the unique variations Japan has to offer, one must be a seasoned traveler, or they could just go to Momochi, a shop which offers a taste of all 47 prefectures straight from the counter. Our own Mr. Sato, eager to taste of these deliciously distinct snacks, visited Momochi to sample…

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In a country steeped in tradition, two prefectures are completely void of historical temples

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Japan is often praised for its ability to preserve traditional customs and architecture while still functioning as a modern society. There are few other places in the world where you can be in the middle of a buzzing metropolis, only to turn a corner and be face-to-face with a shrine that has stood for centuries. But did you know that there are actually entire prefectures that do not contain a single old temple?

Join us after the jump as we explore two such places and explain exactly why architecture that was hundreds of years old disappeared.

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Espresso Patronum! Artist creates awesome artwork on Starbucks’ cardboard cup sleeves

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The iconic Starbucks mermaid is an instantly recognisable commercial symbol, up there with McDonald’s golden arches or Nike’s tick. But don’t you get a little bored sometimes with the same old face peering back at your from the cardboard sleeve lovingly hugging your steamy cup of joe? One artist decided to jazz up the old mermaid design using black pen, featuring everyone from Dragon Ball‘s Goku to The Legend of Zelda‘s Link, and the results are kind of awesome!

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Ariana Grande is learning hiragana and Japan can’t stop talking about it

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Ariana Grande is a rising star that many are calling a “mini-Mariah Carey.” Launching onto the world stage after an incredibly successful run on the Nickelodeon show, Victorious, she is quickly gaining fans around the world with her solo music career. She has quite the following in Japan too, with her most recent album, My Everything, peaking at #3 on the weekly Oricon Music charts. And while Japan can’t get enough of her songs and her extremely long hair (extensions), there is something else that her Japanese fans are talking about these days: Ariana Grande is learning hiragana.

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Woman’s best friend: Possibly the sweetest photos of a grandma and her cat you will ever see

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For over a decade, Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara has been capturing the amazing bond that has developed between her grandmother, Misao, and Fukumaru – the white, odd-eyed cat her grandmother found as a stray kitten. The two have remained nearly inseparable, and the bond they share shows in the beautiful photos that Ihara takes.

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Friends too busy to go to the Pokémon Cafe? No problem! Pikachu himself will sit with you

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If you’re a Pokémon fan who’s feeling blue over missing your chance to eat at the limited-time restaurants based on the series that previously appeared in Yokohama and Tokyo’s Roppongi neighborhood, cheer up. Until the end of February, the Pokémon Cafe is back again, this time in the trendy part of Tokyo called Shibuya, and looks to be cuter than ever.

Unfortunately, when you combine food and cuteness in one of the busiest cities on earth, you also get long lines. Helping to make the wait worth it, though, is the possibility of having a meal while sharing your table with a very special dining companion, Pikachu.

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Hello Kitty keeping as busy as ever — this time she collaborates with…money itself!

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We all know that Hello Kitty is one busy and extremely capable, well, business…cat, shall we say? And yes, we love her for it, too. So, what new adorable form has she taken this time?

Well, it seems she’s now gotten close and personal with money — Japanese coins, to be exact. But not to worry, she hasn’t gotten involved in the counterfeiting business. She’s come up with magnets on which she appears attached to different Japanese coins, and as always, she manages to look cool and cute in the process!

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