Japan's Coolest Stuff!

As we all know, Japan is filled with an infinite amount of VERY cool stuff!  But here are the things that aren't known in the USA, that I thought were things you should know about...
DISCLAIMER - Japan is overwhelming, so even if you live there, you don't have enough time to see all the great stuff that's available.  So this report is just about the things that I happened to see while I was in Japan for less than 2 weeks.  I'm sure there are many other very interesting things that I missed...
Venus & Braves
venus-braves-logo.jpg (2959 bytes)Japan has tons and tons of RPGs that never make it to the USA.  This one was made by Namco, so I'm thinking that there's a good chance we'll see it... however, I haven't heard anything about it yet, and neither has anybody I've talked to.  It was released in Japan on February 13, 2003, so I'm thinking that we should hear something about it soon!   Anyhow, I don't know much about the storyline, but the art and animation is the best I've ever seen, and that alone is enough to make me wanna play!  I don't know a whole lot about the gameplay either, but from the demos I've seen, it looks interesting.  There are many different job classes, so that aspect reminds me of Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics (two of my all-time favorite games!).  There's nothing at all on the English Namco site, but there's a special section on the Japanese site that you can check out at www.Namco.co.jp, and it's also got it's very own website at www.venus-web.net.  Even if you don't understand any Japanese at all, you should have no problem navigating these two sites and finding lots and lots of cool stuff.  Help me pray that this game gets translated into English!!
Azumi the movie
azumi-movie-tn.jpg (4931 bytes)This movie was released 2 days after I left Japan, but there was quite a bit of hype leading up to it.  At first, I didn't pay any attention to it, but then one day I caught the trailer for the movie on one of those giant building-side televisions in Shinjuku, and that's when I got hooked!  I thought it looked awesome.  The movie is based on the comic "Azumi", but I've never read it.  It's about a kunoichi (female ninja) named Azumi, and it takes place in feudal Japan (16th/17th century).  It reminds me a lot of Ruroni Kenshin, Samurai Spirits, and a lot of my other favorite series.  I checked the reviews after the movie's first day, and they weren't very good... only 2.5 out of 5 stars (39 reviews).  But I'm still excited to see in someday.  If you wanna learn more, check out www.azumi-movie.jp.  Be sure to check out the trailer!!  If you've got a high-speed connection, click on the first link under either the Quicktime or WindowsMedia sections (you'll probably see the world LARGE), and that'll show you an amazing 3 minute promo video.  For slower connections, click on the links underneath that.  After seeing that, I can't imagine that this isn't a great movie.  Any chance it'll come to the USA?  Probably not... >_<
Chax - Gloomy the Bear
gloomy21-tn.gif (1876 bytes)I was in a store on day looking at some stuff and then I noticed a poster of a cute bear killing some kid!  I went over, and to check it out, and that's when I discovered Gloomy the Bear... one of the strangest things I've ever seen.  I've looked into it a little more, and the crazy man behind is is named Mori Chack.  It's gotten so big that there's even an entire Chax Colony store in Osaka!  There are tons of strange websites dedicated to this cute & violent teddy bear, but probably the best place to go is the creator's homepage at www.chax.net. Click on the 3rd link on the left frame, and that'll take you to a page with a whole buncha pictures.  Keep clicking on links, and you'll find all sorts of strange but interesting stuff.  Enjoy the carnage!
Curry House CoCo Ichibanya
coco-ichi-tn.jpg (3270 bytes)Japan is famous for sushi, steak, okonomi yaki, soba noodles, and many other good foods.  And it's infamous for some very bad foods like nato, umeboshi, and shirauo.  I think Japan should be most famous for its curry rice (never met anybody who didn't like it).  It's my favorite food in the world, and my favorite place to eat it is a chain called Curry House CoCo Ichibanya!  There's a picture of the location in Matsudo where I've literally eaten hundreds of delicious meals ^_^  If you're in Japan, you've gotta go.  And better yet, all the locations have English menus, so if you can't read Japanese, you'll have no problem at enjoying a great Japanese meal at CoCo Ichi!  BTW, there are 5 locations in Hawaii, so you can check it out there too. Unfortunately, the website doesn't have an English section, but if you wanna check it out anyways, go to www.ichibanya.co.jp.
What is Japanese curry rice?  It's basically steamed rice (you can pick as much as you like) with a curry gravy.  They can make the curry sweet, spicy, or VERY hot... however you like.  And there's an almost infinite amount of topping combinations that you can add: apple, hotdog, omelet, breaded cutlets, quail eggs, different vegetables, fried chicken, hamburger, cheese, shrimp, squid, etc.   It's totally customizable, so you can have whatever you like.  If you wanna eat there every day like me, you can have something different every day!  My favorite meal is 500 grams of rice, level 3 spicy curry, chicken cutlet, cheese, and spinach.   That comes out to about $10, but a normal meal without all the extras is only about $7.  Best meal in the world!  ^_^