Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

It’s late December. Let’s take a moment and look back at some of the Kotaku East stories from over the past year.

Have a look below!

Also, let me take this moment to tip my hat to our own Seung Park, who tirelessly chronicles K-pop with fascinating and in-depth daily music picks. Catch up with what you missed right here and definitely check out his coverage of America’s largest K-pop festival.


For The First Time In 11 Years, The Japanese Console Game Market Has Grown

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Over the past few years, the console market in Japan—both hardware and software sales—has been sluggish. In 2017, however, that changed.


Japan Isn’t Happy With Logan Paul’s Tokyo Video, Either

Screenshot: Logan Paul

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On January 1, the most important day on the Japanese calendar, when families gather and think about the new year, YouTuber Logan Paul posted an apparent suicide on YouTube. That wasn’t the only time he insulted the country’s cultural norms. He started doing that, days earlier.


The Time Studio Ghibli Stood Up To Harvey Weinstein With A Katana

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Among the many things for which former Hollywood mogul and alleged predator Harvey Weinstein was notorious were re-editing movies as he saw fit, earning the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands.” But when Weinstein was handling Princess Mononoke’s US release, Studio Ghibli wouldn’t be bullied and sent Weinstein a samurai sword with the words “No cuts” to prove it.


The Best Sandwiches Japan Has To Offer

Photo: Brian Ashcraft

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Among the many things for which former Hollywood mogul and alleged predator Harvey Weinstein was notorious were re-editing movies as he saw fit, earning the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands.” But when Weinstein was handling Princess Mononoke’s US release, Studio Ghibli wouldn’t be bullied and sent Weinstein a samurai sword with the words “No cuts” to prove it.


The Reason Why Super Saiyan Hair Is Blond

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In Dragon Ball, when members of the Saiyan race transform into their Super Saiyan form, their hair goes from black to blond. Recently on Japanese TV (via Topic News), Weekly Jump editor in chief Hiroyuki Nakano explained why.


Grave Of The Fireflies’ Movie Poster Has A Hidden (And Depressing) Secret

Screenshot: Studio Ghibli, Madman

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Grave of the Fireflies is one of the saddest movies ever made. Decades after its original release, people have discovered a haunting, hidden image in the Japanese movie poster.


How Nintendo Labo Reflects Japanese Culture

Photo: Brian Ashcraft

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It’s a Saturday afternoon in Osaka. My two youngest sons are sitting at the kitchen table, pulling out sheets of cardboard to make Nintendo Labo. The older of the two, who is eight, is looking at the instructions, making sure he’s got the folds just right. This all feels familiar.


Korean League of Legends Player Retiring After Traumatic Time In Japan

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Yesterday, Jeon “Dara” Jeong-hoon announced he was retiring from professional gaming. According to Dara, incidents that happened regarding his foreigner resident card were “truly frightening.”


Japan Is Running Out Of Whisky

Photo: Nathan Bullivant (Flickr)

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Suntory announced officially that sales of the Hakushu 12-year-old single malt and the Hibiki 17-year-old blend would stop for the time being. The reason? Some of Japan’s most beloved whisky releases are vanishing.


Japan’s Biggest Indie Game Show, Reviewed By My Kid

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“We’re just going to play video games, all day?” my nine-year-old asks. “Pretty much,” I reply. “I’ll have to talk to people, too, and you should write down what you thought of the game.” Since I don’t work in an office, Bring Your Kid To Work Day doesn’t exist. Instead, I brought him to BitSummit.


The Man Who Inspired Snorlax

Image: The Pokemon Company, Conekuriya, Niantic

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One of the most beloved Pokémon is Snorlax. Meet the man who inspired the character.


Japan’s Video Game Bars Are In Danger

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A string of arrests has put the future of Japan’s popular “video game bars” into serious doubt.


Rules For Eating And Drinking In Japan

Photo: specimen (Creative Commons)

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Visting Japan? Or perhaps you already live in the country. Here are some handy rules to follow for eating and drinking protocol.


The Banned-In-Japan Film George Lucas And Francis Ford Coppola Produced

Image: Warner Bros., Criterion

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During the 1980s, in the wake of Star Wars and Apocalypse Now, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola produced one of the most daring—and in Japan, most controversial—films ever made. Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters is unlike anything before or since.


An Inside Look At PUBG Arrests In China

Photo: pubg.qq

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Earlier this year, 120 people were arrested in China for alleged connection in either designing or making PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds cheat tools. Then, in late April, another 15 were nabbed. Now the current arrest total is reportedly 141 alleged cheaters.


Unlike in Pokémon, Digimon Humans Keep Aging

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In the Pokémon anime, Ash is ten years old. Eternally. But in the Digimon anime, the human characters are getting older.


Plastic Food Melts In Japanese Heat

Screenshot: NetGeek

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This summer is dangerously hot in Japan. Just look what the heat did to this plastic matcha latte!


Massive Virtual Reality Theme Park Opens In China

Screenshot: CGTN

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This weekend, a VR-only theme park opened in Guizhou, China. One of the park’s centerpieces, however, is not virtual but a towering Transformers-style robot statue.


Sony Japan Is Finally Saying Goodbye To The PS2

Image: Sony

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Sony Interactive Entertainment’s aftercare service for the PlayStation 2 in Japan is ending. While the console has been out of production since 2012, Sony Japan continued to service to the game machine, keeping it alive. Sony is now pulling the plug.


KFC Is Having A Hard Time In Japan

Photo: Ian Muttoo (Flickr)

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For decades, KFC has been a beloved fast food chain in Japan. These days, it seems, things are difficult.


The End Of The Tsukiji Fish Market

Photo: Brian Ashcraft

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Last Friday, the Tsukiji Market held its final auction. The 83-year-old exchange and major Tokyo tourist attraction is moving to a new waterfront location in Toyosu. Soon, the Tsukiji Market will be gone.


Artificial Intelligence Gets Good At Creating Anime Girls

Screenshot: crypko

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The types of anime-style characters artificial intelligence was making in 2015 weren’t good. But now in 2018, the machines have improved. A lot.


Japan Says Goodbye To Its Queen of Pop

Screenshot: AmuroNamiech

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This weekend, iconic J-pop star Namie Amuro will hold her final concert. After that, she will apparently never perform on stage again.


Tokyo’s New Fish Market Opens, Things Didn’t Go Well

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Today is the first official day of the Toyosu Market, the new fish market that is replacing the beloved Tsukiji Fish Market. The opening wasn’t exactly smooth.


Chinese Game Site Censors Winnie The Pooh in Kingdom Hearts III

Screenshot: Weibo, Buzz Plus

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When Chinese game site A9VG recently covered Kingdom Hearts III, it decided to remove one thing: Winnie the Pooh.


Halloween In Tokyo Descends Into Chaos, Clean-Ups And Arrests

Screenshot: ANN

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It’s not Halloween yet, but the weekend before drew big crowds in Tokyo’s Shibuya. Costume-wearing revelers descended on the neighborhood, and the tricks made a much bigger impact than the treats.


Chinese Esports Team Has An Amazing Training Facility

Image: OMG

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China’s OMG (Oh My God) dominates not only dominates League of Legends and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but also esports compounds. Check out its training facility.