Vega @ whysojapan.com, Author at Why so Japan

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2017

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm – Cherry Blossom Festival

On April 22nd was the annual cherry blossom hanami festival in Stockholm (“Körsbärsblommans Dag”), Sweden. It’s an event organized by the Japanese Association, and we were very happy to see that they – once again – succeeded in setting the date just in time for the cherry trees to be in full bloom. As previous years, we were there to enjoy Japanese food and entertainment. Here is a video and some photos from the day.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Lots of people gathered in Kungsträdgården for a mini shows of various performances.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Sakurakören (Sakura Choir) and Yuko Matsushita (on flute) entertained the crowd with their music.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Hello Kitty was the festival’s ambassador. She walked around the stalls and let the visitors take photos with her.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

There was a mixture of stalls, as there always are. Some of them were Othello the board game and Mangakai, club for manga and anime enthusiasts.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Japanese flower arrangement, ikebana, was on show with some beautiful examples of what can be achieved.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

In one of the stalls you could be show how to fold origami, and in another stall you could try on a kimono.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

There was a small selection of stalls offering Japanese food. The one we went for was Japanese croquette from Tokyo Soul Kitchen, it was the right choice because it was really delicious and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Naoko Kikuchi played the Shamisen, a Japanese string instrument, for the onlooking crowd.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Nicklas Nordquist gave a short introduction to what cosplay is. After his introduction a few cosplayers showed off their costumes. Wadaiko-Maiko performed a traditional Taiko drums show for everyone.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Kenshou Kyudo Kai Kyudo club gave a demonstration in Kyudo, Japanese archery.

Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm


Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival in Stockholm

Previous posts about Sakura Matsuri in Stockholm:
Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2016
Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015
Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2014
Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2013

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Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Events Leave a comment

Top Japanese places to visit in London

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London

Top Japanese places to visit in London

In this post we have collected our top Japanese places to visit in London. The city has so many places that are connected to Japan in one way or another. In our top list we’ve tried to cover a mixture of different types of places that have some connection to Japan or Japanese culture. We know that there are a lot of Japanese restaurants in London, but since we are not based in London we have not really been able to visit many of them to give our opinions about them. While visiting London we always try to find time to visit a few of the locations below. If you are short on time, we recommend visiting Japan Centre, Umai and JP Books which are all in a very close walking distance to each other.

Japan Centre

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre

Japan Centre has a big selection of Japanese groceries. What you can find is ready to go fresh meals, snacks, and ingredients so that you can make your own Japanese food at home. They also have sake, stationery, magazines, cooking utensils and more. Our favourite treat that we always take with us from the store are the freshly made mochi balls.
Map | Website

Umai

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai

Situated just outside the Japan Centre is Umei. A great place to grab a quick a typical Japanese street food. We normally buy takoyaki, but other options are available on their menu. After that we normally pop by to JP Books.
Map | Website

JP Books

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books
JP Books is around the corner from the Japan Centre and Umei, on Denman Street. You will find this well-stocked book shop selling lots of Japanese books, stationery, magazines, nick-nacks. It is a great place to pick up the latest CD from your favourite J-pop group, like Perfume.
Map | Website

ArtBox

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London art box
ArtBox is the go-to shop for all things cute and kawaii. In store you can expect to find character goods like Rilakkuma, Pusheen, Gudetama, Hello Kitty and more, stationery, plushies, homeware, and accessories. If you’re after something cute and Japanese, we recommend popping into Artbox to browse. The shop’s exterior has changed since we last visited due to a new location.
Map | Website

Chinatown Bakery

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery
Even though it’s ChinaTown, you can still find some Japanese gems there, like the cute fish-shaped cake TaiYaki. We have such great memories of eating them in Japan, so we were really happy to find them in London. They’re a lot smaller than the Japanese standard size, but that just means you can have more than one.
Map | Website

Muji

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London muji

Muji is a well-known brand in Japan. Thanks to their success they have a lot of international stores. Their style is minimalistic and practical, usually white, grey or wood. Typical items you can find in the store are storage solutions, little notebooks, plastic folders, travel items, cutlery, home fragrance and lots more. Last time we were in store we bought a lovely wooden fruit bowl.
Map | Website

Uniqlo

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London uniqlo

Another store with international success is Uniqlo. They have a wide range of basic clothes of all colours for your wardrobe. The clothes are minimalistic and aesthetic pleasing on the eyes. They reason we started shopping at Uniqlo was their heattech range, which are thin clothes with a special Japanese technology to keep you warm.
Map | Website

Las Vegas Arcade Soho

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas
Not many places outside of Japan house so many fun and exciting Japanese arcade machines. Luckily enough Las Vegas Arcade Soho has a great selection of Japanese arcade games. Some of our favourites being Jubeat, GrooveCoaster, Taiko no Tatsujin and many more. Sometimes there can be queues to the games, but they’re well worth the wait.
Map | Website

JapanCraft Camden Lock

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan craft
Hidden inside Camden Market you will find the little Japan Craft shop. They stock a nice selection of Japanese puzzle boxes, daruma dolls and a small selection of Japanese sweets. Perfect shop to pop into if you are in the Camden area.
Map | Website

Hyper Japan

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London hyper japan christmas market
HyperJapan is a bi-annually event which hosts concerts, demonstrations, lots of independent shops and stalls, selling all things Japanese and Japanese inspired. Check out our full review from our past visit: Hyper Japan Christmas Market
Website

ComicCon

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London

MCM Comic Con London, which is also held twice a year, has a large area dedicated to Japanese inspired goods and food stalls. We have a full review from a past event here: Japan EX MCM Comic Con London
Website

If you have any tips of places in London that we should visit and share with our readers, please comment below. We are always happy to visit and discover new places.

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Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Shopping, Visiting Leave a comment

Best art, crafts and stationery shops in Tokyo

whysojapan tokyo art crafts

Best art, crafts and stationery shops in Tokyo

As a person who love all things art and crafts I’ve hunted down the best shops that I could find during my travels in Tokyo. Here’s a guide to my personal favourites. Depending on what you’re after buying, I’m sure you’ll find it in one of these shops.

Sekaido

whyspjapan sekaido tokyo shinjuku art crafts
This place is heaven for anyone looking for art supplies. They’re located in Shinjuku, very close to the Shinjuku Gyoen garden. There are several floors, and the amount of things they have can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, so make sure you have time to browse, because you don’t wanna rush your visit here. They have everything – everything. Stationery, office supplies, manga, drawing, painting, papers, paintbrushes, sculpturing, clay, fine art materials, frames, paintings, I can go on forever.
Map | http://www.sekaido.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Okadaya

whyspjapan okadaya tokyo shinjuku art crafts
Another paradise, but this shop is more focused on crafts. Again, there are several floors, and the amount of things they have seem endless. You’ll find fabrics, cross stitch, yarn, fake flowers, sewing, buttons… This place is packed with fun stuff. I usually buy some fabric there, because they have really cute patterns. This is also a place you will want a good amount of time to spend there, because there’s so much to see.
Map | http://www.okadaya.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Daiso

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan daiso
This 100 yen shop is great for cheap craft supplies. Their biggest (and most busy) shop is located in Harajuku on Takeshita street, but you can find it elsewhere too, as it is a chain store. You can find little craft projects, needles, bows, ribbons, gift bags, stationery and more. Each item is 100 yen (+tax), so you can really find bargains here.
Map | https://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Kyukyodo

whysojapan kyukyodo tokyo ginza art crafts
If you want to get a hold of more traditional stationery, then Kyukyodo in Ginza is well worth a visit. They have beautiful cards, notepads, stamps, papers and more. This is a new favourite that I recently found, and I’ll be coming back again for sure.
Map | http://www.kyukyodo.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Tokyu Hands

whysojapan tokyu hands tokyo ikebukuro art crafts
If you go to Tokyu Hands in Shibuya you’re in for a very confusing visit, because their shop is three buildings connected together with 8 half floors (times three) and I always get confused when I’m trying to understand where I’ve been and where I haven’t been. Their shop in Ikebukuro is much easier to walk through. The shop itself is amazing, they have so much stuff. You’ll find crafts, stationery, miniature models, wood work, flowers, stamps, washi tape, decorations, art supplies, needle work and more. About half the shop is crafts and hobbies and the other half is for the home.
Map Shibuya | Map Ikebukuro | https://hands.net/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Loft

whysojapan loft tokyo shibuya art crafts
Loft is a department store with a great stationery section. I recommend you visit their shop in Shibuya and go to the bottom floor, where you will find a whole floor of stationery. They have lots of stickers, notebooks, calendars, pens, decotapes, washi tape and more. You can find more craft items on other floors, so check out the floor guide at the entrance or the lifts.
Map Shibuya | Map Ikebukuro | http://www.loft.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Muji


I’ve only been to the Muji store in Shinjuku. They have a very minimalistic design to their products, and you can find quite a lot of stationery there. They have pens and pencils, notepads, organizer boxes, glue, washi tape, notebooks, ring binders and more.
Map | http://www.muji.com/jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Kinokuniya

whysojapan kinokuniya tokyo shinjuku art crafts

You will find their main store in Shinjuku, but you can find them in other areas as well, such as Shibuya. They are famous for having a selection of foreign books, buy my reason for going there are the “mooks” books. Mooks are books about all sorts of crafts, illustrated with step by step photographs, making them very easy to understand even if you can’t read any Japanese. The books are detailed and beautiful. As soon as I found out about these type of books, I’m always on the lookout for them when I visit Japan. I found these three books in the Parco building in Shibuya, bottom floor.
Map Shinjuku | Map Shibuya | https://www.kinokuniya.co.jp/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Character Street and character shops

whysojapan character street tokyo art crafts

Any of the cute character shops will have cute stationery. There’s one called Gift Gate for the Sanrio characters, but I like the San-X characters more, so I always go to the Rilakkuma Store, where they not only have Rilakkuma, but also Sentimental Circus, Sumikkogurashi and more. If you’re into Hello Kitty or Gudetama, then it’s Gift Gate you should go too. The best place to find all of these characters, and more, is at Character Street at Tokyo Station. They have shops for Tamagotchi, Studio Ghibli (Totoro!), Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, Kapibara san, Miffy and more.
Map | Character Street information

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Akihabara

whysojapan atre1 tokyo akihabara art crafts

I haven’t found much art and craft in Akihabara, but I have found that Atré 1 has a Tokyu Hands section with lots of stationery and Yodobashi Camera has a section of photo albums and washi tapes. If you’re in the area, they might be worth checking out. Next to the Tokyu Hands section in Atré 1, theres a Suica shop, where you can find some very special washi tape and other things featuring the Sucia penguin!

Map Atré 1https://www.atre.co.jp/ | Map Yodobashi Camera | http://www.yodobashi.com/

Art, craft and stationary shops in Tokyo

Do you know of any great places to shop for art, crafts and stationery in Tokyo that I haven’t mentioned in this post? Please share in the comments!

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Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Shopping 2 Comments

Japan Candy Box review + giveaway

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Japan Candy Box

This is a promotional post.

The Japan Candy Box was kindly sent to us to try and review for Why So Japan. We’ve been wanting to try a Japanese themed box for a long time now and thanks to the people at Japan Candy Box this is the first time we got the opportunity to do so. We are big fans of subscription boxes which lets you explore different products which you might not know otherwise are available on the market. Each subscription box is filled with 8-10 Japanese candies and snacks and the box we received  was the November box. Previous boxes can be viewed on their homepage, japancandybox.com.

At the end of this post enter the free giveaway to win your very own Japan Candy Box!

The box

The box arrived very quickly after it was sent, which surprised us since things that are sent from the other side of the world can take some time to arrive. Once we received the box we were eager to open it. Inside we found the box full to the lid with treats and snacks from our favourite country. It was surprising to find so many things in one box, which made us really happy and looking forward to trying the snacks. It was a good mixture different kinds of snacks and treats.

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Candy and snacks reviews

Here’s what we thought of each product. One thing that we liked throughout the box was the cute design.

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Fuiya Anpanman Biscuits

Every bite sized biscuit features a cute character from Anpanman. The sweet tasting biscuit reminds us of the Marie biscuits.

 

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Yaokin Christmas Chocolate Stick

A waifer tasting snack with a chocolate coating. Simple and sweet tasting treat, in a cute christmas packaging.

 

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Fujiya Milky Matcha Green Tea Candies

Each sweet is individually wrapped and comes in a cute box featuring Peko-chan and Hello Kitty. The candy are sweet tasting matcha flavoured treats which we highly enjoyed.

 

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Pompompurin Pudding Gummies

This has to be our favourite out of the whole box. The package contains small chewable gummies tasting of custard and caramel. It didn’t take us long to finish the entire bag. Absolutely adore Pompompurin from Sanrio.

 

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Hi-Chew White Soda Chewy Candy

As always with Hi-Chew sweets, a nice chewie texture. A flavour of white soda, if you can imagine. Really enjoyed these!

 

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Fujiya Anpanman Lollipop

Cute packaging. Wasn’t one of our favourites, but we like the idea of a chocolate lollipop. Tasted a bit artificial to what we are used to. The chocolate reminded us of Kinderegg chocolate.

 

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Yaokin Christmas Corn Potage Snack Stick

On the first bite it tasted a bit weird, but after that we got used to the taste and really enjoyed it. The puffed corn shaped stick left a savoury and sweet taste in your mouth. Reminded me of Burger King’s French Toast snacks.

 

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Morinaga Tsum Tsum Chocolate Biscuits

A cute little sweet biscuit with chocolate cream inside, with the added bonus of cute Tsum Tsum characters printed on them. Sweet and cute.

 

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Lotte Koala March Strawberry Biscuits

We usually buy the Koala biscuits in China Town in London, but this is the first time we’ve tried them with strawberry. Each biscuit has a sweet strawberry filling and a printed koala on them.

 

whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box whysojapan japan candy box japanese sweets subscription box

Meiji Mushroom Mountain DIY Kit

This is also one of our favourites. We’ve tried a few of these DIY candy kits before, but this was a new one to us. The instructions were easy to follow and it was a lot of fun making them. A biscuit base and a nice tasting chocolate top. Recommend trying these DIY kits, because they are a lot of fun.

Win the Japan Candy Box!

We really enjoyed reviewing this box. There were a lot of new snacks and treats that we hadn’t tried before and we’ve now got some new favourites. Even though we’ve reviewed each sweet on it’s own, for the whole box we would give it top marks. Perfect thing to give as a present to a friend or for yourself. Now you’ve got the chance to win your very own box! Details below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This product was sent to us for free, but our review is an honest take on the products.

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Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Food & snacks, Reviews Leave a comment

Japanese TV Adverts #54

It’s been a while since we last posted about Japanese TV adverts from YouTube user JPCMHD who uploads them regularly. They’re always fun to watch, and the latest upload includes adverts for Mouse the computer company, Y! Mobile with the viral Pen Pineapple Apple Pen song, a pelvis workout device, and an adorable advert from JP Post featuring the cutest alpaca delivering a parcel. Enjoy!

As always, please check out this YouTube user for more adverts: http://www.youtube.com/user/JPCMHD

Also check out older posts with Japanese TV adverts under the media category to the right of this post.





Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Media Leave a comment
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