Japanese lolita fashion has spread across the globe, and can be found in other countries outside of Japan. Here is a short documentary about people in the U.S. who wear lolita fashion.
In this documentary we meet some very brave lolitas, going against traditions in society, gender and religon. What they all have in common is that dressing in lolita fashion made them feel braver and happier.
Bento (弁当) or obento is a home made or takeout meal box. People in Japan can make it as a lunch box or picnic food, or buy it in bento shops, convenient stores and other places that sell ready meals. A bento box is usually shaped like a box and contains rice, vegetables and fish or meat, divided into sections. Bento boxes are very popular during hanami season (read more about how hanami is celebrated)
The word kyaraben (キャラ弁) or charaben is a shorter version of “character bento” and it’s what a lot of people think of when they hear the word bento. The word itself describes what it is very well. Its a bento box where the food is arranged to look like characters, usually in a cute manner. It can be animals, famous characters, people and objects. From the beginning, this was something mothers did for their children when they prepared their lunch boxes. They wanted to treat their children to fun and cute food and to encourage the children to eat better, such as vegetables and other things they otherwise might not enjoy. Kyaraben has now grown so big that there are contests all over Japan. One of the bigger kyaraben contest is the Sanrio contest. What the contestants have come up with there is amazing, have a look at the results page: http://sanriobb.com/charaben/result/
Tools and decorations
There are a lot of tools and decorations that people use to make their kyaraben boxes. Shapers to form the rice or the eggs, sandwich cutters, punches to punch shapes and faces out of seaweed, plastic grass for decorations, food picks to stick in the food, and more. Whenever Im in Japan I always go to the bento section of the shops to see what fun I can find, and I always find something cute to buy.
Where to buy
Where do you find these tools and decorations then? In Tokyo I found them at Tokyu Hands, Loft, 100 yen stores (like Daiso) and Hakuhinkan Toy Park. Im sure you can find them in other shops as well. Outside of Japan Ive found bento things in some asian shops, like food shops in China town and similar. Another place to look for them is online, on sites like Amazon. Search for “bento mould”, “bento punch” or “bento picks” for example, and see what shows up.
BBC has a great video about Japan’s amazing lunchboxes. They write “…in Japan, it is not just the taste and healthiness of the meal that is important – but how it looks.” In the video the reporter visits Japanese school kids during their lunch break (the children are so adorable!) and he meets a woman who makes amazing bento boxes.
The cats have taken over the internet with their cuteness and one of the most popular cats is, of course, from the land of kawaii – Japan. Meet Maru, a male Scottish Fold, who has charmed the world with his cute looks and adorabe personality.
Maru’s owner has a blog and a YouTube account where she posts photos and videos regularly.
Maru likes to lazy around, jump into boxes, and be generally mischievous. The videos are with sound, but you never hear any humans speak and you never see the owner. The feeling of the videos are very Japanese, clean and simple, and the title cards are in both Japanese and English.
The name Maru means “round shape” and it fits him very well. His charming features are described as “round face and white socks”. His favourite hobby is “trouble making” and his special skill is “sliding into any open box”.
Timeout is a company that keeps you up to date with whats going on in some of the biggest cities all over the world. For Japan there are two versions and you can reach both of them by going to timeout.jp. There you can choose to either view the Tokyo version or the Kyoto version.
Via Timeout Tokyo/Kyoto you can find whats going on in the cities, from gigs to cinemas listings to events going on and what pubs to visits or museums to go to. Timeout is definitely a good site to check whats on.
A big plus – the page is English too, so maybe give it a try on your next trip to Japan.
A week ago I went to watch a Japanese drum performance. A man played on the traditional taiko drum together with a young man, who I believe was his student.
The man said that he had visited Japan on several occasions and had been inspired by the music there, and now he played rhythms that came from different parts of Japan. Apparently he has been playing taiko drums for twenty years!
After the performance, the audience was invited up to try out the drums, and drum sticks were given out to children for them to tap along with the drumming.
Here’s a closer look of the taiko drum.
Here is a video of the performance. The sound of the drumming was a lot more impressive in real life, its hard to capture on film. Enjoy!