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Characters

Danbo

Whysojapan Danbo

Danbo

Danbo started her life off when she appeared in the popular Japanese manga series Yotsuba&!  which has been published since 2003. The series has been translated into English for the American market as of 2005 and both are still being published to this day. The manga series is about a five year old girl called Yotsuba Koiwai. Yotsuba is not your normal five year old, she doesn’t really care about the things a five year old normally would care about. She is described as odd, quirky and strange. The series follows her discovery of life with lots of misunderstandings of everyday life, all put together in a comedic way.

Whysojapan Danbo

Introducing Danbo

Danbo (ダンボー) first appared in issue 28 from April 2006 as Yotsuba older friend Miura Hayasaka who had dressed in costume as a robot made up of cardboard boxes for a school assignment. Yotsuba discovers Miura’s  costume and Miura tries to playfully convince her that she is some sort of “attack robot” that is powered by money that can be inserted in the slot on her chest. Miura names her cardboard box robot Danbo.

Danbo takes over the world

Danbo became internet famous around late 2007 when Japanese company Kaiyodo started to produce small action figues of Danbo with movable arms, legs and head (which also can light up and be removed and replaced with Miura’s head on certain models). Danbo is most known for her photos where people have placed her in different cute situations by their millions and sharing them on the net to sites like flickr.  A simple google image search will show just how popular she is. Danbo has several name variations, like Danboard, Danboru, Danbooru and Cardbo, but by far is best known as Danbo.

Whysojapan Danbo

Danbo Products

Lots of Danbo versions and products have been made since the first action figure back in 2007. As a fan of Danbo we bought our first Danbo back in 2010 after seeing loads of cute pictures online. We just had to have one! The one we got happened to be the Danbo mini amazon.co.jp version, which was a hard to get a hold of and cost a lot more than what it would have done nowadays, or if we had been in Japan to buy it. We’ve done two unboxing videos, which can be seen at the end of the post.

Whysojapan Danbo Whysojapan Danbo

Buying Danbo

If you can’t travel to Tokyo, we would say check online. Places like amazon have a great and not so expensive selection of products – from the figures to the very popular battery pack.

If you do get the chance to visit Tokyo, then jump on the train and head to Akihabara (electric town). There are at least two shops that we know of that sell Danbo products. The first is the newly renovated Radio Kaikan, which has lots of smaller shops inside. You will find Radio Kaikan just outside Akihabara train station. It’s a mega store with all your otaku dreams come true. We found a couple of shops selling Danbo products in there, even though one only had a small miniature figure for sale. The other store, which is more worth checking, out is on the 5th floor and is called Kaiyodo Hobby Lobby Tokyo. It had a couple different products, one being the limited edition Danbo with Japan post covering her. Check out the display of all the limited Danbo we found outside the store.

Map to store: Google maps
Homepage address: http://www.akihabara-radiokaikan.co.jp/

Whysojapan

Whysojapan

For the other store you will need to cross over the road to the back street of Akihabara. The shop is called Kotobukiya and has a great selection of Danbo products to buy. If you love Danbo I would recommend this shop. We found lots of different products to look at and buy, and there is even a life size model of her to been seen.

Map to store: Google maps
Homepage address: http://www.kotobukiya.co.jp/store/akiba/

Whysojapan

Whysojapan

Hope you enjoyed our guide to Danbo! If you have any other tips on good places to buy Danbo products please let us know.

 





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Shopping 1 Comment

Halloween In Japan

Halloween in Japan

Halloween is growing in Japan year by year (we are seeing the same here in Sweden). It seems with more and more influences from America and other counties, Halloween is becoming more and more popular.

With the presence of places like Disneyland in Tokyo and Universal Studios in Osaka having up to a month of celebrations for Halloween, and with companies understanding that Halloween is a good way to sell stuff, Halloween is everywhere.

Halloween in Japan - Whysojapan

Lots of companies have limited edition products for sale under the lead up to Halloween. McDondals have a burger with a black bun to make them seem more spooky, KitKat have released pumpkin flavored KitKats and some companies just rebrand the packages to suit Halloween.

Kit Kat - Whysojapan

People in Tokyo love to dress up for Halloween and with Halloween costumes on sale in big discounts stores like Don Quijote, it can be quite hectic to look around the shops around Halloween, with loads of people out to buy their costumes before Halloween.

McDonalds  - Whysojapan

Dressing Up

There are lots of Halloween events on in Japan, like festivals for the family and nightclubs for the older crowd. One of the events in Shibuya was the Street Party Costume, where you could find thousands of people all dressed up for Halloween walking around and taking photos of each other. People were genuinely having a fun time! How often can you say that you saw a whole gang of minions crossing the world famous crossing in Shibuya? Group of friends like to dress up all as the same character, like a group of minions, or charachters that go together, like Super Mario and Luigi. From the pictures I’ve seen online (sites like tokyofashion.com) people spend a lot of time on their costumes, and in some cases also lots of money, to get their costume just right. No surprise, since the whole cosplay culture comes from Japan.

Cupcakes  - Whysojapan
Cupcakes  - Whysojapan

Even though Halloween is a very commercial holiday of sorts, it is still a lot of fun. Have a look at the video above to see just how much fun it can be!





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Events, Fashion Leave a comment

Looking For Mameshiba In Tokyo

whysojapan looking for mameshiba in tokyo

Looking For Mameshiba In Tokyo

A reader of the blog emailed me and asked me about finding Mameshiba in Tokyo. He was a father that was travelling to Japan and wanted to buy some Mameshiba merchandise while on their trip, for a family member back home. In the email the father also asked if Mameshiba was still popular in Japan. They would be visisting a couple of cities during their trip, one of them being Tokyo. Mameshiba is one of our favorite Japanese characters, so on one of our trips to Tokyo we went on the search over most of Tokyo to find the cute little “bean dogs”.

Here’s our answer to the email:

On the first occation we visited Tokyo we had problems finding anything to do with Mameshiba. On our second trip we were more succesful. The two shops I can recommend you check out are both toy shops.

The first shop is Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza. This shop seemed to have a special offer selling Mameshiba, if its still on now I cant be sure, but its worth checking it out.

The address is:
Hakuhinkan Toypark 8-8-11 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo, Japan (Map link)
The website is: http://www.hakuhinkan.co.jp/
Closest subway station: Ginza (on the Tokyo Metro)

The second shop is Yamashiroya in Ueno. This is also a toy shop. When I was there, Mamishiba stuff was on the bottom floor around the other soft toys.

The address is:
有)ヤマシロヤ   Japan, Tokyo, Taito, Ueno, 6丁目14−6 (Map link)
Closest subway station: Ueno (on the JR Yamanote line)
The website is: http://www.e-yamashiroya.com/

Of course, all of this can change since we were there last year, but I think these two shops are your best bet. There’s one more big toy shop in Tokyo, Kiddy Land in Harajuku/Shibuya, but we have never found any Mameshiba stuff there.

****Update 13th sept. 2014 we got some information that still both shops stock Mameshiba products so that great****

****New update 7th march. 2015 from a user that posted a reply to this post, is that its better to go to Hakuhinkan Toypark seems the other shop did not have or had very little available for sale****

I still see adverts being made with Mameshiba, makes me believe they’re still popular. Good luck and hope you have a great time in Japan and find what you’re looking for.

If you have any tips on the hunt for Mameshiba in Tokyo, please share..!





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Shopping 10 Comments

Rilakkuma Christmas

whysojapan_christmas_01

Rilakkuma Christmas

Last November we were in Japan on our holiday. Normally one of the things we do on our holiday is to visit some (well most) of the Rilakkuma stores in and around Tokyo. You can check out our first post about Rilakkuma to read what shops we visited by clicking here or searching for Rilakkuma on this site.

Rilakkuma Christmas releases

Rilakkuma usually has a limited edition set of things for different events or holidays, so being around Christmas it was the Christmas set that was to be released at the time we were in Tokyo. This was a great for us since we love all things Rilakkuma. The products were to be release the weekend before we were to go home, so it gave us enough time to visit one of the many Rilakkuma places to pick some stuff up.

whysojapan_christmas_rilakkuma_01 whysojapan_christmas_02

Meeting Rilakkuma

What we wasnt expecting at first, but thanks to a Japanese friend of ours who told us about it, was that if we were to visit one of the bigger toy stores in Tokyo (Kiddy Land in Harajuku) then we could get to meet Rilakkuma in person. So we took a trip over to Kiddy Land toy store, of course we wanted to see Rilakkuma! When we arrived we found out that if you wanted to meet him up close and have your photo taken with him, then you would have to get some sort of free ticket from the store before hand. But for us it was enough to just see him, so we decided to waited outside the store, together with all the other Rilakkuma fans. A little while later and there he was, together with Korilakkuma. They just walkedalong the street and then stopped outside of the shop, where the ones with the tickets were allowed to meet and greet, one by one. The rest of us took loads of photos of them and it was a bit of a surreal moment since we had only seen videos of them in real size before. We know its only people in costume, but still, it was a bit like seeing a mega celebrity. It was like a little extra Christmas gift to us you could say. Check our video below of Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma outside Kiddy Land:

Rilakkuma Christmas

After seeing Rilakkuma outside, we went into Kiddy land to find the Rilakkuma store and find the Christmas goods. We bought three of the plush Christmas edition, which we got in a Christmas bag, and earlier we had also picked up a fun dancing Rilakkuma, a sweet thing that moves when pushing the button on the back, see video below. And that was our Rilakkuma Christmas surprise from last year!





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Kawaii! Japan’s Culture of Cute Book Review

whysojapan book kawaii! japan's culture of cuteKawaii! Japan’s Culture of Cute book review

Kawaii! Japan’s Culture of Cute is an in-depth book about the history of Kawaii in Japan. The book describes how kawaii has grown and become more and more popular in Japan and gives you a guide to all things kawaii, from the past and all the way to the present day. If its kawaii, you most probably will find it in Kawaii! Japan’s Culture of Cute. The book is written by Manami Okazaki and Geoff Johnson and was first published 2013 and the book is printed in English with tons of high quality pictures.

whysojapan book kawaii! japan's culture of cute

Manami Okazaki

Manami Okazaki is a freelance journalist and is author of several books, one of them of course being Kawaii! Japan’s Culture of Cute. Other books that she has released are Kokeshi, From Tohoku with Love, Tattoo in Japan, Japanese Buddhism, Kicks Japan and her new book Toy Tokyo, which is to be released in May of 2014. She has freelanced for the Japan times, CNN Traveler, Time Out, and other publications across the world. Her freelanced works often focus on Japanese traditional culture, pop culture, food and style. Check out the video at the bottom of this post, where Manami talks about the book.

whysojapan book review kawaii japans culture of cute

Geoff Johnson

Geoff Johnson is an Australian guy who has based in Tokyo since 1989 and works as a professional photographer. Geoff Johnson photos have been published all over the world. His photos normally portray Japan in one way or another. He is the photographer for this book. Geoff has been published in travel magazines and newspapers all over the world, like Harpar’s Bazaar Japan, Esquire Japan, the Sunday Travel in the UK and New York Times. He has also worked on adverting for Adidas and Apple in the past.

whysojapan book review kawaii japans culture of cute

About the book

Kawaii! Japan’s Culture of Cute takes you on a detailed trip through the world of kawaii, sharing with you a lot of the kawaii history. The book starts off with talking about the roots of kawaii, showing some pictures of what was concidered kawaii then. The book then goes into what kawaii exactly is and what makes something kawaii. The book continues on to show rich pictures of different as aspects of kawaii.

The book goes in to great detail to describe and show kawaii in its very many and different forms, like the clothes that are conceded to hold a Kawaii feeling (conomi, lolita, gothic lolita, Harajuku fashion and of course cosplay too).

The book also focuses on the characters of Kawaii. Its got many pages dedicated to the characters and the companies behind them. Like San-X for example. Theyre the company behind Rilakumma, Sentimental Circus and more – and when we say more, we mean more. It is said that San-X has created over 800 different characters over its time. In the book we can also find pages on Glommy Bear, Swimmer, Hello Kitty and more.

Other aspects in the book focuses on is food. Yes, even food can have a kawaii theme to it. The book has some great photos of the typical bento boxes and it goes into the maid culture in Japan too. The book also goes into the more elegant side of kawaii with showing art work from John Hathway, Chikuwaemil and Yosuke Ueno.

The book has a great and cute map over the area of Harajuku in Tokyo, where you can find almost anything that is connected to Kawaii. One of the shops that is dedicated to to Kawaii and is featured in the book is 6% DOKIDOKI, a great little shop to visit if youre in Harajuku and you like kawaii.

The book seems to cover everything that is kawaii. There are lots of things in the book that I never would have though would have anything to do with kawaii. I found the book to be a great read. It has lots of very colourful photos from the first page to the last, and I found it to be the right mixture of text too. So even if your a person that does not like to read much you will still find this book great by just browsing all the photos in it.

I think the best way to describe this book in one word would just be it’s very “kawaii”. This 226 paged book is well worth a buy if you love all thing kawaii.

Our book was bought from Bookdepository.com for around £15. The book is also available on other sites, like Amazon.





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Fashion, Food & snacks, Shopping Leave a comment