Japanese Manhole covers T-shirts from 47Regions
Japan is a place of so many different and wonderful things to do and see. A lot of times when we are planning our trips to Japan we decide not always to have our whole day Read more
Kizuna Japanese subscription box
This is a promotional post.
We were offered the opportunity to try a new subscription box from Kizuna Box from Japan. Of course we jumped at the chance. We were given the option of two different boxes, Read more
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 Read more
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 Read more
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. Read more
Hanami (flowers viewing, 花見) is a very special time of the year in Japan, where everyone goes out to their local parks to celebrate the blossoming of the flowers, also known as cherry blossoming. We have posted about hanami before, click here to read.
Hanami big Business
Hanami is soon to start in Japan, and a lot of the Japanese companies are taking the chance now to drum up some extra trade around this time of the year. You can find lots of different food products that will only be available around the time of hanami. McDondals is one of those companies to take the opportunity to sell some food that is specially made for this special time.
McDondals is selling a hanami inspired burger, the “Sakura Teritama” burger. What makes this so hanami is the cherry-blossom-colored bun and the sakura daikon radish mayo on a pork patty with ginger teriyaki sauce, an egg, and lettuce. There is also a Sakura Cherry Mac float which looks very tasty too. YouTuber Sharla (Sharla In Japan) tried the burger and the float together with fellow YouTuber Mira (kanadajin3). Watch the video below:
Kitkat is another company that always has a special limited edition sakura green tea product, which is available around the time of hanami. Fanta has also had a hanami themed drink around the beginning of spring. I’ve also seen on the KFC Japan website some specials just for this time of the year.
Apple is using hanami in their app store to advertise different apps that are available to download. Some that are very much to do with hanami and some are more indirect, like Pizza Hut, which could be something a lot of people would need to order the pizza for their party in the park, or maybe not.
Here in Sweden we will be celebrating hanami around the end of april. Here the Japanese society will have one day of celebration in the middle of the city, this year 2014, on April 26. There are a lot of other countries celebrating hanami, so check Google to see what’s going on in your the part of your country.
Kit Kat has just opened it first store in Tokyo. From Jan 17th, anyone in the Tokyo area will now be able to visit the store to stock up on all the goodness that Kit Kat offers. Kit Kat is famous in Japan with many exciting flavours to choose from that can only be found in Japan. Check out our previous post about Kit Kat here: Kit kat and Japan. The new Kit Kat shop, called Kit Kat Chocolatory, is located in the Seibu department store located in Ikebukuro.
The store has some limited edition flavours that you will only be able to purchase there. Some of them are Sublime Bitter, Special Sakura Green Tea and Special Chilli. The store will the No. 1 place to find the new Kit Kat flavour when others become available on the market. According to It Media the store will aim certain flavours to adult tastebuds for the differentseasons. Next time I’m in Tokyo I’m looking forward to visting the store.Check out this review from YouTuberSharla in Japan from when she visited the store:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
About a month ago the Brighton Japan Festival was held in seaside town of Brighton, which is on the southcoast of UK. The festival started about 5 years ago with just a one day event, but has now grown into a 10 day festival. This year the event ran from 13/09 – 22/09. The festival ran both in the daytime and in the evening too. The festival was mainly set out around rock gardens, which close to most parts of central Brighton.
The festival is a mixture of all things Japanese – from music, culture and food to kawaii and more. If its Japanese, it probably could be found, one way or another, at the festival. The festival was first started by the Brighton & Hove Japanese Club, which once was a very small event, compared to now being one of the major Japanese culture events on the south coast. It is very parent now that Japanese culture is having a bigger and bigger effect on the rest of the world these days, with more and more of Japanese culture reaching to different countries all around the world.
The festival had a mixture of events, some you had to buy a ticket to get access to and some were free of charge. In the way of music, there were nights dedicatied to j-rock music, with bands like Esprit D’Air, Colors Of Fire and Fate. Most of the bands are based outside of Japan, but still brought the j-rock theme to the event. There was also a Harajuku night with artists No Cars, Erika and Kero Kero Bonito playing into the night.
The festival had a Taiko drumming performance (from one of the most well known taiko groups in the UK), cover songs from Brighton’s very own Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (Fume) and Kids Dancers too. There was a Japanese horror movie night (which was held on Friday the 13th), a big Japanese fashion show, lots of food and a big market selling all things Japanese. The list goes on. If you’re into Japanese cultureIm sure you would find something of your liking at the festival.