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Characters

Rilakkuma Christmas

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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.

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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!





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Shopping Leave a comment

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Capsule Toy Machines

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Capsule toy machines

Capsule toys machines are a big industry in Japan with it being a hobby to collect from the machines. The machines are often known as gashapon (ガシャポン). Bandi and Tomy are the dominating companies in this industry in Japan.

The machines

The machines are similarly to what can be found outside shops in the rest of the world. You place between 100 to 500 yen into the machine and crank the handle, which then releases a random capsule thats falls down into the hatch. What differences from the those in the rest of the world and the machines that can be found in Japan is that the quality of the products is of a higher strandard. While in the rest of the world you might find one or two machines in or outside a store – in Japan you find wall to wall of the machines.

One of the places you can find lots (and I mean lots!) of these machines is in the store Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara in Tokyo. There must be at least 100 machines with lots of different content to choose from. The machines are like a lucky dip prices, you can never be sure you will get just the one you wanted.

whysojapan Capsule toy machines gashapon

So what can be found

There is a real mixture of toys that can be bought from the machines. You can find almost all of the popular characters that are available in Japan, like cute and kawaii characters like Rilakkuma, Mameshiba, Hello Kitty and well known characters from anime and manga. Almost all of the toys are released as sets and normally have some sort of number on them so you know what you have what is still needed to get. Other things you can find are key chains with mini cameras, animals, food and more. Its really an endless choice to choose from and I can see how it turns into a hobby in collecting the capsule toys, as they get updated with new toys all the time. It seems the machines are very popular with all ages in Japan, you can always find a mixture of people of all ages going from machine to machine to decide what to buy next.

We have seen shops selling what you can find in a capsule toy machine, so if you only need one more toy to complete the set, then you can buy it from there, since you know what you get. They’re sold to a higher price.

We always find it fun to buy one or two small capsule toys while we are there, since there’s so much to always choose from. Here are a few of the things we’ve gotten: a camera, a Rilakkuma macaroon and a leafy sea dragon.

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Have you used the capsule toy machines in Japan? What did you get?





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Gadgets, Shopping 1 Comment

Japan EX MCM Comic Con London

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MCM Comic Con and Japan EX

MCM Comic Con London and Japan EX is held two times a year at the Excel Centre in London. Comic Con is spread out over two and a half days, from Friday afternoon and through the whole weekend. Early-entry tickets were available on the weekend, and they got you into the convension two hours before the on-the-door tickets where admitted to the convention.

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We visited Comic Con on Saturday 26th October 2013 and  we had bought early entre tickets.  We made our way up to London early in the morning. Once we got close to the Excel Centre it was just a sea of people in cosplay, all walking to the convention. Every where we looked we saw people dressed in cosplay, from movies and anime to comics and manga.

Once we arrived, we had to stand in a a que for about 30-40mins. When we got in we heard that around 66.000 had bought early entrance tickets, so we knew it was going to be very busy. Once we got in, we found the the section named Japan EX, our main reason for visiting Comic Con.

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Japan EX

Japan EX is like its own convention within Comic Con. Most of the Japanese stalls ate all placed in one section of the main Comic Con hall. While walking around the Japan EX section we founds loads of stalls selling lots of different products.

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One was selling lots of Japanese sweets. They had a great selection of Japanese KitKat boxes, something that’s very popular in Japan. They had many different flavours, like green tea, wasabi, cheesecake and more. You could either buy a box or buy the small individual packs that you find in the box . We did find them to be a bit expense tho, so we decided to wait until the next time we are in Japan.

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Other stalls were selling lots of kawaii products, from plushies and other cute stuff to lots of stationary, which seem to be very popular. Tofu Cute had its own stall, selling lots of kawaii products. There was also several food stalls selling different sorts of dishes, like Takoyako, Yakisoba and Korokke. We tried the Yakisoba with Takoyaki, and the Takoyaki was delicious!

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We found a couple of stalls selling Japanese figurines and there were a few stalls that sold manga. Some stalls sold more traditional Japanese products, like chopsticks, clothes and small bowls. We bought a couple of cute bowls (see photos below). Theyre actually rice bowls, but we decided to use them for sweets instead.

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There was a small stage set up where they showcased different things, like music, culture and fashion. We found other stalls in the rest of Comic Con that sold more Japanese products. One of them stalls was run by Art Box, a shop that is in London, and they sold a mixture of kawaii products from Japan.

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Game Expo

Game Expo was another section of Comic Con. There we found of most of Japan’s biggest video gaming companies showing off their new games that are to hit the markets. Nintendo, Tecmo Koei, Namco Bandai, Square Enix, and Konami were all present at Game Expo.

MCM used one of its theatres to showcase some new up and coming games. They had a lot of guests that worked one way or another with video games. They talked about their games they had worked and they also did an Q&A as well. Most of them had come over from Japan to give their talks and most talks were in Japanese with an English translator on stage with them.

 

Comic Con

By the time we had seen all this, the crowds were becoming more and more and it was a bit hard to move around. It was still great to watch all the great cosplayers walking around. Most people had spent so much time on designing their outfits, it was quite amazing to say the least. If you are just going for the Japanese stuff of Comic Con (like Japan EX and Game Expo) you won’t be disappointed. Comic Con has a lot to offer. I do recommend that you do buy the early entrance ticket online. It will save you so much time when you get there. No one likes standing in queues, but at least with Comic Con queues you get to see all the cosplayer outfits.

The next MCM Comic Con in London is on May 23-25, 2014. Check their site for more info: http://www.mcmcomiccon.com





Posted on by Paul in Events, Shopping 2 Comments

Hyper Japan Shop London

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Hyper Japan London

Hyper Japan is a well known exhibition fair held ever year in London. The fair celebrates everything Japanese, from the traditional to ultra modern, all can found at the fair. The fair has become very popular and if you have a love or just a little interest in Japan, it’s well worth a visit. The next fair is to be held in the summer of 2014.

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Hyper Japan shop

Hyper Japan has now opened it’s first shop as of the end of oktober 2013. Its located in the Camden stables market area in London. The shop, being its first, is a small shop. But content is growing. Since its a very new shop, I’m sure the stock will grow and try the market to see what sells. On our visit the shop had a lot of kawaii goods. A lot of stuff we had only seen in Japan or on the internet before, and rarely found in local shops around London. Some of the stuff we found was a collection of the J-pop princess Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – a mixture of her CDs, DVDs, t-shirts and more. We also found stuff from Tofu Cute, a selection of Japanse sweets, a selection plush alpacas (the ones you see all over Tokyo), t-shirts and bags too.

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As you see, the shop has a good selection of products which I’m sure will improve even more as time goes by. Walking into the shop gives the feeling of walking in to a little Japanse shop in Tokyo, seeing all the goods available for ourchase. Nowadays when we are in London we jot from shop to shop, like Japan Centre, Art Box, China Town and now recently we have added the Hyper Japan shop to our list of some of the shops we will keep visiting in the future. If you are in London and love things from Japan, then this store is well worth visiting.

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Shop Info

Finding the shop took us a little time at first, since we always seem to get lost around all the small shops in Camden. But after looking on a map we ended up finding it. Please check out the map and shop information below, and also check with their site for the up to date information on opining times and more.

******* From the 24th jan 2014 the shop has closed down *****************

Adress: Stall 713, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH
Opening times: 10:00am – 6:00pm, Wednesdays to Sundays (times are on trail)
Websitehttp://www.hyperjapan.co.uk (for shop info klick tab righthand side of page)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hyperjapan

whysojapan hyper japan shop london





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