Japanese Manhole covers T-shirts from 47Regions

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

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 2017

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

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

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

Zui ki tei, a Japanese tea house in Sweden

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

A Japanese tea house in Sweden

The first Japanese tea house in Europe was built in 1935 in Stockholm, Sweden. It burnt down 34 years later, but in 1990 – 25 years ago – a new tea house was built, and it can be found in the garden of the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm Sweden. The museum has a collection of historical and cultural objects from all over the world, including a lot of items from Japan, and until spring 2016 there is an exhibition about Japan at the museum, called “Japan takes place“. We recently went to the exhibition, and we took the opportunity to attend a guided tour of the Japanese tea house, Zui ki tei. The name Zui ki tei (瑞暉亭) translates to “The dwelling of the light of promise” but it can also be read as Sweden and Japan.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

A Japanese tea house, where you leave your worries behind

The Zui ki tei tea house was designed by Japanese architect Masao Nakamura. It was built in Japan, taken down, and re-built in Sweden and now stands in a garden next to the Museum of Ethnography, called “Dew’s ground“. During the summer months, when the trees and bushes are covered with green leaves, the tea house is quite well hidden. When you are standing in the garden, it actually feels like you’re cut off from the work outside. Everything is quiet and peaceful.

When you walk up to the tea house, you start by stepping on a stone and then walk along a pathway, and this symbolizes that you’re now leaving all the stress of your every day life, and stepping into the calm. You leave all your worries aside and slow down and enjoy the moment. Before entering the tea house garden you go through two gates, another symbol of leaving stress and entering the calm.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

Tea Philpsophy and Wabi

Before you are invited into the tea house, you have a sit in the waiting hut. You can have a chat with your friends and you can enjoy your surroundings. Wabi is part of the tea philosophy, and it stands for “Appreciating the beauty of things that are simple and natural”. In the autumn when the leaves start to fall, the leaves are left on the ground. It’s all part of Wabi – that’s how nature is and it is enjoyed that way. The waiting hut wooden pillars are left raw and unpainted, another part of Wabi, they’re left to look just like nature. There is a stone lantern, used during darker evenings.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

Entering the tea house

The photo below to the left is of the entrance to the tea house. All guests enter via this small door, no matter of your status. Even though there are different levels of statuses, this is a symbol of how we are all equal. Unless you’re part of the Emperor’s family, then you will enter via another, bigger, door.

The photo below to the right shows where the samurais leave their swords before they enter the tea house. The shorter shelf is for the seppuku / harakiri sword, the shorter sword a samurai would use for suicide to avoid shame.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

The design of the tea house

Even though most tea houses may look very similar to an untrained eye, they are all very individually designed. This specific tea house is close to Djurgårdsbrunnsviken Bay, so the element of water has been incorporated into the design as waves along the sides. It recently went through a renovation and restoration process, by craftsmen from Yasuimoku Komuten Company from Kyoto. They used traditional Japanese tools when doing the restoration.

The tea house consists of two tea rooms. The smaller room is more simple and the bigger room is more formal. The sliding rice paper walls inside the house (which are not actually made of rice paper) are designed to block off what’s happening outside, but still let the light through. This is so you can concentrate on the moment and the tea ceremony, without any distractions.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

The interior is kept simple. Tatami mats cover the floor, and there is a built in space called tokonoma where you display a piece of art to appreciate. It can be a painting, and it follows whatever is happening in nature at that specific time. For example, during autumn there could be a painting of a tree with falling leaves. It is also displaying a vase with a simple flower arrangement, ikebana.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

The tea ceremony

The bigger room can take up to 20 guests, but because of the intimacy of the ceremony, the number is kept down to 12. The conversation is polite and typical discussions can be about the pottery that is being used. To study the Japanese tea ceremony takes years, and you study with the same master, you don’t change tea schools. Together with the Japanese Tea Society, you can attend beginner courses in the Japanese tea ceremony at the tea house in Stockholm. You can also host your own private tea ceremony for business events or family celebrations, or for a private experience of traditional Japanese culture. There are also open house days and demonstrations of the tea ceremony during the warmer half of the year, but you have to book beforehand to attend the demonstrations.

Learn more

If you want to know more about Zui ki tei or Japanese tea houses in general, here are some links:

Museum of Ethnography
Zui ki tei tea house
Japanese Tea Society Sweden
Japanese tea ceremony

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

Japanese TV Adverts #51, #52 and #53

Our new post with the best TV adverts from Japan is now here! I could watch Japanese adverts all day. They always bring a smile to my face and I always find a product that think I’ll have to pick up next time I’m in Japan. In this selection of adverts you will find some of the following: talking dogs riding a train, an ad from AKB48, a bunch of gaming apps (a few I must try out), Strong Zero drink (I have to try next time I’m in Japan), cotton snow candy from Mr Donut, Sofbank has a robot hover on sale, a cat on holiday and a lot lot more. 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 Paul in Media Leave a comment

UFO Catchers In Japan

whysojapan ufo catchers prizes

UFO catchers

UFO catcher – or claw machines as there are also known as – are arcade machine that are very popular all over the world. The aim of playing the machines is to pick up the prize with the claw, It’s normally made up of two to four prongs, which will grip or move your prize over to the prize hatch and drop the price down, where you then claim the price through sort of a cat flap door in the front of the machine. The machines are usually see through from all sides, which makes it easier to play, or so you would think.

whysojapan ufo catchers prizeswhysojapan ufo catchers prizes

Playing claw machines 101

Is there any skill to playing the machines? Well, the claw machines that I’ve played here in Europe I’ve never had any problems playing. Getting the claw over and even pick up the prize is the easy part. The only real skill you need is being able to place the claw over the price in the right way.  After that it’s down to chance from there on. The machines in the UK are simple to play and once you’ve got the hang of the technique, you could win at them all day –  if it wasn’t for one thing. The only thing stopping you are the owners of the arcades who set the machines up. The machines are set to only tightly grip the prize for a longer period of time after machine has been feed a certain amount of cash.

One good tip is to try and go for prizes that are close to the hatch, because what happens is the claw becomes weaker the further it has to travel, and the price might drop before it reaches the hatch. Unless the machine is up in the quota it needs, only then will it stay strong enough to carry the prize all the way. You can also try and move prize bit by bit, until you have it close enough. That’s another good work around to getting the prize you have your eyes set on. I usually start with prizes close to the hatch, and the technique works good for me. Another good tip is to watch others play. If they have put loads of cash in the claw, it will normally hold the prize for longer before it weakens. This is giving you more of a chance on bagging the prize you want, if the previous player gives up.

The machines I’ve played in the UK have prizes that are mostly plush toys. One of my best wins as to date on a machine in the UK was a Minion, winning it made my day.

whysojapan ufo catchers prizes

UFO Catchers in Japan

Playing UFO Catchers in Japan is very different than playing the machines like I’ve played in the UK. You still have the element of the the settings by the vendor for how strong and how long the claw will grip the price, but there is so much more skill to it than the other machines I’ve played outside of Japan. First lets start off with the prizes, there are a lot more to choose from. Yes, you do have the plush toy machines, but you also have so much more. Some of the prizes we have won when playing in Japan for example are figurines that are only made as prizes for UFO catchers. There’s also food, bath towls, cutlery, small electrical devices, and so much more.

whysojapan ufo catchers prizes

Most arcades in Japan normally have at least one floor designated to UFO catchers. Usually it’s the first floor of the building. A couple of popular arcades we have played in are the Taito Game Station and Sega’s arcades. Most machines cost around 100 to 200 yen to play, and if you buy more games at once it can sometimes be cheaper.One great thing when you do win your prize is that the staff will usually see you win it and come over and congratulate you and give you a plastic bag to carry your prize away, which is great service.

Playing in Japan

The machines in Japan really do take it to the next level. Of course, you can find the normal claw machines there as well, but they have developed other ways to play, which requires a lot more skill to it, and a lot of the machines only have two claws to the pick up the prize with. There are a couple of different setups of UFO catchers. Of course the basic pick up and drop, but they also have other setups.

whysojapan taito game station archade hall

One being where the machines has got the prize laying across two metal bars with a gap big enough to pick up the prize and drop it between them. But that would be to easy. Yes, the gap is big enough, but you can’t just pick it up and drop, because mostly of weak claws due to settings. Also the way the staff place the prizes, laying them over the two metal bars and the bars are covered in rubber, which makes it even harder to just push and slide. The main trick is to ether pick it up one end and drop, and do so on and so on until it tips though between the bars.

The next setup is where the prize is hanging on underneath a little piece of plastic, which is balancing on a little rubber ball. At first it seems easy, but then you learn that the plastic rubbing on the rubber ball is a real pain. It can be done, but you have to move the piece of plastic from side to side until the plastic and the prize finally falls from the ball.

whysojapan ufo catchers prizesThe final setup is were the prize has a sort of a plastic ring stuck to the box of the prize. What I found was a good way to win at these sort of UFO catchers is to hook and try to lift it, which can be possible. Another technique is to bring one of the claws to side of plastic hole, so you use the power of the claw closing to drag the prize closer to the hole, which is a good way of winning at this sort of UFO catcher.

My last tip is, if you find one prize you just can’t win but really want (mine was a Super Sonico figurine) is to look around the shops in Akihabara, because there is a chance you find it for sale. They might have one or two available, since they’re not really made for retail. I’m guessing someone has won it and sold it on to the shop and then the shop sells it on – which was great for me, who really wanted it.


It is great fun playing the machines so I really recommend playing them at least once while in Japan.

Check out Taito Game Station homepage to find your closest arcade hall while in Japan: http://www.taito.com/gc


Posted on by Paul in Gaming 2 Comments

Top 9 Japanese Instagram accounts to follow

Top 9 Japanese Instagram accounts to follow

There are more than 300 million people on Instagram and 70 million photos and videos are uploaded each day. With so many users, it can be hard to find the gems. We’ve put together a list of our favourite Japanese accounts that we love to follow, and maybe this list will help you find new favourites.

whysojapan instagram _tuck4 japanese instagram accounts whysojapan instagram 10_ya japanese instagram accounts
_tuck4 | Link: https://instagram.com/_tuck4

About: Takashi Yasui is a freelance photographer based in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo-

10_ya | Link: https://instagram.com/10_ya
About: Tomoyasu Koyanagi is from Japan and shares photos of people, landscapes and more.

whysojapan instagram japanloverme japanese instagram accounts whysojapan instagram rainbowqolic japanese instagram accounts
japanloverme | Link: https://instagram.com/japanloverme

About: Traditional, kawaii and otaku Japan.

rainbowholic | Link: https://instagram.com/rainbowholic
About: The lovely Kaila is a motivational blogger and is promoting a kawaii lifestyle.

whysojapan instagram hirozzzz japanese instagram accounts whysojapan instagram nao1223 japanese instagram accounts
hirozzzz | Link: https://instagram.com/hirozzzz

About: Hiroaki Fukuda, a photographer with photos from Tokyo and everywhere.

nao1223 | Link: https://instagram.com/nao1223
About: Naomi O Kobe from Japan shares food, flowers and beautiful photos.

whysojapan instagram tokyofashion japanese instagram accounts whysojapan instagram kohji405mi16 japanese instagram accounts
tokyofashion | Link: https://instagram.com/tokyofashion

About: Daily pictures from Harajuku, Shibuya & other areas of Tokyo, featuring people on the street.

kohji405mi16 | Link: https://instagram.com/kohji405mi16
About: Kohji M is from Tokyo, and the account is mostly focused on children and family life.

If you have any favourites, please share in the comments! Don’t forget to check out our Instagram account, @whysojapan

Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Media 7 Comments

Japanese TV Adverts #48, #49 and #50

It’s been a while since our last set of Japanese TV adverts, so this time we are posting 3 sets of wonderful ads for your viewing pleasure. Lots of great ads can seen in this section, that as always is uploaded by the user JPCMHD on YouTube. Some of our favourites from this time is the pepper robot advert (would love to get one!), some funny looking super heroes, a kind of a cool advert for pop noodles, Sprite made a fun ad with a hidden trapped door stunt, and a whole bunch of ads dedicated to mobile games and loads more – 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 Paul in Media Leave a comment