Archive | October, 2008

Long time no Izakaya!

28 Oct

How long has it been since I went to Izakaya last time?
Izakaya is a place to drink and eat, just as I explained before in this post.

There are so many kinds of Izakaya in Japan.
Usually Izakaya has wide variety of dishes, alcohol drinks, soft drinks and desserts.
The price is not so high and interior or atmosphere is good enough to relax us and make us feel like staying for a long time.

Also, look at the menu. How could it be any easier than this? This Izakaya I went the other day is “DomaDoma“, sort of Izakaya chain store that has many branch stores anywhere in Japan.

Some dishes tasted so-so.
There are a lot of great Izakaya restaurant bar (is it OK to call it so?) in Tokyo and I have no idea which one to try everytime because I’m kind of person who always wanna try something new rather than repeating the favorite ones.

I wanted to try more cocktails but I could feel alcohol ratio seems too small!

Anyway, Izakaya is far from a “bar”. It’s more casual and we can select whatever we want to eat from wide range of menu. It’s not like peanut & small snack. We can complete a dinner with alcohol beverages and even after that we can have dessert like ice cream, pudding, or cake with coffee, if we order them.

Oh, the order can be made anytime.
So we don’t have to decide everything at the beginning.

“Toriaezu” is a convenient way of saying.
We will never know how much we can eat. So we choose only a couple of dishes from the menu and order them, saying “Toriaezu Sorede” at the end. That means we are ordering some at a moment, but later we may order something additionally. Of course we don’t have to return the menu. It’s always besides us, at the table, as well as a button to be pressed to call for a waiter.How convenient and casual service!

Here’s some samples. Izakaya cuisine always tastes a little too strong so that it gets along with beer or sake. The bottom left is pork stomach. It’s good to go to Izakaya with 3-4 people and share various kinds of foods and drinks.

Q-pot chocolate iphone case

24 Oct

Disclaimer:
photo quoted from CouponLand

Disclaimer: photo quoted from ascii
It just looks like a chocolate bar, but is actually a chocolate shaped iphone case that is only available at Shinjuku Takashimaya department store in Tokyo from Sat. 1st November 2008.

This is great collaboration with the famous Q-pot and Takashimaya and this project is popular since their first collaboration, the ipod case (the photo below).

The iphone case allows to put Q-pot mobile phone strap like in the above photo. That’s just so sweet!

Q-pot chocolate iphone case is available with 3 colors (choco, black, & pink) and costs 7350 yen (about US$70) each.

As for mobile phone strap, black sesami macaroon (up left) is 4410 yen, small cake (middle left) is 6090 yen, and banana whipped cream (right bottom) is 3780 yen.

Cool iphone or ipod can be so sweet…

Buying foreign currency…

22 Oct

These days Yen is very strong to other major foreign currencies such as US$, Euro, GBP, AUS$, CAN$, and NZ$. Since Yen has been very weak for the past several years, and it’s been for years since I find such exchange rate last time.

US$1=99 yen
1Euro=127 yen
1GBP=161 yen
1$AUS=66 yen
1$CAN=79 yen
1$NZ=59 yen

1Euro needed as much as 170 yen before Lehman Brothers shock that happened mid Sept. in the U.S.
I can remember 1$AUS costs 106 yen at most only a few months ago.
Strong yen makes me feel happy and today I bought some Euro to prepare for my travel to Europe someday. Euro has been so strong for years and I really missed any chance to visit Europe, because when I convert any price, I felt reluctant to go there.
But now, going to any these countries do look reasonable to me.
I wish I could just fly to anywhere at any moment…

It's time to think of 2009?

18 Oct

It’s my favorite season, autumn in Japan. Best season for foods, sports, book reading, travelling, etc., etc… At the same time though, do we have to think forward and forward, to prepare for end-of-year and comming new year?

It’s our culture to eat Osechi cuisine on a new year day and several days after then. Osechi is usually precooked by a housewife from new year eve so that we can eat them while new year days since we have 5 or 6 days holiday at a new year time and stores are considered all closed.

But that’s an old story. Japanese are known as “work too much people” (I do dislike this but…) and nowadays especially at Tokyo area, grocery stores are open from very new year’s day, (1st January) so there’s no functional or practical meaning that we have to stick to this old custom any more, if only we discard all the meaning Osechi cuisine has.

Osechi cuisine as you can see, consists of many kinds of foods. Each food has a meaning such as longevity. These days stores open from 1st Jan. and there should be no reason that we have to eat Osechi day after day, but in spite of that, the trend goes opposite. Deluxe Osechi sells so well and people are willing to pay for a beautiful and tempting Osechi boxes.

It’s weird to write this but I’m personally bored of my life in Japan. How much I wish I could live a pretty new life somewhere else than Japan where I can learn the custom or culture from zero. So I’m totally fed up with the same thing coming year after year. Having Deluxe Osechi might allow me to have some “change” from ordinary every year so far? I doubt. I’m dying for a change!! Blogging to get connected with people from other countries at least gives me a little feeling as if I were out of here. It’s funny some of my blog readers dream to come or live in Japan, while I dream to do that out of Japan!

dedication to the Gods "festival"?

13 Oct

It looks like a festival or something (Matsuri 祭り)that took place in a shrine near my apartment every year in this season. But it is a dedication to the Gods, not a festival as far as I read the flags.
As you can see, there are stands that sell banana+chocolate, noodle, cotton cany, fried chicken, goldfish scooping and so on, which is just like a festival or something.
Even cotton candy could be Hello Kitty! Our life is so filled with kawaii around. Just using Kitty bag, the candy can be sold well at highter price, hahaha…

kawaii credit card

8 Oct

Speaking of kawaii bank card or train pass, I came across kawaii credit card that has as many as 100 kind of designs and is now available at Marui.

Living in Japan, it’s quite natural to have kawaii designed items whether the owner is adult or kid. “Kawaii” (cute or adorable) is not only for kids to have. Even grown-up adult can shamelessly enjoy having kawaii things in public.

This is our culture and that’s why we see characters and kawaii illustrations or designs anywhere everyday from a candy to a bank card, a plate that we can get by collecting a couple of stickers whenever we purchase bread, boots keeper as in the below photo, and more and more, almost ceaselessly.
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Boots keeper is convenient to keep boots in good shape. But it’s not only that. Usually it has some kind of fillings that absorbs “smell”. In addition to such basic functions being cute, inexpensive, and you can choose from any famous characters like in the photo or maybe just a dog one like mine is also cute enough!
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These are my boots keepers.

Hello Kitty's 1st music album

5 Oct

Speaking of Hello Kitty, did you know Hello Kitty’s first music album, “Hello World” that is about to be released on 7 Oct. in the U.S? That sounds a little weird to me because I couldn’t just connect Kitty and songs. (Kitty doesn’t even have a mouth…no, I’m kidding! The idea sounds something interesting!!) Of course Kitty doesn’t sing a song, she is just a basic image that inspires musicians.

To sample album, for music player:

for audio stream:
Audio Stream: “Do You Really Wanna” by Cory Yarckin
audio (media player)
audio (QTime)

The album is available on iTunes now:
itune

For further info, here’s press release 9/15 from Sanrio.
===quotation from here===
SANRIO, Inc. is thrilled to announce the release of “Hello World”,
the first-ever Hello Kitty album available on Lakeshore Records. The
album will offer 11 tracks of original pop tunes, performed by a
number of up & coming young artists. The result is an upbeat and
perky compilation that reflects the life-embracing mood of the Hello
Kitty brand.

The album launches October 7th exclusively at Wal-Mart and the first
single “Come On, Come On”, with early airplay reported from Radio
Disney, will be available on iTunes starting September 30th. The
online community is already abuzz over the album’s MySpace and
Facebook pages that allow listeners to sample the tracks. Additional
distribution, including SANRIO stores and http://www.sanrio.com, will begin
in January 2009. A merchandise program featuring t-shirts and
accessories emblazoned with the album’s colorful Japan-Pop artwork
will coincide with this expanded release.

“Hello World” was created in partnership with New York’s Cherry
Lane Music Publishing Co. Inc., home to the catalogues of Elvis
Presley, the Black Eyed Peas, Wolfmother, John Legend and Quincy
Jones. ‘Hello World’ is the first endeavor resulting from the
multi-year joint venture between SANRIO, Inc. and Cherry Lane to
produce original music for Hello Kitty and other character brands
under the SANRIO umbrella.

Belting out the Hello Kitty headline track, “Come On, Come On”,
actress, musician & Hello Kitty fan Keke Palmer mirrors the fun and
friendship that’s synonymous with Hello Kitty and the entire SANRIO
family of characters. A SAG-nominated & Image Award winning actress,
Keke is part of DAS Communications’ impressive roster and has
starred in the critically-acclaimed Akeelah & the Bee and Jump In, as
well as the recent film The Longshots, with Ice Cube. Keke also has a
debut solo album, ‘SO UNCOOL’, which was released in September
2007. Keke models girl empowerment, an integral trait of the Hello
Kitty brand.

Cori Yarckin performs the album’s follow up single “Do You Really
Wanna”. Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as “One of the Girls of
MySpace” (in a feature on young female performers), Cori’s upbeat
power pop sound will have listeners rocking out to this track. The
video, currently in production, will launch online and made available
on sanrio.com, YouTube, and multiple social networking sites.

For ‘Hello World’, writers and performers were hand-picked by
SANRIO and Cherry Lane and primarily came from Cherry Lane’s
impressive roster. “Come On, Come On” was co-penned by Nini Camps
and Gary Phillips (producer of the popular Kidz Bop albums). Other
‘Hello World’ songwriters and producers include Toby Gad, the
writer behind Fergie’s #1 song, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”and Gen
Rubin, who brings his Grammy-nominated talents to three ‘Hello
World’ songs in total.

So look out world! SANRIO and Hello Kitty are keeping music lovers
engaged with perky personality, fun-loving attitude and a commitment
to harmony at every turn!
===quotation up to here===

Hello Kitty is used even for train pass or bank card these days in Japan.
I asked one at my bank before but for some reason I was not qualified for it 😥
Hope the album goes well… (o_0* I write too much about Hello Kitty these days, as it turns out…)