Archive | December, 2009

I wish you a Happy New Year!!

28 Dec

greeting
*It’s only my hand drawing without any draft or planning (LOL) but I drew it thanking you all!

Year 2009 is getting over…
How was this year to you? Did you have special days or experiences or achievements or anything this year? As for me, altogether I’d say this year was very good!

-good things- πŸ˜€
-I could finally travel abroad for the first time in 4 or 5 years. I went to Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.
-I was able to have 2 Onsen (hot spring) trips: one was to West Japan, including Kyoto and Osaka, the other one was with Pi-chan.
-I worked harder on this blog, and it seems that the visiters, subscribers, and comments have increased a lot, compared to this time last year.
-I could get connected with many people from blogging, and I actually made friends with some of them. I met them in person! There was even someone who I worked with! This is so great, as it’s one of the purposes of keeping this blog.
-I started to trade stocks and made good profit out of them for a beginner. (beginner’s luck?!)
-I challenged DECOTTI and decoden for the first time but they went good.
-Thanks to Pi-chan, I found exuberant motherhood inside myself, which was least expected in my life so far and widen my way of thinking.

-bad things- 😦
-I have become too busy to see friends often.
-I got fat because I have to work on computer too long hours and no time to exercise.
-For the same reason above, I sometimes suffer from back ache, dry eye, and stiff shoulder.
-I had less job offers for writing (in Japanese).

This year I had more good things than bad things, which I believe is because sometime ago, it was vice versa.
Then what I want to achieve next year?

-I need to work out to get fit and lose accursed fat! I’ve made an appointment for a beginner Belly Dance class that is open for trial on 8th Jan. 2010.
-I learned how it’s like to trade stocks this year, which was less risky compared with Forex because there’s no notion of leverage. Now I’m starting to study Forex and I will practice trading on Forex next year to gain profit safely.
-I work on blog as much as I have done this year, to make it more useful, informative, helpful, enjoyable and interesting to my blog readers. Hopefully I want to make a free material for you to enjoy. But I wonder what topic will make many of my blog readers happy.
-I want to enjoy cooking more. Now it has become a chore that I cannot stop and keep doing day after day. I want to change my mind.

To make these possible, I know I have to give up some things. That’s how things are.
I will have less time seeing my friends, which I have to accept.
I will have to struggle and suffer from practicing trading Forex.
I will have no time to study foreign language, even though I’m quite interested in that.
I will have small time of reading books, and almost no time to watch TV and movie. (same as this year)
I will be busy again…
But it’s OK, I have a big goal, and to achieve it I can accept this.

I wish you all the best for 2010, and I’ll see you again in next year! As mentioned in my last post, end of the year to early January is a long period of holiday for Japanese people who can finally rest from work. It’s only Golden Week in May and this time of the year that we can rest without hesitation against our colleagues or boss of the company that one works for. That’s why many of us travel this time paying 3 times more money than off-peak season.

I will be away from blogging for a while, maybe until around 3rd of January.

Thank you for reading my blog, and exchanging comments or messages with me from time to time.
I really enjoy communication with people from various places around the world. I will just do my best to keep this blog a better place for you and make it useful or informative and also entertaining. If you have any opinions, suggestions, messages, or anything, please feel free to contact me or leave me comments. πŸ™‚

How would you like to spend next year? Do you have any big plan or goal?
Best wishes for your new year 2010!!

Christmas is over, and now comes New Year…

27 Dec
osechi I remember it was 1st of November when every shop started playing Christmas songs to urge Christmas shopping or only to create joyful atmosphere. That lasted until 25th of December, and what happens from the very next morning in Japan? Everyone starts to prepare for New Year Day and super market is such a good example that changes its decoration or foods so much: from Western foods, sparkling wine, and desserts to special foods that are to make Japanese new year cuisine, called “Osechi ryori“. This website lists Osechi recipe: how to fix each of Osechi food in Japanese. Even if you can’t read it, you can guess how hard it’d be to make so many different things at a time. (Actually today many of them are pre-fixed and sold at super market, though…)

As for myself, I don’t like “Osechi ryori” very much since my chidhood. However, unlike old days, most of stores open except for 1st of January in Tokyo, which practically means there’s no need to pre-fix Osechi ryori for the whole family to keep eating it until 3rd of January. What do I mean?

As mentioned in my old post, in Japan New Year is much more meaningful than Christmas, and so most of companies let their employees have about 1-week of holiday from end of December to at least to 3rd of January. Housewives usually prepare Osechi ryori by New Year eve (Dec. 31) so they can rest 3 days of new year without cooking much. But that’s an old story and not true any more today, because super markets open from 2nd of January, so as some restaurants, which is unlike old days when almost all stores closed around 5th or 6th of January…

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Having said that, it’s our tradition to eat Osechi ryori. Nowadays as we have less kids, and there are many ways to outsource Osechi instead of cooking it by ourselves, there are many people who reserve Osechi somewhere, at online shop for example. As for myself, I never cooked Osechi by myself nor ordered it somewhere else. I just visit my husband’s parents and eat it there. :p Osechi looks very beautiful and each food has a meaning such as longevity, prosperity, victory, luck or happiness…thus we still like to eat it even though the situation has totally changed today.

It’s not only Osechi that we should think about. As you have exchaned Christmas cards, we exchange new year’s cards called “Nengajo”. Before email was available, I spent quite a lot of time making my original cards every year. But lately I have noticed, I don’t have to exchange them with close friends because I see them very often. They say there’s no need to follow old tradition and keep formal between us. Those who send me new year’s cards are the ones I don’t see often. In other words, it’s not too much to say that they are sort of friends who are connected with only 1 card in 365 days. As is often the case, the card is made from a photo of their KIDS only, not themselves, saying “My girl has turned 3 years old, she now can do this and that, she is blar, blar, blar…” and NO INFORMATION about themselves! To me, this just looks like they are reporting me on the details of their kids every year. Well…good to hear that, but I’d be much more interested in what THEY are doing, not what THEIR KIDS are doing…This really makes me feel uncomfortable and I do wonder if they have ever thought of the feelings of the people who cannot have kids even if they want to. Hence I stopped writing new year’s cards a couple of years ago, and only reply to those who sent me cards. I’d like to suggest that we should meet and chat instead of exchanging cards only one time a year and continue that superficial relationship. (I’m not talking about Christmas cards that I exchange with people outside Japan. They are close friends but I cannot see them often because of distance.)

Osechi or new year’s cards, whatever it is around new year is not really my taste. I at least visit my husband’s parents for new year’s greeting, first shrine visit to pray for wellness in the new year, and reply to those who send me their kids photo cards, I mean Nengajo. :p I’m a lazy Japanese who is not faithful to its tradition and culture, and is more likely to be crezy for New Year Sale from the 2nd of January!! (LOL)

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*Disclaimer: The photo is quoted from this page of KIRIN beer.

Gaijin Gyaru

24 Dec

Gaijin Gyaru
29/AUG/2009 on air

Gyaru fashion is getting popular among foreigners?
A banker from Switzerland visits Japan every year. She likes Japanese Gyaru model such as Tsubasa Masuwaka and Kumikki. There were a student from Denmark and Sweden, models from the U.S and Brazil, high school couple from Mexico, 2 Russian women, and even a 15-year-old middle school girl from France. It was 484 foreigners that Tokyo Kawaii TV counted at the entrance of Shibuya 109 by the time it closed 9 pm. This number means a foreigner per 80 seconds.

It’s been 10 years from the birth of “Gyaru” in Japan. Nowadays “Gyaru” is getting popular in foreign countries, too? In Barcelona Spain, there is a Gyaru circle (a group of Gyaru) of Spanish college girls. They formed it 2 years ago. Some of them visited Tokyo this summer to shop Gyaru items and clothes in Shibuya.

“Everything’s cute!”
“I feel like spending all the money I have here!”
They are very much excited at several stores (such as COCOLULU, DELYLE and JSG) in Shibuya 109, which must be the most familiar department stores they knew from Japanese Gyaru magazines they read in Spain.
They stay 2 weeks in Tokyo, a weekly rental condominium for 3000 yen per person. They cannot spend much money for foods, because they want to spend money for shopping! Their meals are either from convenience store or fast food.

Over 100 items are on the beds that are what they purchased in Japan. “There’s no shoes like this much kawaii in Spain!” They bought Yukata only because they wanted to dress it to the Hanabi (fireworks) night. Good for them, they were picked by good-looking Japanese men there.

The members of Gyaru group meet up once a week to dance ParaPara. They also like to visit the store “AKIBA” in Barcelona where Japanese anime goods, decoden stickers, Gothloli outfit, and a bit awkward Purikura machine are available.

The Spanish Gyaru girls are willing to pay 3 times more money to buy Japanese Gyaru fashion magazine in Spain. They like a Gyaru model Aina Tanaka.

Salon del Manga is a Japanese culture event in Barcelona that has been held since 1995. There were as many as 60,000 people visiting this event in 2008. This event has turned young Spanish people more interested in Japanese culture. Teens and young 20s Spanish boys and girls hold ParaPara contest every month at a youth center. “Music and dance are totally different from ours!” “I can even make friends with people who I dance with for the first time.” They are excited about ParaPara dance today, which used to be very popular among Shibuya girls 10 years ago.

There is even a foreign Gyaruo (men’s version of Gyaru) in Shibuya these days. Alex from Russia never fails to go to a hair salon that is popular among hosts for Mori hairstyle whenever he goes to Shibuya. He is an international student to a Japanese private university but he looks as if he were a model or host (“host” here means something different from host in English, as explained here. “I didn’t know this kind of fashion until I came to Japan. I think it’s cool!” He has a girl friend for 6 months who is also a Gyaru.

At an office of egg magazine Spanish Gyaru girls can finally meet their dream model Aina Tanaka in person. Moreover they learned how to do Gyaru makeup from egg models. “Because we are afraid of mottled face in the future, we do not burn the face. Only for the body to get tanned, we go to a tanning salon.

For the face, use the same colored foundation.” “Gyaru need tanned skin color!” “Use a brush to paint your face with liquid foundation. In this way, your face will be smooth like a surface of pottery.” “It costs much money to be a Gyaru. We have to dye hair, decorate nails, get tanned at a tanning salon throughout the year, buy makeup and dresses, etc. I spend 50,000 yen per month for my hair and nails.” Aina shared her tips of how to be a more Gyaru-looking Gyaru. It has passed half an hour when base make was done. Spanish Gyaru girls were so happy because they could meet Aina, they spent 180,000 yen in average per person for shopping in Japan, and were called “Gaijin Gyaru” (Gaijin means foreigner) in Japan.

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Kirin’s opinion:
I’m too old for Gyaru fashion (LOL), but it’s certainly fun if one has a specific fashion genre that she loves. I sometimes feel like buying some Gyaru items to mix with my ordinal clothes but I’m too embarrassed to enter Gyaru fashion store with completely non-Gyaru looking who apparently has no connection with Gyaru fashion. I maybe a bit shy… :p

It was scary though for me to ask someone with such long nails to put makeup on my face. I personally don’t like such long ones. They can be dangerous rather kawaii…(*_*) Have you seen Gyaru in your country? What did you think of their fashion, makeup, and etc.?
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Disclaimer: Tokyo Kawaii TV is a TV program owned and broadcasted by NHK Japan, and has nothing to do with this blog.

***There are archives of episodes listed under the page titled “Tokyo Kawaii TV” that is just located under the title banner of this blog.
***If you want to know the music that was used in the episode, please refer to this page and help yourself to find it by selecting the date when the episode was on air in Japan.

Additional decoration with Decotti cream

21 Dec

I decorated the top of a jam bottle with Decotti cream that is left over from my Decotti sets.Β  I’ve filmed myself how I did that (very simple though) and I’d love to share it with you here!Β  πŸ˜€ If you ever try Decotti, I’m sure you will have a lot more cream than you need for Decotti. Although Decotti doesn’t recommend we should use it on any objects other than Decotti because it’s not adhesive enough, I think it’s a waste if we just throw it away after Decotti.

From what I’ve experienced, I think it’s better you prepare an object you want to decorate on as well as additional rhinestones (Swarovski or crystal materials that you also can use for nail decorations will be OK) or clay sweets to make it look nicer. And do that right after Decotti. Even if you cover the mouth of the cream, it does get dry as time passes! If you make use of the Decotti cream wisely, I think you can enjoy more than what you paid for. Decotti itself looks expensive, but if you make some extra decorations with the left-over cream, you’ll find it was paid off. πŸ™‚ Well, that’s my thought. It’s all up to you!

In the video it was out of focus, but below is the picture of what I made.
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Oh…the photo is not good either…LOL Unlike macaroons, it has height and so it makes shadow.

How about the other one?

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I bought a star shaped polystyrene foam for about 130yen at ABC craft the other day. πŸ™‚
When I made this after the jam bottle, the cream was about to dry up! The mouth was totally stuck with dried cream, and so I had to cut the other part of the pouch to let the cream out. That’s why the cream here is not shaped in 6 stars or 8 stars, as the diaphram worked only if it’s set on the mouth of the cream pouch. I kinda put many decorations over the cream to hide the ugly shape of whip cream that I directly put out from the cream pouch. Some decorations are from my 30cm Christmas tree. :p I’ve finally used up 2 pouches of Decotti cream that is left over from my making Decotti macaroons and cupcakes.

Christmas in Japan

18 Dec

Do we have Christmas in Japan?
I’d say…we have a sort of romance under the name of “Christmas” in Japan. What do I mean? Well, it’s not too much to say that Christmas has no religious meanings for most of Japanese people except for Christian. Then what day is that? It’s a day to spend with your lover! That’s why Christmas eve, 24th of Dec. is more important in Japan than 25th, the very Christmas day. (In fact, in our culture, new year eve and a new year day, up until 3rd of January is more important for every single Japanese!)

*Disclaimer: These photos are quoted from walkerplus. Rurubu has a similar site too, if you are interested in…

roppongi
Let me tell you I am not speaking about a family with small kids. I think they will spend a day with family and do some Santa stuff. I don’t know much about this because my family was strict and didn’t like the fool of “Christmas” in Japanese way as long as we are not even Christian. Anyhow, even a happy family with small kids would spend time together only while their kids are very young. When they turn to mid-teen, they’d spend the eve with their friends. When they turn to high-teen, they’d definitely want to stay with boyfriend or girlfriend to deepen their love!

Thus there’s basically no rule for Christmas in Japan. If you want to stay with your family, do that. If you want to stay at a luxurious romantic hotel with your lover, do that. If you want to party with close friends, do that. Whatever! There’s certainly no solemn thoughts for Jesus, I have to say this. That’s how Japan is. It’s a sort of festive event without religious background. We don’t even have a national holiday on the Christmas day. (I’m not speaking of Christian people in Japan, I’m speaking of most of Japanese people because most of us do not have specific religion. Please do not get confused, even if we don’t have religion, that doesn’t mean we act contrary to humanity. I think I should spare some time to write a post about religions in Japan. )

omotesando
Such being the case, you can easily imagine that Christmas in Japan can even be regarded as a “business chance” to restaurant industry or hotel industry as well as retail shops and department stores. (Again, many people spend the eve outside, especially if they are young couples or DINKS.) Offering a romantic occasion at Christmas is very important for the business that need to capture customers in this season. “Christmas dinner” “Christmas hotel plan” “Christmas song” or “whatever under the name of Christmas special that is only available in this season” is good to be promoted. Needless to say, Christmas illumination as in the sample photos is really very beautiful enough as to enhance the mood.
ebisu garden place
TDL (Tokyo Disney Land) or TDS (Tokyo Disney Sea) is one of the most successful examples that attracts people with romantic stage especially planned for this season.
If you ever have a chance to visit Tokyo, it’s be fantastic if you can book a room at hotel Miracosta, an official hotel of Tokyo Disney Resort, and explore both TDL and TDS thoroughly!

If you are a faithful Christian, please do not get offended at our superficial event making use of “Christmas”.
Whatever it is…HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL!! πŸ˜€

Tokyo Kawaii Collection in Paris

16 Dec

Tokyo Kawaii Collection in Paris
15/AUG/2009 on air

Tokyo Kawaii TV organized a fashion show that introduced Japanese kawaii at a luxurious salon in Paris. They call it “Tokyo Kawaii Collection in Paris” and for this event, Tokyo Kawaii TV held auditions to select the representative designers of cutting-edge works that reflect trends in Tokyo today.

1st entry is from a department of school uniform.
School uniform has become a solid fashion thanks to school girls of Shibuya – Harajuku area. Anime and Manga played an important role to let it spread in the world.
Toyoko Yokoyama is a pioneer designer of school uniform, who has also produced a school uniform-looking clothes shop in Harajuku.

2nd entry is from a department of men’s style.
Shinya Yamaguchi is a designer, creator of multiple fashion items, and even a king of street snap. He works from a small 6Jo room (For your better understandings, something like this.) where he keeps his clothing. “Isn’t it interesting that one of the coolest things in Tokyo is created in such a small space?” says, Shinya.

3rd entry is from a department of Lolita fashion.
It’s a fashion genre that is also supported enthusiastically by American, French, and Russian people. Yoshie Yamashita is a designer. She sells beautiful Lolita dresses online with the concept of “Lolita clothing for adults”. Kokusyokusumire is a big fan of her dresses.

4th entry is from a department of deco design.
Maiko Kaji is a deco designer who has many clients of Japanese celebs, as well as Patricia Field and Paris Hilton. (Here is an episode how she was selected.)

Tokyo Kawaii TV asked authorities of fashion industry in Paris for the tips to make the show successful. It should be a location where the show is taken place, the celebs who come to the show, and the talent to make it successful. But it seems “kawaii” is not popular in Paris… Tokyo Kawaii TV is however proud of the designers this time, because they also asked opinions from Aloha from Hell, a German musician and The Black Eyed Peas, and Kashiwa Sato, a Japanese art director who is active worldwidely and also well-known as a designer of Uniqlo logo in order to see how the selected designs were sensed by international people.

Japan Expo is a biggest J-culture event in Europe. Many people visit there to buy Anime or Manga, but these days fashion items from Shibuya and Harajuku have increased. In average, 241 Euro per person was spent there. However, 90% of shops were non-Japanese. Taiwanese man sold Nekomimi hat (cat ear hat). French woman made sweets accessories and sold them. There was a Japanese woman sent by Ministry of Economy researching the site. Our government thinks that Japanese corporations should make use of kawaii as a business opportunity. “Japanese government wants to put out Japanese culture to the world more aggressively.” says the woman.

There are however some companies that are successful in expanding their business to the world. Laforet Kawaii Collection is a fashion show held in Paris and that was from 10 Gothic and Lolita brands that are popular in Harajuku. “We come to Paris, do the show, and see how local people evaluate us. We bring it back to Japan and we want to improve our place in the Japanese fashion industry.” says the CEO of Peace Now.
Kamikaze Girls is a Japanese lolita movie that was released in 7 countries. Baby the stars shine bright is a company that provided the clothing to the movie. The lolita clothing of the heroine has captivated many girls in the world. After the release of the movie, this company received many orders. They sell the lolita clothing to 32 countries today. Their international sales is as much as 3,000,000 yen, which is almost the same as a monthly sales amount from a single regional town. In fact, they didn’t expect orders from South America, but there are some these days. They hired an American lolita girl who takes care of English website. “I am too tall and fat for Lolita clothing…I was thinking so, but I found my size finally! I want to tell girls all over the world how wonderful Lolita is!!”

Tokyo Kawaii Collection had a hard time to find celebrities who got interested in “kawaii” in Paris. Yamaguchi-san dropped at a local shoes store to ask opinions for the high heel shoes he designed especially for men. But they say in Paris, it’s difficult to be accepted unless it’s used by some famous designers. When Yamashita-san asked opinions for local people, the reaction was also very conservative. 😦

The episode is cut here, due to an accident while it was recorded, sorry!

Kirin’s opinion:
I’m very much disappointed at the reactions of the people in Paris. They sounded very conservative. Kawaii maybe too childish to them? As you may know, in Japan chasing kawaii is not limited to children. To the contrary, kawaii for adults are very much accepted and nothing cannot be promotive without kawaii element or concept, especially if the business is targeted for young women of 20-30s.
Anyhow…sorry the episode was cut off due to some accident. I don’t have the rest of the episode. It’s not available unless it’s re-aired.

The best kuchikomi (mouth communication) site I trust.

14 Dec
nabe2 Whenever I try out a new cosmetic brand or product, I never fail to check out this site to study how it is supported by actual users.

Same can be said to restaurants. Gurunavi is a well-known index site for restaurants and Izakaya with discount coupons, but it’s not the resources I trust when I choose the place to eat or drink.
That’s because Gurunavi only lists restaurants of which the owner agreed with paying for the advertisement cost to them. In other words, if there are small good restaurants but cannot afford paying Gurunavi for advertising, they can never be found in Gurunavi.
That’s why I do pay more attention to Tabelog. Even though it doesn’t offer discount coupons, it’s more reliable in a sense that we can reach true comments from “experienced” people.

I also like browsing Couponland, a free magazine to look for restaurants or beauty salons I may want to try but the other day it was totally my mistake that I didn’t double check at Tabelog after I found a nice hotpot restaurant from Couponland. Now I can see why I was unsatisfied with what we had, when I read the comments left for it at Tabelog. (You may understand what’s written, depending on your Japanese skills. But even without it, you can see it’s not very good from the numbers of stars!)

As you can see in the photos, I went out to eat a soy milk hotpot with a lump of chicken collagen in Shinjuku (this restaurant) with my husband the other day. That was only because the photo I found at a Couponland was tempting, as well as discount coupon, of course! I forgot to check the reputation of the restaurant at Tabelog, and this was a big mistake!

The problem was that the foods were not worth for the money we paid. Nowadays we can get things at reasonable prices with not bad quality, I feel I have paid much more than it deserved. The soy milk hotpot (tounyu nabe 豆乳鍋) was not bad, but total amount was too expensive for what we took. I never asked all-you-can-drink for 1500 yen per person, but they charged us by mistake. (I noticed their mistake when I paid money, so I didn’t pay this. If I include this amount, the sum will be something way too much!) I was disappointed at my selection, and that I missed checking at Tabelog.

If you have a chance to stay in Japan, be sure to check out the restaurant beforehand, and pick out the one you go to wisely, because there are millions restaurants and Izakaya in the city area. It’s not easy to choose the one you want to try. I’d browse Couponland to find a restaurant (Izakaya) I want to try out, check it out at Tabelog for reputation, and search it at Gurunavi and if they offer better discount than Couponland, I’ll use it. At a moment, I follow this way!

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The photo is a soy milk hotpot. Second photo is a lump of collagen. We boiled the pot, ate the meat and vegetables, and put rice onto the pot. This time we added grated cheese and butter with steamed rice to make it like Italian risotto. Winter season is the best time to try hotpot with collagen! When I make hotpot at home, I cannot prepare that much of collagen, but if I look for restaurants, there are many restaurants that offer hotpot with much collagen in this season. You know collagen will make our skin smooth! πŸ˜€ I was about to introduce a good restaurant at a “Travel and Eat-out in Japan” page…but not for this time. I’ll try other collagen hotpot cuisine some time again!