Archive | September, 2010

A shop that has local foods from throughout Japan

30 Sep

Shokoku Gotouchi Plaza
location: Basement floor of JR Tokyo station
phone: 03-3212-0020
open: 9am -8:30pm

Have you been to Gotouchi Plaza in Tokyo-eki Ichibangai? In other words, it’s in the same area as Rilakkuma store and character street. That is to say, you can get yummy or strange local foods that are usually only available at every local city Japan, while you can get your favorite character goods and Japanese foods at one place.

Local chips

Wasabi chips from Shizuoka…wow does it make us cry? ^ ^;

Local curry. They are so tempting. I want to try them as many as I can~ while I cannot visit these local cities. I was brought up and spent my life in around Tokyo. I’ve never lived any other part of Japan but Tokyo area. (I’ve never lived inside Tokyo, to be exact. That’s because it’s expensive to rent an apartment there. I’m originally from Saitama, and I’ve lived in Chiba and Kanagawa. Any of the locations are very close to Tokyo. That’s why I say “Tokyo area”.) I thought I was lucky because I could shop at Harajuku for example since I was a very kid. But now I feel like living more different parts of Japan to explore new life.

Local ramen also look so good! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like ramen.

But everyone has different tastes, especially when it comes to ramen! This means we do not always like highly rated ramen. For example Kitakata ramen is just OK to me. I don’t love it so much.

Hokkaido is also famous for its ramen. But when I tried some Asahikawa ramen in Asahikawa, I didn’t like its too much oil over ramen. They use much oil to cover ramen so it should not get cold under their cold weather. That makes sense. But I don’t like too oily stuff. If I have to take in extra calories, I do want it from the food I love. ^ ^;

Local furikake. Furikake is a sort of seasoning that we eat to put it over steamed rice.

This year Japanese people went crazy about “ra~yu” or chili oil, that contains some food flakes inside. “Karasoude Karakunai Sukoshikarai Ra~yu” (meaning something like this; Ra~yu that looks spicy but not that spicy in fact but a little bit spicy) by Momoya was a mega hit this year in Japan. It’s always out of stock at any supermarkets or online grocery shops.

Local candies…but some of the flavors are very weird!

Who in the hell likes garlic candy? Potato x butter flavor is good for chips but how is that for candy…?

Or beer candy? …lol Most of candies from this corner looked weird enough.

Anyone who misses Takoyaki from Osaka, here’s Takoyaki flavor snack. As for myself, I don’t like Takoyaki so much, which is because I’m fed up with it. My father is from Osaka. He cooked Takoyaki every weekend and my mom also cooked it often as a snack for us to eat in-between meals when I was a kid. This made me dislike Takoyaki any longer. Same can be said to most of Japanese foods, I guess. :p


Accessory & Deco for Men

28 Sep

Accessory & Deco for Men
6/MAR/2010 on air

Street snap at Harajuku. Today’s theme is accessory. Bear accessory has become the latest craze. Some people wear food, toy or even bubble soap as accessory. A man wears accessories as heavy as 1kg, which in total costs 2 million yen.

Handmade cafe where people can make something while having a coffee or tea is also very popular among women.

Verbal-san’s big jewelry was inspired by black artists. He refers to American comics when he designs his accessory.

Kenji-kun’s profession is a care worker, but look at how he dresses differently on weekends. He makes everything he wears. He and his girl friend have been often on KERA magazine as “dokumo“. The couple lives together in a small 6-mat room where accessories that Kenji-kun has made are laid out. He’s just started working, he doesn’t have enough money to buy his girl friend a luxurious jewelry at a moment. Instead he gives her handmade accessories he makes for her.

Lady Gaga was selected as the best accessory dresser in the U.S. Parts of her accessories are made by a Japanese designer Kajitani-san. She studied jewrly making in Paris and her unique jewerly design is highly supported by Hollywood celebs and Monacan royal families.

Johnny Rotten’s punk fashion style became a hit in Japan again in 2010. But materials are replaced by something different. Likewise, accessories that are made of new materials and combination of pearl, for example, are hot now.

3 high school boys make accessories from wig or even a computer keyboard.

Japanese jewerly industry has shrunk its sales by over 60% compared with the time we enjoyed bubble economy in 1980s.
How are they going to survive?
TASAKI erased a pearl mark from their logo that they have used for the past 56 years. Their imaged targeted customer has been women in their 50s so far, but they try to shift it to working women in their 30s and 40s. They used Thakoon Panichgul from New York on the design of new collections that are suitable for powerful women. They also used Yasuhiro Mihara on men’s jewerly with use of black pearl.

Serruria is a successful jewerly shop because they used fashion models, who are well known as jewerly collectors, to design their jewerly. They used Reiko Takagaki.

A mom and a daughter shop is doing well thanks to the daughter’s idea of using bear as a motif of accessory.

KAI-kun is a 18-year-old high school boy who is good at art and drawing. He also likes to make moldings and transform himself as a character that he imagined from his drawing. Earl of Pink for example has a totally different character from how KAI-kun is. His dream is to become a makeup artist, and he wants to create various kind of characters from accessory and makeup.

Kirin’s opinion:
I think it’s natural that men enjoy wearing men’s jewelry. But it’s also very interesting to see boys who like making accessories like Kenji-kun or KAI-kun. In Japan men are becoming like women these days. It maybe even natural that boys are interested in deco and makeup too. ^ ^;

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.

Kurihama beach

26 Sep

My house is not far from Tokyo, while it’s not so far from beach and mountains, either.
Having a hard time taking vacation with my hubby who is busy working and studying, I went out to Kurihama by myself. I just wanted to locate myself somewhere different from ordinary life, and noticed Kurihama (Yokosuka city) was within 1-hour travel from my station. I also found a dog goods store there, which was a good reason because I needed to purchase a dog food urgently anyhow. 🙂

There were only a few people during a daytime on weekdays at Kurihama. I wanted this. I don’t like crowds.

It was about 15 minutes walk or so from the Keikyu Kurihama train station. I don’t drive. I don’t even own my car. My driver’s license is gold, which means “excellent driver”. That’s only because I’ve never driven a car since I got it. lol To live somewhere near Tokyo while wish to save money needs no car. My life is quite compatible without a car at all. Buses and trains are available every 5-10 minutes. I use a bicycle a lot for shopping at grocery stores or drug stores in my daily life. I’d feel so stressed if I have to drive a car as daily chores…Yes, I’m so bad at driving!! I could kill people or myself. I have a strong feeling that driving will collapse my life. lol

I like the shade and bench under trees along with the beach.

Too bad I see no nice cafe around the beach. The eateries on the other side of the street were far from cozy and good atmosphere restaurants. They looked shabby and old. 😦 I searched convenience store and just bought something left over. The time was past 1:30pm, nearly 2. Most of snacks were sold out at the minor convenience store I found near the beach. But I didn’t feel like going back to 7-eleven. First time for me to try the Starbucks ready-made coffee from convenience stores (only available at convenience stores) but…I didn’t like it. It’s far from original taste of course, and I thought I liked ready-made coffee from Doutor or some other brands even better.

I didn’t go inside but there was a Perry Park across the street. (The arrival of Commodore Perry from the United States in 1853 marked the end of Japan’s isolation and the resumption of overseas trade.) Well…we’ve been open for overseas trade but mentality of Japanese people sometimes gives the impression of isolation to foreigners even today.

The sign reminds us that we live in a country that can be hit by earthquakes any time.

Then, how can we explain this condominium just next to the beach? Some rooms are still on sale. “1 minutes to the beach!” sounds great, but how do they cope with Tsunami? I was curious. :p

I like looking at houses inside and outside, anytime anywhere. That’s because I was engaged in house renovation business before or because I am interested in properties to invest in. It’s also fun to imagine a life in the place. I asked the reception at the condo (they have a room model inside the condo) if I can see the room. I asked how they are going to cope with Tsunami and salt breeze that could deteriorate the facade or the structure of the premises. They answered that they built the 1st floor 1 meter higher than the ground level so the Tsunami, which is supposed to be 80cm at maximum in this area, should not hit the premises. They also used stainless steel instead of normal steel to avoid deterioration due to salt breeze. The view from the balcony was great, even though it was 2nd floor. I wonder how calm and soothing my life will be whenever I look outside it is just a tranquil sea, instead of the detached house I see from my house.

I wish I could stay there longer but since there was no good cafe around and I had to shop a pack of dog food and walk Pi-chan after going back home, I decided to go back home.

It was just a short day trip but it was a good change to me. I thought casual day trip like this once in a while maybe good until I’m prepared for a big trip abroad next time. 🙂

Cafe Cabanon

24 Sep

Cafe Cabanon
nearest train station: Jiyugaoka (Tokyu Toyoko line)
phone: 03-3724-7990

I often go to this cafe with my best friend Chika. I don’t like crowds, I like places like Jiyugaoka or Nakameguro a lot better than Shibuya or Harajuku. Moreover these places are closer from my station. It doesn’t even take 10 minutes to go to Jiyugaoka from my station.

Sandwich lunch with salad and coffee or tea for 1200yen.

Galette lunch

Special Lunch of the day

My seat ^_^ We have lunch at this cafe every other week. We somehow like to settle this table at the upper level near the window. If the weather is not this hot, we may prefer the table at the terrace.

Inside the cafe.

I don’t know why it took me so long time to share the posts where the locals like us eat out. Well…I guess it’s because I don’t eat Japanese food so often. Especially when I eat out, I’ll hardly choose Japanese cuisine because to be honest, I don’t like Japanese food so much. :p I like cheese a lot more than tofu. I like pasta a lot more than soba or udon. I like western sweets but I dislike Japanese sweets, what we call “wagashi”. lol

This makes no sense why I was born as a Japanese. ^^; But I try to eat Japanese food at home. I cook Japanese food mostly to eat something good for health, not because I love eating it from the bottom of my heart. So when I pay for good atmosphere and nice food outside, I have no reason to choose Japanese food, which I don’t enjoy from the bottom of my heart! haha!!

So far I thought I should share what I ate at Japanese restaurants and no matter how long it takes, I never visit a Japanese restaurant after all. I don’t know if my readers want to know any non-Japanese eateries but let’s see how you like this kind of post.

Please feel free to comment. What kind of local eateries do you want to see in this blog? Nice cafe, Izakaya (Japanese style of drinking place), or ramen restaurant? Oh speaking of ramen, I like ramen exceptionally, if it’s also counted as a Japanese food. ^^; Sushi, ramen, unagi, yakiniku…these are exceptional, yet I don’t eat them often. haha!!

How to open your account on Ameba blog

22 Sep

I see foreign people who study Japanese or those who like kawaii blogs will like to start up “Ameblo” or Ameba blog.
Ameba blog has become most popular free blog in Japan, because they successfully involved celebrities, fashion models, and many famous people especially from show business in Japan.

I made some tutorial videos on my Youtube channel. I hope they are helpful for those who have trouble in Japanese.

This is my Ameba blog but I have no intention to update it often. If I update it, it’ll be either when I desperately want to write something in Japanese or when I just want to play with the “paco” as I was playing in the video. lol

It seems running a Tokyo Kawaii, etc. blog itself is just enough for me. I have no power or time left to maintain other blogs, which I know from experience. :p

But if you just want a cute blog for free and easy, take into account Ameba blog. This especially is a good idea if you study Japanese, because you have to read signs and directions in Japanese. You’ll be convinced how cute it is when you see the themes from over 500 designs! Japanese blog gives us everything needed from the beginning, while we have to add things we need by ourselves on WordPress or Blogger. You don’t even have to add analytics tools to check the traffic to the blog, because it’s already available from the dashboard.

I wanted to help my readers who had hard time trying out Ameblo. ^ ^;

===Answers to common questions===
*How to change the theme from the original one?
To change the theme (banner), you can do it this way.

1) Go to your dashboard and click “デザインの変更” at the left side under your blog title in parentheses. It’s accompanied by NEW! mark now, but it may disappear someday, so I’ll say it’s accompanied by 4 squares mark to the left.

2) Choose a new theme from either of the following options.
-新着 (latest themes)
-ピグ (Pigg, themes that have your Ameba pigg, or an avatar)
-おすすめ (recommended themes)
-カスタム可能 (customized themes)

3) You probably wish to customize your theme.
Click カスタム可能 and find out the basic theme from which you will modify. (CSS knowledge required) But as you can see, it’s not 100% at your disposal. You can only change some parts.

MangaKissa, make use of them wisely!

20 Sep

Have you heard of Manga Kissa?

There are so many MangaKissa all around Tokyo! Besides being a comfortable place to read Manga and Magazines, it is also a great place to stay overnight if you miss the last train, do you know? Haha! I’ve always heard about it but never had the chance to go in and take a look for myself.

So when my friend and I found ourselves stuck at the last station, having taken the wrong last train, MangaKissa seemed like the best place to stay safely in through the night before the first train came! ^^

Here are the reasons:
Continue reading

How to travel in Japan while spend less?

18 Sep

Due to bad economy, hotels in Japan have been suffering from gaining customers. They struggle how to attract customers today in order to survive from downturn in sales. “No over-night stay with 2 meals” seems to be a breakthrough to turn the situation around.

Tourists can stay at a hotel and enjoy 2 meals (lunch and dinner) there and check out before 8pm, for example.

Let’s take a look at Hakone Yunessan‘s case.
Check-in is open at 11am and the customers can stay as long as 9 hours at the room before check-out time at 8pm.

1) Check-in
2) Lunch can be chosen from 4 restaurants.
3) Play in the swimming pool or green tea bath or anything from the total of 26 amusement spas, as well as onsen.
4) Rest or sleep in the room when tired.
5) Buffet dinner
6) Check-out

If one stays there over night, it costs 20,000yen. But only without over-night stay, the price turns to be 8500yen.

How is another example at Hotel Accion Tateyama in Chiba prefecture?
Their no over-stay plan is open from 11:30am to 9pm.

1) Check-in
2) Chef’s recommending lunch
3) Relax in onsen, swimming pool and even with Balinese esthetic treatment.
4) Japanese full-course meal at dinner
5) Check-out

If one stays there over night, it costs 24,240yen. But only without over-night stay, it’s 16,950yen.

Good News!
Haneda airport in Tokyo will have completed a new runway, as scheduled on Oct. 31. This allows flights to 9 more cities including Los Angeles and Paris. Unlike Narita airport, Haneda airport is a lot closer to the central Tokyo area, which means we can make use of late-evening flights to Haneda airport after work! The flights to Europe and U.S will be scheduled later than 10pm. Even busy Japanese workers can manage 5 days holiday to Hawaii as following way.

1st day: Departing from Haneda at 10:30pm.
2nd day: Arriving at Hawaii at 10:40am and then free time.
3rd day: free time entire day.
4th day: free time and then leaving Honolulu at 7pm.
5th day: Arriving at Haneda at 10pm.

89,800yen for this plan, for example.

Kirin’s opinion:
It’s nice to stay hotels at reasonable price only by giving up the stay over night.
Now everyone looks for something at affordable and reasonable price, it’s necessary for any kind of service industry to suggest budget offers to attract customers in recession. But at the same time, I think I would prefer gorgeous lunch at a nice restaurant only or body massage at a relaxation salon only rather than buffet and everything at OK level.

I’m looking forward to how Haneda airport changes. 🙂 My station is not that far from Haneda. Some of you may be shocked how short our holiday plan in Hawaii as a sample plan looks like. I think this is considered a good plan in Japan. You see how hard it is for us, Japanese to take a vacation in Japan. Not many of us can afford vacation over 10 days or 2 weeks.

Another News!! (from Sept. 13)
The other day I just read we can finally have Air Asia flights from/to Haneda within this year!!!!! Last time when I traveled from Malaysia to Singapore, I flew with Air Asia. It was quite reasonable. However there was no Air Asia or Tiger airways service available from/to Tokyo then, I remember I was so much disappointed. I hope Air Asia flights from Tokyo should not end up with relatively high price though. Anyhow this is what I’ve been waiting for, and for the people from Asia pacific who like to travel to Japan, this must be a good news, too right? 😀