Archive | June, 2011

TKE Giveaway 2011

30 Jun

Hi everyone who enjoys reading TKE blog.
It’s time for the Giveaway 2011. First of all, thank you for those who kindly suggested to me what kind of prizes might be good the other day.

Please read the following guidelines carefully before you enter the contest.

=TKE Giveaway 2011 Guidelines=

Open: Thursday 30th June 2011 (This means if you read this post, it’s started!)

Close: Thursday 14th July 2011 at midnight (Japan Standard Time)
*The announcement of the winners will be around 16th-18th July or so.

How to enter: Fill out the contact form with your name, email address and subject as “TKE Giveaway 2011” and your answers to the following questions. (Your URL is optional, which doesn’t really matter.)

Questions for you to answer
1) Do you have any problems when you browse TKE blog? (for example, it takes too much time for loading.)
2) What kind of post/category/page do you like most in TKE blog and why is that? *Multiple answer is OK. (for example, Japanese foods and Pi-chan.)
3) Are you interested in learning Japanese?
4) (If you’re learning Japanese) Do you prefer some posts both in English and Japanese?
5) Any suggestions to improve TKE blog?
6) Which do you prefer: Reading TKE blog or watching video blog on Youtube (assuming that I update more videos.)
(What do you honestly think of the idea that I less frequently update this blog and more active on Youtube instead?)
7) Which prize do you want if you win the contest?

What you can win?: See below.

***Please note your personal information is NEVER shared with anyone else, and the collected infromation is only to be used for this contest and should not be used for any other purposes.

Q. Who can participate in the contest?
A. Anyone who read TKE blog can. πŸ™‚

Q. What is the prize?
A. There are 7 options you can choose from, if you win the contest. (See below the post for more about the prize.)

Q. Can I enter by leaving my comment on this post?
A. No. To enter the contest, you have to write to me. If the contact form didn’t work, please simply email kirin at (change at to @) with all the information required.

Q. Do I have to subscribe to TKE before I enter?
A. No, it doesn’t matter. Some people like to read through RSS, some like to Google “Tokyo Kawaii, etc.” Some bookmark it. It all depends what method you like to use to reach TKE blog. So I don’t want to insist that.

Q. How many winners?
A. 1) 2 winners for Best Contribution Prize. (USD 30+ worth)
(Each of them can choose 1 prize out of 7 options. I will make it flexible. For example, if one wants Japanese magazine prize, I can ask her which specific magazine she wants and I will get it for her.)

2) 1 winner for Thank You Prize. (USD 15 worth)
(Random pick up. No freedom and no flexibility of choosing the prize. However I will consider her No.7 answer and try to choose the goods from her preferences.)

Q. Who can win the Best Contribution Prize and Thank You Prize then?
A. 1) For Best Contribution Prize
It’s given to 2 participants who gave me the email that moved my heart/ gave me a big aha! moment/ most. Whether it’s positive or negative comment, if I find it a good opinion, the sender of the email will be the winner of this contest.

2) For Thank You Prize
It’s given to 1 participant selected by randam drawing.

Any more questions? Feel free to comment on this post or contact Kirin directly.
Good luck to you all!! πŸ˜€

Prize from 7 options!
note: Each picture is only the image or the sample. Actual prize is not always the same thing as the one in the picture. As discussed, if you win the Best Contribution Prize, you have a chance to discuss with Kirin what you want.

Prize Option 1: Kawaii character goods (such as Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, Ghibli and etc…)

Prize Option 2: Kawaii zakka (such as Swimmer or 6% dokidoki or 300yen shop or Bleu Bleuet…you name it, there are just so many over here!)

Prize Option 3: Japanese magazine or book (such as KERA, egg, handcraft books and etc.)

Prize Option 4: Kawaii Bento box with chopsticks and Furoshiki (Furoshiki means a cotton cloth like this.)

Prize Option 5: Japanese toy, kawaii stationery or souvenir (such as cell phone strap, Fuurin, cute notepad, decoden goods, and etc.)

Prize Option 6: Japanese cosmetics (such as Dolly Wink, SBY, Canmake, and etc.) and hair accessory.

Prize Option 7: Kawaii socks, bag, or fashion item

I look forward to receiving many entries from you!
Thank you for your participation!
*(^0^)*(^w^)** GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL!!**(^w^)*(^o^)*


Japanese kabocha (pumpkin) recipe

28 Jun

Let me introduce authentic Japanese vegetable dish that we often like to have as a side dish.
You may have noticed that Japanese cuisine tends to be salty. Miso soup, grilled fish, Japanese pickles, dish seasoned with soy sauce, teriyaki, and etc. Hence it’s nice to have something sweet as a side dish.

So today, it’s simmered pumpkin. This recipe is made with a little bit of stronger taste. If you prefer lighter taste, please decrease a little bit more of soy sauce and sugar.

Ingredients for 2-3 people
-quarter cut pumpkin (350g)
-1 cup of water
-1tbs of soy sauce
-1.5 tbs of sugar

Pour water, sugar and soy sauce into the pot. Get rid of seeds and unnecessary part from the pumpkin and cut it into 3-4cm cubics. Then put them into the pot.

Place an “Otoshibuta” which means a lid resting directly on the food. (“Otoshibuta” is useful when we want to simmer vegetables or meats effectively.)

Keep simmering over medium-low heart for about 10 minutes until you see nearly no soup left.

As is always, you can use aluminum foil as a substitute for “Otoshibuta” if you don’t have it.

Done! (You see no soup left.)

Some people like it with soup. You can find your way. πŸ˜‰

Hope you like it. ^ ^ Again, many thanks to my friend Chika who always collaborate with me for the Japanese cooking posts!
Please feel free to request us if you want to know any specific Japanese home cooking recipes.

Facebook and Japan now

26 Jun

It’s been about 2 years since I wrote “Why Facebook is not that popular in Japan?“. But the situation has been changing since then, and I still receive comments to that post. So I think it’s high time I updated it with this post.

Twitter became popular first in Japan. (It’s easier to navigate and no need to use a real name.) It’s true it took a long time until Facebook became popular. But same as twitter, when some celebs or well-known figures start using it, TV or magazines start to feature it, and gradually people start using it. I must say the movie “The Social Network” is definitely a motivator or a trigger for the Japanese to try out Facebook. As is always the case with most of the foreign films in Japan, the movie was just released 15th Jan. 2011, while it was already sometime in 2010 in the U.S.

When I go to a party, I notice people are naturally talking about Facebook and exchanging their names to be added later for “friend”. It’s the change I can easily see today. Now when more and more people start using Facebook, people bring people. That’s how it’s getting popular.

But it’s possible the party is mixed with the locals and foreigners living in Tokyo. What if it was only Japanese? What if the party was not in Tokyo? I don’t know. Please look at the result that we can get from Google Insights for Search. You see the numbers of the term of Facebook searched in Japan are growing only recently. (What do the numbers on the graph mean?) Also, you see most of the searches are from Tokyo.

Facebook was available in Japan since 2008, but most of the Japanese naturally feel it’s scary to share a real name and face on internet because some stalkers could find someone to stalk from such information. (Sadly it’s not rare in Japan that women are killed by a stalker because they rejected him. Such incident is often reported by the media, and it’s actually very difficult to avoid the tragedy because the police cannot be a full-time body guard for the victim.) To protect ourselves, it’s natural for us, especially women, to use a nick name or avatar and a picture that does not show her face clearly, if it’s open for the public and anyone can take a look at it. Japan-born SNS such as mixi is more closed and thus it gives us a kind of protected feelings. Of course it never requires a real name for registration.

This is basically our culture. Hence I didn’t believe Facebook can be accepted by the majority of Japanese people no matter how popular it can be. No one wants to try something new in exchange for a risk of being involved in murder or any scary or negative experiences. User names and avatars are convenient tools for some bad-mannered people to be totally anonymous icon that can be really mean to others. Therefore, in Japan, to enter the conversation or online activity it’s safer to be in armor with fake name so one can blur his or her identity. This is the basic thought that majority of the Japanese naturally have consciously or not.

Why Japanese internet sphere has become so dangerous then?
In my opinion, it’s possible some bad-mannered people just try to get rid of their repressed feelings online that they could not have expressed in their real life. It’s our culture, we do not express our feelings very much in a social life and especially at work. Internet is a sweet lawless area to them where they can act and speak out things as they wished, which should not be allowed in a real life. In fact, I think you will be surprised how online message-board posts are active in Japan, while most of the Japanese hesitate to state their own opinion in their real life. People state their opinions very clearly, sometimes with very strong expressions and even includes personal attack, which must be possible with their identity hidden or blurred.

Online activity and real life: Some Japanese people do prefer these two worlds completely separated, so they can act 2 different characters in order to keep their mental balance.

On the other hand, when people find it safe enough to go by their real name on Facebook, I think Japanese facebook users will increase rapidly.

As for me, I still like to use my nickname as Kirin online. (For Facebook, Kirin Suzuki is my personal page and Tokyo Kawaii, etc. for the fan page of this blog.) After all I still like personal email exchanges a lot more than short chats or messages over social network.

Have you felt any difference in communication with Japanese Facebook users lately? Do you think we’ve become more active on Facebook? Or do you still find difficulties trying to get connected with your Japanese friends over Facebook?

My Kawaii Entry 17

24 Jun

Glad to have another My Kawaii Entry! πŸ˜€
entry #19

Yes, I am a teacher. And no, I am not an elementary school teacher. A lot of people think I am, but I’m actually teaching in a secondary school where the kids are from 13 to 17 years old.

The first photograph shows my teaching schedule and the year’s calendar. The carebear stickers are from a colleague and I bought the Mickey Mouse tape at a stationary store last year.

This second photograph shows the area just beside the schedule and calendar, and I face it most of the time when I’m at my desk.
You can see a bear-face shaped mirror. I can see who’s walking pass behind me, and check if I’m presentable before I go for a class.
There’s a bottle of perfume next to the mirror – Annick Goutal’s Le Mimosa. It’s a french fragrance (EDT) which I purchased last month. It’s important to have a nice smelling teacher!

The photograph below shows a section of the partition, that is right angle and on the left of the schedule. This is my christmas-corner. I decided to use the Christmas theme because it’s my favourite time of the year! It’s during the longest school holiday – mid-Nov to December, and I usually travel to Japan during this season. The decoration reminds me of the streets of Japan during Christmas time, and all the lovely illumination.

This photograph shows another section, right next to the christmas-corner. If you look carefully, I have many hello kitty miniature food sets. I’m not a hello kitty fan. I bought these in 2009 when I was under extreme stress. I guess I went a little crazy. There is a little grey cat at the right corner. I bought that in Japan when my daughter was 1 year old, I think. So that’s Dec 2007. When I look out of this glass panel, I can see who’s leaving the office and who’s coming back from their lessons. Some colleagues asked me why I decided to shift to this office space (my original seat was the one right behind), and I told them I am spying on behalf of my principal to see who’s leaving school early. It’s a joke, of course. Thankfully my colleagues think I have a good sense of humour.

The area shown in this photograph is directly above the previous one mentioned. The huge pink bear is a gift from the students from my school band. I think it’s for last year’s Teachers’ Day. I really appreciate the thought, of course. But over the years, I’ve learnt not to take students’ affection too seriously. Their mood changes as much as the weather. Can you see the photograph of a little girl? That’s my daughter when she was about 9 months old.

Lastly, the photograph below is the area above a shelf. I’ve placed a 3 tier shelf horizontal on the table, so it acts as a partition between my workspace and my colleagues. I have some books and resources in the shelf, and the space above allows me to put more photographs and some plants. Well, I did want to have more than just one pot. But I’ve been so busy… The little bears are mementos from a wedding I attended many years ago, and I can’t remember whose. The black and white photograph shows my friend and her daughter. It was a candid shot but I loved it so much, I asked her for permission to print it and display it. I also had it made into a canvas painting and mailed it to her in Texas. Each time I see the photo, my heart is warmed. The coloured photograph shows my son and I when we were in Japan last night. Saitama’s Royal Host. It was one of the best dinners we had during the trip.

I hope you were amused by this post. I don’t think workers/teachers in Japan are allowed to decorate their workspace to this extend? Well, I spend about 11 hours each day, and almost 200 days each year. My principal should be glad that this is almost like my second home.
Perhaps, this is also the space that I can really call my own. I share my home with my husband, and I’m more concern about his style. I can’t decorate my own home 100% the way I want. So my workspace is the only area that can express my creativity. Hahaha… I wonder if I should show these photographs to my husband!

Kirin’s opinion:
Wow! Thank you Cath for sharing the post with other TKE readers. πŸ™‚
It’s always nice to see how people enjoy their kawaii world with their taste and collections. I see what you mean Cath, when you say you cannot decorate your house 100% as you like because it’s where you have to share with your family. I feel the same way, although in my case I am the one who mostly choose furniture and decorations for our house. But it’s still different. If I lived in my own apartment, I could have painted the wall in fancy colors and instead of TV, I would play music. Oh…sorry for my ramblings. I don’t think Japanese teachers are allowed to have so much space to decorate, even though they also work for a long time. (They have to also take care of club activity from early in the morning or to late at the evening or Saturdays and Sundays, besides their teaching jobs, conferences, meeting with PTA, and a lot of other works…) Also, in Japan there’s no “Teacher’s Day”.

So is anyone interested in participating in the My Kawaii Project and share your kawaii world to the rest of TKE readers? ^__^

Futakotamagawa RISE shopping center

22 Jun

Shopping mall
Futakotamagawa RISE shopping center
nearest train station: Futakotamagawa
address: 2-21-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
phone: 03-3709-9109

Futakotamagawa station changed a lot since this shopping center opened in March 2011.

I had a chance to go there the other day, so I checked out the area. ^ ^ I’ll give you a short tour to show you the inside. πŸ™‚

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The 3.11 Earthquake and Japan-residing foreigners

20 Jun

Here’s a video from Cool Japan showing how Japan-residing foreigners saw the 3.11 Earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima…

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It’s good to hear that some foreigners were tranquil, not being frightened or freaked out no matter what the foreign media and their family from home told them. It’s surprising to hear how some foreign media reported misinformation carelessly. For example, it’s in every spring that people wear a face mask to protect themselves from pollen dust when they have a pollen allergy. Such a thing can be clear if the reporter had interviewed with the locals or the foreigners living in Japan for years. I’m scared how the media can mislead majority of people with unfounded information.

Here’s a link to “Japan Travel Updates After the 3.11 Earthquake” by Japan National Tourism Organization, if you are considering visiting Japan. Speaking of the life in Tokyo, unlike one time when foods and drinking water disappeared from supermarkets, it’s almost as normal as the time before 3.11, only except for the lack of electricity. If you think the entire Japan was devastated or contaminated by radiation, it’s not true. All the unaffected areas are almost as the same as before 3.11.

There are still about 88,000 people staying at the shelters in the affected areas, although gradually they are moving out to the temp house offered by our government. (They have to build so many temp houses fully furnished with basic furniture, air-con, fridge, lamp and etc.) Some people moved to other prefecture and some workers try to restore their business. There are still mass of rubble left in some affected areas, only 20% is cleared so far in spite of our hard work. But I recently hear that people try to gain electricity or some kind of energy by burning them there. Because it was such a big catastrophe, it’ll take several years until everything goes back to the state of before 3.11.

At a moment, due to Fukushima, Hamaoka and many other nuclear reactors being out of service, we are now living with around 40% of nuclear energy. Thus, we will have to keep saving electricity in this summer. Usually summer in Japan is as hot as 30-35C or sometimes around 40C and 60-70% humidity. In the city area, it’s basically very hard to stay comfortable without air-conditioned entire day even during night while we are sleeping. If you are planning to stay over here during this summer, I have to say you may not feel very comfortable at some public areas because everyone helps save electricity by setting a room temperature not too cool. I wish I could spend entire summer in Hokkaido where I need no air-con. ^ ^;;

As for the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, unfortunately our government and TEPCO (the company that is responsible for the nuclear reactors) are taking so much time to solve the problem. And still we see no clear idea when it’s over.

Japan radiation map. (Click to see more and the level of radiation that each alphabet in the map means.)

When we hear radiation, it just scares us. But when it comes to everyday’s thing, it’s becoming like a weather forecast. How strange it is…-_-;;

Sanrio Character Ranking 2011

18 Jun

The other day, I happened to find this cute ad in a train station.

When I googled, I found the Sanrio Character Ranking for 2011.
I didn’t know they had this event every year (it looks like so).

BTW, you can also vote for your favorite character by hitting the white button under each character, or by Japanese cell phones (by reading the code provided) if you are in Japan, or you can simply tweet it. In this page, you can play with game, movie or fortune telling and you can also download kawaii computer wallpaper or calendar for free from the 2nd column of that page.

I clearly can recognize some characters I loved while I was a kid! I see how Sanrio characters made my life cheerful. It was always fun for me to go to a Sanrio store and buy a notebook or a pen that I used at school.

I liked these characters.
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