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YokoLostinJapan
YokoLostinJapan

Young German woman who made several trips to Japan, did one year Working Holiday and started living in Japan again since Oct' 2016. Love music, cats, traveling and food.

Also take a look to my blog and my daily updated FB page → https://www.facebook.com/yokolostinjapan/

Area of Residence
Chuo-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa
Area of Interest
Tokyo
Blog Title
Yoko Lost in Japan ♥
Blog URL
https://www.city-cost.com/blogs/YokoLostinJapan
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Golden Week: Let’s go to some events!

Because many people have some days off for Golden Week there are many events held during this time every year. They are often very crowded, but also worth a visit for a special experience. Here I'm just gonna tell you about a few festivals in and around the Tokyo area you might like to visit someday. Odaiba Festivals Odaiba is a hot spot for festivals throughout the year but especially during Golden Week. Starting with the annual Oktoberfest which is held in Odaiba in spring and autumn. The spring version was set from April 28 to May 7 in 2017, however it changes a bit every year. You have the chance to drink a lot of different sorts of beer, listen to some German music and taste food like German sausages, pretzels and more. There is no entry fee, so you can easily take a look around and can go on to the next event after this. From Germany we go to Hawaii, because at the shopping center Venusfort Hawaii Festival is held every year. In 2017 they already celebrated their 15th anniversary. You can find Hawaiian food and products at the Hawaiian market including several cultural performances like hula dance, ukulele and more. Even workshops to learn about Hawaiian culture are offered.  Going on with our small world trip we arrive at the Cinco de Mayo, started 2013 in Yoyogi Park, however the 5th anniversary was celebrated in Odaiba in 2017. At this very international festival you not only find Mexican food, but also food from a lot of other Western / Latin American countries such as America, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Jamaica, Colombia and Canada. For sure, you will also be entertained with music and dance coming from these countries.  Meiji Jingu Shrine Grand Festival During Golden Week this annual spring festival is held at Meiji Jingu, one of Tokyo’s best known shrines. From April 29 to May 3 you have the chance to see some Shinto ceremonies, but not only this. Also traditional Japanese performances like Noh / Kyogen (dance), Bugaku / Sankyoku (music) and Hogaku / Hobu (theater) are held at the shrine area. You can even watch Kyudo, a Japanese archery competition. Just a few minutes walk from Harajuku or Yoyogi stations, it is a great chance to dive into Japanese traditions.    Furusato Festival at Hibiya Park At Hibiya you find the Furusato Festival gathering Japanese culture, entertainment and gourmet in one place. Not only traditional dance is shown there, also idol groups are performing and you might catch some cosplayers. Different shops offer you local dishes from up to Hokkaido and down to Kyushu and Okinawa. Find out more about the different areas of Japan at just one place. And if you need a break, Hibiya Park is also a good place to relax. Machida Saikyu Ramen Fes Ramen festivals are held throughout the year and some are even taking place during Golden Week. A rather unknown one is the Saikyu Ramen Festival at Machida, in Western Tokyo. Because of this, it might be not as crowded as other festivals. Get the chance to try not only ramen bowls from all over Japan for 800 yen each, but also different sorts of Gyoza and Chahan. There are also some live performances on a small stage.   Yokohama Frühlingsfest German beer and food is not only celebrated at Odaiba, also Yokohama hosts the German style Frühlingsfest (spring festival) during Golden Week. Next to food, drinks and music it is a great place for children, because there are lot of fun attractions prepared for them. The entry is also free here, so after a short travel to Germany at the Red Brick Warehouse you can take a walk around Yamashita Park and relax your soul. The annual garden festival in spring gives you the possibility to see a lot of flowers and greenery around the harbor city.   As mentioned, these are just a few festivals and events held around Golden Week. There are many more so a list would never find an end. If you are in Japan during GW just take a look on the Internet and you will definitely not get bored. Also take a look to my article about three flower fields to explore while Golden Week. 

  • Living
  • Food

Golden Week: Three flower fields in bloom

Japan’s Golden Week is celebrated every year from the end of April to the beginning of May. A lot of people have days off and so many places are super crowded. However, this season is also a good time to see a lot of different flowers which are blooming right now. I visited some of these this year.  No. 1 – SHIBAZAKURA Shibazakura (芝桜) is a small flower growing on the ground mostly in a lawn covering a big area. The English name is moss phlox, however the Japanese name including sakura comes from the shape of the flower petals which look like cherry blossoms. The colors differ but mainly are pink, violet and white. Blooming time is from mid April to late May.  Around Tokyo you can find two big Shibazakura Festivals. The better known one is the Fuji Shibazakura Festival (富士芝桜まつり) which is held close to Japan’s famous mountain. Here you have the chance not only to see the colorful ocean build out of over 800,000 flowers, but also Mount Fuji in the background. They even built a small mountain out of flowers and you can enjoy the view from a panorama bridge. The festival is located around 3 km away from Lake Motosuko (本栖湖), one of the Five Fuji Lakes, and might be best reached by bus. A shuttle bus is available while the festival time from Kawaguchiko station. The second festival Shibazakura-No-Oka (芝桜の丘) is celebrated at Hitsujiyama Park in Chichibu (Saitama prefecture). On an area of around 1.8 hectars you can find an even huger variety of this cute flower. The train ride from Tokyo takes you around 80 minutes. No. 2 – NEMOPHILA Changing to blue, we go on with a flower called Nemophila (ネモフィラ), also known as Baby Blue Eyes. At Hitachi Seaside Park a whole hill is filled with these light blue flowers. Around 4.5 millions are blooming from the end of April to mid May, but according to the season you can find a lot of other flowers, too. Hitachi Seaside Park is located at Ibaraki prefecture and can be reached from Tokyo in around 90 minutes by train and bus.   No. 3 – WISTERIA There are actually many places in Japan where you can find Wisteria, called Fuji (藤) in Japanese. The flowers with its long strings are blooming from mid April to mid May in different colors.   One of the most famous places to see Wisteria is the Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク) in Tochigi. There you can find an over 150 years old wisteria tree and an 80 meter long white wisteria tunnel. But also many more wisteria trees and around 5,000 azalea bushes are planted inside the park. While the full bloom period the wisteria are even lighted up at the evening. You can reach it within 90 minutes by car from Tokyo, the train ride takes a bit longer. You also can find Wisteria at various shrines and temples around Japan. Especially the Kameido-tenjin Shrine (亀戸天神社) in Tokyo and the Mandara-ji (曼陀羅寺) in Aichi prefecture are well known for it. If you come up being around Kyushu while blooming time, visit the Kawachi Fujien (河内藤園) in Fukuoka which is a private garden exclusive for wisteria which only opens while this period. There is a lot to see while Golden Week, but notice you often need to share these places with many people. Try to enjoy it anyway ♥ 

  • Living

Nakano Broadway – the New Paradise for Otaku

When you think about Tokyo and Otaku you mainly end up with Akihabara. This area is famous as a shopping district for electronics and Japanese pop culture items including anime, manga, games and Japanese music. It became especially popular with otaku people and foreign tourists, also because the otaku industry even started with opening entertainment shops such as maid cafés and other anime-themed restaurants at this area. However, if you are just interested in shopping, there is another place in Tokyo, which is not as crowded as Akihabara. But first, let’s think about what an otaku actually is? The Japanese term otaku comes from the word otaku (お宅) for another person's house or family, however, in modern times it became a slang word for people with obsessive interests in anime and manga fandom. To distinguish both words, the second one is commonly written in hiragana or katakana (おたく/オタク). In English you can translate it as nerd or geek. Otaku was used in a negative way, but now it has become less negative because more and more people are identifying themselves as an otaku, especially in Western countries. Furthermore, otaku is not used for anime and manga only, it also includes fandom for Japanese games, idol groups and bands and even more.   Have you ever heard of Nakano Broadway? Nakano Broadway (中野ブロードウェイ) is a shopping complex which already dates back to the 1960s. It is just a few minutes away from Nakano station, which you can easily access from Shinjuku with the JR Chuo line via a few minutes train ride. Inside Nakano Broadway you'll find five floors full of shops, cafés and more. The main reason for otaku to visit Nakano Broadway is Mandarake which is one of Tokyo's largest resellers of used anime and manga-related products. Mandarake has had its home in Nakano since it started there in 1987 selling second hand manga. By now over 25 Mandarake stores are opened inside Nakano Broadway, including the chain’s headquarters. Each shop has its own specific pop culture interest. So you can find shops of the following themes there: - anime and manga section, some including old and expensive comics - figure section, where you can get figures of all kind of anime, manga and games; some are rare and have high prices, but you also can find cheap figures for your own collection - card section, where you can find used and rare cards of all sorts of card games - cosplay section with second hand costumes, wigs and accessories - doll section for the doll-lovers out where - toy section, from the very old to the new; get amazed by all the key chains from Gacha machines which you can buy without having luck at the gaming machine - and more and more and more :D Some shops are even so specialized you can’t imagine what to find. Take your time and take a look through all the jobs of your interest. The employees often are otaku themselves and are specialists in their field, so they can help you and give you a lot of information in the section you are interested in. Some staff are also bilingual (you often can see it on their name tag), including English and Chinese speakers.   You can find some Manadarake stores in different parts of Japan, including Tokyo shops (Akihabara, Shibuya, Ikebukuro) and shops in Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Utsunomiya and even Sapporo. Mandarake is also running an online store, available mainly in Japanese and English, but also some other languages are used. What to find next to Mandarake For sure, Nakano Broadway does not only consist of Mandarake. However, this chain is a reason a lot of other stores opened shops in the area. If you are a Japanese music lover you can find a lot of idol goods but also visual kei and j-rock merchandise. They also sell watches, cameras, jewelry, audio and more. Even a maid café called Kuroneco can be found at Nakano Broadway, which is more an all-you-can-drink bar than the common cafés known from Akihabara. Don’t miss the underground B1 floor with supermarkets, groceries and some restaurants. Here you can also find a soft cream shop which sells a cone filled with 8 flavors for only 480 yen. Also Nakano Sunmall, connecting Nakano Broadway and Nakano station, is worth a closer look with all its shops. All in all, you can easily spend some hours at Nakano just looking through shops and discovering new, old and crazy things. In some places it is even cheaper than shopping in Akihabara. And, because it is one big complex, it is a perfect place for a rainy day in Tokyo.

  • Shopping
  • Tokyo

Living at a Share House in Tokyo

In September 2013 I started my Working Holiday year in Tokyo. For sure, I needed a place to stay, but what is the best decision if you move to a country alone and don’t know how long you will stay at one place? I decided to stay at a share house, which became very common for foreigners. Here I'm gonna share some information and my experience with you.  What is a share house? As the name share house is suggests it is a house where you share the facilities. Mostly you have a small private room. The other space is for use of all the residence together, including kitchen, shower room and bathroom. Often you also have a bigger room where you can come together, have a chat, watch tv and more.   The good things about living at a share house One of the main reasons to chose a share house is that it (normally) is fully equipped. You don’t need to buy any furniture and don’t need to worry about what to do with your bed and desk when you move out. You also pay less than renting weekly or monthly mansions which are also furnished.  Furthermore you can meet new people right away and you are not alone after arriving in Japan without having friends so far. You can exchange information about your experiences and probably can get help if you have problems with starting your new life in Japan. When you are a communicative person you will probably enjoy your time there. The bad things about living at a share house However, the biggest problem at a share house, in my opinion, might be the people. They can be really nice and helpful, you can even become friends. However, you don’t know with whom you will live together. Some people are unreliable and don’t clean up the common area. Sometimes the characters don’t fit together and the situation inside the shared house can get really stressful. Before deciding about living in a share house, try to find out what kind of person you are and if you can handle different personalities and cultures.   I also heard horror stories about share houses which are really huge buildings with many people, some partying through the night so you can’t get sleep. Or you may have such a small private room. Research online about such experiences at the share house you intend to live in.  Share House companies in Japan Lately the amount of companies offering rooms at share houses for foreigners is rising, especially in Tokyo.  One of the most famous companies for this is SAKURA HOUSE. They are offering over 1,000 apartments, share house rooms & dormitory beds in Tokyo & Kyoto on their website – and they are making a lot of advertisements for this. For renting a room you just need to pay a deposit, there is no key money, agent fee or anything else which you often have to pay when renting a regular apartment in Japan. Multilingual staff members are working at the 7-days-open office in Shinjuku and even resident events are held around the year.    Another share house company with an interesting concept is Borderless House. They are advertising living together with locals in a multicultural environment, offering houses not only in Japan, but also in Korea and Taiwan. Wouldn’t it be cool to live together with Japanese people and experience Japanese culture through this? Borderless House has 78 houses in Japan – take a look on their website to find out more.   For sure, these are only two companies. There are many more, just recalling Oak House, Tokyo Roomfinder and Tokyo Sharehouse. Google can help you a lot on your search. My Share House experience I decided to stay in a share house of Sakura House when I came to Japan in 2013. Since I don’t like interacting with unknown people so much, I was a little bit scared about my time there. Furthermore, I didn’t have any experience with cooking and I didn’t want anyone else to watch me while doing this. In the end, I rented a private room including a small kitchen corner inside a share house in Kita-Senju. Only five rooms are at this house and since every room had its own kitchen we only needed to share the toilet, shower and washing machine. I lived there for a bit over a month (because I then moved to an apartment with my now husband), but I rarely saw any other residents – only heard the one who often started washing his clothes after midnight when I tried starting to sleep… In the end, I enjoyed my stay there, however, it felt more like living in an apartment than living in a shared place.  How about you, have you ever lived at a share house in Japan?

  • Living

Cool Japan: Taking Awesome Photos with Trick Art

Japan is a country with many amazing things. Not only because of this more and more tourists come to Japan every year. They want to experience the traditional and modern specialties on their trips. One of these modern facilities is appearing in more and more cities in Japan: Trick Art Museums. Isn’t it cool to take some awesome photos on your trip? Here we go!   Trick Art Museums are a perfect combination of art and amusement. The two-dimensional paintings in these facilities are created with an optical illusion technique which will make them look like 3D art. The human instinct normally wants to judge and observe things as they are, but trick art makes this complicated. On the first view of photos taken with trick art, the brain can’t decide if you are really touching a giraffe or are close to being eaten by a shark, because they look so realistic (if you are a good actor). So the art work can lead the brain to make mistaken judgments about what the eye observes. Isn’t this amazing?   While visiting a Trick Art Museum you can experience many art works with this effect. Furthermore, some pictures will be seen in a different way if you change the angles of view. You should try it out and will definitely be impressed. Some other works have a hidden puzzle – for example finding animals in a landscape or guessing what will be seen in the lamp reflected from the table when you turn off the light. Our brain can make amazing things, you just need the chance to find this out. You can experience the illusion in a magical room which makes one of you look bigger or smaller. Or maybe let your friend look like your mirror image. The imagination knows no limits. Mainly the Trick Art Museums are split into several areas, so you can experience more than one topic at each facility. They all have their unique art works, however some might be similar. So, even if you visit more than one Trick Art Museum in Japan, you can always find something new. Normally, you will find a description to all art works in Japanese, English and sometimes Chinese. Some of these also include a sample picture with a pose you could make. However, you are free to choose whatever you want. Also, staff members are really helpful and teach you about the right angle for taking the perfect photo. If you want to visit a Trick Art Museum make sure you go there in a group, at least two people, so one can take the photo and the other one can pose. If it is not so crowded, staff members can help you, but it is recommended to take the photos by yourself. So don’t forget your camera or smartphone. The entrance fee varies between the locations, but mostly you have to pay 700 ~ 1300 Yen for adults. Students until middle-school-age pay a bit les and children up to three years are free of charge. Some Trick Art Museums in Japan Because the most tourists come to Tokyo, the easiest to reach would be the Tokyo Trick Art Museum in Odaiba. You will find it in Decks Tokyo Beach Island Mall on 4th floor. Enjoy taking photos at the Edo Area or meet Japanese monsters at the Haunted Mansion. At the Trick Art Gallery you can find art work with animals, but also parodies of famous masterpieces.  Just opened in September 2016, the Yokohama Trick Art Cruise is a new highlight of your visit to the harbor city. For sure, most of the art works inside have a harbor-theme. You can sit on a sofa with a seal, steal the treasure of a skeleton pirate, and go diving. There is a jungle area, too. The location inside the Yokohama Landmark Plaza is a good one, because it is just next to popular shops such as the Pokemon Center, JUMP Shop und Ghibli Store. Another museum is the Takao Trick Art Museum located at the foot of Mr. Takao close to Takaosanguchi Station. It already opened back in 1996 in the west of Tokyo which makes it one of the oldest Trick Art Museums. Here you can find a lot of Egypt-themed art works. Take cool photos at the Floating Palace or with animals at the Nature Park of Pharaoh. After or before your visit to Trick Art Museum Takao you can enjoy the nature of the mountain area. The Trick Art Pia Nikko is the largest site of these kinds of museums in Japan. It is divided into different corners including objects from famous world paintings and sculptures. You have the chance to take photos in a waterless aquarium, a cage-less zoo or inside an Egypt-themed area. Furthermore the Trick Art Pia Nikko is located close to the famous theme park Edo Wonderland.   Here I have a list of Trick Art Museums in Japan Tokyo Trick Art Museum (Odaiba) Trick Art Museum Mount Takao (Tokyo) Yokohama Trick Art CruiseArtrick Museum Yokohama Daska Trick Art Museum Atami   Trick Art Museum Kyu-Karuizawa Trick Art Pia NikkoYufuin Trick Art Meikyukan Museum (Oita) Nasu Trick Art Pia (Tochigi)   Trick Art Museum NagoyaTrick Art Museum Matsushima

  • Living
  • Education

Eating out with fun – Character Cafés in Japan

Japan is a country with many crazy things. And Japanese people often turn totally crazy when it comes up to different characters. Thinking of companies as San-X and Sanrio which are making tonnes of money with their characters like Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma and Co. Many people collect merchandise and want to have everything of their favorite characters. But also another idea in the money industry came up: why don’t we make special food with characters? For sure, character cafés also became a big hit, especially when they are only opened for a limited time. I am a big fan of themed cafés and love to visit them. Unfortunately they are often kind of expensive. However, sometimes the bigger problem, especially with time-limited character cafés, is to get inside. At some cafés you have to line up for hours, get time-tickets on the same day for a later time, or have to make a reservation already some weeks before going there. Today I will introduce you to some of the cafés that already finished, cafés that are running right now and cafés that will come in the future. The past character cafés In the past I visited a lot character cafés. One of my favorites was the Pikachu to Pokemon Ongakutai Cafe (ピカチュウとポケモンおんがくたいカフェ) which was opened for a short time in summer 2015 in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. We visited it on a Saturday and the actual waiting time was 4 hours – and yes, I expected it! But don’t worry, we didn’t needed to line up for 4 hours. We got a time ticket and could go shopping or do anything else until our time was coming. They offered three main dishes, three desserts, two small dishes and four drinks – all designed in Pokemon style. Prices ranged between ¥ 500 and ¥ 1,580. We had a Melon Soda, a Pikachu Parfait, a Pokeball Pizza and a Banana Cake Omelette. Everything was really delicious and the staff members also entertained us by dancing to a Pokemon song.  Another character café I recently visited was the Korilakkuma Café(コリラックマカフェ)in Harajuku, which was opened from December 2016 to the middle of February 2017. For this café you needed to make an online reservation which already made you pay a fee of ¥ 648 for each person. However, we got a small gift while our visit then. So, I book seats for January, in the middle of November. Especially at such limited-cafés weekends and holidays are booked out very quickly. The café was designed beautifully and filled with plush toys. We had two character drinks, two main dishes and one sweet dessert. Everything was very delicious and I enjoyed my stay there very much. The current character cafés Some cafés are opened for a long time. One of these is the Hello Kitty Café I visited at Himeji. A café with super cute design and a few different dishes. Definitely worth a stop by while visiting the famous Himeji Castle. There is another Café de Miki with Hello Kitty in Tokyo, too. You can find it at Odaiba. A more traditional one is the Hello Kitty Tea House (はろうきてぃ茶寮) in Kyoto. Here you can find maccha drinks, different main dishes and traditional sweets. Also the atmosphere is very special for a café within Kyoto’s famous tourist areas.  A time-limited character café which just opened this month is the Gudetama Café (カフェ ぐでたま×デザート王国) in Yokohama. In combination with a sweets buffet restaurant you can choose one of size Gudetama dishes, one Gudetama drink and furthermore have an all-you-can-drink-and-eat possibility with pasta, potatoes, salad and sweets. It costs ¥ 1990 for adults for one hour. However, the collaboration will only last until May 7th. One more long-time character café is the PomPomPurin Café in Harajuku, which is situated at Takeshita Street and was opened in 2014. You can also take a look inside the café auréole d’ange in Osaka which is cooperating with Rilakkuma since September 2016 which has changing seasonal dishes. The upcoming cafés For sure, there is no end to character cafés. Especially if they are time-limited there is always space for a new one in the future. So not much time will pass until a new Pokemon, Rilakkuma, Hello Kitty café will be opened.   One I am looking forward to go is the Detective Conan Café which will be in Harajuku from March 30th to May 31th 2017, because I couldn't visit it in 2016. This time it is situated at the same place as the Korilakkuma Café and has the same reservation system. Already now all weekends and Golden Week holidays are completely booked out. There will be even more Detective Conan Cafés all over Japan. That’s it! I hope you enjoyed my article. How about you – have you ever visited  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you are interested, here are the links to all the cafés:- Café de Miki with Hello Kitty // Hello Kitty Tea House Kyoto- Korilakkuma Cafe // auréole d'ange in Osaka- Gudetama Café (Osaka and limited time cafe information)- PomPomPurin Café- Detective Conan Café

  • Food

Sakura-time at Starbucks 2017

As every year Starbucks Japan released their sakura products just two weeks ago. This year they have the Sakura Blossom Cream Frappuccino and the Sakura Blossom Cream Latte. For sure I tried them and they tasted really nice. As their name says they are creamy, topped with a maple sauce-flavoured whipped cream, pink-colored chocolate flakes and small pink rice cracker balls. A pretty nice combination in my opinion. I personally like the Sakura Blossom Cream Latte better than the Frappuccino. The prices rank from ¥ 530 to ¥ 650 for the Frappuccino and ¥ 430 to ¥ 550 for the Latte. But if you want to try them hurry up. The sakura products are limited until March 14th. Furthermore they also have a Sakura Chiffon Cake which costs ¥ 380. However, for me, the taste was not so special. It is topped with a salty cherry blossom what felt a bit strange while eating. Japan really has interesting food combinations, doesn’t it? Who wants to have one of the sakura goods like tumblers, cups, glasses and more should be quickly. Many things of the first line “Harmony Collection” are already sold out. On March 1st the second line “Purity” will be released. How about you? Did you try any of the Starbucks Sakura products?

  • Food

Frozen Fantasy at Tokyo Disneyland

As many things are seasonal changing in Japan, also Tokyo Disney Resort has changing events all over the year. At the moment the special event “Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Fantasy” is hold at Tokyo Disneyland. I visited there on February 11th and want to give you a small impression what is so special right now.  According to the name “Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Fantasy” this event is themed to the famous Disney movie Frozen and you can find a unique parade, decorations, food and more of it. Notice, the event is only held from January 13 to March 17 this year. 1) Frozen Forever – the highlight of this year’s event. At nighttime a projection lights up Cinderella Castle with famous scenes out of the movie telling a story about Anna and Elsa. Music is played and snow will fall down while even fireworks are shown in the air. 2) Frozen Fantasy Parade – Disneyland is well known for its parades and certainly there is a special parade while this event. See Anna, Elsa and their friends driving through the park on big floats and enjoy the atmosphere. 3) Anna and Elsa’s Winter Greeting – a show for only children. The villagers of Arendelle will teach them a dance and later Anna, Elsa and Olaf join them to perform the famous song “Let it go” together. 4) Food and merchandise – Japan is famous for themed-food and for sure there have to be some themed food at this event. A special buffet is offered for ¥ 3,090 which is quite expensive. But don’t worry there are some other cheaper food sets and snack available inside the different restaurants all over Disneyland. And don’t forget to take a look into the merchandise shops – many new goods of Frozen characters have been released for this event. 5) Decoration – all over the park you can find decoration referring to Frozen. Find Olaf smelling on flowers or little snowmen playing around. Keep your eyes open! If you are a fan of Frozen you should definitely try to go there and be a child for one day (^_~) Ready for a photo spam? Here we go!

  • Living
  • Food
  • Money
  • Chiba

Japanese Food Experience: KIT KAT MANIA

When you are at the supermarket, have you ever noticed there are different sorts of KitKats? Did you even notice they change seasonally? Actually, Japanese people are really crazy for KitKat and there are not only a few different sorts, there are MANY different sorts. Let’s take a look at the KIT KAT MANIA.  KitKat was introduced to Japan in 1973, but as we know the Japanese people, it didn’t stay with a normal milk chocolate taste. Japanese people are creative when it comes to food and sweets and so within the over 40 years of KitKat in Japan more than 300 versions have been released. But how could KitKat become so popular in Japan? At least one reason is its name itself. KitKat is often pronounced as “kitto katto” in Japanese which sounds like “you will surely win" (きっと勝つ kitto katsu). Because of this the chocolate snack is seen as a lucky charm. Many people use it to get cheered up for university entry exams. Even special versions of KitKat are sold for this season of the year when special words are printed on the chocolate.  The regular versions of KitKat There are some versions of KitKat you can find all over the year in Japan. These are the regular milk-chocolate KitKat and a bitter chocolate version. For sure, it wouldn’t be Japan if there wasn't a Maccha KitKat version which looks pretty good in green and really tastes like green tea. Another version you can often find is strawberry KiKat. The new KitKat Luxury Every Day also seems to stay for a longer time. Mainly these packs with 12 chocolate bars inside are available at supermarkets and drugstores and cost around 200 to 400 Yen.  The seasonal versions of KitKat Japan is famous for the time-limited products which are only sold within specific times a year. For sure, this also goes with KitKat. Every year they have new ideas and release new products changing with the seasons. But take care, mainly you can have them only once and soon after the seasonal change they disappear – and won’t come back.  However, as example for an always-coming-back version you can see Pumpkin KitKat around two months before Halloween. There are some sorts of Yaki-KitKat which you can bake inside the oven, coming up regularly with different tastes.  Some seasonal versions are: Rasberry, Vanilla Ice, Sweet Potato, Baked Cheese Cake, Ginger and even more... Fun fact: the Japan Post is releasing a special designed KitKat every year for New Year’s greeting. However, it’s just a special look for the regular milk chocolate KitKat. The regional versions of KitKat Here you can find another reason why KitKat is so popular in Japan. The tradition of Omiyage lets people buy regional-limited products on their trips – why not to choose a regional KitKat? But don’t worry, you don’t need to travel everywhere to try the regional versions. Sometimes you also can find them at duty free shops and Don Quijote stores.  The regional versions mostly include some special products of the area, just like apples from Shinshu area, Maccha from Uji or Momiji from Hiroshima. Mainly it is a box of 12 KitKat Minis which costs 800 Yen (+ tax). Sometimes smaller packs with five chocolate bars are also available. Here you can see the recent regional versions which you also can find on the Nestle website. But don’t worry, there are even more versions. Tokyo – Rum Raisin Yokohama –Strawberry Cheese Cake Shizuoka & Kanto area – Tamauya Honten Wasabi Nagano – Shinshu Apple Tochigi – Tochi-Otome Strawberry Kanto Hokuriku area – Azuki Sandwich Kyoto – Itokyuemon Uji Maccha Kyoto – Itokyuemon Roasted Tea Kobe - Kobe Pudding Hiroshima – Momiji Manju Kyushu – Amaou Strawberry Kyushu & Okinawa – Purple Sweetpotato Kyushu & Okinawa – Green Tea of Kumamoto Also added to the local souvenirs are the Sake flavoured KitKat and Strawberry Cheese Cake KitKat which have a special box design. The last one looks like Japan’s famous Mount Fuji. You mainly can find these at the Kanto area. The airport versions of Kitkat Especially for foreign tourists, there are big boxes of KitKat which you only can get at the airport. These include ten smaller boxes each with three KitKats inside. That’s why it is perfect to take it home and present them to friends. Sure, sometimes you also can find them at other places. One example, which versions you mainly find at Haneda airport, you can see on the picture below. There they have Japanese Strawberry, Hokkaido Red Bean, Sakura Maccha and Uji Green Tea. Lately, they also added Hokkaido Melon with Mascarpone Cheese which is pretty delicious. So, take your chance to get these boxes at the airport. KitKat Chocolatory From 2014 the KitKat Mania went on with special shops which only sell exclusive KitKat versions. By now there are nine KitKat Chocolatory stores all over Japan, however four of the stores are located in Tokyo. The other you can find in Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo. At these stores you can find KitKat Sublime versions, special fruit versions and gift boxes. They even have an online shop. Check out the website here. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - How about you – are you going with the KitKat Mania in Japan? Have you tried different KitKat versions? Which do you like best?

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TOP 10 Japanese dishes as a non-seafood-eater

I don’t like sea food. It is simply because I don’t like the taste and the consistency of the most things out of the water. Most of my friends know about this, but if I tell other people in my home-country that I’m living in Japan without eating fish and other seafood they are shocked. They don’t believe a life without seafood is possible in Japan. But it is – it is even pretty easy for me, because there are a lot of other dishes I love to eat. Therefore, in this article I present you my TOP 10 favorite Japanese dishes as a non-seafood-eater.  # 01 Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) Okonomiyaki is often called the “Japanese pizza”. Actually, it is a pancake-like main dish with the main base made out of cabbage, flour and eggs. Literally the name means “grill what you like” so you are free to include any ingredients. I often mix the main base with carrots, corn, cheese, ham, mochi, … It’s your choice!! On top you put a special Okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. If you order it at a restaurant, take care they are not putting Katsuobushi (bonito flakes) as topping if you don’t eat fish. Did you know there is even a Hiroshima version of Okonomiyaki? The way of grilling is a bit different and they even at soba noodles. Pretty delicious!!  # 02 Tonkatsu (豚カツ) Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish originated in the 19th century. It consists of a deep-fried pork cutlet and is often served with shredded cabbage, rice and miso soup. Sometimes you also find it in sandwiches or combined with curry. I also like the Katsudon (カツ丼) version, when the Tonkatsu is mixed with egg laying on a bowl of rice.  # 03 Yakisoba (焼きそば) Yakisoba is a pretty easy Japanese dish consisting out of fried soba noodles. Especially if you want to have a quick meal at home, Yakisoba is fine for it. Here you also can freely mix what you like. I often add pork, cabbage, green paprika, bean sprouts and carrots. All is grilled in a pan and flavored with yakisoba sauce. I rarely eat Yakisoba outside, only at summer festivals like fireworks. If you buy it there, also take care of Aonori and Katsuobushi. # 04 Oyakodon (親子丼) Coming from the name “parent and child bowl” here you mix chicken meat and egg with some other ingredients. All is cooked and then served on top of a large bowl of rice. Oyakodon was invited in a Tokyo restaurant in 1891. # 05 Ramen (ラーメン) Many people say Ramen are actually coming from China. Some other says it is invited in Japan. But who cares – most important is that this soup with noodles and other ingredients such as pork, green onions and boiled egg is delicious. In Japan you can find a lof of different sorts of ramen especially regional versions. As a non-seafood-eater you have to take care with this dish. Some restaurants make the broth out of fish. For me this is still ok, because it doesn’t really taste like fish when it is mixed with soy sauce or miso. But if you already have a problem with this, ask the restaurant stuff first. They also often put Nori and Wakame as topping, so tell them you don’t like it. # 06 Udon (うどん)Udon are thick wheat flour noodles which are often served as noodle soup. However, there are many ways of serving this dish. You can have them cold or hot with different toppings. I like to eat them as Kitsune Udon with deep-fried tofu or as cold Zaru Udon. Also eating Udon with curry is a great combination. # 07 Curry (カレー) So, here we are with the Japanese curry which is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. Here you can find many different ingredients, too, starting with the meat where pork, beef and chicken are common. Also potatoes, onions and carrots are often added. Normally you eat curry with rice, but there are even some other versions nowadays with Udon or bread. If you want to eat Curry at a restaurant, I totally can recommend CoCoIchi, a super famous curry chain restaurant. # 08 Omurice (オムライス) Omurice is a great combination of Western and Japanese cuisine. On the one side you have a Western omelette which is filled with Japanese fried rice. The taste of the rice can differ, but often it is flavored with ketchup. Also as topping ketchup is common, but also other sauces can be used. # 09 Gyoza (餃子) This time there is no question that Gyoza originally come from China, however, taste and consistence are slightly different to the Chinese original. Gyoza are dumplings often filled with meat and vegetables. In Japan you can pan-fried, steamed, boiled or deep fried versions. # 10 Soba (そば) One of the main dishes in Japan are Soba, buckwheat noodles. You can find them in a variety of settings: as inexpensive fast food at train stations, but also as expensive specialty in restaurants. They are served in wide variety of hot and cold dishes coming close to the Udon versions. This was the list of my TOP 10 Japanese dishes as a non-seafood-eater. I hope you enjoyed it. For sure there are even more such dishes in Japan – Yakiniku, Yakitori, Karaage, Kyudon, Pizza, Burger, … - but the list is already long enough. Are there dishes or ingredients you don’t like or can’t eat? What are your favorite Japanese dishes? 

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    Okonomiyaki Dohtonbori in Nagatsuta

    At our shopping center in Hashimoto we have a Dohtonbori restaurant at the food floor which I already visited for several times, however, I lately visited the restaurant in Nagatsuta and was surprised how different it was, at least from the design. At the Nagatsuta restaurant you have Japanese style seating what I really love because it gives the whole thing a great atmosphere. The menu is very big. Because it is an Okonomiyaki restaurant, you can order different versions of Okonomiyaki and even can select some special toppings. They also have Monjayaki, Yakisoba, Gyoza and other dishes. You even can make pancakes! We chose the 2 hours all you can eat set including soft drinks, which costs around 2000 yen for each person. You get a list of dishes you can choose, so we ordered not only Okonomiyaki but also Gyoza, Yakiniku and some vegetables. I really enjoy grilling everything by yourself and it was so delicious! Can’t wait to go to one of the Dohtonbori restaurants again ♥ Website: https://dohtonbori.com/?lang=en

  • BAQET Bakery Restaurant

    BAQET Bakery Restaurant

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  • Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

    Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

    The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is still very unknown to foreign tourists and so it is a spot which is not too crowded. At the seven hectares area you can find a lot of historical houses, mostly coming from Edo period, Meiji period and the Tokyo after the Second World War. The museum has different zones which all has its highlights. Especially the East Zone with the Shitamachi-naka street is very interesting having a lot of unique buildings presenting old kind of shops. Also the public bath is impressive. Many houses have furniture inside or you at least can enjoy the architecture inside. Note you should wear shoes you can easily take off and get in again, because you have to take them off to enter the houses. Information papers are available in Japanese and English at all houses and staff will help you, too. I think the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is really worth a visit, especially while spring time, because at Koganei Park you can find a lot of plum and cherry trees. The museum is located inside the Koganei Park and is easy reachable with a five minutes bus ride from Musashi-Koganei station. It is opened from 9:30 to 17:30 (April – September) or from 9:30 to 16:30 (October – March), however Monday is closing day. The entry fee is ¥ 400 for adults. More information on the website: http://tatemonoen.jp/english/

  • Strawberry Fujita 16

    Strawberry Picking in Kofu

    If you take a look to Japanese supermarkets fruits are mainly very expensive. And because Japanese apartments are too small for growing your own vegetables and fruits, fruit picking became kind of popular.I visited Fujita 16 in Kofu city in the begining of March. At this farm they offer an all you can eat menu (食べ放題) for 30 minutes. Differing to the seasons it costs between ¥ 2000 and ¥ 1000 for an adult person, cheaper for children. You can find information about it on their website.The strawberries were very delicious - they had a great flavour and were super sweet. There were not many people, so we could use one row for our group of four people. We even got some condensed milk to dip in the strawberries. A really great experience!Note, that you are not allowed to take the strawberries home - you only should pick as many strawberries as you can eat right away.  Website: http://fujita16.com/strawberry_picking.htm

  • Comcrepe

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    Last year, suddenly a special version of crêpe became very popular around the social media: crème brûlée crêpes! A new opened crêperie called comcrepe started selling them in July 2016 in Harajuku and many sweets lovers lined up for getting one. They sell varieties of crème brûlée crêpes including vanilla, chocolate and even plain with custard and they even have normal crêpes with fruits.Now I finally found the time for a visit. Luckily the hype is gone and I didn’t need to wait too long. I tried the plain version for 600 yen. It was good, but not the best one I have ever eaten. The top of the crème brûlée was very delicious and worth a try. However, this special taste is gone in a few seconds and only the normal custard stays back. For me a little bit expensive for the small crêpe you get. Comcrepe is located in a side road of the famous Takeshita Street, around five minutes away from JR Harajuku station or Tokyo Metro Meijijingumae station. The shop is opened from 10:00 to 20:00, but closed on Wednesdays. Find more information here: http://comcrepe.com

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