10 Things I love about J.A.P.A.N

Aside from the fact that I am half Japanese, of course, I Love JAPAN!

I started visiting Japan when I was 12 years old, my parents processed our papers as early as they can after they reunited in 2002. Basically, I am a resident in both countries.

Living in another country has distinct advantages and disadvantages. As for me, I was raised in a tropical country, the Philippines, and I am quite not comfortable with freezing temperature. Honestly, this is my first autumn and winter experience in Japan. A big luck for me.

For now, let’s talk about the reasons why I love Japan.

1. Availability of Vending Machines.

Yes, you can see vending machines everywhere and this is not your ordinary ‘jidō-hanbaiki’.

e322f1051e0c07642e4c6ea509d4ce04388c0f0a4e63e4045716e30f9dac562a

What can you get in a Japanese vending machine or ‘jidō-hanbaiki’? Basically, it offers hot and cold drinks, and surprisingly some of these machines also sell ice creams, toys and even hot meals like hot dog, French fries, Takoyaki (grilled octopus) and Onigiri (rice ball). No worries, these machines are managed daily.

Convenience at its finest.

2. It’s not Japan without Hello Kitty!

She is a fictional character born on November 1, in the suburbs of London, England. She was produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, created by Yuko Shimizu.

IMG_5693

Hello Kitty stuff toy in Tokyo Solamachi of Tokyo Sky Tree.

Hello Kitty is almost everywhere in Japan. From clothing, toys, bags, shoes, key chains, stuff toy, kitchenware, food and the lists goes on.

IMG_2107 1

To eat or not to eat?

They also have Sanrio Puroland, a theme park that features Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars and My Melody. It is located in 1-31, Ochiai, Tama-shi, Tokyo for only  ¥3,000.

Shall I visit you soon?

3. Craft Haven!

I’ve been making art journals and doodling for a month now, and I cannot deny the fact that ZIG and Kuretake products are easy to find and cheaper.

Read my article about Craft Haven in Tokyu Hands.

https://lifeandmisadventuresofaki.wordpress.com/blog-series/crafty-wednesday/craft-haven-in-tokyu-hands/

ddf898460d385bd097c3367feb4fac3f46dbedc8a3d0205b112301e418b7f2ba ba05fd35419bc3b3855001631d37c9f1551e54f397844d98ab497faa62643ede 1a7483d9b80654cb74ed51791a7cf865b1c8a71eaec1404c261ffc213316576e

28ac2c273f2f5e55f579e39f4c985391f55aadb4d099b835d61f2a4fd0c67134

4. Electronic Japanese Toilet

What can I say? It’s amazingly awesome! In one press or merely the sensor can flush the toilet. If you need some rinsing after urinating, no need for physical bidet, just simply press the button.

IMG_2232

You can also increase/decrease its water pressure and sound volume.

IMG_2410

Most of the time it is located just beside the ‘throne’, however I found some establishments that simply install it on the wall.

Aside from these buttons, they are also generous with tissue paper and you can immediately dispose it off the ‘throne’. No worries, it won’t cause any clogs in the sewage system.

5. Accessible and Efficient Transportation

Japan’s Rail System is truly one of the best, you can never question its speed, cleanliness and astounding service of efficiency. You can even travel around Japan by simply riding their Shinkansen (新幹線)/ Bullet Train.

They have reloadable Suica Card for passengers, it works as simply tap & go. You can also use the same card when buying at the convenience store or vending machine.

17acda6493c1c27dd5af9e11fa43d7ac979aef63d78c02464a0108c287345959

Trains have schedules and always on time, in case there is a delay, there might be suicide or earthquake.

379e0f24109add9cbed56519e0659ca79f6fdf27447e2c96960fe654bea7d23e

Watch trains, come & go.

22acc357d147a9c0f6c36f77d454c0c5a6e32e77f0d0d03d4c2e884cb21b4b02

 You can reload your card or buy tickets here.

IMG_2087

If you don’t have Suica Card, you can still buy single journey tickets like this.

6. It’s a 4 Seasons country.

It’s just a four hour flight from the Philippines and you can experience spring, summer, fall and winter. Yay!

Sharing my Sakura experience! Cherry blossom usually starts in late March ’til May. They say that it’s the best season to visit Japan in a cool weather.

IMG_2064   Cherry Blossoms when we visited our relatives in Kamakura City.

(My mother will kill me if she see this photo. I love you, Ma!)IMG_2421  Cherry Blossoms in 2014

Since this is my first, I still don’t have any pictures of autumn and winter. As soon as I have one, I will update this post. ♥

7. Matcha Lovers!

Matcha (抹 茶) is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea, it’s widely available in Japan. Most of the restaurants I’ve been to offered green tea rather than water.

5cbc3c08ad0650d54f9756991ba96c275ea6259b6340ec0c83ef3e499d85428f         c0ebea6841d1ad046311ad73069232db60ede495390618c1679d9d3fb26c2123

                    Hot Matcha after Sushi.                                      Vanilla ice cream topped with Matcha.

59c93ec7072ceef6fea158161b2cd5ec34d72eb600ff76606fe117d8f3a9a2de    bfb7957ac0846c643879124f225cda56d1d0696b20d4d5a5df533c9037cbb5a1

Matcha Biscuits

6f2198eaa8ab374fa39f1da1739d1a071a067781dd73d041cc22288dd9855785

Krispy Kreme’s Matcha Doughnut is ♥

dd2db95a541e85439c43f3e747569b9f7df0581db60eb500e52b96afafa4ac0c

Of course, Starbuck’s Matcha Frappuccino.

8. Strawberry

Japan has the largest production and consumption of strawberries ichigo in the world. You can find it easily because of  its availability throughout the year, although the best season is from January to March. 

IMG_6875

Strawberry Shortcake, anyone?

7650a824943401e41206e3cd78f0127f0d9453b04b8061238209cb9433a94f88

8ed1df645f7a7b90d3dc30c69d866b90e77992f5979855658a9863a8d7c17f66

How about strawberry picking? Hey, that’s my beautiful cousin!

9. KitKat Assorted Flavors

Yes, I admit that I am trying and eating new flavors every month. They sell each pack of 12’s for only ¥230 – ¥250.

615e7a90236130cb8b159726fddc92e43e0cac2831be139ed6e916d80af86632

From Tokyo’s KitKat Chocolatory

Few weeks ago I wrote about Tokyo’s KitKat Chocolatory, Read it here.

60d0befe78ed6f9b7e0c975eb72eeb9f57edadcccabdf31c481b356287867517 1c389c0b088d499664def795d11f9687d39a67a8fe2e710940c6ee9fb74ae227

                            Raspberry                                                                  Green Tea

They say that every city has KitKat specialty; next week I will look for new flavors available in Osaka & Kyoto.

10. Authentic Japanese Food!!!

I love their food! It’s tasty, healthy and comes in big servings. Even Japanese are travelling around their country to try different specialties offered by local towns.

IMG_6192

 IMG_6114

Fresh and Tasty Yakiniku

Authentic Karaage Set

Tonkatsu

Authentic Tonkatsu Set

Ramen

 Shoyu Ramen

7cb8efd6be29495c98f7ddc127ee53537bde705ecec72e4b6daee6df09139ed0

Fresh Sushi Overload!


That’s all for my second post for Japan Diaries.

I know some of you are tech savvy, fascinated with kawaii stuffs and Gundam. I already have it listed and will include it on my next posts.

Again, Thank you for reading!!!

See you! / ja ne / じゃね ♥

Advertisements

Tokyo’s Kit-Kat Chocolatory

Who doesn’t love Kit-Kat?

According to Stewart Dryburgh, Kit-Kat’s Global Brand Manager, Japan really loves Kit-Kat ( キットカット). In fact, it sounds like ‘kitto katsu’, which means ‘you will surely win’. It is the best selling chocolate since 2012 in Japan that led Nestlé to launch its first boutique, Kit-Kat Chocolatory.

It was opened last January 17, 2014, in Seibu department store in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district, where you can choose from wonderfully experimental flavours.

First Kit-Kat Botique
                     First Kit-Kat Boutique

“Its success has been fuelled by the launch of hundreds of unusual and innovative special edition flavours to meet Japanese consumers’ experimental tastes and sense of style.

KitKat fans in Japan have been able to choose from varieties including Purple Potato, Cinnamon Cookie, European Cheese, Bean Cake and Wasabi – unwrapping sticks of pale green, delicate pink and lilac chocolate that look and taste very different from those anywhere else in the world.” – Nestle 

Take a look on what we found…

Fruits Flavoured Kit-Kat
                   Fruits Flavoured Kit-Kat
Special packaging for
      Special packaging for “Pasalubong” / Gifts

I am very fascinated with Kit-Kat. Whenever I get the chance, I try new flavors available at the grocery. From the usual chocolate kit-kat, Japan offers exquisite seasonal flavours such as Dark Chocolate, Green Tea, Apple, Orange, Cheesecake, Mandarin and Lemon, Strawberry, Raspberry, Wasabi, Azuki Red Bean Toast, Rum Raisin, Roasted Tea, Purple Potato and Cinnamon Cookie. Each box cost ¥400 that contains four packs.

There are also three special varieties created by Chocolatier Takagi, which are Sublime Bitter, Special Sakura Green Tea and Special Chilli. Two of which were out of stock when I visited the store.

On the other hand, I was able to get three awesome flavors. 

b9da6a86fe36e50d03488d729d246dadf439564ec20b11a15bc7b5a162ec9447

I got Strawberry Maple, Sakura Green Tea and Ginger. 

0b9267174bbe00fec347edaad3c77a2f46dbce8d33ebeb310d40d1328cdfa649

Cute packaging, good for gifts. 

6e0dacc7daa712284e84bb7bbe0c973e0c1eaf5eae518222b27069e2e7c4afd5

Individual packaging. 

615e7a90236130cb8b159726fddc92e43e0cac2831be139ed6e916d80af86632

Yummy Treats from Kit-Kat!

You can never go wrong with these treats as ‘omiyage’.

      Omiyage (お土産) is a gift or souvenir you give to friends, coworkers, and family after returning home from a trip. 

 Don’t forget to buy some new flavored Kit-Kats when you visit Tokyo!

Aside from Kit-Kat Chocolatory, you can also visit big supermarkets such as Seiyu, AEON, Yaoko and Ito-Yokado, they sell kit-kats for only ¥220-280 per pack (12 pieces)They usually have Green Tea, Dark Chocolate, Apple and Cheesecake.

Sometimes it is better to try something ‘new’, rather than the usual.

KIT-KAT CHOCOLATORY

Address: Seibu Department Store, 1-28-1 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku

Ikebukuro Station, East Exit

(Click here for Map)

Hooray to all chocolate lovers! Thank you for reading another sweet article of mine!  ♥

Ladurée; A taste of Paris in Tokyo.

Upon checking the official website of Ladurée, I found out that they have 4 branches in Japan. Two of which happened to be in Tokyo, so I decided to grab my chance in trying their famous macarons.

Laduree

Ladurée, the famed salon de thé (teashop) from France. 

 “It all began in 1862, when Louis Ernest Ladurée, a miller from the southwest of France, founded a bakery in Paris at 16 rue Royale. In 1871, while Baron Haussmann was giving Paris a « new face », a fire in the bakery opened the opportunity to transform it into a pastry shop. The decoration of the pastry shop was entrusted to Jules Cheret, a famous turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist.”

Paris is always a good idea, and you know that tea and macarons are part of it. So let me share you a story about my “first time” experience in one of France’ best tea rooms.

While looking for an english book in Kinokuniya Bookstore, my sister-in-law and I decided to check Ladurée before heading back to the train station. I am quite excited and persistent because it was her birthday the next day. I always thought of giving cake during birthdays.

Japanese are a bit of selfish. Lol. I was only able to take few pictures of their store because taking pictures is not allowed. Since it is their policy, and I am a resident of this country, I followed. However, I asked permission if atleast I can take one photo of their macarons selections.

 Who wouldn’t love these luscious macarons?

 For August, they offered their signature flavored macarons including the seasonal ones. They have Lemon, Orange Blossom, Salted Caramel, Raspberry, Iced Mint, Guava, Earl Grey, Pistachio, Rose, Vanilla, Chocolate, Marie-Antoinette Tea and Strawberry Candy “Guimauve”. These yummy treats are not wallet-friendly for me, each macarons cost  ¥240. I bought Rose and Iced Mint, taste was very unusual since I never ate rose, while iced mint tasted like toothpaste. They said that Ginza branch has a larger place and has more flavors to offer.

Shinjuku’s branch is heaven with tasty macarons, jams, cakes, ice cream and sorbet. Macarons’ boxes are too pretty, you can use it as a memory box. They also have macaron keychains, tote bag and variety of tea for gifts, or take home.

  Ispahan.  It is named after a fancy rose that grows wild in Iran.
          Ispahan. It is named after a fancy rose that grows wild in Iran.

I just love pink and berries.

I just love pink and berries.

Not all Ladurée offers Glaces, soft serves. It has few different flavors such as Ispahan, Malesherbes, Pistache Griotte and Suggestion de Saison. Along with a variety of syrups, fresh fruit, and crumbled macaron shell toppings. Price ranges from ¥500 to ¥900. 

I love pink and berries, so I tried Ispahan. It is a rose flavoured soft-serve ice cream drizzled with raspberry sauce with fresh raspberries and juicy lychee hidden within. Topped with crushed raspberry macaron shells sprinkled all over.

       

Since it was my sister-in-law’s birthday the next day, I asked her to choose her cake and she decided to have La Fraise for  ¥ 1099. Small strawberry shape cake, with strawberry mousse and confit with a bit of coconut crunch.

If you’re in Tokyo, dropped by and see it for yourself. Life is good, just like fresh tea and macarons.

LADURÉE SHINJUKU

160-0022 Tokyo
Shinjuku Lumine 2, 1F 3-38-2 Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku

+81 (0)3 6380 5981

Open everyday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LADURÉE GINZA MITSUKOSHI

104-8212 Tokyo
Ginza Mitsukoshi 2F
4-6-16, Ginza Chuo-ku

+81 (0)3 3563 2120

LADURÉE GINZA MITSUKOSHI open everyday from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Website: https://fabricantdedouceurs.laduree.com/en_int/#!houses