Things to bring home from Japan

Contents

16/06/2015 Culture

Goshuin, collecting insignia stamps will make your visit to temples and shrines more fun.

Make your temple and shrine visits more fun by collecting stamps!

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12/11/2015 Destinations

The season for exams has come to Japan! Why not visit the “Yusima Tenmangu Shrine”, where the god of wisdom dwells?

Yushima Tenmangu

Yushima Tenmangu is a shrine located in Yushima, Bunkyo ward. It can be accessed in 2 minutes by foot from the Tokyo Metro, Yushima station. It was established in 458 A.D. to enshrine Amenotajikara-no-mikoto. In 1355, Sugawara-no-Michizane was also invited to pray, and is now worshipped as the god of wisdom.

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16/03/2015 Goods

What is this yellow plastic wash tub called “Kerorin,” often seen in Japanese public baths?

What’s the interesting story behind Kerorin, the hidden, big name in the public bath? You might have seen this yellow plastic bucket before. Some might even wonder what Kerorin (ケロリン) means every time they go to a Japanese public bath. I too, have always wondered why the bucket says Kerorin. I have always wondered why Kerorin is so popular in the world of Japanese public baths. Kerorin is aspirin manufactured by the Naigai Yakuhin Company (Naigai medicine Co.). The name came after its meaning “kerori,” which stands for “quick cure” in Japanese. The Kerorin print is used as an advertisement for their merchandise. The reason why Kerorin has sold so […]

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13/02/2016 Destinations

A helpful tourist information center in Nara, Part 1: Local information and cute “Shikamaro-kun” products!

Did you know that there are three information centers on a busy street in Nara? I’d like to introduce one tourist information center in Nara. It’s located between JR Nara station and Nara Kintetsu station on Sanjo street. The guide is offered in English and Japanese. They also have many Shikamaro-kun souvenirs available for purchase.

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10/02/2015 Culture

“Hina Matsuri,” a doll festival for girls that prays for health and happiness

The picture above is a doll set from a family who has daughters and is on display during Hina Matsuri every year. Hina Matsuri started during the Heian period (about 1000 years ago) and is celebrated on March 3rd (“Joshi” from the luna calendar) of every year. At the time, people made dolls out of paper, soil, and straw hoping that, these dolls are a substitution for their disease and mishaps, and because of this, they set them afloat down a river or out to sea. Also during the Heian period, upper class girls would play with intricately made dolls (Hiina) and the custom of making dolls and Hiina-asobi (playing […]

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04/07/2014 Goods

Restaurant Food Models

【Photo by Yuri Suzuki】 It looks like real food! A unique Japanese custom Japanese restaurants most often will display many of their menu items in front of their restaurant. The food is not real, but part of the Japanese custom of displaying dishes of imitation food in order to entice people to dine at that particular restaurant. Another reason for this is very beneficial to the foreign tourist in that, it allows people to get a better understanding of what the food is, even if one cannot read the menu. This ‘food modeling’ can be traced back as long as 100 years ago and the idea is original to Japan. […]

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29/08/2014 Goods

From children to grown-ups, “Gacha-gacha” are the collectables that everybody is avidly turning the knob in order to get!

Gashapon / Dick Thomas Johnson Many of the capsule toys found in Japan are very unique! Japanese capsule toys are called “Gacha-gacha” or “Gachapon,” and they include many interesting items that not only children, but also adults, go crazy about collecting. From delicately detailed figures that one would not believe could come out for the price of one game (100 yen to 300 yen), to things that make you wonder in amazement why they were there in the first place. About 20 years ago, a cartoon called “Kinnikuman” (Muscleman) became popular in Japan. There were erasers in the shaped of the character called “Kinkeshi,” and they became very popular as […]

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07/10/2014 Destinations

Feel free to enjoy the craftsmanship at the “Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum”

The modest exterior appearance provides a sense of Japanese elegance As the name suggests, the “Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum” is a museum that exhibits the traditional crafts of Hakata. You might envision it as an elaborate building, but this museum is slightly different. It’s a two-story building with a small town style and there are not that many exhibits on display, so admission is free and you can leisurely view the items. It is located very close to the city center of Hakata and is right next to the Kushida Shrine, a classic spot for tourists. The museum has a cafe area, which is a great place to […]

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12/12/2014 Goods

Experience Japan through stationery. Part 1: The Staple-less Stapler, Harinacs.

Harinacs

Let’s dig into the deep world of Japanese stationery! It’s unique and suitable as a souvenir. It’s kind of sudden, but do you know the origin of the universal Japanese word, “Kawaii?” It is said that “Kawaii” is derived from the compassion and feeling of caring for weak, tiny things and the feeling that one feels when they’re too sorry for something to look at its face (kao) and become more adoring and protective of it. Most of Japanese stationery is tiny, detailed, and has multiple functions. I believe that this tiny stationery has been more thought of by Japanese people and some foreigners as kind of lovable or “Kawaii,” […]

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07/02/2015 Foods & Drinks

The Japanese seasoning, “Furikake” is secretly becoming popular outside of Japan and used in unexpected ways!

It goes so well with freshly steamed rice! “Furikake” is literally named after its meaning, “to sprinkle over” and is made to sprinkle over rice. Originally, furikake is made of crushed whole small fish with salt and sesame. The popular ones are seasoned with crushed freeze dried ume (Japanese apricot), freeze dried eggs, and small fish. Furikake is very delicious when you eat them with freshly steamed rice and many people become addicted to it! 【Photo by Mr. Brian】 【Photo by Tatsuo Yamashita】 【Photo by Jason Lam】 Furikake varies from Retro to Kawaii! There are many kinds of furikake available! Whats amazing about furikake is not only its taste but also […]

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30/03/2015 Goods

Filling the Japanese Stomach “The Rice Cooker”

The Soulmate of Japanese Food? Today, many people can find Japanese restaurants around world. Many Japanese restaurants in foreign countries specialize in Sushi, Ramen, and Teppanyaki. A food that has actually been the basis of Japanese culture during its entire history is rice! Rice is so important and so beloved that Japanese people are so fussy about the taste and quality of rice. Many farmers have been improving the quality of rice with their keen dedication and at the same time, engineers and rice geeks have been researching how to create the most suitable tool to cook rice. Today’s Japanese rice cookers are the result of their dedication to rice […]

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22/04/2015 Culture  Foods & Drinks  Goods

TJ’s book review: The photo-book “EKIBEN,” features packed lunches that are sold at each local station all throughout Japan! Colorful packages and tasty treats that’ll make you hungry!

“Bento” is attracting interests, and even overseas. As you may already know, there are many kinds of boxed lunch in the world, but Japan’s lunch box uses a variety of ‘lunch box only’ ingredients and the way people arrange the food is very detailed. The well-known Chara-ben, features food that looks like characters from animations. Even the word “Bento” is becoming familiar overseas. “Ekiben” is really important to the Japanese bento culture. “Ekiben” are the lunch boxes sold at train stations and on trains, prepared specifically for eating on the train. These bentos are rich in variety and differ from location to location. Each locale reflects their own cultures and […]

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01/07/2015 Goods

Experience Japan through stationery. Part 3, “Nico-Sushi Memo Blocks”

Let’s dig into the deep world of Japanese stationery! It’s unique and suitable as a souvenir.I believe that this tiny stationery has been more thought of by Japanese people and some foreigners as kind of lovable or “Kawaii,” rather than just functional tools.
This series is to peek at what’s inside Japanese people’s minds through their stationery.

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09/07/2015 Destinations

These cats bring fortune! More than 1,000 figures of “Beckoning cats” in Gotokuji Temple!

Msatada Kira, the owner of Setagya-jo Castle, built Gotokuji Temple in 1480. It was the family temple of the Ii family and holds the grave of Naosuke Ii. It is also known as the birthplace of manekineko (beckoning cats).

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14/07/2015 Destinations

Fun and Tasty! Learn about the history behind Instant Ramen at “The Instant Ramen Museum”!

Instant Ramens

Osaka is where instant ramen started. August 25th, 1958 is the day when instant ramen was born and is now eaten all over the world. It’s creator, Momofuku Ando had been doing research with basic tools in a small cabin he built in his yard. The most famous Japanese instant ramen, Chicken Ramen, was created in this cabin and is the origin of the instant ramen of today. The museum is in Ikeda city, Osaka where instant ramen was born. There are a variety of fun exhibitions and events held at the museum, including a workshop where you can make your instant ramen. This is instant ramen paradise! One of […]

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22/07/2015 Destinations

There is so much to see on the longest shopping street in Japan! “Tenjinbashi-suji-shotengai”

It’s the longest arcade street (2.6Km), with about 600 shops, located in Kita-ku, Osaka.
It started during the Edo period and is said to have played a really important role in the Japanese distribution industry. The location is sometimes used for filming and is also popular among foreign visitors.

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06/08/2015 Destinations

“Ootsu-e”, the folk art loved by travellers in Ootsu, Shiga Prefecture; Let’s go and buy one!

The shop of Ootsu-e

Ootsu-e no mise Co. Ltd. is a shop selling Ootsu-e, traditional crafts of Shiga Prefecture. Mr.Takahashi Matsuyama, its 4th owner, is designated as the keeper of this intangible cultural asset.

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14/11/2015 Destinations

A zoo with the most panda bears in Japan, “Adventure World” always makes you smile!

panda

It’s about 1 hour from Haneda Airport.
Now that the Kisei Expressway is open, it only takes 2 and a half hours to Shirahama from Osaka.
Shirahama-cho is a town where nature and animals live in harmony. There is a zoo called “Adventure World” in Shirahama that always makes everyone happy!

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18/11/2015 Destinations

Amazing craftsmanship at the Nara Craft Museum

A work of art created by carving a single piece of wood

The Nara Craft Museum, or “Nara Kogeikan”, is a museum that exhibits the work of specially chosen Nara artists. I went to the craft festival, held between the 27th of October to the 3rd of November, 2015. There were 38 new works of art, and I was able to see the “Akishino” hand knitting technique, a workshop on making ceramics, lacquer ware, and “ittobori”, a work of art created by carving a single piece of wood.

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16/08/2014 Goods

“katori-Senko,” a necessity for summers in Japan and a great souvenir.

Enjoy the summertime with an original product of Japan to protect yourself from mosquitos. During the summertime in Japan you will commonly see coiled incense burning in houses and hotels and this delightful scent isn’t just for “Omotenashi” (Japanese hospitality). The spiral shaped incense is called “Katori-Senko” and is used as a mosquito repellent. You might think that it’s dangerous for your health but it’s completely toxin-free and protects us from those aggravating mosquitos. Katori-Senko doesn’t use electricity and is commonly used for camping and outdoor activities because of its portability. Easy to use, it’s placed on a plate or a special container called a “Kayariki,” lit at one end, […]

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