Things to bring home from Japan


07/10/2014 Visit: Museums

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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09/07/2015 Visit: Temples & Shrines

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 Visit: Museums

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 Visit: Charming Towns

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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13/02/2016 Travel Tips

A helpful tourist information center in Nara where you can get 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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06/08/2015 Souvenirs  Visit: Charming Towns

“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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12/11/2015 Visit: Temples & Shrines

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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18/11/2015 Visit: Museums

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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10/02/2015 Festivals & Events  Traditions & History

“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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07/02/2015 Food & Specialties

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 […]

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30/03/2015 Everyday Life in Japan  Souvenirs

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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28/05/2018 Food & Specialties  Souvenirs

Donabe, the Japanese traditional earth cookware

The interest in the Japanese aesthetics is increasing worldwide, and it’s no longer rare, for example, to see Japanese items in Western kitchens anymore. Today I’d like to introduce you to a kitchenware item that has yet to become popular outside of Japan: the donabe, or Japanese clay pot.

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04/07/2014 Everyday Life in Japan  Souvenirs

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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16/03/2015 Everyday Life in Japan

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 public baths? If you have ever been in a sento before, you might have seen this yellow plastic bucket. Some  even wonder what Kerorin (ケロリン) means every time they go to a Japanese public bath. I too, have wondered for a long time why the bucket says Kerorin and why it is so popular in the world of Japanese public baths. Kerorin is actually 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 […]

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29/08/2014 Souvenirs

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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