Archive for October, 2009

Cheap is Good!

Gift-giving is big in Japanese culture, and not just on birthdays and holidays. So whenever I go to Japan, I bring back a load of presents for friends and family in the U.S. But I’m not made of money, so I buy all my presents from a place called Daiso, where everything is priced at 100 yen (about $1). Sure, call me a cheapskate, but believe me, there’s so much cool stuff here you wouldn’t think twice.

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Daiso stocks over 90,000 items, from Japanese soda candy to cool lunch tupperware to funny English signs to hang on your bathroom wall. There’s also your share of traditional Japanese-y stuff like chopsticks and rice bowls that I’ve seen other American tourists buy in bulk. I mean, seriously, you can buy a handcrafted pair of chopsticks from some old man’s shop atop a remote mountain ($$$) or you can get a pair from the 100 yen shop. Will your grandma in Detroit know the difference? I bet not.

Daiso stores are located all over Japan and they’re usually HUGE. I’m talking 2-3 stories high. My advice: bring a separate suitcase just for your Daiso purchases. And now the store is open in Seattle, San Francisco, Canada and online too. I’ve yet to visit them so go check it out for me and tell me what you think! (^_^)V

Himawari

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October 30, 2009 at 11:31 am 1 comment

7-Eleven Loves Domo-Kun

7-Eleven has gotten so much cooler in my book. For a limited time, they’re offering a product line of cups, straws, comic books, plushies and T-shirts for a funny-looking Japanese monster called Domo-kun.

Most Japanese people would agree that seeing Domo-kun in the U.S. is really strange cause he’s a mascot character of NHK, the PBS of TV stations in Japan (keywords: conservative, wholesome, family-fun time). First appearing in station-identification spots in 1998, Domo-kun went on to star in his own animated show for children. He’s fairly popular among people in diapers, but hardly the hipster sensation he’s become in the U.S. If you wore a Domo-kun beanie in Japan, people would question your affection for children. Wearing Domo-kun would be like a Japanese guy wearing a purple Barney beanie.

Thanks to You Tube and other viral sites, a groundswell of enthusiasm has developed in the U.S. for the alien creature hatched from an egg, and enough to rise above the radar. Last Halloween, Domo-kun merchandise surfaced at Target stores. Not sure how it did, but considering he’s not back on shelves this year, maybe not well.

Now this year, Big Tent Entertainment, Domo’s licensing company has struck a deal with 7-Eleven for a six-week campaign. My favorite merchandise is their cups, one which has the cuddly monster getting a brain-freeze cause he just had a big Slurpee. The original goods are pretty well thought out; much nicer than what was selling at Target.

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A friend came to visit this week from Japan, so I took her to 7-Eleven to check out the stuff. She left with an armful of cups and spoon-straws to give to friends back home. Who knows, maybe this will start a reverse trend?

Himawari

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October 20, 2009 at 2:02 pm Leave a comment

Where Tokyo Goes to Shop

Tokyo’s hottest new shop is called Kitson, which just so happens to hail from my hometown of Los Angeles.

Kitson

It’s a place where young Hollywood celebrities browse for colorful bangles and tattoo-laden sweatshirts. The store is filled to the rim with name-brand couture, accessories, makeup, stationery goods, shoes, purses — you name it — at a cost that’ll definitely break the piggy bank. That is, unless you’re a celeb, cause then they’ll simply hand you the stuff for free.

Kitson-clothing

Back a couple years ago, paparazzi swarmed the place day and night, waiting for that money-shot of celebrities being everyday people. When Halle Barry was spotted with a cool purse embroidered with big lettering from Kitson, it started a hot new trend. Ever since, Kitson owners have been smart to line themselves with celeb supporters.

Kitson-bag

And now Kitson is in Tokyo –at Lumine in Shinjuku and Harajuku’s La Foret — with a whole lot of fanfare from young women just happy to tote around a Kitson shopping bag for the sake of toting around a Kitson shopping bag (~$100). It’s a match made in heaven; both Kitson and Tokyo worship their young female celebrities and they’re not shy to make a quick buck off them either.

Kitson couture is really cute, but personally it’s way, way beyond my price range. I’m perfectly happy with shopping at H&M, Forever 21 and Uniqlo.With Kitson, I’ll admire them from afar. =)

Himawari

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japanizmo, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more

October 13, 2009 at 11:25 am Leave a comment

Hi-Tech Cookers

In Japan, rice cookers are no joke. Some people spend upwards of $500 for their ultra high-tech electric cooker, obsessing over the moisture, texture and taste of what is endearingly called “gohan.”

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I’ve had dreams of the perfect bowl of rice. The best I’ve come across was one made in an iron pot over a hot flame. That’s how they used to cook it in the olden days and it doesn’t get better than that. A decent pot of rice can last days without developing a lingering odor, which I suppose means that even bacteria respect it enough to stay away!

But in 2009, we don’t have time to kindle a fire and spend three hours to cook rice. Instead we have our trusty rice cooker to do all the work. Just wash, place it in the cooker, set your timer and you’ll have your hot bowl on the table for tomorrow’s breakfast.

So what would drive someone to buy a $500 cooker? Here are some thoughts:

• They chime a Disney song when you start cooking.
• They come with a fancy hi-tech LCD panel that makes any
kitchen look cool.
• “Superior induction heating evenly distributes heat for excellent
results,” according to Amazon.
• Spatula holder and retractable cord!
• Open/close lid sensor.
• The option to cook rice porridge, sushi rice, cakes, curry, and more.

Though I think the most compelling reason to invest in an expensive cooker is the idea that a single machine can miraculously take you back the best meal of your life. But does it ever really? Probably not. But it looks pretty neat at least, right?

Himawari

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October 6, 2009 at 10:14 am Leave a comment


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