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Archive for the ‘Things Japanese’ Category

paper_craft_shinkansen-reffert There are lots of paper craft kits available in Japan, both for sale and to download for free. Some are extremely intricate and the final result looks stunning, but at the same time they look like a lot of time and very steady hands are needed to complete them. Intrigued, I picked up a model that looked easy to do in a toy store – a paper craft Shinkansen. In fact, it is made of light carton, not paper and is fairly large, making the work less finicky.

Kit and instructions

Kit and instructions

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Strawberry Shortcake The Japanese have a love for strawberry shortcake. And for sweets that are lovely to look at in general. Just go to any of the fancy shops on the food floor of a department store, and you can feast your eyes. This is not so very surprising. What is suprising, at least to me, is that in Japan, you can pick up a beautiful looking piece of cake at the convenience store. Convenience store food in other countries is known to be strictly for emergencies or desperate students. You don’t expect it to be very tasty, let alone pretty. Not so in Japan. For less than 300Y, this pretty little cake, carefully packaged to preserve its shape, can be yours. Just stop at the Combini at the corner.

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Doraemon-Augmented-reality Have you ever wanted to hold Doraemon in the palm of your hand? The Doraemon augmented reality sets which are on the inside of Glico’s snack boxes such as Pocky or Pretz make it possible, in honor of the upcoming new Doraemon movie “Stand by Me”. You just download the app for your smartphone or tablet and hold its camera over the drawing, and – zapp – Doraemon appears in front of your eyes in 3D, wherever you are! As a special touch, you can color Doraemon the way you like, and your custom coloring gets incorporated into the 3D model. Tapping Doraemon on the screen makes him fly around for a bit. And of course you can take pictures of it all. Truly a thing Japanese, technological and very cool! (more…)

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Protective fence at a construction site in Tokyo's Ueno Park.

Protective fence at a construction site in Tokyo’s Ueno Park.

When addressing the public, especially when there’s actually a serious message (such as e.g. disaster prevention), Japan often uses cute characters as vehicles (see more of that here and here). This protective barrier keeping pedestrians away from a construction site is very much in line with this phenomenon. The cute female construction worker bowing respectfully to atone for the inconvenience caused caught my eye in Ueno Park. (more…)

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Japanese vegetable cutters Anyone from the Western world is familiar with cookie cutters – they make us think of Christmas season and the baked delights that come with it. Also in Japan, these metal implements can be found in every household store, even though the traditional Japanese shapes like sakura and plum blossom don’t really fit our Christmas imagery. But upon closer inspection, it turns out that most of the cutters available are actually tiny. It would be difficult to cut the cookie dough neatly with them, let alone not turn the tiny cookie into a carbonized brick in the oven. So what’s up with that? The answer can be found in almost any fancy bento lunch: these cutters are not meant for cookies at all! (more…)

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Fashionable Bunny If you’d be looking for the world’s most fashionable pet rabbit, Tokyo’s hip Roppongi district would not be a bad starting place. This specimen I spotted nibbling on the greenery at Roppongi Hills. We already know that Tokyo dogs are dressed in style, so why would Tokyo’s fierce fashion stop short of our other four-legged friends? No good reason at all for that, really!
Tokyo Fashion Bunny Deciphering the label on the bunny’s dress, I was actually able to dig up the website of tortue et lapin. So, yes, rabbit clothing is totally a thing in Japan!

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In a Kyoto restaurant (the type where you leave your shoes and use slippers to go to your table), I encountered an upright cabinet, glowing with blue light from within. What now, was that? Even after years, Japanese electric appliances continue to surprise and amaze me. Noticing my puzzled look, a colleague inquired with me whether these were not common in other countries? No, really, we do not have electric slipper disinfectors, in fact this was the first I ever laid eyes upon. Of course, we have less need to disinfect large numbers of slippers in public use. Japanese cleanliness is as always admirable, and to have an electric appliance take care of the problem with UV light, well, nothing less of the Japanese!

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