Friday, October 30, 2009

Animate (the 3rd floor -2-)

Rubber keyholders and a plastic casing with Moe factor.

Strike Witches keyholders.

A stuffed toy Miyako from Hidamari Sketch and stuff.

Goods with characters printed on, which are from a weekly magazine called "JUMP"

Do they turn girls on? I don't know really.

I like to write about anime because it's now an important part of our culture, and above all I like it. You might think Japan is full of anime fans and that you will see lots of anime characters in public. And sure, I think you will see more Moe posters in Japan than in other countries. But in reality ordinary Japanese people don't know much about anime, and it is rather on the Internet that we often see Ayanami and Aska from Neon Genesis Evangelion anime.

The former ruling political party planned to build a national anime and manga hall to attract tourists from abroad, but it met strong opposition from the public. I understand some people didn't like the idea because the plan would use taxpayers' money to construct the facility. But I guess the public might not want foreign people to see our country as anime heaven.

Even though we can get anime magazines and manga so easily in Japan, people who are not interested in anime don't like to see nerds or otaku. The main reason why the national anime and manga hall plan is going to be scrapped would be that most Japanese people, especially adults, deny anime without knowing there are many good anime.

But I think as new generations replace the old ones one by one, anime will start to be accepted by more people. The reason? The Gundam robot displayed in Tokyo this summer attracted not only kids but their parents who are in their 30s or 40s.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Import Shop (KALDI)

There area five Kaldi outlets in my prefecture.

You might be familiar with this. Snyder's from America.
Chocolate biscuits "Tim Tam" from Australia.

Thai noodles. Since I went to Thailand 2 years ago I've patronized the food from Thailand.
Thai specialty "Tom Yan Kun".

So many kinds of candies from different countries.

Corona beers from Mexico, which I like very much.

Boursin cheese from France.

I've introduced many Japanese things so far, but you know, when one is in his country what attracts him might be something different. Shrines and temples might be new to foreign people but since I'm a Japanese, those things are just ordinary to me. So I sometimes visit an import shop to buy foreign beers, chips, candies and what not.

But when I was a child there wasn't an import shop in my city, and I had to wait for my father to come back from foreign countries with some souvenirs in his trunk. And those souvenirs included candies, chocolates, chips, all of which tasted different from Japanese ones.

I think I'm more interested in foreign countries than ordinary Japanese. So I like music, movies from foreign countries and I also like foreign languages better than other subjects. And the newspaper I read is in English and my favorite TV program is CNN. And since this KALDI opened its first outlet in my city, it has been a place I frequent.

The Internet helps us buy food from abroad, but we would prefer an import shop nearby.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Veloce started its operation in Tokyo in '86.

There are not so many kinds of coffee, but each of them has good quality.

This Veloce is adjacent to a library, so some people read at the table.

You might not be familiar with iced coffee, but it's available almost everywhere in Japan.

It was so warm on this day and people were enjoying coffee on the terrace.

I posted 2 articles on coffee shops so far. One was "Doutor" and the other "Backyard Cafe". And I would like to introduce a third one called "Veloce" today.

Like I said before again and again, I can't do without coffee everyday. It's more important than breakfast in my case. I usually skip breakfast and have coffee instead, and keep having a dozen cups until midnight. As you might guess, I have difficulty sleeping with so much coffee, but to me, coffee is like gasoline that keeps me going all day.

So far I have tried various coffees that were served by a posh restaurant, hamburger shop, local coffee shop and so forth. And this Veloce's coffee is reasonably priced but very good among them. You know, "veloce" is an Italian word that means "velocity" in English, which means this shop serves a coffee very fast. Your coffee is served in less than 30 seconds after you paid money at the cashier.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Autumn Festival

This festival is held over a weekend in the latter half of October.
A man is baking Takoyaki. To see what it is, look at the posting "Takoyaki"

Many kinds of ham that were made by a shop called "Tsukuba Ham" in my city.

Newly harvested rice called "Koshihikari".

Sweet potatoes. We sometimes put cubes of this in miso soup.

Front row, left to right : Japanese persimmons, Japanese pares, mandarin oranges.

A kid was hitting a Japanese drum. This performance lasted for about 15 minutes.

I had Chinese dumplings for lunch.

...and a steamed pork bun.

Kids were enjoying the goldfish scooping.

I went to an autumn festival the other day that was held on the premises of an agricultural Institute that is a 15 minutes drive from where I live. As I said before there are lots of scientific Institutes in my city and almost every one of them holds an event that is related to their research. For example there is an Institute called JAXA in my city that does research on space exploration, rocket launching and stuff, and people can go in there to see the interior of a model space ship. And this agricultural Institute holds this event annually that has to do with food.

But in fact it is more a cultural festival than a food-related one. People come to this event to have food and see some performances. The things that were sold ranged from shoes to Takoyaki, but they were mainly selling fresh foods that could be only harvested in the fall.

This event is smaller in terms of size than other Japanese festivals, and attracts only people living nearby. However, I look forward to this every year since it is like a festival set aside only for me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Botanical Garden

The weather was nice enough to spend some time here.

This garden is so vast that little kids could be lost without their parents. You can see greenhouses, one of which has plants that are usually in the savanna.

Though you can have only canned drinks from the vending machines, you would wish to stay here forever.

A palm tree that is resistant to the coldness in the winter in Japan.

You can see lots of cactuses inside the greenhouse that would die in the wild of Japan.

These are called "Echinocactus grusonii" from Mexico.

You can see the distribution of endangered species across Japan.

They were showing some experiments to the public.

My city has many government-funded Institutes, and we can visit some of them during the summer. But this botanical garden is open to the public all through the year as long as people pay about 3 us dollars per person. I said before that my city has lots of parks, but if I truly want to be surrounded by nature and relax, this is the place to go to.

This garden is visited not only by those who's interested in plants, but by the elderly, school children who want to learn something about mother nature. In fact there are many explanatory boards before each plant, and people can learn not only about Japanese plants but also foreign kinds that are preserved in the greenhouses so that they can survive in Japan.

The best season to visit this garden is the spring, but as the temperature is mild also in the fall in Japan, I could see many people. I have to say my pictures often don't include many people, but I've tried to avoid taking pics of people because of their privacy. And this place was indeed having more people than usual presumably from other prefectures.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Japanese-styled confection

A Japanese-style confection store, "Okinaya". Its English name would be "Old man's store".

This Japanese cake is called "Kisewata", or a sweet capped with cotton.

Green tea goes well with any Japanese cake. A spoonful of it is enough for a few cups.

You should put it in a pot like this and pour some hot water in it.

It has some bean paste inside. We sometimes have it with a toothpick.

Have you ever had a Japanese cake? I've been to foreign countries a few times, but didn't have enough time to see if it was sold. I think western-styled cakes are more common than Japanese ones among young people in Japan, and there are several shops that sell the former in my city. And on a special occasion like Mother's Day, people line up before such shops to get their hands on sweets.

But if I were to welcome a foreign friend to my home, should I treat him to a chocolate cake? I don't think so, instead I have to be beforehand familiar with which shop sells good Japanese-styled cakes. And this shop, called "Okinaya", is renowned for the quality of the Japanese-styled cakes among people living in my city.

I'm not sure if foreign people would enjoy the taste of Japanese cakes as they don't have a strong flavor like an apple pie. But if the purpose of their trip to Japan is to see what our culture is like, a raspberry pie wouldn't fulfill it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Animate (the 3rd floor -1-)

Lucky Star 1000 pieces jigsaw puzzle.

Trading cards sold in a package.

Due to their policy, they only sell anime cds.

The Detective Conan puzzle. Battery-powered handy lights and stuff.

A variety of stuffed toys.

As I promised before, I went to the 3rd floor of the Animate that is in Kashiwa city to see what they were selling. When I was much younger, like a decade ago or before, I frequented this Animate. Back then the number of people who liked anime was much smaller. There wasn't even the word "Moe" nor a super-pretty Seiyuu like Aya Hirano. And Akihabara was mainly a place where people were selling electronic devices.

Popular animes then were "Saber Marionette J", "The Slayers", " Ranma 1/2", "Blue seed", and so on, which a handful of people enjoyed back then. In '96 people were beginning to use the Internet once in a while in Japan, but there wasn't a broadband connection available for ordinary people, let alone Youtube, nor other video sites. So people overseas perhaps didn't have good means to see what was really hot in Japan or maybe they weren't simply interested in Japan itself.

And it was a bit unusual for even Japanese people to see somebody doing cosplay. From that times when anime wasn't so prevalent as now in Japan, Animate has striven to cater to the need of anime fans.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Backyard Cafe

Conspicuous enough to attract young people.

You can enjoy having a coffee in and out of the shop.

That silver object is a gas heater that makes us warm even in winter.

I ordered a "caffe freddo shakerato". It tasted sweet and bitter at the same time. A coffee aficionado would surely enjoy this.

You can also have those pastas, rice bowls, and even "nasi goreng", which is an Indonesian dish.

I usually post things that look like Japanese, but like I said before Japan has been under foreign influence. And though I like traditional aspects of this country, I'm also attracted by modern or contemporary ones.

My area can be called "rural" 'cause there are so many rice paddies, but if I go to the center of the city I can spot many classy cafes, some photo studios, and a few music shops. And this one, called "Backyard Cafe", is what I have patronized for years. It serves very good coffees and you can have lunch as well, and is situated just in front of a scenic huge park.

As I'm a coffee maniac, it was impossible for me to miss this place. Each price of coffees is relatively high, but when you really want to have a good coffee, being a miser wouldn't help.