Crazy for Japan

Just another Otaku in the Holy Land


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Some Japanese Snacks & Sweets

Just to get back in the swing of things a quick and easy post about some of the delicious treats you can find in Japan. First off:

Crepes are extremely popular in Japan and you can get them with all sorts of fillings as you can see in the pictures below, which only shows part of the selection this particular shop had. Quite different from the tiny selection you can usually get in Germany from a crepe stand for example. Another thing these pictures show is the Japanese love for plastic replicas of foods and meals. Most shops will have at least some plastic replicas of some of their trademark dishes if not replicas of their entire menu on display.

A display of plastic replicas of some of the available crepe options on Takeshita Dori.

Mister Donut is another extremely common and popular stop for a treat in Japan. They have all sorts of filled or unfilled donuts in different shapes and flavors. Although they also serve “proper” food if you will but let’s stay realistic who wants pasta or nikuman (meat bun) when you can have donuts!?

This particular selection was part of a limited time release of matcha (green tea) flavored donuts in June 2010. That is another thing quite unique to Japan I think, that they have seasonal specials in stores and shops that you can only get a certain time of the year. Also makes sampling your way through a seasonal selection without gaining two dress sizes slightly difficult. I personally loved the “pon de ring” donuts, the ones that look like they are made up of small dough balls, because they are so easy to eat! Why can we not have that in Europe again? Also if you want to drool over the current Mist Donut selection click here.

Melon Cream Soda with a selection of matcha flavored donuts. You can see the first one is filled.Close up of the donut goodness. Yummy!

Parfaits are another very popular dessert in Japan and you can get them in cafes pretty much everywhere and in all sorts of flavors. The matcha parfait is very common and usually also features anko (sweet red bean paste), which is commonly used in many Japanese sweets and snacks.

Matcha (green tea) parfait in Nara.Tiramisu Parfait with some iced milk tea also in Nara.

This concludes the first post in what I am sure will become a series about snacks and sweets in Japan. If there are any questions or requests for further posts, please let me know. Also which one of these or other sweets and snacks not mentioned are your favorites in Japan? Or if you haven’t had the opportunity to try any, which ones would you prefer to try? Let me know! ^-^


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I’m back Baby!

It has been over 2 years since my last post about the Maid Cafe in Akihabara and I have long since left Japan. In the meantime I have finished my degree at University and I am unemployed like the rest of the world and finally have time to write all those posts I haven’t had time to write before.

For a fresh overview about my time in Japan and the blog I have update the About page as well as given the blog a new face. I hope you like it and you can look forward to regular posts to finally bring the blog up to speed.

Some posts you can look forward to in the near future include: Himeji, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Nagoya, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.


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Maid Cafe in Akihabara

So we just got back from Akihabara where we went to a Maid Cafe. It was my first time in a Maid Cafe because I was afraid to go by myself before, but it was really nice so there is no need to be afraid to go in. The Cafe we went to was called Mai Dreamin and it is pretty close to Akihabara station. First a  maid that was handing out flyers in front of the Cafe sent us up to the 3rd floor which was the smoking area of the Cafe and full with only men obviously. We asked to be seated in the non-smoking area of the Cafe which was on the second floor. So “our” maid went down with us to the second floor which was still deserted so we had the place to ourselves which was pretty nice. Our maids name was Yuno-chan and she was very relieved that I understood Japanese and I was pretty surprised how much I could communicate in Japanese.

Mai Dreamin from the outside

They made us read the rules for the Maid Cafe, which include obvious things such as no touching the maids, no asking for personal information, no personal gifts for the maids, no pictures and so on. You are however allowed to take pictures of your food! xD Also you have to pay ¥500 per hour and buy at least one drink while you are at the Cafe. They have a wide range of drinks and a small selection of food and deserts. We both chose a set that included a drink, desert or food and a picture with a maid for ¥1.400. We both had panda pancakes, which were not only super cute but also delicious!

Panda Pancakes

Taking pictures of or with maids costs ¥500 each time and so does playing games with a maid. I decided to play a game with Yuno-chan and she promised me a gift should I win. So we played the crocodile game where you have to push down the teeth and if the crocodile snaps its mouth shut when you push one down you lose. We agreed that when either of us lost three times the game was over. Luckily I won by 3-1 and I got a promotional picture of the top 3 maids as a gift. We both also took pictures with Yuno-chan as part of our set and she also decorated them with markers very nicely and wrote down the date and our names. Trix also participated in a prize draw for ¥300 before we left and got a promotional picture of one of the maids as a prize.

I have to say we really enjoyed ourselves there and if you ever have the chance to visit a Maid Cafe I’d encourage you to. It’s a somewhat expensive but nice treat and at least an interesting experience! Together we spent ¥4.600 for that one hour but it was definitely worth it and something I wouldn’t have wanted to miss while being in Japan! ^_^

My best sneaky shot of  the maid handing out flyers in front of the Cafe.


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Back to Tokyo – just a short update

As you may have guessed by my lack of posts recently I have not managed to catch up with all the posts I wanted to do before going to Tokyo. I have been back in Tokyo since June 2nd. I arrived with the night bus from Nagoya at Tokyo station at 5:30 in the morning. I was quite surprised that NOTHING was open there. No coffee shop, no 24h convenient store … nothing!  Even in Europe every train station has their obligatory 24h McD! >.<

Well anyways I picked up my friend Trix from Narita AP that evening and the next day we just hung around Asakusa were we are staying at the same hostel I stayed in on my first visit to Tokyo, the Khaosan Tokyo Annex. It’s gotten somewhat run-down and dirtier since I was last here but it’s still tolerable. Then yesterday we went to Shibuya and Harajuku for some crazy shopping and visited also the Meiji shrine.

Since I have done the same things already last time I was here there is no need to actually post about it at all… so yeah this is just for everybody who wants to know what Trix and I have been up to. ^_^;

On a more interesting note, we are planning to visit Tokyo Disneyland & Sea Resort and the Ghibli Museum soon so I’ll put up some detailed posts about that!^_^

Tokyo Sky Tree is growing


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Hiroshima Castle

So as I have mentioned in previous posts Hiroshima was really upsetting and I thought a nice visit to the castle would cheer me up a bit but yeah the castle, like pretty much everything else, was destroyed by the atomic bomb so there is really no escaping it. When I reached the entrance gate and read on a plaque “…destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945. The faithful replica (…) was constructed in 1958…” I went ‘duh’ but up until then I really hadn’t thought about it! It follows that only parts of the original structure have been reconstructed such as the castle tower and the gate with bridge and three turrets.

Reconstructed gate with moat and Hirayagura turret.

After you’ve been over the gate bridge and through the gate you can go into the building with three restored turrets. There is information in Japanese and pictures about the reconstruction and also about the castle area but nothing earth shattering. So I left pretty quickly and continued to head for the castle tower. On the way there you pass by a shrine and the ruins of the Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters, which is just the outline of a building with stones on the ground. The Headquarters were moved to Hiroshima when the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1894 and was housed within the castle grounds. Apparently the 6th Army division was housed there and at some point the Meiji Emperor used it as provisional quarters, which is interesting and all but not really a looker. So off to the castle tower… finally!

Entrance to the Castle Tower

The entrance fee is ¥360 and you get a very nice colored English brochure. The tower has 5 floors with nice exhibits on the first through fourth floor and an observation platform on the fifth floor. They have of course information about the history and development of the castle and town but they also have a big collection of swords and samurai armour. You can even try on some armour on the first floor. The view from the platform gives a better idea of the castle layout and offers a nice view of the city. All in all a good investment and worth a visit while you are in town.

Another shot from the side of the castle tower. With all the trees around it was difficult to get a good shot!

I think I haven’t posted any sakura pictures before but the occasional cherry blossom has shown up before this but they definitely became more common around then. After all Hanami wasn’t that far away anymore…


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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum

The Peace Memorial Park lies enclosed by two rivers on the tip of an island-esque central area in Hiroshima that used to be a bustling downtown district before the atomic bomb was dropped on 6. August, 1945.  The park is dedicated to the memory of everyone who fell victim to the first nuclear attack in human history and the promotion of world peace.  The 66 monuments and points of interest in the park leave nothing to the imagination and describe the pain and suffering  inflicted by the atomic bomb. Flowers and paper cranes on the monuments are an omnipresent reminder of the heartfelt grief and empathy felt in Japan and all around the world for what happened in Hiroshima. People actually send folded origami paper cranes from all over the world to the Peace Memorial Park. According to a Japanese legend folding a thousand paper cranes grants  you a wish from a crane. However the paper crane has become a symbol for world peace through the story of Sadako. A girl from Hiroshima who was exposed to the radiation of the atomic bomb at the age of 2 and consequently died of leukaemia at the age of 12. Before she died she started folding paper cranes in hospital so her wish to get well would be granted. There are two different versions of the story. One says that she only managed to fold 644 paper cranes before she died, the other says that she did manage to fold a thousand paper cranes.

Children’s Peace Memorial inspired by Sadako’s story

Folded paper cranes from all over the world being kept in the little huts you can see in the picture above.

The centerpiece of the park however is the Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims covered by a saddle shaped monument. It holds a register of the deceased victims of the bomb and still every year new names get added, because there are still people dying from the consequences of the radiation.

Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims

And you might have already spotted it there in the background of the last picture. A symbol of Hiroshima and a graphic reminder of the destructive force of the atomic bomb, the Atomic Bomb Dome. The Dome is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 and is very close to the Hypocenter.

Atomic Bomb Dome

The last thing I want to write about, since you have probably noticed that I can’t cover all 66 monuments and points of interest in the park, is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum. This museum is nothing for the faint-hearted, especially the second building. The first building tells the story of Hiroshima before and during WWII. It also explains why and how Hiroshima was picked as the site for the first bombing. Models of the city from before and after the bombing are on display and information on nuclear warheads and their distribution is provided. The second building however displays pictures and belongings of victims of the atomic bomb and tells their fate. This is really not for everyone and towards the end I just wanted to get out. I read a couple of the stories accompanying shredded cloth of children or partly melted lunch boxes and that was more than enough.  And don’t get me started on the pictures…

The Pond of Peace with the Cenotaph and the ugly building in the background is the museum.

The Peace Watch at the museum entrance. It says 23602 days since the first dropping of the atomic bomb and 299 days since the latest nuclear test.

View from the museum onto the park

For more pictures of the other monuments please visit my Flicker Gallery.


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Oh the excuses!

All right here it goes: First I had some trouble having seemingly hurt my right hand although I still don’t know how it happened.  I couldn’t use it for about 3 days… it was rather painful. So there was no chance for me typing or doing any computery stuff really. Now that my hand is better again I managed to get sick! I have a sore throat and I’m hoarse… I sound really funny! I’ve been talking with myself despite the pain, it’s that entertaining! xD

I hope I can get some entries done tomorrow though, because I have some more recent stuff from Kyoto I want to put up ASAP! xD

Update

So as you can imagine the funny sore throat developed into a full blown cold and had me confined to the bed over the last 4 days! >.< Now I just uploaded some pictures from my visit to the Osaka Aquarium and really hope I can finally get some writing done tomorrow.

Now go look at fish! ^_^

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