日本での一年間

January 30, 2009

Special Seasonal Kit Kats

Filed under: Kit Kat Flavors, Strange — myyearinjapan @ 7:54 am

’tis the season for some special annual Kit Kats. These aren’t Kit Kat flavor, but rather Kit Kat packaging made special for this time of year.

On Valentines Day in Japan, girls give chocolates to boys. Girls are supposed to give chocolate to the boy they like(本命チョコ), but women are also expected to give chocolate to their co-workers(義理チョコ), and chocolate is also given to friends(友チョコ). About one month later, on White Day, boys reciprocate. White Day was actually a holiday invented by a Japanese marshmallow company to cash in on the same kind of moneymaking that happens during Valentines day, but now people give all kinds of candy and chocolates and even other gifts for White Day.

The lemon flavored Valentines Day special Kit Kats

The delicately lemon flavored Valentines Day special Kit Kats. You and that special person each get half of these special Kit Kats.

With this Valentine’s day package, you’re supposed to open it and take one for yourself, then write a message in the box and close it up again, with the other Kit Kat inside to give to your special someone.

The front of the Kit Kat package for the students taking their entrance exams, on which you are meant to write a message such as がんばれ!応援している!(Good luck! Im rooting for you!)

The front of the Kit Kat package for the students taking their entrance exams, on which you are meant to write a message such as がんばれ!応援している!(Good luck! I'm rooting for you!)

The way Kit Kats is pronounced in Japanese (キットカッツ) sounds like ‘I’ll surely win!’ (きっと勝つ!)[If Kit Kat is not plural, it is pronounced differently (キットカット)] For this reason, Kit Kats have become a popular gift for students taking entrance examinations(受験) for Junior High, High School or University. That’s why they introduced these Kit Kat boxes designed to mail to students taking entrance exams. They call it Kit Mail (キットメール). It has a spot on the front for writing a message to the student, something to encourage them.And room on the other side to address it. It also says on the box, “surely, the cherry blossoms will bloom(きっと、サクラ、サクよ).” I guess that idea being that just as surely as spring will come, signaled by the cherry blossoms, the recipient will pass their entrance exams.

The back of the box for the students taking entrance exams (受験生), on which you write the address.

The back of the box for the students taking entrance exams (受験生), on which you write the address.

January 29, 2009

Fugu

Filed under: Cuisine, Strange — myyearinjapan @ 2:49 pm

I tried Fugu (blowfish) for the first time! Fugu is famous dish from Japanese cuisine because if it isn’t prepared correctly, it can be lethal. I tried some at a famous, local tempura (deep-fried, battered food) restaurant. This restaurant is known for dish it serves that plies on a tower or fried food over a bowl of rice. Competitive eaters come to the restaurant to try to finish it off. And they also serve a fugu dish. So, I was able to try some fugu (actually, my friend ordered the fugu, so I only had a taste of it). It was pretty good. I liked it a lot. But, it was kind of hard to tell what it would be like on it’s own with all the deep fried batter covering it.

The fugu dish, in all its deep fried goodness

The fugu dish, in all it's deep fried goodness

The safer, Shrimp dish I ordered

The safer, Shrimp dish I ordered

Also, I just want to mention briefly that this is my 100th post! yay!
I started this blog to try to force myself to record and remember my year abroad, intending to post at least one picture for each day. I haven’t quite kept my promise of posting something each day, but I’ve put up well over 100 pictures and hopefully am making an interesting account of what I see and experience over here. I hope this blog isn’t too boring or anything. Thanks for reading!

Kit Kats – in vending machines

Filed under: Interesting, Kit Kat Flavors, Strange, vending machines — myyearinjapan @ 4:17 am

Going along with my recent Kit Kat theme, I have some pictures I took of Kit Kats being sold in vending machines. That may not seem so strange at first, but what’s weird is that the Kit Kats are sold in BEVERAGE vending machines in GLASS JARS.

The Kit Kats in the vending machine

The Kit Kats in the vending machine, surrounded be energy drinks and fruit juice.

In context

In context, more of the vending machine

January 28, 2009

Kit Kat Flavors 3

Filed under: Kit Kat Flavors, Strange — myyearinjapan @ 8:03 am

Another installment of my collection of Kit Kat flavor pictures. These flavors seem particularly Japanese to me. Not something that I could imagine being sold in the West. If you want to look back on the first 2 posts, you can find them here and here.

This doesnt sound very appetizing to me. Its Soy Sauce flavor. I found this at the airport on my way to China. Only available in Tokyo.

This doesn't sound very appetizing to me. It's Soy Sauce flavor. I found this at the airport on my way to China. Only available in Tokyo.

More information about the Soy Sauce flavor Kit Kats

More information about the Soy Sauce flavor Kit Kats

Green Tea flavor. A special kind of Japanese green tea powder called matcha, to be specific.

Green Tea flavor. A special kind of Japanese green tea powder called matcha, to be specific.

For more information on matcha click here. Matcha is used to flavor all kinds of sweets. Matcha ice cream, rice cakes, lattes, cakes, cookies, rice crackers. You name it, they have it flavored with matcha. My favorite in matcha naan.

Yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) flavor Kit Kats

Yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) flavor Kit Kats

For more information on Yuzu, click here.

These Kit Kats are flavored as daigaku imo(大いも, literally college potato). Thats the name of a dish made with sweet potatoes with honey and sesame seeds

These Kit Kats are flavored as daigaku imo(大学いも, literally college potato); That's the name of a dish made with sweet potatoes with honey and sesame seeds. This flavor is limited edition.

January 27, 2009

Kit-Kat flavors (A comparison with China)

Filed under: Kit Kat Flavors, Strange — myyearinjapan @ 12:52 am

I’ve previously written this and this post about the many Kit Kat flavors I’ve seen in Japan. Now I’d like to share the flavors I found across the sea in Shanghai.

Kit Kats in China

Kit Kats in China - These are all the flavors I saw. Milk chocolate and Dark chocolate. That's it. None of those fancy flavors that have taken over the Japanese Kit Kat market.

Close-up on the Milk chocolate Kit Kat

Close-up on the Milk chocolate Kit Kat

January 23, 2009

Station Platform

Filed under: Tokyo places — myyearinjapan @ 2:53 am

I was coming back from the other side of the city on the Chuo line (the central line through the city), and when I got to Yotsuya station, I thought the light was really nice and took a picture.

Yotsuya Station Platform

Yotsuya Station Platform

January 22, 2009

Tokyo Station Area

Filed under: Tokyo places, Yamanote-Sen — myyearinjapan @ 3:07 am

These are actually pictures taken the same day as the Emperor’s New Year greeting. The Imperial Palace is just a few minutes walk from the Busy Tokyo station, where many train lines converge, including the elevated trains, subway lines and bullet trains.

Tokyo Station building.

Tokyo Station building.

Someone handing out flyers in front of Tokyo Station

Someone handing out flyers in front of Tokyo Station

Reflections of the tall buildings in the Tokyo Station area. Lots of offices are located in this area. Its always full of Salary men.

Reflections of the tall buildings in the Tokyo Station area. Lots of offices are located in this area. It's always full of Salary men.

January 21, 2009

The Emperor’s New Year Greeting

Filed under: Events, Tokyo places, Yamanote-Sen — myyearinjapan @ 12:14 am

The imperial palace is a major tourist site in Tokyo, but for most of the year, the only area the public is allowed to enter is the gardens. There are only two days of the year when the public is allowed to enter the grounds, the Emperor’s birthday (Dec. 23) and one of the first days of the New Year (this year it was Jan. 3). On those days, the Emperor gives a speech and crowds of people come to see him speak. I went to see the Emperor’s speech on Jan. 3.

Police car at one of the checkpoints

Police car at one of the checkpoints

You had to walk through two checkpoints. One where they check your bags and another where they pat you down. At the first checkpoint, the security guard asked me if I speak Japanese and then told me that I wasn’t allowed to eat the food I had with me while on the palace ground and had to leave it in my bag. The second security guard continued to speak to me in English even though I answered her questions in Japanese. Kind of strange.

On the Imperial Palace grounds. I should say that you do get to enter the grounds, but you dont really see them. You have to go through a certain path and with the crowds, you cant see much.

On the Imperial Palace grounds. I should say that you do get to enter the grounds, but you don't really see them. You have to go through a certain path and with the crowds, you can't see much.

Some of what I was able to see

Some of what I was able to see. You can see more crowds of people on the bridge and beyond it, also coming to see the emperor's speech.

Where the crowd was taken to. The Emerpor came to speak in that room. While we were waiting a loudspeaker came on to say that the Emperor would come out in a few minutes. It first said this in Japanese and then English, but the English pronunciation was so strange that it was easier to understand the Japanese.

Where the crowd was taken to. The Emerpor came to speak in that room. While we were waiting a loudspeaker came on to say that the Emperor would come out in a few minutes. It first said this in Japanese and then English, but the English pronunciation was so strange that it was easier to understand the Japanese.

The second the Emperor appears, these flags pop up, right on cue.

The second the Emperor appears, these flags pop up, right on cue.

More of the crowd waving their Japanese flags

More of the crowd waving their Japanese flags

The emperor! His speech was really short. About one minute long maybe. It was like, Things are tough financially. Lets have a good year! And that was about it.

The emperor! His speech was really short. About one minute long maybe. It was like, "Things are tough financially. Lets have a good year!" And that was about it.

Police officer doing crowd control

Police officer doing crowd control

January 20, 2009

初詣(Hatsumoude) – The First Temple Visit of the Year

Filed under: Events, Tokyo places, Yamanote-Sen — myyearinjapan @ 1:26 am

In Japan, the New Year tradition is the first visit to a shrine or temple of the year, called hatsumoude, which means first visit. On every other day of the year, the trains stop running at midnight, but on New Years Eve, the lines in Tokyo keep running all night. People start flocking to shrines and temples as soon as the clock strikes midnight and continue all night and all day the following day, but it actually doesn’t matter when you go. A friend of mine finally made her first temple visit 2 days ago.

I made my first temple visit on New Years Eve, arriving at Meiji Jingu, a shrine in between 2 trendy Tokyo districts, at around 3:30 in the morning. Apparently, that was a lull in the crowds because we were able to walk right up to the shrine, even though a friend who had gone a little earlier had told us he was stopped every few meters and made to wait for the crowds ahead to thin down.

(By the way, the difference between shrines and temples is that shrines are Shinto and temples are Buddhist)

These pictures are somewhat hard to see due to the minimal lighting at 3:30 in the morning. So, apologies for that.

Even though Japan celebrates the New Year of the Georgian Calendar, they also use the Chinese zodiac. 2009 will be the Year of the Ox, so some people came to the Shrine dressed as cows to celebrate

Even though Japan celebrates the New Year of the Georgian Calendar, they also use the Chinese zodiac. 2009 will be the Year of the Ox, so some people came to the Shrine dressed as cows to celebrate. I'm not sure why Winnie the Pooh is there as well...

The first gate. The only reason I was able to take pictures at all was because of the many bright lights set up at the Shrine.

The first gate. The only reason I was able to take pictures at all was because of the many bright lights set up at the Shrine.

Close-up of that gate

Close-up of that gate

Lanterns. Many of them had company names. At this point, there was also a giant TV scren balrring commercials, which clashed a great deal with my expectations

Lanterns. Many of them had company names. At this point, there was also a giant TV screen blaring commercials, which clashed a great deal with my expectations

Hand washing before going into the Shrine. At this point, the commercials were gone and it had gotten much quieter

Hand washing before going into the Shrine. At this point, the commercials were gone and it had gotten much quieter

Inner gate to the Shrine. Our walk to the center is almost done.

Inner gate to the Shrine. Our walk to the center is almost done.

Finally at the Shrine!

Finally at the Shrine!

Lucky papers are left behind by visitors, tied to these strings.

Lucky papers are left behind by visitors, tied to these strings.

January 18, 2009

Interesting Bar Name in Shibuya

Filed under: Tokyo places, Yamanote-Sen — myyearinjapan @ 11:38 pm

We went past this bar as we were walking through Shibuya and wondered, why would anyone go to a bar that advertises itself as not being worth the trip?

Wasted Time bar in Shibuya

Wasted Time bar in Shibuya

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