Japanese Automatic Toilet

Posted September 16th, 2011 in Japan, Ume's Interests | 3 Comments »

I wrote about automatic bidet toilet seats earlier, but here again I just want to re-write about it.

Apparently there are several automatic bidet toilet seats available in Australia.  Most of them fit standard-sized Australian toilet and just need to be simply replaced with the existing one.  You will need power point in the toilet to use electronic toilet seat though.

Automatic bidet toilet in the bathroom is a very common thing you can find in Japan.  72% of Japanese households have one of these (REF), and almost all of them are TOTO brand.  TOTO has many advanced features rarely seen outside of Asia, and it designs the world’s most sophisticated bathroom products, elevating the bathroom from the merely functional to a total relaxing experience. I find it little funny that the oldest type of toilet (squat toilet) is still somewhat common in public places and some households in Japan, as well as these advanced electronic toilets.  Some public toilet (female) have three kinds of toilet : squat (hole on the ground), non-bidet, and bidet. It’s just because some elderlies still prefer squat style.  Most of the squat toilets are automatic though.  It flashes automatically when you leave the toilet.

Had been living in such environment, it is natural for Japanese people to long for one of these automatic toilet seat to have in the house outside Japan too. I know several Japanese families in Perth installed TOTO toilet seats in their houses, and they look so great….  I always wished I had one at home too.  TOTO brand is very expensive (I think it’s around few thousands dollars) compared to other brands, but is the best according to all the reviews and product information.  But, not everyone can afford few thousands on a toilet seat.  I think the cheaper ones are ok and still do the job –

With these demands from Japanese custoemers, Zakka Box in Mount Lawley started selling electronic bidet toilet seats at shop.  They are Korean brand, and are much cheaper than TOTO’s.  When I visited the shop, the owner told me that she actually installed TOTO toilet seat few years ago and it’s been amazing all the guests who visited her house. Having an electronic bidet toilet seat is one of Japanese people’s dream who live here (of course other people dream about it too), but TOTO brand is too expensive to buy.  Now she sells these Korean bidet toilet seats, and they have became popular item, she said.

Here are the brief functions of the two bidet seats she sells at shop:

1)

  • instantaneous heating for 24 hours
  • one pocket two nozzles
  • self-cleaning nozzle
  • bubble cleaning – air pump motor
  • turbo – for reglar motions
  • automatic drier (adjustable temperature)
  • occupied seat sensor
  • warm air drying
  • adjustable warmness on seat
  • kids lock

2)

all above functions, plus

  • stainless nozzle
  • deodorisation with aromatic
  • ultraviolet sterilising illumination
  • etiquette tunes
  • luxurious remote control

    You know, actually you can look it up on eBay to find it cheaper, to tell the truth.  But, buying from an actual shop and the shop you know may be better  – in case it breaks or got problems, you can always ask for help.

    By the way, I found this very funny…

    a


    Fix My Appearance

    Posted September 15th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 1 Comment »

    I’ve always thought I’m not really a girly person.  I prefer playing with dogs and cats rather than polishing my nails, and prefer going for a drive rather than going for shopping.  I like being alone sometimes, and do things at my own pace.  I don’t really like being in a group and do things together.

    Some of my friends are really women-like.  Shopping for clothes and handbags, getting manicure and pedicure, going to a hair salon every 3 months…  One of them bought some expensive facial and skincare equipments from Japan to keep herself beautiful : minus-iron face steamer, face roller, face lift machine, even an IPL machine to do at home.  Seeing them sometimes makes me think that I should be more “girly” at least a little bit more.  Yes, I admire them keeping themselves look tidy and beautiful.  I’d love to have good-looking hairstyle and fingernails all the time too.  I do want to, but I’m not sure if I can do it.  I mean, I can’t continue doing things sometimes.  Few days later I may forget about my manicure set and few weeks later it will be missing from my view.  I don’t know if I can change this personality now :p

    When I realize I need to fix my appearance, however, I can’t wait any longer to get started.  When I’m in mood for it, I want to do it right now. (Yes I am blood type AB, my star sign is Pisces, and I’m Year of the Pig. These 3 things compose my character.)  Now is the time.  I really really really want to do something about my HAIR.  I also feel I need to do something about my face too.  My face looks so tired and unhealthy in the mirror.  Yes I’m 10 years older than 10 years ago, but I still want to look like me when I was 10 years younger.  (Haha :p ) But, this time, I’m keeping myself stay calm.  Because I want to get my hair done in Japan.

    I’ve been to several hair salons in Perth, but I must admit that I still prefer salons in Japan.  Price-wise and technique-wise.  Over the last 8 years, I’ve had only one good experience here – it was from Hair Plus in Perth, and I actually liked the hairstyle I got.  Even a stranger told me “wow, how do you maintain your hairstyle so good without being in Japan?”.  My hair was just below my ears (so it was pretty short), and the colour was very light brown.  (I had it when I was writing my old blog)  At other salons, people are great and friendly, but I just wasn’t very happy with the outcome.

    My current hairstyle is the worst, I think (*_*).  Before, my hair was always longer than my shoulders so I could at least tie my hair up.  But now, my hair is pretty short and I feel like I’m having a bad hair day everyday.  I don’t like how my hair is cut – the angle, length… everything.  It looks like I cut my hair myself.  I don’t want to say where I got my hair done (it might be just because of my poor explanation of how I want my hairstyle to be to the hairstylist) but I wasn’t happy with the hairstyle and hair colour I got…

    It seems that my hair grows very slowly now.  Is it because of breastfeeding?  My hair should be longer than this… It’s been few months since I got haircut already!

    I hopt it grows long enough to have new haircut in Japan.  Or I can get hair extensions, I guess…  I want to take photos of before/after and hopefully post them on Umeboss to show. :-p


    A Beautiful Spring Day

    Posted September 14th, 2011 in Food, Perth WA | 2 Comments »

    It was bit cloudy yesterday morning.  I thought it was going to rain. I checked the weather on my iPhone and it had a illustration of half rain/half sunny.   The whole week seemed to be like that.

    I felt like eating Japanese food in the morning, so I quickly prepared my breakfast.  Steamed rice, umeboshi (sour plum pickles), natto, seasoned nori, and osuimono (clear soup).  That’s it??? You ask.  Hmmm, it doesn’t seem to be a meal, does it?  But yes, it is to me.  I love soshoku (plain/simple diet). 🙂  Placed on a box of toy….  This is my dining table now.

    During the day I took Hiro to a neighboring Duck Park for a walk.  The sun was blight then and it was a perfect weather for strolling in the park.  It was just after 1PM and there was no one around, except one mum and one baby girl sitting near the pond enjoying their quality afternoon.

    This is what I love about Perth.  There are so many parks… almost everywhere.  The beautiful ones.  Lots of greens, lots of birds, lots of nature….  Walking through a quiet park in such a beautiful weather, I just wanted to scream! “I LOVE THIS”

    For lunch, we headed to Northbridge because D wanted to buy some Indonesian noodles.  We went to the usual Vietnamese place on William street, again.

    D ordered Pork Chop Rice and I ordered Mai Fun with Braised Chicken.  D loves this place because there’s always not many people inside.  Yesterday when we arrived, there’s no other customers- only us.  It was lucky because Hiro was screaming while we were eating our lunch.

    We had a look inside Kong’s and VHT, but D couldn’t find what he was looking for.  D wanted this particular Indonesian instant noodles which we haven’t seen anywhere for a while.  Maybe it’s not permitted to import to Australia anymore.  We could go to other grocery shops to have a look, but we didn’t want to bother.  There are many Chinese grocery shops, but I wonder if there is any shop selling many Indonesian items.  Maybe the one in Market City in Canning Vale?  We’ll give it a try another day.

    I actually wanted to go to Emma’s Seafood to buy some Japanese stuff too.  But it was bit too far to walk….  I felt like making kappamaki (roll sushi with cucumber).  I have lots of wasabi left at home.  Well, I will come back another time. 🙂

    a


    Okuizome

    Posted September 13th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

    Okuizome, literally meaning ‘first eating’, is a traditional Japanese ceremony in hopes that children would never worry about food in future.  It’s held either on the 100th, 110th, or 120th day after the birth.  Of course the baby can’t eat anything yet, so baby  just “pretend” to eat.

    For this ceremony, traditionally we prepare fish, beans, boiled vegetables, soup and rice (white and red mochi (sticky rice ball) or red sticky rice (sekihan)).  Stone  is also prepared to wish a baby to have strong teeth.

    I didn’t do it for Hiro just because I thought it’d be hard to prepare such a feast without being in Japan.  But, after receiving this photo from my friend and hearing the story, I kind of regret that I didn’t do it for Hiro.  I’m not really a traditional person but would like to keep some Japanese tradition.

    I remember my friend (who lives in Japan now) did this okuizome ceremony in Perth few years ago, and I now admire her for doing it.  I think it’s important to keep such traditions, old manners and customs alive.

    Since we are in Australia and can’t follow all Japanese traditional ceremonies for Hiro, I’d like to take him to shrine for omiyamairi when we go to Japan in November.  People usually visit a shrine for Omiyamairi 31 days after a baby boy is born (32 days for girls), but I think it’ll be still ok to pray for his or her health and happiness. 🙂

    Talking about omiyamairi, he is also going to get baptized in church sometime soon, I think. I’m not catholic and don’t know much about catholic ceremonies, but I hear babies are usually baptized soon after birth. Hiro is already 6 months now :p
    Well, he is lucky experiencing two kinds of ceremonies. We don’t know if he choses to be catholic, Buddhist or something else when he grows up, but it is all up to him and we respect his decision 🙂 It’s good to have many options open.



    Steam Cleaner

    Posted September 12th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

    It’s been warm and sunny… Yap, spring is here!  It should be. September is already half past!

    It was a “cleaning” Sunday for us. We washed our car, finally…  And, we bought this steamer from Kmart for $29 and steam-cleaned lots of things in the house. Actually, at first I wasn’t sure if it’s really going to work.  It’s $29 and is from Kmart.  But, it’s working pretty good!

    It releases hot steam and the pressure is strong. It’s not strong enough to wash car wheels, but works ok on sofas, car seats, cushions, etc.  You only put 175ml water on each use so it’s very right to carry and is handy. We steamed Hiro’s toys, play mat, car seat, etc.  It was a good buy!


    Morning Walk and Bacci Cake

    Posted September 11th, 2011 in Food, Ume and Baby | No Comments »

    I love the smell of cold morning….  Cold air with bright sunlight and birds singing are somehow different from what I remember of Japan’s winter morning, but they still reminds me of how I liked waking up early in winter while I was in Japan.

    I took Hiro for a walk this morning, because I felt like going outside and also wanted him to wear a hat I found in the closet.  Looks like Mongolian baby 🙂 … or a girl.

    Ohhh my right wrist is so sore… It was ok until I visited Play Group on Friday though. I was holding Hiro for 2 hours there and after I got home it started to be really sore.  Now I need to wear tape around it so that I can do things like holding him, cutting vegetables, and even opening a lid of a jar.  Did I strain it?

    This photo reminded me… In-laws came over to eat a cake together – a Bacci Cake from Cookie Barrel.  It was very rich chocolate and nut cake…

    I mean, very rich.  I couldn’t finish one piece…  but I know this is how people in Australia like chocolate cake to be!  A very rich and sweet.  Hmmmmm, if there was less cream in the ganache and less liquor in the Bacci filling, I might be able to finish it.  Having it once in a while may be a good treat for myself?

    a


    Winter to Spring

    Posted September 10th, 2011 in Food, Perth WA | No Comments »

    D and I get a craving for juicy chicken karaage (recipe is here) once in a while…. I made quite a lot, but we finished them all in one night.  I can’t believe the size of my stomach :p

    The best accompaniments to karaage, for us, are Japanese mayonnaise and Srirachang chili sauce.  And, of course, steamed rice.  I need lots of salad too.  Oily food needs to be eaten with some vegetables.

    Karaage is one of the easy dishes to make.  You just need to toss all ingredients in a plastic bag and let chicken get marinated in the bag.  I added 1 tablespoon of roasted sesame seeds this time.

    I made white  soup (recipe is here) with hakusai (Chinese cabbage) to serve with karaage.  This time I didn’t use chicken thigh but used bacon.  Other ingredients are similar : onion, carrot, broccoli, mushroom, etc.

    I love soup, especially in winter.  Soup with lots of vegetables fuels me up and warms my body.

    The winter is almost over though.  My garden is very colourful now.  Lots of green, lots of yellow, and lots of sunlight.  Bees and butterflies are everywhere.  Yet, early morning is still bit chilly….

    I realized I had frozen scone dough in the freezer, so I baked them off just now.  Smells good.  Oh, I don’t have cream…..  That’s ok, I will eat them with whipped butter and sweet strawberry jam ;_)

    a


    Fairy Birthday Cake

    Posted September 7th, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

    A birthday cake I made last week – a white chocolate cake with a image of fairy.

    When I was asked to make this birthday cake for a 4-year-old girl, I wasn’t 100% sure if I could do this. Things a mother required me to do are:

    • white chocolate-based

    • image or doll of fairy on top of the cake

    • 100&1000 on the side

    • square. not round

    • 5~6 strawberries on top

    • a message plate on top “happy 4th birthday”

    • pink or light purple themed

    • decorated with whipped cream

    …… I’d never made a decoration cake with white chocolate. I could just make white chocolate mud cake, but I knew she wanted it to be somehow Japanese-style. Probably sponge cake with white chocolate ganache? Will it do?

    When she said “a cake with fairy image on top” “100&1000” “pink or purple themed”, I had an image of the cake in my head already. I used to be a little girl and I knew what the birthday girl is after.

    I decided to layer vanilla sponge cake, cocoa sponge cake, white chocolate ganache and whipped cream, then decorate the top and side with white chocolate and whipped cream.

    The most important thing I had to do first, however, was to look for an image of fairy. I found fairy-shaped cake toppers at some online shops, but I didn’t like them. I didn’t think they’re cute. So I ordered a sheet of Tinker Bell edible image.

    It was actually my first time to handle edible image!  I’d never even seen or touched one before. (You can tell from the non-smooth surface of the image on the photo ^^;)  So I was quite nurvous until I opened it from its packaging sheet in the morning of her birthday party.

    Edible image is made of icing, and it can’t be placed on wet surface. Butter cream or fondant will be the best cake to top with edible image, but my cake was made of whipped cream and chocolate ganache. Whipped cream is too wet and it’ll ruin the image. So, I only used white chocolate ganache on the bottom and around the edible image. Whipped cream is used around the cake only.

    The morning was kind of disaster… Not only that I had to make this special cake for a little girl, but I also had a little baby to look after at home. Hiro doesn’t take long nap during the day, so I knew i’d need D’s help while finishing up the cake.

    1 hour before the delivery, I opened the Tinker Bell edible image from it’s packaging and tried to place on top of the cake I prepared.
    It doesn’t peel off!!!!! ((((;゚Д゚))))))). I tried putting it in the freezer for few seconds, but it didn’t work. The time passed, and I was in panic. Hiro was crying next to me. I repeated putting it in the freezer and tried to peel off many times, and after several tries I could finally get a sheet of Tinker Bell removed from the backing sheet.   Thank you, thank you!!!

    I quickly placed it on top of the cake and finished decorating the cake. It took longer than I expected and I had to leave home already in order to deliver it before little girl’s birthday party. Hiro was still crying, and continued crying in the car. Very hard. It was more like screaming. His face was red and he didn’t even listen to my voice. I was holding a big box of cake, navigating D to the little girl’s house, and trying to sooth Hiro at the same.

    We were few minutes late, but I was reliefed I could deliver the cake safe.  They seemed to like the cake, and I was happy.  Now I’m 100% back to Hiro.

    When I returned to the car, he was sleeping….  Crying must have tired him out.  Maybe he felt the pressure and stress I was feeling and that’s why he was crying?  Anyway we all went home in a quiet car. 🙂


    Shopping Baby Stuff Online

    Posted September 6th, 2011 in Japan | 2 Comments »

    I’ve started buying things from Japanese online shops that we may need while we are in Japan.  Most of them are baby stuff; baby carrier, baby record goods, etc.  Some of them are cheaper buying in Japan, and I can find more variety of goods there.  For example, I bought this baby carrier called “Clmin”.

    Baby can “wear” it as if s/he wear a pair of pants, and it’s easy for mum to wear too.  The supportive & durable material is used for comfort for both mum and baby.  I found it on sale at ¥1980 (about $20 AUD) and bought it straight away.  All the reviews are good.

    And, I was going to rent a small baby stroller so that we could put Hiro down when we go outside for a walk or shopping. The cheapest rental price I could find was ¥800 per month plus a shipping fee of ¥2000.  Then, I found this stroller for ¥2990 from an online store.  It’s light, easy to maneuver, and is exactly what we were looking for.  We’ll be in Japan for 3 months and it will be cheaper than renting one, so I bought this too.

    When my in-law told me I should buy Grobags from Bambinipront (coz they were doing sale) I instead found this First Year Sonogram Frame. You can display photos of 3 milestones in baby’s first year, and I thought it’s so cute.  I have my favorite ultrasound photo of Hiro and I thought it would be nice to display it on this frame. It’s around $27 at Bambinipront.  I searched this item online in case somewhere else sells it cheaper.  Then I found one Japanese online shop selling this for ¥1050.  I’m very happy I bought this!

    Oh, by the way I was surprised to know that you can get a “talking” potty in Japan!  It talks “good job!” “well done!” in this an-pan-man (Japan’s popular kids’ character) voice.  Very cute!  Then, D said “well, I’m not surprised.  Japanese toilets are high-tech!”. Even for babies !?:p


    Taka’s Kitchen and San Churro

    Posted September 5th, 2011 in Eat out in Perth, Perth WA | No Comments »

    Sigh… I regret that we went to crowded Fremantle market area on busy Sunday. We didn’t do much – just had quick snack at Taka’s Kitchen then had churro and iced chocolate at San Churro. We walked around the busy cappuccino street and it just tired us out. We really shouldn’t go out to a busy place on weekend. We should go to a quiet park or beach instead and relax. It was Father’s Day but I don’t think D enjoyed the day. We were both tired from pushing a big stroller around and watching for cars, people, and trying not to get blight sun light on Hiro’s face. It’s not like we really wanted to eat Taka’s food and churro and chocolate. We simply just wanted to do something together. No more going out to busy places on weekends!

    Miso-katsu-don and kaki-age-don.

    I don’t know why D chose to go to Taka’s kitchen… It’s the worst place to go with a big stroller and a grizzly baby.

    San Churro was also crowded as usual. It was much nicer when I came here with friends in early morning the other day. It was quiet, much less people, food and drink were perfect (because they weren’t busy and had time to prepare with care), and we could totally enjoy the moment. Yesterday was opposite. …Well, at least D enjoyed the churro and white chocolate..