Kid’s Tokei

Posted February 8th, 2012 in Japan, Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Kids version of bijin tokei has been on internet for some time but I didn’t know about it at all until I saw one ad of a photo studio near my house looking for models for Kid’s Tokei.  Haha, I’m not a mother who wants to make my own child to be famous or star, but the deal at the photo studio was really good (2000yen for printed photo, data, unlimited costume change etc) .  The deal was that I had to send the photo taken at the studio to kid’s tokei to enter the competition, and had to write down the name of the studio as a referrer.

On the day of photo shoot, I realized his chin was covered with red rash. It was perfectly clean till the day before, but why today! (><). Anyway we had our booking and headed to the studio.
For the costume I was thinking taxido but we decided to use “Momo-taro” instead. Hiro was happy…. just until we tried to change his clothes. He started crying when he saw “strangers” (staff at the studio). He cried and cried, and all his photo was his unhappy face with tears 😐

This is the photo we chose out of those screamig faces…

I didn’t think he would be chosen for Kid’s Tokei, but I sent this photo anyway.

….. Guess what! He is chosen for a Kid’s-tokei model!

We are having the photo shoot for website this Friday, and he will be on kid’s-tokei website around May this year :))). I want to update about it when it comes closer to the date.


Super Cold Climate Hits Japan!

Posted February 3rd, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

Japan has been attacked by super cold climate, and it’s been snowing hard in the area around Japanese Ocean since few days ago. Here in Shiga also gets lots of snow, and yesterday the snow level went over 1 metre. Very cold. No, I don’t feel “cold”actually,  it’s rather “pain” that I feel. :p

Many people have been suffering in this snow as they have to dig out their car from the snow and pass-way from the house to the car-way. They wake up around 4am just to dig out the snow before going to work.
Yesterday, kindergarten, elementally school, and junior high school in my area were closed because of the snow.  Today the schools started 2 hours later than usual.

There are many accidents occurred due to the snow across Japan, and it’s been the top news on tv these day. Not only northern area of Japan but also Kagoshima (Kyushu island near Okinawa) was snowing yesterday too!!!   Many people must be fed up with these heavy snow already but actually I still like it. Although I’m stuck at home whole day and can’t go out anywhere, I still like watching it, digging it, and playing with it.  It must be because I was born in a snowing day. (my birthday is coming up, I just realized :p) I feel happy that I can enjoy the view of this beautiful white world before going back to Perth.

Change of subject, today is 3rd of February, and it’s Setsubun in Japan. As I wrote about Setsubun “here“, we eat a whole sushi roll while looking toward this year’s good-luck direction (this year is north-north-west).  The sushi roll shouldn’t be cut, so you have to hold it and bite it as if you are eating a burger.

We ordered a sushi platter from a sushi place near the house, and also few Eho-maki rolls from Seven Eleven convenience store. As well as normal Eho-maki (which contains lucky 7 ingredient inside) I ordered “Fruits-maki” (strawberry, kiwi & banana with whipped cream and sponge cake). It looks just like sushi roll but it a rolled cake covered with dusted cocoa powder which resembles to nori sheet. I thought it’s funny and also a great dessert on Setsubun 🙂

I also bought a pack of soy beans for the Setsubun ceremony – throwing the beams while saying “fuku-wa-uchi” “oni-wa-soto”. I don’t know if we’ll do that inside the house as my little monkey may pick up the beans from the ground and eat it.  Then we eat the soybeans according to our age.  If you are 15 years old you get to eat 15 beans.  Packed soy beans sold in stores are cooked and edible.

Japan has many interesting traditions and events through out a year. I want to continue doing these thing after going back to Australia 🙂


Family Restaurants in Japan

Posted January 13th, 2012 in Eat out in Japan | 2 Comments »

While I’m in Japan I often went to family restaurants to have lunch or snack. The top reason is the price! I can easily get a coupon for free drink bar (unlimited drinks) online.  Not all family restaurants have good drink bar though.   D loved matcha latte at Big Boy and Gusto, but we didn’t see matcha latte at Saizeria.

Saizeriya is a Japanese chain of Italian family-style restaurants.  I used to go there often when I was a student because the food there is very very cheap.  Pasta, gratin and pizza starts from 280 yen each.  Plus, they have drink bar (which is normally 190 yen).  Although their pizzas and pasta are with just few ingredients and don’t really look nice, students like us were happy with those foods.  We could kill time with just few hundreds yen after school 🙂 I saw many students at Saizeria when I went there have lunch the other day.  Food there is much cheaper than other family restaurants such as Coco’s and Gasto, It could be even cheaper than McDonald’s.

I went to Big Boy more than 5 times during this stay.  I’m actually quite fed up with their menu now :p.  D wanted to go there because of Matcha Latte at their drink bar.  At some Big Boy they gave us a toy for Hiro too, and it was nice.  They do “Kids Members Card” as well where you can chose one item from their selection as a gift to your kid after earning 5 points (1 visit = 1 point).

One thing I was surprised was that Gusto now has few different versions – normal Gusto, Ohashi-Gusto, and Steak Gusto.  Ohashi-Gusto serves all the foods with chopsticks (ohashi = chopsticks).  I loved their food menu than Big Boy.  They had matcha latte at their drink bar too. (the one near my house)  And I won a free vanilla pudding as they were doing “instant win” scratch for New Year. 🙂  Steak Gusto serves steak, and it’s cheap!  It comes with salad bar & drink bar, and you can enjoy it under 1000yen.  I should go there one more time before I go back to Perth.

Oh, another thing I noticed when I came back to Japan was that some Japanese fast food restaurants, such as Yoshino-ya, Nakau and Matsuya, now have drive-thro facility!  It’s just like McDonald’s and KFC.  People can take-away beef donburi etc through the drive-thro.  Many people are using it, actually.  Japanese people work hard, and just want to eat up one donburi in the car then head back to office, maybe!


Yummy Japanese Drinks at Starbucks

Posted January 12th, 2012 in Japan | 2 Comments »

Today my friend picked us up and went out to had little snack at Starbucks. Unlikely I didn’t feel like having coffee (I’d already had 2 cups this mowning) so I ordered Double-squeezed Fruits Juice ¥220 (Starbucks brand drink in a paper pack). I didn’t feel like sweets either coz I had 2 donuts this morning, so ordered chicken and roots vegetable salad wrap ¥290.

The location is lovely – this Starbucks is located just near Biwako Lake shore, and I could see many cute ducks floating on the water throu a window. Because it was cold there’s no one siting on the chairs outside. Drive-thru got lots of cars with people wanting to get hot drinks.

My fried ordered caramel latte, cheese cake and pancakes. Looks yummy 🙂

My wrap was smaller than I thought : it was just half size. But I felt good eating salad and root vegetables because I’ve been eating meat and fish most of the time here.

It tasted ok. 🙂

It was shame I didn’t feel like sweets because I saw a big board with a photo of delicious-looking drinks!

Azuki Matcha Latte…

Matcha White Chocolate!

Soy Ho-ji-cha Tea Latte!

There are cold version of Azuki Matcha Latte & Soy Azuki Matcha as well, but in this cold weather people will go for hot drinks (unless they are thirsty or feel already warm after exercise).


Happy New Year 2012

Posted January 2nd, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

Happy New Year!

It was a sunny new year’s day yesterday.  My mum came over, and we stayed home eating all day on the 1st Jan.

We grilled mochi (rice cakes) on the stove.

Mochi was little burnt, but it was delicious.  This is zenzai (azuki bean soup with rice cake).

We had sukiyaki, funa-no-nitsuke, zenzai and seasoned rice in the morning!  Oh, plus red wine (not me though).

Funa is a fish which lives in Biwa lake.  It has distinguished taste, texture, and smell.  Its eggs are delicious 🙂  I’ve been eating this since I was a child, but I guess it’s what only Shiga people do.

On the 2nd, we went to hatsumode (first visit to shrine to celebrate the new year).  We thought there’d be many people on the 1st, and wanted to avoid all the crowd.

We prayed, and bought taiyaki, okonomiyaki, takoyaki & mochi from food stalls outside.  It was our lunch.

Dinner was this huge steak…..  The fat is marbled.  It was very tender and delicious.

It was eat→ sleep → eat → sleep ….  day.  Just what New Year should be in Japan!


New Year in Japan

Posted December 30th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

Just like Christmas is the biggest event of a year in many countries, New Year’s Day is the biggest day of a year in Japan.  There’re many sales and events around the end of the year, and people go last-minutes-shopping to prepare for the coming year.  You can hear New Year’s song everywhere and feel that New Year is coming.

Before New Year’s Day, people usually spend busy by cleaning the house and finishing all the chores they have to do within the year.  But once New Year’s Day comes, people stay at home relaxing, eating, and spending time with families.

This year, I could experience white Christmas and normal Japan’s New Year with families.  Everything are not the same as before (e.g. Now I can’t stay awake until late because I’m very tired from looking after Hiro all day), but I enjoy this homecoming trip pretty much.  I just remembered how funny Japanese tv shows are!  Especially around this time of the year there’re many comedy shows on tv and they’re seriously funny.  I’ve been laughing as if I’ve gone crazy!

2011 was not a happy year for Japan.  Big earthquake, tsunami, and many people lost their families.  But, because of the event, people could realize somethings – importance of ECO (saving the power), and warmth of people.  We appreciate people who came and supported the victims from outside this country. We felt so close to each other.  Families are important.  Friends are important.  Mates are important.  And, “life” could be so short and fragile.  Now the things are getting better and we are about to welcome a new year in few days.  I appreciate all that, and hope 2012 will be a happier year.

Now, snowing has stopped and I can see blue sky during the day.  There’s still big chunks of snow on the side of the roads, but it seems that it’s not going to snow for awhile here.  I hope the New Year’s Day is going to be a sunny day.  We will go to a shrine to celebrate and pray for the new year (hatsumode) as an annual event, and I think there’ll be many people.  I slipped on the snow on the road and hit my head last time (2 years ago), so I hope it doesn’t happen this time!

I hear it’s around 40 degrees in Perth these days.  Being here made me realise that I prefer cold climate to hot climate.  I love winter in Japan.  I love snow, I love the clean cold air, and I love taking hot bath in a cold night (and day).  I can’t wait to go to Disney Land or Universal Studio Japan, onsen trip, and play with snow when Hiro is older.

As there is one more day to New Year’s Day, and I’ve pretty much done all the shopping.  I think I will stay home tomorrow trying to clean the house so that we can welcome a new year with clean mind and clean house 🙂


Japanese Sausage

Posted December 27th, 2011 in Food | 1 Comment »

Finally…..  I’m eating Japanese sausage!  I was having craving for Japanese sausages since I was pregnant.  Japanese sausage is processed food (smoked), and has crispy skin.

Normall sausages outside Japan are usually raw meat.  I was surprised to see them in Perth the first time, because the sausages I knew was like the photo above.

Because they are processed, you can eat Japanese sausages as they are.  But people usually grill them to add flavour and texture.  I, on the other had, love boiling them.  It’s healthier, and makes the skin crispy.

When I broke the sausage, you can almost hear the sound of breaking the skin.  Although I boiled them for 3 minutes or more, the meat inside was still juicy thanks to the skin.

Sometimes I just boil sausages and eat with seed mustard. Ummmm… yum yum.  Goes with beer, chu-hi, and even hot Japanese tea! ♨


Japanese Pickles

Posted December 26th, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

Few days ago my dad bought few kinds of pickles from a pickles shop.   He knows I like pickles.  I remember eating whole takuwan (yellow, pickled daikon radish) by myself when I was a teenager. The combination of takuwan and hot Japanese tea was addictive, and I couldn’t stop eating takuwan once I started.  Pickles got lots of salt (sodium), and it’s not a good diet….  besides, one whole takuwan is about 30cm.  I don’t know how my body survived….

People make pickles so that they can keep the food edible longer.  The salty pickles goes with steamed rice, and Japanese people (in old era) used to eat just rice, pickles and miso soup.  To think about it, Japanese food contains lots of salt.  Miso is also salty, and so is soy sauce.

Back to the subject….  Here is pickled cucumber.  You can also buy it in Perth.

Rakkyo – pickled onions.  People eat it with Japanese curry rice.

Takuwan – pickled daikon.  You see it often in a bento box from Japanese restaurants in Perth, too.

Nasu-no-asazuke (lightly pickled egg plant).  Looks bit weird, but I love this.  One of popular item at  izakaya.

Gobo (burdock roots) and aka-kabu (red radish).  I never seen pickled gobo before!  It’s new….

It has vinegar-like taste, and not salty.  I love the texture.

There’re many more kinds of pickles in Japan, including cabbage, Chinese cabbage, mushroom, etc etc ……  Kyoto and Nara are famous for pickles.  If you love Japanese pickles and enjoy soshoku, try some unique one there 🙂


White Christmas in Japan

Posted December 25th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

When I woke up this morning, outside was like this.

WHITE CHRISTMAS ☆☆☆☆☆

Hiro enjoyed his first Christmas in snow 🙂

Merry Christmas to everyone!!!


An Early Christmas Date

Posted December 24th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

Yesterday, D, Hiro and I went to Hikone city area.  Hikone is one of famous old city in Shiga, and it’s just 10 minutes from my house by car.  There is famous Hikone castle near Biwako lake, and many restaurants and shops around the castle.

It was suposed to be snowing yesterday, but it was actually a sunny day (still cold though).  There’re many tourists around the castle.

First,we came to this cafe with D which I went with my friend the other day.  This cafe is a bakery/cake shop with nice dining area.  Because the shop opens at 11am and we arrived there 15 minutes early, we went driving inside the castle first.  You can drive around the castle and moat.  We could easily kill 15 minutes by enjoying the view 🙂

I love the interior of the cafe.  No, I love the building itself.  Looks like someone’s house with lots of tabels and chairs.

They serve lunch menu and nice drinks too.

We ordered sandwich lunch plate to share.  It’s Campagne bread with prosciutto, cream cheese and salad. The plate came with soup (it was carrot soup yesterday), cold chicken salad, salad & hot chips, and a choice of drink.  (¥1050)  I LOVE the Campagne bread.  Inside is moist, soft and chewy, but the crust was very hard and crusty.  All the food on the plate was delicious.

Then we ordered strawberry tart, and Monburan (Mont Blanc).  It took me 10 minute to chose the cake because all the cakes and bread looks so cute and delicious.  I had cheese cake last time, so I chose different one to try.  They’re both DELICIOUS. (>v<)

cheese cake I had last time

(cheese cake I had last time)

Hiro was happy too.

Then, we walked around “castle road”.  It started snowing and so freezing cold…

All the buildings around “Castle Road” were refurbished to look old few years ago in order to attract tourists.  Even a bank looks like this.

We strolled around the street, and bought few souvenirs.  It was windy and the air was spiking our faces, so we decided to head home.  It was a lovely day – we had early Christmas cake together, and had wonderful time 🙂