Things to Buy in Japan

Posted May 22nd, 2016 in Japan | No Comments »


I recently came back from my holiday in Japan, and it was sooooo great.  It’d been 2 years since my previous Japan trip, and I had so many things in my head that I wanted to buy, eat and do in Japan.

It was April, and being spring, it’s sakura season in Japan.  This must be the most popular season to visit Japan – there’re so many people at the Kansai airport and my husband had to queue for 2 hours at the immigration :p  I had to wait outside for 2 hours with 2 kids…. and we arrived at Hotel Nikko (only one hotel that’s connected to Kansai airport) past midnight…  It was a tiring start but we had so much fun during our 3-week-stay.


Our packed 3-week-holiday included visiting castles (national treasure Hikone Castle is 15 minutes drive from my house), Anpanman museum (my kids’ favourite character’s amusement park), and Tokyo Disney Resort.  And, of course lots of eating & buying.  I pre-bought many things online so I didn’t need to shop around while I was there.  On the day we arrived my house, there’re 20 boxes of things I’d bought online.  So most of my “shopping” was done before arriving Japan.  And for the rest we shopped at local shopping centres and mostly at 100 yen shops.


Now I’m back to Perth Australia, and I want to show people here that what people can/should buy when they go to Japan.  There’re about 30 items and I’m gonna write about them on each post.

stay tuned! :))

Say Hi to Robots When Staying in Japan

Posted July 22nd, 2015 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Henn-na (weird) Hotel….  This new hotel has just opened its door this month in Nagasaki in Japan.  As the name suggests, this hotel is not an ordinal hotel at all -it is staffed completely by robots!

You will be greeted by humanoid robots & a robot dinosaur at reception.  Functional droids are on hand to cart luggage to the hotel’s 72 rooms, staff luggage lockers and clean as well.  Guestroom doors are accessed by facial-recognition technology, and at the end of the stay guests pay on the machine at the front-desk.

This hotel is not only about having robots, it’s more about being environmentally friendly.  This is an official hotel of Nagasaki Huis Ten Bosch amusement park, and this park was opened in 1992 as an “Eco-Friendly Future City.”

The concept of this hotel needed to be environmentally friendly, including buildings and facilities.  Plus, they wanted to create a hotel featuring contrivances to provide a comfortable, even fun stay at a reasonable price. To achieve this, there are several unique features at this hotel, including… ↓

– Guest rooms do not have refrigerators.

– Guests can watch television on a tablet device.

– All rooms feature a cutting-edge “radiant panel” air conditioning system which will detect body heat in rooms and adjust the temperature.

– Keyless Stay

– No pyjamas, bathrobes etc are provided.

I think, considering the concept of this hotel and also seeing the very reasonable pricing, this sounds like a great place to stay (and visiting Huis Ten Bosch amusement park would be a bonus).  I’m sure my 4-year-old son will love being greeted by a robot dinosaur!

Huis Ten Bosch

Henn-na Hotel’s website is simple and looks easy to follow.

The hotel is currently in its first phase. A second stage is due to be completed in 2016 adding an additional 72 rooms.

New & Old …

Posted July 15th, 2015 in Japan | No Comments »


Kyoto, seventh largest city in Japan, is one of the popular tourists’ destination in Japan and is my most favourite city of all.  I love the character, history and the uniqueness of this city! My hometown is quite close to Kyoto and I used to go out a lot to Osaka & Kyoto area while I lived in Japan.  When people ask me where to visit in Japan, I always say Kyoto because there are so many things to see and experience there – lots of temples, shrines, beautiful old cities and delicious Kyoto food.

While visiting Kyoto, if you are lucky you may encounter with real Maiko-san (an apprentice geiko (not exactly same as geisha) in Kyoto).  I’ve visited Kyoto so many times but I’ve only seen the real one once.  Don’t mistake real Maiko-san with people dressed up like Maiko-san.  It’s one of popular activities in Kyoto for tourists to dress up like Maiko and wonder around the city!  I’ve seen foreign people taking photos with tourists in kimono :p

I’m flying back to Japan next year for holiday and I’d like to take my sons to Kyoto if we have a chance.  Wonder around Kamogawa River, Arashiyawa and Gion… That would be relaxing.  And if we are lucky we may find Maiko-san hurrying to work.  If we are really really lucky, we may get to see this … ↓


It’s kinda funny to see Maiko-san commuting on an electric vehicle but I guess it’s more practical than walking or riding a bicycle as they have to keep their outfit and make-up nice and tidy for work.  Some Maiko-san use “walking bicycle” or “Segway” which is quite cool.  New generation, really. But I still like the old fashion way! Haha


Hinata Cafe 2015

Posted April 14th, 2015 in Japan, Perth WA | No Comments »



There will be another great Japanese event happening in just few weeks!

This Hinata Cafe, 5th time in Perth, will open at the same location as past years – in Bibra Lake.  This is an unique event as the concept of this event is a “temporary open cafe space to exhibit original craft and art, share experience of self expression”.    There will be Japanese artists selling their gorgeous hand-made works,  as well as food & drink stalls and live music by local and Japanese musicians.  If you love going to flea markets, love wondering your Sunday with some live music, or are looking to get some original hand-made items, you’ll love this one!


I’ve only been to this Hinata Cafe once (they didn’t do last year), and I know there will be this artist Naoko Yamada who paints beautiful arts.  I’m hoping to find a nice painting of her as well as something pretty for my house.

The event will be on;
 (Sunday) 3rd May 2015
10:00 – 16:00
Perth Waldorf School
14 Gwilliam Drive, Bibra Lake
What’s on:
Exotic Japanese sweets and lunches
Creative exhibition of arts
Uniquely hand made items for mother’s day gift
Live music with many talented musicians!!
Please DO NOT park on the main street as it will block the traffic.
There are lots of parking spaces by the lake.

Hinata Cafe Facebook page

Hinata Cafe blog

Perth Japan Festival 2015

Posted February 17th, 2015 in Bagelier Bagel, Japan, Perth WA | No Comments »


SAT 07 MARCH 2015

13:00PM – 20:00PM


Perth Japan Festival is coming up!
For those who don’t know about this event, this matsuri is a free event with lots of fun for kids and families as well as adults.  I was there last year, and I was surprised to see the crowd.  It’s at the Forrest Place in CBD and I guess people couldn’t just pass all those stalls and shows.


There will be lots of demonstrations including taiko, ikebana and udon making, as well as many Japanese food such as ramen, tako-yaki, kaki-gori (shaved ice with syrup), dango and more to eat at the festival.  AND!  I will be there as well selling my bagels 🙂

Bagelier-image-for-Madmimi 450

Yes.  I know bagel is not Japanese food.  But I got an offer from my friend and I’ll be selling Green Tea bagels (Green Tea Anko, Green Tea Cream Cheese, Milky Green Tea) from 13pm!

It’s a shame that I can’t be enjoying the festival with my kids, but hopefully I sell out the bagels quick and join the fun.

Perth Japan Festival website


New Trend in Japan.. Wasabi Donburi?

Posted February 25th, 2014 in Food, Japan | 4 Comments »

chicken don


When you hear the word “donburi” you’d imagine many kinds of donburi dishes… oyako-donburi, ten-don (tempura-donburi), una-don (unagi-donburi), katsu-don (katsu donburi), kaisen-donburi etc etc.  There are many types of donburi dishes in Japan and I can’t count how many…

Donburi is one of the quick and easy dish you can have at restaurants or home – and has been one of the most popular lunch menu for office workers to grab during the short lunch break.

My favourite is oyako-donburi!! …but I also like ten-don, una-don….  hmmm writing this makes me really really hungry!!

Now, in Japan, there is a new kind of donburi dish called “wasabi donburi”.   It sounds like something you’d have to eat as a penalty of the game :p  But it appears to  be delicious!

As the name indicates, the key item is wasabi.  Wasabi donburi actually is a very simple dish – just a bowl of steamed rice, katsuo-bushi (bonito flakes), wasabi and soy sauce.

fresh wasabi


Sounds weird??  If you love wasabi you must try this!!

You will need fresh block of wasabi for this dish.

Imagine this…

Freshly steamed rice in a bowl.

Sprinkle katsuo-bushi.

Freshly grate wasabi and place on top of rice.

Pour the best quality soy sauce..

wasabi donburi

And eat as you mix the wasabi into rice…

Hmmmm it does sound yummy to me!!


Tokyo Disney Risort

Posted September 23rd, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

These photos make me want to fly to Tokyo Disneyland!!!

Disney Risort Halloween 2012

little Green Men Sweet Dango

Wedding Bouquet


Mickey Minnie Rings

Halloween Black Gyoza

Obento for Picnic

Posted September 10th, 2012 in Food, Japan, Perth WA | No Comments »

We are definitely in middle of spring now.  It’s been pretty warm for the last few days – though forecast says it’ll rain again soon.  Time for lots of insects…  (yay…)

Spring makes me feel happy, sleepy, and want to do laundry everyday.  It also makes me want to go out for picnic with Hiro who always wants to get out of the house and play outdoor.

Lunch I made for Hiro the other day….  It’s not only for Hiro, by the way.  He is a big eater but I don’t think his stomach can hold this much food. :p  I made them to share with my friends.

This is one of the things I like about Perth.  In Japan…  well, in my hometown, you can hardly find park or nice place to sit down with kids and have lunch together.  There’re always cars, buildings, and people passing by.  There is park near my kindergarden, but it’s not big and the ground is covered with seaweed for some reason!!  How come?  Is it not seaweed?  Or the area used to be under water or something?  Very weird….  So I don’t want to take my kid there to play. He might try to eat it  🙁

My parents used to take me and my brother to many places for picnic when I was a child.  Near Biwako Lake, some themed parks, and some public park.  You have to drive there and is not really close to my house.  So I definitely think Perth is very family-friendly and great environment for kids.

Mixed sandwiches and omu-rice.  It’s so easy to prepare if you have the ingredients.

For Omu-rice you’ll needs:

  • 2 cups of steamed rice (preferably left-over from last night)
  •  2 tbs of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 tbs tuna, canned, drained
  • 1 tbs unsalted tomato sauce
  • bit of oyster sauce and soy sauce

Stir-fry everything!

Then, make large thin omelet.  Place on the tomato fried-rice.  Draw smily face with tomato sauce!


Tako Su

Posted August 18th, 2012 in Food, Japan | No Comments »

Obon has finished….!  Obon is one of holiday season in Japan where people go back to their hometown and pray for ancestors.  During Obon you are not supposed to kill any living creature (including a fly) because it may be your ancestor visiting you in a form of the creature.  I feel so bad now because I forgot about Obon and killed a small spider 2 days ago.  It’s hard to remember these things while living in Perth.  😐

Above photo is marinated octopus, cucumber and wakame seaweed in vinegar sauce.  I call it tako-to-kyuri-to-wakame-no-sunomono, but I think you can just call it tako-su.  It’s typical summer salad (or should I say side dish) in Japan.

It is hard to find octopus legs in Perth, but in Japan we eat it very often.  If you go to kaiten sushi bar you’ll see octopus sushi, which is a nigiri sushi with a slice of cooked octopus leg.  Octopus leg is always available at supermarket too.   It is usually sold cooked though.  I don’t get to see raw octopus legs much over there unless I go to a fish market.

I think octopus legs are kind of gross food here?  That’s why I can’t buy it from any grocery shops?  Most Asian grocery shops don’t sell it too.  I usually buy it from seafood shops.

<Tako Su>

  • Octopus Leg (cooked) 100g
  • Cucumber 1
  • Wakame seaweed (dry) 1 tbs
  • White Wine Vinegar 2 tbs
  • Sugar 1 tbs
  • Soy Sauce 1 tsp
  • Ginger 1 slice


  1. Soak wakame in water until soften, and drain well.
  2. Slice cucumber thinly. (or thick if you prefer crunchy texture)  Slice cooked octopus leg.  Slice ginger into long matchsticks.
  3. Mix vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and ginger.
  4. Marinate octopus, cucumber and wakame in the dressing in the fridge for 1 hour or more before serving.


Japan Eclipse 2012

Posted June 4th, 2012 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

This may be a little old story to write about, but I just saw some photos of eclipse which was visible in Japan on May 21, and found that it interesting to actually see all the variety of sunglasses they were sold at stores.  Yes, the photo of eclipse is the most amazing thing, but so are the sunglasses/googles.


Eclipse sunglasses and googles were at the shops everywhere and millions of people rushed into the stores to grab one for themselves.  By the 21st, lots of shops sold out them and come people still tried to look at the eclipses with naked eyes (which was not recommended and people rushed into eye clinics afterwards).

I heard the story from my mum and friends, but I didn’t know there’re so many kinds of sunglasses and googles out there.  From character things to funny looking ones….  I just have to agree because it’s Japan!



(photos: google/

Hiro in Kid’s Tokei

Posted May 2nd, 2012 in Japan, Ume and Baby, Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Hiro at 08:50 (AM).

Website →Kid’s Tokei

Hiro at 20:41 (PM).

This one doesn’t look like Hiro…  but I remember he kept trying to move around.  The location was at the church.

He looks hilarious.


Japan – Channel 9 & Character Nippon

Posted April 7th, 2012 in Japan, Perth WA | No Comments »

There will be a 30minutes of TV program showing about Japan’s earthquake on channel 9 (Perth WA) –

08 April 2012, 5:00PM on Channel 9 (Perth WA)

<Nippon – a country of unique characters>

In recent years, interest in Japanese subculture, particularly in anime and manga, has dramatically grown all over the world. What exactly are “characters”? Why do characters appear and become popular? What kind of social reality do they reflect? Focusing on the theme “Characters and the Japanese,” this exhibition will showcase, through visual images and panels, characters commonly known to Japanese people that have triggered fads. The purpose of this exhibition is to introduce the world of characters in a broader sense and examine their impact on Japanese society.

©Tezuka Productions/Mushi Production | ©Fujio Productions | ©Tsuburaya Productions | ©FUJIKO STUDIO | ©HIKARI PRO.

Character Nippon

17 April 2012 (Tuesday) ~ 03 May 2012 (Thursday)

10:00AM – 4:45PM
2:00PM – 4:45PM
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

Gallery Central (12 Aberdeen Street, Northbridge)

Free Entrance!!!

Enquiry: 08 9480 1800

It’s been a year…

Posted March 11th, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

1 year ago today, the big earthquake and tsunami hit to-hoku Japan.  It’s been a year….  I still can’t believe it somehow.  I remember watching the news on tv in Perth while holding a newborn Hiro in my arms.

There are still many people who are missing.  Many people have lost everything and still live in temporary houses.  It’s still cold and some area are snowing right now.  (yes, it’s already March but it’s still snowing!  This winter is very different)

As one year passed, people are trying to move forward from the nightmare.  The bus left on top of the building had been removed recently.  Some people said the bus should be kept there to remind us how huge the tsunami was, but some people couldn’t just bare looking at it as it reminded them of their missing families and friends.

Since the earthquake and tsunami, there have been many people who have been suffering from many things.  The radiation is the biggest issue.  Many of Japanese foods, buildings, water… everything was contaminated around that area.  It’s sad that now you cannot enjoy Japanese food 100%.  People doubt if the food is ok.  It’s sad because I was very proud of Japanese food before.  I thought Japanese food is the most delicious, safest food – now not anymore.

Even Japanese people who live in Perth don’t want to buy products from Japan.  One of my friend here is thinking to start up the service where she supply Made-in Australia/New Zealand baby foods to Japan, because many of mums in Japan are worried to give Japanese products to their babies.

One positive news about Japan is that since the earthquake people started to be more supportive to each other and have stronger fellow-feeling.   I’ve seen this word “kizuna” (bond) everywhere while I was in Japan.  “Ganbare Nippon”  “Makeruna Nippon”.


I’m with Twitter and hear many scary things related to the radiation, everyday. That makes me not want to go to near To-hoku for at least next few years. (I still want to go back to my house though…).  That is sad that I hesitate to go back to my home country which I love so much.

I greatly feel sorry for the people – especially the ones with children who were exposed to the radiation.  It’s nightmare….  I can’t imagine how sad, confused, and heartbroken they must feel when hearing that their children may develop thyroid cancer in future.

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 🙂

Tanita Shokudo

Posted January 13th, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

Tanita is the world leader in precision electronic scales. With almost 50% of its domestic market share, the name of Tanita is now a household word in Japan.  By using Tanita’s BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) technology, our body composition monitors can measure #your: weight, body fat percentage, body water percentage, muscle mass, physique rating, basal metabolic rate (BMR), daily caloric intake (DCI), metabolic age, bone mass, and visceral fat.  … Amazing!

On 11th January this year, just 2 days ago, Tanita opened a cafeteria called Tanita Shokudo in Marunouchi, Tokyo.  A scale company and food?  It seems odd at first, but there’s a big relation between them – health.

There is a cafeteria inside Tanita company in Japan, and the food there had became famous for being healthy.  Many workers there said they lost weight because of the food they eat at the company everyday.  Because of that, Tanita has published two cooking books showing the recipes of the food they cook at the cafeteria.  Now, they opened a cafeteria in public so that anyone can enjoy Tanita’s food.

Their concepts for the food are “healthy – low calorie)”, “nutritious”, and “wa-shoku (Japanese cuisine)”.

There is a counseling room at the entrance with a big scale (of course Tanita brand) where customers can check their weight etc and get advice from Tanita’s nutritionist for free.

All the food there looks so tempting to me!  I love healthy food.  And I love Japanese food!

I saw Tanita’s recipe books in a section of “popular books” at a book store the other day.  Looks interesting too!

Rakuten Books Tanita Shokudo 1 Rakuten Books Tanita Shokudo 2

Amazon Amazon

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 🙂

White Christmas in Japan

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

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


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 🙂

Hikone Friends

Posted December 20th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

We visited one of my friend’s house the other day to meet her baby.  She and I used to go to the same high school in Hikone, Shiga.  She gave birth to this beautiful boy on May (just 2 month later Hiro was born).

They live by themselves in apartment, and the house was filled with toys and baby’s photos 🙂  It’s been awhile since I met her last time, and we have many things in common (including having a baby), so we chatted for quite long time.  D came along, and there was her husband at home as well, so it was fun.

I brought some souvenir to them – just some English baby books and Tim Tam.  I didn’t expect anything from them, but they had bought souvenir to us too.  Hikone city is actually pretty famous tourist destination because of its old history, and also Hikone castle and beautiful castle road.  Castle road has many old & new shops on its side selling souvenirs and foods.  Hiko-Nyan, a name of character of Hikone city, is very popular for its cute & relaxing figure.

They gave us Hiko–Nyan goods…

The dorayaki was from famous wagashi (Japanese sweets) shop in Hikone.  I’m surprised that they have Hiko-Nyan dorayaki.  It was fluffy, and very delicious.

It’s got Hiko-Nyan sticker at the back too.  Sugoi…

Teriyaki at McDonald’s

Posted December 18th, 2011 in Food, Japan | No Comments »

We went to McDonald’s the other day to have lunch.  Right now they are doing this campaign “buy value meal LL size and get a coke glass”.  Coke glass looks just like can of coke.

We were both hungry, and bought 2 teriyaki burger sets LL size.

Coke glass…

Ummm, yap, LL size is very big….  I couldn’t finish the potato and drink.

There’s power point for Nintendo DS.  (McD de DS)

Hmmmm  I haven’t had teriyaki burger for awhile!!  The combination of sweet teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayonaise is the vest match.

The new “Chicken Tazta Burger” starts selling from tomorrow! (related post)  I must try it…

First Snow ♥

Posted December 16th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

We had first snow today!!!  🙂

I was inside a building until 2PM, and when I went outside it was snowing.

I haven’t seen snow for 1.5 years.  I’m excited!!!

The snow stopped after awhile, and the sun was out.  The air was chilly, but I didn’t think it’d snow again, so I went out to a store nearby.  After shopping at the store, the sky looked like this ↑  The sky was dark, and it was very windy.  I got home straight away.

At 6Pm, my dad asked me to drive him to Nagahama train station which is about 15 minutes by car from my house.  He was having bounen-kai (end of the year drinking party) at a restaurant near the train station.  We left home, then it started to snow again…. pretty hard!

You can’t really see it, but some cars were carrying thick snow on their roofs.

Ummmmm  I couldn’t take nice snow photos.  It looks like raining, but it was snowing.  I hadn’t driven in snow for 8 years, and it was very scary :p

This snow isn’t gonna stack up.  Fine powder snow will, but the snow today was big, fluffy one.  It will be next year to see white world, probably.


Posted December 16th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

A temple near my house.  We go walking around the house often, and this is one of the places we’ve been.

A donguri nut on the ground.  Autumn….

It’s just a small temple, but we could walk inside.  There was a big bell which a monk will hit at 00:00 AM on the New Year’s day (Joya-No-Kane).

Hmmmm… beautiful!!

Nagahama Kurokabe

Posted December 10th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

Yesterday we went to Nagahama city, a neighbouring city of where I live, to walk around the Kurokabe road.

It is a small pedestrian street with old shops and restaurant around.  It’s a very old road.street.  Now, it’s a famous tourist destination and I get to see many tourists coming here almost everyday, so the shops sell more like “souvenir”  things.

The name “Kurokabe” literary means “black wall”.  Most of the buildings on this street are with black wall.  Because of the name, there are shops and restaurants selling “black” things, such as black curry, black rolled cake, and black donburi.

There are very nice museums and atelier/studio on this street including Kurokabe Glass Museum and Kaiyodo Figure Museum.  The glass ware made here is very famous.  You can see the studio through the window inside the glass shop.  When I was there, a glass artist was making square vase.  It was amazing.  First, it was just a round transparent ball of glass, but then, it became yellow-red-green square shaped art.  The studio looked very hot and the artist was working with half sleeve.  It was pretty cold day yesterday and we’re wearing thick jackets and gloves.

There are many action figures and character toys in this building of figure museum.  Famous music box shop is located inside too.

We had a bite at a bakery on this street.  This bakery has been here since long time ago…

I had a bacon epi bread, and D had ham mayonnaise roll.  We shared a melon-pan bread and a little box of banana au leit.

I love the crusty bread!!  It was very hard to chew, but good exercise on jaw 😀

On the way home we stopped at Nagahama castle.  It was freezing, so we just had a small stroll around the park, and head home.

Japan’s “Sugoi” Things I Found

Posted December 8th, 2011 in Japan | 2 Comments »

Since I’m back to Japan I’ve noticed few things that made me  think “wow….!” “Japan tte, sugoi ne”

I just want to list some of them here….

Eggs bought from a super market.  A pack of eggs is sometimes ¥98 here.  And, each egg has a sticker saying its expiry date.  Wow.

A pack of cotton buds for baby bought from a 100yen shop.  It contains 50 cotton buds, and they are individually packaged.  And, there are instruction of how to open the package, and “made in Japan” printed on each one of them. Again, the pack is just ¥100.  Wow.

Photos taken at a supermarket.  Each section sells varieties of brands.  One isle sells just sliced white bread, and one isle sells just Japanese green teas.  Wow.

I found this at my house.  A container for nikuman!  Haha, it makes it easy to store one nikuman in the fridge, indeed.  This can be a steamer to warm up nikuman in microwave, too.

A cup of instant udon noodle.  It contains chunks of pork, abura-age (fried beancurd), carrot and spring onion.  Is this an instant noodle?  These ingredients even got crunchy texture.  Oishi~

I don’t remember if public toilets in Perth are the same, but here in Japan, toilets have sink for little kids too.

And, handbag hooks inside the toilet is like this shape in Japan.  Looks strange, but this is to prevent someone outside trying to steel the bag while you are peeing (from above the door).  This crime happened so many times few years ago, and lots of public toilets use this type of hook now.

Trip to Shigaraki and Koga -Part2-

Posted December 6th, 2011 in Eat out in Japan, Japan | 2 Comments »

The restaurant was located just in front of Shiragaki train station.  We couldn’t miss the place because there’re lots of big red flags around the restaurant saying “MATSUTAKE”.  And there was loud music coming out from the restaurant.

Apparently, this place is very famous for ALL YOU CAN EAT matsutake course menu.  Matsutake is only available during Autumn, so they serve crabs and fugu dishes in winter. All-you-can-eat as well.

There’re many photos of famous actors/comedians/sumo restler taken with the owner of this restaurant at the entrance.  They came here to eat matsutake dishes!  The place was all tatami-floored, and you sit on zabuton (cushion) and eat the food.  Lucky we made booking – there’re so many people inside.  Our table was upstairs.

Our couse menu was Matsutake and Ohmi Wa-gyu Beef Sukiyaki with Matsutake Gohan (seasoned rice with matsutake), Matsutake Dobin-mushi (seasoned steamed matsutake), and dessert.  Meat, matsutake, vegetables for sukiyaki, eggs, rice were can be ordered as much as we wanted.

We were expecting them to bring warishita (sukiyaki sauce) to pour into the pan, but at this restaurant we actually cook by yourself at the table.  There were sugar, cooking sake, soy sauce and their home-made sukiyaki sauce next to the pan.

First, sprinkle sugar on the bottom of the pan, then place wa-gyu beef.  Pour soy sauce and sukiyaki sauce over the meat, and eat the meat first – by dipping into raw egg.

OH MY GOSH….  The meat was so tender, and delicious!!!  I hadn’t eaten such delicious beef for a long time!!!

Then add other ingredients such as matsutake, tofu, other mushrooms and Chinese cabbage.

We ordered lots of wa-gyu beef and matsutake to top up. Many times.

And lots of rice too.

Wa-gyu was great, and Matsutake was also great!  Great fragrance, and very thick, dense body.  The texture was amazing.

I loved the chopstick stand (racoon shaped Shigaraki ware), and they were selling many kinds of souvenirs downstairs, so we bought few things for ourselves.  My dad bought matsutake to take home, and my brother bought some sweets.  I bought the Shigaraki ware chopstick stand. 😀

They gave us a bag of gift when we left.  It was part of the course menu deal.  And, because we bought some souvenir, we could do the garapon lottery (You could win a prize in a lottery by turning a small round machine. The prize depends on a colour of the ball dropped from the hole of the machine).  We did 4 times, but didn’t get big prize.  They gave us packs of sweet chestnuts and bananas for thank-you.

The food was very very nice!  And the service was great too.  My dad loved the place, and he said we’ll come back here again on Christmas.  Around Christmas they do all-you-can-eat crabs and fugu course meal.  Despite the amount and quality of the food, the price was not that expensive.  That’s amazing too.

Trip to Shigaraki and Koga -Part1-

Posted December 5th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

As it was D’s birthday, my dad and brother took us to one of the most historical cities in Shiga –  Shigaraki and Koga.  Shigaraki is famous for its pottery and stoneware (wiki), and Koga is an area where ninja used to live in old era (wiki).  The purpose of going there was to have matsutake (the most expensive, the most delicious, the most rare mushroom in Japan) dishes in Shigaraki, and visit ninja house in Koga.

First, we stopped at one of Shigaraki-ware store in Shigaraki.  There’re so many shops selling stonewares in this area.  The most common Shigaraki-yaki is tanuki (racoon dog), but there are many more…  including koalas and frogs.

The small ones are around ¥3000, and the big ones are around ¥400,000.  I’m not sure how much the biggest one (around 3M) is…  I don’t think anyone can bring it home!

The souvenir shop sells very cute souvenirs…  tanuki-shaped sweets and chocolates.

After having browse around this shop, we still had time until our Matsutake lunch reservation at a restaurant, so we headed to Koga (Kouka).  It was just 10 minutes drive from Shigaraki.

I remember coming here when I was little.  My dad took us here.  And, I remembered it was a big area which has lots of trick inside the houses which ninja used to use when enemies attacked them.  But, actually, this ninja palace is just someone’s house.  It’s bit hard to find….

There’re some other tourists visiting here when we arrived.  We paid the entrance fee, and had browse inside.

You can hire ninja costume (¥500 for 10 minutes).

You can relax here and have hot green tea.

You can practice throwing shuriken) here 🙂

Many ninja dolls inside the house….  They freaked me out.

The tools and sword ninja used to use were on display.

The owner of this house started talking about ninja, and showing the tricks inside the house.  I couldn’t take photos, but they’re pretty cool.  Many pitfalls and hidden panic rooms.  And, after hearing the story of ninja, I found that ninjas were not like what I imagined at all.  They didn’t kill people for no reasons –  what they did was mostly just escape from enemies.   It was so interesting to see inside the pitfall and underground tunnel.  (website)

After this, we headed to Shigaraki again to have Matsutake….


Happy 30th Birthday!

Posted December 3rd, 2011 in Food, Japan | No Comments »

Today is D’s birthday…. entering his 30th!

We are going out for big lunch today, but I will write about it later.  I bought him birthday cake from this cute cake shop.

The shop’s decoration is all Christmas!  So cute…  This shop has been popular around this area ever since I can remember.

I picked individually cut cake, not a whole cake.  I thought it’s easier to eat as there is no need to cut by ourselves.  I could pick few different flavours too.

I chose sponge and cream cake with fruits (everyone’s favorite!), monburan (cake of marrons – chestnuts), chocolate cake, fruits tart, and cheese cake.  They all look yummy!!!  Pumpkin tart looked nice too, but maybe next time…

Hmmmmm… a whole decorated cake looks also nice and delicious…  Japanese cakes are so cute.  And, the decoration is amazingly beautiful.

We probably get a whole cake on Christmas, maybe!