Posts Tagged ‘sushi’

Sugar rush of sweet sushi, chocolate fossils and more as Valentine’s in Japan approaches

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Japan has an uneven track record when it comes to celebrating Western holidays. While many people have started dressing up for Halloween only recently, the country has wholly embraced Valentine’s Day since the 1950s. Annually, women buy premium chocolate and in bulk, generating half the country’s chocolate business being spent in February.

(Yes, that’s mostly women. Men repay the confectionary favor on White Day a month later.)

While there are mountains of high-end choco tugging at the heart strings, many vendors are trying to stand out with unique packaging and offbeat designs. Here are a few tasty examples.

Sushi chocolate

If you want to give your partner a gift with a Japanese twist, why not go fishing for some sushi-shaped candy?

Tobu's chocolate sushi.

Tobu’s chocolate sushi.

Instead of heading to Tsukiji’s fish market, go west to Ikebukuro’s Tobu Department Store where you can buy chocolate that looks like egg, shrimp and sea urchin sushi. The set, which costs ¥2,592, includes a dollop of mousse that represent the ginger gari.

Chocolate is a girl’s best friend

Takashimaya Osaka Store has morphed two favorite gift options: chocolate and diamonds.

Takashimaya's jeweled cake.

Takashimaya’s jeweled cake.

The department store’s new cake glitters as it’s decorated with diamonds in addition to frosting. You better be in love because the cake, encrusted with 125 diamonds, will set you back more than ¥14 million.

‘Poisoned’ apples

Kuromajutsu has a series of “poisoned” apples — but not any old  “Snow White” types of fruits. The company claims it has injected “magic” into these apples using a Buddhist prayer that will, supposedly, make your victim — um, that is future spouse — fall in love with you instantly.

Kuromajutsu's magically

A screenshot of Kuromajutsu’s magically “poisoned” apple.

Kuromajutsu packages the ominous apple in a black box complete with the company’s black cat logo. True love can be yours for just a bite — and ¥10,000.

Canned meat

Does your man lack a sweet tooth? Meiji has a savory solution by offering up the perfect canned meat for this Valentine’s Day.

Meiji's canned meat.

Meiji’s canned meat.

The company’s web page recommends which canned meat would go well with the men in your life. For example, your hard-working co-worker who likes sake may prefer corn beef, while your red wine-drinking boss might like grilled chicken. We can’t guarantee your Valentine will enjoy this gift, but it is sure to be memorable.

Monster cookies

At the event Cookieboy event, people can ice monster-shaped cookies designed by textile artist Takehiro Natsuyama to create adorable and delicious treats.

Cookieboy's creatively designed treats.

Cookieboy’s creatively designed treats.

Natsuyama wants guests to use his beastly cookies as a canvas and show them how to turn treats into works of art using only frosting and other toppings. Instead of keeping it a secret, you can make your Valentine’s gift with your boyfriend this year at the Cookieboy workshop

Jurassic Fossil Chocolat

Instead of searching for the perfect gift, you can make your boyfriend dig it up himself with an archaeological treat. Welcome to Jurassic chocolate.

chocolatepulse6

Jurassic Fossil Chocolat by Maquis.

Jurassic Fossil Chocolat by Maquis is a tasty set where people have to unearth the chocolate fossil hidden behind a layer of . . . more chocolate. The set even comes with a tiny hammer and brush to complete the prehistoric experience. Some of the buried dinosaurs include a T-rex, stegosaurus and brachiosaurus.

Yahoo! Japan’s Valentine’s Boy Field Guide

If none of these options sound appetizing and you’re still unsure as to what kind of sweets to give your sweetie, Yahoo! Japan has a new site where you can (virtually) ask 25 different boys what their dream date and chocolate is.

Yahoo! Japan’s Valentine’s Boy Field Guide.

Yahoo! Japan’s Valentine’s Boy Field Guide.

After you input your lover’s face type (dog, monkey, horse) and personality (herbivore, geeky, manly man), you can ask all of your burning Valentine’s questions. It’s a little unnerving watching this uncanny valley version of your boyfriend reveal his private thoughts, but his reaction is actually based on a scientific survey.

As you can see, Valentine’s Day in Japan isn’t just about chocolates and flowers. It’s a big business, and companies will continue to reinterpret the day in new and sometimes terrifying ways.

Pulsations 1.13.14

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Here’s a new batch of Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order . . .

Kabe-don: How tough guys show their love! (from RocketNews24): Do you know what that pose is called when guys lean over someone with one hand against a wall? Here are some wacky examples from around the web.

less is more: Nendo Reinvents the Chopstick by turning two into one (from Spoon & Tamago): Rassen chopsticks fit together after you’re done eating due to their helix shape.

What it was like to run a popular sushi restaurant in New York City, with memories (from Just Hungry): Makiko Itoh remembers her mother’s sushi restaurant, Tsukiji Sushisay, which closed in 2002.

A Japanese Traditional Tea Room built in the Condo.! (from talk-hokkaido): This blog from Hokkaido has a new post almost everyday. This time, Kazu introduces the tea room his friend arranged for his wife.

In Japan the cycle of dependency has gone viral (from Kotaku): An anti-drug post spawns a pile of parodies ranging from addictive nature of Pokémon to olive-oil dependency.

Video Pulse

The Tower of the Sun in Osaka’s Expo Commemoration Park got was illuminated with a super fancy projection mapping show over Christmas. This multi-angle video from Osaka at Night shows the entire thing, in case you missed it.

Pulsations (07.19.13)

Friday, July 19th, 2013

What’s in a Japanese Woman’s Purse? Let’s Look Inside! (from Tofugu): Phone, check. Day planner, check. Face-blotting paper, check. Shout-out to Tofogu’s intern, Rachel, for a great read on what lies in the depths of a Japanese woman’s bag.

On Getting by in Japan (Without Speaking Japanese) (from This Japanese Life): The author of this post wishes he could have read this upon arriving in Japan two months back. Plenty of helpful tips for the less fluent among us gaijin.

Japanese Tattoo Stockings (from Spoon & Tamago): Tattoo taboo is notrious in Japan, so several companies have rolled out a new variety of temporary ink. Designs of origami cranes, mirror frames and other images can give you the edgy look without the all the pain and shame.

Is Sushi ‘Healthy’? (from Just Hungry): A lunch set from your favorite sushi joint could cost you ¥1,000 and nearly as many calories.

Shigeru Ban Wins Competition to Design ‘Cite Musicale’ in Paris (from DesignBoom): Japanese architect Shigeru Ban just won the design competition for a revitalization project in southwest Paris. The compelling design is slated for completion in 2016.

SDF: Looking for a Few Good Women — to Date (from Japan Real Time): The nation’s Self-Defense Force has plenty of bachelors who are single and ready to mingle. Finding that man in uniform may not be so tough, after all.

Google Tour of Hashima Island (from Google Street View): A coal-mining facility for nearly a century, the haunting haikyo of Hashima was made famous with the release of last year’s mega-hit “Skyfall,” which used the island as locational inspiration for several scenes.

Visual Pulse

This vibrant music video for pop artist Cuushe’s “Airy Me” comes to life through 3,000 hand-drawn sketches. (Don’t watch if you’re disturbed by illustrated entrails.)

Today’s J-blip: robot-made inari-zushi

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

While the nation’s robots might not have been up to the task of nuclear-diaster reconnaissance, Japan’s androids are making strides in the kitchen. Suzumo Machinery Co., Ltd. has unveiled a robot capable of creating 2,500 inari-zushi rolls an hour. All the user (read: human) has to do is fill the rice hopper and place fried tofu rolls on a turntable. While we doubt anyone will be consuming that much inari-zushi any time soon, that type of efficiency is indeed impressive. Of course, this isn’t the first robot capable of dishing up Japanese food; in fact, robotics engineers seem to have a fair amount of pride in the national cuisine and program their creations to prepare all sorts of dishes,  from ramen and sushi to the potentially messy okonomiyaki. Yes, half the fun of this savory pancake is preparing it yourself, but watching a robot make it, and sing at the same time, is pretty cool, too.

Today’s menu: frisky fun rolled in novelty

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Nadeshiko serves up sushi handmade by cute young women

Nadeshiko serves up sushi prepared by cute young women

The appetites of Tokyo’s novelty-hungry clientele should be satisfied in October by a platter of new cafes and restaurants, running the gamut from photographer Miwa Yanagi’s pop up Café Rotten-Meier to Hooters, which is opening its first shop in Japan on Oct. 25. Whether you like a coffee served up in high style or prefer a beer delivered to your table by a cute girl with a wide smile, yet more options are now on offer for a one-of-a-kind meal in Tokyo:

  • Hooters: The idea of girls singing songs, playing games and generally entertaining customers has long been the selling point of maid cafes, so we’re certain Japanese men won’t have any trouble getting their minds round the concept. In fact, we have to wonder what took them so long, given the considerable expansion of Hooters overseas. Hooters Tokyo, Akasaka Tokyu Plaza 2F,  2-14-3 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku.
  • Nadeshico Sushi: The girls show a little less flesh here, with the focus instead on appreciating their delicate sushi-making hands. “Bare armed young women handling sushi will make me happy,” commented one netizen on the concept for this new Akihabara eaterie. Nadeshico Sushi (lovable sushi), which opened Oct. 1, features nigiri sushi prepared by women aged between 18 and 25. The menu includes Edo-era nigiri or super kawaii sushi rolls shaped into hearts or animal faces. Chichibu Denki Building 2F, Sotokanda 3-12-15, Chiyoda-ku.
  • Café Rotten-Meier: As part of Festival/Tokyo 10, photographer " target="_blank">Miwa Yanagi has dreamed up a concept cafe for lovers of performance art. Visitors will be served up tea and cakes by a coterie of grandmothers and over the final weekend one of the grandmothers will be played by Yanagi herself. There’s no age limit for those who want to perform as grandmother maids, but applicants must have an interest in performance and food. Rotten-Meier is the severe grandmother maid character from Heidi, so we’re not sure whether service will be delivered with a smile, but even if your tea is poured with a sneer, it’s bound to be an entertaining experience. The space will be decorated by Yanagi so expect to enter an enchanting if slightly unsettling fairytale world. The cafe will be located in front of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space in Ikebukuro and will be open weekends only from midday till 10pm, from Dec. 30 till Nov. 28.

Unbridle your inner carnivore

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Marbled raw horse meat

How do you want your horse meat uncooked? (photo by shrk)

A new sushi shop has recently opened in a fashionable back alley of Ebisu, but don’t go expecting choice cuts of fatty tuna. Kato Meat Sushi caters exclusively to carnivores, with platters of horse meat, chicken, beef and pork, with much of it being served raw.

Raw horse meat, you say? It’s long been considered a delicacy in Japan and the concept of serving it as sashimi (basashi, or sakuraniku) has been around for awhile. It’s not too unusual to find at izakaya, especially the ones that specialize in regional cuisine. At Kato Meat Sushi, however, it’s the star of the menu. Customers can choose the grade of raw horse, just as if they would with tuna: lean, medium or fatty. The more fatty the meat, the higher the price:  It’s ¥160 for a couple of pieces of lean, while medium fatty costs ¥280.

The beef on the menu is premium Japanese beef  (wagyu), which is also often enjoyed raw, though usually not served as sushi. Unluckily for the owners, the store opened just as reports of a foot and mouth outbreak in Miyazaki were hitting the front pages, meaning that the ongoing cattle cull could make this item harder to come by.

Japanese consumption of meat has been on the rise for decades and while veggie restaurants have been taking off recently, plenty of restauranteurs are still appealing to the nation’s more carnivorous nature. Last year we saw the opening of a theme park dedicated to meat in Tokyo. Visitors to Meatrea can indulge their predilection for animal flesh in all manner of unusual forms, perhaps the most bizarre of which is a tonkatsu (pork cutlet) parfait. Those looking for more extreme sweet meat, there is raw horse meat ice cream (basashi ice) made by Ice Tengoku, which specializes in novelty ice cream flavors.

If this sort of fare whets your appetite, check out Time Out Tokyo’s guide to restaurants that serve raw meat. For those who are leery of consuming meat raw, you’ll be happy to hear that Spam sushi is also enjoyed in Japan. Personally, though, I’d rather chow down on raw horse meat, which has a sweet and succulent taste that beats the processed tinned taste of Spam any day.

Horse meat photo by shrk

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