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Japanese department store wishes you a good year ahead with 150 types of delicious ehomaki

Posted: 13 Jan 2019 07:00 PM PST

Welcome in spring with these limited-edition, mouthwatering sushi rolls.

This year's Setsubun falls on February 3, a day celebrated in Japan before the beginning of spring, which is usually accompanied by traditional customs like throwing soybeans to drive away demons and eating ehomaki — a special type of sushi roll made up of special ingredients and is often thought to bring good luck for the year.

As ehomaki can come in many different sizes and styles, Japanese department store Daimaru Tokyo will be offering a whopping 150 types made by various companies to suit everyone's needs and tastes. Here are some of the more exciting flavors available:

▼ Japanese-style ehomaki (1,850 yen, US$17)

1,200 pieces of this traditional sushi roll was sold in 2018, making it the bestseller of the year. You can't go wrong with its generous portion of two sheets of nori seaweed and 14 ingredients including shrimp and crab.

▼ Sausage wrapped in flaky pastry (Price unlisted, limited to 12 per day)

Pastry store Paul brings a new twist to the ehomaki scene with a juicy sausage wrapped in layers of quality pastry. Available from January 9.

▼ Kintaro candy ehomaki (1,200 yen)

Those with a sweet tooth can get the best of both worlds with a couple of these. Available from January 18.

▼ Taimeiken omurice ehomaki (864 yen)

Essentially Japan's favorite omelette rice in a wrap, these savory treats will go on sale on February 2 and 3. Only 50 pieces will be available.

▼ Kanamkinpa sirloin steak ehomaki (1,620 yen)

Thick slabs of juicy steaks are sure to satisfy that meat craving in this Korean-style gimbap.

▼ Seiyo Ginza galette ehomaki (1,620 yen)

Lovers of prosciutto and smoked salmon ought to give this Japanese version of the French flat cake galette a try.

▼ Paul Bocuse Deli Japanese black wagyu roast beef ehomaki (2,592 yen)

Why bother with the seaweed wrap when you can replace it with generous slices of mouth-watering roast beef? As expected of a three star Michelin French restaurant.

▼ Gyutan Kanezaki beef tongue ehomaki (1,800 yen)

Limited to only 50 pieces on February 3, the beef tongue ehomaki is a luxurious treat for the senses.

▼ Takimoto seafood ehomaki (1,550 yen)

This sushi roll is so packed with seafood favorites like eel, squid and shrimp that you can hardly feel the rice in there. Only available on February 3.

▼ Ginza Aster abalone and shark's fin ehomaki (5,000 yen)

Filled with ingredients considered extremely indulgent in Japan, reservations are required and only five pieces will be available on February 3.

▼ Sapporo Kaniya red king crab ehomaki (4,860 yen)

Everything about it screams crab, and if chomping down succulent crustacean flesh is up your alley, then you absolutely have to give this crabby ehomaki a try. Only 30 pieces to be sold on February 3.

▼ Tsukiji Suzutomi "great luck" ehomaki (10,800 yen)

We move on to the expensive ehomaki giants, and as expected of a sushi roll bearing the words "great luck" in its name, it includes top-grade medium-fatty tuna, pufferfish and shark's fin. Reservation is must, and a total of only 20 pieces will be available between February 2 and 3.

▼ Nihonbashi Hiyama Yonezawa sirloin steak ehomaki (10,800 yen)

One of the premium wagyu beef grades in Japan, this ehomaki promises a lavish beef experience like no other. Only 10 are available on February 3

▼ Nakajima Suisan 2019 ehomaki (15,800 yen)

Made up of 19 extravagant ingredients including salmon roe, sea urchin, bluefin tuna, pufferfish and caviar, biting into this gold-wrapped ehomaki is the fanciest way to celebrate Setsubun. Limited to only 10 pieces on February 3.

There are tons of other ehomaki available at Daimaru Tokyo, all waiting to be picked up by the department store's 110,000 daily customers. So why not pay it a visit when Setsubun rolls around? You might just find a sushi roll perfect for you, or maybe even one that resembles a menacing club held by Setsubun demons.

Store information
Daimaru Tokyo / 大丸東京店
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi, 1-9-1
Open: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Weekdays), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (Weekends)

Source, images: PR Times

Educator offers advice for Japanese schoolgirls who get asked out by their teachers

Posted: 13 Jan 2019 05:00 PM PST

"Trash" is the lesson's keyword.

In Japanese high schools, there's a unique sort of hurried romantic passion that many guys feel at this time of year. With the Japanese school year ending in the spring, graduation is now just a few months away, and many guys with a crush on a certain special girl feel that it's now or never to tell her how they feel. Unless they're planning to enroll in the same college, soon they'll no longer have any pretext on which to see each other every day, and if they don’t cement the relationship as something more than platonic, they worry their connection will gradually fade away.

So soon enough, those guys are going to take their shot at romance by laying out their feelings for the schoolgirl they've got a crush on. And while that can be the beginning of a sweet and wonderful young romance, it can also be incredibly creepy if the guy asking the girl out is her adult teacher.

Japanese Twitter user and middle school teacher @barbeejill3 says that with graduation coming up, he's been getting a lot of similar questions sent to him. They're from high school girls, and they ask him "What should I do if my a teacher says he has romantic feelings for me?"

Sadly, @barbeejill3 (fresh off a frustrated rant about his school's incredibly dumb dress code) says he's known at least one teacher who did this. Although he doesn't specify if it was someone at his current school or a previous place of employment, he minces no words regarding how he feels about such educators:

"Teachers like that are habitual offenders. They're trash, always targeting a girl each and every year.

They're abusing their position of authority. They know that once the girl has graduated, people at school won't be talking about her, and he won't become the topic of rumors.

I'm so sick of seeing pieces of trash like those teachers."

This being Japan, where idealized depictions of student/teacher romances aren't uncommon in fictitious media, one commenter felt @barbeejill3 was being too harsh. The vast majority of reactions, though, were from people who shared his distaste for teachers treating their roll sheets like a dating pool.

"It shows that the whole time she's been in the teacher's class, he's been looking at her like that. It's disgusting."

"Basically, it's just that he's a pathetic man who can't attract an adult woman."

"One of my friends at cram school had a crush on a teacher who was married and had a kid. I broke down crying trying to stop her from going out with him, but she wouldn't listen. A year later, when I saw her again, she said, ‘He wasn't the kind of person he said he was. Even after I dumped him, he still says he wants to see me again. He's become a stalker, and I'm scared.'”

"You should never think a teacher who asks you out has only asked you out. There are teachers out there who are dating multiple students at the same time."

Oddly enough, while @barbeejill3's words make it pretty clear that he doesn't think any schoolgirls should be responsive to a teacher's romantic overtures, he doesn't offer any concrete advice beyond that. Reporting the teacher to the school's administrative staff, or at least her parents, seems like it'd be a good place to start.

Source: Twitter/@barbeejill3 via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

Budget entertainment: 12 fun things to do in Tokyo that will cost you absolutely nothing

Posted: 13 Jan 2019 09:30 AM PST

Enjoy free foot spas or amazing views of the cityscape and save money while you’re at it.

With soaring housing costs and relatively high-priced consumer goods, it is no wonder that Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

But having fun in this sprawling metropolis need not always involve huge amounts of cash if you know where to look. In fact, tourists can have a ball of a time at these 12 places without paying a single yen.

We have provided the nearest train stations to these attractions for convenience sake, and unless stated otherwise, the activities described below are available free of charge. But to avoid disappointment, remember to check out their respective official websites for details before departing.

1. Suntory Musashino Brewery
(Bubaigawara Station, Fuchuhommachi Station)

Although prior reservation of the free tour is required, visitors get to learn about the intricate steps of beer making in this city brewery. You can sample and smell hops, peek into the bottling process, and best of all, partake in a session of beer tasting free of charge.

2. Coca-Cola East Japan Tama factory
(Kiyose Station, Higashi Kurume Station)

If you have children in tow, then a better option would be this Coca-Cola factory. Aside from being able to see how everyone's favorite fizzy beverage is bottled, you can see various other products like coffee or tea cans being made. Here you can sample some Coca-Cola for free, too, and in glass bottles no less!

3. Kamiyacho Open Terrace in Komyoji
(Kamiyacho Station)

Open from spring to autumn, visitors to this airy temple terrace can enjoy free tea, coffee and sweets while listening to the preaching of Buddhist monks.

4. Kimchi Museum
(Yotsuya Sanchome Station)

Many people love kimchi, Korea's signature preserved vegetable dish, but not many know its deep history or how to actually make it. Learn all of this and more at the Kimchi Museum.

5. Japanese Traditional Boat Ride
(Toyocho Station, Sumiyoshi Station)

Experience how ancient Japanese people traveled along rivers on traditional boats in Yokojukken Gawa Shinsui Park. A total of seven boats are available, each making a 20-minute round trip down a river for a tranquil ride like no other.

6. Shimizuike Park
(Gakugei Daigaku Station, Musashi Koyama Station)

Very few parks in the city allow fishing, but if catching Japanese carp is your idea of fun, then look no further than this popular spot.

7. Asukayama Koen Monorail
(Oji Station)

This free monorail will take visitors from the entrance of Asukayama park to the top of the hill in two minutes, and though the ride may be rather short, the wheelchair-accessible cabin is outfitted with heating and air conditioning for a comfortable ride.

8. Komorebi no Ashiyu
(Higashiyamatoshi Station, Tamagawa Josui Station)

After a long day's walk, this little foot spa is the perfect place to rest tired feet. Underground piping draws up mineral water, which has been warmed up with excess heat from an incinerator. Once you have revitalized yourself, a walk on the nearby pebble pathway will do wonders.

9. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Room
(Tochomae Station)

Enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of Tokyo city afforded by this observation room located 202 meters (662 feet) high. If the weather is clear, which is often the case in winter, you can even see the iconic Mt. Fuji from here.

10. Imperial Palace
(Otemachi Station, Nijubashimae Station)

Take free one-hour guided tours of the Imperial grounds starting from Kikyomon Gate and to various history-steeped locations within. Held in both English and Japanese, prior registration for the tours are a must.

11. Jidayubori Park Conserved Traditional Houses
(Seijogakuen Mae Station)

Authentic traditional houses preserved through the ages, these relics of the past offer a peek into the lives of those in the Edo Period. Many primitive tools and items are also showcased here, whisking people back into an ancient Japan seldom seen.

12. Meiji University Museum
(Ochanomizu Station, Jimbocho Station)

Amassing huge collections of historical artifacts, one would have thought that access to this treasure trove would require a fee at least. But for the grand entrance fee of zero yen, its impressiveness is such that it has been featured on television programs multiple times.

Tokyo may be an expensive place to live and explore, but perhaps it is due to its immense size that we can find little pockets of secrets to enjoy for free. But if you long to explore the rest of Japan without breaking the bank, we too have an exhaustive list for you to peruse.

Top image: ©SoraNews24

Ibaraki Prefecture marketing chief regarding their capital city: “Mito sucks! Die!”

Posted: 13 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

Who knew Ibaraki was so punk?

Having gone through the festive New Year’s period, which in western countries means a rowdy New Year’s Eve party or in Japan a bonenkai (end of year party) and shinnenkai (beginning of year party), many of us around the world have probably had more than our fill of alcohol.

And with that comes the clumsy and embarrassing behavior that comes with getting blackout drunk. I could regale you with shameful anecdotes like the time I drunkenly dared to criticize the works of Chaucer, or that one time I accidentally played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D minor in a booze-induced haze.

But this year, a drunken screw-up so glorious occurred that it put my own wild past to shame. In a post on his own Facebook page, Hideo Horie typed out the message “Mito sucks! Die!” in regards to Mito City, the capital of Ibaraki Prefecture.

▼ Mito was the site of our first eating battle against professional competitive eater Sachiyo Masubuchi


Normally, such an outburst would only be worthy of a few snickers and an occasional “Oh, that Hideo!” But when you’re the head of the marketing strategy department for Ibaraki Prefecture — like Horie is — the impact flies off the charts.

He later commented on his own words saying, “I was drinking and can’t remember. I don’t know why I wrote that. I regret it.”

Interestingly, despite expressing regret, he didn’t really apologize at all for the remarks which have since gone viral and opened the debate over whether or not Mito in fact sucks.

“He’s certainly not the first person to say that.”
“I live here and he’s not wrong. Mito and Ibaraki have serious problems.
“As a fan of natto I take offense to that.”
“It’s a pretty serious thing to make people lose faith in their prefecture. I hope he is punished.”
“Maybe it’s a reverse psychology thing.”
“Is he really talking about the place? It could have been a person named Mito.”
“They say one’s true feelings come out when they’re drunk.”

Personally, I’ve never been to Mito and can’t really say how it is. All I know is it doesn’t have any monkeys and is one of the nation’s leading producer of natto, the sticky, smelly fermented soy bean dish. Whether those things “suck” or “rule” is really a matter of personal taste.

Perhaps this promotional video for the city will shed some light on the issue:

Well, that was downright delightful! I don’t know what anyone is talking about.

By the way, that yurukyara mascot was Mito-chan and her pig-tailed hair is actually a pack of natto bundled in straw as it is traditionally done, because the straw contains the bacteria which aids the fermentation.


Back to Horie, his “Die!” punctuation in his message is especially interesting. It’s not an uncommon term in internet Japanese and normally isn’t quite as murderous sounding as it is in English. It’s more along the lines of “go to hell,” or “go f*** yourself.”

On the other hand, another Facebook post from 2013 reveals that Horie had a bar with the slogan “Drink Beer or Die” which suggests that “die” might just be his own playful catchphrase.

In the end, even if your job is to promote something totally awesome like Megaburgerpizza, if you have to do it every day, you’re going to grow to resent it at least a little and need to vent.

And in doing so in such a public way, he put his prefecture’s capital on the top page of the national news. You can’t beat publicity like that! So hopefully his superiors don’t come down too hard on him for this little outburst.

Source: Yomiuri Online, Hachima Kiko
Top image: YouTube/Mito-shi

Top Japanese cosplayer Enako reveals jaw-dropping annual income

Posted: 13 Jan 2019 05:00 AM PST

Enako is living her best life and getting paid millions of yen for it.

Back in 2016, Japanese cosplayer Enako blew everyone's minds by announcing on television that she can earn more than one million yen (US$9,212) a month through cosplay.

Since then, her popularity has skyrocketed, with the 24-year-old now known as Japan’s “Number One Cosplayer” due to the jaw-dropping number of fans who gather to photograph her whenever she makes an appearance.

▼ Enako at Summer Comiket last year.

▼ And at Winter Comiket four months afterwards.

The semi-annual Comiket convention in Tokyo — the world's largest fair dedicated to independent manga (dojinshi) and anime-style artists — is a big event on Enako’s calendar, and with all the interest surrounding her attendance at the convention, there’s also a lot of interest in how much money she pockets from the event.

After Summer Comiket wrapped up last year, Enako appeared on TBS's Ariyoshi Japon variety show on TV, and when asked about her earnings from merchandise sales, she revealed that she earned around 10 million yen (US$92,123) in one day at the three-day Comiket convention.

Following Winter Comiket in December, Enako appeared on TV Tokyo’s Jikkuri Kiitarou ~ Star Kinkyou (Hi) Houkoku talk show, and when asked about her Comiket earnings again, she said she had pocketed 10 million yen once more, in just one day.

▼ Enako at her Comiket stall on Day One of the event in December, after all her merchandise had sold out.

Enako says she sold copies of her 76-page photo album for 2,500 yen apiece at Comiket, which made up a large portion of her earnings. Some other items available on that day included a 50-page photo booklet for 2,000 yen, and a Comiket-exclusive set that included both books, along with a 26-page Christmas photo book and an original bag for 6,000 yen.

▼ Fans went crazy in the comments when Enako shared this picture of the original bag on the day before Comiket.

2018 proved to be Enako’s most profitable Comiket year yet, and although her merchandise sold out on day one, the Nagoya-born cosplayer made sure she was there for her fans on each day of the event in December, appearing on day two at the booth for Tamagawa Boat Race speedboat gambling organisation.

▼ She also switched outfits on day two for the photo session with fans.

▼ And on day three, she appeared as the character Hestia from Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

The extra appearances would’ve added to her already impressive income, and during her TV interview on Jikkuri Kiitarou, Enako also mentioned that she can earn around 1 million yen for a commercial. However, Enako says that 80 percent of her income comes from her self-produced merchandise.

Then Enako drew gasps from presenters and audience members when she revealed that in a good year she can earn up to 30 million yen ($276,370).

With her earnings growing by the year, the future looks bright for Enako. Here’s hoping some of the other cosplayers from day one, two and three of Winter Comiket 2018 also get to reach her level of fame — and fortune — in the future one day!

Source: Narinari via Livedoor NewsMy Game News Flash
Featured image: Twitter/@enako_cos

Tokyo’s new “real-life Mario Karts” make it ridiculously clear they’re unrelated to Nintendo

Posted: 13 Jan 2019 01:00 AM PST

Either a double dose of caution or passive-aggressiveness against Nintendo has MariCar's go-carts looking weirder than ever.

From the start, MariCar's business model was to piggyback on the popularity of Nintendo's Mario Kart. Offering multi-participant go-kart tours on the streets of downtown Tokyo, MariCar's name was obviously meant to evoke images of the video game franchise, as were the knockoff Super Mario-style costumes MariCar rented out to customers.

▼ A MariCar tour from September of last year

But MariCar has no working relationship or collaborative contract with Nintendo, and eventually the Kyoto-based software developer took MariCar to court, a move which came in the wake of multiple go-kart tour accidents (with at least one confirmed as involving a MariCar customer). Nintendo won the lawsuit, and MariCar was ordered to pay a fine to Nintendo and also to cease and desist with renting costumes designed to resemble Nintendo characters.

Nevertheless, MariCar is still up and running, now with a total of seven branches in Tokyo and also rental centers in Kyoto, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Okinawa (though some are operated under the brand name "Street Kart"). They've even spruced up their vehicles with new paint/graphics. See if you can spot what's new.

It's hard to tell if this is a genuine effort to distance themselves from the Super Mario Kart series, or a passive-aggressive push-back against Nintendo, but the MariCar go-carts are now plastered with notices reading "Unrelated to Nintendo." They're visible from every possible angle, with the message appearing no fewer than 15 times.

▼ Such enthusiastic sticker-slapping hasn't been seen since the late '90s, when teen drivers would pry the DX badges off their EK Civic coupes and cover them with bootleg Type R decals purchased from the shady tuner parts shop at the mall.

Twitter users have started sharing snapshots of the new MariCar carts they've spotted in the wild…

…and at least one gamer has gone extra-meta by customizing his vehicle in one of the Mario Kart games with the "Unrelated to Nintendo" notice in Japanese text.

Their doth-protest-too-much disclaimers aside, it's still pretty apparent that MariCar knows that the majority of its customers are people with at least a moderate interest in Mario Kart. When accessing the company's website, the very first thing that pops up is a warning about the importance of safe driving which quickly starts dropping references to the Nintendo games, telling prospective drivers "Do not throw banana peels" and "Do not throw red turtle shells."

▼ Blue Shells are not mentioned, perhaps because of a consensus that using them, whether in the rule world or the confines of the games, makes you a jerk.

Ironically, all the "Unrelated to Nintendo" notices end up, in a way, having the opposite effect, because they make it completely impossible to look at MariCar's carts for even a second without thinking of Mario Kart too, but Nintendo will probably still take that over having people behind the wheel who're dressed as Mario.

Source, images: MariCar

Japanese netizen backs out of initial promise to donate one million yen to Palestinian refugees

Posted: 12 Jan 2019 09:00 PM PST

Noble goal of promoting music education shadowed by personal needs.

To celebrate the Japanese online shopping website Zozotown's most profitable New Year's sales this year, billionaire CEO Yusaku Maezawa generously doled out one million yen (US$9,229) to 100 random people over the Internet a few days ago.

And so Japanese Twitter user and music teacher @komashin502 could not believe his eyes when he received a direct message from the CEO. Currently living in Amman, the capital of Jordan, he teaches music to Palestinian refugee elementary school kids and aims to lift their hopes up through the wonders of music.

▼ What a lucky thing to happen to a nice guy!
(Translation below)

The message reads:

"Hello, I am Maezawa, the real thing! Thank you for showing interest in my campaign. I will get straight to the point: you have been chosen!!! You may not believe it, but it's true. Congratulations!!!

Please make good use of the one million yen! Schools are fortunate to have musical instruments. Great is the power of music.

Feel free to tweet this message in your feed and state what you will spend it on. I hope it will be used for significant things. I will wire over the one million yen, so please reply back to this message with your bank account details."

Having received Yusaku's blessings, @komashin502 realized he could do a lot for the Palestinian refugees suffering from the Arab–Israeli conflict with the money gained:

"I've finally calmed down, but my hands are still shaking. I won't be using this money for myself, but instead to help restore music education to Palestinian refugees. The children over here deserve aesthetic cultivation just like in other countries."

▼ Netizens and even the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Japan applauded his noble act.
(Translation of excerpt below)

"As the difficult situation continues, such news is very encouraging. We express our utmost gratitude. We hope that the refugees will have excellent opportunities to cultivate their aesthetic sensibilities, and we will pray for you, too."

Two days after @komashin502's charitable pledge, however, he had second thoughts about parting with money.

▼ He explained his situation in a long series of tweets. (Translation below)

"I know I will be criticized for this, but I have decided to use this money for myself. It will go towards maintaining my daily life and relieving some stress. First, I have no savings and I intend to repay laptop and training loans. I cannot frivolously spend my money. People who have debts would understand me, as such loans stick with us for a long time.

Second, I have a girlfriend and I want her to understand that I am saving up money for the two of us. I want to meet her.

Next is Arabic, something which I felt was needed for me to learn. In order to keep attending classes, I am currently surviving on 30-yen instant ramen. When I enroll in the next course, my finances will take a hit from the tuition fees.

I also require a printer and an electronic keyboard. These are rather expensive items, but will certainly help my work at school or at the office.

The last is my donation to the school, which would make up more than 500,000 yen. I will discuss this with my employers, but this would be poured into music education funding and hopefully replace old musical instruments."

Netizen reactions were mixed, with some sympathizing with his plight while a few condemned his decision:

“Maezawa should just contribute directly instead.”
“I feel sorry for both the kids and him.”
“So he used charity as an excuse to get the money?”
“You’re not serious about donating at all, because you would have set aside money for the refugees first and not the other way around.”

While @komashin502 was not wrong to prioritize his own needs, he should have carefully thought it through before raising the consulate's and people’s hopes up. After all, he would certainly not appreciate it if Yusaku Maezawa suddenly went back on his word and refused to dole out that one million yen.

Source: Twitter/@komashin502, Twitter/@PalestineEmb via Kinisoku
Top image: Pakutaso