Nasty Snacks

One of the fun things about Japan is the wide variety of yummy snacks. We’re all familiar with Pocky and the like, but sometimes… The imaginative qualities of the snacks, seem to be more important than the actual taste…

This is no exception.


It’s a caramel. That is MEAT FLAVORED.

And beleive me, it does NOT taste good. I literally almost gagged as I bit into the caramel and the strangely sweet creepy goodness flowed into my mouth. *SHUDDER*
Also, 2 of 3 of my Japanese friends who tried agree. It’s foul.
Luckily, this stuff is sold only in Hokkaido… And Village Vanguard in Osaka… But I didn’t tell you that.
– Harvey

Empty Train & Yumeji Images

Just digging through my pics and came across these shots.

This one is actually, in my Tokyo/Osaka-jin opinion, a pretty rare picture of Japan. This train is empty! Usually the trains are so ridiculously crowded in the big cities of Japan, that it is very hard to get an image like this. I can’t remember when I took this picture actually…

This picture below. I see this picture a lot, all around Japan…

I heard it was drawn by a guy named YUMEJI. This guy. A painter during the TAISHO (1912-1926) era in Japan. Taisho was before Showa, and afater Meiji. Short period.
Tell me what you know about him… Cause I don’t know squat.

Cool picture though!

– Harvey

Giant Takoyaki

We’ve covered Takoyaki on JapanNewbie before… But these are monster Takoyaki.

During Ebisu Matsuri in Osaka, which I’ll post about later… I ran across this vendor selling Takoyaki which must have been three times the normal size! Maybe four.

An entire mini octopus fits inside, rather than just a piece of leg. I didn’t try one of these… Even while eating regularly sized Takoyaki I often end up burning the inside of my mouth due to the super-heated insides…

Not quite ready to level up to these super Takoyaki yet.

Maybe next year…

– Harvey


Video: Octopus Eats Shark!

Gengis Khan – Sapporo

As you may have heard, in Japan every location has some famous food. One of the famous foods in Hokkaido, maybe especially Sapporo, is Gengis Khan (ジンギスカン).

We asked around and found a famous Gengis Khan shop called “DARUMA”. So famous we had to wait outside in the freezing Hokkaido winter for over an hour!

Gengis Khan is basically like Yakiniku (Korean BBQ), however the grill is shaped like an upside down bowl. Also, while cooking the meat, you place fat right on the top of the bowl, so it melts down so the meat doesn’t stick.

I was told that this dish is called Gengis Khan because the grill is shapped like the helmet Gengis Khan probably wore. Could be?

Seriously though, along with the cold outside, the warm sake, the meat… This was really good stuff. If you go to Sapporo, find this shop!

Bilingual Newbie

これから気が向いたときに、英語はもちろん、日本語も書きます! 言語を変えるに、右上にリンクがありますので、確認してみてください! encodingのことがよくわからんけど、とりあえずUTF-8(たぶん)でやってみた。うまく使えなかったら教えてね。
From now on, when I feel especially motivated, I’ll be posting in Japanese and English! There is a link in the upper right fo the site you can click to change the language. Give it a try, let me know how it goes. I’m not exactly sure how the encoding should be set up. Now it is Unicode UTF-8 (I think).


New Year, New Omamori

On New Years in Japan, most people will head out to a Shrine or Temple for ‘hatsumode’, the first time out to a temple for the near year. During this visit people will pray, eat snacks from the food booths, pull omikuji (the fortune telling paper that you see tied on trees), and do other usual temple visit activities.

Shrines and temples are especially crowded on the morning of the 1st. One activity that I did this year, that in fact most Japanese even skip, is returning my Omamori. I usually have a few omamori tied to my backpack, they make good conversation pieces, and also protect me from evil. Good stuff.

The actual rule though, is that you’re supposed to return your omamori back to the same temple you bought it from after one year has passed. Then at the beginning of the New Year, all of last years charms will be burned and destroyed.

If you don’t return it, apparently your good luck charm will begin to bring you bad luck!

So for all of you who brought back omamori souvineers and haven’t been back to Japan to return them. HAH! You’re CURSED!

I’m good to go. That’s mine, the green one there on the pile. BURN!

– Harvey

Hizamakura China Version

Last year at Christmas time we brought you Hizamakura.

This Christmas season the hizamakura is back, but this time…

Hizamakura Chinese version!

In case you can’t read the sign, the price tag is 13,440 yen. In case you’re not in Japan, that’s over $100 US. You can buy an iPod for that.

Let me think. iPod… or a pillow-shaped like a ladies lap featuring mini-skirt and a realistic skin-like texture…

I dunno, call me a geek… But I’ll take the iPod.

Nice China dress.

Hey, don’t encourage the tourists! Seriously…
– Harvey

Nagoya-ben Lesson 1

Nagoya is a city about halfway between Tokyo and Osaka. Nagoya has things such as… Nagoya Castle, the recent Aichi Expo, and of course, it’s own local dialect.

Let’s learn Nagoya-ben together! We can talk about MISOKATSU, a famous Nagoya food. This is from the Nagoya restaraunt YABATON.

Frame 1 Point Pick-up!

The pig says うみゃ!

In Nagoya dialect, うみゃ (umya) is the same as うまい (umai).

There is a tendancy in Nagoya to use that Mya, Nya, Gya type sound. People from other prefectures think it’s funny. Me too.
Frame 2 Point Pick-up!

The pig says 甘さと相性がいいがね! (amasa to aisyou ga iigane!)

This means,”it goes well with the sweetness!” He is refering to the spicy mustard he has mixed into his MISOKATSU.

In Tokyo dialect, this would be said いいよね! (iiyone!) In Nagoya, when stressing a point, you can replace YO with GA.

I have heard peole say いいだがね! In some occasions as well. Crazy. Ah, here it is next!

Frame 3 Point Pick-Up!

Pig says, 美容健康にもってこいだがね! (biyoukenkou ni mottekoi dagane!)

This means “It’s good for your beauty health!”

If you say something is にもってこい、it means it’s good for something. In this case, health. This is not especially Nagoya-ben, but Kansai uses this form too.

The end, だがね (dagane), this is Nagoya dialect, and could be said to replace だよね (dayone) that is comonly used in Tokyo dialect.
Frame 4 Point Pick-up!

Pig says, やめられんうまさだぎゃー! (yameraren umasa dagya!)

This means, loosley, “It’s a taste I just can’t quit!”

やめられん is a form of やめられない (yamerarenai). Can’t quit. うまさだぎゃー! is just stressing the fact that this taste, is the bomb. When you want to emphasize something in Nagoya-ben, you can end your sentence with DAGYA! だぎゃ! For impact.

Give it a try! Even if you don’t live in Nagoya! People will love it! (or not.)
– Harvey