Amazon reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt. More often than not, people would feel motivated to complain rather than praise items they bought, and with the inevitability of occasional defects and user error, reviews can often be skewed to the negative.
That’s why our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma has taken it upon himself to scour the online retailer for the lowest-rated items and see if they are truly deserving of the contempt. After doing this for about a year, he can say that for the most part, yes, they are truly deserving. But that doesn’t mean that somewhere out there, a product isn’t being unfairly maligned and in need of vindication, so Masanuki carries on…
This time his online journey led him to the “5 Minute Hourglass” which received an average rating of one star and comments that “the sand didn’t fall properly,” “it took an hour to fall,” and “I thought I was in the Room of Spirit and Time,” which is one for the Dragon Ball fans out there.
Time certainly began to feel warped when Masanuki’s order arrived 10 days early. He’s gotten used to these low-rated items not arriving on time, but they tend to be on the “horribly late” end of the spectrum so this was a refreshing change of pace.
Inside was what appeared to be a normal hourglass. It was actually rather nice looking with bright blue sand for just 219 yen (US$1.57).
This was far from his first rodeo, so Masanuki knew how to set up his review for the anticipated failure. First, he’d measure how much sand actually fell in a …continue reading
Historical collection of posters and flyers includes art that’s been largely forgotten by modern fans.
Studio Ghibli is unique in a lot of ways, but one of the biggest is their commitment to theatrical features. Almost every anime Ghibli has created initially screened in movie theaters, with beautifully illustrated posters promoting them to anyone passing by the building or through its lobby.
Many of these posters have since become some of the most memorable and iconic pieces of art in the anime world, and now any and all of them can grace your home, as Ghibli is producing historically accurate reprints of the posters for all 23 of its theatrically released anime.
This being Studio Ghibli, they’ve stayed as faithful as they could to the original process. Instead of simply printing out a bunch of digital copies, where possible they’ve tracked down the original printing plates, most of which were created decades ago, and brought them out of retirement. They’re even going so far as to using the same non-standard ink colors, outside the standard four-color printing process, that they originally did, to make sure the fresh batch of posters’ colors are rich and authentic.
The posters are B2-size, measuring 51.5 centimeters wide and 72.8 long (20.3 by 28.7 inches). While they cover 23 titles, there are actually 49 different posters, with some of the alternates being designs that have rarely been seen since the anime left theaters, such as the Spirited Away poster with Chihiro sprawled out in the back seat of her parents’ car.
Logo is a subtle sign to those in the know that you’re going commando.
A lot of people in Japan have had to beef up their casual clothing wardrobe during the pandemic, as telecommuting and stay-home leisure activities mean they’re not wearing uniforms, business attire, or fancy fashions as often as they ordinarily would. When choosing casual clothes, comfort is an especially high priority, and the designers of the Totonou Pants don’t just want to free people from having to wear neckties and suit jackets, but to free them from having to wear underwear too.
▼ “Actually, they aren’t wearing underwear,” the Japanese text informs us.
Totonou Pants are made with a special seamless organic cotton lining, warm but breathable, and contoured in a way that makes them comfortable for both men and women to wear without underwear, the designers promise.
The first batch of Totonou Pants, which went on sale last spring, were shorts. With colder weather here, though, the designers have created a long-pant version, offered in three different colors, dubbed navy, olive, and chocolate.
▼ This picture shows a prototype, but the final version will have large hip pockets on both sides.
Initially, the designers pitched Totonou Pants as something to change into after taking a bath (which most Japanese people do at night before going to bed), so that you could just keep on wearing them as pajama bottoms. However, they also recommend them for running errands such as a quick trip to the local convenience store or public bath, taking walks, or as exercise attire.
Last year a collective groan from the creative community was heard around Japan and the world after it was announced that Tokyu Hands, everyone’s favorite DIY retailer, was being sold to to Cainz, a home improvement store operator. The fate of the brand had been shrouded in mystery until today, when it was announced that […]
It’s no secret that the Yen is weak right now. I’m by no means an economist, so I won’t speculate on the reason why. Still, it’s a common notion that if you’re coming from another country to Japan (a task becoming easier as COVID winds down), then you may feel like you have all the money in the world once you hop off that plane and get your currency converted. Saving money may not be your priority going in, but it should be.
The reality, however, is that Japan—like any country—is constantly providing opportunities to spend a little more than necessary. I imagine some of you are hobbyists that would have your wallet gutted by a trip to Akihabara, Tokyo or Osu, Nagoya. Yet—also like any country—Japan is replete with opportunities to save money every day.
My parents taught me that you become broke from nickels and dimes, not dollars: A canned coffee here, a set meal there—small expenses add up, leaking away your cash without you even noticing. Everyone knows not to spend too much on frivolities, so I’m going to share some tips I’ve picked up on how to spend less on the most essential cost of all, food spending.
Skip the Vending Machine
It’s an oft-repeated (and true) point of trivia that Japan has a frankly absurd number of vending machines. On my block alone there are seven that are publicly accessible! At a glance, vending machines seem like a major convenience, and a fun one to boot: Forget your water bottle? Vending machine water. Feeling groggy on a hot summer afternoon? Vending machine coffee. Need something to warm you up while waiting for a train in the dead of winter? Vending machine cocoa.
So what’s the issue then? Well, gingerly put, vending machines are a rip-off. They’re designed to …continue reading
On October 18, 2022, the Tokyo foreign exchange market was trading at around 149 yen to the dollar as the yen sold off on the view that the U.S. will continue to raise interest rates significantly. The yen also temporarily fell against the euro to the mid-146 yen per euro, the weakest level in about 7 years and 10 months.
Against this backdrop, since the deregulation of individual foreign tourists visiting Japan on October 11, there must be many people who would like to travel to Japan. Now is your chance to tour Japan and shop around for the best deals!
As of 2022, Japan is now cashless in many stores, but still relies on cash payments in the countryside and in individual stores. It is dangerous to go shopping or traveling without any cash.
In this blog, we will introduce you to Japanese money (cash) and everything you need to know about Japanese bills, coins, currency exchange, and money etiquette!
If you are visiting Japan or learning about Japanese culture, it is essential that you have basic knowledge of Japanese currency. Called yen, Japanese money is the third most globally exchanged currency in the foreign currency exchange market, right behind the US Dollar and the Euro.
WHAT IS YEN?
All Japanese currency – made up of both bills and coins – is known as yen. The word comes from the Japanese word 円:en, which means “round”, referring to the round shape of the coins first used by the Japanese people in ancient times. Unlike the American dollar sign, which is put in front of a money amount (i.e. $100), the Japanese yen symbol is put after the numerical amount (i.e. 1,000円). Continuing the comparison of American dollars to Japanese yen, $1 USD is equal to about 100 yen.
Add to your Starbucks cup collection with these new, adorable, black cat-motif mugs, tumblers, and bottles!
Something to look forward to all year round is not only Starbucks’ seasonal menu items but also their seasonal goods lineups. This year they’ve gone all out for Halloween with the Black Cats Get Magic collection and we can’t wait to get our hands on it!
Full of cute black cat and wispy ghost motifs, this collection is here to get you in the spirit for Halloween. Like all seasonal Starbucks goods, the line comes in a variety of cups, mugs, tumblers, and bottles, such as the Cat Stainless Bottle (4,100 yen [US$27.91]).
Black cats are embossed on the matte black body of this bottle, and even the Starbucks logo is in black and white. Plus, with a nonslip silicone band on the lid and a double-wall vacuum stainless steel body that’ll keep drinks both hot and cold, this bottle is useful as well as cute.
Also available is the Odd Eye Cat Stainless Tumbler (3,650 yen), which features the face of a cat with one pink eye and one blue eye printed over a matte black background. The purple lid over the double-wall vacuum stainless steel cup also gives it a very Halloween-y feel!
The Cat and Ghost Tumbler (2,150 yen) is for cold drinks only, but that won’t make you want to buy it any less. Its adorable print includes black, odd-colour-eyed cats and multicolored ghosts on a black background. Cute confetti-like designs also decorate the bottle for a fun Halloween look.
A cheapo’s paradise, Tokyo flea markets are awesome places for bargain-hunting. And there’s no shortage of them — you’ll find something happening in one of the parks or parking lots just about every Saturday and Sunday, as well as some public holidays, throughout the year.
You can fork out wads of cash for fancy souvenirs at soulless stores, or you can riffle through the stalls at one of these flea markets and find all sorts of awesome (and original) things for a fraction of the price. Keen on a previously loved kimono for just ¥1,000? How about an antique tea ceremony bowl? Secondhand fashion (still seasons ahead of much of the rest of the world) for a few hundred yen? You can also find CDs
The ice Seicomart is a convenience store that could only be built in this part of Japan.
You can find some pretty incredible stuff inside Japanese convenience stores, what with their fried chicken-flavor potato chips and teriyaki burger steamed buns. This winter, there’s going to be a convenience store in Japan that’s amazing not just because of its products, but because of the store itself.
As Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido gets very cold in the winter. That goes double for Shimukappu, a town located high in the mountains where the temperature can drop down to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). Thanks to those chilly conditions Shimukappu is going to have a convenience store made out of ice.
Fittingly the ice convenience store will be a branch of Seicomart, the Hokkaido-based chain that’s beloved by locals and visitors alike. In addition to regular Seikomart products, the ice store will also have an “Ice Chef” counter with special frozen yogurt desserts served in dishes made of ice.
The chilly temperatures that make an ice convenience store possible in Shimukappu also provide the area with some top-notch ski slopes, which in turn means hotels to accommodate winter sport enthusiasts. The Seikomart made of ice will be built on the grounds of the Hoshino Resorts Tomamu resort as part of its annual Ice Village event. Other structures in the 11-building winter-only enclave will include hotel guestrooms, a bar, a dessert cafe, and a wedding chapel.
Are you that person who always brings a reusable bag shopping? Does the plastic wrapped fruit and veg at the supermarket make you cringe? Then you’re probably familiar with the zero waste movement, and know that Tokyo is not the easiest place to practice a zero waste lifestyle. But things are changing — slowly — and we’re here with the low down on how to go zero waste in Tokyo.
What is ‘zero waste’?
The goal of zero waste as a whole is to create a society where nothing goes to landfill — or in Japan’s case to the furnace — because these systems have terrible environmental consequences. Sounds great, right? But for those who are new to ‘zero waste’, it can seem intimidating s