Ume sweets prove there’s more to seasonal desserts than just sakura.
No sooner does the midwinter chill begin to fade than Japan starts looking forward to the spring sakura season, and sakura dessert season too. But before the cherry blossoms arrive there’s another beautiful flower that’ll be blooming across the country, and it’s getting a sweet treat of its own.
February is when Japan’s ume (plum) trees start to blossom, and in anticipation of the annual event Nestle Japan is now selling a special ume-flavor KitKat.
To clarify, these are not to be confused with the umeshu (plum wine) KitKats from a few years back. Ume’s taste is somewhere between that of a western plum and apricot, with a complex mixture of sweet and tangy notes. The ume KitKats incorporate the flavor both inside and out, with an ume chocolate coating and ume powder cream interspaced with the cookie wafers.
The ume KitKats are on sale now, and can even be purchased online through Rakuten here for 324 yen (US$3.15) for a 13-piece pack. They’ll only be available for a limited time, one which isn’t likely to be very long given ume’s brief moment in the spotlight before the sakura become the center of attention, but if you want proof that plum blossoms can be just as beautiful as their more famous cherry counterparts, these breathtaking photos should do the trick.
In 2020 the average sale price of an existing apartment across greater Tokyo saw a year-on-year increase for the 8th consecutive year. According to REINS, the average sale price was 551,700 Yen/sqm, up 3.2% from 2019. Sale prices have increased by 44.5% over the past 8 years.
The average apartment size was 65.24 sqm (702 sq.ft), up 1.3% from 2019, while the average building age was 21.99 years (2019: 21.64 years). Apartments took an average of 88.3 days to sell, up 8.2 days from 2019.
Transactions of apartments priced over 100 million Yen were up 7.2% from 2019 and up 75% from 2016. The sub-50 million Yen price has seen transactions fall.
As expected, the number of listings to hit the market in 2020 dropped for the second year in a row with a 11.3% decrease in 2020. The average size of an apartment listed for sale was 57.08 sqm (614 sq.ft), and the average building age was 26.83 years.
Overall, a total of 35,825 apartments were reported to have sold, down 6.0% from 2019. This may be due to the state of emergency that saw many brokerages temporarily close their doors in April and May. This number exceeds the supply of brand-new apartments that sold across Tokyo as developers continue to struggle with a shortage of available land sites, rising construction costs, and temporary showroom closures during the state of emergency.
It is also worth noting that the data provided by REINS only includes sales that were publicly reported to their listing database. A larger number of transactions go unreported, which means the actual transaction volume for existing apartments is higher.
Detached Home Sales
A total of 13,348 detached homes were reported to have sold across greater Tokyo, up 2.4% from 2019 and exceeding a previous record set in 2016. The average sale …continue reading
On this episode, Emilia discovers her childhood past with Echidna’s assistance. Later, Petelgeuse visits Fortuna.
Wow, it was very interesting to finally see Emilia’s sealed childhood memories. Also, I was very surprised to see the past Petelgeuse as a very cool family character partly because of Fortuna and Emilia. Other than that, I how a past tragedy going to begin. Now what’s going happen next? I can’t wait to find out. Overall, interesting childhood past for Emilia and surprising past version of Petelgeuse. …continue reading
Ever wanted to rock Disney and traditional Japanese style at the same time? Now you can.
We’ve seen traditional Japanese twists on Disney characters before, but not quite like this. From February 16 to February 23, Disney will team up with a slew of traditional Kyoto designers for a unique exhibit titled Disney Kyoto Traditional Design Series at Kyoto Museum of Crafts and Design’s MOCAD Gallery. The best part? There’s no entrance fee!
Some of these design companies have been around for hundreds of years. Take Tsujikura for example. They’re a traditional Japanese umbrella (or wagasa, if you want to get technical) shop that’s been in business since 1690.
▼ Their contribution to the exhibit is these adorable Mickey Mouse umbrellas.
There are even more lavish pieces in the exhibit as well, like this Mickey Mouse kimono from Okazen, who started out over 200 years ago making clothing for for geisha and maiko apprentices.
▼ Anyone else remember this scene from Fantasia?
Besides more traditional items, there are also everyday goods on display like these ceramic cups inspired by Winnie the Pooh.
▼ They’re made by a ceramics shopped called Asahido, located in front of Kyoto’s famous Kiyomizudera Temple.
And if you’re looking for accessories? Several designers have you covered. One of them is Katoriya, a handbag and pouch shop that can be traced back to 1886 in Kyoto’s Gion district.
▼ Nowadays, they make contemporary Japanese-style handbags like these ones with a Mickey Mouse design.
Self-pleasuring pioneer plans to launch research rocket to help make it happen.
Like a lot of little boys, Koichi Matsumoto had a deep interest in space. Little Koichi didn’t grow up to be an astronaut or astronomer, though. Instead, he grew up to become the president of Tenga, Japan’s leading maker of male masturbatory aids (and also its strangest fitness goods).
But even as his customers reach for their dongs, Matsumoto is still reaching for the stars, and he’s just announced the Tenga Rocket Project. A joint venture between Tenga and civilian spaceflight company Interstellar Technologies, the project aims to launch a Tenga rocket into space.
▼ “We want to shout love and peace from space” says the promotional image, referencing Tenga’s slogan of “Love, peace, and Tenga.”
The proposed research rocket would fly to an altitude of 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) before drifting back down into the ocean. However, there’s more to the project than the obvious phallic imagery and similarities of a shaft first rising and then falling with a moist splash.
The rocket will contain written messages of the hopes and dreams of 1,000 people, placed inside Tenga-shaped pods for the round-trip into space and back. Also along for the ride into space will be a Tenga Robot figure.
But the most important cargo isn’t just some fun marketing gimmick, but a piece of research equipment that Tenga hopes will be the key to the development of its next-generation …continue reading
The kamidana (literally, “god shelf”) is a miniature family altar found in many homes across Japan. Created as a way to bring the Shinto shrine into the home, most kamidana are fairly simple floating shelves, placed high on a wall. Architect Naohiko Shimoda has taken the concept a step further to create actual miniature shrines […]
Now anyone can learn to play traditional Japanese drums, and there’s a safe that needs breaking into too!
We’re always on the hunt for new and exciting gacha capsule toys, which seem to be continually upping the ante every time a new range is released. Now, there’s yet another reason to go hunting for the plastic vending machines that dispense these little miniatures, because there’s a chance you’ll come across this latest collection from Tama Kyu, famous for their “New Standard Capsule Toy” releases.
▼ Say hello to the “Maji de Naru Taiko“
“Maji de Naru Taiko” translates to “Taiko That Seriously Sounds“, a name that captures the feeling of surprise people will get when they hit the little drum and discover that it seriously works, replicating the sound of a genuine taiko drum.
Real drums can cost hundreds of dollars to purchase, but these little toys retail for 300 yen (US$2.89) each, making them a much more affordable option for those wanting to enjoy taiko at home. The five colours in the range are:
▼ Dark Brown
The design of each drum has been faithfully reproduced to look and sound like a real …continue reading
Does Hollywood’s newest entry in the Godzilla Monsterverse live up to Japanese expectations?
Monster movie fans are probably chomping at the bit right now because the trailer for the newest Legendary’s MonsterVerse film is out, and it promises to be an epic watch!
The trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong is a lengthy and informative two minutes and 24 seconds long, filled with explosions, tense one-liners, and insane battles between Godzilla and Kong, including one on top of what looks like a naval aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean. Whereas in previous films, it was Godzilla who came to save the day against other monsters, it seems like this time Kong is the one destined to preserve humanity, while experts try to ferret out what happened to Godzilla and why he seems to have gone berserk.
The film stars several big name celebrities, including Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, and Rebecca Hall, as well as popular Japanese actor Shun Oguri (who makes an extremely brief appearance in the trailer), and although the story seems like it takes a backseat to the special effects (as it often does in kaiju movies), the fierce battle between the monsters is sure to be highly entertaining based on the sneak peeks presented in this trailer, and there also appear to be some stunning visuals included as well.
English-language responses to the trailer were overall positive, with many making jokes about the line in the film where someone says, “Godzilla is hurting people and we don’t know why!”. People seem to be excited to watch the two giant …continue reading
One of the small pleasures in working late in Japan is that when stopping by the supermarket late in the evening for a quick pre-made dinner, you’ll often be greeted with a sticker knocking off anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the regular price. This is of course because as closing time approaches, the supermarkets need to offload these perishable foods quickly, so at certain times an employee will come out and plaster all the bento with discount stickers.
For customers, it’s a great bit of value at the end of a long and hard day, but as Uncle Ben once told a young Peter Parker: “with great purchasing power, comes great responsibility.” The predictability of these sizable markdowns can sometimes have the power to corrupt people leading to uncivilized behavior.
Such a corruption occurred in a rural supermarket in Japan and has grown into a recurring nightmare for its staff. A 23-year-old part-time employee there explained her grief in detail in a post on the “Trouble Solving Bulletin Board” (Onayami Kaiketsu Keijiban) website. At 6 p.m., she puts 20-percent-off stickers on all the side dishes, such as fried chicken, spring rolls, and potato croquettes which are sold in her section. Then, at some point between 7:00 and 7:45 p.m. she puts half-price stickers on top of the 20-percent ones.
▼ Some items commonly seen in the side-dish section
In doing this, she always encounters a sub-group of regular customers who will hover around that section of the supermarket, sometimes for up to an hour, waiting for that half-off payday. That’s no problem for her or anyone, as those who want to invest their own personal …continue reading
New chilled cup pairs sakura with fruit for a memorable springtime flavour.
The blooming of Japan’s cherry blossom trees may still be a couple of months away, but news of this year’s sakura-branded products are already beginning to hit us like a flurry of soft pink petals.
One of the first to take centre stage with their cherry blossom product announcements is Starbucks, and keeping in line with their release schedule from previous years, they’re kicking off the season withthe release of a sakura-flavoured chilled cup.
▼ This year’s seasonal chilled cup combines sakura with vanilla and strawberry jelly.
Last year, Starbucks paired sakura with white chocolate cheesecake and milk pudding, and the year before that, they gave us the Sakura Chocolate with Strawberry Jelly chilled cup. This year’s flavour combination harks back to the 2019 release, but instead of chocolate, the focus is on vanilla. This pairing is said to highlight the creaminess of the drink while adding sweet aromas to the tart sakura notes, with the strawberry jelly pieces providing a delicious textural contrast.
The domed lid, reminiscent of traditional drinks served in Starbucks stores, is a vibrant pink colour this year, while the cup design features swirls of cherry blossom flowers and petals, dotted with bursts of strawberry.
The new chilled cup will be available for a limited time at convenience stores nationwide from 9 February, selling at a recommended retail price of 219 yen (US$2.11).