How to Make Minions Cute Kyaraben! Video and Recipe

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Kyaraben (Charaben) – A New Version of Bento Lunch Box

Many of you are familiar with the Japanese Bento culture, which is a boxed lunch prepared at home and taken to school or workplace. Bento is known for its colorful, appetizing appearance and nutritional value.

Now, a new genre of Bento, Kyaraben is catching attention not only from Japanese people but also people from around the world. Let’s get into the Japanese Kyaraben today!

Cute Minions and Gru Kyaraben.
You can watch how to make cute Minions and Gru Kyaraben in this video!

What is Kyaraben/Charaben?

Kyaraben, or Charaben, is a short form of Character Bento. It is evolved from the normal bento box lunch, and all the food is arranged to look like popular anime/manga characters, animals, plants, or portraits.

Bento is usually made by mothers for children when they start to go to preschool or kindergarten. Bento not only serves a well-balanced meal but also plays an important role for mothers to tell their love and care for children. So, mothers started to make nicely decorated bento with octopus-shaped sausages or heart-shaped seaweed paper so that their kids enjoy lunchtime even more.

Now, bento is evolved into a piece of art, Kyaraben. Many mothers make gorgeous Kyaraben with their creativity and imagination, and lots of Kyaraben recipe books are published. Some people post their beautiful bento on Instagram or blog. You can find numerous videos demonstrating the whole Kyaraben making process.

Varieties of Kyaraben

varieties of kyaraben

There are many different varieties of Kyaraben. Thousands of ideas for Kyaraben are easily available both on the internet and books!

If you are new to Kyaraben making, you can start with cutting ingredients uniquely, for example, cutting vegetables with cookie cutters, or cutting sausages into octopus or crab shapes. Animals and plants are also a good choice for beginners.

If you are at the intermediate or advanced level, you want to try making anime/manga characters! Popular choices include Pokemon, Sanrio characters, Disney characters, Ghibli characters, Doraemon, and many more.

Useful Tools and Accessories for Kyaraben

You may wonder how you should make complicatedly shaped rice balls or cut ingredients into unique shapes. But don’t worry, there are lots of gadgets to make the process easier. Rice mold, vegetable cutters, stencil plates, seaweed paper hole punches, etc. are available in 100 yen stores, kitchen stores, children’s goods stores and online shops. So, you don’t need extraordinary skills to make Kyaraben. You can rely on those gadgets! Paper cups and bento pics also adds a colorful, cute appearance to your Kyaraben.

Common Ingredients for Kyaraben

You don’t need special ingredients for Kyaraben. Common ingredients for Kyaraben are mostly familiar to you. Characters or animals, the main part of Kyaraben is often made with rice or sandwiches. Rice balls are shaped into the character’s/animal’s face and decorated with sliced cheese, seaweed paper (nori), thinly baked egg, or ham. Furikake, a type of rice seasoning, is used to color the rice. Sandwiches are also shaped into the character’s/animal’s face with a sandwich cutter (available at 100 stores and online shops).

Side dishes are often shaped into cute forms, too. Common ideas for cute decorations are flower-shaped ham, octopus-shaped sausages, star or heart-shaped veggies, etc.

We hope you enjoyed our video and got familiar with Kyaraben!

Ochugen: Japanese Sumer Gift-Giving Tradition

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Ochugen: Summertime Gift-Giving Tradition in Japan

Ochugen is one of the two gift-giving seasons in Japan along with Oseibo. People exchange/send gifts to superiors at the workplace and to those who are in close relationships to express gratitude. Ochugen is a similar custom to Oseibo that takes place in the year-end, but there are also differences between those two. Let’s dig into the Ochugen tradition!

The meaning and origin of Ochugen

Chugen (中元), or Ochugen (お中元), is a summer gift-giving tradition that people present gifts to your boss and to those who are in close relationships including relatives, home doctors, teachers, etc. People show gratitude for receivers by sending gifts.

The custom of “chugen” originated from Taoism, and it was combined with the Japanese tradition of memorial services for ancestors, making a custom of giving offerings to relatives. In the Edo period (early 17th century to mid 19th century), chugen got to mean a gift that shows gratitude for those whom you feel grateful to.

As done for oseibo, ochugen is wrapped with “noshigami” when presented. Noshigami is a piece of paper used to wrap gifts on ceremonial occasions. A ribbon is printed in the center, and the word “Ochugen” is written on the upper half, and the name of the receiver is written on the bottom half.

When is the Ochugen date?

Different regions present ochugen at different times; in the early July to 15th of July in eastern Japan, and in the early July to 15th of August in western Japan. But it has been getting common for every region to send ochugen at the same time of eastern Japan.

If not possible to send gifts during the ochugen period, gifts should be sent as “Shochu-mimai”(暑中見舞い) by August 8, or even after that, they should be sent as “Zansho-mimai”(残暑見舞い) by the early September. Both shochu-mimai and zansho-mimai are meant to care how relatives, acquaintances, or friends are doing in the hot summertime.

To whom should Ochugen be presented?

Ochugen is a way of expressing the giver’s gratitude, so the list of recipients should include those whom you frequently interact with, friends, and relatives. The common list of people to give ochugen is,
-parents
-relatives
-boss
-teacher
-friends

What type of gifts should be chosen for Ochugen?

what should be presented

Since ochugen used to be offerings dedicated to ancestors, the standard choice of ochugen is food. It is also important to note that gifts should be long-lasting and consumable.
Popular gifts for ochugen are beer, juice, ham, so-men (a type of Japanese noodle consumed in the summertime), and ice cream. Yokan, Calpis, and jelly are also a common choice. Basically, anything that can be enjoyed at best when chilled is perfect for ochugen.
The budget of ochugen is 3000~5000 yen ($25~45).

What should NOT be presented?

Presents that should NOT be chosen for ochugen are the same as oseibo.
Please refer to this page.

Ochugen manners

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-Make sure that gifts arrive during “Ochugen period”

Ochugen should be arrived at recipients during the ochugen period (early to mid-July), at latest by 15th of July. If impossible, send gifts as “shochu-mimai” by the 8th of August or “zansho-mimai” by the early September.

-Wrap with “Noshigami”

Make sure to wrap the gift with a piece of paper called “Noshigami,” with the word “お中元”(Ochugen) on the upper half and the name of the receiver on the bottom half.

-Send message cards before oseibo is delivered

Ideally, it is the best to visit the receiver’s place and give the gift, but it is not possible to every case. If ochugen should be delivered, it is polite to send message cards to notify receivers that ochugen will be delivered. Cards should be sent before the gifts arrive.

-After receiving ochugen…

Ochugen is usually present by the younger to the older, so it is not mandatory to give something back. But is you receive ochugen from friends, co-workers, or siblings, it is polite to send gifts back, or at least send letters to thank for the gifts. Letters include the gratitude for ochugen and the care for the receiver’s health.

Ochugen is a summertime gift-giving custom to show gratitude for close people and to care their health. It will be a good opportunity to thank your important people!

Oseibo: Japanese Year-End Gift Giving Culture

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Oseibo: Japanese Year-End Gift Giving Culture

Japan is known to have a unique gift-giving culture, as represented in omiyage. Giving gifts in Japan is considered to be a way to show the giver’s care for the receivers, to express gratitude, and to maintain relationships.

Oseibo is one part of the Japanese gift-giving culture that takes place in the year-end. Let’s get into the detail of this culture today!

Meaning and Origin of Oseibo

The word “Seibo”(歳暮) means “the end of the year.” “O” is an adding letter to make the word formal or to sound gentle. Oseibo is one of the two gift-giving seasons along with Ochugen. Oseibo takes place at the end of the year, and gifts are given express your gratitude to those whom you feel grateful to.

Oseibo was originally an offering dedicated to the ancestors at the year-end. The typical choices for oseibo at that time included fish, mochi, dried squid and other items that could go along with alcoholic beverages. In the Edo period (early 17th~mid 19th century) the custom of oseibo became widespread across the country and gradually became a commercial practice.

Marchants brought gifts to business partners such as landlords, clients, and vendors. But in recent years, oseibo has been presented not only business partners but also close friends and relatives. Also, people used to visit the receiver’s place to present the gift, but now it is common to order gifts in department stores and have them delivered.

It is widely known that Japanese gifts are wrapped neatly, so is oseibo. But, unlike ordinary gifts, oseibo has another layer of wrapping paper called “noshi” or “noshigami,” with the word “お歳暮” on the upper half and the presenter’s name on the bottom half. Noshigami is often used for gifts to make them formal and presentable.

When is the Oseibo date?

Oseibo season used to be sent in the mid to late-December, but now it is getting common to be sent in the late November. In either case, the gift should be delivered by December 20 because later on, people get extremely busy preparing for the New Year. Despite the timing, oseibo is not considered as Christmas presents.

To whom Oseibo is Presented?

The common oseibo-people list includes the following:
-Business associates
-Doctors/physicians in charge
-Relatives
-Teachers

It is not common to present oseibo to parents/grandparents and friends. Instead, gifts are given on other occasions such as birthday, mother’s day, father’s day, and so on.

What kind of gifts should be presented?

what should be presented

There are no specific rules for what to be chosen as oseibo. It is favorable to choose something that fits the receiver’s taste, but any consumable items will do: beer, wine, juice, snacks, sweets, canned food, frozen food, fruits, seafood, soap, detergent, and so on. The average price for oseibo is 3000~5000 yen ($25~45), and gifts to those who have higher status than you such as your boss are generally expensive.

The followings are the tips for choosing oseibo and the list of common choices of items.

Age

Age of the receiver is the top priority to consider. Younger people may are likely to prefer trendy sweets or wine, and older people may prefer tea, soba, or udon.

Lifestyle

It is important to consider the lifestyle of recipients. Those who live by him/herself may need pre-cooked food such as packed curry or canned food. Those who like cooking may appreciate a set of seasonings, fish, or meat.

Types of family

Items that can be enjoyed by the whole family will be a great choice. For married couples with no kids, it would be better to focus on quality rather than quantity, such as sweets from prestigious shops. On the contrary, a large quantity should be preferred for families with kids. Sausages or ham will be a good choice for that type of family. For three generation families (grandparents, parents, children living together), food that can be enjoyed by any generations such as salmon flakes or nori seaweed will be great.

Regionally specialized items
Japanese people love trying items that are specific to some regions and cannot be found in their living area. So, if someone sends oseibo to those who live far away, it is common to choose locally specialized products; for example, udon from Kagawa, rice from Niigata, or seafood from Hokkaido.

Business associates

To business associates including clients and vendors, a box of individually packaged snacks or sweets will be a great choice so that it can go around the whole office. Tea and coffee are also a good choice for business associates.

What NOT to choose for oseibo

Gifts that do not last long or cannot be consumable should be avoided. In addition to that, the followings are not considered good as oseibo because each item may be associated with negative image towards receivers.

-Money: “You are in financial difficulties.”

-Underwear: “You are too poor to buy underwear.”

-Knives: Cutting the relationship

-Shoes: Trample the receiver down

-Stationery: “Study more.”

Where to buy oseibo

Department stores are the common option to buy oseibo because they have a wide range of gifts that suit any types of people’s taste, and items sold in department stores are generally high quality. Most customers have stores deliver gifts to receivers.
It has been getting common to buy oseibo online and send them to recipients. Online stores have a large selection of items including gifts that are not sold at department stores.

Manners for oseibo

manners

-Make sure that gifts arrive during “Oseibo period”

Oseibo should be arrived to recipients during oseibo period (mid to late-December), at latest by 20th of December. If not possible, send the gift either in the year beginning as “Onenga” or by the beginning of February as “Kanchu-mimai.”

-Wrap with “Noshigami”

Make sure to wrap the gift with a piece of paper called “Noshigami”, with the word “お歳暮”(Oseibo) on the upper half and the name of the receiver on the bottom half.

-Send message cards before oseibo is delivered

Oseibo is ideally presented directly from the giver to the receiver, but it is not possible to every case. If oseibo should be delivered, it is polite to send message cards to notify receivers that oseibo will be delivered. Cards should be sent before the gifts arrive.

Although the custom of oseibo has been fading especially among younger generations, the oseibo custom is still a way of expressing gratitude and maintaining relationships. Learning about the Japanese gift-giving culture will help you get a glimpse of the essence of Japanese mindsets towards personal relationships.

Kogal Fashion Style: Japanese Youth Subculture

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Kogal Fashion: a Japanese Subculture

Kogal is often referred as a part of Japanese subcultures that emerged in the 1990s. Kogal are schoolgirls (generally high school girls) who dress themselves differently and use distinctive slangs. They spread youth cultures and trends, too.

Today, Kogal is getting attention from around the world as a distinctive aspect of Japanese culture. Let’s find out Kogal’s fashion and their culture.

What is Kogal?

Kogal are Japanese schoolgirls featured by distinctive fashion and culture. The word “Kogal” is derived from Gal or Gyraru, which indicated people who wore cutting-edge fashion and hung around in the centers of youth culture such as Shibuya and Harajuku. Gals were influenced by a singer Namie Amuro. She was said to be a charisma for teenagers and Gals followed her fashion, which resemble surf fashion and Los Angeles fashion from the 70s. Those who admired and tried to look like Namie Amuro called themselves “Amura-” (Amurer). “Ko” is said to be either a contraction of Ko-kosei (high school girls) or “小/子”(small/children), used by bouncers at disco clubs to distinguish adults from teenagers.

Unlike Gal fashion, Kogals fashionably dressed themselves in school uniforms. They rolled up skirts to shorten the length, wore loose socks (baggy socks), and bags decorated with fancy charms and keychains. The Kogal school uniform style facilitated the arousal of fake uniform (nanchatte seifuku). They also bleached or dyed their hair with light brown or blonde. They put distinctive makeup and nails as well.

Kogals were often criticized for conspicuous consumption. They were fascinated by luxurious brands, living off their wealthy parents or enjo kousai. Enjo kousai was a form of paid dating, which Kogal asked men out for a date to get money in exchange for the prostitute.

Mass media paid great attention to Kogals by creating special TV programs focusing on them, leading to the spread of Kogals and their culture. Fashion magazines specializing in Kogal fashion such as Egg were published as well. Models in these magazines had a huge impact on high school girls at that time.

Kogal Fashion

Kogals are known to dress themselves in a certain way basing their school uniforms. Apart from uniforms, there are some “staples” for the Kogal look.

Light brown/blonde hair

Dying the hair with light brown or blonde was the very first step to become Kogal. Black or dark brown hair, which most Japanese people have, was a no-way. Over the years, they turned their hair more bright, showy colors like pink and blue. They even breached their hair. As Kogals were rebellious to the strict schools and the society in general, dying their hair was one way to express their rebelling spirit.

Flashy Makeup

Kogals had the “makeup standards,” which featured thin eyebrows, sparkly eyeshadows, and fake eyelashes, following Namie Amuro. The more flamboyant, the better. They especially cared about eye-makeup. They tried to make their best effort possible to make their eyes look bigger with heavy eyeliner, eyelashes, and mascara.

Tanned Skin

Tanned skin was a trademark of Kogals, also influenced by Namie Amuro. They went to the beach for tanning, but most Kogals did fake tanning at “Hiyake salon”(fake tanning salon). The first trend was turning the skin brown, but as the time went, some people tanned their skin darker, almost black. They were called “Kuro gyaru” (Black gyaru) or “Manba gyaru” (Manba comes from Yamanba, which is a Japanese monster that looks like an old woman). They also used white-colored cosmetics to contrast with the tanned skin.

Nanchatte Seifuku

Kogals wear an outfit based on the Japanese school uniform with a shortened skirt, loose socks (buggy socks), a big cardigan, and a scarf. They also wear platform shoes or loafers. Kogals tend to use a typical Japanese school bag, sometimes decorated with colorful keychains.

Kogal Culture

Kogals get together and hang around near Shibuya or Harajuku area afterschool, and lots of cultures spread nationwide from Kogals. One example is Pokebell (does not have something to do with Pokemon), which is a small device that exchanges messages. Pokebell was mainly used by Kogals at first, but it later became a huge boom. Another boom was Purikura, or a photobooth, where you can take pictures and decorate them with texts and stickers. Purikura is still a popular thing among girls, especially those in elementary school, junior high school, and high school enjoy it when they hang out with friends. Many more things boomed among Kogals became a big trend all over Japan. Kogal’s wide network promoted the widespread use of these gadgets, and they played an important role in consumptions and trends at that time.

Language of Kogal

Kogals invented unique phrases and words often borrowing English words. Those phrases were called “Kogal-go” (Kogal language) and also became a trend in Japan. Some words are still used by the majority of people in Japan, not only the young but also the elder.

“Choberiba,” meaning “very bad,” was a combination of “cho,” which means “very,” and “very bad.” “Ageman,” meaning “a man who brings luck to women,” was from a Japanese word “age,” which means “up,” and an English word “man.” Like these, Kogal-go was mostly a combination of Japanese words and English words.
Roman script abbreviations were also popular, such as HK, which is the abbreviation of “Hanashi Kawarukedo,” meaning “By the way” or “Changing the topic of conversation.”

Did you get a glimpse of Kogal? We hope you enjoyed it!

23 Best Japanese Candy You Must Try in Your Life

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Best Japanese Candy You must try in Japan!

Japan had been mass producing candy since the Meiji period when the Western candy was brought to Japan. Many confectionery companies were established and created a large selection of sweets that gave the Japanese joyful moments.
Since many snacks come and fail quickly from the market, only a handful candies have become classic. Here are some of the candies that have been catching the hearts of Japanese people for decades. If you come to Japan, you can’t miss these sweets!

You can find more about classical Japanese snacks here and must-try Japanese sweets here.

1 Hi-Chew

Hi-Chew is a soft, chewy candy produced by one of the leading candy companies, Morinaga. One-bite size candies are packaged individually and sold as a package of tens or more. It comes in many different flavors, with the regular flavors including green apple, strawberry, grape, and lemon, and seasonally limited or regionally limited flavors released.
Hi-Chew is known for its flavorful taste of fruits that lasts long in your mouth. It doesn’t take space in your bag, so it is good to have it with your journey in Japan.

2 Milky

Milky is a chewy candy that has a rich milk flavor. This candy was first marketed in 1951 by Fujiya and has been loved by everyone. The basic version of Milky is made out of condensed milk and sugar, which gives it a rich, creamy flavor. The candy is wrapped individually and packaged in a plastic bag featured by the red color and a girl character, “Peco-chan.” Fujiya released the green tea flavor and cherry blossom (sakura) flavor as the limited edition, and other varieties of sweets such as chocolate and cookies are available. Of course, all of them have the Milky flavor.

3 Puccho

Puccho is a soft, chewy candy that is often considered to be a rivalry item of Hi-Chew. It has a chewer and harder texture than Hi-Chew has, and each candy contains small gummy candies and pop of flavor burst. It comes in many sorts of flavors, but it has more soda-based flavors than fruit-based flavors. Also, It corroborates with characters such as Disney or Minion.

4 Mitsuya Cider candy

Mitsuya Cider is a classic carbonated drink with a sweet flavor produced by Asahi. This company came out with a hard candy using the flavor of this drink. The candy tastes exactly like Mitsuya Cider drink, and it has a carbonation effect. Varieties of flavors include regular cider, grape, peach, and apple.

5 Ichigo Milk

Ichigo Milk is a candy with strawberry milk flavor produced by Sakuma, which specializes in hard candy production. It has a triangle shape with a hard strawberry candy on the outside and layered milk candy on the inside. A little tart flavor of strawberries and the sweet milk flavor make a perfect harmony in your mouth.

6 Bontan Ame

Bontan Ame is a classical soft candy produced in 1924. You cannot find any other candies like Bontan Ame. It has a mochi-like texture that comes from rice used as the ingredient and is wrapped in a thin edible sheet individually. The package is made of paper and has a classical design that feels a sense of nostalgia. It uses citrus fruits for flavoring that tastes a little sour but sweet at the same time. If you look for a unique candy, Bontan Ame should be the one.

7 Morinaga milk caramel

Morinaga milk caramel is a chewy candy that has a rich caramel and milk flavor. As you chew the candy, the sweet flavor spreads all over your mouth. You can feel the creamy flavor of milk and a sweet but savory flavor of caramel. Aside from the regular caramel flavor, it has the azuki (red beans) flavor and the green tea flavor, both of which have a milky taste.

8 Kit Kat

KitKat is a must-try candy when you come to Japan. The chocolate tastes more milky and sweet than that sold in other countries, and it comes in hundreds of different flavors. The regular flavors that you can find in supermarkets or convenience stores include milk chocolate, dark chocolate, strawberry, and green tea, but limited editions come out seasonally, and you can find regionally specialized flavors at tourist shops or train stations.

In the summertime, they release Kit Kat that can be enjoyed by freezing them. As for regionally limited flavors, sake-flavored Kit Kat will be a great souvenir to take back home. Other regionally specialized versions have unique packages, for instance, strawberry cheesecake Kit Kat is packaged in a box with the Mt. Fuji-shaped.

9 Chiroru chocolate

Chiroru chocolate is a series of individually packaged chocolate that you can buy at convenience stores and supermarkets. It is often sold individually at the lowest price in an entire store and also sold in a packet or a box. Variations of Chiroru offer flavors of chocolate imaginable with different fillings such as mochi, biscuits, fruit flavors, caramel, wafers, creams, nuts, and jellies.
Seasonal flavors and special editions released according to the seasons or events, and colorful, cute packaging make the chocolate a collective item. “Shop Chiroru Choco” has opened recently in Akihabara, Tokyo, where you can get varieties of Chiroru and corroborated items.

10 Black Thunder

Black Thunder is a small chocolate bar that is popular among children and women. It has a chunk of chocolate cookies covered with milk chocolate. The sweet milk chocolate and crispy cookies are the best combinations ever! The brand has released different flavors of the chocolate bar and ice cream products. It is often sold in an individual package and costs only 32 yen!

11 Galbo mini

Galbo mini is a chocolate snack released by Meiji. It has a chocolate-flavored biscuit coated with milk chocolate. It sounds like a typical chocolate-covered cookie, but in fact, it isn’t. The biscuit isn’t like the normal biscuit, but more like baked chocolate: it has a rich chocolate flavor, and doesn’t have a crumbly texture that you feel when you eat normal biscuits. You can taste the rich chocolate flavor, but still, you can feel the crispy texture of the biscuit.

12 Apollo

Apollo is a chocolate that resembles space capsules in shape that is inspired by the Apollo space missions in the 1960s. It has milk chocolate on the bottom and strawberry chocolate on the top. Small chocolates come in a paper box.

13 Mochi Choco

Mochi Choco is a mochi snack with an almond paste and crushed almonds in the center, covered with milk chocolate. It has a round shape and is about the same size as your palm. It is individually packaged and sold at 42 yen at convenience stores or supermarkets. Just give it a try, mochi and chocolate make perfect harmony!

14 Chocoball

Chocoball is a small chocolate ball with fillings inside. Different flavors of chocolate have different fillings, including milk chocolate with peanuts, strawberry chocolate with strawberry cream, and caramel chocolate with caramel cream. Small chocolate balls are packaged in a paper box with the character called “Kyoro-chan” at the center. Limited editions come out seasonally.

15 Choco Anpan

Choco Anpan is a one-bite size soft bread with chocolate cream inside. Inspired by the popular sweet bread anpan, it has the anpan-like appearance. It is a great snack to fill your empty stomach!

16 Almond chocolate

Almond chocolate has long been a popular brand in the confectionery market. An individually roasted almond is covered with milk chocolate, which you can enjoy the savory taste and crispy texture of the almonds and sweet flavor of chocolate at a time. About 20 pieces are packaged in a carton, easy for snacking and sharing with friends.

17 Melty Kiss

Melty Kiss is a brand of chocolate that lines up in stores only in winter. The cube-shaped chocolate has a soft texture and melts in your mouth when you bite into it, as the name “Melty” indicates. Regular flavors include milk chocolate, strawberry, and green tea, and limited editions are marketed each year.

18 Pure gumi

Pure gumi is a gummy candy that has a heart shape and sour powder on the outside. Different flavors are all fruit flavors including grape, lemon, peach, and white grape. The juicy, sweet taste of gummy candy are balanced out with sour powder on the outside. Another variation of this product is “Jure Pure,” which has a fruit-flavored jelly in the center, which adds more juiciness to the candy.

19 Kaju gumi

Kaju gumi is a popular brand of gummy candy released by Meiji. As the name “Kaju” (fruit juice) means, the gummy is flavored with actual fruits juice: No artificial flavoring! You will taste the natural flavor of fruits. The candy has a shape of the fruit used, so you can enjoy it with your eyes as well. Kaju gumi has a softer texture than other kinds of gummy candy.

20 Poifull

Poifull is a type of candy that resembles jelly beans, but it has a gummy texture rather than a chewy texture that jelly beans usually have. The candy has a gummy texture on the inside and crispy texture on the outside. A regular box of Poifull contains four different flavors, including raspberry, grape, lemon, and green apple. A drink mix version includes coke, lemon soda, white soda, and normal soda. It is the best when you share this candy with a group of people!

21 Kororo

Kororo is a gummy candy with a juicy fruit flavor coming from the actual fruit juice. Each candy has a one-bite size and ball shape. What’s amazing about this gummy candy is the texture. The candy has a soft, jelly-like texture on the inside, and since it is coated with a thin layer of edible film, it splashes in your mouth once you bite it. Your entire mouth is filled with the juicy flavor of the fruit just as you are eating the actual fruit! When it was first launched, it only had the grape flavor, but now it comes in a variety of flavor including peach, white grape, and “berry berry berry.”

22 Ramune candy

Ramune candy is like a tablet candy designed to taste like a classical Japanese drink known as Ramune. It has a fizzy taste, and each piece has a cute face! Candies are sold in a plastic bottle case that resembles the glass bottle for the Ramune drink.

23 Kompeito

Kompeito is a traditional Japanese sugar hard candy that comes in different colors and flavors. It has a bumpy shape that looks cute. This candy was introduced to Japan from Portugees in the 16th centuries, and has been a familiar candy among Japanese people.

If you have a chance to come to Japan, check out these candies!
They are readily available in any convenience stores and supermarkets!

26 Ideas for What to Buy in Tokyo

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Ideas for What to Buy in Tokyo

Tokyo is just a small part of Japan, but it is where various faces of Japan are concentrated. So, you can get souvenirs in a diverse variety from traditional items to modern, trendy items. Below we listed things to get in Tokyo that either you can take back home or you can eat on the spot. If you are planning to visit Tokyo, be sure to check this list!

If you will visit other parts of Japan, be sure to check souvenir ideas from Japan!

What to buy at Tokyo Station
What to buy at Asakusa
What to buy at Tokyo Skytree
What to buy at Harajuku

What to buy at Tokyo Station


Tokyo

If you are visiting Tokyo, you will be likely to get to Tokyo station, which is located at the center of the city and is a hub to connect all the districts of Tokyo and Japan. In fact, Tokyo station is one of the best places to souvenirs in Tokyo, especially sweets. Such a large station, there are hundreds of stores selling sweets and goods that suit all tastes. It will be a good shopping spot when you want to buy gifts or souvenirs for your family, friends, and yourself.

-Tokyo Banana

Tokyo Banana is an absolute famous and popular sweet from Tokyo. It is a banana-shaped sponge cake with banana-flavored custard cream inside. There are several varieties in flavors and appearances, such as caramel banana flavor. Also, aside from banana cream-filled cakes, they sell baumkuchen, cookies, Kit Kats, brownies, etc., and all banana-flavored.

You can get Tokyo Banana other places in Tokyo, but they usually have fewer varieties. So, if you want to try this treat, you should buy at Tokyo station!

-Hiyoko: Tokyo Hiyoko

Hiyoko is a small, chick-shaped sweet with a filling made out of white bean paste inside. They also sell chick-shaped baked sweet potatoes and chick-shaped cookies, and as a seasonally limited edition, they have released chick-shaped jelly.

You can get Hiyoko at tourist shops or department stores, but what’s special about buying it in Tokyo station is that they tend to have larger varieties. You can find this sweet both at the south and central exits.

-Oeuf Pudding: Quatre

Do you want a surprise in your gift? Then, go for Ufu Pudding from Quatre.

What’s unique about this pudding is that it is served in an actual eggshell! What’s more, the pudding is packed in a box that resembles the real egg carton. The pudding has a rich taste and smooth texture, and the sauce at the bottom makes the pudding even richer. They come in various flavors, including plain, strawberry, chocolate, and seasonally limited flavors.

-Tokyo Kaminariya

Tokyo Kaminariya is a cone-shaped langue de chat cookie filled with fluffy cream, caramelized sesame and crushed nuts sprinkled on top. The motif of this sweet is the hones of the God of thunder. Remember that this sweet can be bought only at Tokyo station!

The sweet is individually packaged and sold in a set of 8, 12, and 16, so it is good to share with a small group. The shop is located at Keiyo street, where other popular sweets are gathered.

-Gumitzel: Hitotsubu Kanro

Gumitzel is a gummy candy with a crunchy texture on the outside. It has a pletzel-like appearance, and there are several flavors including cider, coke, apple, grape, grapefruits, and pear. The colorful candies are visually appealing. You will be amazed at the unique texture of the candy!

The shop is located in the Gransta area.

-Animal cupcakes: Fairycake Fair

Fairycake Fair sells cupcakes and biscuits freshly baked at the shop every morning, and located at the Gransta section. They have some seats for you to enjoy their baked items on the spot, but you can also box up the items to take back home.

What you should check out at this shop is cupcakes with cute animal-like decorations such as panda and pig. They are too cute to eat!

-Imo Yokan and Anko Dama: Funawa

Funawa is famous for its delicious Imo Yokan and Anko Dama. Usually, yokan is a rectangular brick-shaped Japanese sweet made from red beans, but imo yokan is made of delicious sweet potatoes! It has a sweet flavor and smooth texture. Anko Dama is a bean paste ball that has a colorful appearance and different flavors. Each ball is coated with thin layer of agar. You can buy these two products individually, but you can also get a pack of these two sweets.

-Crispy Chocolat: Morozoff

A famous confectionery company founded in Kobe, Morozoff sells a chocolate snack available only in Tokyo station. It has a white chocolate-covered cereal with a raspberry flavor. Not only does it have cute packaging, but also it has exactly the same look of Tokyo station.

There are several branches in Tokyo station, but the one at south exit has the largest varieties.

-New York Perfect Cheese

Newly opened in 2017, it is a sweets shop that specializes in cheese-flavored sweets. The best seller is New York Perfect Cheese, which has a cream cheese white chocolate and fluffy cream wrapped in a gouda cheese-flavored langue de chat cookie. If you are a cheese lover, you will definitely love it!

What to buy at Asakusa


Asakusa

Asakusa is a district located in the north-east of Tokyo. The area is full of shops that sell traditional Japanese goods and local treats. Most of those shops have long rooted in the area, so you can get authentic Japanese gifts here. Some of them cannot be taken back home, but they worth a try if you come to Asakusa.

-Jumbo Melon pan: Kagetsudo

Jumbo Melon pan is literally a big melon bread with thin crispy cookie dough on the top and sweet fluffy bun on the bottom. You may wonder what the differences are between melon pan at convenience stores and Kagetsudo, but they are completely different. Melon pan at Kagetsudo is freshly baked from the oven, nice and warm, and it has a perfect balance of crispy and fluffy texture. Moreover, you can taste the richness coming from the butter way stronger than other melon pan. It costs 200 yen for one and 500 yen for three. It sounds a bit pricey but you will never regret trying it.

-Daigaku Imo: Chibaya

Daigaku Imo is a chunked baked sweet potato with sweet syrup made from sugar. Gently sweet flavor of the syrup and a little savory flavor of baked sweet potato spread all over your mouth once you bite into it. You can’t forget this delicious sweet!

-Imo Kintsuba: Mangando

Kintsuba is a Japanese sweet generally made out of red beans. It has a square shape and a thin layer of batter on the outside. Unlike normal kintsuba, Kintsuba from Mangando has a sweet potato flavor as the name “Imo” (=sweet potato) says. You can enjoy it hot from the pan. It comes in a small size, so it is a good treat for a snack or eaten as street food.

-Dorayaki: Kameju

Dorayaki is a Japanese sweet that has two pancakes sandwiching red bean paste in between. Dorayaki from Kameju comes to one of the best souvenirs in Asakusa, so there is no reason for not stopping by this shop. Fluffy pancakes and slightly sweet red bean paste makes a perfect combination!

-Kaminari Okoshi: Kaminari Okoshi Hompo

Kaminari Okoshi is a typical souvenir in Asakusa, which is a snack made of puffed rice. It has a crispy texture and comes in different flavors.

-Ningyo Yaki: Kimuraya

Ningyo Yaki is a small fluffy cake that comes in different shapes such as birds, lamps, or pagodas, and is another typical selection of Asakusa souvenirs. Kimuraya is the oldest ningyo yaki maker in Asakusa founded over 150 years ago. You can enjoy not only trying cakes but also watching the cakes made!

-Tumbler: Tatsummiya

Tatsumiya sells various items that use the Nishijin silk, which is a traditional Japanese fabric. What catches your eyes is tumblers with the Nishijin silk around. They have gorgeous traditional Japanese patterns, and no one tumbler has the same patterns! So, your tumbler is going to be only one in the world!

-Umbrellas: Hokusai Graphic

Hokusai Graphic is a shop that specializes in umbrellas. Their umbrellas have beautiful Japanese-style patterns, which range from classic, traditional ones to modern ones. They offer so many selections of umbrellas that you cannot choose the one!

-Accessories: Shikisaido

Accessories with Japanese motifs can be found at this shop. You can see colorful hair accessories, pierces, and hair bands with a hint of traditional Japanese-ness. You can also get other kinds of products such as plates or purses.

-Japanese-style shoes: Suiren

Suiren is a shop that sells Japanese-style knick-knacks. A recommendation from this shop is traditional Japanese-style shoes. They are all handmade and comfy. They go well not only with traditional Japanese clothing but also ordinary outfits. They are a little pricey (10,000 yen~), but they will be a good gift especially for those who are from warm areas.

-Gamaguchi: Licca

Gamaguchi is a type of Japanese perse that has a uniquely shaped metal mouth instead of a zipper. Licca has a large selection of items from purses to bags, and they come in diverse kinds of colors, patterns, and sizes. The patterns include both traditional and modern one. Fashionable gamaguchi items make your outfit look even more gorgeous!

-Traditional Toys: Asakusa Edoya

If you are interested in traditional Japanese toys, Asakusa Edoya is the right place. It offers conventional Japanese toys including kendama and ohajiki. In addition to these, you can buy traditional Japanese crafts and other items that you can use on a daily basis such as sensu (Japanese-style fan) and furin (wind bell). It is a good place to shop especially when you are looking for gifts for children.

What to buy at Tokyo Skytree


Skytree

Skytree is a radio tower that is located near Asakusa, and is the tallest tower in the world. The bottom part of this tower is a shopping moll called Tokyo Soramachi, where you can find some Japan-themed goods.

-Kanzashi: Wargo

Kanzashi is a traditional Japanese hair accessory which has a stick-shape and little charms as an accent. It is usually worn with traditional Japanese clothing, but Wargo has a wide variety of designs from traditional to modern, so you can choose one that goes well with your normal outfits.

-Tenugui: Mamegui

Tenugui is a traditional Japanese towel made from cotton and a popular choice for Japanese souvenirs. It comes in different patterns and colors from cool, traditional designs to pop, cute designs. Tenugui from Mamegui offers smaller sized tenugui, and what is special about their tenugui is, it gets an animal or fruit appearance when you wrap a gift with their tenugui. It makes a great gift for cute things lovers!

What to buy at Harajuku


Harajuku

Harajuku is one of the centers of Japanese pop culture. there is a plenty of shops that sell Kawaii goods lined up on a street called Takeshita street, and also all around in Harajuku area. You will see what’s on in Japan in this area, and you will have interesting experiences that you could not have in other parts of Japan. If you are interested in cute stuff or you want to immerse yourself in Kawaii culture, you should check out Harajuku.

-Cotton Candy: Totti Candy Factory

Totti Candy Factory, located in the Takeshita street, caters you with a gigantic cotton candy that is way bigger than your face. Their signature is the premium cotton candy. It has a mountain-like shape, and is made out of four different colors that have different flavors accordingly. Shop staffs make cotton candy right in front of you, so make sure to have your video ready to film how it is made!
Although this shop is famous for huge cotton candy, it sells cake pops that have cute animal faces. You can order them at the counter as well.

-Cheese Tart: Pablo

Pablo is a baker shop that specializes in delicious cheese tarts. Their basic cheese tart has a flaky pie crust-like shell on the outside and is baked to medium-rare. The cheese has a rich flavor and creamy texture which really go well with the apricot jam on top. What’s more, you can get this delicious tart at only 850 yen ($8)!

There are other variations on their menu: the Pablo nude is another variety of Pablo’s cheese tart that is baked to rare, so you eat it with a spoon. Aside from regular cheese tart, Pablo comes out with seasonally limited versions and regionally limited versions. You can get different flavors depending on the season or the location. Other baked items such as mini cheese tarts, cookies, and pudding, all of which use cheese, of course.

-Character Items: Kiddy Land

Kiddy Land has a wide variety of character-themed items. You can find popular characters that originate from Japan such as Rilakkuma, Hello Kitty, and Ghibli, and that originate from other countries but are famous in Japan such as Disney, Peanuts, and Moomin. You may not be able to get manga character-themed items, but if you are a fan of Japanese anime or unique characters, be sure to check out Kiddy Land.

-Kawaii Accessories: Fancy Pocket

Fancy Pocket is a popular store among teenage girls in Japan that offers cute accessories at low price. It has a large assortment of accessories from pierces to rings, and you will be amazed at the wide range of designs. You can get not only fancy-designed accessories that can do with formal occasions but also cute ones that go well with casual outfits. Fancy Pocket also offers a wide selection of items such as T-shirt, stationery, beauty products, and hand-craft items.

-Cheap knick-knacks: Asoko, Awesome Store

Harajuku is the best place to get cheap but good quality knick-knacks. Asoko and Awesome Store are famous among Japanese young women because they have a wide variety of items with stylish designs at the low price. You can get bags, kitchen tools, tableware, bath items, party items, shoes, etc. You will be impressed with the variation of products and the price. More amazingly, most items don’t look cheap!

Did you get any ideas for your souvenir or gifts from Tokyo?
We wish you a great shopping experience in Tokyo!

Nanchatte Seifuku: How to Look Like Japanese School Girls!

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“Nanchatte Seifuku” – Unique Aspect of Japanese School Uniform

Japanese students are known to wear school uniforms. While some schools require students to wear a set of uniform designated by the school, other schools have skirts/pants and a school pin only. Several schools even don’t have their school uniforms.

Still, school uniform is a symbol of school age to many Japanese schoolers, especially to high school girls. So, even if their schools don’t have school uniforms, they buy fake uniforms to enjoy their school age.

Today, let’s have a look at this culture of fake uniform, known as “Nanchatte Seifuku.”

For the basic information about Japanese school uniforms, including types, history, and necessary items, please check out this page!
Everything about Japanese Seifuku (school uniform): Names and Types

What is Nanchatte Seifuku?

What is nanchatte seifuku

Nanchatte seifuku is a fake school uniform, with the word “nanchatte” meaning “fake,” and “seifuku” meaning “school uniform.” Nanchatte seifuku is often referred as a form of daily outfit resembling a school uniform: buying all the items needed to look standard Japanese school uniforms, and wearing it on non-school days are the features of nanchatte seifuku. So, it doesn’t include a school uniform designated by schools.

Nanchatte seifuku is usually worn by high school girls whose schools don’t have school uniforms, but those who have designated uniforms also wear nanchatte seifuku when hanging out with friends. They either exchange uniforms with friends attending in different schools or buy items in shops specializing in nanchatte seifuku like East Boy and CONOMi.

Nanchatte seifuku is now recognized as a form of fashion that represents Japanese culture and catching attention from other countries. Fashion shows specialized in nanchatte seifuku are held in some countries including Italy, France, Russia, Korea, China, and Brazil. Japanese school uniform is not accepted as “school uniform,” but as “seifuku.”

What You Need for Nanchatte Seifuku

Items for seifuku

To wear nanchatte seifuku, you need to buy items from tops to bottoms, and additional accessories. Here are what you need for nanchatte seifuku. Remember that nanchatte seifuku should resemble normal school uniforms. Even though you can wear what you want, make sure to it remains a form of school uniform.

-Skirt

The skirt is the most important part of nanchatte seifuku because it is what makes the appearance of school uniforms in Japan. Pleated skirts with tartan/plaid patterns are popular, adding a cute appearance to the whole nanchatte seifuku outfit. They come in various colors and patterns, and popular colors include red, dark green, and blue. But those who crave for unique variations opt for bright colors such as pink, yellow, or sky blue. Simple pleated skirts with the dark blue or grey colors also work very well on nanchatte seifuku. They go well with sailor style tops.

The length of the skirt can vary depending on your preference, but shorter length is considered to be cute and fashionable among girls. Extremely short length creates a Gyaru look.

-Topwears

A common choice for the top is the blouse. A white, long-sleeve blouse is a standard, but some girls choose colored ones such as pink or blue. While the white blouse goes well with any types of accessories, the pink blouse makes the outfit even cuter, and the blue blouse makes the cool appearance.

The sailor blouse, also known as sailor fuku is another popular choice for the top. Sailor blouses resemble a uniform worn by the Navy, featured by a uniquely shaped big collar. They normally come in two colors of navy and white and are worn with a simple pleated skirt. You may have seen colored sailor fuku in anime, but they are never worn at school. Colored sailor fuku looks like cosplay, so if you want to look formal or real Japanese school girl, choose navy or white one.

Other variations of tops can be worn for nanchatte seifuku, such as T-shirts and hoodies. Short-sleeve T-shirts are worn in the summertime, especially when they go to Disneyland. They wear T-shirts sold in Disneyland on the top, and for the rest part of the outfit, they choose school uniform items. But they are never worn with the blazer.

Hoodies are worn not only when girls hang out, but also to school. While blouses feel tight and uncomfortable for some people, hoodies can be worn comfortably and casually. But if they are worn with school uniform items, they still look like a school uniform. Hoodies can be worn with the blazer in the wintertime. When girls hang out, they buy the same hoodie to make “Futago co-de,” which is “twins outfit.”

-Outerwears

One basic outer is cardigans. They come in different colors, with popular selections being camel, grey, pink, white, and navy. Rather than choosing the right size, girls tend to buy one size bigger because bigger cardigans make them look cute. Cardigans are worn by itself at times but usually worn with the blazer. The standard color of blazers is navy, but some opt for camel or brown. Camel/brown blazers look like school uniforms appeared in anime or drama.

Other types of outer include zip-ups and knitted vests. Zip-ups are comfy and casual, sometimes worn with the blazer. Knitted vests create the appearance of formal school uniform. If you want a preppy schoolgirl look, a knitted vest with lines on along the edge of sleeves and neck is a good choice.

-Ribbon/Necktie

Now we move on to accessories. Accessories put around the neck are what girls show their uniquenesses because these accessories come in so many varieties with different colors and patterns. Remember that ribbons and neckties are worn only with the blouse, not with hoodies and T-shirts!

A popular choice is ribbons. Tens of colors and patterns are displayed in the shop, and popular designs include red or blue color with stripes. You can choose one as you like, but for the entire outfit to look organized, you want to choose the color that matches the skirt or just simple design. Normal ribbons for school uniforms are already ribbon-shaped, but other variations include a string-type ribbon, which you put around your neck and make a ribbon shape.

Neckties are a familiar accessory, too. Like ribbons, red and blue colors with stripe patterns are often chosen. Neckties make the nanchatte outfit look more formal than ribbons.

In case of the sailor blouse, scarves are worn instead of ribbons and neckties.

-Socks

Even socks are an important part of nanchatte seifuku. They come in thousands of designs with different colors, lengths, and patterns. The trend of socks changes by the year, and what’s on now is the one that comes to the middle of the calf with the navy color. But other types of socks are totally fine. If you want a formal look, you can choose navy or black socks that come to just under your knees. If you want a sporty or casual look, white socks with colored lines match your need. If you want a gyaru look, you can try loose socks. Other than these kinds of socks, you can wear tights or socks that come to above your knees (called knee-high socks).

Socks for school uniforms can be bought anywhere besides school uniform shops, and often have a small brand logo on the side. The logo sometimes can be other patterns like anime characters, flowers, and so on.

-Shoes

The standard choice for nanchatte seifuku is loafers because they represent a formal look of school girls. Some people wear loafers with a daily outfit, so there are a variety of loafers with little accents such as gold accessories, leopard patterns, or heels. But for nanchatte seifuku, stick to simple black/brown ones. Loafers for daily clothes don’t go well with school outfits and ruin the formality of uniforms.

If you want a sporty look, you can wear sneakers. Sneakers from sports brands such as Adidas or Nike add more sportiness to your nanchatte seifuku. Sneakers go well with white socks or white socks with colored lines.

High-heel shoes and sandals are a no-no for the nanchatte outfit. Choose flat, simple shoes that can be worn with socks.

-Bags

Japanese school bags are rectangular-shaped, handbag type, and big enough to carry so much stuff. They are made out of enamel, leather, or nylon, and come in the black, brown, or navy color. Japanese school girls enjoy decorating their bags with charms and keychains.

But typical Japanese school bags are heavy and bulky to carry, so you can also have backpacks. Backpacks with a sports brand logo on are popular.

Other than the items above, you can add extra accessories and do your hair and makeup as you want. There seems to be a lot to do and costly, but choosing your favorite items and creating your style of nanchatte seifuku will be a lot of fun!

The Beginning of Nanchatte Seifuku

The beginning of nanchatte seifuku

By the way, in the first place, how did nanchatte seifuku emerge and become so popular?

The culture of nanchatte seifuku sparked in 2008, with the opening of the outlet of CONOMi in Harajuku, Tokyo, which later on becomes one of the most popular brands specializing in nanchatte seifuku.

In the 1960s, students rebelled against the school system, especially about the school uniform. They complained about the strict rules for uniforms, and demanded the abolition of them because they needed more freedom in their outfits wearing to school. Those who were against school uniforms wore uniforms with their customization. Sukeban, boomed in the 1960s, was a style with a long skirt, ankle-length socks, and sneakers. Another style was Gyaru, boomed in the 1990s to the 2000s. They wore extremely short skirts, opened two or three buttons of the blouse, and wore loose socks (baggy socks).

Given these phenomena, many schools abandoned school uniforms or allowed students to wear both uniforms and regular outfits. However, at the same time, those who went to schools which didn’t have uniforms still wanted to wear school uniforms, but in their own ways, not a set uniform.

Aiura, now the president of CONOMi, was running his mother’s clothing store in his hometown in Niigata prefecture. One day, a young girl came to his store and told Aiura that she wanted to wear a school uniform to school although her school didn’t have the uniform. Aiura thought there was still a demand for school uniforms, and if students’ themselves chose and customized uniforms, school uniforms would no longer be a form of constraint.

In 2008, Aiura opened his store, CONOMi, in Harajuku, Tokyo. Thousands of schoolgirls come to the shop, choosing what to wear to school on their preferences. He continues to have girls’ dreams of wearing pretty uniforms come true.

Where to Shop Nanchatte Seifuku

If you are living outside of Japan, you can buy nanchatte seifuku items online. But if you come to Japan, here are the places where you can get them.

The very first option is the shop specializing in nanchatte seifuku. East Boy and CONOMi are two leading brands of nanchatte seifuku, and they are catching attentions from most school girls in Japan. They have all sorts of items needed for school uniforms from the blouse to accessories with amazingly various designs! But these shops are expensive. On average, skirts cost $100, blazers cost $200~250, cardigans cost $50. Ribbons and neckties are under $30, so it may be good to buy only accessories from these shops and buy other necessities somewhere else.

Another place where you can buy nanchatte seifuku items is Don Quijote, the biggest discount store in Japan. They sell various types of nanchatte seifuku items at a low price. All the items cost less than half the price of those of East Boy and CONOMi, and you can get all things needed for nanchatte outfit within $100!

Other places for buying nanchatte seifuku items include regular apparel shops for teenagers or online. Some apparel brands such as Play Boy and Rose Fun Fun sell cardigans or skirts around the time when the school year starts. Websites that sell nanchatte seifuku items are Nissen and Cecile.

We hope you will enjoy nanchatte seifuku experience in your home country or in Japan!
We will be happy if this article helps you out.

Important Japanese Table Manners You Should Know

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Basic Japanese Table Manners You Should Know

Whenever you have dining experiences in other countries, it is always good to know their table manners so that you don’t look foolish or you don’t annoy people in the country.

Japan shares some common table manners and etiquette with other countries such as not putting your elbows on the table, but many of them are unique to Japan, sometimes what is considered to be rude in your country is correct table manners in Japan and vice versa.

But don’t be too nervous. Japanese people understand you are not familiar with Japanese manners even if you make mistakes. But eating food properly makes you look polite and well-mannered. Today we introduce you to basic Japanese table manners including how to use chopstick correctly and how to eat a certain type of dish correctly.

Japanese table manners: Before Eating

Before eating

Before eating, it is important to say ”いただきます”(Itadaki masu). It literally means “I will eat this food” in a formal way, but it is a way to show your gratitude for the food, those who cultivated the ingredients, those who cooked it, and the fact that you can fill your stomach and provide nutrition for your body. Starting the meal without this phrase is considered to be impolite.
For more about the Japanese phrases you will use in restaurants, check here.

At most restaurants in Japan, wet towels (oshibori) are provided to wipe your hands. Remember that you shouldn’t wipe your neck or face with oshibori! Also, you shouldn’t use it to wipe table even if something is spilled. Use paper napkins provided on each table or call a server to bring you a towel.

Japanese table manners: While Eating

While eating

How you eat shows how much you know about table manners, right? Here are important Japanese table manners you want to keep in mind while eating including how to eat chopsticks properly.

-Wait until others’ food arrives

Even if your food has arrived, please wait until the others’ get their food. Sometimes the others say “お先にどうぞ” (Osakini douzo; please go ahead). In this case, you can start eating, but make sure to say “お先にいただきます”(Osakini itadaki masu). This phrase means “I humbly eat before you all,” indicating that you appreciate their consideration for letting you eat first.

-Drinking manners

Make sure to start drinking after everyone got the drink and saying a drinking salute, “かんぱい!”(Kampai!; Cheers!), especially at drinking parties and when you drink with someone older than you.

Another important thing is serving each other’s glasses when drinking alcoholic beverages rather than pouring by yourself. Check your friends’ glasses at times, and refill the drinks if their glasses are getting empty. It is considered to be better to refill before the glass gets completely empty. Likewise, even if you finish your drink, please wait until someone serves the drink. Don’t worry; most people are checking your glass and offer to pour the drink.

In drinking parties, it is polite to drink the alcoholic beverages at least one sip even if you cannot drink much. If you cannot handle the liquor, excuse yourself to the others that you are lightweight.

-Use chopsticks properly

how to use chopsticks

There is nothing confusing in Japanese table manners than using chopsticks properly.

In most restaurants, disposable wooden chopsticks are provided. Most disposable chopsticks come in a paper envelop-like case. First, take out the chopsticks out of the case and hold the chopsticks horizontally to pull them apart. Make sure not to hold them vertically to split them apart: otherwise, you may hit others sitting next to you.
Also, whenever you rest the chopsticks, place them on a chopsticks rest; not on the dish. If the chopsticks rest is not provided, make it with the paper case or place the sticks on a paper napkin.

Some Don’ts about using chopsticks

*Don’t place your chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice or other food

Leaving your chopsticks standing in a bowl of rice or other dishes is a practice done when Japanese people visit ancestors’ graves. Doing the same behavior in daily dining is considered to be impolite, or even considered to be offensive to some people.

*Don’t receive the food with chopsticks

There may be times your friends pass you the food with chopsticks. Please don’t receive it with chopsticks. It resembles a ritual in funerals. In the crematorium, bones are picked from the ashes and passed around by using chopsticks from one member of the family to another in order to transfer it to an urn. If you do this when eating a meal, some people associate it with the funeral and feel uncomfortable. If your friends offer the food, take it with your individual plate.

*Don’t skewer the food with chopsticks

Even if you cannot control chopsticks well, don’t use them like a skewer. If you cannot get hold of chopsticks, ask for a fork and knife, or a spoon.

*Don’t lick or nibble empty chopsticks

You may mind a bit of sauce or rice stuck to your chopsticks, and you want to clean it. But don’t remove it by licking or nibbling them: instead, please use a paper napkin or kaishi, which is usually provided at high-end restaurants. Also, don’t hold chopsticks in your mouth. Licking or sucking chopsticks make you look poorly mannered and childish.

*Don’t move a dish with chopsticks

You probably think chopsticks useful to pull a dish towards you or put it aside. But, don’t use chopsticks as a device to move the dishes. If you want a dish that is a bit away from you, ask friends to pass it to you.

*Don’t play with chopsticks

Like playing with forks and knives is considered to be bad in the Western countries, playing with chopsticks is not good manners. You may have seen people beating a dish with chopsticks like they were playing an instrument, it is no good manners.

-Separate the food into the one-bite size with chopsticks

When you eat something that you cannot eat in one bite, break it into the one-bite size with chopsticks. Position your chopsticks so one stick is on the upper side of the food and the other stick is on the downside. Then, move the upper side of the stick like you are pressing the food with it. It is said that most Japanese restaurants serve dishes soft enough to separate with chopsticks. In the case they serve items firm enough to do it, you don’t have to split them into small pieces. But try to finish within two or three bites.

It is important to remember that even if you cannot separate the food with chopsticks, you shouldn’t use them like a fork and knife.

-Hold a dish

In most countries, holding a dish when eating is considered to be rude.The opposite applies to Japanese table manners: when eating from a small dish, holding it with one hand is good manners. But a large dish shouldn’t be picked up.

-Finish all of your food

Try to finish all of your food. Leaving the food is considered to be impolite because it is not only rude for the chef but also wasting the food. This dining etiquette is originated from the time when Japan was lack of food during and after the WW2. This is what people say: “Don’t leave even the last piece of rice!”

How to Eat…

How To eat

-Rice

Hold the rice in one hand and lead it towards your mouth. If it comes with the lit, place it on the left side of the rice bowl with the inside of the lit up. Don’t pour soy sauce on the rice directly.

-Miso soup

Hold the bowl and drink the soup directly. If there are large pieces of ingredients, it is good to drink the soup with holding them with chopsticks. Usually, miso soup comes with the lit. Make sure to place it on the right side of the miso soup bowl.

-Noodles

You don’t have to hold up the bowl, but be sure to place your hand (which you don’t hold chopsticks with) on it. Pick up noodles with chopsticks and lead them to your mouth. You may wonder if you should make the slurping sound just like the Japanese do. You don’t have to make that sound if you can’t or don’t want to, but it is considered to be a compliment for the chef to eat noodles with the slurping sound.

To try some soup, use a big spoon either accompanying the noodle or provided on your table. If you don’t have the spoon, you can drink the soup directly from the bowl.

-Sushi

As written in detail in this article, first, pour soy sauce on a small dish provided. Hold sushi either your hand or chopsticks, so the ingredient faces downward, and dip it in the sauce. Make sure not to pour the sauce directly on sushi or not to put too much sauce.

-Sashimi

As you did for sushi, pour soy sauce on a small dish. Put some wasabi on sashimi and dip it in the sauce. Don’t put wasabi on the sauce. Likewise, you shouldn’t pour the sauce directly over sashimi.

-Skewered dishes

In the formal dining, it is polite to remove the items from the skewers with chopsticks.

Japanese table manners: After Eating

After eating

After you finish your meal, be sure to say “ごちそうさまでした。”(Gochisousama deshita.). It literally means “It was a great meal,” but by saying it, you show the gratitude for the food and those who were involved in all the process until the food was served at the table. You can also say it when leaving the restaurant, telling the servers that you enjoyed the meal and appreciated their services.

If you keep these manners in mind, you won’t embarrass yourself at restaurants or when you are dining out with Japanese companions. We hope this information will help you out!

How to Tell Differences between Maki Roll and Hand Roll

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How are Maki Roll and Hand Roll Different?

Maki roll and hand rolls are the terms that are categorized in the most well-known Japanese food, sushi. Sushi is a type of food that is comprised of vinegary rice and ingredients like raw/cooked fish, pickled vegetables, and egg, and both maki roll and hand roll have those components. Although these two are a kind of roll, they are often referred as different types of rolls. It makes many people confused.

Today, we will explain the differences between maki roll and hand roll with definitions of these two and comparisons of several aspects like appearance, size, serving, and eating methods.

Comparison chart of Maki roll and Hand Roll

First of all, let’s have a look at the overview of maki roll and hand roll with this comparison chart.

Maki Roll Hand Roll
Also referred to; Maki zushi Temaki zushi
Appearance It is long and has a cylindrical shape. It has a cone shape.
How to make Vinegared rice and ingredients are rolled with seaweed paper (nori) by using a bamboo mat (makisu). Vinegared rice and ingredients are placed on a sheet of seaweed paper (nori) and rolled with hands into a cone shape.
Size It is about 15~20 cm long. The width varies depending on the number of ingredients. It is cut into one-bite size when served. It is about the same size as your hand.
Serving It is good when you want to share the same sushi with others. It is good when you want a larger quantity roll and want to make sushi by yourself.
Eating method Mostly eaten with chopsticks Always eaten with hands

What is Maki Roll?

makizushi

Maki roll is called maki zushi in Japanese, with “maki” meaning wrapping or coiling something and “zushi” meaning sushi (the word “sushi” changes to “zushi” when combined with other words). Maki roll is a type of rolled sushi that is most commonly eaten in Japan because it is easy to make at home, and easily found in convenience stores at a low price.

Maki roll is made with vinegared rice, ingredients like fish and vegetables, and seaweed paper. Rice and ingredients are placed on a sheet of square-shaped seaweed paper and rolled with a bamboo mat into a cylindrical shape. The bamboo mat helps make a perfect tube-like shape and makes the roll dense and firm so that it won’t be broken apart.

Maki roll comes in two different types according to the width. One kind is Hoso maki (thin roll), which has only one kind of ingredient at the center. Hoso maki is a familiar type of maki roll served at sushi restaurants, and common ingredients for this roll include a strip of tuna, takuan (pickled daikon radish), kappa (cucumber), and negitoro (chopped tuna belly fat and green onion). It is cut into six pieces when served and eaten with soy sauce.

The other type of maki roll is Futo maki (fat roll/ thick roll), which contains two or more ingredients. Futo maki is often made at home on the day of Setsubun (February 3rd) or bought at many locations like convenience stores, supermarkets, and train stations. This roll is also good for bento box lunch. It is cut into about 1cm thick when eaten. Ingredients vary, but egg omelet is often used for Futo maki.

What is Hand Roll?

temakizushi

Hand roll is called Temaki zuhi in Japanese with “te” meaning hands, so it literally is “hand roll sushi.” Ingredients do not differentiate hand roll from maki roll, but the making method and the shape create the difference. It is made by placing a sheet of seaweed paper, vinegared rice and whichever ingredients you want and rolling them all together with your hands, creating a cone shape.

Unlike maki roll, a sheet of rectangular-shaped seaweed paper is used instead of square-shaped one. The size is smaller than maki roll, as big as you finish one hand roll in three bites. Once you made your hand roll, you dip it into soy sauce and eat it directly with your hands. You neither have to cut it into pieces nor eat it with chopsticks.

Hand roll is perfect for parties because you can make your hand rolls with your favorite ingredients. When Japanese people have hand rolls at home, they prepare several sheets of seaweed paper, vinegared rice, and several kinds of ingredients on a large plate so that each one can enjoy making hand rolls. Making rolls with your creativity is a lot of fun!

Summary of Differences between Maki and Hand Roll

-Maki roll is called Maki zushi and hand roll is called Temaki zushi.

-Maki roll is cylindrical in shape and is cut into pieces while hand roll is cone-like in shape and eaten with hands.

-Maki roll has two kinds (hoso maki and futo maki) and is rolled by using a bamboo mat, and whares hand roll is made with hands.

-Maki roll is a common type of rolled sushi served at sushi restaurants and sold at stores, but hand roll is mostly made at home and good for parties.

-Maki roll is eaten with chopsticks while hand roll is eaten with hands.

Did you get the idea of maki roll and hand roll?
We hope you find it helpful!

Complete Guide of How to Order Food in Japanese

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Guide to Order Food in Japanese at Restaurants

Many tourists have difficult times when communicating with staffs while traveling Japan, especially at restaurants. So, it will be helpful to learn how to order food in Japanese to make your dining experience smooth and fun.

Most restaurants follow the same format; entering a restaurant, ordering a drink, ordering food, and paying. You don’t have to be worried about being asked unexpected personal questions like “where have you visited in Japan so far?.” The phrases shown below can be used at any types of restaurants.

We will introduce how to order food in Japanese with common phrases and commonly asked questions by waiters/waitresses. Also, we will tell you additional useful phrases you can use when you come across unexpected situations. At the bottom, we listed the name of items that you often encounter at restaurants. So be sure to read to the last!

Let’s get started!

Entering the restaurant

Entering a restaurant

When you enter the restaurant, staffs welcome you by saying “いらっしゃいませ”(Irasshai mase; welcome), and the conversation follows.

Staff: ”何名様ですか?”(Nanmei sama desuka?; How many people?)

You; ”ふたりです。”(Futari desu.; Two.)
If you are single, you can say “ひとりです。”(Hitori desu.)

Staff; ”ご案内いたします。”(Goannai itasimasu.; This way, please.)

Sometimes the staff asks you if you smoke.

Staff; ”おタバコは吸われますか?”(Otabako wa suwaremasuka?; Do you smoke?)

You; ”はい/いいえ。”(Yes/No.)

Or,

Staff; ”禁煙席と喫煙席どちらになさいますか?
(Kinenseki to Kitsuenseki dochirani nasai masuka?; Do you prefer smoking seats or non-smoking seats? )

You; ”禁煙席/喫煙席で。”(Kinenseki/Kitsuenseki de.; I would like smoking seats/non-smoking seats.)

After seated

Staff; “こちら、メニューでございます。”(Kochira, menyu de gozaimasu.; Here is the manu.)

You; “ありがとうございます。”(Arigatou gozaimasu.; Thank you.)

Sometimes English is written along with Japanese, but if it is written only in Japanese, you can ask the waiter/waitress for the English menu by saying “英語のメニューはありますか?”(Eigo no menyu wa arimasuka?; Do you have an English menu?). Most restaurants, especially chain restaurants offer menus in an English version.

Ordering a drink

Ordering drinks

It is unusual to order drinks before ordering food at normal restaurants, but if you go to Izakaya (restaurants for drinking), you order your drink first.

Staff; ”お飲み物は何になさいますか?
(Onomimono wa nani ni nasaimasuka?; What would you like for a drink?)

They may ask the same thing in different ways like;
お飲み物お伺いいたします。”(Onomimono oukagai itashimasu.)
お飲み物は?”(Onomimono wa?)
The key phrase here is ”お飲み物”(Onomimono, drink). If you hear this word, you are asked something about drinks.

You; ”___をお願いします。”(____ wo onegai shimasu.; ____ , please.)

Here are the names of commonly served drinks.
”お水” (Omizu; water)
”お茶” (Ocha; Tea (usually green tea))
”ビール” (Bi-ru; beer)
”赤/白ワイン” (Aka/Shiro wain; red/white wine)
”コーラ” (Ko-ra; coke)
”オレンジジュース” (Orenji ju-su; orange juice)
”リンゴジュース” (Ringo ju-su; apple juice)
”コーヒー” (Ko-hi-; coffee)
”紅茶” (Koucha; tea)
”ドリンクバー” (Dorinku ba-; drink bar)

Calling a waiter/waitress

When you decided what to order, you get the waiter/waitress’ attention. You may have a button on your table to call the staff, but if not, you can say ”すみません。”(Sumimasen.; Excuse me.).

The staff may come to your table about the time when you have decided your order.

Staff; ”ご注文お決まりですか?” (Gochumon wa okimari desuka?;Are you ready to order?)

You; ”はい。/まだです。” (Hai. / Mada desu.; Yes./Not yet.)

Ordering food

Ordering Food

You have finally reached the very important step! It’s about the time to order your food!

Staff; “ご注文お伺いいたします。”(Gochumon oukagai itashimasu.; Let me have your order.)

You; ”____をお願いします。”(___ wo onegai shimasu.; ____, please.)
You can say the name of the food, but you can also point what you want and say;
“これをお願いします。”(Kore wo onegai shimasu.; This one, please.)

When you ask them recommendations, you can say;
おすすめはありますか?”(Osusume wa arimasuka?; Do you have recommendations? )

Staff; ”以上でよろしいでしょうか?”(Ijo de yoroshii deshouka?; Is that all?)

You; ”はい。” (Hai.; Yes.)

Of course, you can order one of each item, but if you want more of the item, you should express how many you want with a number of counters. There are several expressions in the Japanese language to count something, but the counter “つ”(Tsu) can be used any types of drinks and food. Here is the counter for the numbers from one to ten.

”ひとつ”(Hitotsu; one)
”ふたつ”(Futatsu; two)
”みっつ”(Mittsu; three)
”よっつ”(Yottsu; four)
”いつつ”(Itsutsu; five)
”むっつ”(Muttsu; six)
”ななつ”(Nanatsu; seven)
”やっつ”(Yattsu; eight)
”ここのつ”(Kokonotsu; nine)
”とお”(Too; ten)

How you order with these expressions is as follows.
___を__つお願いします。” (___ wo ___ tsu onegai shimasu.; (number) of ___, please.)

If you want two or more kinds of something, you can say;
___と___をお願いします。”(___ to ___ wo onegai shimasu.; ___and___. please.)

Asking questions about the food/ making special requests

Asking about the food

In Japan, you may find many types of dishes you have never seen. Even if there are pictures of the food on the menu, you may not know what it is. Also, there may be times you want to make requests about your order like removing an ingredient or telling your allergies. The followings are the expressions to ask questions about the food and to make requests for your order.

これはなんですか?” (Kore wa nandesuka?; What is this?)

これは辛い/酸っぱい/甘い/苦いですか?
(Kore wa karai/suppai/amai/nigai desuka?; Is this spicy/sour/sweet/bitter?)

___は入っていますか?” (____wa haitte imasuka?; Does this have___ in it?)

___を抜いてもらえますか?”(___ wo nuite morae masuka?; Would you remove ___?)

___を別にしてもらえますか?” (___ wo betsuni shite morae masuka?; Would you separate ___?)

ベジタリアンメニューはありますか?” (Bejitarian menyu wa arimasuka?; Do you have a vegetarian menu?)

お子様メニューはありますか?” (Okosama menyu wa arimasuka?; Do you have a children’s menu?)

___のアレルギーがあります。”(___ no arerugi- ga arimasu.; I am allergic to ___.)

Getting the check and paying

You have finished your meal, then, it is time to pay. At many restaurants, a server leaves the check after all of your food arrived. (Of course, you can add your order after you get the check.) In this case, you take the check and go to the cashier. But if it is not that type of restaurant, you should ask for the check.

You; “すみません、お会計お願いします。”(Sumimasen, okaikei onegai shimasu.; Excuse me, check please.)

The cashier is mostly located near the entrance. Remember that many mom and pop restaurants accept cash only. Make sure to have cash with you when you eat out at that type of restaurant. Also, remember that you don’t have to tip at any restaurants!

If you go to a restaurant with a group, you may be asked;
Staff; ”お会計はご一緒ですか?”(Okaikei wa goissho desuka?; Do you pay altogether?)

You; ”はい。/別々に払います。”(Hai./ Betsu betsu ni haraimasu.; Yes./ We pay separately.)

If the server doesn’t ask if you pay separately but you want to do it, you can ask;
別々に払えますか?”(Betsu betsu ni harae masuka?; Can we pay separately?)

Leaving the restaurant

When you leave the restaurant, servers say “ありがとうございました。”(Arigatou gozaimashita.; Thank you.)
You can respond to this greeting simply by bowing, but you can say;

ごちそうさまでした。” (Gochisousama deshita.)
This expression is usually used when you finish the meal, appreciating the food, the cook who made the dish, and the fact that you can eat the food. But when you say “ごちそうさまでした。” to servers, it shows your gratitude towards the food and their services.

Or you can say
ありがとうございました。” (Arigatou gozaimashita.; Thank you.)

Useful phrases for unexpected situations

The above is the common situation that you may come across most of the time. But sometimes you hit unexpected situations. The followings are the phrases you can use in those situations.

-When what you want to order is sold out
Staff; ”申し訳ありません、そちら本日売り切れてしまいました。
(Moushiwake arimasen, sochira honjitsu urikirete shimai mashita.
; I’m sorry, that is sold out already today.)

-Last order
Staff; “ラストオーダーになりますが、何かご注文はございますか?
(Rasuto o-da- ni narimasuga, nanika gochumon wa gozaimasuka?
; We are taking last orders. Would you like to order?)

If you have nothing else to order, you can say;
いいえ, ありません。”(Iie, arimasen.; No.)

-Spilled over the food/drink
You; ”すみません、こぼしてしまいました。おしぼりいただけますか?
(Sumimasen, koboshite shimai mashita. Oshibori itadake masuka?;
I’m sorry, I spilled the food/drink. Can I have a towel?)

-Asking for extra plates to share
You; ”すみません、取り分けるお皿をいただけますか?
(Sumimasen, toriwakeru osara wo itadake masuka?;
Excuse me, can I have extra plates to share?)

The name of common items at restaurants

”飲み物” (Nomimono; drink)
”スープ” (Su-pu; soup)
”サラダ” (Sarada; salad)
”お食事” (Oshokuji; meal)
”デザート” (Deza-to; dessert)
”セット” (Setto; set meal)
”豚肉” (Butaniku; pork)
”鶏肉” (Toriniku; chiken)
”牛肉” (Gyuniku; beef)
”魚” (Sakana; fish)
”卵” (Tamago; egg)
”チーズ” (Chi-zu; cheese)
”牛乳”(Gyunyu; milk)
”ナッツ” (Nattsu; nuts)
”ご飯” (Gohan; rice)
”味噌汁” (Misoshiru; miso soup)
”パスタ” (Pasuta; pasta)
”パン” (Pan; bread)
”麺” (Men; noodle)
”おしぼり” (Oshibori; Wet towel)
”コップ” (Koppu; cup)
”グラス” (Gurasu; glass)
”お皿” (Osara; plate)
”おはし” (Ohashi; chopsticks)
”スプーン” (Supu-nn; spoon)
”フォーク” (Fo-ku; fork)
”ナイフ” (Naifu; knife)

We hope this guide helps you order food in Japanese at restaurants and makes your dining experiences much more fun!