My Band Recommendation | SEKAI NO OWARI: Captivating the Crowd in a Dreamlike World

12.August.2020 | FEATURES / MUSIC

ASOBINEXT is a project launched by event management and talent agency ASOBISYSTEM, which is known for managing artists like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. The project aims to create next generation icons who will promote their unique personalities and outlooks to the world using social media and in turn bring about new forms of culture.

As part of ASOBINEXT, MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON will be publishing content from each talent that is tied to ASOBINEXT in the form of their favourite and recommended things. Today, we’re taking a look at a Japanese band recommended by ASOBINEXT’s Kanon Aihara, a dancer and vocalist.

 


 

My name is Kanon Aihara, and I’d like to share my perspective on why SEKAI NO OWARI is such a great band—one that was born from a desire to deliver entertainment to people through music.

 

Incredible live performances

SEKAI NO OWARI’s stage sets are otherworldly. They pull the crowd into a dreamlike place away from reality. I remember how moved I was being in that bright and shining place even for a moment with the towering tree, the owl, the dancing fireworks, the trains dashing past on the ceiling. How much time and effort it must have taken to create a set like that.

 

Band vocalist Fukase once said on a TV show that if they can’t do the kinds of live performances they love, then they may as well disband. I really feel how great SEKAI NO OWARI when I see them wanting to continue making everyone smile and feel something deeply, and not compromising when it comes to doing the things they want to do.

The music

It’s truly a difficult task to understand each and every lyric; and I find it difficult to cover their music. Despite this, even if I don’t understand something in a song, I find that each and every track really gets through to me.

 

Their music speaks to and is loved by men and women of all ages, whether it be their song RPG Ya which was used as a theme song for the Crayon Shin-chan anime series, the main theme song RAIN for the film Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Sazanka which was used as the theme song for the NHK broadcast of the Winter Olympics Paralympics, and so on.

 

SEKAI NO OWARI – “RPG” Music Video

 

SEKAI NO OWARI – “RAIN” Music Video

The band members

SEKAI NO OWARI is formed of four members. There was actually a time when all of them shared a house together. On a TV show the band appeared on, all of the members excluding the vocalist Fukase said, “We want to create live performances that Fukase enjoys.” Hearing those words really made me feel the love and connect the band has for each other.

 

For me, SEKAI NO OWARI is a place that lets me sees dreams. It also makes me feel strongly that I want to do the kinds of things they do too!

I believe that a lot of things are born from live performances when the artist and fans become one. Like SEKAI NO OWARI, I’m aiming to create live performances that are like going to a theme park too. The band are fun, cute, and cool, and are everything I aspire to be.

 

The one thing I always want to keep doing through music is performing live. That feeling of being one with the crowd. Seeing all of their smiles fills me with a happiness I’ve never felt before. Music is expression and is free to mean whatever you want. That’s why the thing I want to do is to put my all into it for so that people enjoy themselves for all of time. I want to continuously think of and put out new, entertaining things in the future.

 

Kanon Aihara
Dancer and vocalist. Made her debut as a child actress. Currently active as a tarento (talent) with a focus on music. Since starting her music career, she has toured around all of Japan and up to now has held performed 4 solo concerts and released 4 singles. She is very particular when it comes to her live performances, and more than anything wants people to have fun and to put on theme park-like shows. Her hobbies are watching comedy programmes. She’s also a skilled snowboarder and surfer.

RELATED ENTRIES

  • My Recommended Outfits: How to Style Colourful Clothes Fitting For Summertime

    13.August.2020 | FASHION / FEATURES

    ASOBINEXT is a project launched by event management and talent agency ASOBISYSTEM, which is known for managing artists like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. The project aims to create next generation icons who will promote their unique personalities and outlooks to the world using social media and in turn bring about new forms of culture.

     

    As part of ASOBINEXT, MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON will be publishing content from each talent that is tied to ASOBINEXT in the form of their favourite and recommended things. Today, Fairy Kano is showcasing a colourful wardrobe of outfits for summer. Fairy Kano is a member of ASOBINEXT who posts her lifestyle on her social media pages.

     


     

    Hello World!

     

    I love colourful perspectives and interpretations—they just explode with personality! I’m Fairy Kano—no matter the colour, I can make it work, and I’m a pro at finding good quality items at a cheap price.

     

    Don’t you ever get it where you’re stuck on what colours you want to wear in summer, or what patterns to coordinate in your outfit? For those of you who answered yes, I’ve put together a list of styles using different colours—my forte—and divided each outfit by colour.

     

    Yellow Edition

    I combined a cream-coloured top with white jeans♡ Simple but it flaunts self-assertiveness!

    The denim-on-denim creates a balance that’s really cute. Adding yellow into the mix creates a happy, energetic vibe.

    This top has a flower pattern design which I combined with a yellow checked skirt. Don’t forget to dress to impress, even if its for yourself at home.

     

    Green Edition

    This look is so cute it makes me want to use run around with vim and vigour♡ The floral top is see-through, and the green overalls have a Mickey Mouse print on the front.

    Dayum, were short pants always this comfortable? This hand-knitted beret goes well with everything!

    The pants are green which is a hard colour to pull off. I added a baseball loose-fitting shirt on top of them with Betty Boop on it. This outfit has a hip-hop vibe to it, which looks stylish, don’tcha think?

     

    Pink Edition

    To add a sweet colour on top of the white T-shirt I went with a pink camisole. To complete the look, I donned short pants so the look doesn’t become overly-cute.

    I bought this pink T-shirt from Dole in Hawaii. Try combining 80’s shorts pants like this with something similar yourself.

    The floral shirt is actually a one piece. I made use to make my bottoms and headband the same colour to balance the look. Having that mix of rough and feminine is good!

     

    What does fashion mean to Fairy Kano?

    There are a lot of clothes out there, and there are a lot of outfit combinations out there. But there’s no ‘right’ way to do fashion. Don’t just follow what’s popular; put together something that makes you feel good, with your favourite colours, and create your own unique look. I believe that as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. That’s something I always think about whenever I’m enjoying fashion. So let’s all go with choosing what makes us happy!

     

    Fairy Kano

    Trainee idol at ASOBINEXT. Won the Popular Award at the National K-Pop Cover Contest hosted by the Korean Cultural Center. She loves to sing and is known for always singing ‘Part Of Your World’ from The Little Mermaid. She is particular when it comes to editing on Instagram where she posts her own unique content. Her dream for the future is to become a world famous artist known for their high performance level once she has come to the end of the road as an idol. She also wants to challenge herself to singing and performing in Broadway and Hollywood someday.

  • Chawanmushi Recipe: Savoury Dessert Made With Carrots, Cream Cheese & Mirin

    31.July.2020 | FEATURES / FOOD

    Together with soy sauce and miso, mirin is a fundamental condiment in the Japanese kitchen and for many recipes for Japanese food. It’s a sweet rice wine that has lower alcohol content and higher sugar content when compared to sake, adding a sweet flavour to dishes.

     

    Today, we’re taking a look at a recipe that uses “Mikawa Mirin,” a brand of mirin made from high quality rice, to make carrot and cream cheese chawanmushi. Chawanmushi is a savoury egg custard dessert eaten in Japan.

     

    Carrot & Cream Cheese Chawanmushi

    Chawanmushi is made using mirin and has a smooth texture to it as well as a subtly sweet flavour. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer’s day.

     

    Ingredients (Serves 1)


    ●Chawanmushi
    60g carrots
    240ml dashi
    20ml soy sauce
    120ml Mikawa Mirin
    8g sugar
    18g cream cheese
    1 egg

     

    ●Okra-an
    Okra
    30ml dashi
    0.5g salt
    3ml Mikawa Mirin

     

    Method

    We will start by making the chawanmushi.

    1. Slice the carrots and boil them until they become soft.

    2. Add the soy sauce, sugar, and lots of mirin and cook through the dashi.

    3. Cook for approximately 20 minutes on a medium heat, then cool with ice. Add the cooled carrots, cream cheese, and 20ml of the dashi into a blender and bend.

    4. Add the egg to the mix and steam the mix for 12 minutes on a medium heat.

     

    While the chawanmushi is cooling, we’ll make the okra-an.

    5. Mix together the okra-an dashi, mirin, and salt together. Add watered potato starch and thinly sliced okra. Leave to cool in the refrigerator.

    6. Add the okra-an to the cooled chawanmushi and tuck into your cute two-layered dessert.

    Carrot & Cream Cheese Chawanmushi

    The dessert is an enjoyable mix of the sticky texture from the okra-an and smooth chawanmushi. It’s great to have not only at lunch or dinner, but at home parties with friends too.

     

    –How’s the taste?


    Misa Kimura: “It works really well with the mirin. The chawanmushi is like a sweet treat. It’s super easy to make too, so I think I’ll be making it at home!”

     

    Mirin is indispensable to any Japanese cupboard and can be used in many ways, whether it be a classic Japanese dish or a dessert like this one.

    Mikawa Mirin 700ml: ¥1,122 (Tax Included)

    This authentic brand of mirin is made using a traditional method of Japanese brewing which blends in the delicious taste of rice. It’s so delicious that you just want to drink the whole bottle. A high quality mirin, it has a distinct sweetness, colour, and texture. It has a rich flavour, and the taste of the rice elevates the flavours of its ingredients.

     

    Mikawa Mirin Official Website: http://www.mikawamirin.jp/
    Official Online Store: http://mikawamirin.jp/product/product_step1.php?m=n
    Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mikawamirin

     

    Recipe


    This recipe was conceived by ITEMAE, a famous restaurant serving Japanese cuisine that is listed in the Michelin Guide.

     

    Model: Misa Kimura
    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

  • My Film Recommendation | 5 Nostalgic Japanese Movies

    01.July.2020 | FEATURES / MOVIE

    ASOBINEXT is a new project launched by event management and talent agency ASOBISYSTEM, which is known for managing artists like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. The project aims to create next generation icons who will promote their unique personalities and outlooks to the world using social media and in turn bring about new forms of culture.

    As part of ASOBINEXT, MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON will be publishing content from each talent that is tied to ASOBINEXT in the form of their favourite and recommended things. Today, we take a look at 5 recommended nostalgic Japanese films from ASOBINEXT’s Mirai who makes sure to watch at least one film a week.

     

    Our Little Sister

    ©2015 吉田秋生・小学館/フジテレビジョン 小学館 東宝 ギャガ

     

    ・Film Summary
    The film follows three sisters: Sachi, Yoshino, and Chika who all live in the house of their grandparents in Kamakura where they all grew up together. One day, they receive news of the death of their father. At his funeral, they meet their 14-year-old half-sister Suzu for the first time, whose mother is already dead. She had been living with their father and her stepmom after he remarried. When the eldest daughter Sachi looks at Suzu as the sisters are saying goodbye to her, she invites Suzu to go and live with them in Asakusa. Suzu agrees to go, and thus begins the sisters’ journey together to deepen their relationship with Suzu. Its a very ‘Japanese’ film in many ways, and has a nostalgic Asakusa feel to it from the scenery and how people interact with one another.

     

    ・Why I Chose This Film
    The story really gripped my heart. It’s heartwarming, sad, and has a kind of nostalgia I can’t quite put my finger on which makes me want to go back home. I love Asakusa, the setting of the movie, and go there every year to have fun with my family. We’re also four siblings, brothers and sisters, so this film felt more relatable to me as I watched it. If you’re someone who feels like they want to return to their hometown, or see someone you treasure, or want to feel something Japanese, then I recommend giving this film a go!

     

    My Neighbor Totoro


    ・Film Summary
    In the early summer, Satsuki and her younger sister Mei move into the countryside with their father to be closer to their mother who is hospitalised. They meet a mysterious creature who Mei gives the name “Totoro,” a being which cannot be seen by adults. Satsuki and Mei get whisked into a fantastical world as we see them grow.

     

    ・Why I Chose This Film
    I’ve loved it since I was a kid. It’s one of Ghibli’s films I’ve always watched. The film is set to be set in 1952 during the Showa Period. I was born in the Heisei Period so I wasn’t even born yet when the film was released. Even so, this is a film that continues to receive love, so much so that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s known to all in Japan, and all have seen it. I believe there are still lots of kids who are watching Totoro even now. This film is an emotion that continues to live in our hearts as a memory, one that’s like a dream we had when we were young. I want the people of the world to watch this regardless of their age or gender!

     

    Always: Sunset on Third Street

    ・Film Summary
    Mutsuko Hoshino arrives in Tokyo from Aomori Prefecture to begin her employment at the auto repair shop Suzuki Auto. Captivated by the prospect of living and working in the sparkling city of Tokyo, Mutsuku is disappointed to find that Suzuki Auto is actually a rundown shop in Tokyo’s lower districts. Despite this, she goes into her job with will-power and positivity, and finds herself becoming a member of the Suzuki family. There is also the struggling writer Ryunosuke Chagawa, who accepts the custody of Junnosuke from Hiromi. Junnosuke is the orphaned offspring of the previous tenant of the building where Hiromi opens a bar. All of the cast members convey love, courage, and warmth in this story about being human.

     

    ・Why I Chose This Film
    The moment I saw this film, it felt like I had been transported back in time to 1926, even though I was born in the Heisei Period and not the Showa Period. Despite that, it still fills me with a sense of nostalgia, and it makes me well up with a feeling of courage. The film is set in a time where smartphones, PCs, and TVs aren’t a thing yet, so it really made me realise the importance of our connection to others. I want to recommend this film to anyone who wants to know about old time Japan, or is looking for a film with heart!

    Kimi ni Todoke

    ©2010映画「君に届け」製作委員会 ©椎名軽穂 / 集英社

     

    ・Film Summary
    Sawako is avoided by her classmates in elementary school because of her appearance which leads them to name-call her “Sadako,” the main character from the film The Ring. They also call her a zashiki-warashi, a child spirit. But her father teachers her that a zashiki-warashi is a spirit that actually makes people happy. This makes her happy, since her motto is to “do one good thing a day.” When she becomes a high school stduent, she meets a certain boy, which marks the start of this cute and pure love story.

     

    ・Why I Chose This Film
    This is my favourite of Japan’s love stories. It makes you feel that pure, butterfly stomach kind of youthful love. The music and the backgrounds in the film serve to add another layer to their relationship too. The film makes you want to cheer the two of them on from the shadows as they come to face complicated emotions they have never felt before. Everyone should check this out, regardless of age or gender, if they’re wanting a heart-throb story or feel like returning to their youthful days!

     

    Korede iinoda! Eiga Akatsuka Fujio

    ・Film Summary
    This film covers the life of manga artist Fujio Akatsuka—known for such popular series as Tensai Bakabon—and his 35 year relationship with his editor Toshiki Takei. You get to learn about the unique life of the manga artist, who has been called a genius.

     

    ・Why I Chose This Film
    This comedy film is set in the 1970s and shows how the popular weekly manga magazine Weekly Shonen Sunday came about, a magazine which it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call the start of Japanese manga. Of course, if you love Japanese manga, you should watch this, but I want all of the people of the world who are interested in the history of Japanese anime to see it!

     

    Mirai

    A 19-year-old affiliated with ASOBINEXT and known for her trademark black bob hair. Her hobby is watching movies—she watches one a week. Her goal for the future is to become an idol that stands out from the crowd and can work not just in Japan but around the world. She wants to work in many areas and endeavours to become a person that people look up to.

  • My Anime Recommendation | Darling in the Franxx: Children Paving the Way For Their Future

    30.June.2020 | ANIME&GAME / FEATURES

    ASOBINEXT is a new project launched by event management and talent agency ASOBISYSTEM, which is known for managing artists like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. The project aims to create next generation icons who will promote their unique personalities and outlooks to the world using social media and in turn bring about new forms of culture.

    As part of ASOBINEXT, MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON will be publishing content from each talent that is tied to ASOBINEXT in the form of their favourite and recommended things. Today, we take a look at a recommended anime series by ASOBINEXT’s Yuka Koyama who always watches anime on the weekend without fail and is always on the lookout for new series.

    ©Darling in the Franxx Production Committee

     

    Darling in the Franxx’s Story

    The story is centred on children who are deprived of individuality and are raised solely for piloting Franxx, giant robot mecha, in boy-girl pairs. These children fight against strange creatures known as Klaxosaurs and various other kinds of enemies.

     

    What led you to watch Darling in the Franxx?

    I decided to watch it after seeing the character Zero Two in the recommendations column of the app I always use when I’m watching anime. Her pink hair really left an impression on me.

    Why do you want to recommend the series?

    The children in the series face many different emotions and conflicts. It’s a wonderful story about their growth. The art style an animation is really beautiful too, so if you’re stuck on what anime to watch next, I recommend trying this one out.

     

    Who is your favourite character?

    The pink-haired Zero Two. She’s a cute and mischievous girl, and I find myself really drawn to her merciless side which she shows on occasion. In this anime, where we see the kids experience numerous conflicts while growing as individuals, Zero Two, who used to be a loner, experiences what it’s like to treasure friends and enjoy being around people, as well as at times feel the bitterness of losing friends. She’s a very human character, and really like that.

     

    What’s your favourite scene?

    The scene where Zero Two and Hiro run away from the adults when they’re young kids. The adults restrict their freedom, but the two of them frantically escape the facility when they are young to find their freedom. It moved me in a big way, since I’m one to normally hesitate when it comes to something big.

    Who do you want to watch it?

    I definitely want anyone who is challenging themselves to something new, or anyone who is going through something right now, to watch it. The kids really go through a lot but carve out their own path in the process. Seeing that really gives you courage.

     

    Any final comments?

    You end up empathising with the characters in Darling in the Franxx without even realising. It’s a story of war with romance and friendship built into it. You always want to know what happens next, so I really recommend it. A second season is coming too, so be sure to check it out.

     

    Yuka Koyama

    16-years-old and a second-year high school student. Affiliated with ASOBINEXT. Currently taking lessons with the goal of becoming a model. Her hobby is discovering anime she hasn’t seen yet. She’s part anime otaku, never failing to watch anime on the weekends. In the future, she aims to become a regular model of a magazine that people admire and feature on the front cover. She also wants to expand her talent not only to magazines but TV too.

  • Winners Announced For The 7th Washoku World Challenge Competition

    03.March.2020 | FOOD

    The final round for the 7th Washoku World Challenge Competition was held in Tokyo on February 20 and 21, which saw WANG Wei Ping of China, and chef at SUN with AQUA JAPANESE DINING SUNTORY, as the winner.

     

    The two-day event brought together five chefs from Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris, Donostia-San Sebastian, and New York come together to compete and show their skills create dishes based on the competition’s main theme of “Umami” and this year’s theme of “Texture and Mouthfeel.”

    The judges said: “This 7th edition demonstrates that the finalists’ technical level keeps improving every year. Creating Japanese dishes that incorporate the characteristics and unique ideas of other countries’ culinary cultures, while respecting the fundamentals of Japanese cuisine built on the concept of umami, expands the potential of Japanese cuisine. The creations of each one of the finalists embodied this notion.”

    Middle Contender: WANG Wei Ping, 1st Place Winner

    WANG Wei Ping’s Dish

    On the first day, the chefs used the same ingredients to create a “nimonowan.” On the second day, they forged their own original dishes using five or more ingredients which they arranged on a Japanese “hangetsubon” tray.

     

    When reacting to his victory, Wang Wei Ping said: “I thank the owner and other members of my restaurant. After returning to Shanghai, I would like to continue conveying the excellence of Japanese cuisine, which is both healthy and tasty.”

     

    Finalists

    Hong Kong

    First Place: WANG Wei Ping (China, SUN with AQUA JAPANESE DINING SUNTORY)

     

    USA

    Second Place: Yael PEET (USA, Fury’s) *The restaurant will be open this summer.

     

    Singapore

    Third Place: Loh Man HONG (Singapore, FAT COW)

     

    Paris

    Wojciech POPOW (Poland, Beaverbrook)

     

    Judges

    – Head Judge: Mr. Yoshihiro MURATA

    (Chairman of Japanese Culinary Academy, Owner and chef of Kikunoi, Japanese Cuisine Goodwill ambassador)

    – Deputy Head Judge: Mr. Masahiro NAKATA

    (Director of Taiwa Gakuen Education Inc. President of Kyoto Culinary Art College)
    – Judge: Mr. Hideaki MATSUO

    (Owner of Japanese Cuisine KASHIWAYA, Japanese Cuisine Goodwill ambassador)
    – Special Judge: Yoshio KOJIMA

    (Comedian)

  • Experience Tasting Mount Koya’s Famous Sesame Tofu at ONAKA PECO PECO in Tsukiji

    07.August.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD

    ONAKA PECO PECO by Rurubu Kitchen is a cafe located in Tsukiji, a district in Chuo, Tokyo. They serve rice balls filled with locally sourced ingredients from various locations in Japan. In the evenings, the rice balls can be enjoyed with delicious sake.

     

    If you visit the cafe right now you’ll be able to try sesame tofu (goma tofu) made by the long-running restaurant Kadohama. Sesame tofu is a meibutsu―or “local speciality”―of Mount Koyo.

     

    While it is possible to buy sesame tofu on Kadohama’s online store, the only places you can eat them out at is at their restaurant on top of Mount Koya or at select branches of department stores such as Mitsukoshi or Isetan. We visited ONAKA PECO PECO by Rurubu Kitchen for a taste of this exquisite collaboration.

    Mount Koya is located in the Ito district of northern Wakayama Prefecture and is home to the town of Koya. The region is encased an abundant mountainous landscape. The Japanese Buddhist monk Kūkai opened the sacred mountain around 1,200 years ago. In 2004, Mount Koya which was registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004 under the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” category. It has since become a popular tourist destination with Japanese and foreign travellers alike.

     

    Here is the heavenly menu lineup at ONAKA PECO PECO which is packed full of Kadohama’s sesame tofu.

    There are five items which are made with the sesame tofu: an onigiri rice ball, crab soup, cold tofu, pork shabu shabu, and a drink.

    Time to tuck in and try this famous food which has been enjoyed for many years!

    White Vegetables & Steamed Pork Shabu w/ Koji Sesame Tofu Sauce – ¥800

    This dish is garnished with a generous serving of fresh white vegetables and succulent meat. It includes lotus root, enoki mushrooms, cauliflower, and pork. It also comes with a white sauce made with sesame tofu, shio koji, and sesame oil. The sauce has a mild flavour in which you can get the full glorious taste of the tofu. It’s smooth and refreshing so is a perfect pick for the hot summer.

    Sesame Tofu & Plum Cheese-Loaded Rice Ball – ¥250

    This rice ball is a flavourful combination of a sesame tofu and plum paste and lots of cheese.

    This fat rice ball is wrapped in paper like a hamburger. The rich taste of the tofu and cheese reduces the sourness of the plum, giving it a gentler flavour.

    Sesame Tofu & Egg Crab Soup – ¥400

    The soup is an amazing combination with the rice ball. It has a miso soup base filled with green onion, enoki mushrooms, and crab. The elastic-y tofu is cut into big satisfying chunks. Its rich, creamy flavour combined with the crab is to die for.

    Sesame Tofu & Sweet Sake Jelly Drink – ¥350

    The cute white-coloured beverage is a healthy mix of sesame tofu paste and sweet sake. It retains the pulpy texture of the tofu and the aftertaste is super refreshing.

    You can order the drink for takeout so you can take a stroll around the streets of Tsukiji.

    Kadohama Sesame Tofu – Eat In: ¥300 / Takeout: From ¥240

    If you’re looking to enjoy the sesame tofu on its own then you’ve got to try it with either the wasabi and soy sauce or brown sugar. You can also order this to take away too. Each box contains one piece of tofu.

    The cafe is also selling exclusive merchandise as part of the collaboration. The collection includes a t-shirt, sacoche bag, and cap. Each item has a simple design making them easy to incorporate into looks.

    Easy access to Kadohama’s sesame tofu―which is made using traditional cooking methods that have been passed down generations at Mount Koya―can only be enjoyed at ONAKA PECO PECO by Rurubu Kitchen. If you’re in Tokyo this summer, then take a trip to Tsukiji district to try this healthy and nutrient-packed tofu.

     

    Model: Ririka Satsuki

    Writer: Sayuri Mizuno (MMN Editorial Team)

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Travel Japan #10: Sending Japanese Souvenirs to My Dear Friend

    29.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    My trip is almost at an end. My final destination is the huge supermarket next to the beach where I was able to feel like a real Okinawan local as I blended in with the crowd while pushing my cart.

     

    Kanji, Katakana, Hiragana. The Japanese bubble writing was like hints to solving a puzzle. I peruse the products lined on the shelves to see what the symbols symbolize.

     

    It’s time to go ahead and by a souvenir for my treasured friend who is waiting across the ocean for my return.

     

    Snacks galore fill the shelves. I find myself lost on which to pick, but I use my senses to see which packaging I like the most and put something in my basket.

     

    Part of the fun is looking forward to what flavour it will be after opening them. Let’s call it a Happy Bag.

    The meat and fish aisle is overflowing with items. I see stickers along it with the names of products and their prices. There’s a mountain of ready-to-eat foods. It’s not like this is something uncommon to see, I have them in my country too, but it’s interesting to see the little differences.

    There were fruits and vegetables I had never seen before too.

     

    How do they taste?

    How do you use them in cooking?

    The supermarket breathes the lives of Japanese people.

    I take some chopsticks with me too which I learned to use during my trip.

    This vermilion colour is unique to Japan. Though vivid, it’s an elegant and refined red that sticks in my mind.

    This country’s culture is packed tight into these chopsticks.

     

    Their respect of dining, delicateness and humility. It would be great to share these feelings with someone.

    When in Japan, an everyday scene in the country that’s different from what one usually does is almost like a dream to a foreigner like me.

    Even though I am leaving the country, I will remember the sights I saw here clearly and vividly. I can wear this little bit of courage I gained from flying into a new culture with pride.

    I really mean it when I say that what I have gathered on this trip will spill into my road ahead in life.

    I push my cart and begin moving forward.

     

    Model / Mala Morgan

     

    Items to send to a precious friend found only in Okinawa, Japan

    TOPVALU Brown Sugar Dough Cake Triple Friend in Rice Oil ¥98 (Before Tax) / ¥105.84 (Tax Included) –150g

    This brown sugar dough cake is made using Okinawan brown cane sugar. Simply frying them three times in rice oil gives them a crunchy texture. They feel nice to chew, there’s a rhythm to it; I ended up buying several bags so I want to share them with my friend as an afternoon snack.

     

    TOPVALU Full-Bodied Brown Sugar Toffees Made with Okinawan Brown Sugar ¥90 (Before Tax) / ¥97.20 (Tax Included) – 100g

    I liked the look of the brown sugar snacks so I went ahead and grabbed another. These toffees are cooked on an open fire. They are a mix of sugar, brown sugar and starch syrup. They have two enjoyable textures―the inside and outside―and are delicious enough that your taste buds will never tire of them. I’m completely obsessed with Okinawa’s brown sugar.

     

    HOME COORDY Dishwasher-Safe Brown Apitong Wood Chopsticks ¥398 (Before Tax) / ¥429.84 (Tax Included) –23cm

    These chopsticks are relaxing to hold. They have a really nice wooden texture. On my trip food taught me about the delicateness of Japanese people as well as polite manners. I want to convey that same feeling by taking these chopsticks back as a souvenir.

     

    AEON Mihama’s matchless stock of Okinawa’s amazing products

    Whether it be daily necessities during your travels or souvenirs to take back home, AEON boasts a wide range of Japanese products at an affordable price. The Maihama branch is close to the beach and hotels too equaling convenience for quickly picking up what you need on your trip.

     

    AEON Tyatan

    Address: 8-3 Mihama, Chatan, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture

    Opening Hours: Food 7:00-Midnight / Clothing & Living Goods 10:00-Midnight

    *Business hours may differ for certain select stands and stores.

    *The Clothing & Living Goods section is open from 9:00 to midnight on weekends and Thank You Day

    TEL: 098-982-7575

     

    *Tax-inclusive prices are displayed up to the second decimal point.

    *In the case that multiple items are purchased, the fraction below the decimal point will also be added to calculate the consumption tax.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

    5% Coupon:https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

  • Travel Japan #9: A Day in Okinawa With the Gift of Rain

    18.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    The sky weeps!

     

    I was greeted by a sudden downfall of rain while in Okinawa, despite the having felt its out-of-season summer. While looking at the darkening colour of the concrete becoming wet I made a firm decision.

     

    “Let’s feel positive even when it comes to unexpected weather.”

    The water drops falling from the sky are sweet drops. I let my imagination run world with the intention of becoming a small child. I prepare my folded umbrella, one that will lift my mood. If I have just this I can still go on an adventure, so I have to move forward.

    I take shelter from the rain in a cute café. I can see that ocean once more from the open terrace. The water is foggy, and the high, white waves come and go against the shore.

    The beach is empty from people who went to get away from the rain. It looks a little lonely out there, but I’m also filled with a feeling that I have the vast ocean all to myself.

    The tropical fruit juice sold at the café is the place’s everlasting summer. But the mismatched atmosphere of this drink and the condition outside isn’t too bad either. I wipe at the water droplets on the glass while captivated at the decorations on my fancy umbrella.

    This is surely a magical umbrella made to add colour to rainy days.

    I bite into my juicy orange and my mouth is filled with a sour flavour. The sound of the rain gradually becomes stronger, but that doesn’t concern me either.

    The next stop on my adventure is a shop right next to the café. I can hear a sound from somewhere that sounds nostalgic.

    It was the sound of music boxes on display here and there. I wonder how long it’s been since I last heard this gentle sound?

    I link together the memories of my trip with the music and decide to make my very own music box.

    All the glass parts are small like Okinawa.

    A coral reef and a lighthouse. I proceed with creating my own little sea world I thought out.

    I forget about the passage of time and become immerse in my own world. The sound of the rain continues outside, but even with that all I hear are the music boxes.

     

    The rain on this day was like a present from Okinawa. I don’t think I will ever forget the rain, the waves, and the tiny rings of the music boxes.

     

     

    Model / Mala Morgan

     

     

    Things to Make Me Feel Happy Even On Rainy Days

    TOPVALU HOME COORDY Plain Navy Imabari Towel Handkerchief ¥398 (Before Tax) / ¥429.84 (Tax Included) ― 25x25cm

     

    This is an Imabari towel handkerchief. It’s soft on the skin and saved me from the sudden downfall of rain. Its simple border and fresh blue and white colour is like the sea of Okinawa.

     

    *Tax-inclusive prices are displayed up to the second decimal point.
    *In the case that multiple items are purchased, the fraction below the decimal point will also be added to calculate the consumption tax.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    5% Coupon:https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

  • Travel Japan #8: An Early Afternoon at Okinawa’s Beaches in Winter

    15.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Okinawa’s ocean was transparent. It was early afternoon at a small beach in the middle of town.

    It was outside swimming hours, but I couldn’t help but step in. It was like a scene from heaven.

    The white sand glistened in the ray of the sun. I wonder what kind of happiness I would find myself in if I were to live in a place like this.

    The boundary between the sea and sky was unclear. It felt like if I were to keep walking I would arrive at the clouds.

    This beach exists among the ordinary lives of the people of Okinawa.

     

    I wake up in the early morning and take a stroll across the sand, visiting each place. When evening comes I will see the sun set on this beach before returning home.

    I believe that just having the ocean by you in your everyday life you can live a very  luxurious one.

    I’m not even bothered about getting my pants wet. I feel like a child seeing the sea for the very first time.

    The sea is calm and quiet. The waves washing ashore, too, are gentle. I feel released from anything and everything.

    I lay out my vinyl sheet onto the sand and sit before the water, listening to the sounds of the waves.

    I have with me the necessities for when conversing with the sun. Today’s sunrays are light but one mustn’t forget their sunscreen.

    If I close my eyes I can see myself in the middle of the ocean and can walk across it.

     

    If I dive into the transparent waters it’s an emerald green. The view of the outside world from the bottom of the sea looks magical. If I grab ahold of the fish I’m sure to see an unknown world.

    70% of the earth’s surface is made up of water. The sea, which has given rise to infinite lives, has taught me the breadth of the world―too vast to comprehend―how small I am and how grand nature is.

    I enjoy my alone time on the beach. I wash down my potato chips with sparkling water which bubbles in my mouth like the sea waves.

    This pure sea, with no murkiness, elucidates my feelings. I head back to land and walk the beach once more.

    My throbbing heart, which cannot be captured in a photo, is left in the footprints on the sand.

     

     

    Model / Mala Morgan

     

     

    All the beach necessities you need are right there

    After arriving at the beach I first went shopping. I go to AEON Chatan, a 5-minute walk from Chatan Sunset Beach. You can get your hands on just about everything: from a hat and sunscreen to food and drinks. It’s convenient because it means there’s no need to pack lots of things before your trip.

     

    AEON Chatan

    Address: 8-3 Mihama, Chatan-cho, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture

    Business Hours: Food 7:00-Midnight / Cosmetics & Daily Necessities 10:00-Midnight

    *Select stores have different opening hours.

    TEL: 098-982-7575

     

    TOPVALU Free From UV Cream  ¥980 (Before Tax) / ¥1,058.40 (Tax Included) – 30g

    TOPVALU’s UV Cream protects your skin from ultraviolet rays and dryness. Even when it’s out of season Okinawa’s sunrays are like that of summer, so it’s important to look after yourself during your trip. This slightly hard cream feels soft and dissolves on your skin. It’s those moments of caring for your skin I like.

     

    TOPVALU Green Eye Free From – Salted Fried Potato Chips  ¥78 (Before Tax) / ¥84.24 ― 55g
    TOPVALU Best Price Lemon Sparkling Water ¥68 (Before Tax) / ¥73.44 (Tax Included)– 500ml

    Sparkling water, potato chips and a break on the beach. The chips are seasoned simply with salt to bring out the flavour of the potatoes. They have a satisfying crunch.

     

    When eating potato chips there’s no better complement than sparkling water. This water has strong carbonation. The refreshing taste of the lemon and fizzy bubbles made it feel like summer again.

     

    *Tax-inclusive prices are displayed up to the second decimal point.
    *In the case that multiple items are purchased, the fraction below the decimal point will also be added to calculate the consumption tax.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    5% Coupon:https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

  • Learn About Shimane Prefecture’s Oki Islands with Japanese Model Saki Shibata

    15.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    On March 2, 2019 Japanese model Saki Shibata, along with nine others, carried out a research project entitled “Research Lab on the Charms of Oki” (隠岐のお気に入り研究所) to come up with a travel plan for the Oki Islands.

    The Oki Islands are part of Shimane Prefecture. There are over 180 islands in total, sixteen of which are named, but only four of which are inhabited by humans. These can be visited via a ferry or high-speed boat.

     

    The islands were formed almost 6 million years ago from volcanic activity. In September 2014, the islands were designated a UNESCO Global Geopark for their rich land and unique flora and fauna, history and culture. Visiting the islands offers the opportunity to experience unique nature you can’t anywhere else in Japan. It is a place to enjoy characteristic culture of a different locale.

     

    If you flip over a map of Japan you will also see that the Sea of Japan side of the islands are in the centre of the country. The Oki Islands also used to bustle with people as the doorstep to Japanese trade.

    Saki Shibata visited the Oki Islands for the first time last year. She saw the bright red and immense Matengai Cliffs formed by the volcanoes’ magma, the sea waves, felt the breeze in her hair and more. See her full nature-packed trip here.

     

    An island local proposed her desire to show the wonder of the Oki Islands to the people of the world, and so the “Research Lab on the Charms of Oki” was formed. Saki, having already experienced those charms, was appointed Research Leader, and recruited other fellow members to join. She would convey her experiences and time spent on the islands for everybody to learn more about them so they could think up a travel plan together.

    The event began with project leader Saki Shibata greeting everybody. She spoke about her memories of the Oki Islands and expressed enthusiasm to create a wonderful travel plan to the participants. Her talk was accompanied by slideshows with which she presented photos taken during her trip last year.

    Saki played back through her mind how overwhelmed she was by the islands’ nature and how warm and welcoming the locals were. All the other research members were absorbed in her talk and listened intently.

    After Saki said her piece, a member of the Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark Association―which seeks to promote the charms of Oki Islands―spoke about Oki.

     

    A “geopark” is a location with valuable geological features and forms and promotes the well-being of people living there through education and tourism.

     

    Japan has nine officially-designated UNESCO Global Geoparks, one of them being the Oki Islands. Check out the video above which includes drone footage showcasing the expanse of nature there. It makes you want to see it with your very own eyes.

    The group subsequently went on to creating a travel plan for the Oki Islands. Each member wrote down where they wanted to visit in Oki amongst other things.

    They asked questions to the Geopark associate such as whether you can fish squid there, do skydiving and so on. When the group were asked what they had written down, all 9 of them had said they wanted to try eating Okigyu, or “Oki Beef.” Local food is an absolute must to include on any travel plan.

    Saki and her fellow research members’ original plan is complete, full of ways to feel the full power of Oki’s nature.

    After learning about Oki, everybody got to try specialty products from the island. They lapped up the flavours of Oki while listening to Saki speak more about her time there.

    Oki is famous for “Haruka,” a type of Iwagaki oyster. They are a brand of oyster raised in the beautiful waters of Nakanoshima in the town of Ama. They also tried other local delights such as turbo sazae rice balls, seaweed miso soup, sake lees crackers and kojouyu miso, fukugi tea and more.

    Obsidian

    Salted Polvorón Cookies (Oki Kisen Shoji) / Sake Lees Crackers (Oki Brewery) / Sake Lees Soap (jimono) / Fukugi Mist (jimono) / Fukugi Tea (Amacho Sakura no Ie)

    At the end of the event, Saki and the members were given an obsidian key ring and batch of Oki souvenirs from the associate. Though the event took place in Tokyo, everybody was able to get their fill of Oki.

    If you read this article and are interested in the Oki Islands, then we have some good news. All of the specialty products and souvenirs shown can be bought at Rito Kitchen Nihombashi who carried out this event. These aren’t easy to get your hands on unless you visit the islands, so if you’re in Tokyo, be sure to visit and enjoy the flavours of the Oki Islands.

  • Travel Japan #7: A New Adventure Begins on the Southern Island of Okinawa

    11.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    I set off on the next part of my trip, crossing the ocean once more and heading in the direction of Okinawa. Okinawa is home to 150 islands, has a tropical climate and expansive beautiful blue beaches. I want to see another side of Japan completely different from Kyoto.

     

    I wonder what the Ryukyu Kingdom will show me, which established and prospered an independent culture. When I arrive at the airport, I can already feel the breeze of the southern islands. It’s a breeze that serves as a prologue to what feels like the start of a new story.

    With my pink suitcase in hand, I let my imagination run wild as I picture the sights outside the airport. The pink on my suitcase sways to and fro like a little pink boat, and I’m the captain and sole rower of that boat.

    I encountered a Shisa, a lion statue and god that protects Okinawa, so I locked eyes with it and expressed some words of gratitude.

     

    It feels like something good is going to happen.

    I don’t want to leave this place yet. When I gaze at the aeroplane taking off…

    …I get a feeling that I can do anything.

    The sound of the engine, the force of the airframe seen up close.

     

    My body still remembers the great speed at takeoff.

     

    People can soar the skies; they can go anywhere in this world. I can feel strong thinking about just that.

    As I look for the exit, I feel the calm flow of time here and it’s different from the mainland.

     

    I have plenty of time, so I don’t have to rush. I can begin searching for my destination with relaxed steps.

     

    The air of the islands in the south makes my heart feel calm so I notice how soft and gentle people’s voices and facial expressions are. It makes me remember how nature and people’s hearts are connected.

    I take a seat on the bench and stuff my face with the nut and banana chip mix which is a replacement for my breakfast. My somewhat hazy head starts to become clearer and I see the next place I need to go.

    There was a water tank next to the bench.

     

    I wonder if the fish inside the tank remember the ocean. The colourful tropical fish inside this water tank, surrounded by tourists, live freely and in an environment with no threats.

    “It’s wonderful so live small and comfortably, but I want to see the big wide world.”

     

    I wait for the departure as I look at the beautiful fish. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call them precious gems.

    I say my goodbyes to the fish and head outside with a kick in my step. A new journey is about to begin. The Okinawan sky is smiling at me.

     

    Model / Mala Morgan

     

     

    A healthy morning travel breakfast

    TOPVALU Smooth Zipper Carry Case M ¥9,800 (Before Tax) / ¥10,584 (Tax Included) – Pink

    This carry case is an eye-catching pink colour which makes it easy to spot at the airport when you’re claiming your baggage. It stands on excellent tyres that are quiet when the case is rolled. Its size also means it holds plenty of luggage. Because it has another fastener for expanding the case, you can rest easy that you won’t have to leave anything behind when your luggage inevitably builds up during your trip. I want to pack my memories of Okinawa into it and head to the next town.

     

    TOPVALU Nuts & Banana Chip Mix ¥158 (Before Tax) / ¥170.64 (Tax Included) – 31g

    My breakfast today was a nuts and banana chip mix. It’s healthy so I’m using them for support up to lunch and as a snack on my trip too. The combination of banana chips and the nuts, which are full of dietary fibres, is a more delicious mix than I had imagined. I’m getting addicted.

     

    *Tax-inclusive prices are displayed up to the second decimal point.
    *In the case that multiple items are purchased, the fraction below the decimal point will also be added to calculate the consumption tax.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    5% Coupon:https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

  • Travel Japan #6: Casually Blazoned on a Laundry Trip During My Kyoto Travels

    06.March.2019 | FASHION / FEATURES

    As I continue to travel Tokyo and come into contact with its history I have gradually wanted to blend into the city. So I decided to take a break from being a traveler and become a local.

     

    I found a small laundry while I was taking a stroll around and made that my port of call. Its yellow curtains and blue washing machine inside matched the colours of my clothes. The blue also reminded me of the colour of the sky when I was on the plane while the yellow made me recall the carpet of maidenhair leaves burned so vividly into my memory I can see it with my eyes closed.

     

    I put on some casual clothes and set out aimlessly to imitate living here.

    I place my favourite laundry detergent into my basket and set off to the launderette. This is actually my first time using one of these big washing machines.

    I couldn’t understand all of the instructions written in Japanese but I was sure it would go fine. I’m all about being optimistic when it comes to many things.

    My detergent is additive-free and comes in a white bottle. Washing your clothes with something natural like this makes you feel eco-friendly. Its faint fragrance is refreshing.

    The washing machine let out a bellowing sound like a watchdog living on a faraway star and began spinning.

    I wait leisurely for the washing to be done. I look back at my trip in Kyoto so far with the sound of the washing machine as my background music.

     

    I was a crybaby and timid when I was younger. I was even scared of having to walk by myself someday when I went to a place I wanted visit. But now my chest burst with curiosity knowing that I will enjoy discovering and encountering things even if I’m on my own.

    There are things I don’t yet understand but my heart learns every day. One may have an innocent heart but it’s good for your heart to become strong like an adult’s.

    I take out my bath towels from the washing machine. They are fluffy as if they’re brand new. I think to myself that they’re kind of like the hairs of a sacred animal. My imaginative power is like that of a child, and using it I gently brush the tips of my fingers against the white creature and proceed to fold it neatly.

     

    I feel new as I pile up these little adventures. I put my arms through the sleeves of my washed shirt and set off to a new destination.

     

     

    Model / Mala Morgan

     

     

    Live your travel destination with a trip to the launderette

    TOPVALU Free From Laundry Detergent ¥378 (Before Tax) / ¥408.24 (Tax Included)Quantity: 800ml

    The Laundry Detergent is made with five additive-free bleaching agents. Its fragrance is subtle so is perfect for me as someone who doesn’t like plainness.

     

    TOPVALU Free From Fabric Softener Price: ¥348 (Before Tax) / ¥375.84 (Tax Included) Quantity: 600ml

    The Fabric Softener is a safe product that can be used even with baby clothing. The happy feeling I get that comes from drying laundry might be thanks to the natural smell of this fabric softener.

     

    HOME COORDY soft bath towels ¥1280(Brfore Tax)/¥1382.40(Tax Included) Size:60×120 cm

    HOME COORDY’s soft bath towels have become a necessity during my travels. They are as white as freshly-fallen snow. Whether it’s the morning-time or evening, they make me feel healed.

     

    *Tax-inclusive prices are displayed up to the second decimal point.
    *In the case that multiple items are purchased, the fraction below the decimal point will also be added to calculate the consumption tax.

     

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    5% Coupon:https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

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