Monday, September 28, 2009


The outside look is snappier than the other Japanese burger shops.

Good atmosphere to relax and wait.

Like other burger shops, there are many to choose from.

I ordered a standard MOS burger, fried potato, and an iced coffee to keep me hyper.

The tomato sauce is what makes this burger stand out.

I introduced a hamburger shop called Kua Aina last month, but it's a foreign brand anyway. So let me show you a Japanese one this time. Well, one of the most popular burger shops in Japan is MOS BURGER and it went into business at an outlet in Tokyo's Itabashi ward in '72.

What is so different from the other burger shops is that MOS BURGER makes customers wait for a while. Instead they make really fresh hamburgers that are sometimes too hot. And, its vegetables are ones that have been grown by local farmers, also very fresh.

The price of each hamburger is a bit higher than the other hamburger shops, but still there are many fans of MOS BURGER who are willing to wait for a longer time to have the hot and juicy burgers and fried potato. Is there any burger shop in your country that is similar to this?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Anime goods available -part 1-

The entrance of a Wonder Goo. It opens at 10am and runs until midnight.

Figurines "Tsuruya-san" and "Mikuru" from "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya"

Cushion covers. They show that K-ON! is still really popular in Japan.

A Yui T-shirt. Isn't she cute?

Cases that carry a pass. Which one is your favorite?

In the posting "anime and manga" on August 3rd, I reported a little bit on a local shop that sells anime goods, but when I looked back I thought it lacked details. So I decided to go in the shop again to take a closer look at what is sold.

The shop is called "Wonder Goo" and it has several outlets in my prefecture. It not only sells anime goods, but also ordinary magazines, novels, video games, and even cosmetics for ladies. But I think they sell mainly entertainment-related goods which are hot among young people.

I think not all the young Japanese people are into anime and manga, so I wonder what ordinary people would think of those anime goods that are sold in this shop. However it represents one aspect of Japan, namely the otaku culture, which I enjoy tremendously.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CD shop

This Disk Union also buys your cds.

It is located on the basement floor of this building.

Besides J-Rock, J-Pop and other kinds of music cds, you can find many kinds of foreign heavy music ones as well.

My favorite Judas Priest dvd. I usually spend more than one hour in this shop.

I love music more than anything else in the world. And my favorite music ranges from jazz to pop to heavy metal. If I'm going to buy a pop music cd, it is readily available at a local cd shop, but when I want to have a rare jazz cd or heavy metal cd, I have to drive for an hour to a cd shop that is in a neighboring prefecture.

The cd shop I visit to buy those cds is called "Disk Union", which has dozens of outlets mainly in the Kanto Region (it consists of six prefectures and Tokyo) .

It is true you can buy any cds on the Internet nowadays, but if you want to buy a rare secondhand cd cheaply without the mailing cost, the Disk Unions are the ones around Tokyo that satisfy your needs.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Welcome to a Japanese winery.
I took in fresh air while sitting in the chair

The wine cellar. It was pitching Chilean wine to celebrate its independence day, Sep. 18th.

A relatively expensive wine in this wine cellar costs as much as 19 us dollars.
The wine cellar.

The inside of the souvenir shop. As you can see it sells grape chocolates. It might be good as a souvenir.

I often drink wine, so I'm lucky to have a winery in a nearby city. This winery is called Shateau Kamiya and it brews its own wine.

Popular liquors in Japan are sake, beer and many people also like to have wine before and in the middle of dinner. And as most of the supermarkets import foreign wine, we can come by a variety of wine easily.

But, you know, when we really want to have a good liquor, it must be brewed locally. This winery was established in 1903, and it has attracted wine aficionados from all over Japan. As I showed with the pictures above, the atmosphere of the winery differs greatly from typical Japanese one. And since I like foreign air great deal, I step in the premises from time to time to feel the difference.

Friday, September 18, 2009


This Animate occupies the second floor of this building.
My favorite K-ON! manga were being sold. Anybody who likes manga by CLAMP?
In this section they were selling manga for girls.
You can reserve anime dvds before they are released.

I said before that people living in suburban areas rely on a local store that sells anime goods, but as for me, if I drive for about 40 minutes, I can visit an Animate in Chiba prefecture.

You can buy almost all kinds of manga there. Back in '95 or so, it was also selling many kinds of anime goods such as notebooks, erasers, postcards, all of which had anime characters printed on. But when I went to this Animate, it was selling mainly manga, or comic books*.

But it is still a place where otaku frequent, and in fact Animate was featured in Lucky Star many times. In the episode 16 of Lucky Star, the store manager of an anime shop manager called Anizawa-Meito(Ani"zawa"mate) appears and tries to ply Konata with anime dvds. Konata enters the shop in the video at 7:10.

*I'm sorry, according to what I found today, this Animate sells other anime goods in the 3rd floor. I will look into it later on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tokyu Hands

The logo of this company.
As Halloween is around the corner, they were pitching pumpkin goods.
Imported army knives.
They were selling unique toys as well.
Some Japanese people like to try many kinds of bath additives. There were cherry, milk, soy milk and other flavors available.

Yesterday I went to Tokyu Hands where lots of useful goods are sold. There are many shops in Japan that sell such merchandises but this Tokyu Hands sells ones that people usually don't see in an ordinary shop. I take advantage of this store in order to buy stationery, as I'm particular about it, and there is really a variety of pens, mechanical pencils, pencil cases and so on.

There is a very big Tokyu Hands outlet at Ikebukuro station, Tokyo, and it is its flagship outlet in Japan. But as this Kashiwa outlet opened in Chiba prefecture a couple of years ago, now it is the store that I frequent the most these days.

And Tokyu Hands also sells some unique goods that are only sold on TV infomercials, so if you spotted on TV some you actually want to see and touch, pay a visit.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Japanese-styled breakfast

You should try this breakfast if you come to Japan.
I had rice with Furikake on top of it. It is toppings that consist of dried egg, salt, laver and so on.
Natto. Doesn't seem yummy at all? It's okay, not all the Japanese people like it.

About 30% of young Japanese people aged 39 or younger don't have breakfast, and approximately 40% of those who do choose bread for their breakfast. When I was younger it was thought that having bread in the morning was a western-styled cool way of having breakfast, but as a Japanese I prefer rice over bread.

Today I had rice, seaweed soup, and natto for breakfast. Natto is made of soybeans that were fermented, but, due to its smell and taste, even not a few Japanese avoid having it. I used to hate it when I was a kid, but as I grew older Natto became my favorite. I haven't seen anybody from Europe or the US who like to have Natto.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Train station

A train station in the center of my city.
It costs me about 10 us dollars to Akihabara.
The ticket barriers. You can also use electronic money such as Pasmo, Suica, instead of actual money.
The elevator that carries old or handicapped people.
A train is coming into the platform.

I usually don't take advantage of train, but when I want to buy things like electrical devices, anime-rellated goods, I go to Akihabara by train. This line, called "Tsukuba Express", carries me from where I live directly to the terminal station Akihabara in about 40 minutes.
This TX was built in '05, so the train cars are relatively new, and one can have access to the Internet by using wi-fi on the train or station premises. And since some parts of this railway are underground, TX doesn't have railroad crossings at all. I took a ride but it didn't jolt like old railways such as Yamanote line.
Japanese railways criss-cross the nation, so when we are going to a major city, we can reach the destination by train.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Plastic models

There were many types of tank plastic model at a store.
Zero fighters are still popular among toy-lovers.
One needs a talent to make them close to perfect.

In the '80s, boys were indulged in making plastic models, and there were clubs at school for such activities. Back then there were already video games for kids, but not every kid spent time on them all day.

Nowadays, those kids have grown up to be over 30, and they are enjoying making plastic models to satisfy themselves, not their kids. The most popular are Gundam models, and you can see them at a store that also sells books, cds, and video games. So adults bring their children to let them browse mangas, while they enjoy looking at nostalgic plastic models.

I dopped by a hard-ware store and found the plastic models that I showed above. It is taboo to speak fondly of WW2 now, but Zero fighter is still popular among toy fans in Japan.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Outlet mall

The main gate to this outlet mall.
This mall was similar to the one I visited in America in the '90s.

There were about 100 shops.

For example this optician was selling glasses for about 50 dollars on an average with no additional charge.

I introduced an old house last week, but Japan is a mixture of the new and old. If you go to a populated area, you can do shopping and have lunch at posh restaurants. And visit a rural area and you'll find something very old, such as a temple, shrine, and guest house that provides a hot spring.

But since around the beginning of this century, shopping malls have popped up even in rural areas, and there are at least more than 6 shopping malls in my prefecture. Now they're hangouts for young people who once before didn't have access to nice clothing stores and coffee shops.

I visited this outlet mall that opened in my prefecture recently, and it was crowded with people who were looking for brand-name goods sold cheaply. But in this recession people didn't seem to be buying lots of goods and but instead they were spending money on lunch.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Old-styled house

I took an overall view of this house.
The tea space.
The living room. One can boil water with the kettle in the center.
The earth-floored area which guests or neighbors can enter and leave with their shoes on. You can cook rice with the "Kama" or pot on the stove.

There is a traditional house that was rebuilt in my city. Originally, this house was built in the 18th century (the Edo period) but later restored and moved to the center of my city. Nowadays some Japanese people who are engaged in the farming industry live in a house similar to this, but most of us now live in a modern house that has a western-styled living room, kitchen, and entrance.

Everybody can enter this house free of charge and relax while having some Japanese tea.

Somehow I felt more relaxed being here than in my own house.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Coffee shop

The outside look of Doutor.

You can also order food such as a hotdog, sandwich, and some cake.

This is an iced coffee. It tastes better with some syrup and milk.

Threre are coffee shops called Doutor here and there in Japan. It serves a good hot/iced coffee and its prices are relatively low. For example, an iced coffee(small size) costs only 200yen (about 2 us dollars), but its taste is much better than other fast food shops' coffees, whose prices are not so low.

I'm a big fan of coffee and have tasted different kinds at other coffee shops like Starbucks, Tully's, Beck's, and so on, and theirs also tasted good. But if you want to have a coffee at a shop on a daily basis, the price should be lower than those coffee shops.

So this Doutor is a place where I drop by often. If you smoke, there is a smoking section at each outlet, and sometimes it sells cigars as well.