Japan Travel Fair!

February 7, 2016 in Commercial Break 0 Cheesed

Soooo, here’s your reason to finally visit Japan (for the first time, or again, for the 15th time!!)

I receive enquiries on traveling to Japan all the time and i am very sorry i couldn’t reply all of them (yes i feel bad, i am trying to!!!). But a travel fair that focuses on Japan and Japan and everything about Japan is probably better than my blog posts combined.

So it is happening next week:

12-14 Feb 2016, at 1 Utama Shopping Center (LG Oval).

Let me give you a quick guide on what’s gonna happen on that day!

This amazing event is organized by JNTO and supported by the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia. They will be lots of participating travel agents to help you with your queries on traveling to Japan.

And… here are the event highlights!

Yukata Photo Session

Specially for the ladies!!

There are two Yukata wearing experience + photo sessions for FREE!

I loooove Yukata! It always reminds me of my own Yukata moments.

Was 7 months pregnant with Junya when i was wearing this XD

Was 6 weeks pregnant with second baby when wearing this hahahah.

 

It’s Sushi Time!

For the sushi lovers!!

There will be a sushi master from Japan to demonstrate how you can make a sushi boat, anddddd of course, the visitors get to sample free sashimi!!

Also there will be a sushi eating contest on stage, sushi lovers don’t miss it out!

 

Rilakkuma Meet & Greet

Who loves Rilakkuma??

I do! Take a photo with  Rilakkuma, hailing all the way from Japan!

 

Fun Games!

There are also lots of fun traditional Japanese games for you to join!

Daruma Otoshi is played by using a small hammer to hit each of the colored pieces, from bottom to the top, without letting the pieces fall during the game!

I looooove Syateki! Mainly because i am quite good at it and i usually win prizes from this game lol. It’s a very old school arcade game. Let’s see what i can win that day!! 😀

 

Dance and Song Performance

Yasakoi Dance is a energetic summer dance that’s usually performed in Japanese schools and festive events. Love how colorful it looks, it’s gonna for sure bring a lot of fun Japanese vibes into the whole event!

 

Cheesie’s Japan Travelogue

By… ahem… me.

YES!! I will be there 3 days in a row, to share about all the secret tips to traveling in Japan!!! Hahhaah. So if you are upset that i never reply your email enquiry about Japan, here’s your revenge chance to come throw eggs at me. Ok kidding. Please don’t. Just come and enjoy the show :)

A little bit of insider info!! On Friday i will be talking about food, on Saturday i will talk about travel tips and on the last day, make up tips! ^^

 

Japan Travel Fair Schedule:

Please come at any time at your convenience ^^

 

FREEBIES!!!!!!

No event can be complete with a little bit of perks!!!

When you pruchase any travel packages or even just airfares, get a travel essential selfie stick for those precious moments.

 

FREE TICKETS TO JAPAN OMG?

Huh, all you need to do is spend RM50 in 1 Utama. Just go for a lunch with your buddies and confirm you spend more than that. Then come and win your ticket to Japannnnnn!!!!! And there will be 1 Grand Prize winner for each day!! To up your chance please come every day! Hahaha.

 

Lastly, have you realized how pink this whole blog post is?

Yes, most of the travel theme will be related to spring time, which means the romantic, breathtakingly beautiful sakura.

Just to tempt you with one last picture. Completely no edit. Two years ago, on my birthday!

You get to experience this yourself, if you allow yourself this precious chance.

Come join me!

12-14 Feb 2016, at 1 Utama Shopping Center (LG Oval).

 

 

 

 

Why I Went to Tohoku

February 6, 2016 in Japan 17 Cheesed

I was really really looking forward to finally writing this post.

In fact I have wanted to write this post since 2012, but the information available was still very confusing at best at that point of time, and it was just way controversial and I thought it was just generally a very bad idea to write about something I wasn’t 100% familiar with.

Anyway, I have wanted to visit Tohoku for the looooongest time. The first time i did was during Sakura season in 2013 to Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. It was a birthday present i chose for myself, gifted by the dana.

Why did i want to visit Tohoku so eagerly?

I wanted to support Tohoku.

Over the years, every since the Great East Japan Earthquake that happened on March 11, 2011, i had been getting emails non-stop asking me if Japan is a safe place to visit. For a good 3 years, I chose not to answer. It was not that I was not sure about the answer. It was because even if i say yes, people who don’t believe it will not believe it anyway. Explanation was futile. I just replied politely and told them that for me personally, i fully believe that it is safe, but it is entirely up to their own judgement and research and they will have to decide for themselves.

Even up until last week, I still get emails from readers asking for advice about traveling to Tokyo, worrying about the radiation level.

There are many rumors spreading online and also through word of mouth, the most common one i have heard among Malaysians and Singaporenas is that somebody’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s aunty’s daughter-in-law went to Japan for a holiday, and when she came back she was told that she would be infertile for the next 10 years.

All those emails asked me what i thought about it. A lot of them cancelled their trips to Japan because their parents/in laws/friends/relatives/random stranger insisted they should.

In my heart i felt so outraged, but i just kept quiet because i was in no position to give any opinion. I am not a doctor or a scientist.

And then i got pregnant myself in 2013. After visiting Japan for maybe more than 10 times since March 11, 2011, including Tohoku area. Even then i was afraid to say anything, because if something happened to me (which may be totally unrelated to Japan whatsoever) people were gonna tell me SEE I TOLD YOU SO AND SERVE YOU RIGHT.

But then i gave birth to a healthy, adorable baby. And then i got pregnant again. So i think now it’s pretty much safe to assume that the rumor is untrue. At least for me. And for every single pregnant woman in Japan. (Go check all the delivery wards in Japan!)

In fact, i think visiting Japan helped me get pregnant. Twice.

Actually, Japan is conducive to pregnancy. AND MAKES YOUR PREGNANCY BETTER, SMOOTHER, HAPPIER. And you get cuter and more obedient babies. Feel free to quote me on that.

(Read: The Hakone Baby Wishing Tree)

Okay fine. Mayyyybe Tokyo is safe to visit!! But how about Tohoku? More so, Fukushima? I could not answer any of these questions. Because I did not have enough information to back myself up.

But you know what i can do?

I can travel to Tohoku personally.

Yes i can.

Especially to Fukushima, while being 6 months pregnant with my second child. Now that, is gonna prove something.

Was i worried? Was i scared?

Absolutely not.

(By the way, if you are curious. When i told the danna i was going to visit Fukushima, his reply was “Have fun. Please take care and don’t catch a cold.“)

I would never, ever do anything that would potentially be harmful to my unborn child. And making this trip to Tohoku while being pregnant would be the best pledge to show my support to Tohoku, and to the world.

And i am so glad that i did.

It was like i have just unlocked a new level of love for Japan.

So i went to 3 prefectures in Tohoku, which are the three main areas that are heavily affected by the earthquake and suffered a lot of economical and tourism loss.

They are Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.

I would be really happy to visit Yamagata, Akita and Aomori in the near future, but right now my mission is to promote the local tourism for these three prefectures, especially when it comes to their food produce. Man, every single prefecture in Japan has such wonderful heritage and its own unique local delicacies, blog posts are never enough!

Even the local media got very excited that a foreigner was visiting their hometown, and i promptly got into their local press and TV news.

Tourists and visitors are so rare and hard to come by in that area that my visit was like a big deal.

My heart ached so much. If only people around the world can give them a little more faith and support. Even if i couldn’t help much with my mediocre blogging influence, i would still be very very happy to put smiles on their faces, to have them know that someone from Malaysia has come all the way here, to give her full support to Tohoku.

That was the very least i wanted to do.

Anyway, done with the personal, emotional part. But let’s look at some numbers and data now, right? Everybody wants some assurance, some kind of proof.

 

So. How safe/unsafe is Tohoku? How high is the radiation level?

I was traveling in Iwate and bought a local newspaper (which i was featured in!!) and on the same page there was the daily radiation level report for different towns in Iwate Prefecture.

The numbers did not make sense to me as i didn’t know what was the normal level. (By the way now i realized that it is extremely low, compared to other cities in Japan and the rest of the world.)

I am not the expert and i can’t tell you what is safe and what is not. But i can give you perspective.

I am quoting the data collected from ptraveler.com, a blog by two travel bloggers from Germany. They brought a Gamma Scout Geiger counter with them and measured the radiation levels of cities all around the world.

Apparently at where they are from, Germany/Heidelberg has a background radiation levels of about 0.1 – 0.2 micro sievert/hour. So they took that as the norm for a city and did comparison with other cities to that reading.

They had a radiation measurement blog post on major cities in Japan, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, etc.

And according to them, they observed the values of 0.1-0.2 uSv/h in Tokyo, and this is typically less than in most cities around the world (just to compare, in Hong Kong, background radiation rises up to 0.8 uSv/h in some places).

So now you can see that at Iwate, the prefecture i was traveling to, the reading is even lower than Tokyo, with one extra zero after the decimal point. And apparently in Morioka, the capital city of Iwate prefecture, the highest reading after March 11 disaster, was 0.058.

Let’s look at some of the Japanese cities:

 

Tokyo:

(Source)

 

Kyoto:

Kyoto is apparently especially low.

 

Nooooow how about Fukushima??

Fukushima:

A little higher but still within the average measurement.

Anyway, all these readings were done in 2012 so they are outdated. It was just a year after the Nuclear disaster and i would assume that by now it should be even lower.

AND…

Are you wondering now, about the radiation level in Kuala Lumpur? 

Since so many people are so afraid to visit Japan, let me give you perspective, again. Quoting from the same travel blog, when the two bloggers travelled to Malaysia and did their measurement:

 

Radiation in Kuala Lumpur:

(Source)

 

Dear Malaysians. Our city has more than double the radiation that of Fukushima.

How does that make you feel now?

If you ask me, honestly, I would think that chances are I would die faster in Malaysia compared to Japan, with all these unknown radiation, pollutions, stress, robbers, kidnappers, inconsiderate and reckless drivers, HAZE!!!!!, and rude service staff. Honestly.

But i don’t want to get too far.

So. My point is, I have read waaaaaaay too many baseless articles and heard way many false rumors regarding the safety of Japan, usually circulated in Chinese, started from Weibo, terrifying every single Facebook-addicted Malaysian aunty.

And i just thought it didn’t deserve to be sabotaged by people who had ulterior motives.

I mean, there are bound to be people commenting and pasting all sort of links again, but to me, it’s really like the reader who told me via Instagram when i was pregnant with Junya that “you should stop eating strawberries. It will give your baby allergies“. Yeah? Alright. Thanks for letting me know.

Anyway, if you are interested, here’s a report on the “Fukushima Food Safety Conference” which was held on September 22 in Milan, Italy. The conference was held to disseminate accurate information on the situation in Fukushima to the world at large and to reinforce steps toward the region’s recovery. If you have the time, it is a very interesting read.

Also, i have a personal dear friend, Sue Ann (Malaysian) who went on a student study trip to Fukushima in 2012, including the border of the evacuation zone that’s just ten kilometres away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. You can read about her Fukushima travelogue here. It was really eye opening as she was probably one of the first foreigners/Malaysians who has been this close to seeing how it really is like, after the disaster. I really admire her and wish i could do the same.

And that is all for now.

Enough of all the heavy stuff, and now i am on my way compilation my beautiful and amazing journey through the three prefectures of Tohoku.

Will update again. :)

 

Stored in Japan | 17 Cheesed

The Daikon Theory

February 2, 2016 in Bon Cheesepetit 27 Cheesed

Today i’m going to share the tips for making world-class simmered daikon that’s perfect for dishes like Oden, stews, and even daikon steak.

For those who don’t know, daikon (大根, literally “big root”), is a Japanese radish that’s available in winter season. It’s different from the pink radish the angmoh uses, so i’d stick to its original name “daikon”!

My family loves daikon for various reasons. The danna loves it because it’s low in calorie and great for diet. Junya loves it i guess because it’s soft and juicy, and that i am a great cook. I love it because, well, it’s daifreakingkon.

It will be in our fridge almost all the time and i guess i cook daikon at least 3 times a week!! I try to include other variety of calorie-rich food into Junya’s diet though, because daikon’s energy level is almost next to nothing, although it provides lots of other vitamins and minerals.

So!!

I decided to blog about this recipe because i have a story to share. It’s one of those “When Life Gives You Bitter Gourd” moments.

The danna and i went to Kamesushi in Sri Hartamas for their omakase dinner recently, and one of the dishes served was mini oden. I don’t have a picture, but the daikon in the oden was the most perfect daikon i’ve ever tasted.

It was cut in a perfect shape, looked shiny, crystal clear like a piece of jewel. I bit into it, like biting into jelly. No kidding. There wasn’t even a hint of fiber in it. It was soft, juicy with a burst of umami.

I told the danna, “this has got to be the best daikon i’ve ever tasted.”

He said, “really? You can easily make the same.”

And i was like no waaaaaay. IMPOSSIBRU!!!!

It probably takes the world most premium daikon and a super master chef to create this marvellous recipe.

“I don’t think so. Just google it – How to cook daikon“, the danna said, nonchalantly, like i was being ridiculous.

AND #CHALLENGEACCEPTED.

My new life mission is to cook daikon like a pro lol.

So i did. And indeed, i think i just found the secret to cooking world-class daikon. And that’s what this blog post is about.

You are welcome.

The thing is, i learnt that there’s no short cut to amazing things. Especially when it comes to Japanese food.  WHICH IS WHY THEY ARE SO DAMN YUMMY. Yes a lot of time it is the ingredients that makes all the difference. But most of the time it is effort. If you are willing to put effort in things you do, it’s gonna turn out amazing. Such a simple logic, i can’t believe i didn’t adopt it earlier (in cooking, and in other aspects of life).

I call it The Daikon Theory. And it’s gonna be my new life philosophy lolol.

So. Here’s the cooking tips. It involves a lot of steps so it’s not for those who are looking to cook a quick meal. The alternative way to cook mediocre daikon is to peel it, cut it, and throw into whatever pot of stew/soup you have.

But here’s my Daikon Theory Recipe.

First of all, you need a good daikon.

STEP 1 : Get Good Daikon

Ideally i’d love to bring one of those gigantic daikon i saw in Japan back, but a Japanese daikon in local supermarkets will do. Although it costs like twice the price for half the size. I got my daikon from Aeon.

Selecting the parts of daikon:

Another important thing to note when you pick a daikon is the parts of it. The best part of the daikon is the middle part, since it has almost the same width, it will look aesthetically symmetricl and it will make great simmered dishes. I always wonder how Japanese combinis do it, because all the daikon in Oden is exactly the same size!!! If i pay the same money of course i want the biggest piece!! Haha

Anyway, the head could be used for salad, and the tail usually is more tangy, which is suitable for Daikon Oroshi.

 

STEP 2: Peeling 

The flesh near the skin has a lot of fiber, so it will make the texture less desirable. When i watch a youtube tutorial, the chef cut away quite a big part (like 5mm-1cm) and only use the middle part.

Isn’t that a huge waste?! 

I thought in my heart. Wait. I’ll get to that later.

After peeling off the skin, you can cut in into your prefered thickness. I usually prefer it quite thick so that it’s real shiok to bite into XD.

 

STEP 3: 面取り(Chamfering?!)

Ok i have no idea what it is called in English, but a quick translation tells me that it is called Chamfering (?), basically rounding the edge of the daikon.

This is a trick the danna taught me, i don’t know where he learnt all these from, maybe common sense? @.@ (Now i feel dumb.)

The logic for this step is to prevent the vegetable from breaking apart, especially when it comes to soft vegetables that crumble easy like potatoes in stews. You can easily use a peeler to “peel off” the edge and make it round.

So……

 

EXTRA STEP: No wastage

You end up with a lot of wasted daikon pieces right? With all the thick peeling and “chamfering”.

Remember the Mottainai concept? Yes sometimes you have to sacrifice to make the best cut for best quality, but it doesn’t mean the rest will go to waste.

These are the shaved off edges, it’s a good size for daikon salad, or you can just add seasoning to make it into asazuke (daikon pickle). Never waste your food!!

 

STEP 4: Kakushi Ho-Cho (Scoring)

Man i learn so many new cooking lingo today. Scoring means making shallow cuts across the surface of a vegetable or meat to allow better absorption of a marinate/dashi.

In this case i make an X cut about 1/3 the height of the daikon. I only cut it on one side so that the other side remains intact and beautiful for presentation.

 

STEP 5: Parboiling (with rice water)

This step is negligible because it is so troublesome, but it also makes a whole difference to the out-of-the-world-ness of the daikon. I never skip this step ever again after knowing what magic it does to the daikon!!!

Basically the rice water is the water you usually throw away after washing your rice. DON’T THROW AWAY. Save it for your precious daikon. If you are not cooking rice on that day, you can just use normal water and put a small spoonful of rice and boil together with the daikon.

The reason for this step is that the chemical reaction between the rice water and daikon will give the daikon a sweeter taste, and parboiling will also remove the harshness of the daikon.

Boil it until it is soft enough to be pierced through.

 

STEP 6: Cooling

Now your daikon has a beautiful translucency to it.

Yes i know everyone is very anxious to quickly complete the cooking and eat your daikon now. Not yet.

Let the boiling hot daikon cool down before you do anything else. Yes, patience. If you can’t wait, you can cool it in a bowl of ice water.

The reason for this step is that when the daikon is cooled down, it absorps the flavor even better, so cool your daikon before adding any dashi stock.

 

STEP 7: Double Boiling with dashi stock

I use lots of water, and a pack of bonito dashi, using a slow cooker. If i am in a rush then i’ll use a pressure cooker. But generally low temperature over a long time will work better!

Usually if you are suuuuuuperrrrr free, or wants to be a Daikon God, you can cook your daikon until it boils, then switch it off, then boil it again and let it cool down, repeat the steps. It’s the same logic as Step 6. Which is the reason why overnight daikon tastes so much better than freshly cooked daikon!!

 

STEP 8: Flavoring

Basically after step 7, your daikon is complete. Step 8 is the arrangement of the dish.

For me i let the daikon rest a bit, and then take it out to a frying pan, add half of the dashi soup and thicken the dashi a little with corn starch, so that it gives the beautiful pearly coating for the daikon and a better textured soup. If your dashi is too bland, this is the time to add flavorings like Shoyu or Tsuyu.

 

STEP 9: Garnishing

I’m making Daikon Steak, which means the daikon is the hero of the day, so it needs to be pampered like a superstar.

Lunch For Junya:

This is JunJun’s lunch. The arrangement is Daikon Steak in thick dashi, topped with scallop (which i boiled together in the dashi soup).

And then you slice the daikon with a knife and omg………. the texture. T___T

So. So. So. Satisfying. T___T. It’s like cutting into a juicy piece of Wagyu. The entire piece of daikon is simmered with flavorful dashi. Subtle yet rich in umami, with a natural sweetness and zero bitterness that usually comes with daikon.

Mama’s Lunch Version:

Mama’s version is topped with Kaki Shoyu (Oyster Soy Sauce) and Bonito Flakes over dashi.

 

STEP 10: Savor with LOVE

Remember? Itadakimasu.

Thank you, farmers. Thank you, daikon. Thank you, the person who shared the cooking tips. Thank you, super chef me.

Thank you JunJun, for loving it so much and making me so happy.

My new found happiness is called The Daikon Theory. It’s all about effort, and love. Yes it was time consuming. But all worth it.

Itadakimasu.

Tohoku Omiyage

January 28, 2016 in Japan 11 Cheesed

I’m back from Japan!!! With lots of Omiyage! <3

I went to 3 prefectures this time in Tohoku, so here are all the specialty for each prefecture, hopefully it will serve as a guide for souvenir shopping when you go to Tohoku in the future. ^^

I would have bought a lot moreeeeee if i wasn’t heavily pregnant and had to lug all the stuff all over 3 different prefectures.

Here goes! Starting with Iwate.

 

Iwate Prefecture

One of the most popular souvenirs you can get from Iwate prefecture is Nambu Senbei. I visited their store in Ninohe, Iwate Prefecture so i bought lots of stuff!

Warisen & Kakinotane mix! Never seen an interesting combi like this. ANDDDD it is Mentaiko flavored!

Have you tried Senbei Soup? In the past, a lot of Japanese people were suffering poverty so they just make Senbei, stored them dry and eat them like rice while putting the Senbei in soup. This one is instant and i bought it for the danna cuz he is always sooooo busy and on the go. Makes a great tummy-filler!

 

It is really interesting Senbei can be made into desserts too!

 

 

Miyagi Prefecture

Oh, Miyagi has lotssssss of famous food. And most of them come from the capital city, Sendai.

There’s the famous Sendai Miso!

Miso tastes different through different regions in Japan. Sendai miso is probably one of my favorite!

And the Sendai Gyu. Glorious, glorious beef and Gyutan.

When the danna heard that i was going to Sendai, he was very jealous cuz he is a die hard fan of Gyutan hahahha. So i bought him lots of Gyutan products! This is simmered canned Gyutan.

Instant Grilled Gyutan

Zao Beef Hamburg. All these are instant so the danna can easily eat for supper or when his wife is not around to cook hahaha.

 

Fukushima Prefecture

Fukushima is probably most famous for its peaches and Japanese sake. This one is an award winning sake and it is soooooooo cheap. The sall bottle for 300+ yen and the big bottle for 1000+ yen @.@

Anpokaki is another Fukushima specialty, it’s dried persimmon and a very prestigious gift and was meant for the royalty in the past!

Aizu is a beautiful city in Fukushima, although i didn’t visit, i heard it’s famous for Asparagus! This is Asparagus Pasta from Aizu city.

This is Cream Box from Koriyama city! It’s apparently the soul food of the people from the city.

I brought it back for JunJun. It’s just plain thick white bread with a thick layer of cream on top. It was so, so simple and good!!!

 

Yamagata Prefecture

I didn’t get to visit Yamagata this time, but this is what i bought! It’s a Spring Ichigo and Raspberry juice. Looks super yummy <3

 

Tohoku Limited Edition

These are some of the general Omiyage you can get at most souvenir shops in Tohoku region.

One of the most famous local specialty is Zunda, (especially in Miyagi prefecture). You can find lots of Zunda (sweetened edamame paste) limited products like Zunda KitKat, Zunda Pretz, etc. Another Tohoku limited edition is Ikayaki Kakinotane!

 

 

Gotochi Kitty

I am obsessed with collecting Gotochi Kitty and these are one of my happiest buys!

New comers to the collection.

Kappabuchi Kitty from Iwate.

Wanko Soba Kitty (soba noodle from a small bowl) from Iwate Prefecture.

Sendai Tanabata Festival Kitty from Miyagi Prefecture.

Michinoku Kokeshi Doll Kitty from Miyagi Prefecture.

Peach Fairy Kitty from Fukushima Prefecture.

Akabeko Kitty from Fukushima Prefecture.

And…. that’s all for Tohoku Omiyage!

I will be blogging in details each prefecture i have visited this trip. Hopefully Tohoku will be on one of your future travel destinations too! :)

 

Other Omiyage

Here are some of other stuff i bought that’s not produced in Tohoku, although i did purchase most of them when i was traveling in Tohoku!

Some yummies for my own kitchen.

Souvenir from Yumi, who coordinated my Tohoku travels and brought these from her home town, Kumamoto! Junya loves Kumamon so he’ll be real happy!

Compulsory drug store shopping hahhaha. Bath salts, water-proof wound-care cream…

No.1 and No.2 ranking Japanese toothpastes.

Banana flavored liver oil + vitamin gummy for kids!!! So happy i found this!! Giving Junya sweets without guilty XD

Energy bars. Bought these because you get a free magic pen per bar XD.

 

Narita Airport Souvenir

Sooooo. This is the time i answer my friends’ requests. I happily do so cuz i am too happy that everyone is willing contribute to Japan’s economy XD.

Hibiki 12 years for a Whisky maniac.

11 boxes of Royce Nama Choco for a Royce Choco maniac.

Royce Nama Choco Yamazaki Limited Edition for the both of them LOLOL.

When i sent the picture in group chat, they went crazy. They were like BUY!!!!!!!!! And i asked, how many? And they replied, “AS MANY AS A PREGNANT WOMAN CAN CARRY!!!!!!”

Hahahhaah.

Jagapokkuru and other Potato Farm souvenirs. Everyone is so in love with it even my helper requested for two boxes XD. Spread the happiness!!!!!!! 😀

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Taste of Tohoku

I remember when i was younger, my family would decorate “mei hua” (Plum Blossom) for Chinese New Year.

In Japan, the Tohoku area has Hana Mochi, fancily decorated trees for the new year!

 

Soooo beautiful!

The reason is that in Tohoku areas, lots of snow falls from December to March, and the ground is covered with snow. There are no flowers during the winter.

There were no decorative flowers for New Year’s, so local people had the custom of making ‘hana-mochi’. And… you guessed it right! It’s literally made out of mochi (rice cake), and hang it on branches for display.

Although it is not edible, it sure makes a beautiful deco in the house! It’s like Christmas tree, but girlier ^^.

During my visit to Nanbu Senbei factory in Ninohe, Iwate prefecture, I spotted the cutest Hana Mochi tree in the store!!

The mochis were not just pink and white in round shapes, but in multi-colored fish and other cute shapes!! I wish i could just pluck one and eat it XD.

For more tips on Tohoku gourmet and delicacies, you can visit Taste of Tohoku!

Stored in Japan | 11 Cheesed

Universal Cool Japan 2016

January 22, 2016 in Japan 2 Cheesed

Hello hello!

I’m currently in Tokyo but i’m blogging about my trip to USJ (Universal Studio Japan) in Osaka last week!

It was a media trip organized by Universal Studio Japan and Apple Tour Malaysia. I was one of the lucky person from around the world to experience first hand, the 2016 Universal Cool Japan five new attractions in USJ!

There was a massive press launch at USJ itself on that day. Will come back to that later on!

 

Sooooo…

Universal Studio Japan is located in Osaka, Japan. If you have been there recently, you would have known that they have a lot more attractions in recent year!! The last time i was there was in 2012, and when i came back this time around, i felt like it has expanded sooooo much with so many new rides and parks, and one probably need more than one day to experience most out of the park!

 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

So the latest highlight of USJ is the Harry Potter theme park!

All HP fan will be so ecstatic!! I am not a super big fan (i do really like the movies though! Haven’t read the books yet >.<) but i really enjoyed myself there (despite of the massive crowd)! On hindsight now i do wish that i know more about HP cuz i’m possibly missing all the subtle references and jokes here and there.

Love the feel of it!!

The Japanese are huge HP fans too! They will all dress up in costumes and it’s just too amazing to see! I even saw one girl who totally wore a Hermoine wig! And the white fluffy things on their head? Owl warmers lolol.

There’s a Gladrag Wizardwear gift shop that sells all kinds of HP outfit, from full wizard suit to cute scarves.

There’s even a gift store that is dedicated to selling…. wizard wands @.@

As in like, the whole store. Selling nothing but wands.

Love love love this confectionery store! The desserts and cups and teapots are spinning!

 

The highlight of the park is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a 4D thrilling rides in Hogwarts Castle… which i wasn’t allowed in… because… i am pregnant T____T.

All i can do is pose peace signs outside it. T___T.

In fact, i wasn’t allowed in most of the Universal Cool Japan new rides too cuz they are way too thrilling for pregnant women. So word of caution, if you are pregnant and love adventurous rides, best wait till your baby is out before you visit USJ!

 

Minion Mart

Right now it is just a gift store and a cart, buuuuut this coming April 1st there will be a whole new Minion themed Plaza and even Minion themed hotel room!!!!

Bababababanana

Minion Beanie

Minion Mittens

Minion Lunch Set

Inside is Hamburg stew!!

 

 

Universal Cool Japan 2016

Universal Cool Japan is a collaboration between USJ and Cool Japan in introducing pop cultures and anime into the theme park. They started in 2015 with 4 themes and this time around there’s a brand new attraction, which is also my Favorite…. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu!

The rest of the themes are “Evangelion,” “Attack on Titan,” “Biohazard,” and “Monster Hunter”.

Our main purpose here today is to witness the launch!!!

Soooooo many media from all over the country and also around the world!

 

And of course, the VVVIP herself made an appearance that day!!!

Kyary!!!!! <3 Peeking at her from afar and she is as kawaii as she is as always T__T

It’s amazing how a Pop Idol can have a whole theme park dedicated to her. That’s how ell-loved she is!

Launching Universal Cool Japan 2016 officially!!

 

So here are the lineup for Universal Cool Japan 2016:

Attack on Titan the Real 2

This is probably one of the most popular attractions! Boasting over 50 million copies of the original manga in print, the film version is currently being shown in 63 countries worldwide and now you get to experience it in real life!!

 

Love this Titan Wall!!! The eyeball actually moves and it’s super real >.<

Attack On Titan food stall, which is a meatloaf sandwich and a hot steamed potato. It sounds really simple buuuuuuut the potato was sooooooo goooood i don’t know what kind of magic butter they spread on it!

 

Monster Hunter the Real

There will be life-size monster attacking the guests!!!

Monster Hunter is a series of fantasy-themedaction role-playing video games that started with the game for PlayStation 2.

A real-size Airou also appears in the Monster Hunter Cross version in the park!

Monster Hunter manjyu, from the snack bar of the same theme.

 

Biohazard: The Escape 2

I really really really wished i could go for this.

Apparently it was so scary that they specifically put up a sign that disallows people with medical conditions and also pregnant women to go in.

T____T.

The story is set in the research building of a giant pharmaceutical company, the guests must not only try to escape, but also succeed in their joint mission with their separated companions while solving detailed puzzles and being threatened by zombies, biological weapons, and a rapidly approaching time limit.

You guys please go ahead and get scared on my behalf, ok?

 

Evangelion The Real 2.0

I didn’t get a picture of this because again, it was a thrill ride and i couldn’t go in. This attraction is the world’s only “4D” Evangelion attraction with an all-new scenario and story.

Guests that encounter the Angel attack will have all five of their senses stimulated with visuals made with Hollywood 3D technology, vibrating action with special 4D effects, shock waves, flashes of light and great sprays of blood (!!!)

I had the Evangelion caramel pop corn, though, while waiting for other media members to enjoy themselves T___T.

 

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu XR Ride

I literally begged the organizer to at least let me in that one but alas they have really strict policy.

This is how it looks like!! Weird, cute, and juuust a little spooky, that’s signature Kyary.

Kyary is all kawaii but apparently people who went in for the ride told me it’s a proper roller coaster with a sudden drop (although it’s not a deep drop at all, but because you are wearing a pair of goggles that creates the illusion of super speed and gravity).

You can watch this video to get a feel on how it would be like!

Aaaaaannnnndddd…

Of course my music god Nakata Yasutaka wrote the original soundtrack for the Kyary ride called “Kyary Factory”.

 

 

Kyary fans can go crazy over the exclusive Kyary merchandise.

I did also go for the Kyary treats, though!!

Kyary Trick Drink, which is hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, gummies and choco candy!

That makes you a cute monster hahhaha.

Also the Kyary Churros with an eyeball mochi lol. Admire the creativity of the people who created all these!

Am about to eat an eyeball.

Even the eyeball is a surprise!!

And that’s all for the Universal Cool Japan attractions!!

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Moppy’s Lucky Spot

This one is completely unrelated to the Universal Cool Japan theme and it wasn’t included in the media tour, but since i couldn’t go into most rides i also got a little extra privilege to shop on my private time.

And…. i went to Moppy’s!!!

Moppy is a new Sesame Street character exist only exclusively in Universal Studio Japan. Much like the Duffy, Shelliemay and Gelatoni in Disneysea. Damn, these Japanese people are good.

Moppy is Elmo’s good friend and there’s another elaborated story on how she was born. But basically she makes your dreams come true with the star-shaped mark on her right palm, and her favorite food is strawberry.

It’s just hard to resist if you love pink color and all things cute and fluffy.

Moppy’s merchandise.

This is Moppy!!!

With real life Ernie

And the real-life Moppy!!!! Soooo cute <3

 

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That’s all on my USJ experience this year! ^^

For more information on Universal Cool Japan, you can visit this website!!

The events will run from 15 Jan until 26 June 2016 only, so buy your ticket to Osaka noooooow!

Stored in Japan | 2 Cheesed

2016 CNY dedications

January 19, 2016 in Commercial Break 3 Cheesed

So i’ve blogged about the 2016’s limited edition Eight Cola-Cola Chinese New Year Cans. Since I was given the message card, i thought it would be a great idea to dedicate each special can to a special person in my life.

So there are 8 different auspicious wishes and symbolisms, and here they are and they people i wish to gift the suitable cans to!

事业顺利: Smooth Sailing Career: Miyabi

Miyabi is a new friend i got to know from work, but we instantly promoted each other from work associates to the presidents of a secret club called the “Siao Club”, because before meeting each other, we could not believe there are people who love Japan as siao (crazily) as we do. Every time we talk about Japan we were like uh huh uh huh, you think so too?!? She is so full of positive energy that every time i talked to her it was like i was being cleansed from all the evil energies. Thank you Miyabi.

This year i know that she endeavours to venture into a new career so i want to wish her all the best because she is super talented and i think she can definitely achieve bigger things in life!

情场得意: Flourish In Love: Carolyn

None other than this girl XD. Whom sometimes i think people will mistake her as Junya’s mother instead when we go out together XD. I knew her maybe like 7 or 8 years ago and she was my blog reader! Now we talk to each other every day!

She was like me 4 years ago. Living a nice life, having a great career, and all she needs is a little good luck in the heart stuff. We went to Hakone to pray together last year, and soon enough she noticed that the love luck is on her way! I’d like to wish her to continue to be blessed with continuous love and flourish in a fruitful relationship. ^^

财源滚滚: Abundance In Wealth: Amy

I admire her courage. Amy is Number76’s top stylist yet she dared to risk losing all her customers in KL and venture into a whole new different country just to challenge herself (together with another top stylist Steve).

I got to know Amy in 2011 and she was just a salon assistant who cried to me when she couldn’t pass the weekly Number76 hair exam (shhh. Nobody is supposed to know this). It’s incredibly how much she has progressed in a short few years! She was initially very worried about her new life in Singapore, but i can see that she is doing better than what she expected!

So i wish her HUAT AHHHH! in the year of 2016 hahhaa. And please support her in Number76 Singapore so that she will be 财源滚滚 and not 滚回家 lol.

青春常驻:Lasting Youthfulness: Ichigo

My longest friend from high school! When we were in highschool, we used to worry that one day we would age and become obasan since we were 14 T___T. We were probably the vainest girls in the class.

Now we are both mothers of two kids (although one still on the way, for me)!!! I wish her all lasting youthfulness and be forever cute and pretty and remain a hot mama for the next few decades hahaha.

贵人相助: Benefactors Aplenty: QiuQiu

Junya’s potential mother in law hahahha.

In 2015 Qiu and her family gave immeasurable help to our family, especially when we first planned to relocate to Singapore. I don’t know how we would settle down in Singapore without their help.

I also know that she is facing some difficulties in life, so for the year of 2016 i would like to wish her the same, to have many many 贵人 queuing up to offer her support and guidance hahaha. Because i really believe in 好人有好报。

学业有成: Academic Success: All my young readers!!!

Aiya i couldn’t find a candicate i know for this particular Coca-Cola can because… I’m too old to have any peers who are still in school, and i am also not old enough to have children who needs this wish yet lol.

So… i know that a lot of you are still studying (don’t read too much blogs!!), so i wish you all in 2016 a great success in your studies, and pass alllllll your exams with flying unicorns in rainbow colors!!! 😀

生意兴隆:Prosperity In Business: Danna

Of course i keep one of the best wishes for my own husband!!! Hahaha.

I wish that everything goes well for him in 2016, so that he can afford to have more time to take a rest, go for a few surf, and spend a little more time to watch movies with his wife and play catch ball with his son. Oh my god and his new daughter. I almost forgot about that.

So yes!! Hope that he will have a prosperous new year and we will also live an even better life and also go back to Japan more often!!! 😀

合家平安: Peace In The Family: Mom

Just like me, this is probably the most significant wish for my mom too.

She is a very simple person, and her biggest wish will be health and happiness for everyone around her. So i wish her in year 2016, she will be surrounded by peacefulness and blessings and lots of love around her. May her daughter and grandchildren be super healthy and happy too! Hahhaha smart or not, indirectly benefit myself also XD.

And please prepare big ang pow this year thanks.

So yea, that’s all my 8 gift Coca-Cola cans for the people who meant a lot to me.

How about you?

Maybe this year around, you can take this chance to customize heartfelt greetings and gift the respective wishes to your loved ones during CNY!

You can get these limited edition Chinese New Year Coca-Cola cans from the stores from now onwards!