Land of the Lakes in the Land of the Rising Sun

What a poetic title to a post mostly dedicated to consuming.
There’s more Finnish things than just the Moomin cafes in Japan, although most of the Finnish items you can find are related to Moomin. During my travels outside Beppu, I have found Marimekko stores as well as shops selling Iittala dishes. In Tokyo, there are also several shops with Finnish names. The shops may have nothing to do with Finland, but apparently the words sound nice to the Japanese.

Cucumber
Cucumber restaurant
Thank you shop
Thank you shop

I’ve also seen “I, butterfly” and “Maybe Cute” as well as “Kitchen” shops.

Some want to take the Finnish back home!

Sweet and savory Finnish containers
Sweet and savory Finnish containers
Our national pride, Iittala, on sale
Our national pride, Iittala, on sale

The Japanese travel to Finland to see the Aurora (Northern lights), which I have’t seen since the 90’s. Maybe also the nature attracts them. Food – not so much.

This is what Finland looks like
This is what Finland looks like

To balance things out, Ikea is not the only Swedish thing in Japan.

I thought Lapland is in Finland
I thought Lapland is in Finland
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Peculiar shopping

What you can’t find in Tokyo, you probably don’t need. On the other hand, there are many things that you can find, but definitely don’t need.

The "shaker"
The “shaker”

Besides the 100y shop (God bless Daiso for solving the students’ everyday needs), there are many peculiar shops such as Don Quijote, that sell rather unuseless knick-knacks.

Dirty bellybutton?
Dirty bellybutton? This chipmunk can help!
Squeezing diet
Squeezing diet
Iittala, on sale!
Iittala, on sale!

While most of the stuff is fairly harmless and mainly just peculiar (not the Finnish design plates, but the other items and so much more), there are some things in the stores that I just find a bit…disturbing.

Fetish literature, Village Vanguard
Fetish literature, Village Vanguard
Actress DNA, bra hok, honey lingerie and whatnot
Actress DNA, bra hok, honey lingerie and whatnot
Toys?
Toys?

Some things just can’t be explained.

Specialities

Japan is known for its’ peculiarities. Here are some of my encounters during the Christmas season. I have earlier mentioned the Japanese love for (Christmas) cakes and maybe their sweet breads as well, but it’s hard to believe until you see for yourself.

 

I can only imagine the flavor
I can only imagine the flavor of these elves

Christmas trees, elves, houses, snowmen and basically everything else can be formed as pan, which is the Japanese equivalent to bread, which is nothing like what we call bread in Finland. If you buy bread in Japan thinking it is the same stuff you get back home, you’ll be in for a surprise. You never know if there’s spaghetti, curry, sausages or cream inside the fluffy pillowy dough.

Japanese version of a gingerbread house
Japanese version of gingerbread houses

After a while, it is not so weird to see the different characters made of food: the beloved animation character Anpanman has a nose made of pancake, and the super popular bean-paste filled dorayaki pancake gets its’ name from another anime character, Doraemon! The Japanese do love their sweets. And they are big on seasonal treats and specialities.

Individual packing is more a norm than exception
Individual packing is more a norm than exception

After Christmas, no snowmen can be found outside the sale boxes, since now it’s the time for snake everything – this is the year of the snake, so decorations in food and everything else are of course matching the theme. I even found special shop dedicated only for snake year stuff!

 

Special limited edition Pepsi White, oh I am so lucky!
Special limited edition Pepsi White, oh I am so lucky!

Example of the speciality craze: Pepsi co. launched a special seasonal drink, Pepsi white, to be sold only during this season. This mikan (mandarine) flavored drink is/was available in 6 different snowman style for a limited time – gotta catch ’em all, eh? I had a sip, and that was it for me. Drinking something that was a) pepsi, therefore carbonated but b) white and c) mandarine flavored was just messing with my brain a bit too much. I do feel special now, and less disappointed for missing the summer’s Salty Watermelon Pepsi! I wonder what’s next, both on the beverage field as well as in the “bread” section.

PS: I have discovered the Japanese fondness of KitKat chocolate bars. In Finland, we only have the basic version, but after doing some research, I found quite many different kinds during my trip. So, maybe I will get into the chocolate bar craze later on. I also have interesting omiyage (souvenir) package pictures and texts to share.

“Little by little you will be filled with happiness when relaxing with these delicious sweets.” Who could say no to those Cheese cookies from Yufuin?

Japanistic Korea, take 2

I mentioned earlier about similarities between Korea and Japan. Oh yes, there definitely are some!

Both like the cutesy stuff, not just in toys.

So cute it almost makes me want to puke
So cute it almost makes me want to puke

Weird establishments. Need I say more?

Some things just cannot/should not be translated
Some things just cannot/should not be translated

Both countries appreciate weird flavors. Wasabi is pretty self-explanatory: the only surprise was the mildness. Blue on the other hand remained as a mystery besides the bright color.

Blue taste as like the Greek sea?
Blue taste: like the Greek sea?

Both adopt the Western consumerism and traditions: Christmas is the season to be consuming!

Save money by buying
Save money by buying

Genki seniors. Who said Korean elderly are not healthy? They should work out after all the barbecue and rice cakes…

The numerous public work out areas are mainly used by the elderly
The numerous public work out areas are mainly used by senior citizens

Oh, yes. The language and signs were different and the streets looked different, but strangely it all felt very familiar to me. Thank you Seoul for the entertainment.

Åland is next to Finland, Korea is next to Japan: we're all pretty close after all!
Åland is next to Finland, Korea is next to Japan: we’re all pretty close after all!

Engrish

The Japanese are known for their interesting English translations, also known as Engrish. Here follows some of the best encounters I have had so far.

Without fail should I gargle with the disinfectant as well?

 

Small thing and so on for this colorful storage item

 

That’s a good question.

 

Plate taken once, no return please

 

Kabosu pies, acidity and stron but mellow and of peculiar flavor. Very