Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

New Hokkaido Milk from Morinaga

New Hokkaido Milk from Morinaga

The new sweets keep coming from the local convenience store. Here are two I tried today. The Mickey/Minnie ones are Hokkaido Milk sweets and the strawberry ones are Cubyrop Gummy filled with collagen. I am not even going to try and guess where the word Cubyrop comes from, but the series seems to have a lot of different flavours available.

Strawberry Cubyrop Gummy from Bourbon

Strawberry Cubyrop Gummy from Bourbon


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img_0865-1I bought a pack of Yuzu Potato chips the other day to try something different. Yuzu is found in Japan although originally came from China. The taste is very similar to a mandarin and may even be a derivative of that fruit.

There are many varieties of potato chips to choose from in Japan and the Yuzu variety may not last long in the convenience store where new products tend to change out very quickly.

Convenience Stores becoming Market Research Stores
Convenience stores appear to be becoming a market research store rather than their original purpose of serving the basic foods conveniently. Every time I visit my local convenience store I see new products only to go back in the following week to see them gone.

Japanese Snack Reviews Blog
Back to the Yuzu story, the end result was the Yuzu potato chips were good. I was going to write more about this topic but found a great article at Japanese Snack Reviews which I thought summed up the whole experience.

If you like Yuzu, these chips are for you, although the convenience store may have already filled their spot with the next new product.

I also bought some Chocolate coated Sunflower seeds which I had not seen in Japan before. I don’t know a lot about these but they did taste good.


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A towel made to look like a chocolate roll for Valentines Day

A towel made to look like a chocolate roll for Valentines Day

Of course most people love chocolate and in Japan the women generally give the chocolates to the men, but for those who want to join in the Valentine fun but just can’t have the chocolate here is the answer.

It looks like a Chocolate roll and has the name ミニロール バター Mini butter roll taste, but if you look closely you will see it is actually a rolled up towel!

I am a chocolate fan so i would be very disappointed to receive a towel for Valentines Day, but I am sure there are some people who might prefer the towel.

This year many guys are supposedly giving the girls chocolates for Valentines Day in what is becoming known as gyaku choco or reverse chocolate.
Here is my post discussing that.

Here is a very good look at what women are thinking in Japan around this Valentine Day period from WhatJapanThinks.com

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Morinaga Gyaku-choco survey Jan 2009

Morinaga Gyaku-choco survey Jan 2009

Morinaga have decided in order to boost the sales of chocolates around the Valentine Day period, they are going to encourage men to start giving chocolate to women, rather than just having the women spending all the cash. They have launched a Gyaku-choco campaign for their chocolates and have produced a number of tv commercials already promoting it.

In a survey they conducted in January this year covering ages from 10 – 50 years, taking in 400 men and 400 women, they concluded the following:

1. That men think it would be ok to give chocolates to women on valentines day and that if the women threw in a quick “Choco, Hoshii-na!!” (チョコ、欲しいな~)then 90.8% of the men would give them chocolate. I am surprised they didn’t ask the men what else they might want to give the women as a follow up question.

2. 98.3% of the women said if they received chocolate from men they would be happy. 66.7% said they would feel the men were paying attention, 44.3% thought it would be great or fashionable (素敵).

3. When asked if they would think of the male giver of chocolate as someone of the opposite sex, i.e. view them as a male, 20% said yes and 57.5% said “probably, depending on the person”, which Morinaga use as their headline to say

“close to 80% of women would view men giving them chocolates as romantic.”

Statistics don’t lie, but Morinaga might be jumping to large conclusions on this one.

Gyaku-Choco (逆チョコ)
The exchange of Chocolate from Men to Women rather then Women to Men is being called Gyaku-Choco (逆チョコ). The survey suggests the name for a guy giving chocolate to a girl should be Chokomen (チョコメン) after the phrase Ikemen (イケメン).

Here are 3 chocolate products that Morinaga have brought out in their Gyaku-Choco series. Note the writing of the product name etc is backwards.

Morinaga's Gyaku-choco series

Morinaga's Gyaku-choco series (pix from Morinaga website)

What about White Day?
Back to the survey, here is the best part; while traditionally White Day was established to get the men to buy something in return for the women after they receive their chocolates on Valentines Day, the survey says 70% of the men think they should get something in return if they give chocolates and 90% of the women said they would consider giving something in return. The moral of the survey seems to be that you have to give to get.

For men giving to women, the average cost of chocolate to be given to a true love was surveyed at 1,672 Yen, whilst chocolate given to others was around 600 Yen. For women giving to men the figure was 1,714 Yen versus 542 Yen.

TV Commercial
Here is a video clip of the latest Morinaga CM for Valentines Day

Quick Poll
What do you think about the chocolate situation on Valentines Day?

I wrote a follow up piece on Valentines Day. Click here to read it.

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Lawson has a promotion on at the moment giving away free packets of Rilakkuma bath salts when you buy some candy. Rilakkuma was created by San-x 5 years ago in 2003, and supposedly was created with the idea of getting Japanese office workers to relax more. The bath salt connection would certainly seem to fit in to that idea. Here are the bath salt package designs. As always with Japanese characters, very cute.


Sakura scent. Note the warning on THIS CAN NOT BE EATEN.


Yuzu scent


Lemon scent

For those who want to get to know Rilakkuma better and stay with him and friends, Royal Park Hotel have a Rilakkuma themed room you can stay in. There is a great article about this at CScout


Jasmin scent

and here is the pack of candy I bought

Green Apple, Lemon and Peach flavours.

Green Apple, Lemon and Peach flavours.

As the tag line says Everyday life with those things you like

and for good measure here is the pack of Potato Chips, I mean Rice Chips that I bought. This is a new product out and the taste wasnt bad, but the look of the chips might need a little more work.
Rice Chips

Rice Chips

Here is the link to Niigata Chips in Japanese. The chips come in 4 flavours, curry, light, seaweed and soya sauce.

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img_02591Burger King has been back in Japan for a while now, but it is great to see the franchise back in the middle of the center-gai in Shibuya. I was passing today and saw the store was open. When I stoppped to check the menu I heard the manager telling someone “we opened yesterday. Thanks for coming”. Lets hope it is here to stay this time.

Here are some shots of the store taken today.

and a link to some information about why Burger King left last time and what they are going to do different this time


and from another site

http://www.japaneconomynews.com (Burger King story)

Enjoy your burgers !

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n.e.o Premium Ginger Ale

img_0156Here is an article that really caught my attention when I was reading the latest copy of TRENDY (Jan 2009 edition). TRENDY is a magazine by Nikkei BP that highlights the latest trends in food, electronics and other areas of Japan life. Given the number of new products that come out in Japan it is no wonder the magazine carries over 250 pages and makes great reading each month. It never fails to disappoint.

img_0155-1The article that got my interest is a new brand of Ginger Ale. Living in Japan everyone is probably familiar with seeing Canada Dry Ginger Ale in the convenience stores and supermarkets, but when you want to find a really good original unique tasting Ginger Ale there never seems to be any choice. While here is a Ginger Ale that looks fantastic. The maker says the following about its new product: (translated and paraphrased)

“With Premium Ginger Ale n.e.o (neo) we wanted to make a drink in the spirit of a cocktail that would be popular with bartenders as well as customers.  Because the majority of ginger ales presently sold add flavorings to get the ginger taste, the natural ginger taste is not able to be enjoyed by customers. In making this product we wanted to use the true ginger taste and embody the true sense of this drink as a cocktail that can be enjoyed at a bar made by a professional bartender. In keeping with this theme, we paid special attention to the design of the bottle, the size of the serving portion, the fragrance and materials used.  Enjoy your Ginger Ale as a cocktail.”
This Ginger Ale drink is being sold at bars, hotels and some departments stores in Japan. Here is a link for buying the product online.


Also popular in Japan is the Wilkinson brand of Ginger Ale


and just released is Suntory’s Blue Ginger Ale


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