Tanabata – the Japanese ‘star festival’

A mixed start to Golden Week 2020

There has been an eerie start to Golden Week this year in what is usually one of the busiest times of the year for travel.

Coronavirus fears left Japan’s normally jam-packed bullet trains and expressways deserted on the first day of Golden Week on Saturday as the pace of infections showed little sign of slowing.

JR Tokyo Station is empty on Saturday morning despite the start of the Golden Week holidays. | KYODO

Many of the Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) leaving Tokyo Station Saturday were over 90 percent empty according to the Railway companies that operate them.

On the other hand, while most people stayed at home, Pachinko Parlours in Osaka Prefecture seemed to be relatively busy after six companies defied orders to close while the emergency declaration was in place.  Over 200 punters could be seen outside one of them on Sunday morning queuing up without practicing social distancing.

大阪のパチンコ店に数百人の行列 休業要請、店名公表後もなお4店舗が ...

Over 200 people line up outside one of Osaka’s Pachinko gambling parlours. ANN.

Osaka has been the second hardest hit area by the Coronavirus behind Tokyo so many citizens have been expressing their anger on social media. The problem is, under Japanese Law, the Government cannot order businesses to close – they can only urge them to do the right thing.

What are your thoughts on this?

Taste Japan – Suspension of Operations (Covid-19)

Dear All,

We hope you are keeping well during the Covid-19 outbreak that we are currently facing around the world.

Unfortunately, due to postal restrictions that the Japanese Post Office have implemented, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations of Taste Japan for at least the next month.

As of yesterday (April 2nd, 2020) we can no longer send mail to 126 countries. More countries could follow in the next few days or weeks, making it almost impossible to continue our service.

For now we will take the following action:

  • Monthly subscribers: Your plan will be temporarily paused until the restrictions are lifted and we can safely resume shipments.
  • 6 or 12 month plans: Your plan will be extended for however many months we are unable to send boxes.
  • One time payments since March 21st, 2020: Your payment will be refunded and no box will be sent.
We will keep you updated regarding the situation here, but if it seems unlikely that Japan Post will resume international postage within the next few months, we may have to cancel all plans entirely.

We understand that many of you may be under financial pressure right now as a result of the outbreak so please feel free to cancel your subscription from the login section of our website here if you wish to do so.

Please take care, follow your respective government’s advice and thank you very much for your support until now.
Prevention of covid-19 all in one illustration. coronavirus ...

Setsubun (節分) 2020!

Setsubun (節分) is the day before the beginning of spring in Japan. The event takes place on February 3rd every year. This year already feels like the beginning of Spring to be honest – very mild and even up to 17C where we are. Okinawa had 27C last week!

According to the Japanese lunar calendar, this is the last day before spring starts (although it’s still very cold in most parts!). On this day, it is said that the spirit world is the closest to the real world, and as such strange events and “demons” may appear.

 

To ward against such evil, families throw soy beans at one family member who wears a demon mask to scare them away. People also eat their age in soy beans plus one for good luck, and eat a long uncut maki sushi rolls wrapped in seaweed while facing a certain direction. While throwing the beans, people will say “oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!” – “demon out, happiness in!”

Image result for setsubun maki

Happy Setsubun 2020 from Japan!

Sapporo Snow Festival 2020

All of you from the Northern Hemisphere are more than aware that winter is here right now! So why not celebrate?

The most northern island of Japan (Hokkaido) is covered with snow for longer periods of time during winter and its main city of Sapporo hosts annual snow festival: the world’s greatest winter wonderland.

Image result for sapporo snow festival

 

This year the festival will be held from 31st January (today!) to 11th February and boasts wonderful ice and snow sculptures from artists from around the world.

 

Image result for sapporo snow festival

More than 2 million people flock north to attend the festival every year and possibly catch some skiing or snowboarding nearby in what is considered one of the best places in the world for the sports.

Finally, the luck 2 million that are coming to the festival should definitely try some of the local seafood as it is considered some of the best in Japan. One of the best things to try is Uni which is Sea Urchin in English. It looks gross, but it is a really delicious seafood that should not be missed.

Image result for sea urchin

Itadakimasu!

James May vs. Japanese Snacks!

Who doesn’t love James May and the other Top Gear guys? Actually, that may be a controversial topic but we thought that this short video of him trying Japanese snacks may interest you.

James May has a new show on Amazon Prime where he travels around the country trying to experience it in his own unique and often miserable way (how British! (joke)).

This short video is him trying Japanese snacks and only 3.46 so great if you have a few minutes spare.

Enjoy!

A quick arigatou to subscribers…

This is just a quick post to say thanks for your continued support with Taste Japan and to wish you all a happy and successful 2020. This year will be a big one for Japan with the Tokyo Olympics coming up in the summer – are any of you planning to attend any events?

We are in our sixth year now and are still enjoying sourcing delicious Japanese snacks to send to you guys who are dotted around the world.

We are sending boxes to many locations throughout the world but mainly to the UK & Ireland which has always been our number one destination due to our billing. The USA and Canada still command a fair few, with mentions going to the Scandinavian countries, Serbia, Australia and even Peru (you know who you are!).

Some of you guys have been with us from the start and new subscribers joining all the time – we’d just like to say thanks!

As always, if you have any feedback about the boxes, please let us know at tastejapanclub@gmail.com – we’re always interested in hearing your opinions on how to improve our boxes and this kind of feedback really helps when sourcing new stuff to include in future editions.

Thank you and please keep enjoying your tasty treats from the Land of the Rising Sun!

開けましたおめでとうございます!Happy New Year from Japan!

Happy New Year all the way from Japan! Have a great New Year period!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Have a great day with family and friends wherever you may be! Enjoy!

Shichi-go-san and the Japanese Crane

Does anyone remember ‘Mameshiba’?

Image result for 豆しば
Their cute catchphrase was ‘ねぇ知っている?’ (ne shittiru?)  or ‘hey, did you know?’….
Maybe you don’t know the link between shichi-go-san,

  • Chitose Ame (千歳飴), literally “thousand year candy”, is given to children on Shichi-Go-San.
  • Chitose Ame is long, thin, red and white candy, which symbolizes healthy growth and longevity.
  • It is given in a bag decorated with a crane and a turtle, which represent long life in Japan.

    Image result for japanese crane

  • The Crane may conceivably be the oldest bird on earth; there is fossil proof that they existed over 60 million years ago.
  • In origami, it is said that a thousand folded paper cranes, one for each year of its life, makes a wish come true.
  • The Japanese Crane, which stands almost five feet tall, with a wing span of more than six feet is possibly the most majestic of all cranes.
  • November 15th is considered the luckiest day of the year, not only according to the traditional Japanese calendar, but also according to yin and yang.