Showing posts from January, 2010

Love for Tengu

Tengu is the name of a class of supernatural creatures (天狗) found in Japanese folk lore.

More importantly, Tengu is also the name of an organic and natural food mail order company here in Japan. The catalogs and website are all in English (and Japanese too - if you prefer) and they ship all over Japan.

I recently ordered from them (for the 2nd time) and everything was delivered today in good time and in perfect condition (they accept COD too which is good for those customers without Japanese credit cards).

One of their products I have to rave about is the RAW chocolate!!

It is made by Loving Earth - an Australian company which prides itself on bringing natural, beautiful (and tasty) things to the people.

Their raw chocolate (dark) contains only Organic raw cacao butter, Organic raw cacao powder, Organic agave syrup (dark), Vanilla beans and Himalayan crystal salt.

It is Diviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine!

Thanks Tengu and Loving Earth


This is a cool idea! I just signed up and posted a few things on their site (

The idea is, that if you live in Japan and find some really cool products that you think people outside Japan might like...

1. take a picture of the item
2. post the picture on the site
3. if someone wants to buy it, you get paid for it

It is kind of a no-risk way to sell stuff online.

Winter sunshine

Despite the icky feeling in my tummy, I set about doing several loads of washing this morning because - look at this lovely weather (view from my balcony)!

Admittedly, it is about 2 degrees outside, so I am not sure how fast the washing will dry, but that sunshine and that blue sky sure made me feel a few percent better!

A good cure...

For an upset tummy in Japan, lots of people recommend eating ぞうすい (zousui) or お粥 (okayu) because they are so soft and easy to digest.

There is a strange stomach bug making the rounds at the kindergarten where I work, and I seem to have picked up a strain of it... ewww...

I am off work today and for breakfast I ate this;

It is zousui made by Nagatanien, a Japanese company that makes lots of rice products, and specialises in お茶漬け (ochazuke).

It is full of yummy things like rice, ginger, egg and herbs.

The most interesting thing about this product is that it is marketed towards 働く女性のために開発した (`working women`) and with only 93 calories (and costing only 160yen), I am sure that lots of women really do buy it!

I checked the Nagatanien website and found that they make some other products for `working women too`...

Hot Chai tea (with ginger)

Hot Lemon tea (with ginger)

Hot Cocoa (with ginger)

Ginger throat candy

This group of products is called the 冷え知らずさんの生姜シリーズ (roughly translated to `Cold/chill preve…

Too Stupid

I certainly don`t hate Americans, or America, and I would never say that people from one country are necessarily more stupid than another, but ...

Is this not the most hilarious thing you have ever seen?

hehehee ;)

10 things that make me smile Sunday

I cannot believe that it has already been a week since I wrote `10 things that make me smile Sunday` last Sunday!

I have been so busy this week, it should be easy to think of 10 things that made me smile...

* having a whole day off with Yoshi last Wednesday. A real date day!
* Japanese winter delicacies like crab
* catching up with an old friend for lunch, cake, coffee and smoothies (all in one afternoon!!!)
* making lasagna for the first time in Japan (and it being enjoyed by both eaters!)
* Japanese `bath-milk` leaving me feeling suuuuper soft
* realising that I know my way around Osaka much better than some of my Japanese friends
* banana and soy-milk smoothies
* crazy Hollywood `celebrities` who think they look better after 10 separate cosmetic surgeries in one day - yes I am talking about you Heidi Montag (image from US weekly)
- can you believe she is only 23 years old? She looks closer to 40 in this picture - ewwwww.

* mochitsuki (mochi pounding) with my little kindergarteners
* less than…

My Sunday

I did 2 things today...

1. I solved a mystery! Well that makes it sound much more exciting than it really was. Sometimes (I thought randomly), the power turns itself off in my apartment and I have to reset it using the main breaker (above my front door).

Today I realised what makes it turn off!! I had 5 things plugged into the wall and turned on at the same time (my computer, my little heater, the range/microwave and the kettle. The fridge is always plugged in and turned on, so that is #5).

I will be far more careful in the future, and ensure that a maximum of 4 things are plugged in and turned on at any one time.

2. I met an old friend. Eiko-chan (one of my students from the Eikaiwa) and I had lunch, and cake, and coffee and smoothies today! I hadn`t seen her since March last year (almost a year ago), and we had soooo much catching up to do.

We had lunch at Factory Cafe in Chayamachi.

I had the `hamburg plate lunch` for 980yen...

After that we had smoothies and cake at Tooth Tooth Colors (n…

Macbook -> Bookbook

This is really cool. It kind of makes me wish that I had a Macbook Pro (instead of the increasingly ancient Powerbook G4) just so I could buy one of these cool cases!

Check out the `twelvesouth` website below if you are interested.

Mochitsuki (もちつき)

Yesterday at school we did an activity known as もちつき (mochitsuki= mochi pounding).A big mortar (usu) was placed out the front of the school and all the kids had a turn pounding the rice mochi into a thick paste using a big wooden mallet (kine).

At least two people (one to pound the rice, and another to apply water to the paste) must keep a constant rhythm to ensure that the mochi doesn`t dry out and become inedible.

I have seen this done before (by professionals) and the speed they can reach is quite amazing... check out this video from youtube...

At school, the gym teacher started with the mallet, and the office manager was wetting the mochi paste, it wasn`t quite so fast, but it looked pretty cool (you have to be very alert to do this kind of activity so that you don`t get your fingers pounded into the mochi paste!!)

After the gym teacher had softened the glutinous rice, the kids all had a turn (with a smaller mallet) pounding the rice. It was so cute, some of them couldn`t even lift th…

Too much?

So there was a huge car show on in Tokyo (Tokyo Auto Salon) over the weekend with over 300 cars on display. Check out these 2 cars!

Customized Mercedes-Benz SL600s, Luxury Crystal Benz, studded with 300,000 Swarovski crystal glass!! Quite possibly an `only in Japan` thing.

- image from

10 things that make me smile Sunday

10 things - here goes...

* Starbucks new houjicha tea latte (ほうじ茶ティーラテ).
* getting my little spare room ready for my sister... she`s not coming till mid-February, but that IS only a few weeks away!
* seeing that Japan has already gone into Valentine`s Day mode. I am not a big fan of Valentine`s day but it is very amusing watching all the girls browsing the `make-your-own-chocolate` kits a month before the BIG day.
* UNIQLO fleece (now I have room pants and a fleecy jacket combo!)
* clear, blue-skied, rainless days
* sliced fresh apples covered in yogurt (currently loving the probiotic `Bulgaria` yogurt made by Meiji)
* hugs
* long walks (I walked all the way home from Yoshi`s work this morning - googlemaps told me it was 7.1 kilometres!!)
* getting back into Wii Fit after a veeeeery long absence
* making plans to see old friends :)

- image from mercedesrules

Starbucks ほうじ茶ティーラテ

Starbucks in Japan have recently released some new tea lattes. Starbucks is always releasing new drinks but I never want to try any of them because I hate sweet drinks and they are always named something sickly sweet like `Caramel Eclair Latte` or `Gingerbread Latte`.

One of my favorite drinks is the slightly bitter Matcha Tea Latte. I have tried this one in other countries and didn`t like it - it was very sweet with lots of added sugar, but in Japan the taste is a bit closer to authentic Japanese Matcha - more bitter!

Today I tried the Houjicha Latte (ほうじ茶ティーラテ) which is made with a tea bag (filled with roasted green tea leaves) and hot steamed milk. The flavor of the houjicha was much softer than matcha, but it was really good.

I have never tried Japanese tea with milk before (most people drink it straight), but this was surprisingly good.

I have read some comments of people who drink houjicha lattes with soy milk instead of regular milk as they say it enhances the flavor. I do LOVE soy…

Who ♥`s Kitty chan?

Yes I am a fully grown woman with a good old university education ... but that sure doesn`t make me immune to the odd dose of kawaiiiiii :)

I caved in and bought one of these adorable ハローキティ Hello Kitty bottles of water this evening. It wasn`t cheap either (almost 400yen), but it made me smile.

So there!

Will 2010 be a great year?

Well, 2010 may just be the most fun year ever!
I have been reading and fallen in love with my 2010 horoscope from Mystic Medusa (courtesy of Galadarling)...Style: Always the Alpha-Girl, you’re about to reinvent yourself yet again. An innovative new era starts in June. For the first time in 80 years, rad planet Uranus will be in Aries. Let your look lead the way via a make-over. Scheme for a mid-year relaunch: Honed bod from mega-fitness, scarlet, diamonds, tan, clean, eco, sporty & a sci-fi style scent concocted with ground-breaking technology. Nothing naff, chintzy nor old-school and the same with accessories.Happiness: June to September sees you blissing out with Jupiter, the luckiest planet of all. Anticipate peak experiences as you assert yourself more stylishly. You’re soul-mining until March 11, as Mars Retrograde hypes spiritual life. Yoga, retreats & spa hols do brilliant work. Your professional life needs to be approached as a non-stop transformational junket. You’re i…

Thank you 20-year-olds!

Today is a national holiday! Everyone gets a day off to celebrate the coming-of-age of all the youths in Japan.

The name of this great holiday is 成人の日,(Seijin no Hi) and it is held annually on the second monday of the first month of the year (this year, January 11th). The day is meant to inspire and encourage all people turning 20 this year, and remind them that they have become adults (and can now buy and drink alcohol, buy and smoke tobacco, and vote in local elections).

For these 19 and 20-year-olds, today is much more than a holiday; festivities include 成人式, seijin-shiki (coming of age festivals), and parties with families and friends.

If you are interested in kimonos and other traditional japanese fashion, then today would be a good idea to head in to the city, to the local city office, or to a shrine or temple (and don`t forget your camera); Seijin no Hi is a chance for young females to dress up in some of the most decorative and beautiful kimonos called `Furisode`.

Because these tr…

Has it been a year already?

Happyblogiversary ~ !

I first started this blog in January 2009!

I can`t believe it has been a year already, but I am having so much fun writing about my adventures in Japan-land, and have no plans to stop!

Thanks to everyone who has read / commented on my blog posts and I hope that you`ll keep coming back and reading every now and then.


From Fran ♥

10 things that make me smile Sunday

ooh, sorry I haven`t done this for almost a month!

(picture courtesy of some awfully hot kiwi boys doing the haka!!!)

Anyway, let`s get started...

* Alicia Keys and Jay-Z on their new track `Empire State of mind` - love the video too :)

* 2 weeks with my friends and family back in NZ
* NZ wine
* NZ sunshine
* mum`s home-cooked food
* deciding to sign up for Japanese school full time from April!
* only 2 and a half months left at the kindergarten
* hot water bottles (ゆたんぽ)
* watching `The Biggest Loser` - don`t know why but it makes me cry every time
* new stationery and a new diary for 2010

How many nengajo did you get?

So I spent New Years at Yoshi`s mum`s house and was witness to this huuuuuge stack of nengajo being delivered.

** for those who are reading this blog outside of Japan --> a nengajo (年賀状 ) is a Japanese New Year card which is similar to a western Christmas card (although is a simple postcard style). People can buy preprinted cards, or make/design their own (using stamps, photos, stickers, even specially designed computer software programmes). In Japan, starting from mid-December, everybody starts sending nengajo to friends, relatives and colleagues. According to tradition, nengajo should be delivered on January 1st, and if the postcards are marked with the word nengajo and if they are posted on time (usually before December 25th), Japan Post guarantees the delivery on time. Since almost every Japanese sends tens of these nengajo, the Post hires part-time workers to deliver all of them on the 1st day of the New Year.

We counted them of course, and on January 1st, she received over 200 …

Invisible Man

Ewwwwwww it was so hard to get up and go to work today. Don`t know why, but my school announced that it would open on Monday January 4th (I think that most schools start on the 5th at the earliest), so there were very few holiday days after New Years.

Anyway, I recently found some really amazing pictures. I am not a huge fan of art and don`t know much about arty things, but I think this is so creative.

His name is Liu Bolin (he comes from China) and these are some of his creative projects ... He is also known as the `Invisible Man`.

It was pretty hard to find him in the last picture aye?

If you want to find out more about him you can check this website (to see lots of pics)