Category Archives: SOCIETY

Sakura-time at Starbucks 2017

As every year Starbucks Japan released their sakura products just two weeks ago. This year they have the Sakura Blossom Cream Frappuccino and the Sakura Blossom Cream Latte. For sure I tried them and they tasted really nice. As their name says they are creamy, topped with a maple sauce-flavoured whipped cream, pink-colored chocolate flakes and small pink rice cracker balls. A pretty nice combination in my opinion. I personally like the Sakura Blossom Cream Latte better than the Frappuccino.The prices rank from ¥ 530 to ¥ 650 for the Frappuccino and ¥ 430 to ¥ 550 for the Latte. But if you want to try them hurry up. The sakura products are limited until March 14th. Furthermore they also have a Sakura Chiffon Cake which costs ¥ 380. However, for me, the taste was not so special. It is topped with a salty cherry blossom what felt a bit strange while eating. Japan really has interesting food combinations, doesn’t it?Who wants to have one of the sakura goods like tumblers, cups, glasses and more should be quickly. Many things of the first line “Harmony Collection” are already sold out. On March 1st the second line “Purity” will be released. How about you? Did you try any of the Starbucks Sakura products? …continue reading


How to Make Matcha Pancakes

Source: Gaijin Pot

For those of you not familiar with “Pancake Day”, also known as Shrove Tuesday, it’s celebrated every year in Ireland (and other majority Christian countries) just before the beginning of Lent – a religious observance of prayer and fasting in the weeks before Easter. Nowadays, rather than fasting, most people give up something such as chocolate or alcohol for the 40-day period as a means of spiritual reflection.

Traditionally, people made pancakes to use up leftover ingredients before the beginning of fasting. I fondly remember Pancake Day from my childhood. My four sisters and I would challenge each other to a pancake eating competition to see who could eat the most. Back then, Irish pancakes were quite thin and served with simple flavorings like lemon, sugar and butter.

Today, I enjoy experimenting with different style pancakes and toppings at home. Last year, I prepared a selection of toppings for my family to choose from and we started with the savory, working our way towards the sweet. It was great fun and I’m going to do the same this year, but this time bringing a bit of Japan to the table in the form of matcha!

If you’re celebrating Shrove Tuesday in Japan, these fluffy “fuwa fuwa” matcha pancakes are easy to make and even easier to eat. Happy Pancake Day everyone!

Fuwa-fuwa Matcha Pancakes


  • 250ml buttermilk (バターミルク( bataamiruku))
  • 1 egg (卵( tamago))
  • 180g flour (フラワ( furaua))
  • 1 tablespoon matcha (green tea powder) (抹茶( matcha))
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (ベーキングパウダー( be-kinpauda-))
  • 1 teaspoon bread soda (パンのソーダ( pan no soda))
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (植物油( shokubutsuabura))



  • bacon (ベーコン( be-kon)), smoked salmon (スモークサーモン( sumoku sa-mon)) , tomato (トマト( tomato)), mushroom (キノコ( kinoko)), selection of cheese (cream cheese, goats cheese etc) (チーズ( chi-zu))


  • figs (イチジク( ichijuku)), mixed berries (ミックスベリー( mikusu berizu)), …continue reading

Savvy Spotlight: Tamao Sako Of The British Pudding

Cook, teacher and author, Tamao Sako began her journey into entrepreneurship quite by chance. Enamored with the UK’s sweets — and later savory dishes, too — thanks to 10 years spent in England, she returned to Japan with a passion to share the delights of cream teas, sticky puddings and fruit pies.

Since setting up her cookery school The British Pudding in Osaka in 2013, she has written five books, held cooking classes at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi and Isetan Shinjuku, and led demonstrations and tastings across the country. As an adviser of Hankyu’s British Fair, which is held in the department store every fall, Sako travels regularly to the UK, where she searches far and wide to find the best local, traditionally-made products and the stories behind the people who make them.

Tamao Sako

Sako was also an advisor on NHK morning drama Massan, which aired from September 2014 to March 2015. Based on the real story of Masataka Taketsuru who studied in Scotland in 1918 and returned to Japan with his Scottish wife to set up a whiskey distillery, the popular program brought challenges as the Scottish food on set had to look authentic. From lamb stew to Christmas pudding, Sako worked with the crew to ensure that what they filmed was not only in keeping with Scottish dishes from that time, but that the actors enjoyed what they ate on camera.

In 2016, Sako’s activities stepped up a gear with her nomination to receive two prestigious awards. In May, she was awarded first prize for her book British Home Cooking and third prize for her book British Cake Stories at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. In November, she received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan at the British Business Awards, held in …continue reading


What’s the Deal with Mascots in Japan?

Source: Gaijin Pot

In all my years living in and writing about Japan, there have been several occasions when I’ve looked at something, smiled and said to myself: “Ah, only in Japan!” For visitors here, or those new to the country and its culture, one experience sure to provoke such a reaction is your first encounter with a Japanese mascot character.

At times adorable, at other times terrifying, these larger than life characters have ingratiated themselves into almost every facet of Japanese public life. Sports teams have them, companies have them, municipal and prefectural governments have them. Even prisons have them.

Dolphin hangover cure

My first encounter with a mascot character was in early 2007, when I was living in Narashino City, Chiba Prefecture. After an all-night izakaya and karaoke splurge in nearby Tsudanuma, I’d taken the first train home. A couple of hours sleep later, hungry and hungover, I headed to the local shopping arcade to get something for breakfast, and hopefully something to ease the pain of my hangover.

As I rounded the corner, there was some kind of event going on. It turns out it was the opening of a new opticians shop next to the convenience store. The shop’s mascot, a huge dolphin-like creature with over-sized sunglasses, waddled up to me, hugged me and then patted me on the head.

I stood there, stunned, and certainly sobered.

Having read about the dangers of alcohol induced hallucinations; I didn’t drink for a few months after that! In fact, sometimes when I look at these mascots, I wonder if the creators were drunk, high, or a combination thereof when they designed them.

In fact, sometimes when I look at these mascots, I wonder if the creators were drunk, high, or a combination thereof when they designed them.

Mascot mishaps

Take as an example, the adorable Sora-yan, the mascot of Osaka …continue reading


Birthday cake

February is the month of mid- wintery, reliably cold weather and unmotivational blues. All anyone wants to do is huddle down and stay inside. Especially if there is a kotatsu, the draw of the warm cozy blanket is so luring, no one leaves home without good reason. The promises riding on the bitter cold winds that spring will soon start showing its lovely face are still just whispers between the howls through the empty branches of the trees. But February is also something else for me. February is my birth month.This means cake. Yeah yeah, I know. Shouldn’t I be done with cake after Christmas in Japan? It was only a mere month and a half before. But those February blues, that cold melancholy grips me every year. And what better way to pull up from the dreary mundane of winter than by stuffing a sweet delicious and filling pile of cake in my mouth. But this is Japan, the land of light and airy fluff. Heck, Christmas cake is often mostly just whipped cream. Now don’t get me wrong, cakes sold in Japanese cake shops are divine. But let us be honest, most of the time they aren’t actually selling cake. The shelves are in fact stocked with some form of tort , or a pile of chestnut paste or a pudding even. And when it is cake. with an icing and layers, perhaps topped with glazed fruit so they will hold their perfect flawless shape and color, the texture can be so light it is almost like licking snow. Delicious fruit covered snow.But I don’t want snow. It is cold and freezing to the bone outside. The wind is banging on my windows, rattling my walls, yelling at me. It is trying to tell me to brace myself …continue reading