Japan’s funniest Mundane Halloween costumes 2021!

This year, pandemic-emergency bar, restaurant and movie theater lock-downs and working from home all came together to create the ideal conditions for an excellent crop of new Mundane Halloween costumes! Here are my favorites, and links to much, much more… ••• These are from @dailyportalz Twitter feed—he took these photos at a Mundane Halloween costumeContinue reading “Japan’s funniest Mundane Halloween costumes 2021!”

In Japan, You’re Never Too Young To…

…learn to charge your devices • …eat instant ramen • …get addicted to those coin-gobbling, impossible-to-win claw machines • …learn to drive a train • …drink tea • …start your own maid cafe • …organize your action figures’ weapons neatly on a 1/2 scale gun rack • …summon the forces of darkness •

Japanese Lego Town Kits

If you don’t have someone on your list who would kill for one of these, you need new friends. These Lego kits for building your very own Japanese town populated by Japanese minifigs from all walks of life are hilariously accurate, and they keep delivering the delight, right down to the tiniest details. For example…Continue reading “Japanese Lego Town Kits”

Perfect 2020 Halloween costumes from Japan

If you’re desperate to get out after months of quarantining and can’t resist that invite to a good old-fashioned Halloween party, the ace variety store Don Kihote suggests some costumes that will enforce that social distancing with a vengeance! •

When Nothing But Unnecessarily Large Tanuki Testicles Will Do

You’ve probably seen these adorable tanuki figures outside of your favorite Japanese bar or restaurant, but did you happen to notice how, er, well endowed they are? Yeah. Can’t unsee. Now that you know to look, it’s amazing you never noticed before, right? But nobody celebrated these giant gonads more inventively than Edo period artists.Continue reading “When Nothing But Unnecessarily Large Tanuki Testicles Will Do”

Amazing scenes emerge as you use this notepad

The Japanese design firm Triad just released one of the most Japanese products ever: the Hogwarts Castle notepad. Wait, that’s not Japanese! But…it is. Obviously, people who just need to jot down their grocery lists aren’t going to shell out nearly two hundred bucks. This is about buying an experience, paying for the delight ofContinue reading “Amazing scenes emerge as you use this notepad”

When you wish upon a…monk?

I don’t know about you, but this year has given me a lot more respect for luck than I used to have. In Japan, people are a lot more comfortable with acknowledging that stuff we can’t control—aka Fate—plays a huge part in determining the course of our lives. But, of course, they still try toContinue reading “When you wish upon a…monk?”

Live Your Best Miniature Life for a Year in Tokyo’s Small Worlds Theme Park

If you’ve ever wished you could shrink yourself and live in one of the amazing model worlds Japan is so famous for…now you can! Small Worlds—a vast, animatronic, model-trains-on-steriods theme park that not only reimagines Tokyo, but the Sailor Moon and Evangelion versions of it—offers a one-year “residence permit” that allows a tiny 3D-scanned modelContinue reading “Live Your Best Miniature Life for a Year in Tokyo’s Small Worlds Theme Park”

An Only-In-Japan Problem If There Ever Was One

We’re coming into high matsuri season, when the local Shinto gods are paraded through the neighborhood to remind them of all the people and businesses they’re supposed to be keeping a lucky eye on, but these sake-filled summertime festivals that feature scantily-clad men rocking that shrine through the streets… come with their own peculiar anxiety…Continue reading “An Only-In-Japan Problem If There Ever Was One”

Japanese Emoticons: So Many Feels Beyond Emoji

You know how they keep adding emoji, but there never seems to be one that matches exactly how you’re feeling? Do you ever find yourself wishing that, for example, there was one to represent the happy you feel when the shoes you ordered online turn out to be cute AND comfortable, and a different oneContinue reading “Japanese Emoticons: So Many Feels Beyond Emoji”

Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge

Hello, fellow kimono lovers of all shapes, sizes, colors, & geographic persuasions! Kimono princessing is all about mixing East and West, colors and patterns, styles and eras, and it warmly embraces vintage, second-hand delights as well as new. But there are a growing number of talented designers who have boosted the ancient artform onto modernContinue reading “Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge”

Artist Turns The Best Pet Tweets Into Hilarious Tiny Sculptures

If I had to nominate one artist for Most Sanity-Saving In The Time of Coronavirus, it would absolutely be @meetissai, whose miniature sculptures inspired by pet tweets never fail to make me laugh out loud. Step away from your keyboard if you’re drinking tea, because I now present, for your spench-worthy enjoyment, these. If youContinue reading “Artist Turns The Best Pet Tweets Into Hilarious Tiny Sculptures”

Cutest Curry Rice Molds On The Planet

I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to Japanese curry rice molds, but these two cuties redefine ADORABLE. The only problem is that it comes in both cat and panda, and it’s too hard to decide (would it be greedy to get both? SHUT UP) •

Feast Your Eyes On This: A Shop Full Of Taisho, Meiji & Showa Era Kimonos

Today I was beelining toward a garden, through a neighborhood I never visit, when I was stopped cold by the kimono lovers’ equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave. Before I knew it, I was inside, powerless to resist. Which is a good thing, because otherwise I never would have discovered that this emporium of jazz-age kimonos, obis,Continue reading “Feast Your Eyes On This: A Shop Full Of Taisho, Meiji & Showa Era Kimonos”

It’s Time For The Craziest Car Show In Tokyo

If it’s mid-January, you know where to find me: Tokyo’s biggest eye-candy car event of the year, Tokyo Auto Salon! Unlike the more stuffy Tokyo Auto Show (where big makers debut their new offerings and concept cars), Tokyo Auto Salon is for people who definitely don’t want something off the rack. From samurai rides toContinue reading “It’s Time For The Craziest Car Show In Tokyo”

At The Mori Museum: 3D-Printed Sushi & Other Glimpses Of The Future

The Mori Museum’s current exhibit, Future and the Arts: AI, Robotics, Cities, Life – How Humanity Will Live Tomorrow pushes all my favorite buttons: food, fashion & WTF! It’s a satisfyingly huge show, with installations ranging from utopian plans that harness cutting-edge tech, to darker commentary on how we’ll use technology to evolve in a worldContinue reading “At The Mori Museum: 3D-Printed Sushi & Other Glimpses Of The Future”

Insanely Detailed Sculptures Made From Japanese Snack Packages

From the nation of insane Japanese modelmakers, this. The artist known as “Karabako Shokunin Harukiru” (That’s “Empty Box Craftsman Harukiru” to you), snips and folds and glues the unlikely medium of Japanese snack food boxes into unbelievably intricate sculptures, and right now there’s a killer exhibit of his work at the Ikebukuro PARCO museum. AndContinue reading “Insanely Detailed Sculptures Made From Japanese Snack Packages”

The Most Only-In-Japan Halloween Costumes Ever

Tired of being the same old sexy skunk or slightly NSFW goose in a tutu for Halloween? Keep your fellow costume partiers guessing with these only-in-Japan puzzlers! I found these at the always-entertaining Don Kihote megastore in Shibuya. And if you still haven’t hit on your dream costume, you can always check out what theContinue reading “The Most Only-In-Japan Halloween Costumes Ever”

Tokyo Cake Show: So Gorgeous, So Japanese

How can you tell a professional baking conference is in Tokyo? Because among the fantasy wedding cakes, there’s a Shinto shrine wedding, complete with marzipan bride and groom. And then there was the “marzipan cake” category. But the Japanese themes didn’t stop with the cakes – check out these king-sized decorations made of chocolate. AndContinue reading “Tokyo Cake Show: So Gorgeous, So Japanese”

The Cat Shaming Vending Machine

How did you guess that the moment I caught a glimpse of this vending machine filled with cat shaming gachagacha, all my laundry coins would be history? There was only one problem… I got the first four before running out of coins, but how could I not come back to try for the mystery cat?Continue reading “The Cat Shaming Vending Machine”

Japanese Gift Boxes of Overwhelming Cuteness

Gifting in Japan requires that the wrapping be nearly as precious as what’s inside, but I can never remember how to tie a traditional silk furoshiki without the book that reminds me how to fold and tuck the corners so it doesn’t turn out looking like I’m offering someone a wad of laundry. But evenContinue reading “Japanese Gift Boxes of Overwhelming Cuteness”

Move Over, Monkeys! See-no Evil, Hear-no-Evil, Speak-no-Evil Cats Are Here

Sticking to the straight and narrow has never been cuter, thanks to these adorable kittycat gacha-gacha toys, and the vending machine that dispenses them on the Yanaka Ginza shopping street. But most of all… This series may be sold out by the time you’re next in Tokyo, but there will be plenty more to takeContinue reading “Move Over, Monkeys! See-no Evil, Hear-no-Evil, Speak-no-Evil Cats Are Here”

Crispy Intestine Snacks

Despite the fact that this new snack is called “Addictive Intestines,” I’m afraid you won’t find me bingeing a bucket ‘o crispy innards while Netflixing my way through a Saturday night, even though they boast not just one, but two kinds of squicky bits. They do make it easy to pick through the mix forContinue reading “Crispy Intestine Snacks”

Tokyo International Quilt Festival 2019 PART TWO: Just Beautiful

It was so hard to choose only a few quilts to feature from the embarrassment of riches at this year’s Tokyo International Quilt Festival, but here are some of the overall stunners, and a couple that had details to die for. • You can see why this piece won the 2018 Machine Quilting Award… •Continue reading “Tokyo International Quilt Festival 2019 PART TWO: Just Beautiful”

Tokyo International Quilt Festival 2019 PART ONE: Eyepopping Japanese Motif Quilts

I didn’t think it was possible to be more blown away than I was in 2016, by the sheer artistry and sewing chops I ogled at the Tokyo International Quilt Festival, but yesterday it happened again. In fact, there are so many quilts I want to show you, I’m going to break this into twoContinue reading “Tokyo International Quilt Festival 2019 PART ONE: Eyepopping Japanese Motif Quilts”

And This Year’s Winners In The Tournament Of Weird Japanese Appliances Are…

In for the gold by a mile: the Electric Sweet Potato Roaster In the steamy competition for Most Japanese Appliance Ever, I think you’ll have to agree that the electric sweet potato roaster owns the podium. Not only is it good for making one thing (and one thing only), that thing is the most Japanese winterContinue reading “And This Year’s Winners In The Tournament Of Weird Japanese Appliances Are…”

Top Ten Crazy Holiday Gifts From Japan 2018

These days, everyone wants “experiences,” not “stuff,” so how about digging into your Santa sack for presents that deliver #youllneverguesswhatwedids that could only come from (where else?)…Japan! This year, give the gift of… 1 …making your own Panda Face sushi and finding out who’s the fastest panda-grabber in the land Level up by slipping in aContinue reading “Top Ten Crazy Holiday Gifts From Japan 2018”

Department Of Seasonal Pet Humiliation: This Year’s Santa Cat Costume

Sporting all the premium quality you’d expect from a ¥400 vending machine, this Santa Claws capelet just might be the perfect gift for someone who dreams of #catsofinstagram glory (and is willing to risk the kind of revenge that will certainly be extracted after uploading Growler’s humiliation for all the world to see). •

Cat Feet Chair Socks!

I know that you’ll be super envious to hear that my kitchen chairs are now prancing around on little cat feet! Gone are the days when the awful screeching sound of chair on floor could drive guests away faster than a pot of soup generously endowed with all four kinds of cow stomach. These “Tiger Feet”Continue reading “Cat Feet Chair Socks!”

The Shiba Inu Vending Machine

Finally! A series of shiba inu gachagacha toys made by an artist who understands that these devilish dogs are not just unbearably adorable, they come packed with a level of eccentric that makes eel-flavored ice cream look like vanilla. This series may be sold out by the time you’re next in Tokyo, but there willContinue reading “The Shiba Inu Vending Machine”

More Hilarious Haiku About The Small Mysteries Of Modern Life

I know you’ve just been WAITING for more amusing observations and subtly ironic drawings about modern life from Yamada Zenjido (the artist who goes by y_haiku), so for those of you who (like me) are not exactly goddess-like at reading handwritten Japanese, here are a few choice ones in translation! May it perk up yourContinue reading “More Hilarious Haiku About The Small Mysteries Of Modern Life”

Top Ten Crazy Holiday Gifts from Japan 2017!

It’s that time of year, when everyone who’s easy to buy presents for already has a big satisfying check mark next to their name, but the ones who don’t are driving me crazy, because I just can’t think of anything that will surprise and/or delight them. Or at least make them scream when they openContinue reading “Top Ten Crazy Holiday Gifts from Japan 2017!”

Sweet Selfies On A Stick

There’s a little shop near Sendagi Station called Amezaiku-ya where you can order the ultimate sweet selfie! Most often commissioned for wedding cake toppers, all the resident artists need is a photo and a little time to craft a mini-you out of sugar. This kind of candy sculpting is a very old Japanese art, andContinue reading “Sweet Selfies On A Stick”

Obsession, Thy Name Is This Exhibit

Okay, I really want to hate the Mitsui Memorial Museum (because see below) but they keep putting on shows like this. The idea behind “Amazing Craftsmanship!” is to pair mad Meiji-era woodwork, metalcraft and even (who knew?) embroidery with contemporary artists whose mindbending skillz rival those of the obsessed artists past. But don’t take myContinue reading “Obsession, Thy Name Is This Exhibit”

Square Fruit Balloons

In the I-totally-don’t-need-this-but-am-strangely-compelled-to-buy-it-anyway category, these square fruit balloons are a quirky modern take on kami fusen, a cheap, Meiji-era toy. Of course, in true ultra-Japanese style, they’re made of paper! If you’ve become remotely infected with the burning desire to buy some square fruit balloons  for yourself, they’re sold at the Cibone store in the (otherwiseContinue reading “Square Fruit Balloons”

The Host Club Vending Machine

When I first saw this gachapon machine filled with little plastic champagne towers, I thought WAT? Who needs a set of miniature, light-up, host club furniture? I mean, even though it’s pretty happenin’ how they change color and all… …I wasn’t instantly throwing all my money at the coin changer. Until… This series may beContinue reading “The Host Club Vending Machine”

The Hypnotic Tail-Wagging Cat Clock

Walking down the street in Ome, I discovered something that totally flipped my three-hour trip to see a garden filled with no blooming azaleas into the win column: the tail-wagging cat clock! BEHOLD ITS MESMERIZING POWER: Can’t. Stop. Watching. (Except to scurry around online like a crazed, tail-wagging weasel to figure out who makes these and where to buyContinue reading “The Hypnotic Tail-Wagging Cat Clock”

Tamao Shigemune: Modern Kimonos That’ll Knock Your Socks Off

So you think you can’t rock a kimono because you’re not Japanese? Think again! Tamao Shigemune designs modern versions of traditional Japanese women’s wear with a distinctly Parisian twist, and guess what? You can see them (and try her new summer collection on!) right now in Tokyo, through Sunday March 26th. Tamao Shigemune will be showing her collection at thatContinue reading “Tamao Shigemune: Modern Kimonos That’ll Knock Your Socks Off”

The Drunken Pet Vending Machine

So, today I came home and found THIS. I don’t know what kind of shenanigans YOUR gacha-gacha toys get up to when they’re alone in the house, but… This series may be sold out by the time you’re next in Tokyo, but there will be plenty more to take its place! If you’d like to discover the latest,Continue reading “The Drunken Pet Vending Machine”

Top Ten Crazy Holiday Gifts From Japan 2016

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when you comb your list of friends & family for those who truly deserve that rare and awe-inspiring gift from Japan… 10. If there’s nobody on your list who needs a MANEATING VAMPIRE PURSE, you need to make new friends. 9. CUTEST WASHCLOTHS OF ALL TIME! Who could fail to smile after ripping the wrappingContinue reading “Top Ten Crazy Holiday Gifts From Japan 2016”

The Peeing Statue Vending Machine

It’s always hard to say goodbye to my favorite costumed peeing boy statue when I leave Tokyo, but now I don’t have to! Thanks to the awesome vending machine I discovered at Yodobashi Camera, I can take him home with me and develop a whole new level of procrastination skillz, crafting little costumes for him… But,Continue reading “The Peeing Statue Vending Machine”

Potatosaurus Rex

A few days ago I was climbing the escalators in the hated Skytree* in search of the Sumidagawa Aquarium, and was stopped in my tracks by this. An exhibition of fake food art! Best. Idea. Ever. All the art in this exhibit was made by the veteran food model experts at the Iwasaki Bei company. Apparently, they have a contest each year,Continue reading “Potatosaurus Rex”

It Must Be Fake Peach Flavor Season Again

The vending machines are suddenly stuffed with pink drinks. Of course, there hasn’t been a genuine fuzzy-skinned stone fruit within a thousand kilometers of these so-called “peach” libations, but that doesn’t stop them from making the point that even drinks flavored with highly unnatural chemicals must only appear when they’re “in season” in Japan. •