40,000 dolls dressed in Imperial court robes, Japanese chicken soup, & strange barbers of the pleasure quarter

FEBRUARY 2021 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in February… Click on photo or link to read • BEYOND TOKYO: 40,000 dolls dressed in Imperial court robes? Yes, please! Every year, the town of Katsuura puts on a Girls’ Day Doll Festival to end allContinue reading “40,000 dolls dressed in Imperial court robes, Japanese chicken soup, & strange barbers of the pleasure quarter”

The Japanese art of gift giving, millions of twinkling fairy lights, and hilarious Xmas weirdness

DECEMBER 2020 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. I hope that the new year is bringing you all kinds of good changes and extra heapings of hope for you and yours! Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in December, and a preview of what they’re reading right now… SEASONAL SECRET TheContinue reading “The Japanese art of gift giving, millions of twinkling fairy lights, and hilarious Xmas weirdness”

Fresh Acts Of Santa Blasphemy

Once again, Japanese costume purveyors are outdoing themselves with even more WTF ways to impersonate Saint Nick, which (I think you’ll have to agree) is a pretty heroic effort if you dispense with the red suit, the beard, and even the tiniest nod to jolly… Happy holidays, fellow Japan warriors! And don’t forget that… •

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!”

The Best Tokyo Illuminations 2017

It’s time again for the best free holiday light show ever! Here are this year’s Tokyo Illuminations offerings, some of them even better than before: • TOKYO MIDTOWN This year’s “Starlight Garden” extravaganza is super lavish, with different shows for each night of the week. There’s a four-minute blue and white spin around the galaxy,Continue reading “The Best Tokyo Illuminations 2017”

Yomiuriland Illuminations

By the time I took four trains and a bus to the gates of the aging amusement park Yomiuri Land, I had already decided that no illuminations could possibly be worth the schlep. Good thing I was SO WRONG! Hats off to whoever produced this kerbillion-light extravaganza – it totally exceeded expectations. Best ¥1000 entertainment I’ve seen in ages. I’m sure my impression wasContinue reading “Yomiuriland Illuminations”

The Best Tokyo Winter Illuminations 2015

Are you ready once again to have holiday lights spoiled for-e-ver by the insanely great Tokyo Illuminations? This year, the old favorites do not disappoint, but there are a couple of new contenders amid the light-up extravaganzas going on right now in Tokyo! Feast your eyes on… • TOKYO DOME CITY The Tokyo Dome City amusement park puts onContinue reading “The Best Tokyo Winter Illuminations 2015”

2015 Top Ten Crazy Gifts From Japan!

It’s time for Only In Japan’s yearly holiday gift round-up, and it looks like 2015 is holding its own! I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be the only one to bestow one of these awesome gifts from Japan on your nearest and dearest… 10. Warm in winter, cool in summer, give this CREEPY CONSTRUCTION WORKER HEAD TOWEL, so they can enjoy displaying their brains asContinue reading “2015 Top Ten Crazy Gifts From Japan!”

Looks Like Santa’s Been Skipping The Gym This Year

As you know, I take an avid and unnatural interest in Japanese holiday costumes, and this year is no exception. There were the usual acts of Santa blasphemy – including Sexy Santa, Emo Santa and Thong Santa – but this year there was a decided trend toward puffiness, even in the outlying Xmas characters. • “A fascinating mixContinue reading “Looks Like Santa’s Been Skipping The Gym This Year”

Ten Best Stocking Stuffers From Japan!

10. SUSHI SOCKS 9. DIY CROSS STITCH PHONE CASE 8. ANIMAL SKELETONS 7. DEVIL WAX 6. EYELID EXERCISER 5. EMOJI EYE MASK 4. DEODORANT CANDY 3. NINJA SNACK PICKS 2. THE STATUE OF TOO MUCH LIBERTY 1. PIGGY ZAPPER • Still need a gift idea? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense onContinue reading “Ten Best Stocking Stuffers From Japan!”

Top Ten Only In Japan Holiday Gifts 2014!

10. What do you give the person who has everything? They’ve already got a one-shot coffee maker. And a one-shot tea machine. But I bet they don’t have a ONE-SHOT MISO SOUP MAKER! 9. Landing a blow for equal opportunity character pillows, the otaku girls on your list will love sleeping with the SINGING PRINCE DREAM CUSHION! 8.Continue reading “Top Ten Only In Japan Holiday Gifts 2014!”

The Mother Of All Illuminations Theme Parks

When I was a kid, every year in mid-December we’d all pile into the car and drive around to find the house with the most over-the-top Xmas decorations. No surprise, I am a total, total sucker for Xmas lights. But I never saw anything that even came close to the amazing, blazing Illuminations displays that Tokyo neighborhoods started puttingContinue reading “The Mother Of All Illuminations Theme Parks”

Traditional KFC Christmas Dinner, Now With Seaweed!

Lines stretch around the block at every KFC in Tokyo on Christmas Eve, as household minions are dispatched to pick up the traditional holiday fare, but this year they have a choice between regular and seaweed flavor. Pass the biscuits and tofu, ma! • And if you’re looking for some fine escapist reading to curl upContinue reading “Traditional KFC Christmas Dinner, Now With Seaweed!”

Sexy Santa Roundup!

Ladies, just because those gold lamé and leopard print Santa costumes are made for men doesn’t mean you can’t play fast and loose with the jolly old elf this Christmas season! The Sexy Santa is a holiday tradition in Japan, and no party would be complete without a few of these beauties in attendance… •

Top Ten Only In Japan Holiday Gifts 2013

10. I bet the person on your list who has everything doesn’t have a THOUSAND DOLLAR RICE COOKER! 9. Surely you know someone whose garden wouldn’t be complete without a few GNOMES OF VICTORY 8. Give the gift of facial warmth and animal shenanigans with the BEARFACE MUFFLER 7. For that perfect head, the SONICContinue reading “Top Ten Only In Japan Holiday Gifts 2013”

Tokyo Illuminations 2013

Once again, the holiday light displays in Tokyo were totally over the top! Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi led the way, with another lovely abstract creation set to a dreamy soundtrack. This year, the lights leapt free of the ground in glittering arcs, bounding across the ever-changing field of blue. Since couples on romantic “illuminations” datesContinue reading “Tokyo Illuminations 2013”

Pizza of Christmas

Why not take a break from the typical Christmas feast of fried chicken* and order a festive pizza instead? This beauty from Pizza Hut delivers something for everyone on your list! Korean BBQ! Squid! Hot dogs! Bacon! Mayo! And in case you’ve got some die-hard traditionalists, note that Pizza Hut has wisely done a distributionContinue reading “Pizza of Christmas”

All I Want For Christmas Is A Magical Body

And all I need to do to get one is stop by the Shibjuya Loft store and plonk down ¥6000! Magical Socks are apparently included, as an extra bonus. On the other hand, maybe it would be better to display my Christmas spirit by dressing as a Creamy Tonikai! And if I feel like kickingContinue reading “All I Want For Christmas Is A Magical Body”

Various Acts Of Santa Blasphemy

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for creativity and such, but some things are just W.R.O.N.G.! These line-crossers join the other less-than-trad incarnations in my Japanese Santa Hall Of Fame:  Thong Santa, Scary Santa, Emo Santa, and my perennial favorite, Colonel Santa. •

Top Ten Only In Japan Holiday Gifts 2012!

10. For the film maven on your list who camped overnight in line at the movie theatre to see the new Evangelion…ANIME EYES SLEEP MASKS (seen at Village Vanguard) 9. For the octopus ball lover who just can’t get enough of a good thing…JUMBO DIY TAKOYAKI MAKER (seen at Tokyu Hands) 8. For the vampire gourmet…BLOODContinue reading “Top Ten Only In Japan Holiday Gifts 2012!”

Emo Santa

“Deck the halls with boughs of hemlock, fu-fu-fu-fu-fu, fu, fu, fu, fu…” Do you find red to be just too unbearably cheery? Think “Jingle Bells” ought to be remixed as “For Whom the Bell Tolls”? Well, finally there’s a Santa costume for those who would prefer to be The Un-Jolly Old Elf! Now Goths, death metalContinue reading “Emo Santa”

Scary Santa

You know how some kids are afraid to go sit on Santa’s lap, even if they really really really want a pony? Well, I bet all the Santa phobias in the known world can be traced back to an early childhood experience with someone like THIS. What was the package designer thinking, casting a massContinue reading “Scary Santa”

Fake Fur Santa Miniskirts

It’s the time of year when young Japanese women are shopping for their Christmas Eve outfits, and nothing says “romantic holiday” more eloquently than a bright red, fake fur miniskirt. Nobody wants to look like every other Sexy Santa on the block, though, so it pays to consider the sequined, strapless, and lace-up models beforeContinue reading “Fake Fur Santa Miniskirts”

Christmas Hats from Hell

In the true spirit of the season, here are a couple of jolly Christmas hats that say, “Ho, ho, ho, fork over your wallet, buddy!” and “I’m having such a bad hair day that even a pile of chartreuse fake fur with fuzzy pompoms looked better!” • “I don’t know when I’ve been more caught upContinue reading “Christmas Hats from Hell”

Elf/Dwarf Confusion

While we ‘re on the subject of Christmas in November, every year these sinister nodding dwarves appear outside the Meidi-ya supermarket in Hiroo. They’re definitely of the Snow-White-and-the-Seven variety rather than the elvenfolk who slave away helping Santa come across with the Christmas goodies. I learned today in my Japanese class that there’s a wordContinue reading “Elf/Dwarf Confusion”

Colonel Santa

The day after Halloween, I knew it was a bad sign when I heard music in my local supermarket that sounded suspiciously like “The First Noel,” but when I spotted The Colonel duded up in his Santa suit today, Season Creep was confirmed. Without Thanksgiving as a sort of cultural moat between Halloween and Christmas, JapaneseContinue reading “Colonel Santa”

Little Red Riding Colonel

In Akihabara, apparently even Colonel Sanders is into cosplay. This is a somewhat homemade-crafty-looking attempt to draw attention to KFC’s current apple pie promotion. Must check my other favorite life-sized Colonel in Hiroo to see how widespread this little costume is! He always dons a Santa suit in December at the Hiroo branch, but I’veContinue reading “Little Red Riding Colonel”