Special KIT KAT Chocolate only found in Japan

Kit Kat’s were introduced to Japan in 1973 when Rowntree's made an agreement with Fujiya. In 2014, they were the top-selling confection in the country. The Kit Kat brand took the number one sales position from Meiji chocolate in 2012, though Meiji remains the leading confection company in Japan overall.

In 2004, the green tea flavor was introduced. Since then, the product has been sold in more than 300 seasonal and regional flavors.  We currently have a small selection of  Kit Kat flavors which can usually only be found in Japan:

Green Tea Kit Kat
Hojicha (Roasted Green Tea) Kit Kat
Sakura Sake Kit Kat
Sakura Roasted Soy Kit Kat
Ume Plum Wine Kit Kat
Wasabi Kit Kat

We have very few for a limited time so come to the store if you want to discover them.

The difference between Sake, Shochu, and other Japanese Spirits


Shochu is a distilled liquor and very popular in Japan. In fact, despite sake’s popularity outside of Japan, in Japan shochu is the more consumed beverage.

There are many essential differences between shochu and sake. Shochu is distilled; sake is fermented. Sake is made from rice; shochu can be made from sweet potato (imo), barley (mugi), rice (kome) and other ingredients.

Shochu is typically stronger (on average, 25-30% alcohol vs. 15-18% alcohol for sake)

They taste nothing alike, and are best enjoyed in different ways

Aside from the fact that they’re both great beverages, their only major similarity is that you should try them both when visiting Japan!

While Shochu is occasionally referred to as “Japanese vodka,” not only is this misleading, it also doesn’t do Shochu justice. The taste of Shochu is closer to “Brazillian Cachaça”.

Some examples of Shochu: 

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We typically have shochu on the rocks. Or with grapefruit  juice or lemon juice or Oolong tea., these can be bough in typical “Izakaya” style restaurants or in bars and also at convenient stores. In convenience stores they are called “Chuhai”.

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The taste between Shochu and Sake are very different. Shochu has a much stronger taste whereas Sake has a lighter taste. We usually choose to drink on or the other with a meal and not mix them.

As with making any great beverage, making great sake starts with sourcing the finest ingredients.   Sake is made essentially from water and rice, with the help of important catalysts yeast and koji spores.  Koji spores are dusted onto some of the rice in order to convert rice starches into sugar, which is consumed by yeast to create alcohol.

Good rice must be used and very clean river water. The soaking process is very important as well. A carefully measured amount of rice is washed and soaked in preparation for its steaming.  While large breweries in Japan would normally (that is for all but the finest brews) measure, wash and soak rice for brewing by various machine processes. The best traditional way is by rice washing bags and tubs to achieve the perfect pre-steaming consistency, which is judged by texture of the soaked rice using the hands and experience of the brew-master rather than a simple calculation of time.

After the washed and soaked rice is at the perfect condition for steaming, the rice is hand-loaded into a rice steamer, which was manufactured in Japan especially for the production of small- batch sake rice for the highest quality sakes (large breweries use mechanized continuous steaming systems).  Unlike rice for the dinner table, which is typically boiled in hot water either in a pot or automatic rice maker, sake rice is prepared by steaming, which allows the rice to maintain a firm outer texture and soft center, thereby helping the brewing process.

Next is the Rice cooling process, when rice is taken out of the steamer it is very hot and must be cooled prior to being used in further stages of production. Using traditional methods of rice tossing and kneading to adjust the temperature, which also allows the brew-master to assess in detail the texture of the steamed rice and choose how to best use it within the brews.

Koji Making: heart of a sake brewery is its “koji muro”, the cedar-lined room in which koji is made, which has a delightful aroma in addition to having natural anti-bacterial resins which help to create a clean environment conducive to efficient koji production.

Koji making is a 48-hour process which involves the inoculation of rice with koji spores, careful kneading and control of temperature and humidity, resulting in very sweet and white koji, ready for becoming about 20-35% of the rice used in the production of sake depending on recipe.

The operating temperature in the koji muro is typically 30-32 degrees Celsius, which makes for a challenging work environment for the brewery staff.

Once the first batch of koji is ready, it is time to start mixing it into chilled spring water and yeast in a fermentation tank, then adding steamed rice.  The tank is filled gradually, in three stages over a 4-day period.  This allows the yeast to retain its strength to keep consuming sugar and producing alcohol throughout the fermentation period, which typically continues for 21 days.  Temperature within the fermentation tanks is carefully controlled using cooling jackets, as the sake’s pleasant tastes are enhanced by not allowing the yeast to act at its ideal productive temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, rather at a lower temperature ranging from 8-18 degrees depending on the stage of fermentation.   The brew, called “moromi”, is carefully mixed by hand on a daily basis to ensure consistent fermentation.  Each day tests are performed to check specific gravity, acidity and alcohol content.

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Pressing And Racking: Once the moromi reaches completion as determined by the brewmaster, it is drained by gravity into cloth bags which are placed in the traditional “Fune” press which works with gravity and hand-applied mechanical pressure (in a large commercial brewery the moromi is machine-pumped into a large accordion like hydraulic press called a “Yabuta”).  The first juice of sake starts emerging from a spout at one end of the press under the natural weight of the filled bags, resulting in a light-and-fruity first-pressed sake known “arabashiri”.

Gathering around the press and tasting the arabashiri is a reward to the brewery staff who have worked very hard to create the batch.  It is also perhaps a treat to be savoured by those who visit our brewery on pressing days.

Bottling: Once pressed and racked the sake may either be bottled immediately or temporarily tank-stored at close to 0 degrees Celsius. The dark brown color of glass is used to best protect the sake from ultraviolet rays, which may damage the sake’s flavor and appearance.

We usually don’t mix sake with juice. There are different types, some are sweet, some are floral, but for most people that love sake we ask for “Karakuchi” which is a dry sake. Similar to the way people prefer sweet white wine or dry white wine.

For dinner with friends it is our custom to start with “Nama Beer” which is tap beer. And when the food arrives we order sake or shochu, depending on the meal.

Some people like to have “hot sake” in winter but it is not considered very good. Usually a very cheap sake is used and it is generally frowned upon.  It’s not really bad manners but we wouldn't recommend ordering it.  Hot tea is a better way to warm up.

We also have sake at the temple for new years with the monks. In many temples you will find these. Some are small and some are very large.

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Our current selection of sake and shochu at our store is as follows, depending on the day and our stock. We also have sake tasting if you would like to sample it before purchasing. 

We also have “Ume-shu” which is a sweet plum wine. Sometimes we drink it with soda or tonic water. We also have Yuzu wine. Yuzu is made from a type of Japanese lemon. 

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And for the late nighters, here is our selection of Japanese whisky nightcap or rum that we have.

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Shotoku Usuhari Glasses

Established in 1922, the Shotoku Glass company was initially a manufacturer of glass for light bulbs. They have applied that knowledge to creating a line of glassware that is incredibly thin, only 0.9mm, yet incredibly strong and durable. Many people are surprised to find that these are made of glass

These remarkably thin drinking glasses are called "Usuhari", (Usu meaning thin and Hari meaning glass) are each carefully hand blown and crafted by craftsmen using the same techniques making light bulbs have been passed on through the company’s craftsmen.

The thin feel of the glass in your hands, the sound the ice makes when it swirls in the cup and how fine the rim is are all exquisite and unique to this glass alone. This series appears to be extremely delicate but it can be handled with the usual care as other glassware. Dishwasher safe but with all glassware, treat it gently.

 

Novice by Sacai Cycles

First one step is necessary for everything.

It is the adventure that wakuwaku and little fear are accompanied by.

Of the adventure like it as for the novice is good together.

12 inches of kick cycles balance scooter. This is very easy for children to use with strong breaks. We recommend this for children 2 – 5 years old. 

Air tire specifications are normal.The kick stand is not necessary but is used as an accessory. The bike can easily lean on the wall of the house. The brakes that the stop with the step are just in case the child starts to go too fast.  

The standard conformity mark that is made on the thing that a product meets the standard of all EU member states. CPSC mark, the American Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates lead included in the toy for the child and the child care article (they apply in children 12 years or younger) and a phthalate kind in CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 2008 consumer product safety improvement method

Chushin Kobo Tea Pots

History of Yamagata Iron Casting:

Ironwork began in Yamagata 950 years ago during the Kohei Period. Yoroyoshi Minamoto got an order to conquer Oushu (an old part of Yamagata)> During their battle in Yamagata, one of their warriors, (who happened to be a casting master) found that the sand along Mamigasaki river and the soil at Chitose Park was perfect for casting. He decided to move there and start working with the natural resources. Yamagata’s casting continues today and is based on everyday commodity and art. It has a winning distinction with a solid reputation of traditional thin casting technique and the beauty of the surface called “Thin Beauty” 

Yamagata’s casting continues up to today and is based on everyday commodity and art. It has a winning distinction with a solid reputation. Yamagata casting is characterized by the traditional casting called “Usuniku-birei”, which means the thin casting and the beauty of cast surface.

Craftsman Hisanori Masuda's casting studio, Chushin-kobo, aspires to design ironwork which integrates the beauty of traditional Japanese casting with modern day functionality.

Hisanori Masuda was born in 1949 in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from Musashino University of Art (Fine Arts and Design) where he studied under Prof. Mosuke Yoshitake, Hisanori stayed on as a studio assistant to his professor for 5 years. During this time, Hisanori was successful in revitalizing local industries through product design. Later he moved to Yamagata City and established his own studio, "Chushin-Kobo" in 1997. He seeks to recreate objects retaining the beauty of traditional Japanese cast iron but stylishly adapted to fit contemporary life-style. Using iron, aluminum and bronze, he designs, produces and sells all his own work. He is currently a member of Japan Craft Design Association and teaches at Tohoku University of Art and Design.

Traditional craft design is not conservative. It is innovative, encompassing both the hardware and software of its era. For traditional crafts to be passed on to future generations, artisans must undertake to design practical, refined and modern items.

Cast iron eliminates chlorine from tap water, so the boiled water will be mild, have no smell and will be tasty even just as hot water. The water in turn will have iron, which is a merit to be able to take iron naturally as we need it for our body. So you can enjoy tasty hot tea with a hint of healthy iron. The iron of hot water and tannin of tea react together to make and enjoyable tasty tea. 

Our selection includes cast iron tea pots with both rough and polished tops.

The “Hiratsubo” style is a very classic style tea pot. Well made and strong, a tried and proven design that dates back from long ago. Hiratsubo is popular with its stable design. If you are looking for modern and elegant teapot, this teapot will satisfy you with its traditional beauty.

The Wood Handle Kettle” comes with a handle made of molded plywood. The materials of iron and wood suit each other very well.  The folded plywood handles are very strong, durable and functional. On the kettles lid, the wooden knob is designed for ease of use and you can choose either white oak or a walnut one. The casting kettles` inside has a burnt finish of lacquer; the iron kettle has a finishing of bisque. The bottom of the kettle is a flat design and can be used on either an electric cooker or an electric range stove. The modern designed kettle which is made with a traditional technique that is suited for a modern lifestyle. 

Another model is from the “Crest“ collection. These iron kettles are designed with a motif of an exquisitely designed crest from long ago. From ancient times, the scholar and military senior statesmen gave a character or a god pring, and they made it into a house crest, a banner and a horse seal.  The crests originationg from these coat of arms are now as many as 4,650 types. Chushin Kobo used 4 types for the shape of the iron kettle that include Quince Type and a gourd shaped crest. The handle is a bow-shaped design that matches the shape of the main body, the copper lid knob is a combination of a chrysanthemum. A pine tree, a chrysanthemum split, and a gourd that harmonize with the shape of the main body. The finish is uncalcined at 800 degrees, an oxide film is applied then hand painted with a baked finish of urushi lacquer which is done by using a traditional technique from long ago.

The “Warmer”, of course, has the function of keeping warm, but the light of the candle illuminates the table and enhances the atmosphere. Setting the Iron kettle on a warmer, you can enjoy tea time with a feeling of relaxation. Warmers are a tool to be used every day in Europe and America, but there are still few things used in Japanese homes yet. Please use it to make a relaxing atmosphere around the table. The warmer is not a tool to boil water, it is a tool to keep water warm.

All the teapots keep the temperature of hot water. Therefore, you can extract the taste and aroma of tea leaves carefully. In addition to this, the teapot can keep the temperature of the tea for a long time. Enjoy a chat without caring about time! 

These cast iron teapots will last for many generations with care. Please dry after use to ensure that it is kept in a good condition.  

We have many other models that can be ordered from the catalogues when you visit our store.

Hinamatsuri - Girls Day

On March 3rd we have a day called Hinamatsuri. It's for wishing girls happiness. Dolls are bought every year to represent the emperors family. Over the years many rows are on display on March 3rd, as you grow each year older each year, your collection expands, usually given to you by your Mother and Grandmother. 

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In the Edo period, not so many people can afford to display hina dolls in their homes. Craftsmen started to make, “Tsurushi Bina” instead. The dolls are made of the tiny pieces of kimonos, sewn and made a shape of flowers like plum, sakura, hydrangea, animals like rabbits, boar, dogs, vegetables like carrots, daikon radish, birds like owls, sparrows, and dolls like babies, etc. They are are hung over a babies crib and likewise new strings with characters are added

Each dolls has meaning:

For instance, rabbits represent that girls grow to be kind. Hydrangeas mean family’s bond. Carrots mean health.

Tsurushi-bina” makes small doll and “Okazari” (lucky motif) with “HAGIRE” (small cloth).
It”s hung on red string from a circle of a thin bamboo stick.

Each doll and “Okazari” contains wishes one by one.

For example.
・Peach: Amulet, longevity and prosperity of descendants.
・”kinchaku” (wallet): Don’t trouble about money.
・Rabbit: Errand of God.
・Book: To be able to read and write.

etc.

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It is said that “Tsurushi-bina” has 110 kinds of motif.

There are three famous birthplace of “Tsurushi-bina”.
And, its names are different in the birthplace.

- Fukuoka region: “Sagemon”.
- Shizuoka region: “Hina-no-tsurushi-kazari”.
- Yamagata region: “Kasa-Fuku”.

If a mother, a grandmother, friends, and even neighbors want to wish a happiness of a new born girl baby, each makes a small doll. Then they suspend those dolls on a string, “Tsurushi bina,” which become an amulet for a new born girl baby.

A dog doll stands for a wish of a healthy baby as well as a charm against bad luck.

A flower of Japanese plum stands for a wish of growing beautifully just like a flower.

“Haikoningyo”, a doll of a baby crawling, stand for a wish of a baby to grow up bravely by crawling a lot.

A strawberry doll stands for a charm against bad luck.

“Harukoma”, a doll of a horse, stand for a wish of growing bravely and playing fun as well as having a steady work when she grows up.

“Houzuki”, a doll of a Chinese lantern plant, stands for a wish of avoiding feminine ailments.

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There are some types of Tsurushi bina, to hang, to put on the floor and so on. We can choose them according to the lifestyles. Making small dolls and putting them together to wish happiness of the baby is one of the beautiful cultures in Japan.

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Yuzu Miso

Miso is a fermented salty bean paste, which constitutes the base of Japanese food. This miso is flavored with yuzu. It can be used in sauce or marinades and can accompany meats.

Store in a cool, dry place, away from light, refrigerate after opening

As its name suggests, Tsurumiso is a miso-producing company located in the small town of Yanagawa in Fukuoka County (Kyushu Island). Yanagawa is a pretty little town crossed by a multitude of canals that can be traveled on small boats.
The historic Tsurumiso headquarters, existing since 1870, is housed in an old red brick building bordering one of the branches of the Yanagawa canals network.

Some miso recipe’s that you can try:

- Yuzu Miso soup

- Yuzu Miso salad dressing

- Just as it is to dip carrots, celery, vegetables, etc

- Fry slices of eggplant and use as a special nasu dengaku recipe

- Yuzu miso as a marinade to fish or chicken

And once you have tried a few to experiment with, feel free to try with other recipes. Have fun in the kitchen!

Half a Century in the Making: Tree ‘Crop Circles’ Emerge in Japan

Two peculiar ‘crop circles’ have recently been spotted in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Viewable only from above, they were formed by sugi (Japanese cedar) trees. 

Conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that there is a very practical explanation for how these shapes emerged: science. Specifically, it was the result of a scientific experiment that spanned close to 50 years. In 1973 an area of land near Nichinan City was designated as “experimental forestry” and one of the experiments was to try and measure the effect of tree spacing on growth. The experiment was carried out by planting trees in 10 degree radial increments forming10 concentric circles of varying diameters.

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Gutsman Toe Socks

The strong brand of socks for a sports and running.

Technology of strong five finger socks is used and five finger socks were developed for running. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious being so that your toes don’t rub up against each others causing blisters.

Toe socks also provide better balance in general. When Japanese builders work, they use “Tabi shoes” and toe socks for better balance.

Gutsman has a large selection of rich color variation and variation. The company encourages you to use these socks for not only marathon and running, but also for walking, yoga, pilates, training, and golf, etc.

These socks are also made so with anti odor qualities. Uses patented "mu-func." thread, which has anti-bacterial and deoderant effects. The seam around the toe is strategically placed on the outside to prevent friction and callusing. 

Tapered leg area to encourage better blood cirulation for exteneded wear with high-top boots. The support of the arch is also very important in the design. 

Reinforced with pile in high friction areas (heel, sole, toes, ankle) for increased protection.

Both high socks and ankle socks are available.