Starbucks Japan unveils first sakura drink for cherry blossom season 2021

New chilled cup pairs sakura with fruit for a memorable springtime flavour.

The blooming of Japan’s cherry blossom trees may still be a couple of months away, but news of this year’s sakura-branded products are already beginning to hit us like a flurry of soft pink petals.

One of the first to take centre stage with their cherry blossom product announcements is Starbucks, and keeping in line with their release schedule from previous years, they’re kicking off the season with the release of a sakura-flavoured chilled cup.

▼ This year’s seasonal chilled cup combines sakura with vanilla and strawberry jelly.

Last year, Starbucks paired sakura with white chocolate cheesecake and milk pudding, and the year before that, they gave us the Sakura Chocolate with Strawberry Jelly chilled cup. This year’s flavour combination harks back to the 2019 release, but instead of chocolate, the focus is on vanilla. This pairing is said to highlight the creaminess of the drink while adding sweet aromas to the tart sakura notes, with the strawberry jelly pieces providing a delicious textural contrast.

The domed lid, reminiscent of traditional drinks served in Starbucks stores, is a vibrant pink colour this year, while the cup design features swirls of cherry blossom flowers and petals, dotted with bursts of strawberry.

The new chilled cup will be available for a limited time at convenience stores nationwide from 9 February, selling at a recommended retail price of 219 yen (US$2.11).

Source, images: Starbucks Japan
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The end of the pay phone? Japanese government considering getting rid of phone boxes

Let’s be real though — when was the last time you used one anyway?

For those of us who are old enough to remember life before the dawn of the cellphone age, pay phones were life-savers, whether you rang your dad to come and pick you up from swimming or called your mom, pretending you were staying at a friend’s house when really you were up to other nefarious deeds. But these days, the need for public phones is becoming less and less. Add that to the maintenance costs required to keep these almost obsolete relics going, and it’s fair to say the future doesn’t look bright for the humble pay phone.

Currently, pay phones are considered a ‘universal service‘ in Japan; a term meaning something that is easily available at an affordable price for all citizens. According to current regulations, city areas are required to have a public pay phone installed every 500 square metres (0.3 miles), with non-city areas every kilometre (0.6 miles). There are presently 110,000 pay phones dotted about Japan, with an extra 40,000 pay phones installed by companies, although according to statistics over the past 20 years their usage has dropped to just two percent of what it used to be.

As a result, the government are currently mulling over the idea of reducing the number of pay phones in Japan, and relocating existing pay phones to evacuation shelters, where they can be used in emergencies. Ryota Takeda from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will consult with the Information and Communications Bureau to make a decision, which is expected to be made by June.

▼ “What? No more pay phones?! I haven’t even found the super rare double pay phone yet!!”

<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" srcset=" 1600w,,100 150w,,426 640w,,512 768w,,682 1024w,,1023 …continue reading


Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken 2 Episode 3 Impression

Source: Supaku Blog

On this episode, Rimuru visits Dwargon to talk with Gazel. Later, Rumuru and his buddies visit the elf club to meet with the elf girls again.

So seeing Rimuru and Gazel talk about their nations is an enjoyable development. Also, it was awesome to see the Elfs from the Dwargon’s elf club once again. Other than that, the near ending is hiliarious because of Shuna and and Shion. Now what’s going to be the next plot? I’ll be really looking foward to it. Overall, enjoyable nation talk development and some nice elf club fan service. …continue reading


How To Cope With The Shock Of Being An Outsider In Japan

How To Cope With The Shock Of Being An Outsider In Japan

Gaijin da!” (It’s a foreigner!) It was far from the first time I had heard that phrase, but it had been a very long time since it was delivered in the style of “I’ve spotted a wild animal.” Yes, it caught me on a bad day and I found myself saying in Japanese – in as close as I could get to the same volume that my accuser had used – “rude child.” I now hang my head in shame because, yes, I was retaliating to a nine-year-old.

Although probably not intended to offend, her comment was discriminatory. At the very least, it defined me as separate from the Japanese people around me.

It appeared that my comment fell on deaf ears. I dearly hope that it did. Although probably not intended to offend, her comment was discriminatory. At the very least, it defined me as separate from the Japanese people around me. I’ve lived in this country for over 20 years and have been well liked and connected in my community. As a friend visiting from Australia remarked recently, “You’re embedded!” It’s pretty easy to see that if one looks at more than just the white of my skin. But many people don’t. So after a few tears and much introspection, I’ve come up with some thoughts to help you, and me, handle foreigner shock, because as long as we live here, we are set to have it thrust upon us again, and again, and again.

Put it in perspective

Some readers will no doubt say, “What’s your problem? You ARE foreign.” Yes, we get the point. But for many of us, that’s the reason we don’t need it pointed out. In my experience, the …continue reading


Do NOT eat this delicious looking bento and other Japanese food…because they’re not food!【Pics】

Japanese artist makes a delicious feast for the eyes out of non-edible material.

No other foodie culture values presentation as much as Japan does. It doesn’t matter if it’s a five-course meal at a fancy hotel or just something quick you whipped up for breakfast at home, if you want people to be impressed with your culinary skills, the food you make has to be as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the palate.

And at first glance, Japanese Twitter user @meganenooo seems to have truly taken to heart the philosophy that food should look as good as it tastes. These snapshots, for example, show a Pizza Margherita, plate of mixed tempura, fried egg with a golden, gooey yolk, and a bento boxed lunch with grilled salmon and a fried shrimp that all appear perfectly cooked and arranged.



— メガネのおじいちゃん (作品展*開催中) (@meganenooo) January 21, 2021

But the truth is that as mouthwatering as these meals look, you wouldn’t want to eat them, because each and every item is actually made out of paper!

All of these edible-looking (but not actually edible) works of art were made by @meganenooo’s father, who’s in his mid-70s and took up “fake food” papercraft as a hobby a few years ago when he found himself with some extra free time on his hands.

Even more impressive is that @meganenooo’s dad is self-taught. These aren’t standard origami exercises or pre-sorted kits he’s using. Instead, he selects the materials himself, primarily using the pliable Japanese …continue reading


A large retro robot in a small Tokyo park

Source: Tokyo Times
A large and retro concrete robot in an urban Tokyo park

A lot of Tokyo’s little urban parks have concrete playthings and structures. Animals for the most part, but occasionally bigger, more colourful additions such as this previously photographed gazebo of sorts. What aren’t so common, on the other hand, are large, retro-looking robots that double up as slides.

Rumour has it that this particular creation also wanders about when everyone is sleeping. A nice little story that could be straight out of a kids’ book, although the fella in the corner of the penultimate photo is possibly suggestive of something altogether more sinister.

A large and retro concrete robot in an urban Tokyo park

A large and retro concrete robot in an urban Tokyo park

A large and retro concrete robot in an urban Tokyo park

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Tokyo apartment prices from 1992 to 2020

I want to share an interesting chart below showing the change in existing (not brand new) apartment prices from 1992 to 2020.

This chart appeared in the Money Gendai publication on January 5 and is supplied by REINS. It shows the average reported sale price of an existing apartment across greater Tokyo (which includes Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures) from 1992 up until November 2020. You need to add 4 zeros onto the numbers to get the price.

Prices bottomed out in the early 2000s before starting to recover in the lead up to the 2008 global financial crisis. That led to a credit crunch and a tightening of the monetary supply. Quite a few small-to-medium sized developers in Japan were wiped out during this crisis, leaving a small number of major developers (often referred to as the Major 7).

In March 2011, the Tohoku region was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. Property prices dropped as buyers reevaluated location risk.

The property market returned to a recovery from early 2013 onwards, buoyed by aggressive monetary policy, low interest rates, preferential tax breaks for home owners, and a general improvement in the global economy.

132 …continue reading


Would Evangelion be better if it toned down its horniness? Fans debate

Should Shinji have been saying “We mustn’t show naked women?”

At any given point, Evangelion has a huge number of thematic, aesthetic, and plot-related balls in the air. Giant robots! Invading space monsters! Government conspiracies! Delicious sake!

That multi-faceted nature is what makes it so unique, compelling, and entertaining. But if we’re giving a thorough description of Eva, we probably need to add “horny” to the list of adjectives too. The series has no shortage of scenes which show its female cast in skin-tight outfits, swimwear, or various states of undress, and while some viewers may just accept that as par for the course in anime, a recent Japanese Twitter debate shows that some people would like Eva better if it toned down the attempts at sexiness.


— こころ (@ham_kokoro) January 22, 2021

“I’m watching Eva, but what’s up with all the scenes with naked women, women’s breasts, and women’s underwear, which have nothing to do with the story?” reads the tweet from Twitter user @ham_kokoro which kicked off the discussion. “It’s making it so I can’t concentrate. Can men not make it through an episode if there’s not a female body shown every 15 minutes?”

▼ Trailer for the Evangelion TV series

Some commenters were quick to agree that yes, they could do without the risqué sideshows pulling focus from the sci-fi storytelling.

“It just doesn’t fit with the rest of the series.”
“I always end up turning away from the screen in those scenes. Why do they have to show camera angles coming up from between the girls’ legs?”
“I watched Eva once, but this I why I don’t want to watch it again.”
“I totally know how you feel.”
“They show off too many of the contours of Asuka’s physique.”

But on the other end of the spectrum, others …continue reading


QR Code-based payment methods in Japan

Which QR-code based payment service do you most use? graph of japanese statistics

Contactless payments, be they IC chip or barcode-based are perhaps becoming more popular due to COVID-19 making physical cash a potential transmission vector, so this survey from MMD Labo into smartphone QR Code-based payments may reveal some trends in Japan.

I mostly use smartphone-based public transport IC chip-based payments, JR East’s (the major train operator in the Tokyo area) SUICA. Once in a blue moon I use QR Code-based methods, the mobile phone operator Docomo’s dBarai system, and I once got 500 yen free credit from FamiPay.

Research results

Q1: How to you normally pay for things? (Sample size=45,000, multiple answer)

Cash 90.8%
Credit card 73.3%
Smartphone payment 41.2%
Card-form public transport IC card 28.5%
Other electronic cash 23.2%
Debit card 7.9%
Other 0.3%

Q2: Do you use QR-code based payments? (Sample size=45,000)

Yes, currently do (to SQ1) 33.3%
Used to use (to SQ1) 14.1%
Investigating using 4.5%
Know basically what they are, but haven’t used 19.6%
Know names of various services, but don’t know the details 7.9%
Heard the term, but don’t know about it 14.6%
Don’t know anything at all 6.1%

Q2SQ1: Which QR-code based payment service do you use the most? (Sample size=21,529)

PayPay 43.1%
dBarai 18.2%
Rakuten Pay 15.4%
au PAY 12.1%
LINE Pay 4.6%
Mercari 3.6%
FamiPay 1.5%
QUO Card Pay 0.9%
Yucho Pay 0.4%
Other 0.3%

I’m not sure exactly how they got the number of people for the next question; it’s not just the “Investigating using” from Q2.

Q2SQ2: Which QR-code based payment service are you looking at using the most? (Sample size=4,958)

PayPay 20.2%
Rakuten Pay 18.7%
dBarai 16.2%
au PAY 11.9%
LINE Pay 9.4%
Mercari 6.6%
FamiPay 6.0%
QUO Card Pay 5.5%
Yucho Pay 5.4%
Other 0.2%


Between the 1st and 4th of January 2021 45,000 memnbers of the MMD Labo monitor group aged between 18 and 69 years old completed a private internet-based questionnaire. Further demographics were not given.

The post QR Code-based payment methods in Japan first appeared on 世論 What Japan Thinks.

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Two men charged for having sex at a public bathhouse in Tokyo

Manager has had enough of people using the sento for casual hookups.

In Japan, public bathhouses, known as “sento“, are used by people of all ages, from very young children, accompanied by a parent, to the elderly. While some people simply like the ease and convenience of using a public bathhouse, which can save on water bills and cleaning at home, others like to visit the sento for the purported health benefits of their waters, which are sometimes sourced from natural hot springs, while others have no choice but to use the local bathhouse, given that some apartments in Japan don’t come with baths or showers.

▼ Sento often include both indoor and outdoor bathing areas.

Then there are others who appear to confuse the bathhouse as a place for sexual activity, which is not its intended purpose. That’s what’s been happening at one particular sento in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, where two men were caught engaging in sexual acts last November. The two men, both in their thirties, were subsequently charged with public obscenity and admitted to the charges, saying they were aware that they would be causing trouble for the establishment, due to signage on the premises, but they “succumbed to temptation”.

The men say they had no previous acquaintance with each other, and met at the public bath on the day of the incident. The sexual activity was said to have taken course over about 20 minutes in the open-air bathing area, while the door to the area was unlocked and about 15 guests were using the inside baths.

▼ This TBS News report shows the facility where the incident took place.

The manager says he has reported around 40 such incidents of sexual …continue reading