Get kissed-Japanese style

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like it's going to be a gorgeous Sunday and Monday...and Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Clouds may roll in on Thursday and Friday, but highs all week will be in the high 20s.

On May 23, 1946, the first-ever kissing scene in a movie was screened in Japan, and in commemoration of the event, the day is now referred to as “Kiss Day” in Japan. So what better way to mark the occasion than with a look at what women think constitutes a perfect kiss?

NTT SOLMARE Corporation, whose main business is in e-books and dating sim game services, recently conducted a survey amongst 4,384 of their digital comic book members to find out more about their views on kissing and romance.

Interestingly, opinions about kissing differed between male and female respondents, so let’s get to it and see what they had to say below.

“Do you like kissing?”

The survey began by finding out the basics, and with 79.5% of respondents saying they liked kissing, it’s safe to say that we’re dealing mostly with people who have nothing against a good smooch.

“Have you ever kissed someone before being in a steady relationship with them?”

For females, the responses were almost evenly split between women who have kissed someone before going out with them (51.8%) and those who haven’t (48.2%). For men, the response was different, with more males not kissing someone before dating them (58%). According to the company conducting the survey, this shows that women may have a more casual approach to kissing, but it might also indicate a more cautious approach by men.

 Women in pink and men in blue, with “yes” answers on top and “no answers on bottom.

kissing.jpg

“Please tell us your ideal kissing situation”

When it comes to ideal kiss scenarios, there were some clear favourites, so let’s look at the top four responses.

4. While being cuddled from behind (11.2% women/3.3% men)

There are some common romantic tropes in manga and movies that are known for being extra dreamy, like the kabe-don wall pound. Another popular scenario is when the man stands behind the object of his desire, draping his arms around her shoulders or waist and holding her tight. According to women, adding a kiss to this situation comes in at number four on the list of ideal kisses, but for men this scenario was not as popular.

3. A farewell kiss (14% women/22% men)

This is one of the most common times to sneak in a quick smooch to let someone know you’re interested in them. At number three on the list for women and number two on the list for men, this is a popular ideal scenario for both sexes.

2. In a place with nobody but the two of you, e.g. a car or elevator (19.9% women/29.3% men)

When there’s nobody else around, the palpable “will they or won’t they kiss me” tension is one that sets hearts aflutter across both sexes. While this scenario came in at number two for women, this was the most popular choice for men.

1. Being kissed unexpectedly (32.5% women/20.7% men)

And at the top of the list for women is the scenario where they’re kissed suddenly and unexpectedly. Another movie scene-type situation, this is the most popular choice for women, but for men, this was third on the list.

So if you’re looking to make a move before dating, or if you want to make your partner swoon, you might want to recreate one of these scenarios before puckering up. And while being kissed unexpectedly might be at the top of the list of ideal situations for women, you might want to be pretty certain she’s into you before attempting it, or else your romantic scenario might result in a slap to the face.

How about you? What's your ideal kiss scenario?

Have a great day!


Izakaya Guide

Good morning everyone,

I hope you are planning to do something outdoors this weekend. It's going to be sunny and nice both days-and rainy season is around the corner, so it might be your last chance to spend the day outside without either getting soaked by rain or sweat...ha ha!

nce you start working and building a social life in Japan, the izakaya quickly becomes your second home. From easy-to-grab meals to drinking sessions with co-workers or catch-ups with friends — it’s a social staple.

There are some points to keep in mind, however, if you’re new to this Japanese equivalent of a public house. We’ve broken down the basics for you in this primer on izakaya culture.

Food

Izakaya fare is not the Michelin-starred cuisine the country is famous for — it’s basically bar food after all — but it’s easy to order, easy to share and very affordable. The dishes on offer are a great way to experience the joys of simple, everyday Japanese cuisine.

Variety is one major strong point for the menu. Many izakaya take the jack-of-all-trades approach, so don’t be surprised if you see sashimi or natto listed above Margherita pizza.

Try something new, you don’t really have much to lose. As a guide, the best go-to staple menu items include karaage (fried chicken), takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and hiyayakko (chilled tofu with toppings).

Drinks

In general, the izakaya typically runs on beer. Spend even the shortest amount of time in Japan and you’ll quickly realize the country is one of the biggest lovers of the suds in the world.

If beer isn’t to your taste, don’t worry, drinking at an izakaya will give you plenty of opportunities to experience new booze options, and it’s a great insight into the country’s drinking culture. If there’s one drink that approaches beer’s position atop the booze hierarchy, it’s whisky. Japan produces some of the best whisky in the world and the most common way to drink the cheaper stuff is in a whisky highball (whisky, ice and soda).  

If you have a sweet tooth, you could try umeshu (plum wine), or shochu (Japanese distilled spirit made from barley, brown sugar, potato, rice or wheat). Shochu is like a weaker vodka, though it’s a little stronger than nihonshu (sake). Common shochu mixers are lemon sours or tea-based drinks like oolong-hai, an unsweetened shochu iced tea.

Pricing

The beauty of the izakaya is that the amount you spend on a night out is totally up to you. The benefits of izakaya-style small dishes mean that if you need to micromanage your financial situation, you can mix and match for your budget.

Unlike other dining situations where individual meals are a fixed price, many places have menu items ranging from as little as ¥100 up to around ¥700. Of course, you can find more expensive items (and izakaya) depending on where you are and what you desire.

For drinks, the cheapest option is usually nama (draft) beer, which can generally cost anywhere between ¥120 and ¥400. Many places offer nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) options and some also do tabehodai (all-you-can-eat) along with this — you pay one fixed price and can eat or drink to your heart’s content for a limited time (usually 90 minutes to two hours). All you-can-eat-and-drink promotions are definite possibilities for getting your money’s worth, just make sure to calculate the amount you’ll actually eat and the speed at which you’ll eat and drink to maximize the value.

Rules and etiquette

Many places come with a table charge for each person that costs a few hundred yen and will be added to your bill. This usually includes a small appetizer called otooshi. What that dish actually contains is totally up to the chef, so what you get can be a gamble. You can always ask if they have an alternative (if you’re vegetarian, say, and they serve you pieces of chicken).

Often at the end of the night bill splitting can be a little confusing, and given the communality of the dinner virtually impossible to divide. That’s where warikan comes in. Warikan is the agreement to divide the entire bill equally between all your fellow guests. It’s a common practice in Japan, so be prepared in order to avoid awkward money debates at the end of the evening.

Simple izakaya Japanese

The izakaya can be a great place to test run some of your Japanese 101 — especially after you’ve had that third confidence boosting beer. Here’s what you should know:

  • Biru onegaishimasu
    Means simply, “Beer please.” If beer isn’t your thing, just switch the biru with the drink of your choice. For example, “lemon sour” or “highball onegaishimasu” will get you just as hydrated.
  • Okaikei onegaishimasu
    Okaikei means “bill” and “onegaishimasu” is please. Whip this out at the end of the night and the weary wait staff will happily serve you the bill for the damage you’ve caused.
  • Betsu-betsu
    Means “to split.” When someone in your group asks how to pay the bill, this should be your answer-that way you won't get stung taking care of the whole thing.
  • Toire wa doko desu-ka
    Simply means, “Where are the toilets?” The necessity of this probably needs no explanation.
And there you have the basic rules and guide to going to an izakaya...hmmm...maybe I should think of doing one of these for Japanese people in Canada...

Have a great day!

Mantō Mitama Matsuri is this weekend

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be yet another gorgeous early summer day and tomorrow and the weekend is looking pretty much the same (except even warmer). If I don't injure my back, hurt my knee or catch a cold again, I'll be going out for runs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If I can pull it off, it'll be the first time in about a month that I'll have run 3 days in a row...

Once a year, the spectacle of 100 shrine maidens dancing by lantern light can be seen in the forecourt of Hiroshima Gokoku-jinja Shrine. This is part of the “Mantou Mitama Matsuri”, a shrine festival which began in 1975 on the occasion of Showa Emperor Hirohito’s 50th birthday. Ostensibly to assuage the spirits of the war dead enshrined in the shrine, the festival also seems to have incorporated an opportunity for young unmarried women to wish for making a good marital match.

In many ways the event resembles the “Festival of Lights” Mitama Matsuri held at the shrine that sits at the top of the national network of Gokoku Shrines established to enshrine Japan’s war dead at the end of the 19th century, the controversial Yasukuni-jinja Shrine in Tokyo. Hiroshima’s Mantou Mitama Matsuri, however, is a far more intimate affair, without the stalls, haunted houses, stars singing karaoke, and without the 300,000 visitors. Here, you might find around 200 or 300 people, a mixture of relatives of the young women taking part, amateur photographers, otaku shrine maiden fans, and a few somewhat bemused tourists.

The participants are all unmarried women under the age of 30 who have signed up to take part in the event, having seen the call for dancers on the shrine website, in local newspapers or on posters around their neighborhoods. Some of them travel some distance to take part.

They perform three dances, which resemble summer bon dances, to music that ranges from the very militaristic-sounding to Showa-era pop. The women do a 3 hour practice a week or so before the event, but I still wonder how they manage to keep all the moves straight in their heads.

The sun having gone down during the first performance, the focus then shifts back to the area in front of the main shrine building. After a more austere dance performed by full time shrine maidens, a local taiko drum group ramps up the tempo with an energetic display.

For the festival finale just before 9pm, the young women perform their dances once more. This time, however, small lanterns are incorporated into the routine. The little lights bobbing up and down, with the shrine buildings and forecourt decorated with many, many more lanterns as a backdrop, makes for a lovely sight. 

The Mantō Mitama Matsuri usually takes place on the last weekend of May...you know what that means...we're only one week away from Toka-san...man, time flies!

Have a great day!


Doutour Brownie

Good morning everyone,

Well, the rain should let up sometime this morning (if it hasn't already) and we can expect the skies to clear and warm, sunny weather all weekend and into next week.

I know that Starbucks, Mr. Donuts and Haagen Dazs tend to get most of my food reviews on here. Not necessarily because they are the best, but because they change their menus so often and bring seasonal items for us to enjoy on a regular basis.

But, I have to say that I really enjoy the brownies at Doutour. Have you ever tried one? They're not cheap...they're between Y200 and Y220 each and they're about 2 or 3 bites each. They go great with a hot coffee though. They're creamy and sweet without being overpowering.
Image result for doutor brownie


There are 4 different flavours to choose from:

Ganache: a rich chocolate based cake with thick ganache on top and covered in chocolate. Sounds too rich and sweet, right? Wrong. It's just right and compliments a cup of black coffee perfectly.

Berry Berry: it's just a little sweet and a little tart with a mix of raspberry and strawberry. A perfect compliment to the chocolate covering.

Triple Nuts: as the name says, it's a the same rich chocolate cake as the ganache, but sprinkled with 3 kinds of nuts (or kind of...), it's got almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds (are they nuts?) on top which add a little crunchiness to the chocolate

Caramel ganache: my personal favourite. Chocolate cake covered in rich, creamy caramel and topped with milk chocolate. I'm a bit biased though, because caramel and chocolate together can never go wrong in my eyes.

Anyway, any of them will go well with a coffee and they're great to order 2 or 3 and share them! With who...hmmm...well, me of course! Ha ha!

Have a great day!

The secret to a happy marriage

Good morning everyone,

Yeah...about the weather...have you looked outside? It's raining and it's supposed to rain tomorrow too and it's a bit cooler than it has been-the highs today and tomorrow will be around 24C. This kind of came out of nowhere, didn't it? Anyway, it's supposed to stop raining sometime tomorrow and then starting Friday we'll see warm, sunny weather return.

Marriage is a big commitment in any country, and in Japan the assumption that a husband will take on the role of hardworking breadwinner while a wife assumes the traditional role of stay-at-home housewife still remains strong throughout much of the country.

Thankfully, though, times are changing and not everyone is resigned to taking on a stereotypical role in a partnership, and they don’t place those restrictions on their partner either.

There's one guy who thought about how to have a happy marriage and made up a little comic strip to prove his point.

The comic strip begins with a placard announcing the couple’s argument-free seven years together. The artist then goes on to explain his motivation for drawing the comic, saying that after hearing acquaintances complain about arguments and the annoying things their partners said, he got to thinking about the different styles of communication that exist between partners. One day, when someone commented on his happy relationship and asked him what his “hiketsu”, or “secret” was, he had to stop and think about it.

 

He pondered what the secret might be while gazing at his wife, who responded by asking him what he was staring at. After much thought, he realised that there were lots of “secrets” that went into keeping a happy marriage; so many that it would be impossible to put them all together in one neat package.

Yet, if he were to give one example to illustrate the key to a happy marriage, it would be this: “Your wife is another being“. According to the artist, this is a point that should not be forgotten.

Though the statement might sound logical, the artist says it’s easy to see friends or lovers as other beings, but once you’re married, you can fall into the dangerous trap of assuming that someone should do something, like cook meals or pay for everything, simply because they’re your wife or husband. According to the artist, this can be the source of many arguments, because these are demands you would never make of a friend or lover.

▼ And that’s why you should never forget that a wife, and a husband, are essentially “other” people.

In a polite group-oriented society like Japan, “other” people outside of one’s group or family are treated with extreme courtesy, which even extends to the type of language used in social situations. However, looking at your partner as if they’re one of these people doesn’t mean you have to start acting reserved and putting on polite airs around them. Instead, it’s a way to remember that this is a special individual who you will be with for a long time, which helps you to remain caring and courteous. Something as small as not expecting your partner to cook and wash the dishes, or expressing thanks if they do, is an example of this in action.

The artist concludes his comic strip sketch by saying that this is one example from his own personal experience, and there are probably people who won’t take his advice. For readers who think he’s off his rocker, he says they should feel free to forget his story.

Though the artist’s key to a successful marriage might seem like a logical way of thinking for many, especially for those in countries outside of Japan where traditional roles and expectations aren’t as deeply entrenched, it’s easy to take your partner for granted after years of being together, no matter where you live.

Still, it’s just as easy to take a step back and see them in a new light as an individual. That way, you can be reminded of the fact that your partner chooses to remain by your side despite all your quirks and bad habits, which is something to be grateful for!

Not that that would be a problem for me...I have no quirks or bad habits...ha ha!

Have a great day!


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