Want to steal things from the hotel? Do's and don't's

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be sunny and hot this week, so be careful out there.

Speaking of being careful, as the days have passed after the heavy rain we had Friday and Saturday, it has become more and more obvious how serious that was. Living and working in the downtown area meant that I had no idea how serious the damage was. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the torrential rains of last weekend.

Ever wonder what you can and can't 'take' with you from flights, hotels and cruises? I never do. I'm not that interested in taking stuff from my holiday. I'd rather leave it behind and have the memory.

But if you do wonder...

Do we really believe the economists anymore?

Good morning everyone,

The rain last week feels like a distant memory. It's just hot and humid again...

Japan's household spending dropped nearly four percent in May from a year earlier, government data showed Friday, underlining an ongoing lack of appetite for consumption in the world's third-largest economy.

The country's household spending fell 3.9 percent in May, far worse than market expectations of a 1.5 percent decline, the internal affairs ministry said. The drop marked the fourth consecutive monthly decline, and suggests hopes for a rise in consumption are unlikely to be met anytime soon.

The government and central bank have said repeatedly that export-led economic growth in the country's corporate sector would eventually spread to domestic consumption. But a recovery in spending has been slow, with economists saying salaries are not rising fast enough to drive an appetite for buying. Consumers were particularly reluctant to spend on eating out, recreation and cultural activities, and clothing and footwear, according to the ministry data.

"It is our consensus that spending is gradually expanding but the upward curve is near flat," Taro Saito, senior economist at NLI Research Institute, told AFP, pointing out that the spending data is notoriously volatile.

The latest data comes a few days after the Bank of Japan's closely watched quarterly business confidence survey showed declines for the second straight quarter.

Japan's economy slid into negative territory for the first time in two years at the beginning of the year, technically ending its longest period of expansion since the "bubble" days of the 1980s. But the contraction by 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the January-March period does not suggest a recession, economists say. Well, they can hope, right?

Given the choice between trusting economists who try to paint a rosy picture and regular people who are actually looking at their bank accounts and making wise decisions, I'll go with the regular people every time.

Have a great day!

I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to ramen flavours, but...

Good morning everyone,

Well, the sun should show up today. Let's be sure to enjoy it. But, be careful out there. It's going to be a lot hotter than it has been for the past few days. The good news (for us in Chugoku) is that it looks like Typhoon 8 will head straight and not turn right into Japan like they usually do.

In the world of instant noodles, Nissin’s Cup Ramen brand often takes centre stage in Japan, pushing aside its competitors with irresistible flavours like pizza and Chicken Nugget French Fries, but there’s another brand that’s been stepping out from Cup Ramen’s shadow in recent years, with a tub of noodles that’s 1.5 times the size of others.

Called Super Cup 1.5 Bai (which translates to Super Cup 1.5 times), this brand of noodles comes from Japan’s instant noodle specialists at Acecook. And while they’ve dabbled in unusual flavours before, they’re looking to steal the limelight this summer with a brand new taste sensation that’s got everyone talking: vanilla-flavoured creamy seafood ramen.

Looking at the product itself, it’d be easy to mistake this for a tub of ramen-flavoured ice cream, but the image of the soft-serve on the packaging comes with a disclaimer next to it, which reads: “Does not contain vanilla ice cream“.

That’s not to say they’re not trying go evoke the sense of eating an ice cream with their product though, as that’s exactly the appeal of these new noodles, which are said to be a perfect balance between the rich, creamy prawn-and-scallop seafood broth and the sweet scent and flavour of vanilla.

Though the noodles need to be prepared the usual way, with the addition of boiling water, the inclusion of vanilla in its own separate powder packet allows the consumers to control the amount and timing for blending the flavour into their noodles. Adding it towards the end, after the noodles have cooled, will bring out the flavour of a creamy seafood ice cream.

According to the company, the new ramen was created to help celebrate a landmark anniversary for their Super Cup 1.5 Bai, which has been satisfying the appetites of Japanese noodle lovers for 30 years.

On sale from 30 July at stores around the country, the new vanilla flavoured creamy seafood ramen is set to retail for 210 yen plus tax. What do you think? Tempted? I think I'll pass...I'll stick to miso ramen...ha ha!

Have a great day!

With all this rain, let's celebrate some sun

Good morning everyone,

It's been a crazy few days with the rain, hasn't it? If you were hoping for it to finally clear up, you'll have to wait one more day. It's going to be mostly cloudy and rainy today with sun and warm weather coming tomorrow. The good news is that the rest of the week is looking pretty nice...the bad news is that there's another typhoon heading towards Japan that we need to keep our eyes on.

After several straight days of rain and clouds it's hard to imagine what the sun looks like. But to keep their spirits from darkening too much, those stuck inside could take sunny-mooded solace in the fact that July 5 is Bikini Day.

Commemorating the public unveiling of the two-piece beachwear garment, Bikini Day is marked with the copious sharing of swimsuit snapshots and selfies, and this year was no exception.

Image result for japan bikini day july 5

▼ It’s not clear if this model really needs an inner tube to stay afloat, or just wants to add a dash of cuteness to her photo shoot.
Image result for japan bikini day july 5

Some, such as this pachinko writer (yep, that’s an actual job some people in Japan have)…

Image result for ビキニ日 july 5

…and this model…

Image result for ビキニ日 july 5

…focused their Bikini Day efforts into individual-photo tweets. Others, though…

Image result for ビキニの日 友達

Image result for ビキニの日 友達

…came to the conclusion that, much like a bikini has both a top and a bottom, pictures with friends were called for,

Even the official Twitter account for Sanrio’s lazy anthropomorphized egg Gudetama joined in.

Of course, spend too much time looking at swimsuits, and eventually everything starts to look like a bikini…

…so maybe it’s best that Bikini Day only comes once a year...we just have to wait 362 days till the next one comes around...I hope I can make it that long! Ha ha!

Have a great day!

Time to cut the carbs out of your diet

Good morning everyone,

I hope you've got really high rubber boots, because the rain is still falling. It may let up this evening for a bit and then we're looking at a possibility of rain again tomorrow before finally seeing the sun on Monday.

Low-to-no-carb diets have been all the rage for years. Many swear by the diets' weight loss benefits, but several new studies suggest that limiting carbs may do more than slim your waistline—it may even save your life.

Some people are just plain eating too many carbs. If you overindulge on high carb foods, limiting those carbs can be a life-saver, literally. In one study, people who ate a lot of carbs (more than 60 percent of their daily calories) had a nearly 30 percent greater risk of dying during a seven-plus year period than people eating a low-carb diet. During the study period, 5,796 participants died and 4,784 had heart attacks or strokes. Researchers took a look at their diets and found that those who consumed the greatest amount of carbs were more likely to die, when compared with their counterparts who consumed the least. Fat, however, seemed protective. People who ate high-fat diet had a 23 percent lower risk of mortality, and an 18 percent lower risk of stroke compared to low intake group.