I’ve been “studying” cosmetics the past couple of months, since Japanese Greats is beginning to work with a few cosmetics companies and I am only interested in working with companies and products I can vouch for. That being said, it is still very difficult for me to have the fine appreciation for cosmetics as a only partial user.

Still, good, healthy, supple, and moist skin is something that anyone can appreciate. I do use a range of lotions and creams to keep my skin healthy, mostly after shaving (face and head), but also after getting too much sun and, especially, when I’m tired. Not enough sleep is ravaging on health, including the skin. And the skin is one of the most important and sensitive of body organs. After all, it is the one that provides the biggest barrier between our internal organs and the outside environment!

But despite my efforts to understand what makes great cosmetics so wonderful, I have to defer the finer points to my female colleagues. I’m sure that I’ll be posting more about cosmetics – here and elsewhere online – but I don’t expect ever to be doing research like this post! Kudos to Kuv for this!

Odigo Travel Blog

I’ve been living in Japan for a little over 8 months. I spent most of August 2014 sweating 24/7 and I noticed that most Japanese women had perfect glowy skin, completely unaffected by the 30+ degree heat and humidity. The sensible side of me knows that the reason Japanese women look so amazing comes mostly down to science and genes, but the consumer in me wants to know what products they use to look like this. If I could reach just a fraction of that I would be delighted!

Perfect Whip Japans top selling face wash which you can win through our Instagram competition! Details below.

I held off buying anything until winter as I still had my UK products from home. One morning in December I woke up with skin that felt like a paper bag. I decided that it was time to adapt and search for some products to help me…

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I quite agree that this is a good Bucket list. I’ve done all but #7. I think there are probably a lot of others that could be included, but I love that she doesn’t say anything about visiting a temple in Kyoto. I think it is something that should be done, but it gives far less insight to understanding and appreciating the heart and soul of Japan than most people realize. (My middle name comes from a Buddhist monk from a major Kyoto temple, so I feel somewhat uniquely qualified to say this.) To become a Zen priest is one thing, but you don’t get much enlightenment from taking a photo of a Golden Pavilion with a thousand others being whisked through the line after paying an entrance fee – oh, sorry, a visitor’s donation. I’m much more enlightened after a dip in a remote onsen rotemburo in Yuzawa (or substitute any number of other great places).


Your first trip to Japan is bound to be a whirlwind visit as you try to pack so many things into a short period of time. Do go to Tokyo and see the white-gloved train pushers, the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, and many of the scenes depicted in anime and manga. Do go to Kyoto and see the shrines and temples that are simply amazing.

But as a country that has so much to offer, it can take years to really get to know and understand Japan, even when you live here. So if you want to take your understanding of Japan a step further, we’re here to suggest a few things you’ll want to experience in order to better understand Japanese culture: things that give you insight on what’s behind the Japanese way of thinking.

These experiences will help you understand who the Japanese people are, and why they…

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I’m not surprised by this at all. Bullying by adults after they are finished with what they did in school is way more harsh than the kids stuff. No doubt, the hierarchy in the countryside is based primarily on muscle and is only circumvented at times by the power of money. While the real rural lands are plagued now with a dearth of people and the only ones left are getting old, the less populated cities and towns are much like the hick towns in the U.S. and other western nations. it’s just a different form of the same jaded blue-collar cowboy conservatism that puts the power in the hands of the “redneck” ruffians that rule with their fists.


Ijime, or bullying, is sadly as much a part of Japanese school life as it is in any other country. In Japan, too, each school has a sort of social hierarchy, where the “cool kids” often pick on or exclude the nerdy/unsporty kids, and everyone gets shuffled around until the “stronger” kids are on the top and the “weaker” kids are on the bottom.

But in a society like Japan, where group mentality is so important, you’d be mistaken for thinking that after high school everyone just flutters off to become their own special snowflake and cast off the mental wounds of a tough adolescence.

In other words, if someone was bullied in school, there’s a chance they’ll keep on being bullied by the same people right on through their working days if they stay in the same town. So how does this “high school hierarchy” continue to affect…

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I’ve pounded mochi the traditional way around 50 times. Never like this, though!



The making of mochi, traditional Japanese rice cakes, is a traditional activity for many Japanese families around the time of the New Year’s holiday. The term for this important ritual in Japanese is mochitsuki (餅つき), which quite simply means “mochi pounding.”

While there are dozens of mochi specialty shops scattered throughout Japan, one particular shop specializing in yomogimochi (mochi mixed with mugwort, giving it a distinctive green color) in Nara Prefecture boasts much more than delicious sweets–its second claim to fame is that it employs the fastest mochitsuki champions in all of the country!

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Anime girls are here to promote the subway – in Kyoto!


As we recently reported, the bigwigs at the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau got together a while back and had a little brainstorming session regarding how to convince more people to use the subway. So what did they come up with?

Super-kawaii moe anime girls plastered all over the place! All part of the “Let’s ride the subway” advertising campaign, which hopes to bring in an extra 50,000 passengers a day. So how are people reacting to the sudden plethora of brightly colored cuteness all over their train platforms and carriages?

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This is not made in Japan, but Toriyama Akira’s manga and anime, Dragon Ball, has spawned an industry of spin offs and rip offs. This is the first fan-made film I’ve seen made in the west that is so true to the spirit of the originals (excepting, possibly, the lack of humor that is integral to DZ) that it made the 13 minutes seem to fly by. I love it!



A fan-made sequel to Dragon Ball Z has racked up 3 million views on YouTube, and sent fans into a frenzy of anticipation for the following episodes – if the rest of the series gets funded. The pilot episode of Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope is based on animated special ‘The History of Trunks’, a DBZ sequel that tells the story of (you guessed it!) the young warrior Trunks.

In the words of every fan ever: “It’s better than ‘Dragonball Evolution’!” On the one hand, that’s not saying much, as Dragon Ball Evolution got spectacularly bad reviews. But on the other hand, when a fan-made film is better than one with a Hollywood budget, that’s certainly something to be proud of.

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With the first season of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal well underway, not only is a new generation of wannabe Sailor Scouts emerging, but thousands of fangirls of the original 1990s series are rekindling their love for Usagi-chan and her evil-fighting besties.

Marketers timed the release of this new anime series well, as the original fans are now young adults who have money to spend on Sailor Moon goods, like aprons, lingerie, and even feminine pads, which allow them to bask in nostalgia, but still pass as adults (more or less).

Some veteran Sailor Scouts are choosing to show their support in a different age-appropriate way, by transforming their nails. Sailor Moon themed nail art has become a fashion craze and is blowing up in nail salons all over Japan. 

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Great post about bathing in Japan, from RocketNews24.


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With the invention of indoor plumbing and bathtubs (not really news to anyone, we’d hope), the traditional public bath houses and hot springs of Japan are now used for relaxing getaways more than actual hygienic necessity. Heck, even capybara soak in hot springs to relax!

Hot springs, known as onsen in Japanese, are also becoming popular with foreign visitors, at least those brave enough to bare it all in front of strangers. For health and safety reasons, there are quite a few rules to pay attention to when soaking in a public bath. A very nicely designed etiquette poster, which recently surfaced on TripAdvisor, is very thorough and is even teaching Japanese people a thing or two about the bathing experience!

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The Rice Candy products come from Kanazawa.  They are called “Rice Candy”, because they are made from organic rice and intended to be like traditional Japanese candy, which is soft and gooey and eaten on a stick.  Image

Photograph of Japanese Amezaiku / Performer Masaji Terasawa at a Japanese festival in St. Louis Missouri. (public domain)
Author, Mike Smick

Amezaiku is the Japanese craft of making sculptures with the traditional taffy-like candy. You can sometimes see amezaiku artists perform at Japanese festivals. 


Kanazawa Ame-chan Jam

The Rice Candy Jam contains no added sugar, but is sweet only from the rice and wheat used to make the jam.  It is made not unlike the traditional candy, but has some fruits or vegetables added for flavor.  In the photo is a slice of bread with pumpkin jam on it.  It may look like organic honey and it is very similar to honey in consistency and sweetness.  The jam does taste like pumpkin, though.  So did the sweet potato jam that we finished last week!

The flavorful jams are available online through the Kanazawa Daichi store:


Bummed to know that tanuki storyteller Chris Berthelsen has relocated to New Zealand, but I loved his fun-filled stories featuring tanuki and loincloths. I wish him all the best and hope to relive this again someday!

Tokyo Green Space



My super-extroverted tanuki co-conspirator, Chris Berthelsen, has relocated to New Zealand. It was touching that at our last public outing his special feature consisted of a 1964 Tokyo Olympic cloth featuring African-American athletes. Although not clear from this poor photo, the setting is Aoyama Danchi, one of tanuki’s favorite urban wild spaces.

Thanks, Chris, for all the creativity and boundary hopping. I was also super happy to hear that the original tanuki mask, made by Chris’ wife, is now in the possession of a Dutch teen in Tokyo.

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