Look for sweets made by locals with plenty of love

Expect a vibrant spring and summer after the long and formidable winter!
Be amazed by Tohoku’s sweets and fruits.

Babahera

The sight of ice cream being sold under colorful parasols on the streets may be reminiscent of tropical countries and seaside resorts, but here in Akita prefecture, the sight of little old ladies selling ice cream on a regular roadside is commonplace.
This ice cream is called Babahera, a specialty of Akita. “Baba” refers to an elderly lady, while “hera” is the spatula that they use to shape the pink (strawberry flavor) and yellow (banana flavor) ice cream into a flower with practiced ease.

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Cherry Parfait

A variety of Yamagata’s delicious cherries top this luxurious parfait. Dig deep to discover the different unique ingredients that make up this multi-layered treat and compare the various cherries. The only time to enjoy this piece of art is during the cherry season, which usually starts in June.

Unique Christmas Desserts

Just as the seasons inspire traditional Japanese confectionery, the Western-style shops are inspired as well. Especially during Christmas season!

Snowglobe Dessert (1,200 yen)

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PR Times

Working Holiday Connection is collaborating with a café in Harajuku to raise money for people who want to make a change abroad. Only available from Dec. 16th, 2016 – Dec. 25th, 2016. Be quick to grab these adorable snowglobes as the café only has 60 seats. The main components are pistacchio and raspberry mousse, champagne jelly and cake pieces. Truly a Christmas delight!

Information
Working Holiday Connection
Harajuku Omotesando YM square shop
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Jingumae 4-chome 31-10 YM square Harajuku 2F
4-31-10, Jinguumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11am – 11pm every day
TEL: 03-6434-0359
URL: http://wh-c.jp/

2016 Kid’s Dream Cake (5,400 yen)

Christmas Cake
PR Times

Well-known bakery chain “Ginza Cozy Corner” launched a competition to design your Christmas Dream Cake, and this is the grand prize winner! Chosen from 17,663 participants, 5-year old Manami Hirano’s design won the honor of being realised in cake form. Her “Christmas Rainbow Cake” can only be pre-ordered and there is a limited quantity of 200 cakes. Each cake serves about 6-7 portions.

Information
Ginza Cozy Corner
Shop list (600 shops all over Japan): http://bit.ly/2ddBZBP
Order deadline: until Dec. 18th, 2016
Delivery/Pick-up date: Dec. 23-24-25, 2016

Christmas Doughnuts (190 yen ~)

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PR Times

If you’re not into the classic Christmas Cake, here are some Christmas doughnuts! Floresta is known for its animal doughnuts that now received a Christmas twist. Besides the cute designs, there are also walnut and rum doughnuts for a limited time during Christmas. Your friends will be surprised when you bring this tasty alternative to a Christmas party. Floresta uses all-natural ingredients from Hokkaido such as flour and soymilk.

Information
Shop list: http://bit.ly/2h0T3MT (Japanese only)
Limited until Dec. 25th, 2016

Christmas Tree Pancake Parfait (1,790 yen)

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PR Times

Since its opening last year the Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku has been charming diners with colorful dishes and crazy concoctions. Ingredients of this parfait are green tea mousse, cheese mousee and vanilla ice cream. This Christmas tree and snowman are made from cake and more ice cream.

Information
Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku
Shibuya Jingumae 4-31-10 YM square 4F
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am – 4:30pm (lunch) 6pm – 10:30pm (dinner) / Sunday 11am – 8:30pm
Url: http://kawaiimonster.jp/pc/

Christmas Trifle (800 yen)

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PR Times

Cute little strawberry Santas on top of fruit-filled layers. No sugary whipped cream is used so you can savor all the natural flavors.

Information
Nicolas House Harajuku
Limited time menu until Dec. 30th, 2016
address: Shibuya-ku Jingumae 4-26-5 1.2F
Hours: Weekdays 11am – 8pm (last order at 7pm) , Weekends 10am – 8pm (last order at 7pm)
URL: http://www.nicolasusagi.com/

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


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Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Japan Winter Street Food

Japan is sensitive to the seasons and this is reflected in their food. When the scenery changes the food stalls change as well. Here’s some of the most popular winter-themed Japanese street food.

Yakiimo (Baked Potato)

If you’re in Japan during the winter season you might have seen street vendors roast potatoes on coals. There are even yakiimo carts with a real fire, you’re lucky if you spot one! Most of the time they’re standard sweet potatoes but Japan has a large variety of potatoes that differ in taste. It’s wrapped in tinfoil and baked with its skin. This warm and sweet snack is delicious on a cold winter day and the roasted skin makes the outside nice and crispy.

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Nikuman

These meatbuns can be eaten all year round but are consumed more frequently during the winter season. The main reason is that they’re warm, delicious and fit comfortably in your hands. Your personal meat-filled pocket heater. You can buy these at special stands or at any convenience store. Besides the traditional niku-man (meat bun), there are also an-man (sweet bean paste bun), pizza-man (tomato meat sauce and cheese bun), curry-man and even chocolate-man.

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Oden

There is no clear way to describe oden as it consists of various ingredients in a clear broth. Moreover, these ingredients differ per region or have different fillings. The best way to describe oden is to eat it yourself. When it gets colder, oden stalls will pup up everywhere but you can also buy it at the convenience store. Usually there is a container size you can choose from and a variety of ingredients. Take the ones you like, add some broth and bring it to the register.

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Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Dragonball themed Café at Tower Records Café – Omotesando

The next time-limited café for November opened its doors in the beginning of the month. The popular anime series “Dragonball” celebrates its 30th anniversary, therefore the Tower Records Cafe branch opened three Dragonball themed café’s in Tokyo (Shibuya and Omotesando) and Osaka (Umeda).

The dishes and drinks feature the motives and characters of the anime designed by Akira Toriyama.
While enjoying your food you can listen to the original soundtrack and watch parts of the anime via a big screen.

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The menu includes two main dishes, two desserts and four drinks. We decided for the “Trunks and My Special – Plate” which comes with grilled pork, fried rice, egg and salad (1,500yen (tax included)); the “Majin Buu‘s Sweets Plate” with light berry cream, sponge cake, frozen fruits, chocolate, cookies, marshmallows and ice cream (1,200yen (tax included)); …

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… the “Planet Namek x Piccolo Soda” which is kiwi soda topped with grape sherbet and fresh cream (750yen /tax included) and the “Shenlong Soda”, melon soda topped with mango ice cream (800yen (tax included)).

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Everything was very delicious and it´s a MUST-GO for every fan!

Don´t forget to bring home some souvenirs as well!

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The original soundtrack, anniversary plates and coasters, T-shirts, bags, hoodies and much more are on sale!

We had a lot of fun and definitely plan to visit the other two cafe´s as well!

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Information

Date: November 1st (Tuesday) until November 30th (Wednesday)
Hours: 11am – 10pm (L.O. 9pm)
Tel: 03-5778-9491
Access: 6min walk from Harajuku Station – Omotesando Exit (JR Yamanote Line); 2min walk from Meiji Jingumae Station Exit 5 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line); 8min walk from Omotesando Station Exit A2 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line, Ginza Line)
Address: Imon Building 2F, 6-3-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆

Ninja ID: nene16


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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kapibara-san theme Café at Tokyu Plaza Omotesando

Another limited-time café came to Tokyo in the beginning of November and enchants its guests with cute dishes featuring Kapibara-san a fluffy capybara and his friends.

Located on the 5th floor of Tokyu Plaza’s Omotesando Building, the Tokyu Hands Café is holding a special collaboration event with a carefully made menu featuring cute dishes in the shape of Kapibara-san.

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The place is nicely decorated with panels and stuffed animals, …

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…as well as cute welcome messages at the entrance.

The collaboration menu covers two main dishes, one dessert and two different drinks. Of course you can also choose out of the normal menu.

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We decided for the Teriyaki-Chicken Sandwich plate (1,380 yen including tax), the apple pancakes (1,280 yen including tax) and the Marshmallow Latte (700 yen including tax).

Everything was really delicious and carefully decorated!

After enjoying your meal how about spending a relaxed evening at the Starbucks Terrace on the 6th floor and view the illuminations and the sunset over Shibuya?

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Information

Date: November 1st (Tuesday) until November 30th (Wednesday)
Hours: 11am – 9pm (L.O. 8:30pm)
Tel: 03-3478-0717
Access: 4min walk from Harajuku Station – Omotesando Exit (JR Yamanote Line); 1min walk from Meiji Jingumae Station Exit 5 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line); 7min walk from Omotesando Station Exit A2 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line, Ginza Line)
Address: Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku 5F, 4-30-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tokyu-hands.co.jp

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

MoCHA, the stylish cat café

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Image credit: PR Times

Japan has many cat cafés, but this chain takes it up a notch. MoCHA, reminiscent of the French word for cat “chat”, is a stylish chain in Tokyo providing both cats and visitors with a relaxing atmosphere. Cat cafés are often built to be cosy, making MoCHA unique with its trendy interior.

How does it work?

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Image credit: PR Times

Cat cafés all around Japan mostly have a similar system; you pay a set entry fee for a certain time limit (this may or may not include a drink) and you’re ready to go! Most often shoes are off limits, but this can depend on the café. The management will also ask not to pick up the cats or disturb them. These furry hosts get many visitors on one day and would like to be able to relax when needed.

Rules at MoCHA
-Don’t chase the cats
-Don’t hold the cats
-Don’t feed the cats any human food. If you want to feed them, you can buy some treats at the café
-Photos are allowed, but turn off your flash
-Don’t speak in loud voices

What makes MoCHA different?

The main concept of MoCHA is to provide a serene, healing space. MoCHA thought about both cats and humans while designing the interior. Wooden trees, fake bird cages, ladders and plants provide plenty of entertainment and relaxing space for the cats while being a treat for the human eye. Instead of regular chairs and benches there are relaxing sofas and reclining chairs.

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Image credit: PR Times

All that’s left to feel completely at ease is a kitty on your lap, and MoCHA has about 15~20 of them at every café! You can learn their names and favorite foods from one of the photo books. These adorable cat dictionaries also have baby pictures of when they were just a kitten.

Cat themed drinks

Besides offering the basic café drinks, MoCHA also has an “all you can drink” option for 350 yen. Some hot drinks come with a kitty-shaped marshmallow or snack.

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Image credit: PR Times

Starting September 2016, MoCHA is collaborating with professional marhsmallow maker “Yawahada”, creating treats based on the café’s three most popular cats, all coincidentally named after delicious food! Wasabi: a female black and white Siberian, Azuki(sweet red beans): a female calico Munchkin, and Kinako (roasted soybean flour): a male light-cream tabby Scottish Fold. For the paws you can choose between vanilla, chocolate and black tea.

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Image credit: PR Times

Information

MoCHA Shibuya

Shibuya
Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Asoruti Shibuya building, 8F
Access: 5-min walk from Shibuya Station
Address: 32-12 Udagawachō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0042
Characteristics: The café is like a big lounge, watching over Shibuya
URL: http://catmocha.jp/shibuya/

MoCHA Ikebukuro West

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Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Near Ikebukuro Westgate Park, there is a seven eleven store on the 1st floor
Access: 1-min walk from Ikebukuro Station West Exit
Address: 1 Chome-15-6 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tōkyō-to 171-0021
Characteristics: Natural materials such as wooden trees and soft ambient light give this café its relaxing atmosphere.
URL: http://catmocha.jp/ikebukuro/

MoCHA Ikebukuro East

Ikebukuro East
Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 1,800 yen general admission
Location: Sanke building 4F
Access: 3-min walk from Ikebukuro Station East Exit
Address: 1 Chome-22-5 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tōkyō-to 170-0013
Characteristics: Relaxing lounge style
URL: http://catmocha.jp/ikebukuro2/

MoCHA Harajuku

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Image credit: PR Times


Hours
: every day from 10am – 8pm (last entry at 7:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Cross Avenue Harajuku 3F
Access: Right next to Harajuku Station Omotesando exit
Address: 150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingūmae, 1 Chome−14-25
Characteristics: Refreshing green carpets, wooden trees and fake bird cages for the cats to rest
URL: http://catmocha.jp/harajuku/

Katana Fair and Samurai dining

Go on a journey back in time to two of the most iconic periods for samurai; the Sengoku and the Edo period.
Diamond Dining is offering a unique dining experience for Japan’s history-loving women called Rekijo(歴女). The event is split into two areas, Sengoku and Edo. If you and your friends love Japanese history or you want to meet a Rekijo, this event is made for you!

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Sengoku Area

The Sengoku period (戦国時代) was from 1467 – 1603. The name literally means civil war era because of the many internal conflicts that were going on in Japan at the time. Local lords battled each other for more territory and army campaigns were a common occurrence. During this dark time genius strategists and powerful samurai were born. Some of the most famous samurai and swords have been incorporated into the dishes served in this area. The armors of Date Masamune, Yukimura Sanada, Keiji Maeda and Kenshin Uesugi welcome you to your private dining chamber.

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Heshikiri Hasebe (Sweet Potatoes in bamboo /780 yen
This dish is based on one of Nobunaga’s stories. One time he sensed an enemy hiding behind wooden planks and he pierced him right through the wall with his sword Heshikiri Hasebe. Oda Nobunaga lived from 1534 – 1582 and was one of the most powerful lords of Japan. He almost succeeded in completely unifying Japan before he was assassinated.

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Date Masamune nabe (2,980 yen)
This luxurious nabe is meant to mimick famous warlord Date Masamune’s hospitality. The beef is imported from Sendai. During his life (1567 – 1636) Date Masamune was the lord of Sendai and turned it into a prosperous city. He was very loyal to the military government but everyone feared his power. Because of his missing eye he was nicknamed “the one-eyed-dragon”.

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Tsurumura Kuninaga (830 yen)
This dessert is based on a famous white sword with a white scabbard. It is said that the sword stayed perfectly white even after hundreds of years. Its first owner possibly lived during the 13th century but it’s confirmed that the Date family possessed the sword somewhere during 1716 – 1736. The strawbberies mimick the blood that would have marked the pure white sword.

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Mikazuki Munechika (880 yen)
Regarded as one of the “Five Famous Swords of Japan”, this blade has a strong curve typical of a katana and a crescent pattern. The dish resembles the famous crescent curve and contains seasonal pike fish.

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Ichigo Hitofuri (1,280 yen)
This blade is the only tachi(long katana) made by Awadaguchu Yoshimitsu. The dish aims to mimick the alterations that have been made to the straight temper line of the blade to fit every new owner. Beltfish (a member of the cutlass family) and ginger are the main components.

And more…

The Edo Area

The Edo period (1603 – 1868) comes right after the Sengoku period and is a time of relative peace. Japan is united under the Tokugawa family, a military government with the Shogun as leader. Schools and roads are built, art flourishes and the population rises. It is only at the end of the Edo period that Japan is in turmoil again and the samurai rise again in a period known as the Bakumatsu (1853 – 1867).

Ikedaya Affair House

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In 2015 Diamond Dining already held the “Ikedaya fair” and thanks to the success it’s back again. Based on the “Ikedaya affair (1864)”, a famous event where Kyoto’s special police force, the Shinsengumi, managed to stop plans to deliberately burn down Kyoto. Members of the Shinsengumi will lead you to your table and serve your drinks.

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1) Kashuu Kiyomitsu
This sword belonged to the captain of the Shinsengumi’s first troop, Okita Souji. This sword was said to be used during the Ikedaya affair where its tip broke off. Contains cranberry and grenadine.
2) Yamatonokami Yasusada
Forged in the early Edo period, this sword had many owners but its most famous one was Okita Souji. Okita used this very lethal sword after Kashu Kiyomitsu broke at the Ikedaya affair. Contains calpis and lemon soda.
3) Nagasone Kotetsu
Belonging to Kondo Isami, the Shinsengumi’s commander, this fake kotetsu blade was probably the most famous. Made by Minamoto Kiyomaro, one of the best smiths of the era, it bears a fake signature. Contains mango and pineapple.
4) Izuminokami Kanesada
Shinsengumi’s vice captain Hijikata Toshizo, nicknamed “demon vice captain” was this sword’s owner. Made by the 11th generation Kanesada and a very popular sword. Contains white wine and raspberries.

Edo Shinsengumi Area

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When you enter the dining area it will feel like you entered the Shinsengumi’s headquarters. Statues of Kondo Isami, Hijikata Toshizo and Okita Soji welcome you before being lead to a private dining area.

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Horikawa Kunihiro (850 yen)
Inspired by the demon vice captain’s wakizashi (accompanying smaller katana). Contains pickled radish and a tartar of avocado. Hijikata was said to love pickled radish. One famous story tells of him taking a bucket of pickled radish with him after his host told him to take as many as he likes.

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Yamatonokami Yasusada (650 yen)
The are rumors that Shinsengumi first troop captain Okita Souji had a sweet tooth, but that’s not what this dessert is based on. One of the most feared swordsman of the Bakumatsu, the red bean paste and sweet potato’s color mimick his many assassinations.

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Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki (1,980 yen)
This beef nabe carries the name of Sakamoto Ryoma’s sword, the famous reformer of Japan. Containing miso, sweet sake and vegetables this was said to be Sakamoto Ryoma’s favorite dish made by his wife Oryo. Can be ordered by two people. Be careful to not let this nabe get too close to any of the Shinsengumi dishes as they were sworn enemies.

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Kashuu Kiyomitsu (680 yen)
Sushi roll bearing Okita Souji’s family crest and decorated with flowers.

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Nagasone Kotetsu (680 yen)
The commander of the Shinsengumi liked “tamago fuwafuwa”, literally meaning “fluffy eggs”. This is a kind of egg soup that became popular during the Edo period. The dish is decorated to resemble Kondo Isami’s family crest.

Information

This special event will run from Oct. 1, 2016 – Nov. 31, 2016

Sengoku Area

Hours: 5pm – 0am (Mon – Thurs) / 5pm – 3am (Fr – Sun)
Location: Shinjuku Kabukicho T-wing building 4F
Access: 3-min walk from Shinjuku station
Address: 160-0021 Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-6-2 T-wing building 4F
TEL: 03-3209-2277
URL: http://www.diamond-dining.jp/shop_info/sengoku-buyuden/(Japanese only)

Ikedaya Affair House

Hours: 5pm – 11pm (Mon & Sun) / 5pm – 4am (Tue – Sat)
Location: Musashino Hall 6F
Access: 2-min walk from Shinjuku station
Address: 160-0022 Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Shinjuku 3-27-10 Musashino Hall 6F
TEL: 03-5360-7644
URL: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g465407/(Japanese only)

Edo Shinsengumi Area

Hours: 5pm – 0am (Mon – Sat) / 5pm – 11pm (Sun & Holidays)
Location: Shinjuku building B1
Access: 1-min walk from JR Shinjuku station West Exit
Address: 160-0023 Tokyo Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 1-4-2 141 Shinjuku building B1
TEL: 03-3347-2207
URL: Http://R.Gnavi.Co.Jp/g600187/(Japanese only)

Don’t forget to pick up one of the free tsuba(Japanese sword mounting) gifts you get with each dining experience!
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Source: PR Times

Combini Checkout: A beginner’s guide to Onigiri

Whether it be for a outdoor picnic or a quick lunch break at your office desk, the Japanese rice ball, onigiri or omusubi is filling, convenient, and can pack a whole lot of flavor. It has been in the diet of Japanese people for so long, they say you can tell a person’s character by their choice of onigiri!

For the same reason, any decent Combini (convenience store) in Japan will have at least one dedicated rack with a variety of onigiri. Here are some of the most common types and the personalities that favor them:

1. 鮭 Shake/Sake

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Salmon that is grilled with salt then shredded, it should always be perfectly seasoned and not dry. People who favor this filling tend to take things slowly. They are also deliberate, strong-willed and steadfast in their principles.

2. ツナマヨ Tuna Mayo

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Sometimes also called シーチキン (Sea chicken), the tuna should not be overwhelmed by the mayonnaise, and the mix should be creamy and slightly tart. People who like this filling are said to be of pure heart and possess inner beauty, but also have a tendency to be hard-headed.

3. 昆布 Kombu

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Shredded Kombu (edible kelp) that is cooked in a soy sauce based mixture until tender, it should taste slightly salty and sweet. People who like this filling are said to favor simplicity. They avoid complications and prefer things (and relationships) that are straightforward.

4. 明太子 Mentaiko

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Mentaiko or spicy cod roe, is sometimes mixed with karashi (mustard), mayonnaise, egg or other ingredients. People who choose mentaiko are tuned in to new trends and are up to date. They also tend to be good at fashion, cooking, and/or socializing.

5. 梅干し Umeboshi

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Salty and sour pickled plum, it is sometimes cut up and mixed in with the rice. People who prefer umeboshi in their onigiri are said to be faithful and reliable. They also tend to be extremely detailed and prefer to do things properly.

Other types of onigiri

焼きおにぎり Yaki onigiri – Rice basted with sauce and grilled without filling.
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おかか Okaka – Dried bonito flakes seasoned with soy sauce.
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赤飯 Sekihan – sticky rice steamed with adzuki beans, tinting the rice with a reddish color.
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Also check out our other Combini Checkout articles:
Combini Checkout: A beginner’s guide to bottled tea


WAttention Ninja Writer Profile

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Melissa Wullur
I’m an amateur writer and avid reader who’s been living in Japan since 2007. I enjoy reading and writing about food, travel, and quirky trivia. I treat 100 yen shopping as therapy.

Ninja ID: ID001-M