Have a Kawaii Valentine’s Day!: Cute Mochi (Japanese Rice Cake), Daifuku


Coming Valentine’s Day is going to be my first Valentine’s Day in Japan! I have been working hard on searching for special Valentine’s sweets for my boyfriend who does not like chocolates so much (how can he!!). As I am living in Japan now, the easiest thing I could think of was the ‘mochi’ (Japanese rice cake), particularly, ‘daifuku’.

Daifuku is a small round-shaped mochi stuffed with sweet filling. The most common is white-, pale green-, or pale pink-colored mochi filled with ‘anko’, sweetened red bean paste. In Japan, there are many kinds of daifuku with various colors and fillings, and they are popular gifts or souvenirs among the Japanese.

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Picture of common daifuku (“Daifuku 1”. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons)

For people who want to give their valentines special sweets other than chocolate or other common candies on Valentine’s Day, daifuku can also make a good sweet.

Below are pictures of daifuku I found in some Japanese sweet stores on first floor of Daimaru department store which is directly connected to Tokyo Station. Here is the location of the building.

A pale pink-colored daifuku in the picture below is one of ‘ichigo daifuku’, which is stuffed with strawberry and sweet filing. This daifuku’s name is ‘Ichigo-anju’ which means strawberry (ichigo) red bean (an) pearl (ju).

strawberry mochi
an ‘Ichigo-anju’ with straberry and red bean filling

For your information, most ichigo daifuku contain whole pieces of strawberry like the one in the below picture.

A ichigo daifuku with a whole piece of strawberry (cut in half)
An ichigo daifuku(cut in half) with a whole piece of strawberry in it (image from WordPress)

Below are ‘Suikanshuku’ filled with persimmon filling. The name, Suikanshuku means elegant(sui) sweet(kan) soft(shuku).

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‘Suikanshuku,’ mochi filled with persimmon filling

Below are daifuku stuffed with anko and covered with tiny colored rice crackers. The name of daifuku is ‘Shunsaika’ which means spring(shun) plant(sai) flower(ka).

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‘Shunsaika’ filled with red bean paste and covered with tiny rice crackers

Below is a picture of Oniyarai Mochi (left) and sushi shaped mochi (right). Oniyarai Mochi, which name means ‘out with the demons’, is filled with red bean paste and covered with powdered sponge cake. These mochi are inspired by Setsubun (the day before the beginning of Spring in Japan). On that day, the Japanese eat soybeans and roll sushi to avoid evils bring bed luck. You can see masks of Japanese demon in this picture, too.

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Oniyarai Mochi (left) and sushi shaped mochi (right)

Below might look like chocolates, but actually they are daifuku covered with red bean paste and stuffed with a whole piece of chestnut. This is interesting daifuku because red bean paste was not used for anko but for cover. The daifuku’s name is ‘Ikoten’ which means ‘to become generous.’ Maybe you can present this daifuku to person you want to be more generous? :p

red bean mochi
‘Ikoten’ covered with red bean paste and stuffed with a whole piece of chestnut

So far, I have shown you some kinds of daifuku (actually there are way more kinds of daifuku in Japan…I will talk more about them later!). What do you think? I hope this post is helpful for you to get an idea for special Valentine’s Day gifts (I am still working on it! >_<).

How about making sweets with red bean paste instead of chocolate for this Valentine’s Day? 🙂

Thank you for reading my post!
-Dr.Mouse-
References

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Japanese Fruits Daifuku (Rice Cake) – strawberry


Mixed Mochi (Red Bean, Peanut, and Sesame)

Japanese Fruits Daifuku Mochi (Rice Cake)- Melon

Tokyo Character Street in First Avenue Tokyo Station!


Today I want to introduce you one of must-go places for whom love Japanese anime and other characters.

The First Avenue Tokyo Station! 😀

Entrance of Tokyo Character Street http://otoiawase.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/en/
Entrance of Tokyo Character Street (Photo from http://otoiawase.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/en/)

First Avenue Tokyo Station is a three-floor commercial establishment which is connected to Yaesu exit of the Tokyo Station (a railway station in Marunouchi District of Tokyo). The establishment has cafes, restaurants (visit Tokyo Ramen Street!), and many shops for sweets, clothing, and character goods. Below is the location of ‘Tokyo Station.’


And this link has a very good map of ‘First Avenue Tokyo Station’. You can print out and use it -> http://www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/pdf/floorMap_foreign.pdf

Though there are many other attractions that visitors can enjoy in First Avenue Tokyo Station, I visit there mostly for enjoying Tokyo Character Street!

There are many character-specific stores for famous Japanese anime and other characters in the place.

Here is the map of the character street.

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Map of Tokyo Character Street

In this post, I show you some major stores of Tokyo Character Street.

Jump Shop

Kamehameha~~This store has products for well-known Japanese anime such as Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece.

Donguri Garden

This is the place where has goods for Ghibli animes including My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away). The store has pretty many kinds of character goods, but ‘Donguri Republic’ or Stores in ‘Ghibli Museum’ have more stuff than this store does 🙂 You should visit Ghibli Museum in Tokyo if you love Totoro!

Hello Kitty Shop

You know Hello Kitty right? 🙂 Many kinds of Hello Kitty items are here!

Rilakkuma Store

Rilakkuma means relaxed(rila) bear(kkuma). Like people love teddy bears, bear characters seem to beloved by people all over the world. You can see a variety of goods of cute bear character, Rilakkuma in this store. For more information about this store go to this post! -> Rilakkuma Store in First Avenue Tokyo Station: Cute Rilakkuma Goods are here! 😀

Kyurutto Shop

The store has goods for a character, Kapibara-san (Mr. Kapibara) which is one of my favorite Japanese characters. The character was inspired by a animal ‘capybara’ which is the largest rodent in the world. Though the title ‘a large rodent’ might sound creepy to some people, the animal is actually very cute and sweet enough to beloved by many people.

Pokemon

Pokemon! Even though new seasons of Pokemon keep coming out on TV, I still prefer the oldest one to the others.

Tamagotchi

For people do not know what Tamagotchi is, Tamagotchi is a small toy computer (mostly egg-shaped) which houses digital pets. The name, Tamagotchi is combination of words tamago which means egg in Japanese and watch, the english word. The store reminds me of my childhood playing many Tamagotchis (and I killed many of them. I was a terrible mom :().

Nameko Official Shop

Nameko is also one of my favorite Japanese characters but not very well-known to non-Japanese people. The character was inspired by nameko, one of common mushrooms that the Japanese eat. For more information about Nameko Official shop, visit this post! -> Nameko Official Shop: Fall in Love with This Mushroom Character. And if you want to know more about Nameko as a game character, visit this post, too -> Mushroom Garden(Game) : Let’s Grow Funny and Cute Mushroom, ‘Nameko!’

So far, I showed you some major stores for Japanese character products in Tokyo Character Street. Here I briefly talked about some Japanese characters (sometimes in one sentence lol). But in my other posts, I would love to talk about those characters in detail 😀

Here are my souvenirs from Tokyo Character Street.

Nameko & Kapibara-san
Nameko & Kapibara-san

Thank you for reading my post! Have a great day ~ 😀

References

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Hello Kitty Peel and Stick Wall Decals

Rilakkuma San-X Small Rilakkuma Plush


Pokemon Rare Grabbag – 20 Rare Pokemon Cards

Cute Japanese Chopstick & Chopstick Rest Store, ‘Ginza Nastuno’


In Shin-Marunouchi (new Marunouchi) building near the Tokyo station, I found a very cute chopstick and chopstick rest store. The store’s name was ‘Ginza Natsuno.’ Ginza Natsuno is the best chopstick store in Japan (what a lucky I was! I just happened to visit the store without knowing that). The main branch is in Ginza District of Tokyo. The store’s official website (English) is https://www.e-ohashi.com/shop_en.php. You can check other branches of this store in different locations on this website.


location of Ginza Natsuno, Chiyoda, Tokyo
The store had a variety of beautiful chopsticks and chopstick rests which reminded me of stores in Kyoto city (Kyoto has many stores selling Japanese traditional items).

Ginza Natsuno Chopsticks Store
Ginza Natsuno chopsticks store
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the attractive display of the store drew me into the store.

Below are pictures of chopsticks in the store. I felt like I was in a chopstick museum.

 

Check this out! The chopsticks are decorated with jewels!

Chopsticks decorated with jewels
Chopsticks decorated with jewels

This store made me think about the fact how important chopsticks are to Japanese people. It is said that Japanese people eat almost every kind of food with chopsticks (even though I am from Korea, one of chopsticks using countries, I use a spoon for eating rice and soup), and each Japanese people has personal chopsticks (even family members do not share their chopsticks). Click this link if you want to know more about chopsticks culture of Japan ->http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xnphtf_japan-chopsticks-%E7%AE%B8-%EF%BC%91-tv-begin-japanology-english-japanese-culture_shortfilms

Chopsticks were not only things that I could enjoy in the store. There were many cute chopstick rests and other home decorating items in the store.

Below are the cute chopstick rests. You might want to click the pictures below to see the full size pictures. Trust me, they are so cute!

And other cute decorating items in the store…

Even though there were many cute and beautiful items in the store, one item caught my eyes and actually made me buy it was this.

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This is a miniature display platform of ‘hina dolls,’ the dolls for celebrating a Japanese special day, Hinamatsuri (Doll’s day or Girl’s day).

Below is a picture of the original Hina-dolls. For more information about Hinamatsuri and hina dolls, go to this post -> Girl’s Day in Japan! Hinamatsuri & Hina dolls

HinaSet
“HinaSet” by user:Michaelbuddy – Copy from en.wikipedia

And below are other miniature Hina-doll display platforms in the store. They were also cute, but I thought the rabbit one was the cutest among them.

One more good thing of the store was the staff could speak English 🙂

 

If you love Japanese chopsticks or chopstick rests, visit ‘Ginza Natsuno!’

 

Oh, and these are pictures of my souvenir from the store 😀

Thank you for reading my post!

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Ryu Mei Sakura Black Chopstick


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5 Pairs Japanese Chopsticks Flower & Leaves Design

6pcs Panda Pattern Chopsticks Spoons and Forks Holder

Mini ‘Taiyaki'(Japanese Fish-Shaped Cake)!


For whom did not know what taiyaki is, taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake. The name taiyaki literally means, Baked(yaki) Sea Bream(Tai). The fish-shaped cake is made of pancake or waffle batter and normally filled with sweetened red bean paste.

“Taiyaki” Photo by Toto-tarou (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiyaki)

Taiyakis I bought in a station in Tokyo are interesting even for Japanese people because they are much smaller than regular taiyakis.

Ochobo taiyaki stand

 

The taiyaki restaurant’s name was ‘Ochobo Taiyaki’

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finger size taiyaki

As you can see, the taiyaki was so small and cute!

A mini taiyaki

Below is a picture that was taken when I made taiyaki in my friend’s home in America. Compare sizes of the mini taiyaki and a regular taiyaki in the picture 🙂

Original taiyaki

In addition to mini taiyakis which were filled with red bean paste, there were taiyakis with other fillings such as caramel, chocolate, cheese, custard, and sausage. So, people who do not like red bean paste can also enjoy the mini taiyaki! 🙂 One more special thing about the taiyaki was the bread was made of croissant dough unlike other taiyakis made of pancake or waffle batter.

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A picture of different types of mini taiyaki

Here are the prices of the taiyaki sets (without tax). You can buy 10 taiyakis (about $5), 14 taiyakis (about $6), and 20 taiyakis (about $9) sets and choose any filling for each taiyaki. I bought a 14 taiyaki set with taikakis of every kinds of fillings.

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Prices of mini taiyaki sets

A staff at the stand put my taiyaikis in this cute paper back below.

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A paper back with taiyakis in it

Because the taiyakis were made of croissant dough, it was crispy outside and soft inside of the taiyaki like a croissant bread.

Pictures below show the inside of the taiyakis with different fillings.

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A mini taiyaki with chocolate filling
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A mini taiyaki with melt cheese in it
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A mini taiyaki with sausage in it

They all were so tasty! I personally liked the taiyaki with cheese filling the most which was so creamy 🙂

You can buy the taiyaki near Ikebukuro station in the Ikebukuro District of Tokyo. As this store is very known to people, you can not find the store on the Google map by typing the store’s name. I found the location of the store on the Google map by pasting its address. Below is the location of the store. Just in case you cannot see Google map here, this is the address: 5 Chome-2-3 Nishiikebukuro
Toshima-ku, Tōkyō-to 171-0021

Or

You can make your own taiyaki in your home 🙂 I bought a taiyaki pan on Amazon to do so when I was in America (but you can only make original taiyaki, not mini sized one with this…). You just need pancake mix, sweetened red bean paste (available at a local Asian market), and cooking oil. Below is the link of the taiyaki pan.

Taiyaki Fish-Shaped Cake Maker

Miraikan, The Science Museum in Tokyo (Odaiba District)


The Miraikan, The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
The Miraikan, The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miraikan)

Last summer, I went to Miraikan, a Science Museum in Odaiba district of Tokyo and had a special experience at there!


location of Miraikan
Ticket price for the general admission is 620 Yens which is about $5.

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Geo-Cosmo (image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miraikan)

This is Geo-Cosmo, which is a symbol exhibit of Miraikan. The earth shaped display was showing movement of the clouds on the globe which reflect the everyday image data sent from the weather satellites.

There was a special exhibit in the museum on the day I visited there.

The exhibit was about…..

Toilet & Poop! 

The special exhibition on 'toilet & feces'
The special exhibition on ‘toilet & feces’

Price of the ticket for the special exhibit was 1200 Yens (about $10).
A guide for this exhibition was a cute poop whose name was ‘Britto’ (sounds like Burito lol). Read the English description about him in the below picture.

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A cute poop, Britto

The exhibition was for educating people about toilet and human feces, where the feces go, and how they are processed once people flush toilets.

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A toilet decorated with shiny jewels (left) and a gold toilet (right)
an educational presentation about toilet
An educational presentation about toilet, the toilet says, “Don’t flush garbage(other than feces and tissues) down me! “

Below is a display stand for exhibiting kinds of human feces. What kind of poop is healthy? 🙂

An exhibit of  kind of human feces.
A display of kinds of human feces.

And,this a ‘poop making’ class! Many children were making poops with clay in the class.

Children making poops
Children making poops

For the last, below is my favorite stuff in the toilet exhibit. Here you can become feces and be flushed down a toilet. People wore poop hats and slid into a huge toilet (of course, the toilet does not send you to a sewage treatment plant).

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The giant toilet slide and visitors wearing poop hats

This is a video about the toilet slide 🙂

It was a fun experience. I just wished that the slide has been little longer though.

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Me in a poop hat

Other things in Odaiba below…

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a huge Gundam robot in Odaiba, Tokyo
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A sea food bowl. Yum!
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Chocobi (a Japanese star shaped chocolate snack) for a snack

The Ueno Zoo in Tokyo (Ueno District)


For celebrating New Year’s day, My boyfriend and I went to the Ueno zoo (or Ueno Zoological Gardens) in Tokyo few days ago. Last year, I came to the zoo for the first time at the beginning of 2014 and Ueno Zoo has become one of my favorite zoos since then. There was a variety of interesting and cute animals that I had never seen before (such as a naked mole rat colony)!

In front of the entrance of the Ueno zoo


Location of Ueno Zoo
Last year, I got a cute button and a poster that have cute horse pictures (in the Chinese zodiac, 2014 was horse’s year) on them from the Ueno zoo as New Year’s day’s gifts. So I was expecting that I would the gifts again on that day (if I could get them, they were supposed to be related to sheep as 2015 is the year of sheep in the Chinese zodiac) but I did not. We realized that we picked the wrong day for getting New Year’s day’s gifts. We went to the zoo on January 7th. I think the zoo provides the New Year’s day’s gifts on January 2nd or 3rd  every year. A New Year’s day’s gift from Ueno zoo for this year was a Japanese rice cracker.

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A poster for celebrating horse’s year (2014) from Ueno zoo
a Japanese rice cracker from Ueno zoo for celebrating sheep's year (2015) (picture from http://www.enjoytokyo.jp/amuse/event/1133282/)
A Japanese rice cracker from Ueno zoo for celebrating sheep’s year (2015) (picture from http://www.enjoytokyo.jp/amuse/event/1133282/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see different animal pictures on each tickets purchased from the Ueno zoo. I got a ticket with picture of one kind of cute mammal on it and My boyfriend got a ticket with a picture of a beautiful bird. The admission fee for each person was 600 Yens which was about $5.

Tickets for the Ueno zoo
Tickets for the Ueno zoo

The first animals you can see from the entrance are one of the representative animals of the Ueno zoo, pandas.

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The entrance of the panda exhibit
A panda eating bamboos

 

Actually pandas in the Ueno zoo are from China. A special airplane, the ‘Panda flight’ was used for transporting pandas from China to Tokyo, Japan.

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The story about how pandas came to the Ueno zoo from China

After we enjoyed the panda exhibit, we took some pictures in the panda studio near the panda exhibit. Staffs in the studio provided us a cute panda hair band and a panda hat for taking pictures. The staffs take pictures of people with a camera in the studio but you can also ask them to take free pictures with your own camera. So, bring your camera!

Panda studio
The panda studio

There were many other cute animals in the Ueno zoo 🙂

A mother and a baby Japanese monkeys
A mother and a baby Japanese monkeys

This is a picture of my favorite bird, shoebill. In my opinion, it looks like some kind of monsters in the anime, Pokemon. The bird is very interesting. It has big light blue eyes and a hug and broad bill. This bird also hardly moves its body so when you see this bird, you might feel like you are looking at a bird statue.

A shoebill, moveless animal
A shoebill, move-less bird

And here is my favorite exhibition, Small Mammal’s House! Here are many cute small rodents including flying squirrels, kangaroo rats, and naked mole rats.

In front of small mammal exhibition
In front of the Small Mammal’s House

This is the house (or tunnels) of a naked mole rat colony. The naked mole rats are the only mammals of the eusociality (the colony of the animals consist of queens, solders, and workers like ants or bees).

A naked mole rat colony. The naked mole rat is the only eusocial(have queen and ) mammal on the earth.
A naked mole rat colony

They look like baby rats, but they originally do not have any furs on their bodies.

Naked mole rats sleeping in their bedroom.
Naked mole rats sleeping in their bedroom

After we finished the tour in the zoo, we visited the gift shop in the Ueno zoo. In here, you can see various stuffed dolls which very resemble animals in the zoo. I bought a naked mole rat doll here last time I visited the zoo.

the gift shop
The gift shop

Below are photos of the naked mole rat doll I bought. The face with dot eyes and front teeth poking out of the mouth is so funny and adorable 🙂

Thank you for reading my post!

-Dr.Mouse-