Kay

Writer / Translator

Kay is a native Japanese who has lived in Honolulu, Hawaii and Los Angeles, California. She currently resides in Tokyo and enjoys writing about a wide range of topics, including all things cute and glamorous. She also loves stories about any type of food, from gourmet cuisine to junk food. Her favorite pastimes include reading, going to the movies, watching American T.V. dramas and shopping. (Yes, she is painfully aware that she owns too many bags and shoes.) She also loves to travel and has visited over 25 different countries. Her favorite place to go on vacation is New York, an amazing city where you can enjoy the best of shopping, dining, art and theater.

All Stories by Kay

The cafe with a kabuki twist  — we visit Tully’s Coffee at the Kabukiza Theater

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese performing art that has been enjoyed by the masses since the 17th century  and is known for its unique make-up as well as its distinct, exaggerated poses and expressions. Kabuki is performed exclusively by male actors, and some of the more famous ones enjoy celebrity status in Japan, appearing in movies, TV dramas and commercials.

So, while it’s not nearly as big an attraction in this day of 4-D movies and theme parks as it used to be in the Edo Period, kabuki is still an established entertainment genre. And the Kabukiza Theater in Tokyo’s Ginza district, which was newly rebuilt in 2013, is still a mecca for kabuki fans. Today, one of the reporters from our Japanese sister site Pouch introduces the Tully’s Coffee shop located in the Kabukiza Theater for a look at a modern cafe that serves a menu item with a kabuki twist!

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These amazing Furoshiki Shoes from Vibram are designed to literally wrap around your feet!

Before we had bags in Japan, we used furoshiki — elegant cloths that come in various colors and decorative patterns that can be used to wrap and carry various items. While you don’t really see them in daily use now, furoshiki are quite useful in their own way, as they can be folded and tied in different ways and be used to wrap items of varying shapes and sizes, in addition to being eco-friendly.

But it turns out that the traditional cloths have recently served as the inspiration for a completely new and unexpected product — Furoshiki Shoes that wrap around your feet!

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Presenting edible cuteness from the sea — it’s cat-shaped seaweed!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word seaweed? Some of you may think of the black sheet of nori used to wrap sushi rolls and onigiri rice balls. But that’s seaweed processed into just one particular form, and there are many other ways seaweed is used in Japanese cooking — in soup to obtain stock, for example, or stewing with a variety of vegetables and meat or seafood a slightly sweet soy-sauce based sauce.

As widely used as it is in Japanese cuisine, however, one thing you wouldn’t really expect from seaweed is for it to add “cuteness” to the food; they’re mostly dark green or brownish plants that grow in the sea, after all. Well, you might want to think again, because it turns out we’ve discovered a creative seaweed product that can add tons of cute and fun to your dish. Yes, it’s cat-shaped seaweed, and the best part is, you can get it delivered to your home each month in dried form!

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Evangelion exhibit-inspired figure gives us Asuka in a beautiful kimono!

Remember the  Evangelion and Japanese Sword Exhibition that we reported on a while back? We thought the idea was pretty cool, because…well, an exhibit that brings together an internationally popular anime and beautiful deadly weapons of steel has to be awesome, right? And we think you’d agree that such a unique exhibit deserves a commemorative item that’s just as unique and artistic.

Evangelion fans need look no further, because toy manufacturer Takara Tomy has come up with just that — a series of original tie-in figures of the anime’s three female pilots as they appear in promotional artwork for the exhibit…in magnificent kimono

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Our reporter visits Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku, a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu esque world of cuteness!

If you’re a fan of Japanese kawaii culture, there’s a new establishment that just opened in Harajuku this month which you may want to know about. It’s the Kawaii Monster Cafe, produced by artist and creative director Sebastian Masuda. As the name of the cafe suggests, Masuda is quite the leading figure in Japanese kawaii culture and has even handled direction and set production for solo live performances by none other than Japanese pop idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. So it really isn’t surprising that the cafe has attracted attention as a place where you can have the quintessential Kyary Pamyu Pamyu-esque psychedelic experience.

Well, that certainly piqued our interest, and as you may have already guessed, one of the reporters at our Japanese sister site Pouch visited the unique cafe so that we can give you a firsthand account of what the place is like!

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Short thriller by JoJo series creator Hirohiko Araki to become unique theatrical production!

Manga artist Hirohiko Araki is best known for his hugely popular JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure comic series, which began in 1986 and is still going strong today, after nearly 30 years. But now fans of the series can look forward to enjoying one of Araki’s works in a different form this fall — as a theatrical production! This is actually the first time a manga by Araki will be turned  into a play, so fans are bound to be excited, but, as it turns out, it’s not a story from the JoJo series that we’ll be seeing on stage. Instead, it’s a short story with a fast-paced and bizarrely creepy plot, known in English by the title Under Execution, Under Jailbreak, and fans are already abuzz with speculation about the upcoming production!

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Prestigious Japanese university comes up with cheesecake … made with Gorilla bacteria!

Alongside the famed Tokyo University, Kyoto University is definitely one of the top universities in Japan, known in particular for their innovative scientific research. It so happens that the university is currently holding its annual Open Campus event from August 6 to 8, and many prospective students are sure to be visiting for a chance to take a look inside one of the most prestigious institutes of learning in Japan.

Visitors to this year’s event may be surprised to find out, however, that they’ll be able to try a dessert made using a very unique ingredient indeed, and one that was discovered by one of the university’s own research teams — a bacterium found in the gut of gorillas!

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The Zenyaren restaurant in Otemachi offers water jelly for the summer … with chicken inside it!

In the mood for some cool, refreshing jelly to beat the summer heat? Well, that’s certainly what the clear, Jell-O-like item in the picture here looks like, right? But you won’t find this delicate-looking item in a cafe, or any regular restaurant for that matter, as a dessert.  From the same folks at Zenyaren who brought us “cool yakitori” last year, which were basically chilled chicken skewers in collagen blocks, we now have the “water jelly yakitori“, another visually interesting dish that involves grilled chicken encased in a transparent jelly!

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Hayao Miyazaki speaks out against relocation of Okinawa U.S. base, criticizes Prime Minister Abe

Internationally renowned Studio Ghibli co-founder and director Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement from feature films in September of 2013 but is now reported to be working on a computer generated animated short, pretty much attracts attention for whatever he does or says. And while it’s nothing new, this time, it’s Miyazaki’s anti-war and anti-military statements, and not his animated works, that have recently been making headlines on the Japanese internet, especially as he referred to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his statements, and not in a positive light.

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Who knew chipmunks eating corn could be so heart-meltingly cute? 【Video】

Sweet corn is now in season in Japan! Grilled or boiled, it’s juicy, sweet and delightful — and guess what? Humans aren’t the only ones crazy about the golden yellow vegetable.

Yes, some of our furry little friends are also passionate corn lovers, at least from what we can see in this video we found which we hope will satisfy your cute quota for the day, or even the week! Seriously, who would have thought that a simple video of a chipmunk eating corn could be so devastatingly adorable?

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Goku’s new adventures begin! Dragon Ball Super begins airing amidst huge anticipation from fans

Back in April, we brought to you the news that an all new Dragon Ball anime series was going to start airing on TV in July. Well, the day Dragon Ball fans have eagerly been waiting for finally arrived.

The very first episode of the new series, titled Dragon Ball Super, was broadcast last Sunday, and of course, we checked it out to witness the start of Goku’s new adventures. Dragon Ball fans, get ready for a brand new chapter in the timeless saga that has become a manga and anime classic around the world!

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Wait, just what exactly have they done with the new Death Note drama? 【Impressions】

We think Death Note is a pretty cool manga and anime series. The delicate artwork is beautiful to look at (you have to admit, the protagonist Light is one fine-looking character, even if he turns out to be, well … seriously psychotic), the Death Gods look creepy in an awesome way and the story expertly combines a fierce battle of the minds with elements of the supernatural to create an engaging and entertaining plot.

Judging from the hit the franchise has become, including two successful live action movies, we’re apparently not the only ones who feel this way, and it’s understandable that  fans were excited when it was announced back in April that Death Note was going to become a TV drama. However, just last week, newly released information about the drama caused concern among fans about what exactly the creators of the TV version were doing with the well-loved series. And so, when the drama’s very first episode aired this past Sunday, we checked it out to see for ourselves whether fans’ worries were unfounded or not.

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Celebrate your love in style with Disney’s “Tangled”-inspired engagement and wedding rings!

Disney’s beautiful animated creation Tangled is a film that is still much-loved by fans, despite almost five years having passed since its release. Well, if you’re one such fan, you’ll be delighted to know that you can express the bond you share with your special loved one with a line of jewelry that’s just as golden and radiant as Rapunzel’s luxuriant hair. Yes, we think you’ll love the gorgeous line of wedding and engagement rings inspired by the film!

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Keep clean with awesome Mickey-shaped soap foam at Tokyo Disney Resort’s new Hand Washing Areas!

It’s a well-established fact that Disney theme parks are places of dream and magic. Well, visitors to Tokyo Disney Resort can now feel the magic even while washing their hands — courtesy of the special “Hand Washing Areas” that officially opened today July 1 at both parks in the Resort.

Yes, guests at Tokyo Disney Resort can now wash their hands with adorable Mickey-shaped soap foam, and parents just may have to deal with their children wanting to wash their hands too many times instead of not enough!

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Disney’s lovable mascot flies high — Duffy takes to the air on JAL Happy Journey Express planes!

Duffy, Disney’s lovable stuffed bear character, has a huge following in Japan. Just step inside Tokyo Disney Resort, and the bear’s popularity is abundantly clear as you see the large number of guests carrying their own Duffy toy in adorable and sometimes exquisitely hand-made costumes.

Well, we’ve already seen the well-loved bear tuned into an amazing furry bus that made a special tour from Tokyo to Shizuoka Prefecture a little over a year ago, and now it seems the mascot will be embarking on a whole new journey — into the big blue sky!   Read More

Going, going … gone! Starbucks x Alice+Olivia mugs sell out across most of Japan in a single day!

If you’re into fashion, coffee, or both, you may remember the collaborative items that Starbucks and New York-based fashion brand Alice + Olivia came up with, the first of which were released in North America about a year and a half ago. Not surprisingly, the items apparently caused a bit of a craze among fashionistas at the time (seriously, who thinks of something like a tumbler dressed up with a tutu?), with everyone clamoring to get their hands on the limited edition goods.

Well, it turns out the collaboration recently made its way to Japan, but one of the reporters from our Japanese sister site Pouch ended up finding out the hard way that the goods were in just as much demand here in Japan as they were in the U.S.!

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Studio Ghibli animators’ West Japan Railway ad has us ready for summer! 【Video】

The hot summer months of July and August are almost upon us, and for families with young children, you know what that means…SUMMER VACATION! That’s right, like in many other parts of the world, families in Japan will be thinking about how and where to spend their summer holidays, including plans for travel. It seems quite fitting, then, that West Japan Railway Company, or JR West Japan as it’s commonly called, has recently announced the launch of the “JR West Japan SUMMER TRAIN!” campaign to showcase the appeal of traveling in western Japan by rail.

And it so happens that there’s something unique about this campaign that makes it hugely appealing to anime fans in particular — the commercial for the campaign features animation created by members of the Studio Ghibli team, and their beautiful artwork is immediately recognizable.

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Hello cronuts! Tokyo welcomes arrival of Dominique Ansel Bakery in Japan

It so happens that this past Saturday was kind of a big day for sweets lovers in Japan (well, at least for this writer). That’s right, June 20 was the much-anticipated grand opening of the Dominique Ansel Bakery, home of the original cronuts, in Tokyo’s Omotesando district.

For those of you who may not be into sweets, the cronut is a hugely popular baked creation the bakery is known for which can be described as a hybrid between a croissant and donut. Not surprisingly, stories of people forming long lines every morning at the New York City-based bakery for the cronuts and other delightful baked treats have reached Japan, and many sweets fans were ecstatic when it was announced that the shop would be opening in Tokyo. Not to miss out on the sugar-filled excitement, we were there bright and early on opening day, all psyched up to try the cronuts we had heard so much about!

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Toy or cake? These mochi-like seal and bird figures are so soft and cute, you’ll want to eat them

Mochi rice cakes, made from glutinous rice, come in all shapes and sizes. They’re soft and filling, and they can be enjoyed as a dessert or a meal, depending on how they’re prepared. What’s not to like, right?

And now it looks like someone’s created these insanely adorable animal-shaped cakes out of mochi…but wait, is that what they really are? Would you believe us if we told you these are actually soft toy figures that look and feel like mochi? Well, whatever they are, these little critters are sure to elicit delighted squeals of “kawaii!”

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Disney meets classic Japan — see your favorite characters reborn as traditional Japanese crafts!

It’s no secret that Disney has been hugely successful in Japan. The Japanese anime industry may have cultivated a unique style over the years that’s quite different from that of the international entertainment giant, but the public here in Japan definitely seems to love all things Disney, from beautiful lingerie to adorable mini-cakes.

So we guess it’s not too surprising that Disney characters have now been recreated using traditional Japanese crafts, which is the concept behind the Disney Japan Classic Series of merchandise. Join us for a look at what delightful forms the familiar Disney characters have taken at the hands of traditional Japanese artisans!  Read More

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