Did you know that Kit Kats – yes, those breakable chocolate bars – are big in Japan?
The thing is, they come in a ridiculous variety of flavors, and even sometimes get exclusives that are limited to a season or a certain location.
Photographer (and friend of this site) Greg Ferguson has kept a collection of all the crazy bars he's encountered in Japan. In his words:
Who doesn't love a good Kit Kat? Thought so. Japan perhaps loves them too much, though. They go willy-nilly cuckoo-bananas crazy over them and show their rabid fanaticism by churning out wacky new flavours and varieties every month. Being a foreigner, I was of course powerless to resist.
It's now been a few years for Greg's album, and it's grown to an amazing 249 photos for wacky flavors like Bitter Strawberry, Tiramisu, Flan, Purple Sweet Potato, and of course, Green Tea Kit Kat.
This one's pretty fun: members of pop group Morning Musume are basically doing cool backwards throws to put everyday objects in their places.
Trash is thrown in the appropriate cans, canned drinks are shoved across tables, cell phones are thrown into bags, and that kind of thing.
The stunts get more and more complex as you go through the video. So does the number of attempts it takes to pull off each one successfully – you can see the stunt translated in the upper right along with how many tries it took.
It's recommended, of course, that you not try these stunts if you come to Japan.
Morning Musume's Guide to Japan
Aika Mitsui wrote Morning Musume's Guide to Japan in with a hand-written map of the popular Shibuya district and recommendations for the best shopping and snacks. Be sure to read it if you're a fan.
Roppongi Hills is almost a city in itself. There are places to shop, eat, live, and play. It's also a hub for high-end culture in Japan with a number of luxury restaurants, international fashion brands, and apartment towers known for housing Japanese celebrities.
So, with all that awesomeness in mind, here are 5 highlights from the complex:
1. Mori Art Museum Asia has some great modern art museums as it is, but the Mori suddenly showed up and made a splash. Situated near the top of the Mori Tower (the big tower of the complex, lit up in blue in the photo there), it's a beautifully-designed museum with a great rotation of exhibits.
2. Tokyo City View The soon-to-open Tokyo Sky Tree may quickly take away the title of "best city lookout point" from the top of the Mori Tower, 52 stories up, but for the time being this is the one you want. It's basically part of the art museum, so you can get a combined ticket and do exhibits and the awesome view. If it's light outside and the weather's OK, you can go outside on the roof and view the endless buildings of Tokyo al fresco.
San Francisco is the world's first airport to get its own yoga space!
The space comes with low lights and blue walls, setting it apart from the otherwise bright and contrasted colors inside SFO airport.
The idea came from a passenger suggestion at an open house event, according to an airport official. The room is located inside SFO Terminal 2, the one that was just redone to support Virgin America.
The airport yoga room is after security – perfect for relaxation after suffering through the security theater. Despite yoga's Indian roots, there will be a Japanese touch to the room in the future: there are large rocks coming to create a Zen garden theme, and they'll be installed in the spring.
There's even a pictograph to join the other universal signs like passport control and restrooms, just for the yoga room.
Oden isn't the famous kind of Japanese food that tourists come to the country for, but locals and expats know it all too well.
It's a sort of cuisine – it's a collection of things that are boiled in a fishy broth. Everything that comes out is hot, and most of it is pretty heavy on the protein. So, it's really known as a winter food.
Oden is found everywhere. During the coldest winter months, you can find it in every convenience store, and the stores will even smell of the stuff during that time.
Here's a more detailed explanation from the Japan Visitor Blog:
Dashi [the broth oden is made in] is made with konbu seaweed and shaved tuna flakes (kezurikatsuo), so oden is not really vegetarian, though many of the other ingredients are staples for non-meat eaters: daikon radish, potatoes, konnyaku, kinchaku (mochi in a deep-fried tofu pouch) and tofu. Other things found in oden include boiled eggs, chikuwa fish cakes, folded seaweed, meatballs on sticks, sausages, octopus and sometimes skewered beef.
Personally, it's not for me. But at least I was brave enough to try it.