Of Japanese Kit Kat and Pocky!

Japanese kit kats comes in all flavors and sometimes the flavors is region affiliated like Wasabi flavor is associated with Shizuoka prefecture, sweet potato flavor is associated with Okinawa. You can check out this link for some of the region limited flavors. Flavored kit kats are so popular in Japan that they have a few pop out stores around Japan that sells out or is thronged with tourists trying to get their hands on some limited flavored.

Here are some of the flavors that I had tried to date

New kit kat flavors from japan

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Strawberry cheese cake and almond jelly flavor. I prefer the almond jelly one though.

Love package from japan: Okinawa and Shikoku omiyages

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Orange lime flavor from Shikoku prefecture.

Niigata limited kit Kat – pear flavored

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Niigata Pear flavor.

Blueberry cheese cake kit kat

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Blueberry cheese cake from Jou Koushinetsu

The new baked kit kat that came out last fall in Japan. Sold in supermarkets.

Pocky comes in all forms too.

Giant rainbow ones

#Pocky day , nov 11, 1111…. Have u eaten ur pocky today?

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Creamy chocolates ones sold during winter.

What is so special about this new pocky from japan?

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Cos they are heart shaped pocky sticks. Thx to sushi for bringing it to me! :)

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Heart shaped ones for Valentines!

Winter edition hello panda, recommended to heat it up before eating

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Here’s the koala snacks that you toast it before you pop it in your mouth, sold during the winters

My love affair with Japanese Potato Chips

Sorting my photos recently and realised that I have a huge stash of different flavored potato chips from Japan. Yeah, I am a super chip love that once for my Japanese poem homework that I wrote a poem about my love for it that had the whole class and teacher amazed and amused. I guess not many people would want to try gyoza flavored chips nor sea urchin chips right?

Jagapokku, awesome chips from Hokkaido

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So everything started from the famous Hokkaido Calbee potato sticks that right now they still have limitations on how many packets you can buy at the Narita/Haneda airport. Right now they limit to maximum 3 boxes per person. I guess no one can resist from these sinful, yummy potato sticks.

出前一丁photo chip

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Then I found myself checking out the racks of convenience stores and supermarkets whenever I visited Sushi san in Japan when I was visiting. Usually, more exotic flavors can be found in the convenience stores due to different tie ups. This one is supposed to taste like the 出前一丁 instant noodles.

Ume (plum) flavor and fish roe with cheese potato #chip from #japan

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Plum and Metaiko (fish roe) flavored chips are so far one of my favorites.

#ippundo noodle snack… Flavored noodles snack

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Ippundo ramen flavor chips

#Okonomiyaki flavor chips

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Okonomiyaki flavor chips

Sea urchin flavor chips…

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Sea urchin flavor chips, not for those who hate fishy smells.

Mushro pasta potato chip #Japan

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Mushroom butter sauce flavor chips

Yuzu pepper potato chips #japan

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Another of my favortites, yuzu pepper hard chips. Usually found in the late summer season. Only for spicy food lovers.

#calbee #kfc limited edition #限定 #potatochip in crispy chicken flavor #snack #japan yummy!

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KFC flavor chips, I really liked them cos it was so hard to find them and tasted pretty close to the chicken.

Strawberry chocolate coated prawn crackers. IF you like something sweet and salty.

Dark chocolate coated prawn crackers.

Japanese lemon flavored chips, smelled really good.

Okinawa lime flavored chips and seaweed wasabi popcorns (yeah, you can have non buttery ones here too!)

Cesar Salad, thai green curry, avocado cheese and cheese filled chips.

Orange soda flavored chips, not for the faint hearted. Only found in Nagano


one of my most exotic chips I ever tasted, gyoza chips. Only found in Tochigi.

So, if you are in Japan. Do head out to the convenience store to check out any exotic flavored chips or any location limited flavors! Have fun!

Chinzanso Hotel (椿山荘) – New Year Buffet Lunch

Rare clear unblocked view of Mount Fuji during New Year! Lucky!

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Headed out to join our friends for Chinzanso Hotel for their New Year Lunch Buffet.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
There are 2 sessions to lunch and 2 sessions for dinner, we took the later slot from 2 – 345pm for about 5500JPY per person with free flow of drinks.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Every table has a bottle of the Sapporo New Year Limited brew for New Year which we used to start off our kanpai!

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Off to seek our late lunch.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Lunch choices were mainly Japanese staples

Chizanso New Year Lunch
With lots of New Year food.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Of course, there are sushi too.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Chiranzushi

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Sampling on everything.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Looks yummy right?

Chizanso New Year Lunch
A bit of everything of the osechi food (new year food for Japanese.)

Chizanso New Year Lunch
You must also drink rice cake soup during New Year too.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
The roast beef was really good.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
The most famous dish from this hotel is the stewed egg plant. It was really delicious, we took lots of it.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Hitting on the dessert.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Japanese dessert is really too sweet.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
After lunch, we took a walk around the hotel’s beautiful garden and lobby to walk off our heavy lunch

Chizanso New Year Lunch
We were wondering if this was a real lobster

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Their beautiful garden which is pretty all year around. Popular with couples too.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Lots of landscaping and waterfalls too.

Chizanso New Year Lunch
Remnants of Autumn though it was already winter.

Chizanso New Year Lunch

Before I came back to Singapore, I was involved in a short interstitial for Hello Japan Channel for Chinzanso so this is not the first time I have visited their hotel and garden. Filming was taken in Summer as it was a different type of set up with lots of summer decorations like the wind chimes. Chinzanso also offers Japanese tea ceremony experience for tourists so you can check it out if you want to experience some Japanese culture when visiting it.


Check out the video if you have time.

My favorite Winter Activity – Strawberry Picking

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
My favorite winter activity and I would not miss it if there is no reason to. This time since we were short of time, I managed to find a small family owned strawberry farm that is close enough with a short drive from Sushi papa’s place.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
We arrived there on Jan 3, the first day they opened for the season. Initially, the Sushi family was a little hesitant that anyone would even come to pick strawberries in this place but we were so wrong, we were there at around 950am and was asked to wait for the next session at 1015am. The cost was little high was early season at 1800JPY per person so 30 minutes of eat all you can strawberries. The price would decrease as we get to warmer months as there would be less red strawberries and less sweet ones as I heard. We all sat down in the heated terrace drinking some green tea while waiting for our turn.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
Once it is our turn, there was a short 5 minutes explanation of the dos and dont’s while picking the strawberries then you are welcome to hunt down all the sweet strawberries. It was a good decision to come in early that day as by 1130am, they had to close the farm as most of the ripe strawberries were gone.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
See, still early in the season so there were a mix of unripe and ripe strawberries.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
Fresh strawberries really taste the best!

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
They are so juicy and sweet with a tinge of sour.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
Care for a bite?

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
See the flesh is so white.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
Let’s us find more stawberries to eat.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
Super yummy!

I love eat all you can strawberries.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
In this greenhouse, you get to eat 3 variety of the strawberries
1) Akihime (章姫) – Sweet breed with no sour tinge, easy for kids to eat, best eaten when it is the cold season
2) Korino (かおり野)- More density in the fruit, balance flavor between sweet and sour so it doesn’t taste too sweet. Has a nice fragrance to it.
3) Benihoppe (紅ほっぺ) – The most common breed of strawberries that is sold in Japan. Favorited by ladies due to its sweet and sourish flavor.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
We wanted to buy back some of the strawberries back but we were too slow as everything was sold out… T_T See, it is not often you can get to buy such freshly packed ones.

Lake Town Strawberry Picking

Lake Town Strawberry Picking
For people who are interested to visit this strawberry farm, it is about 1 hour of train from Tokyo and another 15 minutes by food to this farm. There is a really big shopping mall + outlet at the nearest station (Koshigaya Laketown, 越谷レイクタウン駅) so I think this strawberry farm is recommended for those who don’t have time to head out too far for strawberry picking. Do check out their site for the latest opening time and hours.

Link to farm: http://senbikiichigo.iinaa.net/index.html

New Year’s Day with Ichiran Ramen (一蘭 ラーメン)

Japan New Year First Day
[Throwback January] Woke up to rice cake seaweed and rice cake soup on the first day of the new year. Kinda lucky to have Sushi papa who is always feeding us with tasty home cooked food whenever we visited.

Japan New Year First Day
The Sushi’s dont like crowds nor are they religious, so they do not join the large crowds in the shrines waiting to have their first prayer on the first day of the year nor are they out in the malls snatching for new year goodies bags. I guess I am the odd one out, I braved the crowds at the malls to check out the new year sale but I did not go for any clothing goodies bags (since most of them would include a coat which I don’t need) this year. Some big malls have temporarily counters for you to deposit your goodies bags so that you can free up your hands to go snatch more.

Japan New Year First Day
just top of the ice berg. People people everywhere.

I didn’t get much this year and these 2 items are my favorites for this winter

Ichiran
Finally taking a break at 330pm for a late lunch, still there was a long line for it. I have to wait for at least 20 minutes before I got a seat.

Ichiran
You can request for a English one if you don’t read Japanese. Basically they are asking you how flavorful you want your soup base to be? What type of soup thickness? Do you need garlic? Do you need spring onion? Do you want the cha-siew pork (of course!)? Any chilli powder? How do you want your noodles to be cooked, tough? basic? soft?

Ichiran
Finally I get a bowl of steaming famous Ichiran ramen on the first day of the New Year, which is the best present for me! I miss my Japanese ramen.

Too much snow in Hakuba

Hakuba Ski Trip
Woke up to see a thick blanket of snow.

Hakuba Ski Trip
We were one of the latest group to head for breakfast, everyone was already half way through their breakfast in their ski wear. We were still in our yukatas.

Hakuba Ski Trip
Back to our room to change….

Hakuba Ski Tript
Luckily the bus stop was just right next to our bed and breakfast place, though it wasn’t too punctual so we had to wait in the falling snow. Won’t be too bad if you are wearing waterproof ski clothing but I wasn’t.

Hakuba Ski Trip
Snow! Snow! Snow!

Hakuba Ski Trip
Stomping around to pass time.

Hakuba Ski Trip
See so much snow!

Hakuba Ski Trip
Getting our rentals.

Hakuba Ski Trip
Since I suck at skiing so We decided to go for snow walk hiking instead. You can either join snow shoe guided tours or choose to walk by yourselves. However, not recommended on bad blizzard day as most of the hiking routes would be closed which we didn’t know. You got to rent snowboarding snows, stokes and snow shoes.

Hakuba Ski Trip
Next, waiting for the gondolas to go up hill.

Hakuba Ski Trip
Arriving to the top.

Hakuba Ski Trip
Let us hike.

Hakuba Ski Trip
I haven’t gone on a “ski” trip with nice sunny weather, I always meet up with such blizzardy weather which really sucks.

Hakuba Ski Trip
The only part of the woods which was open for hiking but the snow was so thick that it nearly reached our knee so it was really difficult.

Hakuba Ski Trip
giving up, let us go get something to eat.

Hakuba Ski Trip
Heart shaped tonkatsu and fried potato, lots of energy needed today.

Hakuba Ski Trip
After 45minutes of rest, we embraced back to Mother nature.

Hakuba Ski Trip
People getting ready to slide all the way down to the bottom.

Hakuba Ski Trip
Creating my snow angel, super cold!

Hakuba Ski Trip
I was so ready to give up but Sushi san kept pushing me on. He say it is not economical to stop since we had already paid so much to come up here. *slave driver!*

Hakuba Ski Trip
Freaking tiring and the snow pounding on my face wasn’t a great feeling. I just hope the next time I am going for ski trip next, please give me some nice soft powder and bright sun, ok?

Hakuba Ski Trip
Finally calling it quits are 2.5 hours…..

Video of the day.

A night in Hakuba Minamiya (割烹旅館 みなみ家)

Chips!
we continued our journey with our snow resort pass, we arrived back in Nagano station at around 230pm and decided to get on the 310pm bus to Hakuba. Since we were short of time to get a decent meal, we raided the convenience store for new potato chip flavors to snack on our 1.5 hours bus ride.
Fancy a orange flavored chips? Lobster flavored chips or Meitaiko Flavored chips?

Tasty Plum Cinder
This new drink was really awesome if you like strong flavored plum cider. Super strong plum flavor (though may taste a little too artificial for some)

Enroute to Hakuba
Enjoying the snowy view along the way.

Hakuba
already 430pm when we arrived into Hakuba Station.

Hakuba
Into the ski and snowboard wonderland. Hakuba is really popular with foreigners for ski so there was a lot of information in English too.

Hakuba

Hakuba (白馬), located in the Northern Alps of Nagano Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most popular ski areas, offering good snow and several large ski resorts to choose from. During the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Hakuba gained world wide recognition as it hosted several olympic competitions, including alpine and nordic (ski jump and cross country) events. Today some of the olympic facilities remain in use, such as the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium. There is also the Hakuba Olympic Village Memorial Hall, a small but interesting museum, located within walking distance of the ski jump.

Japan Guide

Minamiie Hakuba
About 15 minutes in the light snow, we arrived at our accommodation for the night. Minamiie is small family owned Japanese style bed and breakfast. This is also my first time trying out non-western bed and breakfast in Japan.

Minamiie Hakuba
It was really clean and pretty clean as they just newly re-opened in mid-December 2014 after renovations. Ladies can also choose from an array of colorful yukatas to wear.

Minamiie Hakuba Room
We were lucky to score the last loft room as we only started looking for accommodation only 3 weeks before our travel.

Minamiie Hakuba Room
You can choose to sleep in the lowered floor living area or climb up the ladder to sleep in the loft.

Minamiie Hakuba Room
The loft was carpeted with a small TV and some books. I was afraid that it would be cold to sleep in the loft so I was little hesitated but Sushi san assured me that it would be really warm. He was right! It was toasty hot to sleep in the loft, I don’t know the reason though.

Minamiie Hakuba Room
Looking down.

Minamiie Hakuba Room
Alpine water which tasted really good, you can ask them to fill up your bottles with water before you depart for the day.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
As usual after a refreshing soak in their small hot spring (outdoor soak is in their courtyard full of snow), we headed down to the dinning hall for our sumptuous homecooked dinner course.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Apricot sweet liquor to kick off our meal.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Grilled beef steak.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Sashimi

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Grilled salt with salt.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Crab meat salad.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Stewed radish topped with fiskcake.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Vegetable cream stew.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
You have to eat the soba in Nagano.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Already bursting to the fill but the home pickles was just too good.

Minamiie Hakuba Dinner
Steamed apples? Interesting as it was supposed to make the apples soft and sweeter.

Minamiie Hakuba
Every room is entitled to 1 free hour with their private onsen area and 1 free hour in the relaxing corner. We just booked for the relaxation room complete with massage chairs, games and munched on our snacks……Such relaxation in the cold wintery weather.

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