Popular Japanese Characters Version 2015

titan

Hello guys. It’s Mr. Wada on duty. What Japanese characters do you like? Perhaps Pikachu (Pokemon), Totoro, Yu-gi-oh, Naruto, or Hello Kitty? Come to think of it, there are so many (I bet many people wouldn’t care/know what’s made in Japan really).

totoro
Totoro

How about mascot characters?

Mascot characters

There have been popular mascot characters that represent each city in Japan. It’s been sort of a trend and there’s even an annual mascot character contest being held.

Funassyi

funassyi

An unofficial mascot character of Funabashi City, Chiba Prefecture (next to Tokyo). He’s supposed to be a fairy of pear of some sort. His true name is Funadeus The Fourth. A pretty much crazy setting/plot that he’s got.

The truth seems to be that a citizen of Funabashi City (the guy inside) has started it on his own and now have been even more popular than the Funamaemon, the official mascot character of its city (I didn’t even know about this guy and he obviously sucks!). Funassyi has kind of broke the silent rule among those mascot characters that they shouldn’t be able to speak (at least not like us). So he does speak. His moves also have hooked people. Such weird moves. He claims that it comes from his background of growing up with heavy metal music. Sounds like the man inside is in his 40s. You know, heavy metal generation. Anyway, not my concern.

Kumamon

kumamon

He is a mascot character of Kumamoto City in Kyushu. He’s won the national mascot character contest that brought Kumamoto more visitors and financial effect including sales of Kumamon products.

There’s an episode that a designer of Kumamon happened not to have the copyright or contract for any of Kumamon products, so he wouldn’t get any profit from this jackpot. Probably this guy didn’t think it’d be this popular or he is simply a good guy? Who knows. In other words, anyone can make something with Kumamon printed on and sells it without paying royalty. I could make Kumamon Tees and sell online!

Anime characters

Anime characters have been popular all the time. Other than the classic ones, here are some of the popular characters recently, probably the next old-time best.

Attack On Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin in Japanese)

One of the most popular manga/anime of last decade should be Attack On Titan. Its shocking and mysterious story has hooked even non-serious anime watchers. It isn’t really for kids since the titans are to eat humans but they seem to like it as well. One of the main characters, the colossal titan, is quite iconic (although this titan has appeared only in a few episodes!) and naturally there are many products of him. I’ve got this key holder in Tokyo (he’s attacking Tokyo tower!).

titan

Jiba-nyan (Yokai Watch)

Yokai Watch is becoming as popular as Pokemon is. Just like Pokemon started with its video game, Yokai Watch video game was released in 2013 then its TV series based on this video game began in 2014 and boom! Every Japanese kid is crazy about it now. Pokemon(s) are monsters though, Yokai are ancient Japanese supernatural beings.

jibanyan

He’s a symbol of Yokai Watch, like Pikachu (I guess), a cat ghost that died by car accident . Jiba stands for Jubaku-rei (restligeists, the kind of ghost that is bound at where they died) and ‘Nyan’ represents cat voice (meow). So it shouldn’t sound cute but with Nyan, it kind of does.

In reality, it seems that parents are the one who got involve into this. I’ve seen some daddies waiting in the line outside a supermarket at night to buy the Yokai Watch products for their kids the next morning! I thought this Yokai Watch would be a short movement but since it’s been already 2-3 years and still this enthusiastic doesn’t seem to fade. I wonder if it’s going to be popular worldwide.

Lastly

Trend keeps coming in and out. A very few stuff remains in the end but these ones above might survive, I think. New or old, it’s nice to have a favorite character for oneself.

See you around.

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Exploring Starbucks Concept Stores in Japan: Kitano, Kobe

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - Front

Not long time ago, I happened to see a TV show featuring one of the Starbucks stores in Japan having a really nice view located just beside the river and a bridge. Upon checking the Starbucks Japan’s website for more details about it, I learned that there are more stores like these throughout Japan. They call it “Starbucks Concept Stores”, each store has something special either by its location and/or its design.

In this post, I’ll be featuring one of these store locations which I personally visited. Here it is.

Starbucks Concept Stores (Kobe) - Front
Starbucks in Kitano, Kobe

This Starbucks store is located in “Ijin-kan” area in Kitano, Kobe.
The term “Ijin-kan” refers to the former residences of early foreign settlers in Japan. There are many of these Western-style residences in this area.
This Starbucks store is one of those residences.

History of the Place

This two-storey building made of wood was built in 1907. It suffered a huge damage during the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 but later on reconstructed with the assistance of the government.

Now, enough of the history and let’s check out what’s inside.

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - Front

There’s a mail post and a terrace just in front of the store. A very nice area to have your drink during a sunny day while watching people pass by. By the way, that red mail post you see there is an old-style one and you don’t usually see it around these days here in Japan. The new design has a shape of a box.

Inside The Store: First Floor

Upon entering, you’ll be immediately greeted by a red-carpeted stairway on the left and on the right is the way to the counter and a lounge.

 

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - Staircase
Come on in!
Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - First Floor Counter
Ready to order?

You can order your drinks and food here and take your pick of seat on the first or second floor.

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - First Floor Lounge

What a nice chandelier up there! A spacious area to accommodate a number of people. Now, feel the ambience.

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - Fireplace in the first floor

I just realized there’s a fireplace in the first floor after checking this photo. It’s right across the counter area.

Inside The Store: Second Floor

After climbing up the stairway, on your right you’ll see a room (picture below) filled with framed photos on the wall. I forgot to check what’s in those photos.

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - One of the rooms in the second floor

There’s a door on the right side of this room leading you to the next room pictured below. See the door on the left? That’s the door from the previous room.

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - One of the rooms in the second floor

Another room with a chandelier. It looks like a library with those books piled up there, a classy one. Beside the long table, there’s a couch on its right side.

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - Window view at the second floor

What’s with seats near the window? Can’t resist taking the spot to enjoy the view from there.

Starbucks Concept Store (Kobe) - Cozy work desk

Just behind where we sat is this restricted small area with a comfy seat and a typewriter. Now get me a ribbon and a paper, I need to contact the parallel world! (Excuse me.)

There are seven rooms in total in this building. Each has its own taste and charm that you can enjoy with your coffee.

Store Information

The store is open from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM. It’s about 12-minute walk from Sannomiya Station. The area is a bit inclined, so prepare for a challenge. When I searched its location on Google Maps, you can actually get a view inside. But the design of the rooms are a bit different of the current one.

I hope you enjoy the tour. Do you have any Starbucks stores with a special concept or something similar in your area? Share it with us!



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