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Gifts for the Pokemon Go! Fanatic

21 Jul

 

Never in a million years would I have guessed that my family would be addicted to a Pokemon app on the phone. My kids have never even seen the TV show (and neither have I) but we downloaded the game (Pokemon Go!) to see what all the fuss was about and… we love it. Most electronic games tend to isolate individuals but we have found that our family has bonded over hunting for Pokemon. We have visited many parks and attractions in our city and have walked more than usual! My 6-year old son will talk your ear off about Pokemon Go! if you will let him. I have never seen him so passionate about something, lol. I am thinking we might have to dress up as Pokemon for Halloween, haha!

Thinking ahead to back-to-school shopping, birthday gifts, and holidays, I already have some Pokemon-related gift ideas for my kids. I added some of these things to my Amazon Store. Take a peek if you also have a Pokemon fanatic in your life! Here are some of the items I’m considering purchasing:

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Pokemon Colored Pencils, 24-Pack

We have some other colored pencils by Showa Note and they are very high-quality (much better than the generic kinds you find in the stores here!). They come in a durable tin container.

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Pokemon Furikake (rice seasoning)

My kids LOVE furikake on their rice. I love these individual-sized packs. They’re perfect for including in bento lunches.

 

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Pokemon Name Stickers

I use these every year for labeling all my kids’ back-to-school supplies. They’re great for pencil boxes, water bottles, notebooks, etc.

 

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Pokemon Opposites Card Game

This game will teach children hantai-kotoba (opposites), in Japanese. Looks cute! I need all the help I can get in the teaching-vocabulary department.

 

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Pokemon Chopsticks-Spoon-Fork Set

I love these things. They are the perfect size for little kids. No more using disposable utensils for lunch boxes! And at just $5, a great price.

 

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Pokemon Deluxe Essential Handbook

I know my son would eat this book right up.

 

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Pokemon Japanese-Style Pencil Box

I loved these pencil boxes when I was little. They have a magnetic closure and hold pencils, erasers, etc securely inside.

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Pokemon Hat

Just cute for your Pokemon-lover!

 

Lots MORE Pokemon gift ideas at my store!

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I am an Amazon Affiliate and will receive a small percentage of each purchase. ありがとう!

My Amazon Store also has Japanese School Supplies, Japanese Food, Books, etc!

 

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Style Trend: Kimonos!

20 Feb

I’ve noticed lately on sites such as Pinterest that kimono-inspired clothes are trending for little fashionistas! It is about time… kimonos are just so adorable on little kids. You can find a pattern and make your own if you are a seamstress, or buy from Etsy sellers or even big stores like Old Navy. I love having my kids wear jinbei’s (casual lightweight kimonos) during the summer months.

Here are some cute kimono styles I found online! (I am NOT affiliated or sponsored by any of these stores)

 

Old Navy Printed Tee and Pants Set (comes in other colors):

 

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Children’s Kimono Cardigan by BusySpinningThread

 

 

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Asian Cross-Front Dress by OllieBeans

 

 

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Jibei Set by SpurTheMoment

 

 

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Girls Yukata by Uniqlo

 

 

 

 

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What do you think of these styles? I love them! They’re perfect for summer parties and festivals.

 

 

 

 

Japan-Inspired Gift Ideas!

12 Dec

Recently, I frequently find myself gifting Japan-related things! For example, my daughter took a bag full of Japanese candy for a birthday party. For Christmas, my older kids are getting a Yokai Watch DVD set and my toddler is getting a Mel-chan doll. It is a good way to be unique! Here are some gift ideas for the Japan-lovers in your life:

Melissa and Doug Sushi Slicing Set (a fun alternative to “traditional” food!)

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Kendama Toy (great for all ages!)

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Vive Le Color! Japan Coloring Book for Adults

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Yakusen Bath Roman Bath Salts (Japanese bath salts are sooo relaxing)

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Making Tape Gift Box (the mt brand from Japan is simply the best. I use it for everything!)

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Mitsubishi 100 Colors Colored Pencil Box (my kids have this set and it is awesome. Every color you could ever want, durable, and the color glides onto paper so smoothly)

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Nintendo Hanafuda Card Game (great for older kids, teens and adults)

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Yokai Watch Karuta (for your Yokai Watch fanatic)

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Kracie Pop N Cookin Candies (oh so-unhealthy but so fun to make and eat)

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Pack of Japanese Snacks

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Uncle Goose Hiragana Wood Blocks

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Go to my online Amazon store to see more ideas!!

はじめてのおつかい: “My First Errand”

5 Sep

When you were a child, did your parents ever ask you to run an errand (おつかい) for them on your own?  I vividly remember going to the department store in Tokyo to buy some bread, all by myself… and I was only 4 years old! I felt like such a big girl! I even walked to my piano lessons by myself at that age. If you’ve ever visited Japan, you know that even today, young children take the train to school by themselves.

In this day in age in America, not only would this seem unimaginable, but downright dangerous to send a preschooler out by themselves. I don’t even let my kids play in our yard without me out there with them. (Oh how it would be nice to go back to the “good old days!”).

Anyway, “Hajimete no otsukai”, or “My first time running an errand by myself” is a pretty big milestone to some families in Japan. I recently found out that there is a TV show called “Hajimete No Otsukai/はじめてのおつかい“… the show has been around for over 20 years! TV Japan aired one of their specials recently and my kids were GLUED to the show! My kids must have been thinking, “What? A kid like me going shopping all by themselves? That is crazy!”. It was an adorable show! Here’s one of the older episodes found on YouTube:

Part 1

Part 2

You can watch an entire 3-hour long special HERE.

One of my favorite Japanese children’s books is also called “Hajimete No Otsukai“. I think the book might have inspired the TV show.

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I’d love to know about your “first otsukai” experience, if the country you live in is safe enough for kids to run errands by themselves, or any other thoughts you may have! 🙂

Japanese Children’s Clothes from Uniqlo

26 Jul

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When we visited Japan last year, I visited a Uniqlo store for the first time, and loved it! Their clothing is inexpensive without sacrificing quality. They have great basics as well as more fashionable items. Over the past year, several more stores have opened in the U.S. (mostly along the coasts) and they have opened their online store. The clothing for adults have been hit-or-miss for me (the sizing is hard for me to figure out) but I highly recommend the kid’s clothes from Uniqlo!

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Here are some children’s shirts I ordered most recently. They were all $5.90 on sale. I tried to get some gender-neutral ones so both my son and daughter can wear them.  They fit great and wash well– great for playing in! I love that Uniqlo collaborates with different companies and designers for their designs. Many Japanese characters (Rilakkuma, Sanrio) are featured on their clothing.

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My daughter is loving this Koala’s March (コアラのマーチ) T-shirt.

Just thought some of you readers might be interested! If you have a store near you, I am jealous!

Buying Japanese Children’s Books, DVD’s, etc.

17 May

“Dog Loves Books”, by Louise Yates

Over a year ago, I wrote up a post about “How to Get Japanese Children’s Books.” It has been one of my most popular posts, so there must be many of you out there searching for books for your children! A year ago, it was very difficult to find Japanese books online. I am here to tell you that it is now easier!

I have been browsing eBay recently and have been pleasantly surprised to find that there are now many more people selling Japanese children’s books, DVDs, other educational materials, and toys… and at pretty decent prices.

To search on your own, just go to eBay.com and search for “Japanese Children’s Books”, “Japanese Children’s DVD’s”, “Kodomo Challenge”, “Anpanman”, “Hiragana Charts”, or whatever it is you are looking for, and you’ll probably find stuff. I should probably go through the stuff I don’t need anymore and sell them on eBay too!

Amazon.com (the American version) still lacks a great selection, but you can see the ones that I have found HERE. One of my readers, Louise, emailed me to let me know that a book she has written called “Dog Loves Books” is now available in Japanese. It looks adorable! Good job Louise!

Amazon.co.jp (Amazon Japan) is the best place to buy Japanese children’s books and DVDs. They will now ship to most countries outside the U.S., and shipping costs are more affordable than they used to be.

Joechip.net has written a good post about other online retailers that sell Japanese Children’s Books.

If you and your children enjoy Japanese children’s magazines like ベビーブック and たのしい幼稚園, you can order an issue or subscribe for 6months~year at shop.mitsuwa.com. They also have subscriptions to “Kodomo no Tomo“, a company that sends you children’s books each month. I have a local friend who does this for her daughter and they really enjoy receiving new books each month.

Don’t forget about Benesse’s Kodomo Challenge program too (with Shimajiro). Read my post about it HERE.

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Whew! Did that help anyone out there? Have you made any cool discoveries lately? Where do you buy your Japanese books?

P.S. I am not getting paid by anyone to advertise their stores or products!

Omiyage (Souvenirs) to Take to Japan

22 Feb

Japan is a country where the giving of souvenirs/gifts are very important, as well as the presentation of those gifts. Japan is also a country that seems to already have everything … they have all the brand-names and their technology and design seem to be far superior to the rest of the world (and, everything is cuter!). So. What to take to Japan as gifts? I know a lot of people are going to take good care of us in Japan so I want my gifts to be nice and thoughtful.  After asking my friends and “researching” on the internet, here are my omiyage ideas:

image from ameapa.com

FOR WOMEN:

* Eco Bags (Reusable Bags) from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. They are cute, functional, and seem to be popular in Japan. (click HERE to see how much they are selling for in Japan!). I read that large eco bags are hard to find in Japan. BONUS: they can double as gift wrap!

* Nice hand lotions from somewhere like L’Occitane or Crabtree and Evelyn. I bought these cute gift sets. Who wouldn’t love these whether you live in Japan or anywhere else in the world?

* Little hand sanitizers, called “PocketBacs”, from Bath and Body Works. Inexpensive, cute, and useful. I have heard that since hand sanitizers are not widely used in Japan, you’ll have to explain to your gift recipient how to use this. I think it would look really nice to package 2 or 3 of these in a clear cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon.

* Kitchen tools and accessories from Williams-Sonoma or Crate and Barrel. I think beautiful kitchen towels, pretty cupcake liners, or unique kitchen tools would be nice (note: measuring cups, unless they are measuring spoons, are probably not a good idea because they are different sizes in Japan and in the U.S.)

* Foods like fancy balsamic vinegar, local honey, maple syrup, jam, or spices.

* Pretty earrings, perhaps made locally where you live.

* I hear that cute aprons are popular these days. Anthropologie has some that any girl would love! For someone who likes to host home parties.

* If your recipient is into scrapbooking/card-making, pretty papers, stamps, stickers, cutters, etc might be nice (I like the Martha Stewart Line that can be found at Michaels or JoAnns).

* Nice stationery and notepads (Barnes and Noble, Hallmark, and Papyrus have nice selections).

FOR MEN:

* For my grandpa, I plan to get some beef jerky, nuts (nuts are expensive in Japan), and dried fruit.

* NFL or College team T-shirts or other apparel

* I hear teenage boys like shirts from Hollister, or vintage shirts.

* American candy. I have read that Skittles and Reeses’s are two candies that can’t be found or are rare in Japan.

YOUNG GIRLS AND BOYS:

* Hair accessories and clothes from Gymboree or Janie and Jack (or any store, really).

* Sticker Dolly books. I LOVE these!! Great quality and so adorable. I recommend this one.

* Disney princess stuff.

* T-shirts (perhaps from Old Navy?)

* “Where’s Waldo?” books.

* Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, and other “American” snacks.

* Things that go along with American holidays, such as egg-dyeing kits for Easter, Halloween candy, etc.

* Your favorite children’s books or music CD’s.

FOR ANYONE:

* Girl Scout Cookies! Those definitely can’t be found in Japan, right? I think the Thin Mints would be a hit.

* Chocolate-covered pretzels.

* Gourmet flavoring for popcorn.

* Tea and coffee (I don’t drink either, so I don’t have any recommendations).

* If going before the winter holidays, I hear American Christmas ornaments are a hit. Hallmark has a million to choose from!

* CD of music played by your local orchestra.

* Think local! What is unique to your area?

PEOPLE WHO YOU’RE REALLY CLOSE TO:

* For my aunt who is going to be helping us a lot in Japan, I thought I would make her a photo book of our trip to Japan and send it to her after our trip so she can recall the fun we had! I have used Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Blurb, and they are all great.

* For my grandpa, I am going to give him a framed family photo.

* It might be fun to put together a CD of your favorite music for a special friend.

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WHEW! I hope this list helps someone out there, because I did A LOT of thinking to come up with things that might be well-received by  friends and family in Japan! I’m also going to take a stash of gift wrap, gift bags, and tissue paper so I can wrap these gifts nicely after we arrive in Japan. I know it’s not REQUIRED to give everyone a gift, but it sure feels good to reciprocate the kindness that everyone shows to us when we visit.

And yes, you may say that omiyage adds bulk to your luggage, but after you give them all away, you’ll have more space for all the fun things you buy in Japan :). OH, also, it’s a good idea to not take anything that takes up a lot of space. Most Japanese homes are very limited on space. So something that can be consumed or used up is best. Also, be careful with chocolates in the summer, as they may melt.

Do you have any great omiyage ideas? If you live in Japan, what are some things you love to receive from overseas? アメリカから欲しいお土産は,何ですか?Don’t forget to check out my post about what to buy in Japan, here.

Buying Japanese Products (via Tenso)

3 Feb

Maybe this is old news to everyone else out there, but I just discovered a very promising website called Tenso. It is a service that allows you to shop at almost any Japanese online store, and have the products shipped to wherever you live around the world.

For example, let’s say there are some children’s toys you want to buy from Amazon.jp. But it says “no international delivery”. What Tenso.com does is, it provides you with a Japanese address so you can buy from Amazon.jp or any other store and you can enter your Japanese address (provided by Tenso). When the package arrives at Tenso, they will mail it to your home address for a small handling charge + shipping. Read more about it HERE.  Signing up and getting a Japanese address is free (you do have to provide a credit card number though).

What do you think? Have you used this service before? Are there Japanese goods that you’ve been dying to buy (food, electronics, clothing)? (Click HERE to see the online shopping sites they recommend)

Things I Want To Buy In Japan

3 Feb

Let’s be honest… I wish I had a TON of money to spend in Japan! I just love everything there– the food, electronics, toys, accessories, clothing– aaahhh! I wish I had a “dokodemo door (どこでもドアー)” so  I can go shopping in Japan whenever I want :). Keeping in mind our budget and limited luggage space, here are my tentative shopping lists:

image from rakuten.co.jp

FOR MY KIDS

1.  Snacks and activities for the plane ride back to the States.

2. My daughter wants a Rikka-chan or Mell-chan doll.

3. Little diecast Japanese cars and trains for my son to play with.

4. Coloring books and colored pencils.

5. Some Anpanman toys (both my kids love him!).

6. Furikake.

image from blog.anecan.tv

FOR ME (I feel ashamed that my list is much longer than my list for the kids…)

1. Sunglasses. I have spent years looking for sunglasses that will stay on my little/short nose. I am hoping Japan will have some that will stay on my face.

2. A haircut. All my friends get haircuts in Japan and they come back looking so cute! If I had the money, I would also love to get a complete makeover and makeup lesson there too. Oh, and a manicure and pedicure :).

3. Makeup. I love the color palettes they have in Japan! Maybe I will finally find the perfect foundation, blush, and lipgloss there?

4. Bento boxes and bento accessories (for when I’m an awesome mom who makes cute bento lunches someday).

5. Sakura tea and sakura essence– you can’t buy them in the United States (nowhere that I know of).

6. Nice pens (like the Pilot Frixion).

7. New chopsticks and chopstick holders.

8. Fabric (you know they make the cutest fabric there right?). And sewing pattern books.

9. I would love to be able to bring back a pretty yukata.

10. Hina-ningyou set (a small one) for Girls’ Day.

11. Stuff related to other Japanese holidays, like Kodomo no Hi, Tanabata, Setsubun, Oshougatsu, etc. I don’t know what the likelihood of me finding all those things off-season are though.

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FOR OMIYAGE (gifts for friends and family)

1. Candy/Snacks.

2. Phone Accessories.

3. Chopsticks.

4. Stickers.

5. Stuff from the 100-yen shop.

6. Fake eyelashes (by request… for one of my stylish sisters).

7. Origami.

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What’s on your wish list? What are the stores you recommend I hit up in Japan?

P.S. Happy SETSUBUN! Will you be throwing beans today? Or maybe eating an eho-maki?

JULY 2012 UPDATE: We’ve been back from Japan for a few months now, and here are some things I wish I had bought, or bought MORE of:

1) Japanese “very-short” socks! They are the bomb.com! All of my girlfriends are always asking me where I got my socks. I wish I had bought dozens of them to give to my friends. They are higher-quality and better-designed than short socks you can find in America. AND they look super-cute peeking out of your shoes. Not to mention, they are very affordable. You can buy them at any sock store in Japan– UNIQLO is known to have great ones. (2013 update: You can buy Uniqlo’s short socks online now! I just received my order and they are just like the ones from Japan.)

image from shopping.yahoo.co.jp

2) Dried fish. I’m not sure if you are a fan, but I really wish I would have bought more to snack on!

3) Hair ties. I bought a set of hair ties at a 100-yen store, and wish I would have gotten more! The hair ties I buy in America (from Target or Sally’s) just don’t cut it for me… they stretch out and lose elasticity easily, and don’t keep my thick hair in a tight ponytail. The ties from Japan are AWESOME.

4) More “interesting-flavored” kit-kats. We bought several boxes at the Haneda Airport duty-free shop to give to our friends. They were a huge hit!! We gave them to all of our American friends and didn’t have any left for ourselves. Unique “Pocky” flavors were a hit too.

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