Japan Australia Pages

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Brooklyn Merry-Go-Round Donuts

Brooklyn Merry-Go-Round Donuts
Mister Donut Japan recently released another addition to their every growing Brooklyn series of hybrid sweets inspired by the hip, cool eateries of Brooklyn, New York.

The new donuts are called Brooklyn Merry-Go-Round and feature a donut which uses both cookie and bagel dough. It is certainly an interesting idea and got our attention.

The donuts went on sale from April 9th and cost 172 yen (USD$1.45).

There are four donuts that form part of the new line-up and they include Green Tea Brownie, Caramel Almond, Chocolate Nuts and Plain with Maple Flavoured Syrup.

The latest pastry offering is a further shot from their cannon to deal with the rising threat from convenience stores who have entered the donut market in Japan. The donuts follow on from their previous offering last month of pizza donuts called Pizza Cioccolata Donuts.

Here is a brief look at each of the four new Brooklyn Merry-Go-Round Donuts

Green Tea Brownie 


The Green Tea Brownie donut features a green tea chocolate donut topped with delicious chocolate brownie.

Green Tea Brownie
Green Tea Brownie

Caramel Almond 


The Caramel Almond donut features a caramel glazed donut with slices of almonds.

Caramel Almond
Caramel Almond

Chocolate Nuts 


The Chocolate Nuts donut features a chocolate and white chocolate donut with nuts.

Chocolate Nuts
Chocolate Nuts

Plain with Maple Flavoured Syrup 


The plain with maple favoured syrup donut is made to highlight the cookie and bagel dough with the flavour boosted with maple flavoured syrup.

Plain with Maple Flavoured Syrup
Plain with Maple Flavoured Syrup

The Taste Test 


Japan Australia just had to give these a try so we headed straight for our local Mister Donut. We picked up a Green Tea Brownie, Caramel Almond and Chocolate Nuts as these to us sounded the best and tastiest.

The Green Tea Brownie donut was just right and not too sweet. We really liked the chewy texture from the bagel dough but also the crunchy texture from the cookie dough. It was a winner of a combination and definitely worth a try.

Green Tea Brownie
Green Tea Brownie

The Caramel Almond donut was a lot sweeter than the green tea brownie but it was a good level of sweetness. This was our favourite of the lot with the caramel and almond making a nice combination.

Caramel Almond
Caramel Almond

The Chocolate Nuts donut was the sweetest of all three we tasted. It was a little too sweet for us but we did like the extra level of crunchiness created by all the nuts. The icing was also really tasty with chocolate and white chocolate icing.

Chocolate Nuts
Chocolate Nuts

The Brooklyn Merry-Go-Round Donuts will be available for a limited time at Mister Donuts Japan. Hurry on in if you want to give these tasty treats a try.

Mister Donuts Japan Website

Brooklyn Merry-Go-Round Donuts
 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival 2015

JAFA’s Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival
JAFA’s Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival is the biggest Japan festival in Adelaide, South Australia. This year the festival is celebrating 20 years. It is great to see Japanese culture so prevalent overseas and festivals like this promoting Japanese culture. If you are a fan of Japanese culture and live in the Adelaide area make sure to mark it down on your events calendar.

The festival is a lot of fun and is filled with Japan-related performances, exhibitions, activities, stalls and plenty of Japanese food.

Some of the many attractions you can see at the festival include: 
  • Martial Arts Demonstrations (Judo, Kendo, Aikido, Iaijutsu) 
  • Taiko Drumming 
  • Japanese Folk Dance 
  • Traditional Japanese Folk Songs 
  • Origami 
  • Calligraphy 
  • Ikebana (Flower Arranging) 
  • Tea Ceremony 
  • Bonsai Tree Displays 
  • Japanese Pottery 
The event has won a number of prestigious community awards including:

• 2013 WINNER - The City of West Torrens Community Event of the Year Award
• 2013 WINNER - The Australia Day Council of South Australia Community Event of the Year Award

Come along for a fun day for the whole family at this unique community event.

Event Information 

When: Sunday, 3rd May 2015 11 am to 4 pm
Where: Cowandilla Primary School
Address: 21 Jenkins St, Cowandilla, SA, Australia
Cost: $2 per person, $5 per family
Access: Free parking is available
Other: Come in a Japanese costume to add to the fun

Here are some pictures from last year's event

JAFA’s Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival
Girls wearing Japanese yukata

Japanese Martial Arts
Japanese Martial Arts

Chocolate Banana at the Festival
Chocolate Banana at the Festival

Japanese Taiko Drumming
Japanese Taiko Drumming

Performance at the Festival
Performance at the Festival

Performance at the Festival
Performance at the Festival

Performance at the Festival
Performance at the Festival


Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival Website

Google Map

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Kit Kat in Japan

Easter Kit Kat
Kit Kat is a popular snack in Japan well known for its unique flavours and limited edition releases. You can pretty much find any flavour of Kit Kat here in Japan if you look hard enough. Each area seems to have its own regional variety and you can find limited seasonal releases for annual events and holidays such as Christmas, Halloween and the Cherry Blossom season.

Easter is not a major holiday in Japan but it has slowly been gaining in popularity in recent times. This year, Nestle Japan has launched a brand new version of Kit Kat just in time for Easter.

The Easter Kit Kat features a cute package with your typical Easter images like the Easter Bunny and an Easter Egg. It also features a fun play on words that is perfect for April in Japan. Nestle Japan has the slogan イースターでいいスタートを! (iisutaa de ii sutaato wo), which means “Have a good start with Easter” in Japanese. April is the start of the Japanese school and business year so it is a perfect slogan to run with this time of the year.

Easter Kit Kat Package
Cute Easter package


The new Kit Kats are apple pie and carrot flavour which is an interesting combination. Why apple pie and carrot you ask? Well, Nestle Japan came up with the combination after surveying Japanese chocolate fans and asking what flavours they would most like to see. Apple and Carrot topped the list, so the rest is history as they say in the classics.

We were very curious so had to go and check them out.

They went on sale from March 16 and will be available for a limited time. You can pick up a pack of 12 for 540 yen (USD$4.50).

The Taste Test 


Opening up the cute package you come across these even cuter individually wrapped Kit Kats. The Kit Kats themselves are also cute with different designs on them. There are thirteen different designs in total to feast your eyes over this Easter.

Easter Apple Pie & Carrot Kit Kat
Easter Apple Pie & Carrot Kit Kat

Cute individually wrapped packages
Cute individually wrapped packages
 
Even the chocolate has a cute design
Even the chocolate has a cute design

They also make a cool Easter gift with space on the back of each Kit Kat to write your Easter message. 

Write your own message for Easter
Write your own message for Easter

How do they taste? Well, I’ve heard some interesting answers on Twitter ranging from tastes like medicine to apple juice. They don’t taste that bad, but I wouldn’t say that they are one of my all-time favourites. The apple pie flavour is quite strong and doesn’t match up well with the chocolate in my opinion. Still they are worth a try if you are curious and want a new variety of Kit Kat to try.

Happy Easter from Japan!

Nestle Japan Images

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Matsusaka City Mie Prefecture

Matsusaka Back Street
I have never lived longer in any one place, since leaving home, than I have in Matsusaka. My wife and I have often spent three or four years in one location before moving on to a new place, but this is our ninth year in Matsusaka city, Mie, JAPAN.

Actually, coming here was a twist of fate so to speak – we never planned on it, but we consider ourselves blessed that it eventuated. Mandy and I were working in Toyota city, in Aichi prefecture. Yep, that’s the place famous for the Toyota automobile company. That year, our recruitment company lost its contracts with the local Board of Education to a competitor. We were worried about what would happen next.

Our company’s manager gave us three options: resign from the company and take our chances with the incoming company; look for another job in another place with another employer, or stay with the company and go to a rural town called Matsusaka. We had never heard of it, but we liked the idea of living in a rural area. Hence, we moved to Matsusaka and have never regretted it. So what's so good about this place you ask. Lots.

Situated on the east coast of Honshu (the main island), between Nagoya and Osaka, Matsusaka has a temperate climate. It rarely drops below zero degrees Celsius in winter, and almost never reaches forty degrees Celsius in summer (the highest temperature in 2014 being thirty-six degrees Celsius.) Surrounded by the sea on one side, mountains on the other, and blessed with numerous rivers, the city has a very natural environment. There are many large, grassy parks and recreational areas for families.
Mie Map
Mie Prefecture

The city is small enough to have a slow pace and quiet atmosphere, but big enough to be convenient for shopping, eating out, going to the cinema, and engaging in other various pursuits. It's also home to 'Matsusaka-gyu' (Matsusaka beef), which might just be the most delicious beef I have ever had the joy of eating. Matsusaka's locally-grown green tea is also quite popular in Mie Prefecture.

Matsusaka Green Tea
Matsusaka Green Tea

Something else the city is famous for is Matsusaka ‘Momen’ – Indigo Dyeing Cotton. Many goods are made with this unique, blue-striped fabric, and its production dates back over five hundred years. Many consider Matsusaka Momen a national treasure.

The city's population is just over 167,000 people. The folks in Matsusaka city are very warm and friendly. Interestingly, the area near Matsusaka castle used to be a samurai community, back in the 1800's. The city has tried to preserve that historical atmosphere, as evidenced by traditional cobblestone streets, old-style buildings, and with exhibits in local museums. Sadly, Matsusaka castle is little more than ruins these days, but even that has been preserved as much as possible, and visitors and residents can still tour the site and its gardens, and view the rock walls at the base of the castle.

Matsusaka Samurai Area
Matsusaka Samurai Area

When Mandy and I first moved here, it was spring, and the castle grounds were emblazoned with Cherry Blossom trees. We walked along the castle walls, and gazed out over Matsusaka city, just as the Daimyo (feudal lord) Gamo Ujisato and his samurai did.

The castle was actually built in 1580 by Gamo Ujisato, who was the son-in-law of the powerful warlord, Oda Nobunaga. At the time, Matsusaka was covered in pine trees, hence the city's name, which literally means 'slope covered with pines'. Matsusaka became part of Mie Prefecture in the Meiji restoration period (1868 – 1912).

View from Matsusaka Castle
View from Matsusaka Castle

The city was officially established in 1889, twelve years after a fire destroyed Matsusaka castle, and effectively modernized in 1933. The surrounding areas of Mikumo, Ureshino, Iinan and Iitaka (where my wife and I live) officially became part of Matsusaka in 2005. Railways, highways and a seaport make Matsusaka city easily accessible.

Matsusaka City
Matsusaka City

The local ferry takes passengers to Centrair (Chubu) Airport in Nagoya in just forty-five minutes, and also visits other surrounding cities and towns including Tsu (the capital of Mie), and Ise (south of Matsusaka). Ise, just an hour away by car, is the location of the country's second-oldest and yet most famous Shinto Shrine, Ise-Jingu. (Ise is also quite well known for its Ise-ebi – Japanese spiny lobster, as well as its beautiful beaches.)

My wife and I live in what may be referred to as a 'garden of Eden', a traditional, mountain village in the Iitaka area of Matsusaka. It's a typically rural area, with lots of rice fields, green tea fields, farms, mountains and rivers. Our home sits under open skies, right beside a river, and surrounded by mountains on three sides. We get to experience all four seasons here in their full glory. On the Gold Coast in Australia, for example, we never enjoyed the sight of cherry blossom trees, autumn foliage, nor snow of course.

In spring every year, many Cherry Blossom trees bloom in Japan, and the street on which we live is lined with them. In fact, we are lucky enough to have one in our back yard. The river becomes our 'private beach and pool' in summer, and a large number of fireflies light up the night sky. Autumn is an explosion of color, with all the changing leaves and different-colored trees, and we usually get a good snowfall each winter. Not having experienced snow in Australia, a good snowfall brings out the child in us both.

Matsusaka Back Street
Matsusaka Back Street

The neighbors look amused to see two foreign adults throwing snowballs at each other and kindly smile at our poor attempt at building a snowman. The local children are much better at it and like to show us how. We also enjoyed skiing for the first time here in Japan. Snowboarding is something that we yet have to try, hopefully in the near future.

All year round we can see monkeys and deer (and the occasional snake!), hawks and black kites floating in the sky, fish swimming in the crystal clear mountain river, and a myriad of delightful insects, both beautiful and annoying (stink bugs, wasps). The butterflies are glorious, the dragonflies amazing, and the hornets/wasps leave us alone. During our very first summer here, we managed to get a dragonfly to perch itself on our raised finger and stay for at least a few minutes. We feel very close to nature here.

Soon spring will come around again, which we are really looking forward to, although my favorite season is summer – Matsusaka beef on the barbecue, beer in hand, warm sunshine and swimming in the mountain river! It’s simply divine.

Kind regards,

Chris

This guest post and images have come from a good mate of mine in Japan, Chris Ryall. Like myself Chris is an Aussie in Japan and has lived here for over 16 years. Chris is also a writer and has his first novel on its way. Please take a look at Chris's work on his website CJ Ryall

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pizza Cioccolata Donuts

Brooklyn Donuts
Mister Donut Japan has released a new line of marshmallow and chocolate pizza donuts. The new selections are part of Mister Donut’s Brooklyn series of hybrid sweets inspired by the hip, cool eateries of Brooklyn, New York.

The new donuts are called Pizza Cioccolata and pay homage to Brooklyn’s large Italian community.

The small palm sized pizza donuts are topped with chocolate, marshmallows and strawberry sauce.

The pizza donuts come in two varieties, Pizza Chocolate and Pizza Strawberry

Pizza Chocolate 


The Pizza Chocolate donuts are topped with toasted marshmallows and feature a chewy chocolate base with chocolate ganache filling and chocolate sauce. The whole thing is covered in a generous dusting of white icing sugar.

Pizza Chocolate Donut
Pizza Chocolate
 

Pizza Strawberry 


The Pizza Strawberry donuts feature strawberry chocolate sauce topped with a drizzling of white chocolate. The donuts are available for 194 yen (USD$1.65) at your local Mister Donuts.

Pizza Strawberry
Pizza Chocolate
 

The Taste Test 


The big question is how do they taste?

The first thing that grabs your attention is the cute packaging. The pizza donuts come in packaging that is very reminiscent of a takeout pizza box. We love it!

The Pizza Chocolate tastes really good. The donut is very flat much like a pizza and the chocolate is deep and rich. The consistency of the donut is very reminiscent of pizza dough with its chewy texture and the marshmallows a perfect match for the cheese found on any pizza.

The Pizza Strawberry is a lot sweeter than the chocolate above but is still very good. We liked the red strawberry chocolate sauce which reminded us of the red tomato paste found on pizza.

Pizza Chocolate Donut
Pizza Chocolate Donut

Pizza Strawberry Donut
Pizza Strawberry Donut

The Pizza Coiccolata Donuts were an interesting experience and we highly recommend you give them a try if you are in Japan. Hurry as they will only be available for a limited time.

Mister Donut Japan Website

Brooklyn Donuts
 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ninja Day in Japan

Iga-ryu Ninja Museum
Today, February 22 is Ninja Day in Japan. Yes, we actually have a “Ninja Day” here in Japan.

The day is unfortunately not an official national holiday but a campaign spearheaded by the ninja cities of Iga and Koka to promote ninja culture and the region.

Iga in Mie Prefecture is considered to be one of the homes of ninja and historically a ninja stronghold. Koka in neighbouring Shiga Prefecture is home to a rival ninja clan the Koga ninja, who were based in the area.

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend checking out the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum in Iga. It is dedicated to the history of the ninja and ninjutsu and is a lot of fun.

Why is February 22 Ninja Day? Well, it is basically a play on words. In Japanese, the number two is pronounced “ni” which sounds like the “ni” in “ninja” (忍者). February 22 (2-22) has a lot of twos, so this is a good a reason as any to make this day officially recognized as “Ninja Day”.

Another reason could be that the date is reminiscent of famous Japanese anime character Ninja Hattori Kun’s catchphrase “nin nin”. Japan loves it puns and word play.

Both Iga and Koka will be holding special events and activities to celebrate Ninja Day and promote ninja culture.

How do you plan to celebrate Ninja Day?

Iga-ryu Ninja Museum
Image Source

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Starbucks Japan Cherry Blossom Selections

Starbucks Japan Cherry Blossom Selections
Starbucks Japan have just released their seasonal cherry blossoms selections. This is something that we at Japan Australia look forward to every year. It is a sure tell sign that spring is on its way. The Japan only “sakura” (cherry blossom) food, drinks and goods are a great prelude to the upcoming cherry blossom season in Japan.

Japan Travel Advice recently published a Cherry Blossom Forecast for 2015 so we can all start planning our “hanami” parties.

This year we have the piping hot Caramel Sakura Chocolate Latte, icy cold Caramel Sakura Chocolate Frappuccino, and Sakura Chiffon Cake to choose from.

Both the sakura drinks feature a drizzling of rich cherry and caramel sauce and are topped with shavings of cherry-flavored white chocolate. Sounds good doesn’t it?

You may remember that last year Starbucks Japan released a Sakura White Chocolate Latte with real sakura petals and leaves as well as a strawberry flavoured topping and pink strawberry infused whipped cream. It was really good!

Last year we also wrote about some of our favourite flavours of spring in Japan

Starbucks Japan shelves will also be stocked with limited edition “Bliss” line sakura themed tumblers, glasses, mugs and gift cards in pale pink and other colours of spring. Around March they are planning to release their “Brilliant” line of products in more vivid hues of hot pink.

The cherry blossom selections are available from February 15 for a limited time.

Which sakura goodie do you want to try?

Starbucks Japan Website

Starbucks Japan Cherry Blossom Selections
 

Starbucks Cherry Blossom Selections Tumblers

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