You learn a lot about the Japanese people, living in Japan. Most Japanese, for example, become extremely red in the face after only one beer, making them appear terribly drunk even though it’s just a minor reaction their bodies have to the alcohol. Then there’s the apparent eternal youthfulness of Japanese females, like my wife, who could pass for low 30s back in the U.S. even though she’s in her high-ish 40s. There are many reasons why Japanese women (and other East Asians) seem to retain youth longer than women in other countries. One is that they avoid the sun like crazy, believing that pure white skin looks better than tanned skin, and when my wife and I take our annual vacation to Las Vegas, instead of enjoying the pool she spends her time hiding under any shade she can find, surrounded by Japanese and Koreans who are doing the same. (Koreans actually take it up a notch, wearing long-sleeve shirts with hoods to block all UV rays from their bodies.) The difference in diet plays a role, too, with lots of vegetables, fish and seaweed consumed in Japan, and lots of unsweetened Asian teas. From the viewpoint of the Japanese, Westerners can look older than their actual age, and my wife often guffaws when watching American TV shows with actors who appear to her to be in their late 30s portraying high school students.
One of the best things about Japan is its many festivals, which celebrate life with long processions of dancers, colorful floats, and men and women carrying heavy omikoshi portable Shinto shrines through the town. There are hundreds of local festivals throughout Japan, incuding a 1200 year old annual event held in Kyoto, a “baby crying festival” in which sumo wrestlers pick up babies to see which can cry the loudest (and thus which is the strongest), and a celebration of, er, male fertility in Kawasaki. Of course the best thing about festivals are the festival foods which are sold at various stalls. Some favorites include yakisoba, the Japanese version of chow mein noodles (always the first thing I go for), and delicious takoyaki, cooked batter balls with bits of octopus meat inside, which are really good, trust me. There are frankfurters and “American dogs” (corn dogs) skewered on chopsticks, delicious crepes with whipped cream and fruit inside, and fish-shaped cakes called taiyaki. I’m a big fan of “banana choco,” which is essentially a peeled banana on a chopstick dipped in chocolate, such a simple and delicious treat. Of course no festival would be complete without ramune soda, and many different flavors can be purchased at these stalls.
J-List is famous for the awesome Japanese snacks that we sell, and we’ve got some good news: after a long, hot summer, chocolate products like Pocky, Toppo and Japanese Kit Kat are back on the site! The lineup looks great so far, with delicious new flavors of Pocky, a new “Bakable Pumpkin Kit Kat” that you can bake so that it’s crispy and delicious, and more, too. Browse all the new chocolate and other snack items from Japan now!