Japan Australia Pages

Saturday, February 6, 2016

McDonald’s Japan Chocolate Fries

McDonald’s Japan Chocolate Fries
McDonald’s Japan has done it again! They have created a huge marketing buzz surrounding their latest offering, French fries covered in chocolate sauce. The launch last week saw the Internet go crazy over this new menu item, and it has even reached the furthest corners of the globe.

Recent years has seen McDonald’s Japan witness sagging sales, various food scandals and supply issues. In an attempt to turn around its fortunes in Japan, it has been creative with its menu items in order to bring back the masses to the once vastly popular fast-food chain in Japan.

McDonald’s Japan Chocolate Fries or McChoco Potato as it is known here in Japan forms part of its special winter menu, and went on sale from January 26. The sweet and salty French fries come with two different kinds of chocolate sauce, milk chocolate and white chocolate, and cost 330 yen (USD$2.80).

McDonald’s Japan Chocolate Fries

I’ve been quite surprised by how many people have been shocked by this latest creation. After all, when you think about it French fries and chocolate is a pretty good flavour combination that works surprisingly well. You have the saltiness of the fries and the sweetness of the chocolate sauce, creating a nice harmony and balance of flavours. Salty and sweet is a combination that goes together well and has been used many times before in Japan.

There is a company in Hokkaido, called ROYCE, who has made a great success with potato chips dipped in chocolate. This unique item is hugely popular in Japan and makes a great souvenir from the region.

Royce Potato Chips Dipped in Chocolate

The chocolate-covered French fries will only be available for a limited time, with McDonald’s Japan scheduled to stop selling them in mid-February, soon after Valentine’s Day.

We were intrigued by this latest offering, so headed to our local McDonald’s to check them out.

The Taste Test 

Japan Australia was very keen to try these new chocolate-covered French fries out and we weren’t disappointed. The hot fries were receptive to the chocolate sauce, which melts all over when squirted over the top. They were very moreish and as expected the saltiness of the fries was a perfect mix with the sweetness of the double chocolate sauce. This could make for the perfect McDonald's snack! I highly recommend the chocolate fries for anyone out there who has ever dipped their fries in a chocolate milkshake. Bon Appetit!

McDonald's Japan Chocolate Fries Box
The McChoco Potato comes in a good looking box. I'm lovin it!
McDonald's Japan Golden French Fries
The Golden French Fries of McDonald's Japan before being covered in chocolate sauce
McDonald's Japan Double Chocolate Sauce
The easy to squeeze double chocolate sauce
McDonald's Japan Double Chocolate Sauce
The sauce comes with milk chocolate and white chocolate
McDonald's Japan Chocolate Fries
The McDonald's Japan Chocolate Fries ready to demolished

If you are interested in McDonald’s Japan unique and interesting menu items, check out the following gems:

McDonald’s Japan Halloween Burger 

McDonald’s Japan World Cup Menu 

McDonald’s Japan Sakura Teritama Burger 

McDonald’s Japan Website 

McDonald’s Japan Chocolate Fries

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tenno no Tanjobi

Tenno no Tanjobi The Emperor’s Birthday
Tenno no Tanjobi (天皇の誕生日) or The Emperor’s Birthday is a Japanese National Holiday that is held annually on December 23. The current Emperor, Akihito was born on this day in 1933. The date of Tenno no Tanjobi is determined by the reigning Emperor’s birth date. Thus, if the emperor changes, the national holiday will change to the birthday of the new emperor.

A public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, where the gates of the palace are opened for the public. This is a rare chance to visit the Imperial Palace which is usually off limits to the general public. If you ever wanted to see and hear a real Emperor, this is a golden opportunity.

History of Tenno no Tanjobi 

Tenno no Tanjobi was celebrated on 29 April during the reign of the previous Emperor, Hirohito (1926-1989). That day remained a public holiday, posthumously renamed Greenery Day in 1989 and Showa Day in 2007. Prior to World War II, Tenno no Tanjobi was called Tenchosetsu (天長節) or “Tencho Festival” and expressed hope for the longevity of the reigning emperor. After the war, the new government renamed it Tenno no Tanjobi, which is less formal language. It became a national holiday in 1948.

How is Tenno no Tanjobi Celebrated? 

On December 23 a public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace to mark the birthday of the Emperor. The Emperor, accompanied by Empress Michiko and several members of the Imperial Family, appear on the palace balcony to greet the crowd, and receive birthday congratulations. Many well-wishers attend the ceremony as it is a rare chance to visit the Imperial Palace, which is usually off limits to the public. The crowd cheers and wave tiny Japanese flags to mark the occasion.

Festivals and Events for December in Japan

Tenno no Tanjobi The Emperor’s Birthday

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kinro Kansha no Hi

Kinro Kansha no Hi
Kinro Kansha no Hi (勤労感謝の日) or Labour Thanksgiving Day is a Japanese National Holiday that is held annually on November 23. The purpose of the holiday is to commemorate labour and production, as well as for giving one another thanks.

Special events on Kinro Kansha no Hi are held throughout Japan, which encourage thinking about the environment, peace and human rights.

It is also a great time to head out doors to enjoy the koyo (autumn leaves) season with beautiful mild weather and clear blue skies.

History of Kinro kansha no Hi 

Kinro Kansha no Hi was first held in 1948 to mark some of the changes of the post-war constitution of Japan, including fundamental human rights and the expansion of worker’s rights.

Kinro Kansha no Hi is the modern name for an ancient harvest festival known as Niiname-sai (新嘗祭). The festival in written account can trace its roots back to Emperor Temmu (667-686) and traditionally celebrated the year’s hard work in harvesting grains. In this ancient Shinto ritual, the Emperor, on behalf of the nation would make the season’s first offering of freshly harvested rice to the kami (gods), and give thanks for the harvest.

Niiname-sai was first held on November 23 during the reign of the Meiji Emperor (1868-1912) and was a nationally celebrated event.

The modern holiday was established after World War II in 1948 as a day to mark the fact that fundamental human rights were guaranteed and the rights of workers were greatly expanded under the new post-war constitution. Today, Niiname-sai is celebrated privately by the Imperial Family of Japan, while Kinro Kansha no Hi has become a national holiday.

How is Kinro Kansha no Hi Celebrated? 

Kinro Kansha no Hi is a day to encourage thinking about the environment, peace and human rights. Many special events are held throughout Japan including the Nagano Labour Festival, which local labour organizations sponsor to encourage people to think about issues affecting modern Japan. It is a day for Japanese citizens to express gratitude to one another for the hard work done throughout the year and to celebrate the fruits of those labours.

Some early grade elementary students create drawings or handicrafts for the holiday and give them as gifts to local koban (police boxes), or police stations to show their thanks and appreciation for looking after their safety.

Festivals and Events for November in Japan

Kinro Kansha no Hi

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What is the Japan Rail Pass?

The Japan Rail Pass is a special rail pass that is available to overseas visitors to Japan. The pass entitles the holder to unlimited travel on the national JR train network, including the shinkansen (bullet trains) and selected JR buses and ferries.

Purchasing a Japan Rail Pass is a fantastic idea if you plan on doing extensive travel within Japan. If you plan on visiting popular tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Hiroshima, it is well worth looking at getting this pass to save both money and time. The rail network in Japan is second to none with excellent fast, efficient services that go just about everywhere throughout the country from one end to the other.

The Japan Rail Pass comes in two different types, one for each class of service, Standard (普通車), also known as economy and Green Car (グリーン車), also known as executive-class.

©Akira Okada/©JNTO

How the Japan Rail Pass Works 

The Japan Rail Pass must be purchased outside of Japan and you must be traveling in Japan under the visa status of ‘temporary visitor’ to be eligible. In order to get a pass, you must first purchase an ‘exchange order’. Once you are in the country, you can validate the ‘exchange order’ at any JR Travel Service Center, which are located all over the country. Make sure you have your passport, temporary visitor stamp and exchange order with you. The pass is time limited with three time periods available: 7 day, 14 day and 21 day. When transforming your Exchange Order you will select an activation date, which is up to 30 days from the time of transformation, so you don’t need to activate it right away. The clock doesn’t start to tick until your desired activation date so you can travel around the first city you arrive in and get the most use out of it later.

©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO
Here is how the Japan Rail Pass works in six easy steps:

1. Buy your Japan Rail Pass - you can choose between 7, 14 or 21 days and select Economy or Green Car (executive class).

2. Receive your exchange order – you will be shipped your Exchange Order, this is required in order to receive your actual pass in Japan.

3. Go to Japan with your Exchange Order

4. Get your ‘Temporary Visa’ stamp –if you’re Australian you will automatically receive a temporary visa stamp in your passport on arrival.

5. Transform your Exchange Order into a Japan Rail Pass – locate the nearest JR Travel Service Center to change your exchange order into your Japan Rail Pass.

6. Discover Japan using your Japan Rail Pass – now is the fun part you can start using your Japan Rail Pass to discover all that Japan has to offer.

Take a look at this video to see how it all works

You can purchase your pass at Japan Rail Pass Now

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bunka no Hi

The Great Wave off Kanagawa
Bunka no Hi (文化の日) or Culture Day is a Japanese National Holiday that is held annually on November 3. The purpose of the holiday is to promote Japanese culture, the arts and academic endeavour in Japan.

Typical events on Bunka no Hi include culture festivals, art exhibitions, parades, and award ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars.

November 3 is typically blessed with fine autumn weather with beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures.

History of Bunka no Hi 

Bunka no Hi was first held in 1948 to commemorate the announcement of the new post-war Japanese constitution on November 3, 1946.

November 3 was first celebrated as a national holiday in 1868, when it was called Tenchō-setsu (天長節), a holiday held in honour of the birthday of the reigning Emperor Meiji. It ceased to be a holiday following Meiji’s death in 1912, but was brought back again in 1927, when his birthday was given its own specific holiday, known as Meiji-setsu (明治節). Meiji-setsu was discontinued as a holiday with the announcement of Culture Day in 1948.

How is Bunka no Hi Celebrated? 

Bunka no Hi is a day to promote Japanese culture, the arts and various fields of academic endeavour. Festivities on the day include art exhibitions, parades, and award ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars.

Local and prefectural governments typically choose this day to hold art exhibitions, culture festivals and parades. For example, the Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu Parade takes place on this day every year on November 3. It is a spectacular autumn festival held at Yumoto Onsen in Hakone, west of Tokyo. The festival commemorates the journey of Japan’s daimyo, or feudal lords from the capital Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to the provinces during the Edo Period (1603-1868). The festival exhibits Edo Period clothing and historical costumes.

Elementary and Junior High schools often have a ‘Culture Festival’ on or near this day and it is common for universities to present new research and projects on Culture Day.

The prestigious ‘Order of Culture’ has been held on this day since 1936 with a special award ceremony at the Imperial Palace. The Emperor presents those who have significantly advanced science, the arts or culture with an award and it is one of the highest honours bestowed by the Imperial Family.

While this award usually goes to Japanese citizens, foreigners have been recipients in the past, most notably the Apollo 11 astronauts upon their successful return from the moon, and the literary Scholar Donald Keene.

Festivals and Events for November in Japan

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Bunka no Hi

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween Donuts at Mister Donut

Mister Donut Halloween Donuts
October is the time for delicious autumn food in Japan with seasonal favourites such as pumpkin, sweet potato and chestnuts. Mister Donut Japan has joined the party with a new range of Halloween Donuts that feature pumpkin and sweet potato.

The new special limited edition Halloween range of donuts include Pon de Shu Donuts, which are cream-filled and are fun to eat as well as two types of Jack-o-Lantern donuts and a Pon de Ring Pumpkin.

The Halloween donuts went on sale in early October and will be available for a limited time in Japan. Here is a brief description of each donut for your enjoyment.

Pon de Shu Donut Murasaki Imo and Cookies & Cream 

The Pon de Shu Donut Murasaki Imo and Cookies & Cream features a murasaki imo (purple sweet potato) cream filled donut as well as a crunchy cookies & cream donut. 

Pon de Shu Donut Murasaki Imo and Cookies and Cream

Pon de Shu Donut Pumpkin and Cookies & Cream 

The Pon de Shu Donut Pumpkin and Cookies & Cream features a pumpkin cream filled donut as well as a crunchy cookies and cream donut.

Pon de Shu Donut Pumpkin and Cookies and Cream

Pon de Shu Donut Custard and Cookies & Cream 

The Pon de Shu Donut Custard and Cookie & Cream features a whipped custard cream filled donut as well as a crunchy cookies & cream donut.

Pon de Shu Donut Custard and Cookie and Cream

Misudo Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Yellow 

The Misudo Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Yellow donut is made with cookie dough, which gives it a light and crunchy pastry texture. It is coated in a pumpkin glaze and perfectly captures the spirit of Halloween.

Misudo Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Yellow

Misudo Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Chocolate 

The Misudo Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Chocolate donut is also made with cookie dough and features both a white and milk chocolate coating giving it the appearance of a mask.

Misudo Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Chocolate

Pon de Pumpkin 

The Pon de Pumpkin donut is a limited edition Pon de Ring just for Halloween that has a pumpkin glaze and pumpkin seed topping.

Pon de Pumpkin

The donuts come in a cute Halloween box, which is a great idea. Here are a few pictures from my recent taste test. I hope you enjoy them and Happy Halloween from Japan!

Pon de Shu Donut Murasaki Imo and Cookies & Cream

Pon de Shu Donut Pumpkin and Cookies & Cream

Pon de Shu Donut Custard and Cookies & Cream

Misudo Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin
Mister Donut Japan Website 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Learn Japanese with Nihongo Master

Nihongo Master
Nihongo Master is a fantastic Japanese language learning website to help you learn Japanese.

The biggest challenge for me in learning Japanese was trying to stay motivated with my studies. One of the best ways I found to stay motivated is to learn while having fun. You are more likely to learn something and retain it after all if you are enjoying it and having fun. I also found that having a competitive nature behind my studies whether that be an upcoming Japanese test that I wanted to pass, or simply beating my friends in Japanese also helped me stay more motivated.

The Nihongo Master website is all about fun and provides fun interesting lessons and tools that are adaptive and change according to the needs of the learner. The learning system is not dull and boring like a lot of Japanese textbooks can be, but engaging and fun. The easy to follow lessons teach you how to read, write, and speak Japanese with ease.

The site is set up like a competition with rewards and points for the user. This makes it challenging as well as highly motivating. You can test your Japanese skills by completing drills and exercises with your progress recorded by the site and posted on leader-boards. You can celebrate milestones as well as trying to match or beat the progress of your friends or other community users.

The website also has a great community behind it, which means you have other Japanese learners there who are always willing to help. This is great for exchanging ideas or simply asking questions.

If you are looking to learn Japanese, improve your Japanese level or just needs some extra incentive and motivation to get back into the language, definitely give Nihongo Master a try.

Nihongo Master

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