Japan Australia Pages

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tsukimi Burger is Back for 2014

The Tsukimi Burger is back for 2014 at McDonald’s restaurants across Japan. The Tsukimi Burger is a sure tell sign that Autumn has arrived here in Japan and has long been a favourite of ours at Japan Australia.

Autumn is considered a time to enjoy delicious seasonal food, cooler weather after the summer heat, and koyo (紅葉) which is viewing of the colourful Autumn leaves. The Tsukimi Burger is only available for a limited time during the early Autumn in Japan and made its appearance back on the menu again on 3 September, 2014. It will remain on the menu until early October.

The Tsukimi Burger contains a beef patty, smoky bacon, poached egg and a special sauce (ketchup mixed with Japanese mayonnaise).

The Tsukimi Burger (月見バーガー) is named after the famous Japanese tradition of tsukimi (月見) or moon viewing, which is a festival honouring the bright Autumn moon. The poached egg in the Tsukimi Burger is said to resemble the Autumn full moon. Here is a breakdown of the egg and tsukimi. The egg yolk represents the bright Autumn full moon, while the egg white represents the white sky.

The Tsukimi Burger first made its appearance on the menu way back in 1991 and has been a popular seasonal favourite ever since.

The Chicken Cheese Tsukimi Burger also makes a reappearance this year after its successful debut last year. Joining the Tsukimi line-up in 2014 will be the brand new Kinoko Tsukimi Burger, which is available from 17 September.

Tsukimi Burger 

The original Tsukimi Burger as mentioned above contains a beef patty, smoky bacon, poached egg and a special sauce. It is available for 339 yen (USD$3.20).

Tsukimi Burger

Cheese Tsukimi Burger 

The Cheese Tsukimi Burger is our personal favourite and features the addition of cheddar cheese. It is available for 369 yen (USD$3.45).

Cheese Tsukimi Burger

Chicken Cheese Tsukimi Burger 

The Chicken Cheese Tsukimi Burger is back on the menu again and features a crispy chicken patty and two pieces of smoky bacon. It is available for 389 yen (USD$3.65).

Chicken Cheese Tsukimi Burger

Kinoko Tsukimi Burger 

The Kinoko Tsukimi Burger is new for 2014 and features the addition of mushrooms, kinoko in Japanese to the burger.


The burgers are only available for a limited time, so rush in if you want to give them a try.

Japan Australia did just that and headed out to our local McDonald’s to get reacquainted with our good old friend, the Cheese Tsukimi Burger.

Cheese Tsukimi Burger Set at our local McDonalds

The Cheese Tsukimi Burger

A close-up look at the Cheese Tsukimi Burger

Under the skin of the Cheese Tsukimi Burger

McDonald’s Japan Website

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Foods in Japan

It’s mid-August and summer is fully upon us now in Central Japan. It is really hot and humid with no relief in sight! We recently posted 10 Tips to Survive Summer in Japan. Now continuing on with our summer theme is our latest article about Summer Foods in Japan. Food is a big indicator of the season in Japan and changes depending on the time of year. Summer offers a variety of unique seasonal dishes that are intended to provide you with stamina and raise your energy levels (to withstand the summer heat) as well as cool you down. 

Here are a few of our summer favourites:

Hiyashi Chuka (冷やし中華) 

Hiyashi Chuka is a popular summer dish that consists of chilled ramen noodles topped with cold ingredients and a special sauce. Restaurants in Japan only serve it during the summer months but it is pretty easy to make at home yourself. You can also find it at Supermarkets and Convenience Stores across Japan. Popular toppings include tamagoyaki (cooked egg), boiled chicken, ham, cucumber, bean sprouts and tomatoes. The sauce is made from a combination of water, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. It is a delicious dish that actually does help cool you down.

Hiyashi Chuka

Unagi (うなぎ) 

Unagi or Japanese freshwater eel is another popular summer food in Japan that has been eaten since the early Edo Period. A popular way to eat Unagi during summer is in a dish called Kabayaki. The eel is put on metal skewers and grilled over charcoal while being dipped and basted in a thick sweet soy sauce. It is usually served on a bed of rice like a don-buri. Unagi is believed to help withstand the hot and humid days of the Japanese summer, and is packed with both Vitamin E and A as well as protein. There is even a special day in mid-summer called “Unagi Day” in Japan for enjoying this wonderful summer stamina dish.

Summer Vegetable Curry (夏野菜カレー) 

Japanese curry or just kare (カレー) as it is called here is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. Curry was originally introduced to Japan during the Meiji Era by the British. It can be eaten all year round and is a lot sweeter than your traditional Indian Curry. In summer, it is enjoyed with a lot of seasonal summer vegetables such as eggplant, tomato and peppers.

Goya Champuru (ゴーヤチャンプルー) 

Goya or bitten melon as it is called in English is another popular summer food in Japan. It is the key ingredient in a famous Okinawan summer dish called Goya Champuru, which is a healthy stir-fry dish made with pork or spam, tofu, thinly sliced goya and scrambled eggs. Goya is a summer stamina food and provides you with healthy doses of Vitamin A and C as well as antioxidants.

Hiyayakko (冷奴) 

Hiyayakko is a chilled tofu dish that is a great summer appetizer or side dish. The chilled tofu is topped with sliced scallions, daikon radish, yuzu rind, sliced myoga ginger and mustard. Hiyayakko is perfect in summer as tofu is packed with B Vitamins which stimulate your metabolism and help provide you with energy to withstand the heat.

Kakigori (かき氷) 

Kakigori or shaved ice is a summer favourite in Japan and can be enjoyed anytime of the day to cool down. Kakigori consists of shaved ice that is topped with a flavoured syrup and sweetened with condensed milk. Some of our favourites include Ichigo Milk (Strawberry Milk), Blue Hawaii (Soda) and Matcha (Green Tea) with Anko (Sweet Azuki Beans). A lot of cafes and restaurants will serve Kakigori in the summer and you can always find it at one of the many summer festivals. Kakigori might not be as healthy or nutritious as the other summer food listed above, but on a hot summer day in Japan nothing beats it.

Matcha Green Tea with Sweet Azuki Beans
Matcha Green Tea with Sweet Azuki Beans

 What is your favourite Japanese summer food? Please share with us in the comments below.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Winner of Things Japanese Announced!

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition for a chance to win a copy of Things Japanese by Nicholas Bornoff and Michael Freeman (see the book review). We had an overwhelming amount of entries and lots of fantastic comments about your favourite Japanese traditional objects. The competition has come to an end and now it's time to announce a winner. The winner has been selected by a traditional ancient Japanese method (drawing names out of a “kabuto” samurai helmet) and will be contacted shortly.

I’m delighted to announce that the winner is…

*** Buzz Quantock *** 

Buzz we will need your details to pass on to the publishers for your free copy of the book. If you could please email us at japanaustralia2011@hotmail.com in the next few days we can get everything organised for you.

Thank you everyone for entering once again and Buzz, we hope you enjoy the book.

Drawing the winner from the samurai helmet

Things Japanese

Friday, August 1, 2014

Book Review: Things Japanese (Everyday Objects of Exceptional Beauty and Significance)

Things Japanese: Everyday Objects of Exceptional Beauty and Significance published by Tuttle Publishing is a wonderful guide and introduction to the unique objects that make up traditional Japanese culture. This is a must have book for any fan of Japanese culture and art. As most of you know, I love Japan and especially its history, culture and traditions. I guess, I’m lucky to be surrounded by these things on a daily basis. I probably take a lot of them for granted now that I’ve been in Japan so long, but this book really makes me appreciation them again and fully understand their cultural significance.

The book through its amazing photos and illustrations shares some of this culture and beauty of Japan with you. It is filled with more than two hundred colour photos and illustrations. Author Nicholas Bornoff and Photographer Michael Freeman examine over 60 traditional Japanese objects displaying their relevance and significance and will fascinate those who are intrigued by the art, culture and history of Japan. The traditional objects range from beautifully crafted samurai swords to elegant wooden tansu chests.

The cover of Things Japanese

Fantastic images and detailed information are a highlight of this book

A lot of the objects in the book are highly recognizable, some I see on a daily basis, others are more for historical value rather than daily use. Like most things Japanese they are exquisitely crafted with beauty in their diligent attention to detail and artistry. The book is beautifully presented and shows and describes each object in meticulous detail. Each item is illustrated in glorious full-colour photographs with detailed information, history and cultural context about the object.

At 143 pages long, the book is the right size to leave on my coffee table to take a peek when needed. I love my photography and a hobby of mine is shooting some of the wonderful traditional Japanese objects that I find around me. Whether its a byobu (painted screen) at a house, or ishidoro (stone lantern) at a temple, this book is a great accompaniment to better understand the cultural significance of the objects that I shoot. This book will certainly be picked up by me on a regular basis as I research these objects to find out more about them. I hope it becomes a part of your collection, too.

Things Japanese is the perfect book for anyone interested in the art, culture and history of Japan.
You can check out the book yourself on Amazon.com

*** Competition Time ***

Would you like to win a FREE Copy of Things Japanese: Everyday Objects of Exceptional Beauty and Significance?

Tuttle Publishing the company behind Things Japanese would like to offer one of our lucky readers a complimentary copy of this book. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below on the following topic, “What is your favourite traditional Japanese object? And why do you like it?

We will select a winner at random and announce the result after the closing date. 

Entries close on Friday, 8 August 2014

Note: Please do not comment as Anonymous use a profile such as Google or WordPress, etc, so we can contact you if you are the lucky winner. We we also announce the winner in a future blog post, so stay tuned to Japan Australia.

Good luck and I look forward to reading your entries

*** Competition Has Just Ended ***

Thank you everyone for entering and stay tuned as the winner will be announced on Sunday, 10 August 2014.

Things Japanese
Things Japanese by Nicholas Bornoff & Photographer Michael Freeman

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival

The Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival is one of the three largest and most famous Tanabata festivals in all of Japan. Held in Ichinomiya City in Aichi Prefecture from the last Thursday to Sunday of July, which is July 24 to 27 in 2014 this is one must see festival in the Chubu area of Japan.

Tanabata (七夕) also known as the “Star Festival” is a Japanese festival with its origins in ancient Chinese legend. The festival celebrates the meeting of two stars (lovers) who are only allowed to meet one night of the year, which is Tanabata. It is one of the most romantic nights of the year in Japan.

More about Tanabata 

The festival centers on the 500 meter long Honmachi Shotengai Shopping Arcade near Owari-Ichinomiya Station. The climax of the festival is along the approach to Masumida Shrine.

We arrived late afternoon to Owari-Ichinomiya Station and the festival was already in full swing with the station decorated in beautiful Tanabata streamers called fukinagashi, and crowds of people many in yukata (summer kimono) heading to the festival.

Fukinagashi (Tanabata Streamers) outside of Owari Ichinomiya Station

 Stepping out of the station you’ll notice that the station itself is also decorated with colourful Tanabata streamers, and there are many fukinagashi around the station. The approach to the Honmachi Shopping Arcade is lined with food stalls (yatai) on both sides of the road selling all kinds of delicious Japanese street food. The atmosphere is electric and has a carnival vibe to it with many stalls offering the chance to play a game or two to win a prize.

Street stalls with food and games

The Honmachi Shopping Arcade is decorated in colourful Tanabata streamers on both sides. Some of the decorations contain coloured paper (tanzaku) which are small pieces of paper with wishes on them. These are made by local Elementary School children and stuck on the decoration in hope that the wish will come true.

Colourful Tanabata Streamers at the Honmachi Shopping Arcade

Other decorations feature famous or popular anime (animation) characters in Japan. We saw many different characters ranging from Doraemon to Anpanman.

Shimajiro character Tanabata decoration

The main action is centered at Masumida Shrine which the Honmachi Shopping Arcade leads to from the station. Masumida Shrine was the most important and principal shrine of Owari Province, which is now modern day Aichi Prefecture. The shrine grounds are also decorated in colourful Tanabata streamers with even more food stalls and entertainment. There is a stage set up were you can watch some traditional Japanese dance performances.

Masumida Shrine

When the sun goes down and the evening approaches you can see a parade down the Honmachi Arcade to Masumida Shrine. The parade is conducted to dedicate local products to the shrine for good luck.

Parade on Honmachi Street near Masumida Shrine

Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival

Tanabata Streamers at the Honmachi Shopping Arcade

The approach to Masumida Shrine

The crowds at Masumida Shrine

Beautiful Yukata at Masumida Shrine

More Yukata at Masumida Shrine

Yukata and Japanese Lanterns at Masumida Shrine

Food stalls at Masumida Shrine

Japanese Festival at Masumida Shrine


WHAT: Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival
WHEN: July 24 to 27 2014
TIME: Most of the action happens from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
WHERE: Honmachi Arcade near Owari Ichinomiya Station
ACCESS: From Nagoya take either a JR or Meitetsu train to Ichinomiya

Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chunichi Shimbun Gifu Fireworks

Held on the last Saturday of July, the Chunichi Shimbun Gifu Fireworks is one of the largest and best fireworks displays in all of Japan. Fireworks are a great summer tradition here In Japan with many firework festivals taking place around Japan in July and August. Fireworks are called Hanabi (花火) in Japanese, which literally means fire flower. The fireworks are just that as they beautifully light up the summer night sky.

The Chunichi Shimbun Gifu Fireworks takes place in Gifu City (岐阜) over the famous Nagara River with Mt Kinka and Gifu Castle as a backdrop. The fireworks last around 90 minutes with approx. 30,000 fireworks set off. The best seat in the house is along the river bank where the fireworks are launched.

This is the must see summer event in Gifu along with the Ukai (Cormorant Fishing). Gifu City is packed on the day with people visiting from all over Japan. The atmosphere is electric with huge lines of street vendors selling all kinds of Japanese festival food and people out and about in their beautiful yukata (summer kimono).

Make sure you arrive early to reserve a good spot and bring along your seating mat. I recommend Nagaragawa Park which is at the northern end of the Nagara Bridge.

Here are a few photos from the festival last year

The Nagara River with Mt Kinka and Gifu Castle in the background
The crowds at the Chunichi Shimbun Gifu Fireworks
Festival Food and Beautiful Yukata
Fireworks ~ The star of the night
Fireworks over the Nagara River


WHAT: Chunichi Shimbun Gifu Fireworks
WHEN: Saturday July 26
TIME: 7:15 pm to 8:45 pm
WHERE: Nagara River bank (between the Nagara Bridge and Kinka Bridge)
ACCESS: Special buses run from JR Gifu Station and Meitestu Station

Chunichi Fireworks Festival

Friday, July 18, 2014

How-to: Business Etiquette in Japan

Whether you’ve moved to Tokyo for a new job or your company is expanding overseas, there are a few cultural differences in the workplace you should familiarize yourself with. The Japanese pride themselves on being gracious and building strong relationships, and exchanging gifts is just one of the many ways these ties are built.

The biggest difference in Japanese business etiquette is that it’s a lot more formal than Western cultures. Unless you are working with the imperial family, most Japanese business persons understand the cultural difference and won’t judge you too harshly. That being said, here are a few things you may want to avoid:

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