by Heather Russell

Japan Word of the Day #65 – Gurabia Idoru


Today’s Word is: Gurabia Aidoru (グラビアアイドル)

Gurabia aidoru is a Japanese female model who primarily appears in magazines targeted for men and high teen boys.

Gurabia models, in order to appeal to male readers, usually dress up in swimsuits and lingeries, but they are not to cross the line with porns (i.e. no explicit nudity). Their poses are generally sexually suggestive, but the overall atmosphere of gurabia photos are more positive, innocent, and playful than being aggressive or dirty.

From models’ perspective, gurabia is often considered as early steps in their entertainment careers. Most of them are not planning to do gurabia forever. Rather, they use these opportunities for having their names out there and getting people to known them. After they passed certain age, or get hired for commercials, TV shows, and films, they will eventually graduate gurabia and pursue careers as actresses, fashion models, tarento (TV personalities), etc.

The following photo is Yui Niigaki when she used to work as a gurabia aidoru. She is now an actress, fashion model, and a singer.



The word gurabia is a Japanese-coined English that is shortened version of “rotogravure,” a type of printing format that was widely used for photo printing in newspaper and magazines (but rarely used in present-day gurabia printing).

Image source: Mobaoku

by Heather Russell

Black Cats Only! World’s First Black Cat Cafe in Himeji City



Black cats are believed to bring bad luck; such superstition is true in Japan too.
Despite their unfortunate reputations, there are many cat fans who absolutely love black cats.
If you are one of them, “Cat Cafe Nekobiyaka -Kuroneko cm-” in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture might be a perfect place to visit! This is the world’s first cat cafe in which the feline residents are all black cats!

Continue reading

by Heather Russell

Japan Word of the Day #64 – Futokoro


Today’s Word is: Futokoro (懐)

Futokoro refers to the inner side of a kimono’s chest area. It also means the chest/breast area of the body itself. The word is used in several Japanese idioms.

For instance, futokoro is often associated with someone’s current money status.

  • “Futokoro ga samui (chest area is cold)” means you are currently short on money.
  • On the other hand, “futokoro ga atatakai (chest area is warm)” means you currently have lots of or at least comfortable amount of money.
  • Futokoro ni ireru (put [money] in chest)” means you are taking someone’s money and making it your own.

This is because futokoro area of a kimono is where people keep their wallets when they don’t have bags. As you can see, designs of kimonos usually don’t have pockets, so wallets have to either go in futokoro (inside the collar), tamoto (baggy sleeves), or stick them in obi belts.


Futokoro can also mean someone’s heart in emotional way.

  • Futokoro ni hairu (entering one’s chest)” describes a situation where someone becomes close to you and earns trust from you.
  • Futokoro ga fukai (deep chest)” describes someone who has great compassion, generosity, and respect to others.

These are just a few examples I can come up with right now, but you can see how versatile the word is!

Image source: Oharibako, 2

by Heather Russell

Sailor Moon Melamine Cups Set

Cute Sailor Moon Melamine Cups Set is available for preorder from Premium Bandai!



Five cups in one set! Melamine is material that is both light and durable.
You place preorder today, and the cups will be shipped in June.

Rinkya Price: $57.00 (including all Rinkya fees except international shipping)
Please note that all Pre-Orders must be paid immediately. Available quantities are limited. Any order not paid within 24 hours will be cancelled.



by Heather Russell

Japan Word of the Day #63 – Tanuki

Today’s Word is: Tanuki (たぬき)

Tanuki is a subspecies of raccoon dog that is native to Japan.
Its appearance is similar to that or raccoon or badger, but they are evolutionarily not closely related.

Tanuki appears in many Japanese folktales and fictions.
They are known for being mischievous, and believed to have abilities to disguise themselves into humans and other objects. One of the more well-known fictions that depicted tanukis is Pompoko, an animated film created by Studio Ghibli.



Tanuki udon and tanuki soba are popular meals enjoyed both in restaurants and as instant noodle.
Don’t worry, although ingredients differ depending on the areas, there is no tanuki meat in these dishes!
In Kanto area, tanuki udon/soba refers to noodle dish topped with tenkasu (deep-fried flour batter).



In Kansai area, it means soba (buckwheat noodle) topped with aburaage (deep-fried beancurd). The same dish is called kitsune soba (fox soba) in Kanto area, which is interesting.




Image sources: Wikipedia, Medama no Otochan Blog

by Heather Russell

Yutaka Getter Robo Go Jumbo Getter from 90′s!


Getter Robo Go’s Jumbo Getter toy by Yutaka made in 1991 is listed for auction now!
Current price is only 13,399 yen and one more day left till the auction ends.


All the parts are included except for the stickers. Not too many of these toys are seen outside of Japan, as the line did not sell as much as previous Jumbos in 1970′s, and it’s a lot cheaper than older vintage Jumbo Machinders, making it a cost-friendly, unusual piece for collectors.



You can see Collection DX for detailed review on the same product if you are interested.

This auction ends on April 16th, 2014 at 12:13 in PDT.

by Heather Russell

Live Action Lupin the Third Visuals Revealed!


Live-action Lupin III movie is going to hit Japanese theater screens this summer. The latest visuals for the five main characters were revealed at the official website on April 9th. Can you see the resemblance?



The cast includes Shun Oguri (Lupin III), Tetsuji Tamayama (Jigen), Gō Ayano (Goemon), Meisa Kuroki (Mineko Fuji), and Tadanobu Asano (Inspector Zenigata). Quite a cast indeed!

Shun Oguri told press that he went through 10 month of physical training and strict diet to lose 8 kilograms of weight in order to achieve Lupin III’s physique.

The movie is scheduled for opening from August 30th, 2014. Visit the official site to see more information!

Image Soruce: Netlab


by Heather Russell

Bento Friday: Totoro Nori Bento

Happy Friday!
This week’s bento is nori seaweed bento with Totoro and snow-Totoro!



I like how the leaf umbrella is made of a real leaf! It’s a leaf of ōba (大葉), also known as aojhiso. Aojiso is a related plant of akajiso, which is a key ingredient that makes Japanese pickled plum that specific flavor. It is very flavorful and goes well with nori!


The gray part of Totoro body is made of white fish cake mixed with black sesame. The white part of Totoro and the snow Totoro is made of cheese.

totoro-nori-bento-rinkya-japan3 totoro-nori-bento-rinkya-japan4


Have a great weekend!

Bento source: Yonpiyo Mama

by Heather Russell

Japan Word of the Day #62 – Menma (Ramen Topping)

Today’s Word is: Menma (メンマ)

Menma refers to fermented/pickled bamboo shoots that are widely used in Asian cuisine. In Japan, it’s most commonly used as a topping for ramen.



The yellow bamboo shoots in the ramen bowl above are called menma. This term only applies when it’s pickled in this way. Unprocessed, fresh bamboo shoots are called takenoko.

In the beginning, pickled bamboo shoots of this kind were called “sinachiku (シナチク),” where sina meant “Chinese,” and chiku meant “bamboo.” Sinachiku was already popular as ramen topping before WWII, especially in Kanto area.
However, in 1950′s, a Japanese import company was accused by Taiwanese sinachiku company regarding the fact the product is marketed as “Chinese bamboo,” while it’s made in Taiwan. So in order to resolve this conflict, the Japanese import company changed the product name to “menma,” which is combination of “men (noodle)” and “ma (short for machiku, a special kind of bamboos that grow in Taiwan and southern China.)”

Image source: Wikipedia

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