Posts tagged ‘pocky’

Good Things Come in Brown Packages

Despite the rising cost of fruits these days, I’m grateful for anything I can get at my local supermarket. Back in Japan, I’d scour the aisle for a single mango, even a squished blueberry. They’re a dime a dozen in neighboring countries, but thanks to strict import regulations they’re black market-worthy commodity. Imagine being the only kid who’s never seen a kiwi.

Luckily, there’s now a number of shipping companies (here, here and here) that double as fruit bearers to loved ones back in Japan. Freshness is guaranteed; all you have to do is choose from the catalog.

They offer rare items like papaya, avocado, green mangoes, and seasonal treats like Raineer cherries (June-July). The bill amounts to a little more than what you’d pay to ship it yourself, but considering the hassle by agricultural inspectors, I’d say it’s worth it.

And it doesn’t stop at all things round and sweet. The treasure trove includes Pepperidge Farm cookies, Godiva chocolates, booze, foie gras, fresh seafood and raw steaks. And for $60 they’ll even ship a birthday cake to your favorite pen pal in Tokyo. It’s fully decorated, though she’ll have to light her own candles. (Hopefully someone could sing to her.) Japanese birthday cakes all come the same: cute, light and spongy. So it’d serve a great cultural lesson to give an American cake to a Japanese person. “This is why you Americans are so fat!” you’ll have them saying.

Of course, with all the great food you can get in Japan — sushi, tempura, Pocky — why ask for more, right? Well, with anything in excess, even good things, the palate grows tired. That’s when you start calling your friends back home, begging them to send you a big, fat care package. Blueberries, check. avocados, check. Fillet mignon with all the trimmings, check.

Himawari

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
JPBizDirect, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more
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August 12, 2008 at 9:19 am

Taking a Test? Have a Pocky!

Right now, millions of Japanese school kids are sharpening their pencils and putting their brains into gear for entrance exam season.

With the academic year beginning in April, students are preparing now for a seat in a good school. The competition is stiff so it’s common practice for parents to dish out part of their income for after-school test prep classes, called juku. In the U.S., we have Kaplan and Princeton Review, but those begin at the college level. In Japan, it starts as young as kindergarten.

Back in the day, I was a nervous wreck taking the SATs, which is the standardized college test in the U.S. No matter how hard I studied I never felt fully prepared. I even tried hypnosis and daily affirmations to boost my confidence. Any amount of encouragement was necessary to overcome that uphill battle.

pocky-20060222.jpg

In Japan, encouragement comes by way of candy. Walk down the aisle of any grocery store and you’ll see several of your favorite sweets – Kit Kats, Pocky and the like – printed with cheers like “You can do it!” and “We’re rooting for you!” They’re called gokaku (passing the exam) goods and though the price and content are the same, to the ambitious student these god-sent gems look like bona fide assurances of success. If I were a student I’d buy every box of gokaku candy I find and then slowly consume each one as I stay up all night studying.

Japanese consumers love matching their mood with their food. That’s why so many products change their look to fit the season. In the summer you’ll see bright yellow colors and a proliferation of thirst-quenching citrus. During fall and winter there’s shades of sweet-potato brown and milky white. Springtime adds cherry blossoms to both chocolate and potato chips.

So when entrance exam season comes around the only thing students are in the mood to know is that in a few months they’ll pass with flying colors. That’s why they have Pocky on their side. Just in case.

Himawari

—————————————————————————
Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
JPBizDirect, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. – Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more
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March 3, 2008 at 9:50 am 1 comment


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