Fukushima Rice and Safety Concerns

In response to concerns about the safety of products from Fukushima, many testing procedures have been put in place. This label on Fukushima rice (photo of bag posted earlier today) details the multiple testing which occurs. They describe multiple levels of safety evaluation.
1) both before and after harvesting, government approved testing is carried out,
2) both at the holding facility and at the refining facility, radiation testing is carried out,
3) the Fukushima rice association carries out 3 factor radiation detection: when the rice reaches the refinery (on the truck) and sample evaluation both prior to and after processing.
Some of this appears to be overlapping, but they are obviously trying to do everything possible to reassure the consumer.


Holiday Season

Lots going on over the holidays for me so posting will be when I can make time. Hope to return to more regular posting around January 10th. Hope everyone has a nice holiday season!


McDonald's Family Box extra

McDonald's is offering a family box for the holiday season. Personally, I think McDonald's looks much better as single servings. Too many fries lined up don't look quite as good. The party set, mostly fries, chicken nuggets and chicken strips is quite a lot of fried food. Not quite sure about these packs, but McDonald's in single servings still holds an undeniable appeal.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Photo - 7-Eleven One Piece Nandogs

One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan and there is currently a One Piece movie in theaters. These nan bread wrapped sausages have One Piece characters on the package.


Photo - ESL Explanation on Milk Carton

This is an explanation of Extended Shelf Life pasteurization which emphasizes very little loss in quality in addition to the shelf life.

Photo - Lawson PB Whole Milk

manufactured by Meiji 明治 成分無調整牛乳

Photo - Heart Shaped Genji Pie

Very popular Japanese snack in a small size and new shape. 源氏パイ

Photo - Meiji Matcha Meltykiss

This Matcha flavored Meltykiss is called 淡雪 awayuki or light snow to represents the light powdering coating on the chocolate. 明治 抹茶


Photo - Kahlua Latte

Bought this in a convenience store.

Photo - Yamazaki-Nabisco Premium Crackers

Looks like these Yamazaki-Nabisco Premium crackers mix in non-sodium salts to make this claim.

Photo - Nagatanien Anpanman Curry

This curry sold by Nagatanien is sold for kids 1-year-old and older. There is a long list of possible allergens that the food does not contain. The flavor is sweetened pork and it comes in two retort packages.

KitKat Regional Special Map

This is a map of the different areas where Nestle sells special KitKat varieties for use as omiyage gifts.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.


Nagatanien 60 Years of Chazuke

Nagatanien makes one of the best selling brands of chazuke, which is a tea and spice (including nori seaweed) mixture that is stirred with hot water into a bowl of rice to produce a wonderful soup. I have only seen this in Japan, but it is a frequent last item to order for dinner when you are eating out. Really nice and of course you can make it at home also. This product is celebrating 60 years. お茶漬け 永谷園


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Photo - The New Otani Hotel Pancake Mix

I don't think there are too many other examples of hotel branded pancake mix. The New Otani Hotel is a luxury hotel chain in Japan and as such is known for its restaurants and food also. This product is sold by Nagatanien and is a long time, best seller. ホテルニューオータニホットケーキミックス バニラタイプ 永谷園

Photo - KitKat Tokaido Shinkansen Box

This includes more views of the package which features Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka.

KitKat Entrance Exam Special

Early next year, KitKat is going to sell special edition KitKats with messages of encouragement for students who are taking their entrance exams - a huge event for all young people.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.


Photo - Ajinomoto Knorr Mexican Chili Con Carne Soup Pasta

Ajinomoto owns the Knorr brand in Japan.

Photo - Kellogg's Rice Bran Flakes

These flakes use brown sugar, which has a very healthy image in Japan. I think Kellogg's used to stress how the brown sugar was sourced from Okinawa, but no mention of it now. The package does note that when taken with 200g of milk, you get a half day's worth of recommended 7 vitamins, iron and calcium.

Photo - Rice Grain Nutrient Content

This chart was on the side of a Kellogg's Rice Flakes box.

KitKat Dessert Assortment

This assortment pack mixes tiramisu and pudding flavored KitKat varieties.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.


Photo - Meiji Aqua Bulgaria Yogurt Taste Drink

This is a drink that brings the Bulgaria yogurt taste to a Calpis-like lactic acid fermented drink.

Haagen-Dazs with Real Gold Leaf

A new limited edition Haagen Dazs variety is definitely a luxury product. Coffee syrup, ganache, almond flavor and butter cream ice cream are combined and then covered with rich chocolate. Finally, the product is sprinkled with real gold leaf. Food sprinkled with gold leaf is no uncommon in Japan, but it is uncommon in packaged foods. The product is called Opera after the famous Opera Cakes in Paris. The YouTube video above gives a better representation than the photo.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.


The KitKat GRAN WAFER promises the crispiest wafer in KitKat history.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Photo - Fukukomachi Sake

This is the last in a series of photos I took at a recent sake tasting. This sake from Akita Prefecture is not only famous and very good, but several people made the point of explaining that komachi can also be used to describe a young, beautiful girl. 福小町 酒


Photo - Hakata Torimon Manju

This is one of the most famous omiyage or gifts from Fukuoka. Very good and frequently seen in offices around Japan as Fukuoka is a big destination for business trips (and thus people bring these back for co-workers). 博多通りもん

7-Eleven Sapporo 100 MALT Beer

In a new collaboration with Sapporo Beer, 7-Eleven is offering a PB beer with a premium taste, "100% MALT Beer". There are many interesting points immediately obvious about this product.

1) in many ways it looks very similar to the 7-Eleven and Suntory collaboration on "The Brew", a discount 3rd category beer with a superior taste (my opinion). This collaboration is on a 1st category or "real" beer, so it is naturally more expensive than The Brew.

2) 7-Eleven is working with the big Japanese brewers to produce to quality PB brands. It also looks like they are trying to be careful not to alienate anybody in the process. First Suntory, then Sapporo, I would not be surprised if the next collaboration is with Asahi or Kirin. Since Suntory and Sapporo are in the 3rd and 4th places respectively, it might have been easier to start with them and then move to the top players.

3) this product is advertised as having a dry taste 辛口ドライ and comes in a silver can, which obviously creates a strong comparison with Asahi Dry, the best selling brand in Japan.

4) three points are noted as making this beer special: use of 100% malt, subzero degree aging 氷点下熟成 , which is a Sapporo process for avoiding bitter taste (the wort is immediately cooled), and another special Sapporo process called high fermentation which I cannot find an explanation for although it is mentioned for various Sapporo products starting at least 5 years ago 高発酵製法.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Photo - Meiji Kilimanjaro Blend Coffee

This is pretty good, a bit stronger and less sweet than other brands.

Photo - Hato Sable Cookie

This is a popular gift to be purchased in Kamakura, but can be found other places as well. This product takes back to the early Meiji era, also sable products in general were imported as early as the Nara Era, according to the website. Hato means dove, and the cookies are in this shape because it is a symbol of the main shrine in Kamakura, Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine. 鳩サブレー 鎌倉 鶴岡八幡宮


Photo - Meiji Gohobi Cafe Latte

This is a slightly premium latte, thus the slightly smaller package. Generally, it is much easier to produce good tasting drinks in cartons, but the shelf life is shorter than when using cans. Gohobi translates as a luxury or something to pamper yourself with. 明治ご褒美ラッテ

McDonald's Oreo McFlurry

For a limited run, the Oreo McFlurry starts tomorrow at McDonald's.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

November Japanese Beer Shipments

The following is a quote from a Kyodo article. Just these numbers give you a good idea of Japanese beer trends. All categories are falling except for the lowest price third category beers (essentially a mix of beer and some sort of liquor like shochu in order to be categorized into a lower tax category). This trend could lead to 3rd category beer overtaking real beer by volume in next few years.

"Shipments of regular beer slumped 4.1 percent to 18.59 million cases, while those of third-category beer climbed 5.5 percent to 12.69 million cases. Shipments of "happoshu" low-malt beer fell 2.1 percent to 4.96 million cases."


November Sales:
36.25 million cases
Beer: 18.59 million cases (down 4.1 percent)
2nd Category or Happoshu: 4.96 million cases (down 2.1 percent)
3rd Category or Happosei: 12.69 million cases (up 5.5 percent)

Another interesting point to note is how just 5 breweries are large enough to represent the entire beer market. Since Orion is an Asahi company, you could narrow it down to just 4 companies. Obviously little guys have a hard time in Japan.

Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Photo - Bento Lunch at Work

We had food brought into work to have lunch with a business associate. Nice, high-class bento. I think it is the first time I have seen the small chest of drawers used for the different servings. And best of all, it actually tasted very good.


Photo - Meiji Love Milk Disney Packaging

These are some different variations on the Disney packaging used with Meiji Love Milk.

Photo - Miyakojima Yukishio Chinsuko Omiyage

This is a famous omiyage or candy used as a present from Okinawa or more specifically Miyakojima Island. Although it is pretty much a crumbly sugar cookie, it uses the white salt which is recovered from the sea around Miyakojima island - the yukishio in the name translates as "snow salt". 宮古島雪塩ちんすこう

Photo - Minute Maid Red & Green Apple Juice

Coca Cola goes through Meiji for Minute Maid sold in paper cartons.

Burger King Breaking Dawn Crown Set

Burger King has introduced a Breaking Dawn Crown Set to support the current movie in the Twilight Saga. This teriyaki egg burger is supposed to symbolize the movie, but no details how this is supposed to be so. Looking at the picture and probably using more imagination than is warranted, the flowing teriyaki sauce could be seen as blood flowing from two fangs and the egg could represent the dawn or rising sun??? In any case, if you order a set you get a special Twilight Burger King Crown. I know Twilight appeals to younger people, but it seems like they are still older than the traditional Burger King paper crown age group.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.


McDonald's Juicy Chicken Snack

McDonald's has taken the patty from its popular Chicken Filet-o sandwich and turned it into a snack on its 120 yen menu.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Sony vs Meiji

This is sort of a shocker. This article implies that job applicants are fleeing Sony for Meiji, or rather troubled electronics companies for more stable food companies. I thought the applicant pools were distinct, but it is interesting nevertheless. Food companies are not known for paying overly generous salaries, but in this environment they do appear to be a stable alternative to electronics giants like Sony and Panasonic who unfortunately cannot seem to get their houses in order. The article also describes Meiji as a dairy company, but they are also the largest chocolate maker in Japan and confectionery companies have long had more job applicants than other food companies.

Very interesting and something that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.


Photo - Minute Maid Pink Grapefruit

This is a Coca Cola product that goes through Meiji in Japan.