men holding swords illustration

Japan’s world-class festivals

men holding swords illustration
Almost every town in Japan has their own traditional festival of two, but goo Ranking asked which are Japan’s world-class festivals.

The problem with a lot of the festivals in recent years are that they are far too crowded; the problem this year is that most have been cancelled or drastically scaled back.

I’d love to go to the Akita Nebuta Festival; as pictured above, huge papier mache float lit from the inside look impressive on television and probably even better in the flesh. I’ve been to the Gion Festival; not the actual parade, but the day before they have the danjiri – mobile shrines – on display so you can walk around and have a leisurely close-up view.

Kishiwada Danjiri Festival is mental; the town itself is one of the rougher places in Osaka, and the danjiri are manned by the local neds and low-level gangsters (allegedly), who push the things through town at breakneck (sometimes literally…) speeds, occasionally knocking chunks out of buildings during tight turns. This is one that is safer to watch on the television.

What’s your favourite festival in Japan?

Anime with the most shocking first episode

I’ll have to take this survey on its word due to my general ignorance of anime, but there are a number of curious titles in the results (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime?!) of the serialised anime with the most shocking first episode.

Actually, I know the first three titles, and have actually watched two of them; regarding Attack on Titan, a couple of weeks ago my wife’s cousin related a story of how her son suffered a serious todger bite due to his six year old cousin having watched too much of the R-15-rated show on YouTube. The kid’s mother forbade the show, but was fine with Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba), until she saw a scene featuring a rather graphic decapitation.

Here’s some Titan unpleasantness to give you a taste…

Detective Conan is rather tame, but according to the blurb, the first episode included a rollercoaster scene where some of the riders got decapitated, and even though it was censored since it was in a prime-time slot aimed at kids, it was still rather traumatising, apparently. Here’s a link to the images.

What’s your most shocking one?

Japan’s tastiest doughnut

goo Ranking asked its visitors to choose their favourite doughnut from the Mister Donut regular menu

The Pon De Ring is my favourite doughnut too. The regular is my choice if they don’t have their frequent seasonal options; kinako (soy bean flour) is my favourite variation, and the less common green tea ones are also excellent. Second for me too is the Old Fashion; the chocolate on the Chocolate Fashion is a bit too heavily processed for my liking.

I’ve heard a number of foreigners complain that Mister Donut’s offering are too small and not sweet enough, but conversely I’ve tried Krispy Kreme’s and they are to my palate disgustingly sweet and heavy.

Here’s a sample Mr Donut offering. From the left is a French Cruller, Pon De Ring, and maybe an iced Angel Cream? Oh, and the hot cafe au lait and black coffee are free refills!


Japan’s tastiest ramen chain

This survey from goo Ranking asked the Japanese to choose their tastiest ramen chain.

Despite having lived here for over 20 years, I have never actually eaten ramen (outside of dried ramen at home), and have only once been in a ramen shop where I had some fried rice. The food looks too greasy for me, and as a person brought up with strict manners about eating one’s food silently, the slurping of noodles is extremely unbearable!

Most other foreigners seem to love the stuff; what’s your favourite chain?

Image by WP Chun from Pixabay

Japan’s tastiest Umaibo (giant cheese puffs)

One of the ever-popular pocket money snacks in Japan is Umaibo, literally “Tasty Stick”, a 10 yen 10 centimetre or more stick of puffed corn. This survey from goo Ranking asked people to choose their tastiest tasty stick.

I’ve never actually bought one, but occasionally I’ve got free ones handed out with advertising leaflets or other small-scale promotions.

I think I’ve only eaten the standard corn flavour, but since I wasn’t brought up on the snack, it left zero impression on me. The cinnamon apple pie one sounds interesting though.

This is not actually an Umaibo, but instead an Umaibo-branded bath salts that is sold in very similar packaging to the real thing, which contains not surprisingly corn extract as the main active ingredient.


Tastiest Fanta ever!

I’m not a fan of sugary fizzy drinks, so this list from goo Ranking on the best Fanta flavour ever has lots I have never heard of.

Actually, there’s one sugary fizzy I like, Ginger Ale, but I’m kind of disappointed that there’s no Fanta Ginger in the list. Googling it, there seems to have been such a flavour abroad, but it never made these shores.

McFries being eaten

Tastiest McDonalds Menu

goo Ranking asked its audience to pick their tastiest McDonalds menu item.

McFries being eaten

I’ve been to McDonalds in Japan exactly twice. Once in a rush at an airport I had a Teriyaki Chicken Burger set; the chicken was taste-wise utterly invisible under the sauce, and the buns bore little resemblance to any bread-based comestible I have ever eaten.

The other time was for a free hot coffee offer, which was a rather sour blend that had been sitting on the warmer for the last day and a half. I think I managed about a third before I gave up and threw it away.

Japan out-cutes America, Scotland and Russia

I can’t believe I missed this survey from last year, where goo Ranking asked people to choose their cutest cat breed, but I suspect more than a little national pride influenced the result.

My cutest cat (although not a domestic breed) is the Sand Cat, which has recently featured in the news due to the first kittens born in captivity in Japan, as can be seen in the attached video.

Not that I’m biased either, but Scottish Folds are the loveliest; Munchkins are cute, but I can’t get past that they must be tormented by being unable to jump as well as their fully-legged cousins.

Japan’s most relaxing coffee chain

goo Ranking asked their readership to choose the most relaxing coffee shop chain in Japan.

Looking at the top three, when I lived in Kansai a friend of mine would post Facebook updates from Komeda Coffee, of which I was rather jealous as there were none near me, so when I moved to Tokyo I was keen to try, but the only one I’ve been to was a bit of an anticlimax.

Starbucks is often the very opposite of relaxing as there is often people busy talking on the phone, although I know of two in my town that are usually phone-free, and as long as I don’t think too much about the price they are quite relaxing; the French press of freshly-ground beans in particular is good.

Of all the Doutors I’ve been in, only one was approaching nice, let alone relaxing. However, the cheap coffee keeps me coming back.

My most relaxing is Tully’s; I’ve never been in a bad one and their plain latte is good value, but Saint Marc’s gets most of my business; there’s one the station before the office, so if I’m early in the morning, it’s just right to perk up and wind down with a hot coffee before work.

Where’s your most relaxing coffee?