Here is another example of Japan being really good at producing quality goods that are detailed and downright adorable.
Ikumimama no Doubutsu Donatsu, everyone! If you are lucky enough to happen upon one of these little shops, I highly recommend giving these delights a shot. Even for those foodies without a sweet-tooth, the taste of these donuts are very light, as the ingredients used are very raw; the eggs, wheat, salt, butter, and not a whole lot of processed chemical bits.
But enough about the nutritional facts, let’s check the spoils.
Handmade with smiles in mind, these adorable snackies are all shaped like animals such as cats, bears, tigers, penguins, and depending on the day and season, they also have a great selection of seasonal goodies, which you can check out on their website. https://ikumimama.com/
I’ve seen these shops pop up around Tokyo, and now I’m super thrilled to have finally found one in Osaka. If you come across it, just remember these words of Runa, “Give into the cuteness, feast, and be merry!”
So White Day, March 14th, has just passed me by. The day in which women receive a return gift from those they have given Valentine gifts to. Since I, too, participated in the Valentine gift-giving, this March 14th, I received some Mister Donuts from my wonderful boyfriend, who knows me so well.
This Valentine’s Day, I was fortunate enough to visit Osaka Hankyuu’s very own St. Valentine’s Day Chocolate Expo 2018. There’s not much else to say, other than “Holy chocolates, Batman!”
There were lots of hungry consumers, and there were lots and lots of glorious chocolate stands, all of which had a different theme to them.
For example, there were the “cute” styled ones.
There were “cool” themed car ones, which you could actually “take apart” and eat. Very creative.
There were “Godzilla” themed ones, the largest of which cost 7,560en (about $75!).
The most popular ones seemed to be the “sake chocolates” and the “animal” themed booth, which I had a hard time taking a picture of because of the extensive lines and crowds surrounding the poor stand and its very busy, underpaid part-time workers.
There were also very badass “outer space” themed ones, Foucher Olympus, and I’m telling you, I felt like the Chocolate King of the Cosmos, going back a second time to actually buy these (shameless Katamari reference). http://valentine.season-evt.info/foucher/
I’ve searched the web to try and see if you could order these, but all I’ve found is, “There are no more products found for this product”, meaning they’re probably sold out… Which sucks, because I would definitely buy these suckers again.
They had a very mature, kind of sophisticated taste about them, most of the flavors dealing with an alcoholic beverages, like brandy, vodka, and more. Very quality, creamy, and light stuff. If I can ever find a link that sells these, rest assured, I’ll be posting.
All in all, I had a fun time at the Expo, contributing to the heavily-marketed Japanese Valentine’s Day. I’ve noticed that, to Japan, Valentine’s Day is really money-oriented, rather than the more traditional Western representation of a “holiday of love”. (Taking it a bit further, White Day can also be observed as another “Japanization of Western culture”, as it created the day – pessimistically speaking – to make some more money.)
However, when you think about it, gift-giving has ALWAYS been a big part of Japanese culture to begin with. And as a consumer, I think the products they deliver are very creative, and the holiday can be a lot of fun; especially the giving part. And with Mister Donuts, I mean, who can complain?
So, it’s time to get real with you guys for a sec. I know this isn’t as light a topic as I usually try to tone this blog to, but this time, please let me warn you about this fraud travel insurance I came across.
I figured I would need some precautionary health insurance during my 3 months abroad in Japan. And so per recommendation from my current American health insurance consultant, I went with IMG Global (International Medical Group).
My honest review is this: IMGLOBAL IS A FUCKING SCAM, FRAUD, AND THIEF. PLEASE GO SOMEWHERE ELSE WITH YOUR BUSINESS.
During the beginning of my stay here, I had a few health issues that worried me. Namely, a travel diarrhea that evolved into severe constipation and an inability to sleep and eat (I know; I should’ve drank more water on the plane and ate more yogurt, but now is not the time for regrets).
My wonderful boyfriend took me to see a doctor, who took some blood and prescribed me with some drugs. Here, I paid everything out of pocket, because the doctor wouldn’t accept the IMGLOBAL ID CARD that was issued to me.
In the mean time, I sent IMGlobal a quick email, asking a few tips on how their file claim system works, to which I received their reply WE CAN’T FIND your information. PLEASE RESPOND WITH YOUR CERTIFICATE NUMBER, INSURED ID NUMBER, AND ITS EFFECTIVE DATE AND EXPIRATION DATE.
That’s a lot of information to NOT HAVE on your client, but okay, resent them the email with all those little information bits they were unable to find. Finally got a response after a few days.
Here’s where shit gets really dicey.
After I was feeling a bit better, I sent in my claim on their useless-ass website on January 14th. They told me they would let me know once my claim went through the Claims Department.
THEY NEVER DID.
I checked the website TWO MONTHS later, just to see if the claim actually went through.
It did. I was NEVER INFORMED by IMGlobal. And it said on the website that they had DENIED MY CLAIM. They would cover $0 of my $80.17. News to me.
I have a right to submit an appeal, but on the “Submit Appeal” website, NO CONTACT INFORMATION OR DIRECTION WAS GIVEN.
I immediately send them a very polite email to the generic address I had been using, telling them that I NEVER RECEIVED A DENIAL LETTER, and ultimately asking why they had denied me (as I have the right to submit an appeal). I gave them the claim reference number, I gave them my ID number, and asked for a prompt response.
THREE DAYS LATER (March 6), I got a response (their responses, in general, are VERY SLOW, usually DAYS OR WEEKS LATER):
“Unfortunately we are not able to locate the claim in question. Please provide us with a screen shot of your online account so we can research this further for you.”
What the fuck.
I send them screenshots, I send them doctor’s receipts. I send them all my original documentation I had originally posted on their website, all in attachments on my response email. (March 9)
I get a response (March 12), saying “An Explanation of Benefits, detailing claim determination and/or additional information required, will be sent to the address on file and will become accessible online, once processing is complete.”
IT’S BEEN MORE THAN A WEEK LATER, AND NO RESPONSE FROM THEIR “CLAIMS DEPARTMENT”.
IMG is a THIEF, is NOT COMMITTED to its clients, and when you google it, just look under the comments sections to find more horror stories. One guy actually wrote that his wife got hit by a car and IMG didn’t pay a penny!!
I’ve been had. And it’s a really, REALLY annoying feeling. So from here on out, I guess I’ll try harder not break an arm or something while I’m out here, because you can bet your bottom dollar, that I’ll be paying for it ALL OUT-OF-POCKET, NO THANKS to IMGlobal.
Needless to say, I’ll be writing an email to my American insurance consultant shortly upon my return to the States, asking her NOT to recommend this joke company to anyone else. Buyers and international travelers, please be warned.
Hello, all! I hope you’ve been doing lots of things that make you happy. What’s one thing that makes me happy? (Don’t laugh.) Doing laundry.
As you’ve probably already guessed, doing laundry in Japan is very different from laundry in America, but not by much. My apartment doesn’t have its own drier, meaning I gotta go oldschool and hang my stuff outside on the balcony to dry. Which is fun and meditative, actually. Especially looking out over the nice, city view I have here on the 8th floor. Or especially while listening to music, or the TV on in Japanese for extra listening practice.
I want to introduce you to my meditative process that is laundry out here in Osaka.
The washing machine I have in my apartment is a Hitachi NW-6MY, so this tutorial will be showcasing this guy.
After tossing all (or most, whatever fits) of your laundry in the machine, it’s detergent time. I love the Ariel detergent; it has a distinct, fresh scent about it, and it’s mega affordable, too. Another cool thing with Ariel is that after buying a bottle, you can then follow up with buying bagged refills, which are nice and cheap.
For the Hitachi NW-6MY, you’re gonna put the detergent in this little slot here.
Then it’s time to start the machine! You’re gonna want to press Power Supply On (電源：切/入), and there should be a ding and the lights should come on the left side. Then hit the Start button (これっきりボタン：スタート/一時停止), and you’re good to go.
A quick explanation from the left:
Water Amount (水量), Wash (洗い), Rinse (すすぎ), Dehydration (脱水), Water Drain (お湯取). For 9 minutes, it will Wash. For 2 cycles, it will Rinse. Then for 6 minutes, it’ll do a Dehydration cycle, not unlike the American machines I used back in Illinois.
Sometime during the 2 Rinse cycles, however, here’s where I pause the machine to get my Laundry Softner in. The Pause button (これっきりボタン：スタート/一時停止) is the same as the Start button. Quick note: the Hitachi NW-6MY has an automatic lock everytime you close the door of the machine. So depending on the timing of the cycle, it might be locked, but just be patient, and it’ll unlock.
For softener, I use Laundrin’ Tokyo Laundry Softener. As much as I hate to admit it (my boyfriend kind of hooked me to this), it really does help get the extra smell out. Especially after the wonderful boyfriend had done some running or had futsal practice sometime during his day.
Again, the same place you put your detergent, just pour this stuff in there too. The amount doesn’t have to be precise.
Once the laundry’s done, the washing machine beeps a few times, letting me know I gotta take that stuff out to dry. This is the most time-consuming part, but depending on the weather, this is also my favorite and most meditative.
Also, see this cute, pink cat towel I got there? “It’s TAACHAN!” I bought this at my local Loft at Umeda, Osaka. It was on sale. I couldn’t resist Taachan. I found the link, in case you want to check out some more Taachan specials. ロフト・ターチャン検索
And now, enter the one-question Q & A session!
Q: Does laundry need to be done every day?
A: Almost every day for me, but definitely depends on the family, the size of their house, and size of their washing machine. I have a few working theories on this one, but here are my two-cents. First, the Japanese washing machines are a lot smaller than the American-made ones. Meaning that there’s only so much laundry that can fit. Meaning that it needs to be done a lot more often.
Second, because the laundry needs to be hung up outside, it usually takes up to a full day to get dry, wearable clothes, amiright? But depending on the weather or overall humidity, it can take longer, amiright? Meaning that they’ll be taking up limited space on the highly-limited balcony (or in and hung up around the limited space in my house), on limited drying racks, with limited clips and limited hangers. Meaning that doing laundry in advance is always a good move, anyway, so the new dirty stuff isn’t waiting around for space to open up.
Third, not all Japanese households do this (some of my host families did, but others didn’t), but after showering, my boyfriend uses his towel once and then immediately throws it in the wash. I prefer to hang mine up to dry and then use it the next day (I mean, how dirty can it get?), but regardless, and needless to say, with a towel-usage style such as this one, laundry tends to pile up really quick. Even with just two people in a tiny apartment.
Anyway, those are my two cents worth. I hope I was able to give you a peek into the laundry world of Japan with the Hitachi NW-6MY. Thanks for reading, I know this one was a long one.