SMISKI Box Insert

SMISKI Collectibles – Series 4 Box

There is a Kinokuniya bookstore across the river in Edgewater, NJ. We stumbled onto it while we were looking for the Trader Joe’s that’s a few minutes up the road. Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore. The first time I visited one was with my wife in Singapore. They have a large selection of Japanese and English language books, magazines, and manga.

The Kinokuniya in Edgewater also has a stationary consignment shop inside that is pretty nice. The shop is located in the same shopping center as Mitsuwa Shopping Center, a Japanese grocery store with a food court. Mitsuwa is pretty cool, too. I like walking down the aisles and looking at the products. They also carry items that we already enjoy like Ito Ten roasted rice green tea and Yakult, a probiotic drink.

SMISKI Series 4 Box
SMISKI Series 4 Box

Anyway, Kinokuniya is set up so that when you walk in, you’re in a section with a bunch of cute knickknacks and collectibles. One of those collectibles is called Smiski – Opens Japanese language website. It’s basically a blind-box item, where you open a box and get a random version of the collectible.

When I saw them, I was reminded of these forest spirit things from an animated movie called Princess Mononoke.

After a few visits, I decided that I wanted to buy one and open it. I don’t know why, but I like the idea of having them on my bookcases, or in random places in the apartment. It would be fun.

SMISKI Series 4 Collectible
SMISKI Series 4 Collectible

I picked a series 4 box. I was hoping to get the guy laying down with a smaller Smiski sitting on his head, but I got this guy that’s climbing up the edge of my books, which is also fun.

SMISKI Series 4 Collectible Sitting on my Books
SMISKI Series 4 Collectible Sitting on my Books

They’re supposed to glow in the dark, but I haven’t noticed that happening with mine. I don’t think it’s defective, though. The spot it’s sitting in doesn’t get much natural light.

I’m looking forward to picking up more of these. Maybe once a month?

Namie Amuro’s Coke Zero Ads

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Once known as the “Teen Queen” and referred to as the “Queen of Japanese Pop Music”, Amuro Namie is a singer, entertainer and former actress.  She started out young, debuting as an idol in a group called the Super Monkey’s (that’s a fun name!) at the age of 14.  She’s one of the longest surviving popular female acts in Japan and is the only female artist to have had a Top 10 single each year for 14 years straight.  Not bad!

I’m just getting into the whole J-pop thing.  My experiences with Japanese culture have been restricted mostly to anime, manga, some history courses and video games, so I wasn’t familiar with her work.  I did recognize her name though.

I first found out about this ad campaign here in the Philippines when I saw a poster (pictured below) hanging up while waiting for a ride back to my neighborhood.

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And here’s the corresponding TV commercial, though it looks this one ran in Japan rather than here in the Philippines:

Not bad for a 33 year old woman with a 13 year old son, huh?  Almost makes me want to drink Coke Zero, but I can’t stand the stuff.  I prefer the regular version, which I like to call Fatboy Supreme, because it’ll put some weight on you pretty quick if you’re not careful.

I can’t say I’m too crazy about the song, but if you’re interested, here’s the full HD video of “Wild”, which is what the Coke Zero advertising campaign is based on.

The Sake Inn

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The Sake Inn isn’t actually an inn, though it would be a good name for one with a free sake gimmick.  The Sake Inn is a store in Singapore that sells mostly sake, but it’s also where I picked up the canned drinks I showed in a previous post.  I’ve never actually tried sake before, though I’m interested.  My wife and I bought a bottle of sake from a Spring Kyushu Fair in another mall in Singapore, but never had the opportunity to drink it.  We got busy with packing and wound up giving it away as a gift.  Maybe next time.

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I was impressed with the amount of Japanese goods that were available in Singapore.  Besides sake stores there were Japanese themed bakeries, restaurants and clothing stores, like Uniqlo.  I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t as much available here in the Philippines, but maybe I’m just not looking in the right places yet.  If you’re wondering where in Singapore this sake store is, it’s in the basement of Tampines 1, located right next to the MRT station.

Samurai Car Paint Job

There was a car that was always parked near our place in Singapore that had a really cool paint job on it, consisting of the Japanese rising sun symbol and a samurai.  It’s possible that the owner of the car is Japanese.  I never met him.  It’s probably more likely that the person is just interested in Japanese culture and history.

The paint job was very well done and I liked the style, so I went ahead and took a photo of it.

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Canned Japanese Juice Drinks

Canned Japanese Drinks
Canned Japanese Drinks

Ok, so one of them isn’t really a juice drink, but I love coffee so I couldn’t resist picking one up.  I bought these at a shop in Singapore that specialized in Japanese canned drinks and sake.  They were on a 10 for 10 SGD sale so I figured, why not?

They were all pretty good, but I liked the Grape and Apple the best, probably because they’re the flavors of juice that I grew up drinking in the US.  The only one I actually didn’t care for too much was the Grapefruit juice.  It was a bit rough.  I think I could’ve used it to remove paint from the walls.  I’ve never liked grapefruit too much though.  When I used to eat it at my grandmother’s house I’d have to douse it in sugar to bury that harsh, acidic taste.