Kit Kat Krazy

aka Things I did buy in Japan.

aka Vacation Shopping Insanity – Japan edition.

You may or may not know this, but the Japanese love Kit Kats! Why? I hear you ask. Well, the reason for this is because the name is similar to the Japanese phrase “Kitto Katsu” which roughly translates as “surely win”, or in other words “good luck”, hence why students are often bought Kit Kats before their exams. So Kit Kats are basically a good luck charm. They even have a crazy amount of Kit Kat flavours in Japan, which vary region to region. You name it, they probably have it.

So when I found out that the world’s first ever Kit Kat boutique was opening in Japan shortly before I was due to travel there, I was very excited. And I wasn’t the only one, I’d read a couple of articles about it and there was much hype and anticipation about this chocolate paradise.

But, I’m not going to sugar-coat this (or chocolate-coat this, if you will). The world’s first ever Kit Kat boutique was a big fat disappointment! Firstly, it’s not a shop. It is a section of a department store and a very small L-shaped section at that. Secondly, they did not have the massive array of flavours I was expecting, there were literally 3 or 4 flavours to choose from. and that. was. it.

kit-kat-chocolatory-tokyo

Even though it was quite expensive, we still made a purchase – one solitary box of Sakura green tea flavour.

chocolatory-kitkat-special

Sure, the packaging is pretty and it did taste quite nice but I’m not sure it was worth it. Although they did have a really cool chandelier.

kit-kat-chandelier

After the visit to the Kit Kat Chocolatory it became my mission to track down these mysterious and exotic Kit Kat flavours, I made a point of looking whenever we popped into a 7-11 or a Family Mart but I could find nothing but the original milk chocolate flavour.

After consulting the internet and keeping my beady eyes open, I did eventually manage to find the following flavours (although I hasten to add that I didn’t purchase ALL of these) – green tea (minus the sakura), cinnamon, rum & raisin, strawberry cheesecake, strawberry (minus the cheesecake), purple sweet potato, red bean, apple, chili, orange & lemon and wasabi.

Some of these were bought in random gift shops dotted around Tokyo and Kyoto but I will let you in on a little secret… the best place in Tokyo to buy Kit Kats is a little shop under Tokyo train station. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of this store but it was on a corner in the basement of Tokyo station near Yaesu Central Gate. And it looked like this –

tokyo-station-kitkats

I was an actual kid in a candy store. I probably would’ve got swept away with emotion and bought a box of each flavour but fortunately I had my husband there to calm me down. We still ended up buying about 4 boxes though, which came to about 20 quid (£20 on chocolate!!! Ack! See? Vacation Shopping Insanity!). I will also like to state that we didn’t keep all 4 boxes for ourselves, some were gifts.

The remaining Kit Kat purchases we made were, as I said above, at random shops we found on our travels but Narita airport was also a good place to find some interesting flavours – that’s where we bought the Hokkaido Red Bean flavour amongst others. The shop is easy to find, it’s pretty much the only shop you can use up all your yen coins in without breaking into a note.

So which Kit Kats did I actually try? Well here they are…

japanese-kitkats

Cinnamon, Green Tea, Rum & Raisin, Strawberry Cheesecake, Hokkaido Red Bean, Sakura Green Tea, Purple Sweet Potato, Strawberry and Shinshu Apple. Yes, we bought quite a lot but these were gifts for family and work colleagues too.

Surprises? The bars are more like “fun-sized” bars, a lot smaller than we’re used to but you get several in a box. Purple Sweet Potato is quite nice, just sweet really and Green Tea just tastes like white chocolate.

The strawberry ones went down a storm at work, the other flavours taste pretty much how you would expect them to. And Hokkaido Red Bean? I didn’t mind it, I can’t really describe it, I found this ok-ish but my husband thought this particular flavour was foul!

Have you tried any random Kit Kat flavours? What were they and what did you think of them?

Odd things I didn’t buy in Japan

I love Japan. I love it because it is so unlike anywhere else I have been. I love it because the people are courteous and the streets are clean but most of all I love its weirdness. I love the kooky oddball side of Japan… it appeals to the kooky oddball within me.

If you read my post about the gift shop in Las Vegas, then you’ll know I’m prone to holiday shopping insanity (or vacation shopping insanity, if you prefer). But this post is actually going to feature things that I didn’t buy, but felt compelled to take a picture of anyway!

japanese-wrinkle-smoother

japanese-beauty-products

So I spotted these bizarre little gadgets – ‘Wrinkle Smoother’ and ‘Happy Face Trainer’ (what I can only presume to be the cure for ‘Bitchy Resting Face’) at Tokyu Hands, Ikebukuro. I was going to say, I’m not sure why they used such an obviously young and cheerful looking person on the packaging but then I thought perhaps this lady is actually about 95 and these products actually work?!

cat-paw-massager

If all that smiling has taken it out of you, then perhaps you could do with a little massage “To the place which got tired”. These strange plastic cat paws actually vibrate when pressed against your skin. I don’t really know what the health benefits are and I also don’t know why they were on sale in a toy shop along with…

smorkin-labbit

Smorkin Labbit. Bondage Labbit and Sexy Time. Yes, they were with the collectable vinyl toys but also, they were for sale in a shop called Kiddyland (which is in Harajuku if you are interested!).

samurai-umbrellas

At home in the UK, most arcade machines contain things such as cuddly toys which you can win by inserting roughly half a weeks wage into one of these crappy grabber machines. In Japan, however, the prize is much cooler – umbrellas that look like samurai swords! I actually would have quite liked one of these, I could have gone all Uma Thurman in Kill Bill every time it rained, but I’d never have got it in my over-stuffed suitcase or on the plane back home.

Last of all, one of the funniest things I saw was this toy in a 100 yen store.

japanese-knife-toy

“Give someone a great surprise”. Interesting choice of words there… I wonder what the Japanese bits say?

I have much more Japan-related quirkiness to bestow upon this blog and more Japan full stop, it is such a fascinating country after all.

A view from the top: Sigiriya – Sri Lanka

Continuing on from A view from the top: Tokyo Tower, is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya Rock, situated in the beautiful teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka. Located in the Matale District in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya (Lion Rock) sits at 200 metres tall and is one of the country’s most spectacular and most visited landmarks.

Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka

The rock was home to a group of monks in 3rd century AD, however Sigiriya is most famous for becoming an unlikely setting for a royal palace. King Kassapa ruled from 477 AD to 495 AD and was born to a non-royal consort. Kassapa’s younger brother, of royal blood, had been proclaimed as their father’s heir to the kingdom and so Kassapa took it upon himself to murder his father and seize the throne from his brother. Fearing retaliation, Kassapa established his palace at the top of Sigiriya, a defensive place to reign from.

The famous lion paws at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

Pros – It is quite an achievement to climb Sigiriya, no matter how tired you feel while doing so. The views are pretty rewarding and it’s worth taking a look at the frescoes part way up.

Cons – It is hot. And tiring. And you must make sure you take water with you as there is nowhere to purchase a bottle until you are right back at the bottom and on your way out.

Surprises – I was quite surprised by how broken up the climb is. You do a fair bit of climbing before you even reach the famous lion paws! Also watch out for the monkeys – they’ve been known to get a bit lairy.

Beware of the monkeys at Sigiriya, Sri Lanka!

Verdict – This is one of those things you do that you only truly appreciate once the moment has passed. I thought the heat and tiredness would kill me before I reached the top but I’m glad I made the climb up as the views are spectacular!

The view from Sigiriya Rock Fortress

A view from the top: Tokyo Tower – Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Tower – Tokyo, Japan

Continuing on from A view from the top: Campanile di San Marco, another tall attraction in another fantastic city, is Tokyo Tower.

A view from the top - Tokyo Tower in Japan.

Although not the world’s most famous tower, at 333m tall the Tokyo Tower is the world’s tallest, self-supporting steel tower. Not as iconic as the Eiffel Tower, Tokyoites are pretty proud of the fact that it is both taller and lighter than the famous Parisian landmark. While by day it may look like the love child of the Eiffel Tower and a candy cane, the Tokyo Tower does serve a function other than amusing tourists – it is used to broadcast signals for Japanese television and radio.

Pros – There’s live music up there. Also, in true Japanese fashion, the tower has its own mascots known as the Noppon Brothers. The Noppon Brothers look a bit like big pink tear drops and have their own interesting mottos

“Look at things with a hot heart with the cool touch”
and
“Start with small things and keep going on steady”.

Cons – Like all good attractions, you have to pay to enter (around ¥820 or roughly £6 at time of writing). I hear that there is another building in Tokyo where you can take in a decent view of the city for free (sorry not sure where!)

A view from the Tokyo Tower in Japan - part 2 of my A View From The Top series.

Surprises – I guess the Noppon Brothers are a bit of surprise – until you remember you are in Japan and that characters aren’t just for children in a land where even businessmen have kawaii phone charms.

Verdict – It’s worth a look if you’re into your cities and landmarks, makes a change from the countless photos taken of the New York skyline, although if I get back to Japan I will seek out new heights – perhaps if I’m rich enough I’ll go stay at the Park Hyatt and have my own ‘Lost in Translation‘ moment!

A view from the Tokyo Tower in Japan - part 2 of my A View From The Top series.