Strawberry Swindlers

To put it frankly, batsu doesn’t like ice cream.  Not even extremely high-grade expensive ice cream, which draws the line of demarcation for every other Western-style sweet.  However, the marketing geniuses in Japan have convinced fooled me into eating it on occasion.

In Japanese, ice cream is called “aisu kuri-mu,” borrowed from the English equivalent.  Most often though, it is shortened just to “aisu.”  To recap, I hate “aisu.”

One perennial delight for taste-bud torture is Pino, a bite-sized pellet of flavored frozen milk covered in chocolate.  It’s comforting, in that after one bite the agony is over, and the rest can be passed on to someone who enjoys the stuff without weird germ phobias.  I basically had no interest in it until seeing this music video…

Oh, perfect little Pino-powered dolls!  This was incidentally the same reason a subsequent infatuation with Perfume soon after developed.  And thus, I now enthusiastically purchase Pino 2-3 times a year.

Since it is officially “Spring” now in Japan, due to an unfortunate combination of Chinese lunar calendar and Western solar calendar holidays, strawberry flavored everything is hitting the shelves – Kit-Kat, Pockey, Kinoko no Yama, Pure Gummies – mostly processed foods, mind you.  Pino not withstanding.

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This is the “delicious” spring Strawberry Milk flavored Pino.

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The inside of the box never looks as promising as the packaging.  I shudder to think what they used in the Perfume video shoot.

This was definitely not the best Pino I’ve ever had…  but don’t take my opinion too seriously.  To me, this stuff is barely passable as is.

At the same time, I decided to go for this:

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Presenting: Meiji’s Rich Strawberry chocolate ice cream bar.  I’ve tasted their rich strawberry chocolate before, and delighted in the shock that it tasted nothing like chocolate.  Not so shocking if you consider that the ingredients are 70% strawberries.  Nonetheless, it was a much better choice, tasting neither of ice cream nor chocolate.  It looked almost exactly like the packaging, to boot!

In retrospect, both of these purchases were likely spurned by the fear of soon leaving Japan.  Indeed, why suffer all the nonsense if it’s the strawberries you so desire?  My hat goes off once more to marketing genius.

There’s much better stuff to be had, though. If you were to inquire about batsu’s choice strawberry dessert, the answer would be homemade strawberry tart, made with freshly picked wild berries.  As Tokyo is sandwiched between two of Japan’s finest strawberry producing regions, no crummy store-bought strawberry flavored anything could ever compete.  This is my pie from last May:

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Strawberry daifuku – a strawberry covered in anko covered in mochi – is a close second… but speaking from experience, never buy one from a convenience store after enjoying a handmade treasure.  If you can’t find a wagashiya-san (Japanese confectioner) in your area and care to try your hand at it, I recommend this method:

Nurse Audrey

A while back, batsu made a promise to babyart – that his beloved Audrey Hepburn Pullip might be better outfitted.  It took a while to make good on that promise (a couple months?  though, only a week of actual work^^;) but here you have it, in an indulgent yet still poorly shot session.  My place was prepped for a Malaysian move, and not really the best photo space…  Excuses, excuses!

Her outfit is based on late Victorian and early Eduardian style nurses’ uniforms, like the last image in the gallery.  Otherwise, I made an original pattern using a Blythe doll dress from Dolly Dolly vol. 20 as reference.  The reference piece is was half-sleeved, scoop-necked, tiered skirt number – essentially a totally different dress.  In addition, Audrey was much more willowy, so the entire pattern had to be redrawn in the end.

This was my first time working with a doll so small.  On the one hand, the newness and excitement was inspiring.  Mistakes and remakes, such as the time my thumb was unwittingly pierced and her dress spoiled with blood, wasted little fabric.  On the other hand, some portions required very delicate stitch-work, manoeuvring extremely tight spaces.  It was a difficult balance, but Audrey-chan was a paradigm of patience.  Perhaps it will improve her bedside manner.

Most of the fabric was puchased at discount fabric outlet Tomato, which I’ll rant about in another piece.

Happy New Year

New Year’s holiday is never complete in Japan without… well, a lot of things to be honest.  But taking the number one spot on batsu’s list this year is:

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a New Year’s card from Perfume.  The most awesome part is that it was actually delivered on New Year’s Day, along with many other cards from friends and family (that did not have anything to do with Perfume, so we’ll skip them).

It was totally worth the ridiculous amount of money I spent on becoming a fan club member back in October.

The Triangle tour was the first time I’d ever seen Perfume live in concert, and also the first time I’d ever paid (a lot of) money to catch mere snippets of a stage performance.  The “standing” seats, which were nearly the same price as actual seats, were not in the center of the arena as I’d assumed, but actually standing in rows behind those in seats (who were, inevitably, standing).  If maru and I had managed to be in the first row of standers, well, things may have been different.  Then again, we didn’t choose standing so much for fun as for necessity.  All real seats for both Yokohama days sold out in less than 5 minutes – and yes, I was in line at the convenience store ticket machine 15 minutes early.

At the first wind of “club members get priority tickets” I was sold.  Special live house (small venue) tour for club members this spring?  Sold.  Special holiday greeting cards?  No, I totally forgot about that until it arrived in the mail, but looking at it now, sure.  Sold.

In a bit of an aside, batsu had to take leave in preparation of a 6 month relocation to Malaysia.  However, at the last minute, 3 days prior to departure, the business trip was cancelled, or possible postponed?  I’m not sure, but it felt good to wake up in Japan.  Expect more bastu updates shortly.