Monday, October 24, 2011

Japan: where 80s has-beens become stars once again.


310246_2545978011458_1314019772_2940299_1613950732_n Okay so I’m going to get a little nostalgic here so bear with me. I don’t know what happened to the toy market in America, but it is awful. I see new toys on the shelf every holiday season and think to myself “Would I even WANT this for Christmas?!” I must say we had the best toys and I think Japan has noticed and is making bank on them!

I went to MG Plaza recently and they have rearranged the store. I noticed a lot of toys that I grew up with for sale and the characters splashed on towels, keychains, notebooks, pencils an anything else you could think of.

Some of you may not remember the Yum Yums but I do. I think the toy came out first and then they had some cartoon afterward. (I actually didn’t know about the cartoon until looking for the toy commercial on YouTube with no luck). I actually had the Peppermint Kitty. All of the toys have a scent on their tummy.

And now along with the toys you can get yum yum notebooks, folders pencils, pillows, towels….etc!


An even more popular toy in the 80s (and one of my favorites) was the popple. I had a few of them but my favorite being the large pink one (pictured). Popples also came out with a cartoon after the toys.


If you don’t know what a Popple is, check out the commercial below. Heck, even if you DO check it out. I remember going to the toy store looking for one! (BTW the price for these Popples at ¥4200 is astronomical! That’s about $50 USD! (Maybe more)

Popples commercial USA

Popples and Yum Yums are just a few examples of old cartoons reviving to a Hello Kitty status in Japan. I’ve also seen Raggety Ann and Andy! I forget which character it was, but I noticed one of my Japanese friends had a keychain or something of an old 80s toy. When I inquired if they knew what it was they just responded with “I just got it because it is cute.” Touché Japan, touché. Mattel must be making a killing. I just imagine them in a conference room deciding what to do with all these toys from the 80s and how they can still make a profit on them. “Send it to Japan, hell… they’ll buy anything cute or weird.”

It’s a shame they don’t sell (and advertise) these as new products in the States (without having to go to Spencer’s Gifts or Newbury Comics) so that American children can have access to toys worth asking Santa for!





We took a leisurely ride up to Hakkoda to see the fall colors. We also stopped at a few sites on the way.

The first site was Dozono Chaya. It is a rest stop/restaurant/giftshop/ memorial/museum. We got some really delicious mochi-type thing here… and then we went back to buy more because it was so good!


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The building also has a small museum which you can view for ¥200. I’m not quite sure of the specifics but something to do with Japanese soldiers walking through Hakkoda in the snow. That is also what the memorial behind the rest stop is for as well.

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Next stop was “Legendary Tea.” Being a tea enthusiast myself, this sounded intriguing and I couldn’t wait to try it. The legend is as follows “drink one cup and increase your life by 3 years, drink 2 cups and increase your life by 3 more years, and drink 3 cups you will live as long as possible.”


DSC_3629_DxO The tea is actually free of charge when you drink it here.  You wash your cup in the fountain and pour the tea from either one of the pots using a wooden ladle. Please wash your cup again when finished. 

Naturally, I drank three cups out here. I also went inside to buy a snack (konyaku) It was pretty good! We had another cup of tea here.


The shop also sells the tea leaves used to make legendary tea for ¥300 for 10 grams.

Next stop was Jigokunuma or “Hell” Swamp. This swamp is a crater lake produced by the eruption of Mt. Hakkoda that occurred in its last phase of volcanic activity. Every minute 2,700 liters of strongly acidic, 90°C water comes out of the bottom of the swamp.


The next stop was Suirennuma Pond. By this time it looked like it was about to storm heavily.


Our final stop was in front of Sarukura Spa Resort. They had a lovely stream.


Fall is a popular time for people to go through Hakkoda and enjoy the fall colors. I really enjoyed seeing all the beauty of autumn in Aomori . If you haven’t gone to Hakkoda in the fall I recommend it!