Stephen Eats Weird(ish) Japan: Mountain Dew Cheetos

Got a doozy for you guys tonight.  If you’re like me and have lived the typical life of a 18-24 year old American, you have revelled in many a night of eating way unhealthily and generally being up to absolutely no good.  In other words, there were many Cheetos and Mountain Dew type nights.  Well, in that case, I’ve got great/terrible news for you:  In Japan, some genius marketing department has decided to combine the two into one gloriously disturbing package.

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Behold, the chalice of misery

Me being the nice guy that I am, I decided to take one for the team and sample this strange exotic delicacy.  The result will not surprise anyone with any rational thinking skills:

It was absolutely disgusting, plain and simple.  While texturally Cheetos-y, the flavor of the corn puffs simply screamed “chemical disaster!”  I’d imagine that the genesis of this latest Japanese masterpiece was that one day a janitor at the Frito-Lays plant accidentally dumped his mop water into a vat of otherwise normal Cheetos and thus forced an entire nation to endure a simply dreadful snacking experience.

On the Mount Rushmore of arbitrary Japanese ingenuity, Mountain Dew Cheetos go up next to kendamas, washlets, and robot dogs.  The Mount Rushmore of arbitrary Japanese ingenuity would then promptly implode, leaving nothing but odd vaguely Mountain Dew-ey Cheetos dust in its wake.

If you encounter a cup of these things in a dark alley, I’d suggest that you run.  Run as fast as your stubby legs can take you.  And don’t look back.

-STEPHEN

 

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Living in Japan: Do you have your papers?

So I’ve been living in Japan for a good while now so I think that it’s safe to say that if America is becoming a paperless society, then Japan is probably a society with some long standing vendetta against trees. In the past four months, I have been presented with more miscellaneous forms, files, official documents, and records than in the rest of my life combined. Rest assured, if you do anything in Japan, there’s probably some sort of form for it in a random office somewhere.

Yes, Japan is meticulously organized. But sometimes there is such a thing as being too organized. Now obviously a lot of the papers in my situation have to do with the fact that I’m a twenty-two year old Japanese citizen who pretty much blipped back onto the Japanese radar after twenty years of living abroad. That said, I have heard horror stories from both gaijin (foreigners) and Japanese citizens alike about the struggles of completing the requisite papers needed to set up a life in Japan.

Now my Japanese reading skills are far from perfect but the Japanese used on these documents is usually (a) very official (read: confusing) and (b) filled with kanji combinations and characters heretofore unused in modern Japan unless your job is reading these forms. When you open up an envelope and see a solid string of ten elaborate Chinese characters typed across the top in bold letters, you know you’re in for a fun night.

So if you’re interested in living in Japan, just beware the papers. I know Kafka was writing about German bureaucracy but I’m pretty sure he meant Japan. So brush up on those oft unused kanji. Or marry a Japanese person the second you get off the plane. Either way, have fun.

-Stephen

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A baby almost died at work today… So you want to teach English in Japan.

So I had perhaps the craziest experience at work today in which I came pretty darn close to seeing an eight-month-old baby die in front of my eyes.  I’m still pretty darn shaken up by the whole thing so I don’t think I’m really going to be able to write about it for a while.  Earlier tonight, however, I did record a stream of consciousness video about the jarring experience. (Note:  I may have dropped an F-bomb or two in the course of telling my story, so watch out.)

I’m not sure how common it is for couples to bring their infants in to English class in Japan but I’m hoping that I won’t have to deal with another choking baby in my class every again.  Seriously, I’m going to have sweaty nightmares about this day until the day I die or until Alzheimer’s blissfully erases the memory from my cerebrum.  Either way, this is going to stick with me for the rest of my life like the stench of poo in the hiking boots I accidentally crapped in on one of my boy scout trips years back.

What struck me the most is how casual the parents were about it.  If that were my kid, I would be crapping my pants and just generally freaking the fugg out.  Are they better people than me or worse than me?  I dunno.

So in conclusion, plastic kills babies, no matter how cute the kid is.

Stephen Eats Weird(ish) Japan: Special Valentine’s Day Edition!

It’s another stormy, cold day in Mito, which of course means I’m spending all my time indoors.  Additionally, it happens to be Valentine’s Day, something which I usually just ignore.  But fret not, the conditions were perfect for a special Valentine’s Day Edition of Stephen Eats Weird(ish) Japan.  Dashing into my nearest convenience store (pretty sure I deserve some sort of frequent buyer discount considering all the stuff I buy from them), I scoured the sweets aisle for something interesting to eat that is also somewhat related to the choclatiest holiday of the year and found these two beauts.

booze chocos

Two different kinds of chocolate with alcohol contained inside them without any sort of marker denoting that fact (in other words, “Hey kids, wanna get drunk?”).  I’m pretty sure Americans would lose their poo if that were the case in US convenience stores.    One caveat/ potential kid deterrent is the price point.  At 300 yen, the chocolates cost roughly 200 yen (2 dollars) more than your typical bar of convenience store chocolate, probably because of the booze, though you couldn’t tell from the taste.

So in order to make the video taste test more palatable (pun intended) for the casual Youtube viewer, I have split the Valentine’s Special into two exciting parts.

In the first part, I test out the Rummy chocolate, containing, you guessed it, rum soaked raisins in a relatively normal bar of chocolate.  Sounds alright right?  Watch to see what I thought of it:

 

Then, in the second part, I tried out the green Bacchus bar, containing what was supposedly cognac but really tasted more like rubbing alcohol mixed with hand sanitizer.  The chocolate itself was alright if not more heat resistant than normal chocolate in order to keep the liquid alcohol encased inside.

 

So overall, the Rummy beat out the Bacchus in the booze chocolate Olympics.  If you’re in Japan and in a relationship with an alcoholic, you finally have a chocolate to get him.  Then again, Valentine’s Day is over in half an hour so you should probably get right on that or just buy some to give next year.  If you want to tell your significant other you’re breaking up with him or her, then the Bacchus chocolate is for you.  Nothing says “This relationship is over” more than chocolate with rubbing alcohol inside it.  That said, I can’t seem to stop eating it even though it’s probably burning a hole in my stomach.

With that, I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day and I hope all you chicks are getting your loves chocolate like any self-respecting Japanese girl.  (I could get started on the intricacies of Japanese Valentine’s Day but that’s practically an entire book’s worth of stuff.)  Anyways, feel free to contact me through the comments section either here or on YouTube or hit me up on Twitter.  I’m pretty bored most of the time so I’ll probably get back to you about a second after you post, maybe even a second before if it’s a real slow day.

Happy headhunting!

-STEPHEN

Stephen Eats Weird(ish) Japan: Hangover Cure Tandoori Chicken Corn Snacks

So as I reported earlier, I bought a bag of a peculiar hangover cure-turned-snack-food-concoction from my local conbini (short for convenience store, don’t you know?).  Today, well technically yesterday since it’s currently two in the morning, I finally got around to tasting it.  Anyways, the video of me actively tasting it is as follows:

So after the relative high of the warm and rich Hokkaido Potato Buns, I was met with a resounding meh from the hangover crisps.  They weren’t bad per se but they weren’t all that awesome really, pretty much just weird Cheetos with an aftertaste and not much of the promised tandoori chicken flavor.

Now is this snack effective in warding off alcohol-induced pain? I don’t know… Can plain Cheetos cure a hangover?  If they can, then the answer is probably yes.  If not, well…

Anyways, I’ve got one other food item lined up for Stephen Eats Weird(ish) Food then I’ve either got to start looking for more stuff or simply wait for the next cycle of fresh funky flavors out of the Japanese food conglomerates.  (Japanese convenience stores usually rotate their special flavors of items every month or so but it usually seems like a day.)  If any of you, my faithful readers, have any suggestions for stuff I should eat or questions about Japan in general (“Will Fukushima radiation give you wings?”), hit me up in the comments section here or on youtube or you can reach me on Twitter @STEPHEN TETSU.  Things will only get better if you guys pitch in because I sure as hell don’t have the talent of skills to make this crap any good.

-Stephen

PS Ukon no Chikara is meant to be ingested before the night of drinking so that the turmeric (the main ingredient in the magic elixir) can kick in before the booze wreaks havoc on your insides.  I’m assuming that the situation is the same with the corn snacks as well.

Stephen Eats Weird(ish) Japan: Hokkaido Potato Butter Steamed Buns

Sometimes I see something and plan and plan to try it.  Sometimes things randomly appear in the hot container while you’re waiting in line at the convenience store and you decide on a whim to try it.  Tonight, while waiting in line to buy something that I also intend to test later, I came across a rather interesting choice for the contents of a Chinese-style steamed bun (bao): Hokkaido potato butter.  Hokkaido, for the uninitiated, is the northernmost main island of Japan and known as the bread basket of the nation.  Potatoes are tubers that grow in the ground and are in everything and apparently make you fat.  Butter is the stuff you put on bread.

Anyways, quickly shelling out the 126 yen cost for the little round bread thing, I quickly dashed (okay, I walked) back to my apartment and dug into the surprisingly tasty vegetarian (as far as I could tell) bun.

The potatoes were somewhere in between mashed and cooked, some in a more solid state that others and tasted strongly of pepper and butter.  There were also bits of minced carrots in there and, the theme of this bun being Hokkaido, a couple kernels of corn (Hokkaido cuisine in Japan is usually generalized as being butter and corn in everything).  But the prevailing flavor was the unmistakable starchiness of taters which actually was a good combo with the sweetish bun bread.

So my final verdict on this one is a buy.  Is it mind-glowingly awesome? No.  Is it good for odd convenience store steamed buns?  Yes.  In fact, I think it’s better than the standard Sunkus niku-man (pork bun) that they usually put out there.  So if you happen to find yourself in Japan and in a Sunkus convenience store, go ahead and try the Hokkaido Potato Butter Bun.  There are tons of worse things you could spend your 126 yen on.

-STEPHEN

P.S. Any suggestions, comments, inflammatory comments?  Please share them with me, either here in the comments section, on my youtube channel, or on twitter @STEPHEN_TETSU.  Thanks!

A tandoori chicken flavored hangover cure?

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Found this in my local convenience store. Ukon no Chikara is a Japanese supplement that supposedly prevents any hangovers if consumed before a night of hard drinking.

What you see here is apparently Ukon no Chikara turned into a Cheetos-type corn snack. Additionally, Japanese snack food rules dictate that it must also be tandoori chicken flavored.

This could be awful

Expect the video taste test up in a few days. Until then, pray this stuff doesn’t kill me.

Stephen Eats Weird(ish) Japan: Kyushu Soy Sauce-flavored Cheetos (チートス 九州じょうゆ味)

So, as anyone who has ever seen a picture of me can attest, I am a fan of food.  Thus, one of the primary benefits of moving to Japan is the opportunity to eat the bevy of bizarre junk food the country seems to churn out on a regular basis.  Just in my first three months in the country, I’ve encountered such delicacies as Mountain Dew-flavored corn snacks, salty fruit drinks, and more weird chip flavors than you can shake a stick at.

Today’s discovery is Cheetos’ special flavor making the rounds in Japan, Kyushu soy sauce-flavor (九州じょうゆ味).  Me being me, I of course decided to try the flavor on video.

Now, in the video, I said that these tasted like Cheetos with all the cheese sucked off of them but that’s not entirely true.  It took a while for the flavor to get to me but when it did, I actually quite enjoyed the subtle sweet and salty savory tones to the processed corn snacks.  Not trying to get to flowery here but I think I might have enjoyed this flavor more than the original cheese ones. (They still have a ways to go before even approaching the genius of Flaming Hot Cheetos, however.)

Anyways, if you guys have any suggestions for odd Japanese foods I can try or a desire to feed me something so disgusting it makes me puke, share it with me in the comments section below (or on youtube) or on my twitter feed @STEPHEN_TETSU.  I love to eat and I’m down to try just about anything (well that kinda read like a dating advertisement).

-Stephen

My suits are smelly and so are yours. (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Japanese fragrant suit spray)

So this job of mine requires me to be in full business attire all day everyday, full business attire being dress shirt, tie, sports coat and all the dressings.  Coming from the laid-back casual business culture of California, this has been probably the biggest adjustment for me in my move to Japan.  Not only have I had to abandon my beloved shorts and sandals (which are impractical during Mito’s cold winters anyways) but I’ve had to come in to work dressed like a big boy everyday.

At first this was a bit of a problem because, let’s face it, I’m anything but a fashionable guy (my idea of being stylish is throwing on the most random colors possible and calling it a day or dressing like Eddie Vedder circa 1995).  I could figure out the whole button-down shirt and slacks part because I’d worn those things before but when it came to ties, I was way out of my league.

Ties

When the day of my first job interview came, I actually had my mom tie my tie for me.  When the day was through, I simply loosened the tie and slipped it over my head and then reapplied it whenever necessary.  Practical and a sign that I’m obviously a genius? Yes.  A major stepping stone on my journery to full-fledged adulthood?  Not in the least bit.

The obvious drawback of my brilliant strategy was that all hell would break loose if my tie, in some horrible accident, happened to come untied.  Unfortunately for me, that happened before I even started packing for my move when, after a job interview, I absentmindedly fiddled with the thing around my neck and doomed myself to a life of tie tying and not being a total slob.

It hasn’t been easy.  It took me a good three hours to tie a tie by myself for the very first time and that came after hours upon hours of watching how-to videos on YouTube (note: Most how-to videos on the internet suck).  And even with that knowledge in hand, it still took me hours upon hours of practice to make my simple rudimentary knot not look like a pile of dog poo.  Even now, I still can only put my tie together in the most rudimentary of ways without it looking like a three year old tried to do it.

In other words, don’t expect me to be tying a foofy Chesterton Quadruple-Windsor knot anytime soon.  That stuff is way out of my league.

One thing that I have been able to do though is chose ridiculous colors for my ties.  Inspired by a binge viewing of Colin Baker-era Doctor Who, I was compelled to start wearing the most brilliantly obnoxious colors I could find.  Since my company is so stringent when it comes to its dress code, my ties are pretty much all I can get away with (and a lot of my students seem to like it, so there.)  Thus far, my bizarre tie collection only consists of a brilliantly puke-lime green tie with orange, blue, and white stripes (my go-to) and a milder tie with a pattern of what appears to be a picture of belts on it.  As time goes on, I certainly want to add to this collection because I am currently declaring war on your eyes.  And, honeslty, I kinda feel naked without a tie on now.  (No comment as to whether or not I wear one to bed.)

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Watch out (insert famously fashionable celebrity here), I’m coming for you.

Suits

The concept of suits still confuses me.  “Here’s a jacket.  Just don’t wear it when you’re outside too much or you might ruin it.”  What is it about a sports coat or suit jacket that makes so much nicer than any other form of clothing?  Is it the fact that it’s intentionally missing buttons?  Maybe it’s the fact that you can’t throw it in the washing machine lest you want to waste three hundred dollars.

And yet, we have to wear them every single day.  I guess it makes us look professional.  I’m not sure.

What I am sure of though is that whoever these suits were actually designed for does not have the same shaped arms as me.  “The armholes go a half foot under where the shoulders are, right?”

Of course all of my suit problems may just be a result of the cheapness of the wares in question.  When all of your suit jackets have been purchased through clearance or sale, you’re bound to encounter some quality issues.

And since you can’t wash them, your suit jackets wind up smelling like wet dog turds by the second month in and you start having to sit in the corner of the office so as to not inconvenience your co-workers with your rotting stench.

Thankfully, the Japanese are big on clothing spray so your jacket can smell like a field of daffodils with a few swishes of the spray bottle. (As to whether or not spraying your suit makes it smell better, I plead the fifth.)

The Verdict

Overall, I’m enjoying the whole businesswear thing more than I thought I would.  It makes me feel accomplished and dapper and those are modest victories in my book.  Plus my new-found love for awful ties allows me to still be weird without being overly obnoxious (ha!).

In other words, now I’m an adult… but not really.

-Stephen

PS, go ahead and stalk me on the social medias and stuff if you’d like.  Hell, go ahead and dislike every single one of my videos on YouTube for all I care.

PPS, any thoughts, questions, or declarative statements?  Feel free to send them to me via the comments section here OR on twitter (@STEPHEN_TETSU).  I will respond to them.  Believe me.  I have absolutely nothing better to do.  At all.  At.  All.