Sodium everywhere!

Hello! This is Eduardo reporting, one more time, on something related to food!

We all know that university students have really unhealthy eating habits, right? While there are many exception to this rule, many students in Japan rely on convenience stores whenever they have to pull an all-nighter to finish writing an essay, making a presentation or study for finals. Convenience stores have plenty of food to choose from, including sandwiches, lunchboxes, salads, onigiris (rice balls), oden (different boiled ingredients such as fish, daikon radish, eggs…) and of course, instant noodles, soups and even fried rice.

Compared to the food available in other countries, the choices in Japan are very healthy and have a nice variety, right? This is pretty much the case, but this week I decided to take a look at the nutrition fact listed last, sodium (ナトリウム). Sodium is used to preserve the quality of food and to give it a tastier, salty flavor. However, in large quantities it can cause kidney malfunctions and cardiovascular problems, among other health effects being studied at the moment. So, the daily maximum recommended intake of sodium is 2000-2300 mg according to some sources. If you check the image above, that small rice ball has more than 700 mg of sodium! So if you eat 3 of them you’re already over your recommended daily intake!

Spicy sausage rice ball

Spicy sausage rice ball

As for sandwiches, I got one last night and it had 600 mg of sodium too. A salad dressing in 7/11 has 500 mg! It really made me worry a bit, but what shocked the most was the Cup of Noodles sodium contents: 2000 mg! That’s right, one cup of these delicious, convenient instant noodles has enough sodium for a day.

Cup of Noodles

Cup of Noodles

I rarely eat cup of noodles, but since I also eat sandwiches and onigiris from time to time, I gotta be careful not to eat all of them in one day or else I might be compromising my health in the future.

Eduardo H.

Originally posted on 2013-05-14 on the Ameblo Ryugakusei Town’s blog

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Mascots

Speaking of mascots (such as Kumamon), almost every city, company, museum, basically, any type of institution, has a mascot or “yuru-kyara” (loose character). Even our company has one: Chappe. Her hobbies are dreaming and taking showers.

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Chappe doing her best Marilyn Monroe-holding-her-skirt-down impersonation

 

While some of them are genuinely cute—Chiba-kun for instance—or in a way, smart—see Waseda University’s mascot, Okuma (big bear, but actually a play on words of Waseda founder Okuma Shigenobu); others, aren’t so much.

  111204_1040~01Chiba-kun

936710_569845903046896_436209034_nOkuma  

 

Hachimaru, Nagoya City’s mascot character may be cute for some, or rather ugly as popular opinion seems to dictate.

hachimaru-front

Hachimaru trying to smile and doing his best to ignore the shovel protruding from his head

 

But poor Hachimaru-kun’s aesthetic problems pale in comparison to these guys’:
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The Noppon Brothers

 

Tokyo Tower’s mascots, the Noppon Brothers look a little bit odd; almost as if they were an invitation to crack many rather racy and raunchy jokes about pleasure devices at their expense.

Oh, but then there’s F-Man (yeah, seriously), the mascot for the magazine Fukuoka Now. Most likely, whoever designed him was not aware of the connotations such a name like F-Man holds. Oh well, at least it’s funnier than the Liberal Democratic Party’s mascots.

f-man

F-Man not giving an F  

Shinzo Abe and Shigeru Ishiba

Abe-kun and Shigeru-chan

Refreshing Towels

Hello! It’s almost June and humidity in Tokyo will certainly increase dramatically from now on. Do you live in a city where summers are humid? If so, you know how uncomfortable it can be since perspiration and sweat is usually unavoidable, right? Here in Japan many companies release a wide variety of products to help people deal with the summer heat, but this time I would like to talk about one product specifically, refreshing towels.

Refreshing towels are actually wet tissues similar to those you get in many restaurants and airplanes to refresh yourself. However, Japanese cosmetic companies have created some that are basically deodorant, refreshing wet towels. I was reluctant to use them at first, but after trying the Gatsby Ice Type ones, I noticed I cannot really do without them in midsummer.

Image property of GATSBY

They’re meant to be used on your body, excluding your face (although it won’t hurt you or anything) since they have other specific products for face use.

Property of GATSBY

Property of GATSBY

Also, as you may know, Japanese women are very, very careful when venturing outdoors during late spring, summer and early autumn due to the high UV levels these seasons normally have. In addition to carrying a parasol and even wearing long gloves to protect their skin, some of them use refreshing towels that offer UV protection anytime they want to get rid of any unaesthetic perspiration or oily look.

top-8fad57afedf08a223ef9155f5d731ab1.jpgAlthough enduring summer in Japan can be a challenge for many of us, these products do actually help a bit. If you’ll be here anytime from now to September, I strongly recommend you buy one of them. Trying won’t hurt!

Eduardo H.

Kumamon

In addition to all the cute, globally famous characters in Japan, like Hello Kitty! Cinnamon Roll and more, each prefecture and even some cities have their own mascot. However, recently one of them has become famous all over the Japanese nation: Kumamon.

Kumamon

Kumamon is the mascot of the Kumamoto prefecture, in the southern region of Kyushu. It was created to promote tourism in the area right after the Kyushu Bullet Train service (one of the fastest in Japan and in the world) started operations.

However, what makes Kumamon different from other mascots is its comicality and its often clumsy movements. Just check this video of Kumamon doing some calisthenics (a physical activity which surprisingly many people in Japan do EVERY morning at work or at a local park) to understand what kind of character he is.

Besides being featured on TV programs and videos, he’s also been a marketing success. I have seen many Kumamon items going on sale every month. From towels to mugs, to toilet paper and tissues.

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On top of that, this weeks TV news surprised me (and I guess many more people as well) with a Kumamoto teddy bear made in Germany that fits the typical image of similar characters overseas. It costs more than 10,000 yen.

teddybear

Image from the Asahi newspaper

And though it is not the first time a Japanese cute character has become famous all over the country (Hatsune Miku and the LINE stickers come to mind). I believe it is the first time they have used a character in so many ridiculous situations. Just take a look at this video of Kumamoto dancing to Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 hit, “Call me maybe”.

Eduardo H.

Welcome to the world of Ryugakusei!

What’s your image of Japan?

Souvenirs in Tokushima prefecture

I am sure that sushi, anime, manga, Jpop, kawaii culture, bustling metropolis, crowded trains and more will pop into many of your minds.

But, have you ever wondered what is it like to come to this country as a university student? Not everything here is as crazy as it looks or maybe it is?

Before we get started, a self-introduction is mandatory! Since Ryugakusei Town has more than one writer, we’ll introduce ourselves taking turns.

Eduardo H.

Outside Nagoya Castle.

Eduardo outside Nagoya Castle

Hello everyone! My name is Eduardo Higginson and I am one of the writers here at Ryugakusei Town. I am currently a university student. I am originally from Lima, Peru and I’ve been living in Japan for 3 years so far.

I am a bit of a foodie, a bit of an otaku and a bit of a traveler. I like talking about food, whether it is Japanese, Korean or Mexican! Also discuss weird news, kawaii culture, university life, drinking, game centers and more.

The first Japanese thing in my life was a Game Boy with a Super Mario Land and Pokemon games. I am still in love in Nintendo, but not as much as I used to be. I do hit the game centers often, though.

My favorite cities in Japan are Tokyo and Nagoya. Tokyo is just so vast, full of dining, entertainment, concerts, trains and so on I can’t get enough of it. Nagoya is also a big city, but has wider roads, delicious regional food and an amazing castle, to name a few.

As cliche as it might be, my favorite Japanese dish is the quintessential sushi! I go to sushi train restaurants (回転寿司) once a week on average!

Please, comment my posts anytime! Every kind of reaction would be appreciated. See you soon!