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MERRY CHRISTMAS 2013

Hi everyone,


MERRY CHRISTMAS メリークリスマス
Thanks to you all for another fun year of blogging!

Today is the 25th which is Christmas Day (in Japan too, although it isn`t quite the same as celebrating back home in NZ), so I`d like to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season!

See you all in 2014!

From Fran xx

Santa and his PNP (portable North Pole) are back!

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I used this great online tool last year to make a personalised Christmas video for a friend (and my lovely sister made one for Aiden). I wrote about it here.

If you are looking for something fun to show your kids this Christmas... check it out here... (and for more information, their facebook page here).

To create a new video, just fill out a simple form with the child (or adult)`s gender, age, and location. It will be personalised further with special efforts the child is making, what toy the child wants etc.

The results are amazing and best of all - FREE! (there are additional extras you can pay for, but the basic video is free, and enough!!)

* not a sponsored post. Just an awesome product!!


Reader Question - Hair stylists in Osaka (English speaking)

QUESTION - Can you advise me of of a good hair salon with english speakers?

ANSWER - Sure. I posted about this a while ago, so will repost the information below...

I have compiled a list. Have you been to any of these places? Or any other places? Help out this and other readers by commenting below if you don`t mind.

KSNY Nakatsu, Osaka - Hiroshi and Keiko lived and worked in New York. First time visitors (English speaking) get a 20% discount.

Salone di Luca Wakaeiwata, Osaka - Yuhei lived and worked in Australia and does a great job with non-japanese hair.

Interaction Hair salon has advertisements in the Kansai Scene magazine and their website has English information too.

Craive Shinsaibashi, Osaka - the website tells us that first time visitors get 20% off all services.

B2C Umeda, Osaka - the website is in English, but it doesn`t state if the staff can speak English or not.

Noriko is an English speaking hairstylist who works in Shinsaibashi.


Others

Raddis Osaka (near USJ) is well known among t…

Namba Parks shopping mall with a baby/toddler

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Situated near Namba station, Namba Parks is a shopping mall with boutiques, restaurants, cafes and gardens.



Namba Parks is a large building with gardens on the roof, and 8 floors of shops (including a cinema at the top). It is open from 11:00 - 21:00 every day, with some restaurants open until 23:00.

Take the Midosuji line, Sennichimae line, Yotsubashi line, Nankai line or Kintetsu line, and get off at Namba station (なんば駅).
If you come by car, there is a lot of parking available on site. If you keep the receipts while you shop (and spend over 5,000yen), you can receive discounted parking (get your ticket validated at the information centre on the 2nd floor).

FASHION and GOODS for kids and babies...

1F -
Toys R Us (clothes, toys, baby goods)
Borubic BB style (mens and kids clothing)
Stussy (mens and kids clothing)

2F -
Hysteric Glamour (womens, mens and kids clothing)
United Arrows green label relaxing (mens, womens and kids clothing)

3F - 
Comme Ca Style (mens, womens and kids clothing)
Next UK (wo…

Reader Question - japanese houses are so cold!

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QUESTION : Why are japanese houses so cold, and how can I stay warm in winter?
ANSWER : In particular, older japanese houses and apartments are very poorly insulated (perhaps designed more for the loooong summer instead?). Most homes don`t have central heating, and most don`t have carpet on the floor, meaning that winter can be miserable. 
Here are some great ways to stay warm during winter in Japan...
Japan has lots of cute, fun, and high-tech ways to stay warm... have you tried them all?

The most famous is probably the kotatsu (the heated table). This table comes with its own blanket and you can spend hours curled up underneath it (eating mikan oranges!)


Another popular way to stay warm is the hot carpet. This is electric too, and plugs into the wall (like the kotatsu). They are even made in pet sizes!!


If you are outside the house, one way to keep yourself warm is with kairo (hand warmers which you shake to activate). They come in different shapes and sizes and some are backed with stick…

The cutest things from Etsy for winter

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I am not sponsored in any way to write (or rave) about Etsy... but I do think that supporting mums and other entrepreneurs with small businesses is totally awesome, and much better than multi-million dollar corporations with sweatshops!

SO here are some cute things I found while browsing Etsy recently... just in time for winter... and Christmas!

Teddy bear cowl shop here;

Fox cowl shop here;

Dinosaur coat shop here;

Felt heart gloves shop here;

Bicycle saddle/pannier bags shop here;

Knitted leggings shop here;



Toddler boy cord harem pants shop here;


Happy shopping!!

Fran xx



Reader Question - maternity wear in Osaka

QUESTION : Thanks for the info on baby clothes, but baby hasn`t arrived yet... where can I get maternity clothes here?

ANSWER : I wrote a post on this a couple of years ago... so I`ll give you that information, plus any more I know about now...

Here goes...

CHEAP (good for basics)

Muji - online store and also located in several locations around Osaka - check store finder page here.
* H and M - they have lots more stores now (store info here) and have a small selection of maternity wear. No online shop yet. * Akachan Hompo - online store and real stores located in Honmachi and other places here. * Nishimatsuya - stores located in suburban areas around Osaka, and an online store through RakutenSweet Mommmy - although I haven`t used this site, I have seen some recommendations online (and they have an English website!) * Nissen - very cheap online store * Belle Maison - also cheap online store * Angeliebe - online store - also haven`t shopped here, but they specialise in maternity wear appa…

Reader Question - January weather in Osaka

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QUESTION : We are thinking of traveling to Osaka in January. Is it cold? What kind of clothes do you recommend?

ANSWER : Yes, in January it does get cold in Osaka, and sometimes flurries of snow fall (although they rarely settle on the ground). It is definitely cold enough for boots, scarves and hats.




However, hotels, malls, shops, and even trains are heated and it can become very uncomfortable if you are wearing thick sweaters etc. I recommend layering your clothes as much as possible so that it is easy to adjust to the temperature around you.

If you will be shopping when in Osaka, I definitely recommend UNIQLO`s heat-tech products which give you a great layer of warmth under your coat or sweater. I think most people in Japan have at least one or two of them in their closets... 

I have 4-5 and they even sell them for kids too, so of course Aiden has a couple!

I hope you have a great trip!


Reader Question - baby clothes in Osaka

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QUESTION : you often talk about shopping for baby clothes online, but where can I find them in real shops in Osaka?

ANSWER : So many places now stock baby clothes, and while they might not all be immediately obvious from the outside, they certainly are plentiful, and have kids clothes for every budget.

Let`s start at the north of the Midosuji (subway) line in Umeda. Most stores in Umeda are on the pricey end, so if you are looking for a gift for a baby or something special for your own child, you can find lots of brand-name baby clothing in the department stores:

Daimaru Umeda has baby clothes on the 10th floor,
Hankyu Umeda has baby clothes on the 11th floor,
Hanshin Umeda has baby clothes on the 6th floor,
and the new Isetan in Umeda has baby clothes on the 7th floor.

Further down the Midosuji (subway) line in Honmachi, you will find a huge Akachan Honpo store. It has several floors of clothing, food, bedding, toys and much more for babies and kids. Their prices are very reasonable, so its…

Reader Question - Halloween costumes in Osaka

QUESTION : do japanese people (or people in Japan) celebrate Halloween? Where can I get a costume?

ANSWER : Great question! I was commissioned by Kansai Scene magazine to write an article on this very topic. Please check it out here!!!

To summarise though, costumes are available at LOFT, Tokyu Hands, Don Quixote, Toys R Us and Claires. There are costumes at other stores too, so I am sure you will find something.

If all else fails, try buying one online at Amazon or Rakuten.

Happy shopping!

Happy Halloween

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Halloween is a non-event for most people in Japan, but some English schools and foreign-mother/child groups celebrate with parties and trick-or-treating.

The school where I work had a party for all the students. Aiden and I joined in the fun too!

Aiden was dressed as Lightning McQueen (from the Cars movie), and I was a kind of witchy/vampire... costume remnants borrowed from my boss. It was fun wearing a black wig, although all the students were VERY confused.





Kids Plaza Osaka

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Aiden and I (with a good friend of mine and her daughter), visited Kids Plaza a week or so ago. It was my first visit, so I will share my new knowledge with you... 


Where? Closest train station is Ogimachi (on the Sakaisuji line) take exit #2, but is also accessible from Tenjinbashi-suji-6-chome station, and Tenma station. 

If you drive there, parking is available under the building (it costs 150yen per 30mins).

How much? 1,200yen for adults, 600yen for elementary school aged children (and older), 300yen for 3 year olds (and older), and free for kids under 3. Seniors (65+ years old) are 600yen.

Annual passports are available if you plan to go a lot (more information here).

There are lots of facilities for mums, kids and babies including nursing rooms, lots of toilets, changing tables, stroller-hire and tables where you can eat lunch (byo).

The plaza is great for elementary school aged kids, but if you have crawlers or toddlers, there is play space available for them too. You have to remove …

Reader Question - Etsy

QUESTION : You talk about Etsy a lot on your blog, but I can never find anything I like. Which shops do you recommend?

ANSWER : In fact I wrote a blog post on this exact topic. You can find it here! Happy shopping :)

Reader Question - kids clothes in Osaka

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QUESTION : Hi Fran Love your blog! Where did you get Aiden's pants from? I'm in Tokyo, but just don't have the chance to go out looking for cute clothes! Please keep up the great posts!




ANSWER : Hi, these pants are a brand called Marook (マルーク) and I bought them from a store here in Osaka, but you can buy them online too. I buy most of Aiden`s clothes from Next UK (online here in Japan), H and M, and local baby shops like Nishimatsuya. I don`t spend too much because he grows so fast, but sometimes more stylish places like Beams have kids clothes on sale. 

The shirt he is wearing in this pic comes from Beams (50% off sale of course!)

The shoes (Koko shoes) are from Daimaru, but you can also get them (as well as Brewster and Wilson - other Chuggington characters) online here.

Reader Question - disposing of diapers in Osaka

In the hopes of spreading knowledge to all, I have decided to publish questions from my readers (anonymously of course). Let`s start with this one I received a few months ago.

QUESTION : `how to dispose baby diapers in trash, i heard it is illegal in japan, if you throw some light on this issue will be useful for expectant mothers..thnx`

ANSWER : Thanks for your email, according to the trash collection rules, paper diapers are included in combustible trash and should be thrown away with other kitchen waste. They prefer garbage not to have any offensive smells, so the diaper should be emptied into the toilet before disposal. The diapers and other waste should be in a semi-transparent trash bag.

Here is an excerpt from the site I found...

Burnable(regular)trash

Please dispose of burnable trash, such as kitchen waste and scrap paper, in a designated container or transparent or semitransparent bag so that the contents are visible.

Examples of combustible garbage

Kitchen scraps, scrap paper, pape…

The Anpanman Kids Museum in Kobe

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The Anpanman Kids Museum in Kobe is the 4th one in Japan. It was built only recently, and up until now has been full of parents and kids almost every day of the week. 

We had no special plans yesterday, and since it was Yoshi`s day off, we ventured out to see what all the fuss was about. 

Aiden knows Anpanman by sight and by name, and has been pointing him out and naming him to us when he sees a picture (or snack, item of clothing, poster, train, medicine box, tv commercial etc..). He hasn`t watched the TV animation though, and isn`t too familiar with the other characters. I know Baikinman and Dokinchan, and a few others, but I`m not a fan by any means.

We figured it didn`t matter, and bought our tickets after waiting for only 2 other families in front of us.

OMG. 1500yen for each adult AND for each child (over 1yo). We hoped it would be amazing after paying almost 5,000yen for the three of us. A child`s ticket does include a small toy. The toy is changed regularly I believe, and this tim…

Obon 2013

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Obon is a national holiday in Japan that comes around every August. The whole country takes a vacation at the same time... roads are crowded... flights and hotels are expensive and almost completely booked out... and the weather is unbelievably, unbearably HOT.

This year we didn`t travel abroad, but managed to have fun at home, and on a one-night trip to Shirahama (in Wakayama).

Some pics from the week;





So nice to spend a week with Yoshi and have 7 sunny days in a row!

Hot summer days...

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Hot, sweltering, sticky...

This is why we can`t do anything these days except this..




It is really too hot to even move!