The Daiso Diaries: Prologue

おはようございます!(Ohayou gozaimasu!) Good morning!

Yes, today is the day when I can finally reveal my secret… the column that is shrouded in mystery and…

Okay, okay, to be honest, it’s probably not that exciting for you, but for me and for those who share my love and slight obsession with a very Japanese shop, you will understand.

Introducing… The Daiso Diaries!

Yes, this is the new column that brings you all the lovely, interesting, fun, sometimes useless, sometimes very helpful items that can be found in that ‘Warehouse of Warehouses’ (no my fellow Aussies, I don’t mean Bunnings!) now loved by people all over the world:

Daiso.

Wow.

Where to begin?

Well, possibly with a little history of the whole endeavour and enterprise that is the brainchild and true love of Mr. Hirotake Yano, the Daiso President. But before all that, a quick introduction as to why I decided to write about Daiso.

Firstly, this column has been in the pipeline for awhile now. I first mentioned my interest in writing about Daiso last year back when I was writing for GetHiroshima magazine and of course, writing my weekly column for their website. I had jotted down various notes on pieces of scrap paper, typed notes on my phone and just mulled over the idea. I didn’t pursue it.

This year I was happy and content to finish up my konbini [コンビニ] column but I must admit, something was missing from my life. I was writing every single day, but I didn’t have a passion for something like I did last year with konbini. I remembered Daiso and let me just say, it was the first thing I’ve been truly excited about in over a year. That alone means more than anyone could possibly know.

Okay, getting back to the Daiso story and Mr. Yano…

Yano-san was born in 1943 and back when Daiso was still a glimmer in his eye, he had a history of owning and operating a small shop called, ‘Yano Shoten,’ which specialised in… you got it, 100 yen products. In 1977, he founded Daiso and the rest they say, is history!

Daiso now operates in over 26 countries and has over 3000 stores. For a man who regards himself as nothing special, that is a major achievement. Perhaps it is his humble nature combined with his love for good quality products and the belief that he can always do better, is what makes Daiso the worldwide success it is today. Mr. Yano is adaptable in a world that is constantly craving new and innovative new products that will keep them entertained, surprised and most of all, products that are fun. In fact, many Westerners are often surprised by the very traditional and sometimes completely irrational (to them/us anyway!) ways of thinking that sometimes mean things are done in an old-school fashion instead of adopting new methods that are more efficient. In that respect, Mr. Yano is way ahead of his other Japanese business counterparts and is it possibly this, that is the main reason for Daiso’s domestic and international success.

I won’t continue to bore you with factual stuff; you can read about that for yourself on the websites at the bottom of this. I will say, however, that the purpose of this column is much the same as my konbini one: I just want to share with others the fun and useful products I find at Daiso, do product reviews, recommend things I think are cool or quirky and tell you what things I’m not so keen on (i.e. I think they suck- I’m fairly sure I won’t have that issue with Daiso though!) Many people (especially Japanese people) won’t understand why I am so interested in Daiso, but I’m hoping that those who love/loved my konbini column (or have an interest in Daiso and/or other awesome aspects of Japanese culture) will follow me on this new and always exciting, life-changing journey and exploration of all things that are…

The Daiso Diaries!

Oh and for those of you who might be curious as to the missing anpan [あんパン ] or sweet red bean paste bun that 7-Eleven whipped off their shelves with lightning speed and no explanation…

It seems from my sources and careful investigation (meaning I nabbed myself a copy of their latest in-store products catalogue for June) that it has indeed vanished with possibly no return. What’s interesting though is that they’ve decided to release two new products featuring anko [餡こ] or the sweet red bean paste. I hate to say it, but one of them is a direct copy of another very famous product from the Yamazaki brand and bakery. Another dumb business move from 7-Eleven. I’ve given up I think. He, I mean, they, clearly need to be ditched. Moving on. You will never, ever be Number 1 in my heart again 7-Eleven.

We.

Are.

Over.

See you next week!

Click here for the official Japanese Daiso website (in Japanese… obviously, DUH!)

Click here for the English version.

 

The Missing Anpan and A New Love: Konbini is back! Kind of…

As I wrote the other day, I have decided to release this column here, rather than on GetHiroshima’s website as I have the control. Sure, I might have less exposure here, but it also means I own the rights to my stories and writing exclusively. Of course, I’m also hoping that you all help me and send this link to everyone you know if you think they will also like it. 🙂

I apologise again for the technical issues I had the other day trying to upload this (thanks Softbank for reconnecting me, but no thanks for the nearly $300 phonebill!)

I hope you enjoy reading it. I was originally hoping that it would be published on GetHiroshima on June 2 in time for the official start to summer, but it wasn’t to be. Hence, my decision and so, after this prequel to my column… I will be uploading the official column next Friday 16th June. Enjoy!

 

For me, last year was all about konbini [コンビニ] or convenience stores as they’re known in English. Yes, I still like them and yes, I’m still excited when I discover new products, but it’s not the only thing I’m interested in. It’s also not the only thing I’m all about.

I feel a bit like one of those actresses who are typecast: Helena Bonham Carter perhaps, always the crazy woman, or maybe an actress like Sarah Jessica Parker who will forever be known as Carrie Bradshaw, despite playing different characters in other movies and TV shows. Just like them, I don’t want to be known as Jack Crispy, the konbini junkie forever… which brings me to another point and that is the fact that I have some news…

But…. and there is a but… I don’t want to build your hopes up. Crispy’s C(K)onbini Capers is not making a return. I have, however, decided to start writing a new weekly column about something else that is very close to my heart.

Before I tell you all about that though, I want to share two things about konbini I’ve discovered since I spoke to you people last.

Firstly, a local supporter of GetHiroshima and a reader of my column emailed Paul to ask if she could interview me. She had followed it religiously each week and had also seen me on the first episode of Deep Hiroshima Salon. I had a blast talking to her and was thrilled when she told me about a magazine that is COMPLETELY dedicated to… KONBINI! I kid you not. How could I NOT have known about this?! It’s called ‘コンビニ月刊’ [‘Konbini Gekkan’] which literally means ‘Convenience Monthly.’ Let’s just hope that 7-Eleven isn’t employing whoever thought of that original title to create any of their new products.

Anyway, the magazine is specifically for those people who are interested in having their own konbini franchise, but of course, anyone is welcome to read it. I couldn’t help grinning about it and thinking that there are other weirdos out there who have a konbini obsession like me. Does that mean I’m a konbini otaku [オタク] or nerd? Probably. It’s a badge I’m fully willing to wear. J

The second story relates to my current feelings about a certain konbini. As you know, I’ve been in love with konbini for years, particularly my loyal and constant companion, Mr. 7-Eleven. Well, let me just say, 7-Eleven the one constant man, I mean, konbini in my life, who I can always trust, has stuffed up. It’s the first time I’ve been disappointed and it’s a horrible feeling. I feel betrayed. It might just be a one-off, but it was and is, a BIG thing. For some bizarre, freakin’ INSANE reason, 7-Eleven has decided to take their anpan [あんパン ], yes, that sweet red bean paste bun, off the shelves. Yes, you read that correctly. Not exactly a smart business move 7-Eleven, considering it’s one of your most popular products. I’m hoping it’s because they’re altering the recipe to make it mind-blowing, life-altering and better than sex, but seriously, I thought they’d already perfected it. Why fix something when it’s not broken?! I suspect it’s for an entirely different reason, but try as I might, I cannot think what it might be.

Even the konbini staff seem puzzled by the whole thing. One of the men who serves me regularly responded to my, “あんパンがありますか?” (“Anpan ga arimasu ka?) meaning, “Do you have any anpan?” with “ありますよ。” (Arimasu yo), which means, yes, we do and hence, you’re in luck.

He led me to the pan (パン) or bread section and was just as aghast and confused as me when his search proved futile. He had no idea why they didn’t have any in stock and thus, I realised he also had no knowledge that they have seemingly disappeared from Planet Earth. In other words, he hasn’t been given any information regarding the product either. Two strikes 7-Eleven; now you’re not even informing your staff of product changes and new products?! WTF.

I decided to do my own sleuthing, just like Nancy Drew and so I went from 7-Eleven to 7-Eleven, around my own neighbourhood and further afield in search of the missing anpan.

Nothing.

They.

Are.

Gone.

I’m not sure if they’re ever coming back and so suddenly, my love for konbini and indeed, 7-Eleven, isn’t as pure as it once was.

That’s not why I’ve decided to write a new column though. It’s simply because I had so much fun eating/drinking, I mean researching and writing about konbini last year that I realised I need a new project to throw my love at.

So… without further ado, I will be writing about…

You know what? You’re going to have to wait until next week to find out. insert evil laughter here

Yep, I’m going to leave you hanging, just like 7-Eleven has done with me. Except, I promise you, I will deliver the goods; you’ve heard it from me. Let’s just hope 7-Eleven does too. I need to have my faith in konbini restored.

 

 

 

And they pay me to teach English?! 

I’m sorry but I have to post this first and explain what I was trying to do because it’s just so funny. I will post the translation and then the original because you really won’t be able to understand what I was trying to say without being able to read exactly what I WAS trying to say. 

Since my computer died in October last year I’ve been without one and simply using my phone. That means the typing is tedious and so I’ve been using the microphone to dictate what I want to say. 

Unfortunately it fucks up. 

So here is what my microphone thought I said:

I don’t like the new Kinko Palow they’ve put in your poop LOL it’s so shiny and new and clean. I like the old Junko Pollis faded and a little rougher on the edges.

I am hell of all loving the new company that’s opened because as you all know I am a company junkie.

In reality, what I actually said was as follows:

I don’t like the new pachinko parlor they’ve built in Yokogawa. It’s so shiny and new and clean. I like the old pachinko parlor; faded and a little rough around the edges. 

I am, however, loving the new konbini that’s opened because as you know, I am a konbini junkie!

So this goes to show that despite being a native English speaker this microphone cannot pick up what I’m saying. It does, however, think my Japanese is perfect. 

And that my friends is a lie.