Bite-Sized Japanter · Coronavirus · Culture

Bite-Sized Japanter #15: Pandemic Mascots

I’ve previously written about Japan’s love of mascots – and it’s no surprise that a slew of characters have emerged due to the pandemic, bringing advice and comfort to the masses.

First, meet Awawa – a soap bubble mascot who demonstrates proper hand-washing techniques. He’s often accompanied by an assistant who sings a happy ditty about the importance of hygiene.

Next, there’s Quaran the quarantine fairy mascot created by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

While originally just an airport mascot protecting Japan from illegal items crossing the border, Quaran’s duties have now been expanded.
“I will do my best to let everyone know what a quarantine office does,” says the winged fairy on its website, brandishing it’s shield and protective goggles. D’awww.

Next, is Amabie – based on the legendary amabie creature, a mermaid-like bird figure from a Japanese folk tale with long flowing hair.

“Should an epidemic come, draw me and show me to the people,” It apparently said, before disappearing, never to be seen again. Convenient.
Pictures of amabies have recently started popping up all over Japan – there’s one on every floor in my schools – which is quite charming.

And finally – and possibly my favourite – is the kawaii pink cat Koronon.

Always wearing her face mask – and often a face shield – Koronon (“no corona”) is here to protect Tokyo from the virus by promoting social distancing and handing out disposable masks in busy areas such as Shinjuku and Ikebukuro.

In a country where there is a mascot for everything from encouraging safe sex to enemas, this sort of thing was kind of inevitable.

~ Carla

Bite-Sized Japanter · Teaching

Bite-Sized Japanter #14: A Room With A View

My friend was recently teaching ‘places in the school’ vocabulary, however when he got to “changing room” several students thought he was saying “chin-chin room”.

“Chin-chin” = a childish word for a willy.
ie: pee-pee, wee-wee etc.

(Also yes, it means teaching ‘parts of the face’ is always a struggle, too.)

Proof that diction is important.
Or should I say “DICKtion?” Heh.

~ Carla

Bite-Sized Japanter

Bite-Sized Japanter #13: The Japanese Joe Biden

The mayor of the small Japanese town has become somewhat Internet famous this week.

His name in kanji can be pronounced Baiden-Jo or Jo Baiden – similar to the new US president-elect Joe Biden.

Jo Baiden, mayor of Yamato Town

Mayor Baiden is taking this new-found fame in his stride, and said:

“Although there are differences in the positions of a U.S. presidential candidate and the mayor of Yamato here in the center of Kyushu, our passion is the same. We continue working to fulfill our duty to ensure the happiness and spiritual richness of our residents.”

He also hopes the attention will bring more visitors to Yamato, a picturesque town in Kumamoto prefecture which only has around 15,000 residents.

~ Carla

Picture sources:

Bite-Sized Japanter

Bite-Sized Japanter #12: The Cost of Cheating

Make em pay!

If you’re planning on cheating on your spouse in Japan, it’s worth your while being discreet.

In Japan, being married means you are contractually obliged to remain faithful and cheating can be viewed as a violation of contract, and compensation owed for mental suffering.
Meaning that the scorned lover is well within their rights to sue not only their cheating partner, but also the person (or people) they have cheated with.

And it ain’t cheap – the amount of compensation in many cases ranges between 2-3 million yen (£15,000-22,000), and 5 million yen (£37,000) at most.

Furthermore, cheating can actually put your job at stake.
The word 風紀紊乱 or ‘fūkibinran‘ roughly translates to “a breakdown in customary discipline”.
And in a country where things are the way they are because that’s the way they are, being sued for cheating can also be grounds for dismissal.

That being said, although the divorce rate is rising in recent years, divorce in Japan is still not as common compared to other countries – around 34% of marriages.

There’s many reasons for this including social stigma and – and as around 70% of Japanese women become homemakers after having children – being out of the workplace for so long means that many divorced woman and single mothers can struggle financially.

That being said, don’t be a dick anyway and cheat. Because that’s gross.
And if you are cheated on – make it rain!

~ Carla

EAT! Hamamatsu · Food

EAT! Hamamatsu : Ate Mai’s Place

Me and Faith discovered Ate Mai’s Place during a food festival in Hamamatsu last year. Which is for the best because it’s is a blink-and-you-miss-it hole in the wall tucked around the corner from Shin-Hamamatsu station and Zaza City.

The place is run by Rogelio and his sister Myra who have lived in Hamamatsu for over twenty years and owning Ate Mai’s Place for nine of them.

Boasting a large selection of Filipino dishes, my favourite is the delicious traditional Filipino pork barbecue kebabs. Very similar to Japanese yakitori, it’s larger and coated in a sauce made of black sugar, ketchup, soy sauce and black pepper with the sugar causing the meat to caramelise on the grill.

At the suggestion of chef Rogelio, he offered us a serving of white vinegar to dip our kebabs into. A new concept to me, but it really compliments the sweet flavour of the meat and offers a different taste experience.

Although the pork barbecue and Special Goto (traditional Filipino rice porridge) is available everyday, the menu changes daily so there’s always something new to try!


1. Chicken Apritda (Tomato-based chicken stew)
2. Spicy Bopis (Spicy cassorole traditionally made with pig’s lung and/or heart)
3. Gatang Isda (Makerel stew made with coconut milk with garlic, ginger and onion)
4. Special Dinuguan (Pork stew)
5. Gatang Tilapia with okra (Tilapia stew coconut milk with garlic, ginger and onion)
6. Adobong Sitaw (Marinated pork or chicken with vegetables)

Ate Mai’s Place also serves frosty cold Asahi – honestly, they pull one of the best pints in Hamamatsu.
Especially after a long day of teaching in the brutal Japanese summer. They have a small selection of drinks including bottled beer.

The brother and sister team are super-friendly, and happy to chat away to you at the bar.
They also offer a バイキング (‘all you can eat’) special on Sundays in the upstairs area: five dishes and a drink for only ¥2000. (Available 12:00-1800)

A funny story though: me and Faith went one Saturday night to line our stomachs for an evening of shout-singing karaoke and were sitting at the bar next to the window.
Three drunk salarymen peered in at us, opened the door and slurred: “Are they hostesses?”
Rogelio quickly sent them packing, and the salarymen apologised profusely with lots of bowing.
Still, it’s nice to know I’ve still got it.

Ate Mai’s Place truly is a hidden gem in Hamamatsu.
As much as I want to be わがまま and keep it a secret – please give them a visit!!

Opening hours:
Weekdays 18:00-Late
Saturday 18:00-Late
Sunday 12:00-Late (バイキング 12:00-18:00 only)

ADDRESS: 〒430-0934 静岡県浜松市中区千歳町14
(3 minutes walk from Shin-Hamamatsu station.)

~ Carla

DISCLAIMER: Opening hours are subject to change. Not sponsored and all opinions are my own.