Pack your lunch in an old-fashioned Japanese kura storehouse.
This adorable bento lunchbox is shaped like a Japanese kura storehouse. The design is based on the traditional architecture of tiled roof, white walls on the upper story, and black-slate patterned lower level.
The two-story building and separate roof compartment are big enough to fit a hearty lunch for a hungry student or office worker. Use the two box compartments for main and side dishes, sandwich and salad, or rice and toppings, and pop some candy or a snack in the roof. [US$29, €25.52]
This high-quality folding umbrella exudes high-tech electronic wizardry with its "transistorized" design.
It appears to be a simple black brolly decorated with colorful diodes and amps, but a closer look reveals that all the electronic components are cute, friendly characters.
Even the handle has a smiley face. Japanese customers love this item so much that some of them prefer not to take it out in the rain. (If you do take it out for a spin, it folds and fits easily into a bag or briefcase when not in use.)
From Japanese design group Kuralab. [US$29, €25.52]
Latte art pioneer Kazuki "George" Yamamoto delights in surprising his customers by drawing a manga character or cute animal in the foam of their coffee. It might take an extra minute to get your order, but it's worth it.
In a single day, he draws an average of fifty latte foam pictures and sculptures, in addition to running the cafe and managing the staff. You don't need to make a request: if he's in the right mood, he'll personalize your coffee with your portrait drawn in chocolate in the froth.
George is one of the pioneers of 3D latte art. "I started it in Osaka. It got picked up internationally and we had customers coming from Hong Kong and Taiwan." Last year, George moved to Tokyo to the Reissue coffee shop in fashionable Harajuku.
To create a 3D artwork, he sits at the counter with an espresso, several cups of stiff frothy milk, and a bowl of chocolate syrup. With just a teaspoon and metal toothpick, he works his magic on the ingredients and conjures a creature out of the depths of the cappuccino in a few minutes. "I like the fact that the art disappears in a few minutes as soon as you drink the coffee."
On his personal twitter account @george_10g, Kazuki uploads a new latte art creation every day. His subjects include Japanese and international cartoon characters such as Crayon Shin-chan, Tokoro Tennosuke (aka Jelly Jiggler), and characters from Moomin and Disney features.
When it comes to 3D latte art, his repertoire is growing every day, from the original cute pandas and rabbits, to more ambitious giraffes and robots (Baymax and Gundam). He even creates multi-cup sculptures - where a hungry cat leans out menacingly from one cup reaching for a goldfish swimming in another.
As we leave, another customer shouts with joy as George delivers her coffee decorated with a 2D penguin, and immediately grabs her phone to immortalize it with a photo.