Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Trend Update


Japanese people can go crazy about touring from shops to shops, cafes to cafes exploring new kinds of luxury cakes and confectionaries, but this is probably the first time for luxury marshmallows to catch attention.

One TV show featured luxury marshmallows in Tokyo the other day. It seems like the petit boom started a couple of months ago around the White Day season (White Day = March 14th, a day for boyfriends to give their girlfriends a gift in return for the Valentine's Day gifts. For Valentine's girls usually give boys chocolate, and for White Day boys give white sweets like white chocolate and marshmallows).

Luxury marshmallows are those that are given labels of luxury hotels and restaurants, and they are available at the confectionary/ pastry shops of those places.

At first, I was only like, "how could marshmallows be so different?" but I happened to have a chance to buy these marshmallows for my aunt so I got a box for myself. The place I went to is the
Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo and they actually call them not marshmallows but "guimauve" (French, I think?), and Park Hyatt's guimauve looks like the one in the picture (I didn't bother taking a photo until the last piece so it looks kind of odd...).

The shape is like a slightly bigger version of kiss chocolate, and the texture smooth and moderately springy. As compared to regular marshmallows sold in supermarkets this one is a lot softer and delicate, and you'll feel that even more when you take one into your mouth. It's really delicate and fine. I was surprised how it melts on the tongue. It feels more like meringue barely keeping its form... and the flavor too was very rich. This one in the picture is raspberry flavor and it tasted like I was tasting raspberry puree. Very rich.

Park Hyatt had two kinds, raspberry and passion fruit, and I bet the passion fruit tastes as rich as the raspberry. A box costs Y800 (US$6.7) so although they call it luxury, it's not like it's unaffordable. I think it's certainly worth a casual gift for someone or even for yourself.


About 10 months ago the entire country was literally stirred by the two highschool baseball monsters Saito Yuuki and Tanaka Masahiro. The same fever has now shifted to university baseball league and professional baseball league.

Winning pitcher Saito Yuuki decided to go on to higher education and entered Waseda University this past April. Waseda is one of the
Tokyo Big6 Baseball League (Tokyo's uni sports conference, sort of like the equivalent to the IVY League in US) and its baseball team is strong enough, but with Saito joining the team looks like its gotten even stronger and energetic.

The participation of Saito in the Big6 didn't only vitalize his own university but brought a huge influence on the popularity of the Big6 League itself. University baseball, back 60 years ago was the most popular amateur sport that attracted the largest number of crowds (people waited in ticket lines overnight... thought this was a modern phenomenon, nevertheless...) but the popularity kind of sank in the following decades. Eventually the center of baseball became the professional leagues (we have two, the Pacific and the Central) where the top players play every night.

However, by entering university baseball instead of professional Saito brought his fans to the Big6 games and now tickets for every game he plays sell out in seconds. More games are being shown live on TV, and the goods are selling out as well as the tickets.

This weekend is going to be a festival around the Jingu Stadium and at the campuses, for the game taking place is fought between Waseda and Keio. Known as "Sokei-sen" (So for Waseda, Kei for Keio, sen means match/battle) the match-up between these two are traditionally the most popular especially for baseball, and this weekend is even more special because if Waseda wins it automatically makes Waseda the winner of the spring tournament. The game is going to be aired live on two channels which is needless to say an irregular case.

Besides the baseball game itself, Sokeisen provides a stage for another kind of battle, which is the cheering. Called "Ouen-gassen" the cheering for both schools (and other schools of the Big6 as well) is another feature of the Sokei-sen and no doubt the most important leader of the crowd. So that's another something to look out for. As for Saito, he's doing pretty well improving his baseball skills and marking good records.

The other mammoth pitcher Tanaka joined the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a relatively knew team having its home base in Sendai. The team despite its unwell team performance in the past couple of years is quite popular and the popularity rose higher with Tanaka joining the team. He's expected a lot from the fans. Though his debut game was not really a good one for him (as far as I recall which is not too much) he's been dedicating to the team a lot in terms of results in numbers and as a stimulator for the other players. His influence on the team can be seen in the team performance of Rakuten this season. Pretty good ;-)


Al Gates said...

Those luxury marshmallows sound really tasty. Hopefully they will make their way over to Canada soon.


jc05 said...

Hi! Have you stopped blogging? I hope to read more of your 'random' thoughts, they are very informative! I just surfed in here, bookmarked your page, and realised that your latest post was dated in 2007! Disappointment! So I thought I'd leave a note of appreciation. Which I have just done. Lol. Cheers.

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