Mouthwash Sachets

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Mouthwash Sachets

‘Experience this innovative mouthwash!’ boasted the packet – ‘The latest oral hygiene etiquette product!’ Who could resist?

This Propolinse mouthwash comes in a box of 6 handy 12ml one-use sachets. They are rather convenient as something to keep in your bag for after lunch, or if you are still scarred by that time your travel-sized bottle of mouthwash leaked and turned everything in your toilet bag blue and minty.

The name and package design suggests that it contains honey, but a swift glance at the ingredients reveals that this is quite low down the list, below the likes of artificial sweetener and citrus extracts. There’s menthol and castor oil in there, too, which probably explains why it tastes more like cough syrup than actual honey.

This is a Japanese product (although apparently made in Korea and packed in Singapore) and is tagged as especially suitable for smokers and to prevent bad breath. It also has an unnerving way of rinsing way more from your mouth than a regular brushing seems to do.

The blurb on the packaging says it all: ‘I’m surprised to see, detergent in the new sense mouth’, not to mention: ‘All the dirty microbes are now visible’. I love the sachet idea, but definitely prefer the regular minty version. As for my husband, he thought it tasted “sour and fruity, almost like vinegar”, which isn’t much of a recommendation. I don’t think I’ll be buying this again…


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Penguin Cool Bath

Category : Beauty

Sometimes I have to try things even though I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like them much, and this particular product falls firmly into that category.

I love a bath, but definitely prefer the water to be as hot as possible. The last time I willingly stepped into a cool bath was shortly after moving to Tokyo for the first time, many years ago – the air con wasn’t working and the temperature in September was so hot and humid after autumnal London that I thought I was going to expire. Keeping the tub full and taking regular dips seemed the best way of staying cool…

This sachet of Japanese Cool Bath Liquid, spotted in Tokyu Hands, brought back a few memories, and although these days I am more than accustomed to constant heat and humidity, I was curious as to how the contents would work.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the bright blue colour and fresh minty smell made it feel very much like I was bathing in mouthwash. Possibly the menthol in the product is supposed to have a cooling effect on the skin, but the only thing I could really feel was a decidedly uncomfortable prickling sensation in certain delicate areas.

To be honest, this was a bit of a waste of a good bath.


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Ninja Ice Cream

You know you always wanted to try ice cream ‘based on ninja stealth and invisibility technique’…. Here was my chance, with the exclusive ‘black gold’ cone from Kyorollen, at Emporium in Bangkok.

It comes at the premium price of 159 Thai baht, but for that you get a creation which is put together by hand like an artistic masterpiece and served in its own wooden stand.

Everything here is black – the cone made with sumi bamboo charcoal, the kuromame black soya beans, the sticky ball of mochi, even the ‘raw’ chocolate cube. Well, I suppose the ice cream itself was slightly on the grey side, but considering it is made with the famously creamy milk from Hokkaido, this was not surprising.

I could probably have done without the soya bean and mocha components of this treat, but they looked great and I very much enjoyed the rest. Japanese ‘raw’ chocolate is always delicious and this one had a fudgy texture which I particularly enjoyed.

It was an expensive indulgence but definitely worth it.


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Cherry Blossom Chocolate

It isn’t even cherry blossom season any more, but I had never seen this version of Dars before so felt honour bound to try it.

To be honest, I am not a great fan of the sakura taste, although I have consumed it in tea, ice cream, and no end of delightful cakes where there is a piece of dried blossom as decoration. There’s nothing wrong with it, there just isn’t much of a flavour there to form an opinion on. So apart from the pretty colour, there doesn’t seem much point.

Here, the predominant flavour is the white chocolate, with just a hint of something extra which is hard to define. The pink colour is not particularly striking, either.

No, I wasn’t impressed, I only ate 1 piece and will not be buying this again.


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Water Brush

This is one of those supremely useful inventions that you did not know you needed until you saw it.

It’s a paintbrush, but a hollow plastic one which holds water and feeds it through a tiny valve to the brush itself.

Ideal for those artistic moments when you turn a drawing made with those wonderful ‘watercolour’ pencils into an actual painting, or when you let small children loose on that special paper which changes colour when wet.

These things need practise, as it takes a while before you work out how hard you can squeeze the brush without ending up soaking your masterpiece, but otherwise they are a joy to use.

From the art stores of Japan, obviously…


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Man ‘Blotters’

Facial ‘blotting paper’, carefully packed into decorated folders about the size of a business card, can be found in the handbags of many Japanese women.

They provide a sort of halfway stage of freshening up before you need to actually get out your makeup and make repairs. That is, if you start to feel slightly shiny, a few dabs with one of these will usually do the trick.

What I have not seen before, however, is the male version, and I only really noticed it on the shelf because I was wondering why this particular packet held twice the number of sheets but was cheaper. Not only that, further inspection revealed the blotters are specially embossed, to absorb more and stickier sweat, all without it leaking through the paper onto your hands.

Although it is designed for men, this product is also perfectly suitable for ‘active women of metabolism’, apparently. Which is a nice way of suggesting that you might be sweating more than the delicate ladies version can cope with.

As this was packed into a small square booklet with a gold cover, and was actually called ‘Gold man’, I was a little disappointed that the pages inside were just a slightly shiny caramel colour instead of something more sparkling.

Also, my husband professed himself baffled at the suggestion that he might find them useful – he had never heard of these and saw no reason why he might ever use them.

Oh well… I suppose it’s the thought that counts.

I


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Miniature Compact

There’s something very appealing about those make-up compacts you find in airport duty free shops – the ones combining everything you might need to paint your face into one handy, slim line container. Never mind the fact that half the colours don’t really suit, or it’s the wrong type of mascara…

I’ve even been known to make my own, cannibalising some existing compact or (for really short trips) pressing together a variety of different colours into one small lidded tray.

This one, though, is the tiniest, most adorable compact I have ever seen. In fact, it is so cute I cannot bring myself to use it, but simply take it out to delight over once in a while.

A cube barely 3 cm a side, it has slide out trays and manages to include 6 eye shadows, 2 lip and cheek gels plus 2 incredibly small brushes with which to apply them. Not to mention the mirror in the lid so you can see what you are doing.

I bought this in Tokyo, at the Daikanyama Minipla, and don’t regret a single yen.


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Drip Tea

I was sceptical at first… this looks like nothing more than an attempt to hijack the ‘origami’ coffee trend for tea.

It’s the same ‘rip open at the top and pour hot water in’ bag, suspended by dinky cardboard arms over the sides of your cup. How could it possibly be any different from a tea bag?

But I was surprised and delighted. It may simply be the quality of the tea, which comes from the mountains of Imari in Kyushu, and whose leaves are apparently wrapped whilst budding for a ‘sweet undertone with a sublime taste’. It may be the quality of the filter, which is very fine mesh rather than paper.

Whatever the reason, this was the nicest green tea I can recall tasting – delicate, aromatic and fresh. The poster that caught my eye promised this would taste and smell like green tea steeped in a pot, because the way the filter opens out gives the leaves chance to unfurl and thus produce a deeper flavour than they would in a normal tea bag. It seems this was right, and I will be rushing back for more.


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Hedgehog Cafe

Harinezumi means ‘hedgehog’ in Japanese (actually it means needle mouse, which is fairly descriptive…) and Harry seems to be the oversized hedgehog who rules the roost in the Harajuku hedgehog café.

Visitors queue up to spend half an hour admiring, feeding, and – if they let you – playing with the couple of dozen hedgehogs who live here.

You might think that hedgehogs are not the best creatures to pick up and cuddle, but leather gloves are provided to protect your hands. And it is just as well, because you soon discover that the prickles are the least of your worries when it comes to playing with these shy creatures – however gentle you might be, a grumpy hedgehog has no qualms when it comes to pooing in all directions.

Half an hour (at the fairly steep price of ¥1,400) is actually long enough, because the best you can hope from your hedgehogs is that rather than struggling to escape they will curl up and go to sleep, possibly in your hands.

But the café is clean and bright, the price includes a drink you can get for yourself from the line of vending machines at the back, and the walls are covered with amusing posters explaining all about hedgehogs and how to hold them. Friendly staff will even take your photo, as it is very hard to manage a creditable selfie with 2 hedgehogs in your hand.

Most of the animals live in glass sided tanks set into the counters, so you can see them amble round at their eye level rather than just peering in from above. Strict rules mean you must disinfect your hands before holding them, and also keep your hands below the top of the tanks so there is no chance of accidentally dropping a hedgehog to the floor.

Small tubs of worms, and tweezers with which to handle them, mean you can feed your hedgehogs as well as simply pet them, and whilst I was there the café was full of happy customers. Whether the hedgehogs were happy as well is not something I can be sure of, as you can’t have the sort of personal interaction with them you might get with a cat or dog. But it was a quirky and interesting way of spending half an hour, and a welcome break from the freezing cold of February in Tokyo.

 


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Seasonal Sakura

Christmas can start as early as September in the UK, with decorations going up and seasonal specials on sale. Cadbury’s crème eggs have even been spotted in October, many months before Easter…

It’s not quite as bad in Japan, but still – despite the February snow – the spring time cherry blossom is hotly anticipated with posters, decorations and products submerging Tokyo in pink.

There are even seasonal brews from the big beer companies, with the limited edition cans adorned with shiny flowers.

Starbucks coffee shops also prove to be no exception, with these delightful if very creamy sakura flavoured specials on sale already. Daughter #1 was persuaded to sample the latte, which came with festive pink sprinkles, but not the sakura chiffon cake complete with blossom bud.

Her verdict: who can tell what cherry blossom really tastes like? The best drink by far was a regular hot chocolate topped with pink blossom shaped marshmallows.


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