Welcome to Bento Box. My own little box of various interests on the net. Usually these interests are Japan related since I’m a little nihongo otaku myself and what a better way to start the blog then today. You see today is White Day. This is the day when men who received a gift of chocolate on Valentine’s Day give some sort of return gift — “okaeshi” in Japanese — to the wives, girlfriends, daughters and female co-workers who gave them something. It’s pure marketing fluff, of course, but kind of fun, and companies are happy to take advantage of the event by thinking of ways to sell products. Even Apple gets into the spirit of White Day their Japan store page, by suggesting that men buy engraved iPods for their better halves as a way of saying “Thanks for the chocolate!”

Speaking of chocolates, I recently received a list of the best New York chocolate shops from a friend who’s currently residing there. He couldn’t decide which place to buy some chocolate for his Japanese girlfriend. After taking a look at the list, I sent him a link to Suedy’s Kooki Sushi; where the chocolate are shaped to look like sushi and presented elegantly in obento boxes.

oka

Kooki Sushi started in 1995 as a two-person “special order only” shop in San Jose’s Japantown selling just by word-of-mouth and a very small mailing list. Today, they are a family run business that sell their confections around the world thanks to their online store. Chocolates that are purchased online are shipped in a special insulated and cushioned shipping containers that protect the order from temperature changes and damages.

Though the chocolates are a bit on the expensive side, it’s nothing compared to the price one have to pay to see a certain someone.

Would you pay $3500 to see Michael Jackson; for 30 seconds? That’s what several hundred Japanese fans did last week, attending a dinner with the former star and getting to talk with him briefly, and pose for photographs, and most of the attendees said it was a bargain for the chance of a lifetime. The former King of Pop arrived in Japan last week to the cheers of thousands of fans who had camped out at Narita Airport to greet him, and he was soaking all the attention up. He also made a surprise appearance on the popular TV show SMAP x SMAP, in which the five-member “talent” team cooks an exquisite meal on camera while they talk with the guest. You can’t have a famous visitor to Japan without Queen of Movie Subtitles Natsuko Toda at his side, and she was there, translating for Michael and the SMAP members as they did their best to make him feel welcome in Japan.

Two things surprised me out of this event. One being the fact that Michael have to stoop so low to make a living now that he needed to charge his fans a premium for his attention. Second, that there are actually several hundred people willing to throw money at him… and he’s not even performing. His PR staff might have label this as a “fan appreciation” event, but I think this is nothing short of panhandling. Guess those lawyer fees don’t come cheap.

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