Winter is here!

I’ve been so distracted this week finalising some of my things like resident taxes, dealing with SoftBank (OMG, don’t get me started!) etc. not to mention being stressed to my eyeballs about all the people I’m supposed to say goodbye to, that I didn’t even START this week’s column until the very last minute.

To be honest, it was actually because I COMPLETELY forgot about it.

Yes, that’s how distracted and stressed I’ve been. I, the konbini [コンビニ] junkie, forgot about konbini. What is the world coming to?!

Luckily though, I did remember and just in time to say, “Hello Winter!”

On a recent trip to 7-Eleven, however, two of the new products I found are not exactly designed for winter. In fact, they remind me more of the Australian summer I’m going back to. I can only conclude that either 7-Eleven has gone a little crazy and forgotten it’s winter or it’s wishful thinking and they’re trying to trick themselves into thinking it’s happy, sunny, summer weather instead of seemingly endless, depressive, grey days that will last until at least March. There’s a happy thought.

Anyway, the products are a new 9% Kirin Strong Peach and Mango flavoured chuuhai [チューハイ]

and a choc-mint soft cream cone.

My love of choc-mint AND soft cream meant I was immediately drawn to the latter, but my appetite for the former has completed dried up; for alcohol in general at the moment… reason unknown. The only mangoes I want are the real thing from the trees in my mum’s huge backyard.

At about ¥500 to ¥800 for ONE in Japan, I haven’t been eating them here. At crazy prices like AU$5 (around ¥500) for a BOX in Australia during the height of summer though, let’s just say I’ll be scoffing my face. Weep people, weep. You can have ALL the chuuhai in the world, but it won’t be the same!

Winter at konbini though always makes me think of hot food and drink. I refuse to drink coffee in a can, but any brand of corn soup is game on.

I also love the canned version of zenzai [ぜんざい] or o-shiruko [おしるこ], the sweet red bean soup which is technically a dessert, but something I choose to eat for breakfast. For a super healthy choice (which is always a bonus at konbini!), try amazake [甘酒], a low (as in less than 1%) or non-alcoholic, sweet sake which is made from the leftover lees from sake production. Yep, it’s a fermented drink which doesn’t sound appetising but actually is! Think of it as the Japanese equivalent of porridge or oatmeal, but with a thinner consistency.

Then of course, there is the usual coffee, but with the special Christmas or winter-themed cups now available, I swear it’s more exciting and that it will add just that little bit of needed festivity for the season. Lawson has just released some beautiful teddy bear winter scenes on their cups, which are way fancier and more impressive in my book, than the ones available from 7-Eleven.

Winter at konbini also means winter gift and the catalogues have been available for quite some time now. For more information on this topic, you can check out the column I wrote last year.

Overall, let’s just say that although I have enjoyed my experience of four very distinct seasons here and although I have loved the snow, I’m very much looking forward to going home. Winter may have just arrived here, but I’m saying sayounara winter and hello summer!

See you next week when I say my official and final farewell to konbini!

Jade Brischke

Jade first visited Hiroshima with a group of her students from Australia and after falling in love with the city, vowed that one day she would return to live and work. It seems dreams really do come true! When she's not writing she's out and about with her camera, walking and exploring the streets or some may say, wandering aimlessly. She, however, doesn't believe any wandering is aimless. Jade blogs regularly at jackcrispy.com.

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