Movie Review – Batman Ninja

If you know me, you’ll know that aside from being a big kimono geek I’m also a big comic book geek. So when I saw that DC Animation was collaborating with Kamikaze Douga (an anime production studio known for some very bizarre cult titles) on Batman Ninja I knew I was going to have to watch it. I had zero plans to review this movie, I initially just thought I’d watch it for fun, since it combines two things I’m very fond of. But then I started watching it and realised I had A Lot Of Thoughts that called out to be shared.

First off, let me say, this movie is a trip and a half. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just be prepared for ninety minutes of utter ridiculousness. The animation studio are the same folks who put out some of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and all of Pop Team Epic, so if you’re familiar with either of those shows you’ll have an idea of the flamboyant craziness to expect. If that intrigues you, click through to read on! Continue reading

Tea Time – Sakura Matsuri Tea

With a shop name like Tiaras ‘n Teakettles and years of experience organising tea parties, dinner parties, and formal balls, you know Jess has to be serious about tea. Nowhere is this more evident than in this custom blended Sakura Matsuri tea. I’ve been fighting off some kind of sinus/throat crud for just over a week now, so a nice cup of tea seemed like the perfect treat today.

Sakura Matsuri is Japanese for Cherry Blossom Festival, which makes it a perfect name for this tea. It’s a blend of quality. long-leaf green tea with cherry essence and dried rose petals that give the green base a fresh, spring-like flavour.  Even though the cherry and rose of this tea are subtle and well-balanced, I would still recommend it more as an afternoon treat or a dessert accompaniment – the flavours likely wouldn’t mesh well with hearty main course foods, if you’re the type to enjoy tea with your dinner.

The risk of incorporating florals into tea blends is that they can often end up tasting soapy but the rose aspect of this tea is perfectly complemented by the green tea and the cherry notes. It’s definitely there, but it’s subtle enough that the focus remains on the tea itself. When I made the first pot of this to try out, everyone in the household was a fan, which is rare. This is a light, lovely tea for the transitional springtime. And of course, with a sakura-themed tea, I had to use this sakura cup from Ceramic Ai that I love to bits. It snowed here in Montreal this morning, but this combination of tea and cup brings a little bit of brightness into my life.

The packet sold is a very generous amount, good for several large pots. I also love the added detail of including the steeping directions on the label. Lighter teas often require cooler water and shorter steep times, and having them right at hand is very useful. It’s a small touch, but very much appreciated.

If and when spring ever arrives here, this tea would be perfect for a dessert picnic under the flowering trees. Something to look forward to, I suppose!

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site. 

Review – Japanese Collection from Squish Candies

Squish is a locally-based candy company that’s grown into quite a success story over the years. They focus on unique and seasonal flavours aimed at adults (including an entire cocktail-inspired collection), and offer a huge selection of all natural and vegan options. As someone with allergies to both artificial flavours and milk proteins, their efforts in avoiding common allergens and really clearly labelling all their products is incredibly appreciated.

So of course when I saw they’d released a special edition Japanese Collection for this spring, I knew I had to jump on it. I was very curious to see how they’d hold up to some of the more gummy variations of wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets. They released three separate flavours that all play very nicely together; sakura & sake, sake blossoms, and yuzu mimosa.

I was most looking forward to the sakura & sake flavour, and while they were tasty enough they ended up being my least favourite of the three. Between the cherry flavour and the slightly herbaceous accent of the sake they come off a tiny bit medicinal, for lack of a better word. They’re by no means unpleasant and I’ll happily eat them, but I’m not nearly as crazy about them as I am about the others.

The sake blossom ones have a very fresh and clean taste. It’s subtle but definitely has the familiar taste of sake. There’s even a hint of that warmth you feel after drinking alcohol. The nice thing about these is that they aren’t overly sweet, so they’re refreshing and not overwhelming.

The yuzu mimosa ones are by far the standout here. They’re absolutely delicious and it was very difficult for me not to eat them all in one go as I was trying them out and photographing them! They’re the perfect balance of tart citrus and sweet gummy, without being cloying. They taste like sunshine and summer and brunch with friends on the patio.

And look how cute and springy they are all mixed up in this jar! Eating them mixed like this seems to balance the flavours perfectly. You get the sweetness of the sakura, the bright citrus flavour of the yuzu mimosa, and the delicate sake to balance everything out.

Are these a substitute for imported wagashi? Sadly, no. Are they delicious, and a great accompaniment to a seasonal meal or snack? Absolutely! I’m definitely going to be stocking up on the yuzu mimosa and the sake ones.

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.Note: A portion of all purchases of sakura & sake during the month of April will be donated to support The Véro & Louis Foundation. This Quebec-based charity’s mission is to build and operate group homes to support autistic people twenty-one and over. 

Tea Time – Pure Leaf Matcha & Ginger with Orange Blossom

Anyone who has had the pleasure of performing or witnessing a traditional Japanese tea ceremony knows how serene and meditative it can be. It’s a beautiful experience, one I think everyone who appreciates traditional Japan should have at least once in their lives.

However, sometimes you crave the fresh, soothing taste of a hot cup of matcha but just want a quick and easy drink. Thankfully, Pure Leaf tea has a solution! While their iced teas have been available for some time now, they’ve recently ventured into bagged and loose-leaf hot teas. I was selected to review two of their new hot teas; individual servings of matcha and a lovely ginger and orange blossom tisane, courtesy of ChickAdvisor.

First off, I knew I wanted to start with the matcha. It’s a single-origin tea from Japan, 100% pure tencha leaves cultivated specifically for matcha. The trees are protected from the sun as they grow, ensuring even exposure which results in a smooth, delicate tea. The nice thing about these pre-measured sachets is that all you need is hot water, a sachet, and a teaspoon! No fussing with pots, whisks, or braziers.

The tea has the distinctive fresh, grassy taste of the matcha we’re all familiar with. It is a smidge more subtle, less of the “soapiness” of tea from a tea ceremony, but that’s not a bad thing. If anything, it makes it more versatile for folks who might not necessarily be familiar with traditional matcha. Certainly, nothing will replace the experience of a proper tea ceremony, but these are a delicious and accessible alternative. They’re small and convenient enough to keep in your purse!

Next up, Ginger with Orange Blossom. This is much more of a typical herbal tea comprised of ginger, orange flowers, orange peel, lemongrass, and other all-natural ingredients. There are no tea leaves of any variety in this blend, which makes it great for a nighttime drink or a treat for anyone sensitive to caffeine. It comes in wonderful pyramid bags which allow for much more water flow and movement than old-fashioned flat bags. It’s the closest you can get to loose-leaf tea without losing the practicality of the bags.

This is a warm, comforting tea with the familiar heat of ginger at the forefront. It’s very well-balanced, somehow taking very strong flavours but keeping them delicate. I drank it plain, but a dollop of honey would be delicious in it. I also think it would make a fantastic iced tea in the summer!

I highly recommend both of these products, and I look forward to trying out more hot teas from Pure Leaf soon. Thank you to Pure Leaf and ChickAdvisor for giving me the opportunity to try these out.

 I received this item from the manufacturer for honest review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me. 

Review – Doll Kimono by JaponSakura

If you’ve ever gone hunting for doll kimono for smaller dolls (Barbie, Monster High, Pullip, Blythe, etc) you know how hard it can be to find accurate, well-made ones. There are lots of really nice options for wa-lolita styles and more modern/fashion types, and some beautiful options for larger BJDs, but if you’re looking for a stylish traditional kimono the options tend to be slim. I’d been looking for a proper kimono for Willow Grace, my beloved Pullip doll (on a 27cm Obitsu body), for a while and wasn’t finding anything that really spoke to me. Then I found Makiko and her shop JaponSakura on Etsy and I knew that was about to change!

The shop is sorted by doll size and type, so whether you’re looking for a kimono for the tiniest MiniFee BJD or your 70cm tall beauty, there are options available. There are multiple feminine styles as well as masculine options, as well as hakama for both.

There are a huge array of options for kimono fabric, obi fabric, obi style, accessories, etc, allowing for nearly limitless combinations. If you still can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, Makiko will also take entirely custom orders as schedule allows. I’ve got one of those in the works for a big project and will hopefully be showing you all soon!

All the items are very solid and well-made. The kimono is fully lined and everything is very cleanly finished with tiny stitching. The kimono is long enough to make a proper ohashori. I used a small clear hair elastic to hold everything in place, and it worked perfectly. The obi is pre-tied and closes with velcro. At this size, that’s quite helpful; tying a full obi would be incredibly fiddly and frustrating. The obijime is tied in a beautiful decorative knot and then just attaches in the back behind the obi musubi. For anyone wondering, the tabi and zori are standard 27cm Obitsu products that I purchased separately. My custom order will also be including tabi, but for now I can’t comment on the quality of those. However, I can only assume they’re made with as much care and attention as the rest of the items.

And of course, what’s a girl to do when she’s got not only an adorable doll and a gorgeous kimono, but also a doll-sized koto she found at a thrift store for six dollars? Why, take more photos, of course!

Overall, I am incredibly happy with the artistry and craftsmanship of the whole outfit. Everything coordinates very well and I think the fabrics I picked suit my little Willow Grace very well. She looks very at home in the cabinet with my other Japanese dolls now! And yes, I will have photos of that cabinet eventually.

Don’t forget, there’s just over a week to go in my Facebook giveaway! If you haven’t checked that out yet, now is your chance. 💖

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.