Off to Israel & Jordan: Travel video press trip! Cute Japan flower arrangements & Snoopy donuts.

scottish fold cat with crossed paws

I’ve been itching to return to the Middle East, and am excited to announce (Terminator style) that “I’ll be back!” From late January to February, my filmmakers and I will be in Israel and Jordan for the first time.

Can’t wait to explore Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, all thanks to the Israel Ministry of Tourism. Our friends at Ya’lla Tours are helping us get connected, and will also take us on a guided tour of Petra, the historical city and archaeological heaven.

camel statue, dubai mall

My travel team and I will be shooting stories about the alternative nightlife in Tel Aviv — there’s a colorful LGBT scene here, including an Orthodox Jewish drag queen. We’ll also make travel videos, photos and blogs about the modern local fashion, Israeli wines, and even a hummus restaurant.

Maybe this time, I’ll get to ride a real camel? To get in the spirit, you can revisit last year’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai coverage in my Middle East category. And send us your travel tips; we’ll always keep them in mind.

lamb cute face cakes, hitsuji

Before we dive into tabbouleh and falafel, let’s hop back to Japan: the land of cute food.

At the Swimmer store in Shinjuku Alta, I spotted these “hitsuji” or kawaii lamb-faced cakes. Clever, how they use a coiled cookie for the horns.

kawaii cupcakes, swimmer japan

The bakery also sells “kuma-chan” or little bear cupcakes. I’ve never eaten anything from Swimmer; the pastries look too sweet and cute to consume!

mr donut japan, snoppy woodstock donuts

Mr Donut, the Japanese doughnut store chain, has seasonal collaborations with cute characters. Around Halloween, they offered spooky Hello Kitty donuts. For Christmas, they teamed up with Snoopy and Woodstock. Unfortunately, looks trump taste. I tried one, and gagged at the flaky icing and bready interior.

rilakkuma christmas snacks

While “character bento” recipe books aren’t as popular as before, there are still kawaii food items everywhere. I found Rilakkuma bear cookie boxes in a convenience store.

white cat sake bottle

Plus a bottle of white cat sake.

panda bear pocky cookies

I grew up eating Pocky as snacks. Fun to see these panda versions, made with white chocolate over brown sticks.

ghost tomato pretz

Do ghost tomato Pretz taste extra scary?

kawaii cute japanese van

In Japan, you’ll often see vans or trucks decorated to the nines. I stopped short when I saw this one, plastered with cute animals… made from flowers!

cute decorated flowers van

Similar to bento decoration, the flowers are arranged in clever ways to mimic figures like Santa Claus. Paper or felt cut-outs form the eyes, nose and details.

panda bear flower arrangement

These panda bear flowers were my favorites. At first, I thought they were onigiri or rice balls.

Dekotora japanese decoration trucks

Just when you think the Japanese have thought of every possible way to make things cute… a new idea comes along.

panda van, japan car decor

Perhaps these photos might inspire you to try “kawaii flower arrangements” of your own.

shinjuku conveyor belt sushi

Back to food, minus the cuteness. Whenever I’m in Tokyo, I gorge myself on sushi since the quality is outstanding here. At “kaiten” conveyor sushi parlors like Hibari in Kabukicho, each plate is only about $1.40.

tokyo sushi parlor, kaiten

If you don’t know Japanese, there is usually a photo menu that you can point to. My favorites are unagi (eel), hamachi (yellowtail), bintoro (albacore tuna)…

toro salmon sushi, ikura eggs

… and if I’m lucky, toro salmon topped with ikura, (fish roe). It melts in your mouth like nothing else, and is only about $2. I once ate about eight of these!

shinjuku subnade okonomiyaki

While not so pretty-looking, okonomiyaki or savory pancakes are a must-try, especially in Osaka. Also visit an izakaya, or homestyle pub, and pop into Coco Ichiban for mouthwatering Japanese curry.

haagen dazs pumpkin ice cream

How about dessert? If it’s around October, you can find pumpkin flavored Haagen Dazs ice cream in convenience stores.

cutest smartest cat breed

Basil and I hope you enjoyed this post about cute and yummy food in Japan. We urge you to step out of your comfort zone, and try new dishes whenever you are traveling. I’ll be doing that soon in Israel and Jordan.

cat with christmas bokeh

For more cat-ness, I just posted more photos of Basil Farrow on his Scottish Fold blog, and Facebook.

best travel instagram, instagrammers

Also add us on Instagram and Twitter — @lacarmina — for previews of my Middle Eastern journey. Above are some snaps from Tokyo.

What type of reports would you like to see from Tel Aviv and Jordan? Do you have suggestions for places to see, and things to eat?

  • MelissaR

    So awesome! This post made me hungry for hummus AND cupcakes! :D

    • Can’t wait to drown ourselves in hummus!!

  • Noa

    I happen to live in Israel. hi :)

  • Pasha


  • ralph

    Really cool

  • BM

    Hi Lacarmina!

  • Brenda

    omg! Sweett

  • Cris

    Nice, my friends there right now!

  • Petal

    Fantastic Blog

  • Esther

    Omg those flowers ^^

  • Om

    Cool plans I want to go in ur suitcase ok.

  • Greener


  • Editha


  • Greta

    AMAZING thoes flowers!!!

  • Melanie

    I tried Mister Donut when I was in Japan. I didn’t discover the panda pocky until I went to my local Japanese market; they were so good.

    • Nice! MR Donut has cute things but I’m not fond of the taste, how about you?

      • Melanie

        I kind of liked them because they weren’t that sweet. Personally I liked Krispy Kreme better though.

  • Laura

    Snoopy donuts look really good, too bad they taste crap

  • Asher

    Sushi is my favourite food.

  • Zak Hofman

    ohhh, I try looking for some nice clubs while I’m in Japan, only to discover that you visit my country :) there was the Israeli Goth Festival a few days ago, unfortunate that you missed it!

    But still plenty of events like this one (a new wave party, expect 600-700 people to attend)

    And I am familiar with plenty of the people in the scene if you need help with anything, so don’t hesitate to ask

    • amazing, thank you!! got any favorite nightclubs or bars?

      • Zak Hofman

        I have plenty, though most of them are somewhat more “mainstream”. While the music can be alternative, goth, punk etc. people usually don’t tend to, let’s say, dress up. Remember that it is important to check out exactly what party there is, as on different days could mean different lines completey (like one Friday is house, but the Friday after could be dark 80’s even at the same club). In Tel Aviv you can look for Haoman 17, Hablock, or Komfort 13. There is only one s&m club called the dungeon though I am not really familiar with it (not really my style, sorry!). I can post the links of you like. Unfortunately won’t be back in Israel when your are there, but for sure you wouldn’t have problems finding company and friends!

        Other places to look for would Jovinco in Shenkin st who was an early tattoo artist in Israel. the Tomer shop in Dizengoff center which deals in ‘alternative’ sub culture, and the third ear record store just opposite the shopping mall which is a famous Tel-Aviv institution (though again, a bit more mainstream). This is what I can think of now, though there it’s probably much more to explore

    • Karina Rogachevskaya

      I’m from Israel too! And I was looking goth clubs in Japan to!
      Btw The IGF was great .
      Have you enjoyed In Japan? :)

      • love the nightlife in both places! Tons of Israel coverage coming up XX

  • Ava

    Don’t forget Palestine!

  • Sarah

    You are elegant + adorable! I love it xx

  • Ales

    Oh my God I want to go so much. !(◎_◎;)

  • Haj

    Beautiful. Ummmm… Keep the peace.

  • liana

    welcome to israel

  • Francesca

    OMG OMG OMG you’re gping to Petra!!!! Can’t wait to see the photos!!! By the way, even though those yummy buns and cakes look very cute, they completely pale into insignificance when you put them side by side with photos of Basil. Not fair on the poor cakes…. ;-)