The Adventures Of Fatrick: Rilakkuma Pancake Sandwich

April 2, 2010

Let’s talk about Rilakkuma.

Rilakkuma – vaguely translated as “relaxation bear” – is a cute character popping up everywhere in Japan. Despite appearing in a few picture books, Rilakkuma resembles Hello Kitty as a character existing to be branded onto as many products as possible. Rilakkuma loves to chill out – to quote Wikipedia, his favorite activities include “sleeping, lying around, watching television, listening to music and soaking in hot springs.” What a character – I can relate to his plight and I can hug him!

(Sad/revealing aside: The origin of Rilakkuma [assuming you trust Wikipedia] highlights one very prominent issue in Japan. The company behind this bear guy, San-X, requires every employee to create one cute character per month. Rilakkuma’s creator “saw a TV show about dogs. She wished to own a pet because at that time she was very busy working and hoped for a more relaxing life. Rilakkuma is an embodiment of her wish.” So Rilakkuma and his life of leisure sorta represents a nation’s wish to relax.)

One of the dominant convenience stores, Lawsons, is running a promotion starring Rilakkuma. The bear and his two pals (a white bear and a duck) apparently have no obligations whatsoever and have decided to jet off to Paris. Sounds like a perfect excuse to wheel out a bunch of Rilakkuma toys and foods featuring him in a beret! So, now the relaxation bear rears his sleepy head more than any J-Pop star. At least in my convenience-store heavy life.

This would be just another stupid-cute promotion to me, except for the Rilakkuma plate. Any item featuring Rilakkuma and his friends – and some without – come with little stickers bearing (har har) his face on them. Collect 30 of those and you earn a plate with his face on it. I’m not sure if it’s due to boredom or the thrill of a challenge, but I (along with some other folk in Nabari) have decided to collect enough point to attain this $3 plate. I now eat Rilakkuma-themed food far too frequently – you get two points for ordering the honey mustard chicken! How can I say no?

This plate-centric pursuit has led to a new culinary discovery – the Rilakkuma Pancake Sandwich. It’s two mini-pancakes stacked together, with syrup in-between them. I’ve never seen anything like it in America.

My breakfast tomorrow

My breakfast tomorrow

And they taste awesome. I’ve never had a McGriddle…shocking, I know…but I imagine the Rilakkuma Pancake Sandwich to be like a much more tolerable version of that. It tastes exactly like pancakes with syrup…it just comes out of the middle and is a little cold. I’ve been told you can pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to make them better. Taste great chilled too, I say. Plus, I only need 20 more points to get that plate. I swear I don’t weigh 600 pounds!

(I’m not sure what the point of this post was…guess I felt the need to post something, and since this has become my go-to breakfast…why not? Maybe I’ll do something interesting next week!)

(Japanese Fun Fact #53 – The new work year starts on April 1st every year, which means a lot of new faces around the office. They do a bunch of little speeches introducing themselves, and we bow a lot. Super bonus – we get a lot of little snacks from the new people, who are trying to impress us. “Here, have some biscuits, see I’m cool after all!”)

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