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Showing posts from May, 2009

Short Prose: Scrubbing Hard

Just beyond the misty window pane, a scolding voice was  heard,” that’s not how you do it stupid!  Try using this nylon towel instead.  Put the soap in it then wrapped it over.  Run the hot water over it and shake it so as to create a thick lather.” 

Yuji  clumsily followed these instructions from his senior with nervous ambivalence.  It’s just a 12 by 12 hard surface nylon towel that many Japanese use to wash themselves when taking a bath.  Its granular  surface is intended to slightly irritate the skin in order to open  the pores through exfoliation.
Why should a 19 year old care about this meticulous attention to detail stuff, especially over a stupid little nylon towel.  Scrubbing Yuji’s back roughly, the senior chided,” you young people are so careless nowadays.  You have to be taught everything.”  

Most people remove their spectacles before entering into the bathing area, but for some reason Yuji’s senior didn’t.  All the while scrubbing his back his glasses began to fog up.  …

Dormy Inn Shinsaibashi

The Soul of Japan
The Dormy Inn Hotel in Shinsaibashi, Osaka is definitely the place to stay when visiting this city. 
For me, one of the most important things a hotel can have are good amenities and services, like the 24 hrs open and indoor baths and sauna.   One nice feature about using the bath is that you have to use a code number in order to access the bathing area.    It’s a good feature because you know that only guest are allowed to use the baths.  Sometimes I like feeling a little exclusive.   The hotel even offers you complimentary bottled water right after check-in.
The room I had was small but clean and came with everything a top grade hotel could offer: flat screen T.V., large pajamas, slippers, fridge, cutlery, utensils, and so on. 
TV Telephone LAN Pot Tea Set Refrigerator Hair Dryer Trouser Presser (Lending) Desk Lamp (Lending) Iron (Lending) Humidifier (Lending) Body Soap Conditioning Shampoo Toothbrush Razor Comb Towel Bath Towel Relaxation Wear Slipper…

People of Osaka

Leaving pleasant memories behind in Osaka I felt refreshed in knowing that there’re still Japanese who love being Japanese everyday; the ones who love Japanese sake(nihonshu), and who can also appreciate some Western influences, but while at the same time not get carried away with the obsession of being too Westernized for their own good.
I too may come off as obsessed, but believe me, I’ll take a greasy chili cheeseburger and American pizza over sushi any day. I also revere the history of the American forefathers too, because I know that no nation is perfect. Japan is not perfect, but it’s pretty damn close.
I can still remember horror stories about people in Osaka from Tokyoites and Hamakos (Yokohama born people).

(“Back when Kyoto was the capital people used to look down on Osaka people. Osaka people are loud and rude. Osaka people have no manners. Osaka people are poor”).

I used to here stuff like this from Japanese in Kanagawa and “Tokyo to until finally I went ther…

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Shinto is the native religion of Japan.   In keeping in line with the theme and essence of my blog I present Sumiyoshi Taisha, which was popularized in one of Japan’s greatest novels “ The Tale of Genji,” like this curved bridge and pond for example, which are illustrated in the original Tale of Genji.  ( second pic.).
The day I went to this shrine was on a very pleasant Sunday afternoon.   There were some low flying birds soaring  overhead, wings out stretched.   The aroma of grilled  squid  and dumplings filling the air around the entrance was intoxicating for me.  Images of a time long forgotten were evoked in my mind.   Small children playing and screaming merrily around grandpa.  (“ It must’ve been a good day to be a grandpa”).   

A closer look.  Bridge over water leading up to a shrine is commonly found through out Japan, which represent a portal.

By the way, I chose this shrine over Shitennoji, which is the oldest temple in present day Osaka, for esoteric reasons.  I think it…

CHIBO: Osaka Style Okonomiyaki

For the record, anywhere you go in Osaka you can eat  delicious  okonomiyaki, but there’re some places that should be visited at least once while in Japan, and  Chibo is one of them.
These delicious Japanese style savory pancakes, among the many favorite kinds of food in Japan, are an all time favorite for many locals and foreigners.  Two prefectures known for having the best okonomiyaki are Hiroshima and Osaka.  Hiroshima has layered style, and Osaka serves battered style. 

In this picture you can see Osaka battered style okonomiyaki – they make it for you.  You can also make it yourself, but this type is especially made here at Chibo.   They load this stuff with pork, pasta, cheese, and seafood!

Finished product

After they cook it, they bring it over to your table and place it on this hot griddle in order to finish the cooking process.  The best okonomiyaki I ever had to be honest.  A good okonomiyaki should be loaded with seafood and pork in my opinion.  Not just one kind of meat…

How I Would Entertain Guest in Japan

First,  assume for a moment that nobody really cares whether or not your guests have been to Japan.   So what they went overseas for five days.  And let us also assume that after your guests return back  yonder they show off their pictures to their neighbors, of course the neighbors  won’t  really care because they can’t really relate to your guest’s experience.  They’ll just feign ignorantly on about how wonderful your guest’s pictures are, and how much they envy them.

 You get my point?

Nevertheless, one of the  best ways to entertain guest in Japan would be to give them a chance to ride on the shinkansen (bullet train), show them Mount Fujii, and if you can, let them take part in a live tea ceremony.   Maybe even give them a chance to see Akihabara.   Don’t take them to temples unless you have to because you have to assume they know absolutely nothing about Japanese history, and if they did  at one point they probably forgot everything.   What’s the use of visiting a temple if  you…

Sexy Shyu 酒( Dreamy Moon Sake)

I believe there’s a sexy Jukujo in every bottle of nihonshu. I mean, you have fragrance, impact, earthiness, and body for starters, and then you have the quality of taste and texture. If there were no Jukujo then sake wouldn’t even exist. There would simply be no meaning. Not even Japan would exist, at least not the way we understand how it exist today.

Today there’re only fragments of Japan left over from a time long gone as displayed from that old busted up clock somewhere on somebody’s dusty chest of drawers. Tired long hand, resting on half past eternity of a dead and forgotten moment in time.

Hope was restored today, though. Her name was Yumetsukiyo or Dreamy Moon a refined sake from Ehime Prefecture, home of Dogo Onsen, cultured pearls and tangerines. She’s a junmai-ginjyo( full rice), and very gentle, yet straightforward. Impact or (Kuchi-atan) is soft with a clean finish. She’s a sweet sake, medium dry, very low acidity. She also has an unassuming presence …

Onsen of Nikko

Finally had some time to dig through some of my favorite onsen, so I posted this one.  No, I didn’t write the name.  I am not an onsen advert service.  Names and things pertaining to location and what not I write about in my book, and soon to be second edition.The feature about this onsen I wanted to explain is the cypress wood and stone bottom.  What a lot of people aren’t aware of is that cypress is extremely slipper when wet, so I was really happy to see green carpet around the sides – excellent safety measure.  After soaking for a few minutes it’s good to get up and walk around a bit in order to cool down.  This veranda was huge, which offered a small piece of beautiful nature, like this tree.  It’s good to appreciate the little things.The simple pleasure of a simple tree from a simple minded Japan(ist).  Wood, earth, water, sky.  A lovely balance.

Tenpei: The King of Gyoza / ひとくち餃子発祥店 天平

Delectable dumplings; gyoza from heaven; the best of the best according to the locals.   The King of Gyoza.  Welcome to Tenpei! Okay, so, I’ve eaten gyoza in China, Taiwan, and at many Chinatowns through-out Japan and in the States, too, so that gives me a little experience, no?   I love gyoza.  I’ve even dined at the best of the best gyoza joints in Utsunomiya; five to be exact,and Utsunomiya is considered the capital of gyoza in Japan by many food geeks..

All of the gyoza I have had up to now have all been excellent.  I can’t pick a favorite.  But,  one things for sure, Osaka style hitokuchi gyoza is to die for(ひとくち・一口bit sized gyoza).  Sure, you can find these kinds of gyoza all over Osaka, but none with as long a history as Tenpei in Kitashinchi which has been around since Showa 30(1955).  This is a local favorite by all standards, and what that means is that it’s hard to find and off the beaten track.  Only a few old timers knew where this place was which happened to be down a da…

Osaka Street Scenes

Just outside my hotel last night in Shinsaibashi I saw some low riders blasting their speakers West coast style.  This was all taking place at around 3am!  I couldn’t complain though, the music was good and the system they were using was also very good.It’s amazing how well the emulate the L.A.  subculture.    Some of the cars on show were old favorites, like the Impala and the Cadillac.  And I love Cadillacs.  One point I want to make is that, most low rider crews in Kanagawa where I live are not popular with the ladies    Most young  girls from that part of Japan, and even in Tokyo would never be caught riding around in these types of cars.   Not the case in Osaka, though.   I was so surprised to see so many incredibly beautiful women riding around with their boyfriends in these gangster type cars.   I actually felt good about that.  Out where I’m living there are so many single Japanese male and females it’s a shame.   Just last week I saw three grown as men riding on one bicycle t…