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Showing posts from December, 2009

Beauty of Japanese Women’s Legs!

Creating the kind of well toned legs I love to look at on Japanese women don't come easily unless you have good genetics. Some women are just born with gorgeous legs while others may have to work at them a bit, and then, you have the pigeon toed women who ruin their knees through unnatural walking for years and wind up with a whole lot of back related problem when they get old.Nice and strong legs foster proper posture which in turn helps the back stay in alignment. Having weak legs almost always means you have weak knees, and if you have weak knees you will almost always invariably have a weak lower back which in turn will eventually lead to a hunched back. Of course age plays a factor,too. One good exercise I recommend would be the knee lift skip. This is the perfect warm up to any walking or running exercise you can do. The biggest challenge though would be learning how to master the rhythm first. First imagine you are running in a stationary position. In pictures on…

Winter Rice Varietal

This month's new rice - about every other month I blog about a new rice - hails from Hokkaido. I chose this part of Japan again because of its cold winter varietals. These cold temperature resistant rice grains has lead researchers from the National Institute of Agriculture to develop newer types of rice that are even more resistant to colder temperatures - yes, even snow. The rice is called OBOROZUKI and it's been in the works for nearly 8 years now. The key ingredient in this rice is a starch compound called amylose (ăm'ə-lōs', -lōz' ), which every rice grain has but at a varying levels. Oborozuki has low-amylose whereas, say, a long grain North American rice grain would have higher amylose. What does all this mean in terms of taste and nutrition? Amylose is important in dietary circles because foods low in amylose will be broken down faster in the body as opposed to foods high in amylopectin, which is another starch compound usually combined with am…

Midtown Christmas Tokyo 2009

The finest illuminations and spectacles of light can been seen here at one of Tokyo’s swankiest business districts.  This year, like last year, the night time displays of lights not only lit the atmosphere, but our hearts as well.  Christmas was everywhere in Midtown this year!In the Galleria you can enjoy more illuminations.  This one is called the Welcome Chandelier and every 15 minutes it changes colors.  The trees in Sakura-dori and in the streets all around Tokyo Midtown are decorated by around 470,000 LED lights that are the color of candle flames. The camphor tree in the Midtown Garden will be illuminated with pink LED lights. The electricity are solar-generated.Below is the Enya TreeThere’s a new staging this year for the "Starlight Garden", the symbolic illumination for Tokyo Midtown that will be set up on the Grass Square spanning 2,000 square meters. Adding to the dreamlike atmosphere are  lights in the surrounding trees. Every 20 minutes, visitors are able to enj…

Cities

I took this shot of a plant somewhere in Kawasaki near a very busy part of town.  There’s so much air pollution there nowadays.  But even still, even in other major cities in Yokohama, the biodiversity is can be quite interesting.  Just the other day I saw a palm tree and a cactus growing near this torn down old shack near my place and had wondered what the heck is a palm tree and a cactus doing thriving in this type of climate.Inside the Yokohama bus terminal you can see these huge ventilation ducts that filter the air and exhaust fumes from the tour buses.   It’s nice seeing environmentally conscious Japanese people in modern cities take steps to cut carbon emissions.    It’s even nicer to see younger Japanese embracing this idea,too.   The English word “litter” is an offensive term in Japan. In the U.S. you'd be lucky to find structures that are designed around the idea of environmentally conscious awareness.   When you see a ventilation duct in the U.S., it’s usually there to …

Railroads of Minato Mirai

A few years ago, these rails were used for the Toyoku line, which has since been closed because of the creation of another line called the Minato Mirai.  This new  line connects Yokohama to Tokyo in less than 40 minutes and has revolutionized the way people shop.Unfortunately, these old rails will lie here unused and dormant.  There’s so much history here on this line, almost a hundred and fifty years worth.  Now, there’s just graffiti on the walls.  A few pedestrians cross here on their way to somewhere.There’s just graffiti here now.  Japanese have such a strange fascination with obscure things, especially death.  I guess that’s why the suicide rates have been soaring.  I think the figure is up to around 34,000!  Yokohama is truly one of these bizarre and strange cities.

Yokohama 横浜

Often wonder where ordinary people are headed off to midday on a beautiful weekday.  Nearby from where I took this picture there’s a coffee shop that’s always packed to capacity; like they usually are.  It makes me wonder sometimes if people actually work.  I remember listening to a song by Vangelis called Abraham’s Theme  while looking through the viewfinder of my camera just before I took this shot.A couple of Autumn leaves leftover from last fall clinging on to each other.  They only have each other.  They’re  all that’s left.A month ago people were fawning over its beauty, now they walk all over it, crushing it under their feet and think absolutely nothing of it.All the color is gone, all of the life is gone out of it.  It’s dead now.  Such is life for this once so beautiful leaf.  Not even one single memory is cherished of it.  Soon the winds will come and carry it off to some unknown direction and remnants of its glory will be etched in the annals of the lost and forgotten great…

Dark Grainy Ilford 3200 B/W Yellow Filter

Cosmo clock of Minato Mirai, Yokohama Japan.  The two large tiers on the top left is the Yokohama Bay Bridge connecting Kawasaki to Yokohama through a long winding loop of highway that overlooks the Minato Mirai skyline.  Normally, I would never shoot with this type of film in the daytime – too grainy.  But, did it anyway in order to get those really deep edges and angles.  Not pretty but complete.  The Landmark Tower

Kamiooka and Tsurumi

( pentax k-1000;green filter; ISO 50 Ilford)Ilford is arguable the best when it comes to deep and contrast heavy black and white photos.Along the Keikyu Line.   Contrast heavy.  The ventilation ducts on the roof of the bus and train as linear lines running along the sides come into view.I like Tsurumi.  There are two major train lines that are adjacent to each other and run almost parallel to each other until they both reach Yokohama Station.   In Tsurumi, JR and the Keikyu line stations are less than a 3 minute walk from each other. Green filter; pentax K-1000; Ilford iso50 b/w film; underexposure shot.Picture by Kazumi Ogaeri.  Monochrome Jukujo.Nature.

December Edition

There’re less than 17 days left before the end of the year and the days have gotten shorter and colder, I sleep in more just to keep warm.  I don’t want to run the heater just yet; the warm blankets do just fine for keeping me warm for now, but this mattress is starting to cause a little discomfort lately. 

I have been nurturing this little Shikuramen on my little wooden stool for a week now; watching it as the little buds start to unroll.   This type of plant thrives in the winter, yet it hates moisture.  My apartment windows are full of condensation in the mornings because I leave my hot water pot on all night plus the extra carbon in the air from my breathing adds to further create the type of moisture  this plant hates.  Since it was a gift I try to take extra care of it.  I’ve  never had a green thumb for growing anything,really.  I either over water something or don’t water something enough. 

Later I came to find out that the best way to raise a plant is from a seedling, by fi…

Kokuryu Tarekuchi Black Dragon!

Exquisite, complex, and fruity are the three words that come to mind.  Usu-nigori is sake that has some  sake yeast, rice and koji in the bottle while the bulk remains behind on the filtering cloth..i.e… a light nigori that has a pino coloda(ish) flavor to it.   Normal sake is usually filtered to remove excess solid such as rice.  However, in nigori type sake nothing is removed and you get a cloudy almost milky colored sake.  The Usu-nigori is just a lighter and more flavorsome version of nigori. 

( The cloudy soft white sediment at the bottle makes this a true winter sake)

This sake hails from Fukui Prefecture, home of the Koshi-hikari premium rice grain, which is popularized in Niigata Prefecture, the single most recognizable prefecture for sake in the world by Westerners.

The brewery is called Kokuryu Shuzo and the rice used is called Gohyaku-mangoku and it’s grown right in Fukui, which is quite nice actually considering that a lot of breweries get their sake rice from other pref…

Haku-ryu: 大吟醸 白龍

To be quite honest I was a little reluctant about picking this one up last time I was in Niigata.  For one, I normally stick with namazake or junmai ginjo; I also love honjozo nama type sakes as well.  The other reason would be that just because something is/was made with labor intensive techniques doesn’t necessarily mean it will taste better than the not so labour intensive brands.   This is where I feel foreigners differ from Japanese in terms of what they look for in taste.

Westerners in general tend to agree that a better brewed or better refined sake will almost always taste better than any other sake.  Japanese drinkers tend to digress from this line of logic as all sake regardless of how it was brewed has its own unique distinction and that it should be appreciated for its own unique  flavor characteristics. 

There are some futsuu-shu,regular table sake, that I have fallen in love with over a daiginjo simply because of some of the more unique flavor profiles you can get from …

Top Sake Picks of Gunma

I decided to divide this up a bit.  First I want to make a special mention about  one particular sake I tried from a brewer I was introduced to a few years ago by a guy in Kamakura.   I remember walking around one day and came across an old liquor shop with a very small, yet modest selection of sake.  One particular sake he brought to my attention was brewed in Niigata prefecture, Kashiwa city which goes by the name of Harashuzou.  I recall that sake being one of, if not the best sake I have ever tasted, so when I went to Gunma and Niigata last weekend and was offered a bottle by the restaurant owner in Niigata the kanji looked vaguely familiar to me, and then a light went off in my head.  Harashuzou!  This sake is called a namachozoushu [ nama-cho-zoushu]生貯蔵酒, which basically means that it was only pasteurized once.  What a wonderfully soft and crisp sake that could easily work well with dishes such as maitake tempura, salmon,  and even soba, all of which Niigata is famous for.  The …