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Showing posts from February, 2011

New Shinkansen [はやぶさ] Hayabusa

Don't know what it is exactly about Japan's extensive railway network that I love the most, but one thing's for sure, I love its trains, especially the new shinkansen called the Hayabusa. It's got to be the the nose! I love its sleekness and the perfectly engineered bogies that slide along the outside; or maybe it's the pantographs that run along the top of the entire body of the whole train..... Actually, let me reiterate, it's the nose. ================================================================ (" Jukojo [ripe mature Japanese women] and shinkansen have always shared a common affinity with each other. Refined aesthetically, smooth as silk, highly intuitive, sensitive, powerful, purposed and focused in motion"). ================================================================= Bullet trains, shinkansen, were designed with perfect aerodynamic contours that allow it to seemingly glide across the rails at very high speeds. The faster it goes the s…

Hypoxia Phenomenon Kills off King Crabs!

I called up one of my favorite seafood distributors in Hokkaido in an attempt to order a 2 kg steamed Taraba Gani, Japanese king crab, when the lady on the other end of the phone said " dead!" "Dead what?" I retorted. Apparently, most all king crabs died this season due to unusually warm summer waters of 2010, which raised hypoxia deaths; crabs, shells, and other exotic sea life have all succumbed to lack of oxygen. Warmer waters mean less oxygen, which make it almost impossible for crabs live, let alone lay eggs.

I used to think this was a problem only in North America like with the waters off Oregon's coast which have been experiencing low-oxygen conditions for the seventh consecutive year since 2004, but I was wrong. Japan's most prized winter delicacy has been severely effected. Crabs are now being harvested half way between dead and alive and are being boiled right there on the fishing boat before it reaches market. No more live steamed crabs this year…


Been going back and forth with a distributor over a magazine showcasing a specialized genre of porn called I-so-ji and Mu-so-ji, 五十路妻、六十路妻. The last kanji indicates housewife. Isoji represents Jukujo in their 50s, and musoji represents Jukujo housewives in their 60s.

This magazine was purchased at a convenience store chain called Lawsons in near Higashi Kanagawa. Often times, whenever I go there I just skim through the scantily clad women on the magazine cover then leave, but this one caught my eye! After getting home I searched for distributors all over Tokyo and found two and am in negotiations with one for all the back copies of this series, which are all beautiful, by the way.

In the picture above is Mrs. Takahata Yuri, and she's 60! Often times when we associate women in this age bracket we think unattractive, sickly, and saggy. Like in the case of the Kanreki... This is hardly the case.

Mrs. Takahata has been in the adult entertainment industry for years, she's a marri…

Uni Murakami

Tune for this post: First Dream Called Ocean by HeliosRestaurants that serve up specialty dishes are really nice to come by when out on the road. One of the appealing aspects of living in Japan is that there're so many niche restaurants that offer up regional delicacies. In this post I will be introducing one such rare place called Uni Murakami, a restaurant that prides itself on serving the best sea urchin or uni in Japanese, in Japan. Below is a video of me enjoying this dish.

First off, what do most contemporary Japanese regard as good taste? What is uni? And where the hell is Uni Murakami? I think if cuisine can bring out the most original flavors then this would be what Japanese regard as good taste. In Tokyo, or any other major city, more eclecticism is emphasized in cuisine. Chefs want to experiment and compete with other culinary specialist, they want to test the bounds of sensible taste. Why? Because it's Tokyo and it's the capital and here is where you get to expl…

Kamikawa Subprefecture

On this last trip up to Hokkaido I spent a couple of days traveling around Kami-Furano, Biei, and a few other towns all located in the Kamikawa Subprefecture. There are 14 subprefectures in Hokkaido and Kamikawa is arguably the best in terms of popularity amongst tourist, that doesn't mean it's touristy, just popular. This part of Japan still retains its Japanese charm, unlike Niseko. The photo in the first picture was taken in Biei, a town famous for its wide open fields and picturesque landscapes. Many movies were shot using Biei as a backdrop. The best times to come up this way is in July and August, or even in September, winter if you've got balls of steel and can handle unmarked icy roads with almost zero visibility through your windshield due to sporadic snowstorms. The second picture was taken at a place called Kamihoro カミホロ荘 with its beautiful open air bath snowscapes. For those of you who are not familiar with the term subprefecture or (shicho) in japanese, is an a…

St. Valentine, who ?

How ever which way the story of St. Valentine's is told doesn't matter, as long as you receive some chocolates. Every year I get quite a few of these, but this year I got a double whammy; a surprise visit from my (wink) 100% super special Japanese daughter - for those that read my blog know what I mean by the wink. I also had a hot date tonight with a new 45 year old Japanese mother of three. I think I did well...She was beautiful and I don't write fiction.

When I walk I keep my eyes to the ground because it's impolite to look people in the eyes when there's no official business being conducted. This is also the mommas-boy way, and unless you deal in this type of specialty fetish play you'll never understand it. Anyway, I arrived exactly on time. She was there and spotted me before I spotted her. Tall for a Japanese, long clean heart shaped face, not one blemish, alto voice. Long fine black hair. Excellent proportions; good leg thickness and torso dimensions. Ju…

Sumo Under Attack!

I'm mortified. I will not be able to purchase tickets for the 2014  Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka. It has been cancelled. If you've been following news in Japan then you may have already heard that recent scandals in the sumo world have surfaced. Match fixing, hazing, and drug allegations, just to name a few, have crept in to this sacred sport once revered by the Japanese and their gods has now lost its sacredness and has been defiled by over zealous media outlets.

How could a sport such as sumo, one of the oldest and most venerated sports in Japanese history allow itself to come under attack like this? It's called the media. Without a doubt, in any country, match fixing and hazing has been part and parcel in any sporting event. People gamble and bribe officials. People fake getting knocked out. Performance enhancing drugs have been used. I understand that these actions violate the rules of good sportsmanship, and are outright illegal, but should their dirty laundry be a…

Nijo Fish Market: Sapporo

No visit to Sapporo, or any other prefecture in Japan, would be complete without stopping by a fish market in the morning. As the snow festival comes to a close and travelers start their long journey back to wherever they came from, Nijo Fish Market will still be here and it will still offer the freshest catches. My initial impression was quite different. With other fish markets I have been to, Nijo Market is the smallest and the cleanest. Other fish markets like here and here take hours to walk through, and seem to be too touristy. When you've got crab on the brain and need a little more perspective on what you'll probably be eating look down. I have to admit, I still get the creeps whenever i look at this thing, let alone grabbing one and pulling it out of its tank, yet I eat 10kg of this kind of crab a year! Here, here, and here are some write ups to salivate over.
Information on how to get there:

Address: South 3-jo East 1- to 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Hours: 7AM – 6PM (varie…

62nd Sapporo Snow Festival: Susukino!

These are fish frozen in an ice sculptor. Susukino is about three blocks from Odori Park, where the real yuki matsuri is taking place. Susukino is where all the adults play, and Odori Park is where all the kids play. Hanging out in both areas is definitely doable. I recommend not using the subway, just walk and save money.

Susukino can easily be seen in less than an hour whereas Odori Park takes a few hours because you need to explore the different venues and food stalls in order to really take in everything. The real benefit for coming through Susukino would be the ramen stalls at night. Of course the light up go too, but Odori Park has best light up display. Susukino's illuminations stay on longer than Odori Park. I'm blogging this as if I am taking notes so forgive me for lack of narration.Here's the busy intersection of Susukino. Again, a place where all the big kids play, so you can imagine what's down here.Hokkaido

Sapporo Snow Festival: Snowfes62

Theme Music: The Toy Garden by Helios

The snow festival ends on the 13th, so I thought it would be timely since I just came back from up there to post up some snaps. Every year the city of Sapporo hosts the snow festival which draws over 2 million visitors from all over the world. This year was my first time and I loved all of itTo get things started off right I had to stop by the BMW ice bar to grab some hot liquids.
Double shot of Hot Baileys in my coffee really set the mood off right for this trip, especially since it was minus 12 in Sapporo.

Lots of fun was had and I met so many other travelers. From my hotel to the site was about 4 blocks. When I arrived I was greeted by a dazzling ice light show with music. The mammoth sized dinosaurs were beautiful.

The most you'll need to wear is some thermos and a light jacket with an extra liner to keep you warm. Waterproof boots and a face warmer and a hat and gloves will do just find. YOU do not need ski gear. Below is a picture of the TV …

Super Hakucho Express

Recognizer by Daft Punk theme music for this post

One of my goals this last trip was to ride through the Seikan Tunnel, a 33 mile long stretch of underground blackness that connects Honshu to Hokkaido - possible site for a new Shinkasen line. One of my young girlfriends turned me on to this tunnel. She had gone with her family a year ago and bought me back an easy to read manga about this tunnel, and ever since I have been wanting to go. And so here I was. The actual tunnel portion is in video form. When I say there's nothing, I mean it literally. It is just one massive beautifully engineered construction tunnel with no scenery. It takes almost a full 30 or 40 minutes to get through it, which for me is a little unnerving since the incline goes 14 miles down and 14 miles back up.... When the train emerges from the other end a blast of white light hits your eyes.

Now, a lot of people make a big deal of the night train called Cassiopeia. A night train that takes you from Ueno Station …

Winter Vacation pt.1: Shin-Aomori

Theme music for this post:For Years and Years by Helios My whole trip turned out excellent. I learned a lot about myself and even more about Japan. I take nothing for granted. The level of convenience Japan offers is world-class, which is probably why so many tourist flocks here, especially during the winter. Japan's extensive rail networks, the excellent customer service, the delicious food, and the knowledgeable taxi drivers, the four star resort hotels are simply the best. For a nation so steeped in history and tradition, no other country on earth even comes close to Japan's scale of technological development on any of the above mentioned.

It all started out at Tokyo Station at 6a.m. I was waiting on the platform for the Tohoku Shinkansen to pull up. My middle was full of nervous anticipation for the long journey ahead. Most Tokyoites would never ride the Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori - 3h50m-on vacation. I'm sure most would rather fly than to enjoy a nice rail trip. I chos…

Ryounkaku Onsen

Getting to Ryounkaku was difficult. One option is by train, the other is by bus. The option I chose was by car, from Sapporo Station I rented a four wheel drive Toyota Vitz near the Sapporo Station at approximately 15:44. The car rental staff was kind enough to pick me up and take me to their office in order to process my paperwork for the car. I handed over my Japanese license and my Visa card and I was done and out on the road in less than 20 minutes! I had to cover 200 km before 9pm because the mountain pass gates close off at around this time for safety reasons; mainly related to ice and snow. I arrived in Furano at 8pm, all in 3rd gear! The configuration on the gearshift was unfamiliar to me, and I didn't realize it until after I had arrived. The car still sounds fine, though.
The Hokkaido Expressway felt like the German Autobahn because everybody was driving well over 140km/hr. After reaching my exit it was nightfall and then I continued up a long winding mountain road which …

Good Tripe in Japan

The name of the place is called Nagai in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture.

No, I don't mean the kind of cheap coffee table house tripe associated with pseudo-intellectuals who talk about utter nonsense at the dinner table. I'm posting about tripe or offal; the first and second divisions of the stomach of an oxen, sheep, or goat, used as food. Basically the internal organs of a land animal.

There are some Americans who can appreciate this dish. Yes, for me, it was an acquired taste. I still haven't gotten used to the awful smell of it yet, but like with everything, you should try it at least once. I know of some French who also love offal and rarely have a chance to try delicious Japanese style offal. Not the stuff you find in back alley izekayas at yakiniku joints, but real places in the countryside.

Nagai, is perhaps the most famous offal shop in all of the Kanto. They even have their own theme song that's played on local radio. A lot of truckers stop through here, so word o…

Ishiuchi Yung Parunas

Track Theme Music for this post: Bless This Morning Year by HeliosIf a picture could speak, what would this one say? This is a "yukimiburo" a snow bath that's steamy and hot! Do you need to thaw out those cold frozen bones in your fingers and toes? February is looking to be one of the coldest winters on record with snow falling in heaps all over northern Japan, so what better time of year to enjoy yourself than to soak in something like an outdoor bath during the coldest month of the year, in Japan.

Ishiuchi Yung Parunus is an onsen/business/restaurant style hotel with very basic amenities. The rooms are large, some even have their own hot spring tubs. The prices are reasonable and the onsen(hotspring) is 100% pure and excellent. I have visited this place a few times, and each time I am never disappointed at the quality of the hot-spring. The views are wintery, the water is a nice mix of sodium chloride and calcium. Truly lovely and truly the soul of Japan.