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Showing posts from April, 2013

Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings
I enjoyed my second visit to Sendai.   This time around I attended a drinking party with some lovelies and a good sake buddy of mine where we sampled dozens of great nihonshu.   The food for the evening was your typical standard Japanese fair: sashimi, tempura, and baked fish.   What I really enjoyed though was the Chawannmushi, a type of hot egg soup in a cup.     The chef that evening added spinach paste to it and I enjoyed the extra texture I got from the chawannmushi.    The name of the izekaya is called "Shonan Chigasakimichi Kokubunjoten"   in Sendai.     Surprisingly, no seared cow tongue was served; I have an aversion to tongue meat.   The sake for the evening was Mutsu Hassen from Aomori Prefecture.   

I met a lot of interesting characters that evening who were from all over Japan.   Sake really does lubricate the wheels of social interaction and surprisingly even after becoming sober good relationships are made.     A while ago I did a write up on S…

藤沼湖: Fujinuma The Devestation

Fujinuma Park & Auto Campsite

The first few years I lived in Japan I traveled extensively through-out Fukushima Prefecture in search of good food, great hot spas, and delicious sake.   My girlfriend and I had a real passion for living in those days, and still do to this day.   
We were diehard campers back then.  We camped in winter, spring, and even autumn.  Cold weather and sometimes wet weather wasn't an obstacle for us, we loved the great outdoors.  It was in our blood.   There was no prefecture in Japan more beautiful than Fukushima Prefecture for us.  It was the land of ramen, sake, beef, and great nature.  We never camped during summer.  
 Today at breakfast, one of my Jukujo moms broke the news that the place was no longer the same after the March 11th disaster and that it hasn't  been restored, just a-washed in mud.  I was disheartened to hear that the place had been wiped out by the March 11th tsunami.  I had no idea the place was effected.  In the video below i…

Takada Nights

For some reason everything smells so much sweeter in the thick of night.   It could be the allure of female perfume walking by or the warm evening smell of pink flowers wafting in the breeze.   The river yields and extra mineral scent that mixes in with the it all, and you know you are about to have a really good night. 

Takada Castle rendered under a  warm night sky.    Japanese mothers holding cute little chubby Japanese babies.  They are exhausted from all the festivities.  I feel for them, but I pressed on.

In this second picture you are looking at something called "goma - dongo" a sweet sticky rice ball covered in warm sesame seed paste.   This treat is my personal favorite.  I love the warm buttery gooey goodness when they are made fresh like these were.    Whenever you come to a festival in Japan  look for these!

There are so many different kinds of food you can enjoy at a Japanese festival, but these dango are authentically Japanese and help get you in the mood for the …

The Beauty of Joetsu

Listening to Staralfur by Sigor Ros

Speeding through the Joetsu region of Niigata Prefecture  I often wonder what life would've been like had I lived here.   The only realization I came to was that the only thing to do here is work, and that the work never ends.    Toiling away in the fields is the only way to eat and  live in this sometimes harsh and unforgiving climate.   Sometimes it's the most beautiful and scenic locations that seem to  have the harshest conditions to survive in.   You wake up in the freezing wee hours of the morning and have this gorgeous mountain view, but because you have seen the same view every single day for the last 60 years the only realization is that you have to work, and that the work never ends.  

Farming is the only honest work left in the world.  You cannot trick the earth into yielding its own fruit.   You have to do things the right way from the beginning in order to get a harvest.    You could pump chemicals into the soil, but this will o…

Takada Park: Niigata

No festival in Japan would be complete without a procession of men and women carrying this beautiful edifice down  a road.   It is called a mikoshi and it is used to transport a god between shrines.     No better example of the purest essence of Japanese culture than the  Mikoshi,  the truest symbols of Japan's spiritual legacy and a testament to  the continuity of tradition passed down generation after generation.   

During the festive time of year you can see fundoshi( underwear) clad men and women carrying the mikoshi down a street with throngs of people all around.    The mikoshi is carried on the shoulders  around neighborhoods to another shrine where people can get up close and see the god inside the mikoshi, and in some instances touch it.     

Cherry blossom viewing can be enjoyed anywhere in Japan, but some places are a must-see-must-go destination.    I have chronicled many places on this blog of famous garden parks that look as if they  had been hewned and carved by the …

The Beauty of Iwamatsu Onsen

Sitting in one of these on a very cool spring evening with a nice cold bottle of Japanese sake and the sounds of raging water flowing down a mountain you sigh your first real breath of release from deep within.   You know the journey is over and sitting there warm and cozy in this womb of nature the water absorbs deep into you and heals you of all fatigue and strain.

Often times I am reminded of the beauty of Japan when I leave the larger cities.    Miyagi Prefecture was a placed I had visited a few times in search of silence and quietude, and discovered it.   This time around I was solo and found that the charm of country life still remains, even today.   Iwamatsu Onsen is a place often discussed amongst onsen aficionados as one of the best rare one of a kind hot spas.

What may be off putting for travelers is how long it takes to reach Iwamatsu Onsen.    From Sendai, if you use city bus, will take you about 60 minutes and will cost you a little over 1000 yen one-way.   Another opt…

Super Komachi and 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  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 that does it for me….. Actually, let me reiterate, it’s the nose.       ("This man must really love his job.  He gets to ride the fastest train on rails in comfort and style.   No  No.  Chinese and French folks do not even try to say anything.  Do not disturb my apotheosis on Japanese engineering").  

Bullet trains,shinkansen, were designed with perfect aerodynamic contours that allow it to seamlessly glide across steel rails at very high speeds. The faster it goes the sexier it looks, unlike its rival in France.    TheHayabusais the product of decades of labor intensive engineering, and countless man hours. Yea…