Mar 26, 2008

Akihabara 2nd only to Kabukicho

And we all know what Kabukicho is known for (no not that) - crime! Akihabara has risen to the 2nd most dangerous place in Tokyo due to the recent surge in weapons related offensives. The most common crime is extortion at knife point, aimed at the geeks who call akiba home. This has given rise to the term "Otaku-hunting". Another popular varient of this is called "maid-hunting" in which the legions of young women dressed as maids to serve the geeks are threatened until they submit to sexual assualt.

Also the geeks themselves are to blame for this rise in crime, as they may lose their sense of right and wrong when they are dressed in cosplay. There have been an incidence of one anime character stabbing the other in a computer shop. All this violence has been good for the weapons dealers however, as the otaku feel they need to arm themselves for protection. It isn't addressed if any gaijin touring in Akiba have been targeted.
Read the article here.

Mar 24, 2008

Milk flavor made me fat!

Well what do we have here? Why it's Tohato brand Caramel Corn snack! This is a lovely snack encased in a cute package. The snack itself is similiar in texture to the Cheetos brand puffed snacks (not the hard crunchy ones) and has a nice sweet flavor. The original Caramel Corn is supposed to taste like caramel, thus it's name, but I'm not sure how caramel it tastes as much as it tastes sweet. However you will not find a speak of popped corn in this bag, but you will find a few peanuts hiding in the bottom.

I had learned about Caramel Corn before I went to Japan so it was one of the things that I really wanted to try. I'm glad I did because it's rather adictive with its crispy texture and light (by my standards) flavor. I can easily eat the entire package by myself, but I always share (the peanuts) because I don't much fancy gaining a lot of weight! I also tried "Milk" flavor variety, which I thought was really nice and sweet, but Shouma declared it "Too creamy".

There are many other flavors and package designs on the official site which introduces the character that goes with each flavor. Sadly I only tried original and milk, but I will do my best to try some others when I go back in summer. Check out this page that has a very nice review of the Caramel corn package here.

Mar 23, 2008

Ancedote for Easter

Now really Easter and Japan have nothing to do with each other, but I thought a little story that is related to Easter would be appropriate for today. Well many people know about Peeps, they are a sugar coated marshmallow Easter treat that is shaped like rabbits, chicks, eggs etc. Well Shouma always likes to try American candies and I thought 'which is the most unpleasent candy we have?' - Peeps of course!

So I had my mom send a package of them over to us and I encouraged Shouma to taste one, all the while trying to hid my malicious glee. The look of horror on his face as the gritty sugar exploded in his mouth was priceless. He said that they were terrible and quickly pushed them aside.

Later that evening as we were watching TV I caught him eating a couple more peeps out of the corner of my eye.
"What are you doing? I thought you hated those things?"
"It's like a challenge." was his simple reply.

So why not challenge yourself and eat some peeps today! haha

Mar 18, 2008

Manner Police are on Patrol!

Taken from the netWell this recent article caught my attention on the Mainichi daily news because it had Yokohama written boldly in the headline, so I surfed right over. The basic gist of the article is Yokohama is now employing a senior aged crew of 11 manner police, which will soon be released to work on the subway's afternoon routes.

All the manner police will be escorted by subway attendants in case things get a bit hairy, and they have been trained in how to address strangers. The manner police are a mix of men and women over 60, with the oldest crew member at 81 years old. They are wary of the confrontations that will inevitably arise, but they are ready to get out there and start helping make the train riding experience more pleasant for everyone.

Some of the actions that the manner patrol will be policing include blocking the train doors, taking up more then one seat, and using a mobile phone. I'd say there are plenty of other "infringements" that they will be looking for, but as a past rider on Japanese railways I can tell you those three are the top offenders by occurrence levels.

Really the mobile use doesn't bother me when it's just emailing, but I have seen/heard people talking on their mobiles and yes, it's rather annoying. I think keeping people away from the train doors is going to be difficult. Many were the times Shouma shooed me towards the doors, explaining it was the most comfortable spot. And on a busy train, indeed it is. I think this is delightful idea and if they can pull it off I think it will have some benefit for the train riders and everyone involved with the train system.

Mar 15, 2008

I lived in Honmoku

When I was living in Japan I stayed in an area of Yokohama known as Honmoku near the Sankeien garden. Honmoku is a very nice and pleasent area centered around a main street with shops along it. The main attraction I would say is the MyCal complex. I was looking at photos of it today and I wish I would have taken some photos myself because there is a real luck of them on the internet.

The nicest thing about the location of where I stayed was it's proximity to the Mycal complex, It was really just on the block in front of our apartment. So it was really easy to go to the Saty supermarket, McDonalds (there were 2), the theater, or the department store. I don't know how many times I bothered Shouma to go with me to buy gashapon! And Saty, while usually crowded was just delightful after 9pm when they would mark down the parishables. I wish I would have learned about that a bit earlier on.

I wish things were set up like this around here. I can't just walk to the supermarket, I could walk to McDonalds (if it were worth it) but there's sidewalk only halfway. I know it's the American way to make everything as big and spreadout as possible, but really it's not convinient especially if you don't have a car. Well here's a nice picture looking down towards the Mycal complex!

White Day

Nice Low-cost white choco! Back in Feburary I blogged about Japanese style Valentine's Day, and now here we are a month later (so fast! I can't believe it) and it was just White Day on March 14th. White day was invented as a day for the man to return the favor to the women and give her some chocolate. Really it should be white chocolate, or perhaps marshmallows, because it's White Day and thats why the National Confectionery Industry Association made White day - to sell white candy!

Well Shouma sent me an e-card for White Day. The card was from a Japanese website, and whenever I tried to open the link I got sent to a "forbidden server" page. It was/is really quite annoying because it's the first time I ever got something for white day. Even if it is a super cheap e-card. I wonder if he thought about sanbai gaeshi, meaning a White day gift should have a value of about 3 times more then the Valentine's gift.

So I say to him last night "I sent you real stuff, real chocolate in the mail on Valentine's day, why did you just send me an e-card?"Answer: "Because you're on a diet." I know that White day was invented to sell marshmallows and white chocolate, but that doesn't mean you have to buy those things. At this point it could be anything white. I would've been fine with a gashapon, or some character good that featured the color white predominately. Oh well, there's always next year.

Mar 14, 2008

Cosplay Eikaiwa, Sign me up!

Imagine it, you are working your cushy teaching English in Japan job. But now imagine doing it while dressed up as Naruto, Haruhi, or Amuro Ray. Pretty sweet huh?

Well now you can really be doing it!
Tomohiro Suzuki is founder of the Akihabara located Cosplish, a cosplay eikaiwa. I can't imagine anything better for all those anime obsessed gaijin seeking a job. Not only can they live in Japan, now they can pretend to be their favorite anime chara. Maybe it sounds like I think this idea is ridiculous, but really I think it's delightful. They have every other sort of cosplay service in Akiba, so why not an english school? Otaku need to learn english too darn it! Cosplish is offering lessons like "practical" English, Otaku Eiken (geek English) and Moeng (cute english).

If you would like to read more, surf over to this Japan Times article.

Mar 13, 2008

Mar 12, 2008

I like steak, I like hamburg!

Mos Burger!So whenever I happen to ask a Japanese male what his favorite food the answer often includes steak or hamburg, or both! I've never been a real big fan when it comes to red meat, so I just generally don't include it in my diet. But when living in Japan with a man who everytime you ask "What would you like to eat?" answers with an enthusiastic "Steak!" it becomes a bit difficult to avoid.

The only time I ever had real trouble was when we went to eat at Red Steak House in World Porters in Yokohama. They really truly only had steaks, the only non steak (or hamburg) item on their menu was curry. Now at that time I didn't acquire the taste for Japanese curry yet. Suffice to say, it became a bad evening.

Well besides that night, I did become more adventurous after awhile. Of course I had to try McDonalds, that's right McDonalds! Ooooo! The first time I tried Japanese McDonalds was in Kamakura. I had chicken McNuggets, which was a bad choice but I got all flustered when I reached the front of the line and had to decide quickly. You see they didn't have the full menu displayed above the counter, instead they chose to randomly post it over some seats in the middle of the dining room. And then when I got my nuggets Shouma dropped them all over the table. Another bad evening.

So next time when I finally got to see the full menu at McDonalds I was able to choose something we don't have in the US - the McPork! Yeah it's not a hamburger but - Oh glorious McPork, how I miss your salty sweet tangy flavor, and your tender texture! But seriously, the McPork rocks and I recommend highly. I also tried the teriyaki burger, which was good as well but, come on, the McPork is 100yen! Its nice because it doesn't come with mayo, unlike most everything else in Japan but I didn't know it the first time I ordered. So I told Shouma "I don't want mayo." he replies "Ok" but just stares at me for awhile and asks "So what do you want?" Apparently he didn't know the word Mayo, but he has this terrible habbit of just saying ok or yeah when he doesn't understand. So I got frustrated and walked away. Another ba- you see the pattern??

Anyway, I ate the McPork about 5 times! Another burger I tried was the Mos Burger of course! This is a burger chain that is native to Japan and therefore worth a try. Mos stands for Mountain Ocean Sun (I've heard Sky also), I'm not sure what its meant to mean (if it means anything at all) and they have a interesting menu. Check out an English translation of their menu. I only ate there once, which in retrospect is regrettable, and I had the regular Mos Buger. It was a good burger, not great, but pretty messy to eat. Its really nice that they serve you on real plates and glasses, and the interior is pleasant as well. Next time I want to try a rice burger.

I had one other burger, which was apparently a famous burger in Japan, but I forget its name. Shouma's father and step-mom brought it back from a trip to Kawasaki. Well it was a burger with cheese, bacon, egg and mayo on it! I whiped off the mayo but I'm afraid to think about how many calories were in that....

Mar 10, 2008

Award for Tommy Lee Jones

From Japan TodayHave you seen the Suntory Boss canned coffee commercial series featuring Tommy Lee Jones? Well if you haven't I would suggest surfing over to YouTube and searching for them, it's just a delightful little ad campaign!

In the commercials Jones plays a coffee loving space alien who comes to earth to investigate it. In each commercial Jones is doing or working some traditional Japanese activity including working at a karaoke bar, as a host and at a onsen. He suffers through some hardships, but is always able to find a little good about earth and enjoys a hardy drink of Boss coffee Rainbow Mountain blend. I wrote a paper about the commercials on my Mass Media class blog you can read it here!

Well these commercials have just recently won the Fujisankei Communications grand prix advertising award. And I think they couldn't have picked a better campaign. Theses commercials seem to be very popular with many people - I've yet to hear a bad word about them. Good work Suntory and Tommy Lee Jones

Mar 9, 2008

My First Bento

Well tonight I put together my first bento ever, yay!
It did require a bit of work however. I made a fried rice and gyoza bento with hard boiled eye and orange slices. I spent a good hour or so getting everything together. So I really hope I don't find everything shifted around tomorrow haha.

I'm not sure if this is really the most low calorie obento, but I tried to keep it low by using less oil, adding less gyoza etc. I also made an identical obento for my mom, only I gave her more hard boiled eggs.

Also I had to go to Target and buy appropriate boxes, which weren't too terribly difficult to find. I bought some silicone muffin cups to use as dividers. I have a big list of other things I'd like to buy, and I'm not sure if I want to just buy them online or wait to buy them in Japan.

Sorry about the low quality picture, it was taken with my mobile.

Mar 7, 2008

Food Torment

Who likes being woken up by a picture of a melon pan with Relax Bear on the package and the message "I'm eating melon bread. haha!"

Well me thats for sure. ><

Stupid diet...
I wonder what you can get for collecting the seal on it?

Mar 5, 2008

Big snow

This constitutes as a big snow in Kumamoto, hehe.

Mar 4, 2008

Write up: Hakkeijima

Well this is my first writeup for my trip last Nov-Dec. Its rather late, but I just didn't seem to be in the mood to write any blow by blow recaps of my travel adventures. I got in the mood for it after visiting some other very nice blogs that featured many pictures and nice explantions of their activities. I became nostalgic for Japan and decided to go ahead and do some write up even though they are awfully late haha.

First up is my trip to Hakkeijima island with Shouma. This island is basically a large aquarium/amusement park. It was terribly expensive, as many things are in Japan, we both purchased day passes for about 45$ which allowed us to enter all attractions in the park. I mean without the pass riding the rollarcoaster once would have cost us 1000yen each o_O;; Basically there were about 5 rides, an aquarium, a touch aquarium and a dolphin house where you could walk through a large tube and enjoy watching dolphins swim all around you.

First we had to ride the bus to the train station. As always the bus was clean, quiet and on time.

Looking out the window of the bus. This is a Kaiten Sushi place, which I passed many a time but never got to eat there even though I really want to j-j
From the bus we got to the Negishi train station and took a train so a private station where we boarded a train that had no drivers. It was a rather nice train but it was really well heated. We rode that until we got to the stop for Hakkeijima.

This is the station stop at Hakkeijima, you can see the exit on the left side of the pic, and a hint of the combini attached to it on the right side.

Looking out from the station was a lovely view.

First we had to walk down a long rode way to get to the gates of the aquarium, then we wandered around in main plaza before heading over to get the tickets. We argued about which type to buy before settling on the most expensive. We then walked past the tallest drop tower ride in the world? in Japan? which Shouma boldly told me he would force me to ride. We then entered the Sega Arcade they had there and I got to do puri kura for the first time! It was so fun but Shouma decided to tell me I had to pick 4 of the pictures with only about 3 seconds left, so we ended up getting only 1 pose for 5 bucks ><**

Then we went into the aquarium. They had lots of wonderful animals I had never seen before, it really was a lovely aquarium. The pegiuns were very popular!

This was a really neat escalator that went up through a large aquarium full of sting rays.

After the aquarium we went and walked trough their mall sized complex of independant gift shops. They also had a gashapon arcade and 100yen shop. I raided both, haha! I got a mirror and cute towel from the 100yen shop, I think I got something else, but I can't remember... After that we ate at a place that advertised as being an all-American restaraunt. I got a cheese pizza, it had a very flat, thin crust, but wasn't very good. Shouma was a bit disappointed in his restaraunt choice after he learned there were a couple all you can eat buffets there.

Then we went to the Dolphin house and rode some rides. We rode the rollarcoaster twice which was one of the least frightening ones I ever rode, but it was fun. Of course Shouma told me not to scream alot so he didn't become embarrased, but he ended being the one who screamed. Ha. We also rode a little viking ship, however it didn't do 360 and was rather boring. However it seemed to elicit many a squeal from the Japanese patrons, including Shouma. He also chickened out of riding the drop tower, thankfully.

We ate some crapes from a stall next to the drop tower instead, they were good I guess. The last thing we did was go to the touch aquarium. We got to pet dolphins, a small whale, sharks and sea-cucumbers. We had to wait a long time to touch the dolphins and whale because they really didn't seem to want to be touched. So we stood there waiting and waiting and Shouma kept getting sprayed by the whales when they came up to breath. Touching the little sharks was the most fun, but Shouma was kinda squeezing and upsetting them. By then it was dark and cold, so I got a folder and super cute cellphone charm and we headed home.

This was a tower ride we rode between rollarcoaster rides. It shows a lovely 360 view of Hakkeijima.

Mar 3, 2008

Kinda like chemical warfare

The most recent event in the Sea Shepard Conservation Society vs. the Japanese whalers has a bit of a terrorist like feeling. Today the SSCS harrassed the whalers by throwing bottles of rotten butter and slippery oil on the decks of their ships. The rotten butter, besides causing a terrible lingering stench, also releases the chemical Butyric acid which is an irretant to the skin and eyes.

A crew member of the whaling vessel and 2 coast guard officials complained of having stinging pain in their eyes. Japan's Fisheries Agency plan to file complaints with Australia and the Netherlands (SSCS fly a Dutch flag). Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson says they didn't do anything harmful since the Butyric acid hit actually hit the crew member's bodies.

Read the article here.

Personally I feel this is a rather childish and nasty way of protesting. I don't think it does much more then cause some minor bodily harm to the crew members. I am in no way supporting whaling, and am I also in no way supporting the Sea Sheppards antics.

Also it seems that a lot of western people think that the Japanese are a whale hungry, blood thristy, ignorant bunch of thick-headed freaks. Most people do not consume whale meat, it's not a commonly available item. There are even Japanese who oppose whaling! Oh shock and awe! I think Shouma basically summed up Japanese feelings towards/reasons for whaling - they whale certain types of whale that are big eaters of fishes Japanese commonly eat. So less whale equals more fish. It's not kind to whales, but it does hint of some sort of logical thought patterns.

However, nothing is going to be solved by cheap chemical warfare, I'm afraid

Mar 1, 2008

Art Museum Trip

Well one of our local art museums around here had a Japanese art exhibit as their traveling/special exhibit. I went with my mom to check it out, sadly it was mostly screens and kimono. The kimono were lovely, don't get me wrong, I was just expecting something a little more well rounded I guess.

Also annoying were the sheer amount of older people, who didn't seem think it rude just to get closer and closer then entirely push me out of the way. I hate how you have to walk all slowly through a museum and when you get to something you'd like to look at for a few moments you quickly get shoved aside. I just kept thinking about the Edo-Tokyo Museum and how much fun that was. I wish I could go there with my mom.