Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sendai Party

This past weekend I took my second trip to Sendai, about 2.5 hours north of Tokyo by bullet train. Last time I came here, the idea was to try Zen Zan, this time my main motivation was eat to gyutan (a Japanese dish similar to Mexican lengua). That plan worked out well, found dinner / no problem, but I was surprise to learn it was party weekend. People dancing all over the place and enjoying Hanami... Hanami is about a month after Nagoya party, good timing!The first show I came across was these guys wearing mask, playing drums and scaring little kids.It was actually kind of violent, they would play drums and without warning stop, run up to little kids and yell at them. Some kids cried.The second group seem to be just some random kids at the hanami party. Kind of doing flash mob circle ninja dance, it made me kind of wonder if this is something everyone learns. Who else in the park could just jump in, like country line dancing in Tennessee.Hanami was really fun, I left back for Utsunomiya shortly after taking the photo above. Here is a video of people dancing in Sendai:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Weird Weather

For the past week or so I have been staying in Utsunomiya, about 45 minutes north of Tokyo by bullet train. This past Friday, I went with a couple of friends for dinner and after finishing exited the restaurant into a snow storm. Kind of crazy for mid-April. Being north of Tokyo, it is fun to travel on the weekends, because more north of Tokyo is difficult to get to from Nagoya. This past Saturday morning, I decided to go to Sendai again, traveling north on the bullet train.You can see above, this is a few minutes from Utsunomiya, there is some snow but the sky is staring to clear, not to bad. And this was about it for the next 30 minutes, rice fields and mountains. This was it till the train passed through a large tunnel near the city of Kiroyama. I assume there was a gain in elevation, here is what we saw on the other side:Everyone on the train made a collective gasp, shocked to see all this snow. It was kind of weird, between the first and second photo was about 4 minutes of bullet train travel.It felt like the middle of winter, and I don't think we are really that far into the mountains at this point. Below is the train stopped at Kiroyama station.I guess fox news was right, mid-april-semi-tropical-island-cold-outside, global warming is a hoax.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I'm not sure if capitalism the correct term, but this is similar to when Starbucks moves into your neighborhood and all your favorite local coffee shops close...Welcome to Nagoya station cake shop Club Harie, for the last two years (since I moved to Nagoya) there was line, daily, at least 45 minutes long, sometimes over an hour. They make this Japan-style round layer cakes, you can watch the whole process as you wait in line. The cakes are really good.Today the line is less then 15 minutes long, more like 5 minutes. This wait-in-line changed about 4 weeks ago, the line moved around the corner to the right when Nagoya got it's first Krispy Kreme! Everyone in the photo below is in line for Krispy Kreme.For a few weeks before the store open, Krispy Kreme was behind Nagoya station advertising and handing out free doughnuts, making everyone really excited. But I never expected this would happen. I have spot checked this a couple of times over the past month, and every time the line was over a hour long. There are also 5 or 6 security guards doing crowd control and asking me not to take photos, but they are okay to ignore. People waiting in line gets free doughnuts too. Twenty-four doughnuts is about USD$18.American fast food is popular in Japan, not far from this Krispy Kreme is the Nagoya station McDonald's, they also has a 20 minute wait-for-lunch too. I guess this is similar to the lines that formed when the Prius shows up in Seattle, but someone should let everyone here know this food is really not healthy.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


This is similar to a post made back in 4/2008,; same park, same event but just as fun so I thought I would try again. The name of this party is hanami, the Japanese tradition of enjoying the cherry blossom during spring time...But not knowing any better, you might think this is a really good reason to meet friends in a park to drink and enjoy good food under trees. And people in Nagoya seem to be pro's at this.This party is at Tsurumai park, one train station away from my apartment. Tsurumai is a rather large park in central Nagoya, but it still has limited space. This party runs daily for about 2 weeks, the night before as one groups leave, another person shows up to claim a spot. Then that person has to camp out on a blue tarp till the next day when all the friends show up to party.Here I am having a super dry asahi beer. We also had a wide verity of beer on hand too.We also had a homemade bento box:Everything in that green box was really good.

These kind of festivals bring out some really interesting people. The prize for best John Lennon impression goes to this guy right here:He played a could of Beatles songs and some songs in Japanese too.This was the best use of a gas generator, this group used it to power there kotatsu table. There is an electronic heater in there keeping there legs warm.I would of join, but there was no room at the table. And of course, best food goes to cucumber on a stick.

Lincoln Continental

I came across the craziest thing yesterday on my walk through kurumamichi to the JR Chikusa train station, a early 1970's Lincoln Continental, probably made in Wixom, MI.The car was in really good shape, I'm sure between when it was made and now it has required some periodic maintenance, but here in Japan, I have no idea how you would find parts for this thing. It's not like you can drive to a junk yard fill of Lincolns on the outside of town.The plate says: Nagoya 33 Na 38-58.