Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thin Wall Tube Failure

I guess this is lateral / torsional style buckling, but this afternoon I was biking from the train station to home.  During the ride, I hit the small curb between the street and sidewalk and bam, my bikes seat post failed.
Right now I have three bikes that I use almost daily, during the past year all three have had problems.  Typically flat rear tires or chain falls off, but this is the first bike to became a victim of fatigue. This happen half way home, I had to finish biking standing up on the peddles. I like to think it's because these bikes were designed for the Japanese market, not for someone like me.
Here is a reflection of the bike back before buckling began.
I will have to stop by my local bike repair guy, see if he can swap this post for a new one.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mexican Restaurant Recommendations

After about four years of careful research, I think I'm about ready to suggest some Mexican Restaurants in Japan, let's call this the top 5+! If you have a JR rail pass, you can visit all of these, no problem.

#1: アミーゴ・デ・アミーゴ
Amigo de Amigo is on the north side of Shin Yamaguchi station, the owner learned how to cook while living in Los Angles.  Below is the carne with corn taco dish, the beef is Japanese.  Great food. You can find it here: Google map

 #2: プラサ・デル・ソル

Plaza Del Sol is kind of difficult to find, it's located near Kumamotojo-Shiyakushomae station (near Kumamoto Station), but that won't really help, you really have to print the google map.  Food is great, below is the five taco plate, I guess real Mexicans work in the kitchen. Right here: Google map

#3: カーサ・デル・ソル
Casa Del Sol is located just across the street from Sendai Station, about a 5 minute walk from the Shinkansen train.  Very good taco's and carne asada, but sometimes they decide to just be closed.  So if you were hoping for Mexican food in Sendai but the owner is tired, to bad. Google map.
Taco's on Memorial day!
Nice flag.
Was closed on Sunday but should have been open!!!

#4: ミ〜ゴ
Casa De Me-gO cefe and bar is about a 10 minute walk from Akita Station in northern Japan.  Another place where taco's are really good. Google map.  It's called cafe and bar, but it really does not have a bar... But just a after thought  of a counter along a wall that is easy to overlook.
Two kind of taco's being served.  In the lower right hand corner of the photo was their nacho's, it was kind of messed up.  They made nachos the same way a Bistro would make potato gratin.
They even have a harf boiled egg on rice on the menu.

#5: Bar One

This is not far from Utsunomiya station, maybe 20 minute walk, Taco's are okay and the price adds up fast. Google Map.

#6 and #7: I guess this is a rolling-review, I will update as I find new places.

I'm avoiding recommending places in Nagoya and Tokyo, there are already enough reviews available on the internet.  Most Mexican restaurants in Japan have the same chronic problem of being overpriced, a typical taco cost over four bucks.  The best deal in Japan might be Shooters bar in Nagoya on Tuesday nights, taco's less than two dollars, of course, this is not a Mexican place, so it doesn't count.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rurikoji Pagoda

The city of Yamaguchi is about two hours west of Iwakuni by JR local train, it's kind of a quiet town known for a 5-stroy pagoda.  Unfortunately, on the day I visited was rain and no one shared the standard-issue Yamaguchi umbrella.  Everyone all over the city had these red-blue umbrella.
The Pagoda is about 2km from Yamaguchi station, and although there is a community bus to the Pagoda I did not bother taking it because it's time table does not line up well with the local train from Shin Yamaguchi.  It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the pagoda.
All over the cities are little models of pagoda's that match the famous one.
This statue was holding a mirror.  A bunch of people walked up to it and looked into the mirror, so I tried too.
 Looking up the path leading to the pagoda.
There is also a pond next to the pagoda, it is a really relaxing quiet place, even on a day of rain.
Outside the pagoda area was a really loud non-relaxing place, Yamaguchi-city.  This protest was passing through the center of town, everyone yelling something.  The police guy was kind enough to set the traffic light to stop.
Below is confusing Japanese, there are two train station signs in this photo, the main sign in the center and the another sign on the poll.  The main sign has three lines, in English they read: (top) chigumaya, (middle) guchiyama and (bottom) yamaguchi.  The sign on the poll, in English, says on the (left) yamaguchi and on the (right) yamaguchi.  That's 4 different spelling saying 3 different things that all mean the same thing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kintai-Kyo Bridge

Iwakuni is a town about 40 west of Hiroshima and is famous for a wooden arched bridge.  I have always wanted visit this town, the famous bridge is often used in travel advertising as a recommended place to go.
Finding the bridge was not difficult, there are good signs all over Iwakuni station directing you to the bus that takes you to the bridge. The bus takes you right to the base of the bridge.
This is a really amazing wooden structure, but unlike ninja houses and other Japanese wood things, this bridge does use nails to help pin it together.
Back in the day this bridge was for samurai only, but today anyone can cross for 300 yen,  
 Friday and Sunday was rain, I was lucky to visit on Saturday, very nice day.
I also saw the first signs of spring, March 3rd seems kind of early for plum blossom blooming but I have never been this far south in Japan this early in the year.
The bridge is part of Kikkou park, the part also contains Iwakuni castle, that looks down over the town.  You can see the castle on the top of the mountain in the third photo from the top.  I took a ropeway to get there and walked down the mountain to get back.
Below is the bridge seen from the 4th floor of the castle.
Inside the castle was a small museum that host information about the town around the castle and the castle itself.  Some of the exhibits showed old prints of the bridge.
 The bridge dates back to the 1600's.
I like the statue below, he must have been in charge of keeping the town clean.