Sunday, May 31, 2009

Squid Ink Soda!!!

I've had it on tofu, but never in soda! This is Ikasu Ramune... or Squid Ink soda. I'm trying to find a friend (victim?) to try it. So far, no luck. I didn't care for squid ink drizzled over the tofu, so I don't have high hopes for this.

***Update***  I took it over to a friend's house and we tried it together.  My first thought was that it tasted like grape soda.  She thought it tasted more like Bazooka bubble gum.  I agree with her.  Maybe it's the power of suggestion, but it did smell like Bazooka.

This soda is made in Hokkaido area near Sapporo. Mmm-mmm!

I bought this bottle in a store in the Kawasaki area. It was closer to the Keikyu Kawasaki station than the JR Kawasaki station.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kawasaki on a Saturday

Just a shot on how crowded Japan is. This is in a walkway area at the JR Kawasaki Station today. We were on our way to another place, but it started to rain, so we ended up in a Crystal City-like part of Japan. Much of this area of Kawasaki can be reached via a series of underground hallways.
Stand on the left, walk on the right!
These were soooo soft! And they are made in Japan.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Suica and the Narita Express

If you are planning a visit to Japan, and flying into Narita, consider purchasing the Suica & N'EX package.

It is available to non-Japanese passport holders and is a great deal for Gaijin!

The people manning the desk at Narita speak English.

Monday, May 25, 2009


We went up to Kawasaki today in search of an elusive store in the Lazona mall that I never did find. What we did find was:
Banana and Apple flavored Oreo bars.
I think I posted photos of the Kawasaki Krispy Kreme, but here it is again.
A Proactiv vending machine... in case you're having skin problems while shopping?
Wafu Pizza? What the heck is Wafu Pizza? In case you can't see it, it is one of the pizzas listed on the right side.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Beautiful hike on another part of the Futagoyama (二子山) Trail

I have posted about the Futagoyama trail before... here. That time I started near the Zushi entrance to the Expressway. You can also catch this trail from near the JR Higashi-Zushi Station.

These pictures today are from the trail head near the Shinzushi Station. A big thank you to Tiffany for telling me about this way of getting onto the trail!
From the Shinzushi station, head out the exit nearest the end of the train line. That's the side opposite the escalator. Follow that road past the bus station and take the first left at the major road. Follow that road through the tunnel. Take your first left... there's a covered bus stop or gazebo. The road is a really narrow two-way road so be careful!

Stay on that road until you see the shrine in the picture above. The road you are on will make a "Y" shortly after that. Follow it to the right. There is a major road with a traffic signal. Cross that road. There is a business on the right. Immediately after it, take a right. It's a small little road, but stay on it as it curves by a creek (maybe a very small river) and crosses it.

Stay on the road by the wall pictured below. It will curve around that building and kind of meander through a housing area.
Keep going!!! It's 1.82 miles from Shinzushi Station to the trail head!Eventually, after stopping to double (triple?) check these directions, you will come to the gate above. This is the Futagoyama (二子山) trail head.
This early part of the trail was quite crowded with several scouting groups and many bird watchers, but it thinned out once the trail thinned out.
One of three or four big groups we came across in the beginning of our hike.
There were three spots along the first part of the trail with bird watchers. They had huge lenses and were sitting patiently with their eyes to the sky. There were also many kids with nets hunting for bugs.
I wish my photography skills could do this area justice, but the picture above was a gorgeous area! That tent was dwarfed by a beautiful and really high rock cliff. You can also see how you have to traverse this shallow creek bed and even hike in part of it. For this reason, I don't think this trail would be suitable after a rain. This place, where the tent is, is where the big trail ends and the more difficult part of the Futagoyama trail begins. It is a good place to turn around if you want to return to Shinzushi.
The arrow pointing to the left is where we came from. The arrow pointing to the right and up the hill is the trail to to top of Mt. Futago. That trail is mostly a gravel road from shortly after that. The top sign is the way we went today. You can take it to Yokosuka if you wish. You can also take it to Numama. Today we took it to Keikyu Taura Station. To get to that Taura Station or JR Taura station, you can follow the signs to Numama and eventually 16.

This colorful little bug, and others like him, were hopping around on the trail. This one just seemed to want me to take it's picture.

This dog was very funny. Do you see those water bottles by him? I see them everywhere and I recently found out what they are for. I guess when there are several lined up alongside walls, it is to keep cats away. When you just see one on the corner, it is for you to use to rinse where your dog has urinated. That's the story I heard at least.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Umm, you should do what... where?

We saw this tile in a park sidewalk in Tokyo today. The arrow pointed to a roped off plant area. I have no idea what the sign meant. On the other side of the plants, there was a waterfall.

Guys fishing at the park. Maybe they know what the sign was for.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hachiko... the legend.

We made a quick trip up to Shibuya today. Every time we go, we make sure to visit Hachiko. When I began blogging this entry, I went in search of the Hachiko legend. Apparently, they are turning the story into a movie starring Richard Gere.
Foot traffic was quite light this afternoon. It was still fun.
You can read more about Shibuya here. You may have seen it in the movie Lost in Translation with Bill Murray.
Swine Flu... I'm sorry the H1N1 (it's pronounced "hiney") flu, is no match for Tokyo :)
And... go!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Space Bread!

Ever wonder what kind of bread Astronauts eat in space? Keep wondering... I doubt this is it. We visited a museum and saw these in the gift shop. The Space Bread on the left is milk flavored and the one on the right is chocolate Space Bread. This isn't our first foray into Japanese Space Food. Check out the selection of space food I posted back in January.

We bought the chocolate Space Bread. If you have ever been to a convenience store in Japan, then you have seen this kind of bread before. It sell for about 100-yen (around $1). We paid 650-yen for Space Bread.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Silly Gaijin... or How I Spent My Saturday.

Above is Landmark Tower in Yokohama. We've been there before, but we were in the area this afternoon, so up we went.
Up, up, up, in Japan's fastest elevator. It takes you from the 2nd to the 69th floor at a rate of 750 meters a minute. The whole trip takes 40 seconds.

The amusement park in the area is called Cosmo World. The first time we visited the area, we wanted to give the Ferris Wheel a whirl. The Ferris Wheel there is one of the biggest in the world. Unfortunately, it was closed on Thursdays. Today we were just up for a quick trip in the area and we didn't even venture over that way.
Below is a picture of a enclosed room with an ATM machine... and the reason for the title of this particular blog entry.
We were hungry, and out of yen, so we decided to get some money from an ATM. The screen was entirely in kanji. Kanji that is way above my reading ability! I stopped two women passing by and asked them if they could help. The came in the room with us and tried to help. One of the women ended up calling for assistance on the phone attached to the ATM. Ultimately, the machine would not honor cards not issued in Japan.
We're done, right?
We all turned around to leave, but the doors were locked! Evidently, there was some security feature that locked us all in that tiny room. I ended up down near the floor banging on the glass until someone finally saw me and went for help. Several people were outside the room trying to get the door to open while we were inside doing the same. Eventually, an official-looking woman came and told us to hang on. She ran from the area and the doors opened a few minutes later.
I apologized to the two women who stopped to help and bowed my deepest gratitude bow. They were very gracious, perhaps because they now had a great story to take home to their families about how they saved some gaijin.

Friday, May 15, 2009

There are horses in Japan!

We just passed our four year mark living in Japan. I have only seen one other horse here, aside from as a menu item. The other horse I saw was brought to a festival for kids to ride on. Of course, I know they have horses in Japan and I even know of people who regularly ride. I just have never seen them. These horses were at a horse riding club in Yokohama. I think I was in Yokohama. They must be city horses.
I took these photos in Yokohama Station during a slow period. This isn't rush hour... that's why I took these photos. The first time I ever went through this station I used a whole bunch of not-so-nice words under my breath. As soon as you walk out of the ticket gate, you have to jump into the fast moving river of people heading the way you want to go.

Yokohama Station isn't even the busiest station in the area!
It's not unusual to be handed a pack of tissues. Today, I was handed a pack of flower seeds with a pack of tissues. Neat!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Kit Kats!

I mentioned Vinegar drinks in a prior post. These Kit Kats are flavored like those drinks. The Apple Vinegar one above is white chocolate. The Lemon Vinegar Kit Kat, below, is regular chocolate.
The vinegar drinks are quite good. I just bought an Ume (plum) flavored vinegar drink. I'm a bit addicted now.
These are Zunda Mochi Kit Kats. That's Edamame (soy bean) mochi (sweetened rice paste) flavored Kit Kats from the Touhoku (Northeast) region. They were passed on to me from a friend of a friend of a friend who lives in Misawa.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Street or Sidewalk?

We're going to play a little game I like to call "Street or Sidewalk." You look at this photo and decide if you would dare take your car down it.
Okay, maybe not. But I took a couple of pictures of vehicle roads that I, a concerned citizen, don't feel should be traveled. I have taken up nail-biting while driving some of the roads around here, but today I was on foot. Scary!
There is no good frame of reference for the road above. You may be able to get down it driving a Mini Cooper with no mirrors.

I am learning kanji, so I am able to tell you with confidence that this beautiful vista in Hayama is Food Mountain. Ha! I really need to buckle down and study more.
This is really called Sakurayama, Cherry Blossom Mountain.
To get to this hike, leave Shinzushi Station through the entrance nearest the end of the line. Follow that road past the city bus lot and make a left at the light. Follow that road past the Zushi Sports Club and take a left up a road that looks like it will lead you to a cemetery... it doesn't. That road turns into a tiny road that is really more of a sidewalk. Keep following it up and you will soon be on a beautiful trail.
There is an archaeological site up there as well. I saw a roped off area. I don't read enough kanji, nor did I take enough time, to know much about it. There were pictures of old pots.
This pesky pigeon joined us for a Mother's Day picnic on Zushi Beach. It was a beautiful day and there were many people enjoying the weather on the beach. Fuji-san wasn't visible while we were there.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Taiko drum festival

We stayed home for most of Golden Week. These photos are from a Taiko Drum festival in late March. A special thank you to my friend Monica for inviting us!
These drummers are all young. I think the oldest was 23 years old. Most of them were in high school. They were quite good and full of energy.

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