Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Keeping the evil spirits away.

My house is clean, clean, clean! Now we just have to rid it of evil spirits. I'm told I can do this with a Shimekazari. Oosouji is the huge once a year deeeep cleaning of your house, car, etc... I guess it has to be done before the new year begins.
The back room of the farmer's market I so love was filled with an array of these Shimekazari ranging in price from 200-yen for a tiny one in the photo below all the way up to a 5,000-yen more ornate one.

Most of the customers were buying the size above. They are all around 550-yen.
There were also many people purchasing Kadomatsu. These small, pre-made versions were all around 1,800-yen.
This was the scene outside where they were selling the various parts of the Kadomatsu as well as a couple of huge Kadomatsu at the entrance.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Kinkai off the main road.

This looks like New England to me... at least the New England I saw at the start of the Newhart Show. That church-like building is actually a group home in Kinkai. The traffic was at a dead stop on the main road south to Nagasaki, so we took a drive in country.
This was a little beach area with a pretty big parking lot. The fall foliage was beautiful.
A couple of starfish on the beach.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kit Kat Coffee Mug

A pentagon shaped coffee mug, Nescafe and a plain Kit Kat. I wish the package would have included a flavored Kit Kat, but beggars can't be choosers.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas at Huis ten Bosch

I wouldn't want to pay the electric bill at Huis ten Bosch this month! Seven million lights are on through the end of February.
People were posing with that lighted heart in the midst of this LED carousel.
We didn't even attempt to go up the clock tower that day. It was the Emperor's birthday, so the park was crowded.

The photo above and the one below were taken at the Huis ten Bosch Palace. There is a separate charge to get in. I personally thought that the Light Art Garden in the main part of the park was a better light show, but the Palace light show includes a concert. The lights at the palace are timed with songs by ABBA and Billy Joel amongst others.

Before you buy into Canon's latest "low light" claim for their Powershot camera, take a look at these photos taken in the low light setting. They looked fine in the view finder, but they look horrible once I downloaded them.
The light display this year was different enough to bring us in again, so if you went last year, you may want to return.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Christmas in Japan!!!

This video seemed more appropriate when we lived near Tokyo, but it's still very cute

Friday, December 17, 2010

Forget microwaves... we're cooking geothermally!

Hot springs have been used to cook food for thousands of years. So, why not take a trip back in time and head to the Obama Onsen Resort with a dozen eggs, veggies and some kind of meat for lunch?
Get a basket, check the time chart listed above the steam ovens and wait.
Out comes a delicious meal prepared by nature. Eggs take 8 to 10 minutes, potatoes 20 to 30. Octopus only takes 7 minutes... in case you were wondering.

Cooking chart above the steam ovens.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Japan's longest foot bath. For people and dogs!

This foot onsen is 105 meters of pure happiness. There are places to sit and just soak, but there are also reflexology bumps in the walking part of the onsen. You can massage your feet out of the water too. Your choice.

The Obama Onsen is a free foot bath snuggled into the Unzen area of the Nagasaki Prefecture. You can soak your feet while either gazing upon the ocean or the mountains.

It's free to soak your feet. They're open from 10:00 to 18:00 until April when they are open until 19:00.
The pet foot bath is at the end. On the other end is a place where you can steam your lunch.
The pet foot bath.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The other Obama

Obama town in Unzen City in the Nagasaki Prefecture on the land mass called Kyushu. I think I got that right. It is not the most famous Obama, it's not even the most famous Obama in Japan, but that doesn't mean they can't have a little fun with the name. Welcome to the Obama Onsen.
Would you like to buy a towel?
A close up of the towel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Unzen Obama Marathon

By marathon, they mean 20 kilometers. Don't get me wrong, it still hurts, but only half as much as a full marathon. This past weekend was the 34th annual Unzen Obama Marathon. In addition to the 20k, there were also shorter distances of 5k and 10k. All distances start at the same time. The picture above was as we were waiting for the police to stop traffic for the start of the race.

The race packet included a coupon book. One of the coupons was an entry for a contest to win something. The kanji was above my reading level, so I don't know what it was for. Another one of the coupons was for a bag of potatoes. This area of the Nagasaki Prefecture is well known for their potatoes.
The start, finish, and festival for the marathon all take part in Obama Marine Park... home of the 105 meter foot bath that opened last February. The very left part of the picture are reflexology squares. There are more actually inside the walking part of the foot bath. I took this picture after the race during the awards ceremony. There were more than 1,700 runners.
The festival part near the start line. They were hawking the standard festival fare such as knives, live turtles, and dried fish.
I wonder if the dried fish would be good protein on the run. They were handing out samples, but I didn't dare take a chance.
The 20k turnaround. The 10 and 5k routes were both very flat. Not so for the 20k! Near the turn around there are two massive hills. That means FOUR UPHILLS!!! I hated every minute of that. There is also a lot of traffic with not much room to move. There were times when I had to keep my elbows on my body so as not to hit the semi trucks or buses passing me.
One of the places were there was actually a sidewalk to run on.
The finish line. After you finish, you go to that red and white tent so they can print you out your finish certificate.
This view, while pretty, was near the top of one of those monster hills near the 20k turnaround.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ritz and Bitter Oreo Bars

Mozzarella and Basil Ritz sandwiches. I haven't tried them yet.
Bitter Oreo bar. It's really chocolaty! I didn't think anything could ever be too chocolaty, but this may be.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Strawberry (Kit Kat) Season again!

The Cake Kit Kats taste, to me, like every other strawberry flavored Kit Kats. It has thick, strawberry flavored, white chocolate. It seeemed like a thicker coating too. Blech!

I'm starting to see the real Japanese strawberries in the farmers markets now. They are so good!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mochi Pounding!

A farmers market in Haiki held a Mochi Pounding over the weekend. I've been to several, and while I like them, I'm more interested in the finished product... Mochi!
As with the other mochi poundings I've been to, this one allowed visitors to come up and try their hand swinging the giant wooden mallets onto the glutinous rice.

When the guys who are doing the real pounding are at work, it's a fast process. One guy adds water and quickly moves out of the way to avoid a lump on the head.
During the break, you could buy the fresh azuki (sweetened red bean paste) filled mochi and mikans.
Still hard at work.
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