Flowers Moo Cow got at his last day at work. Flowers are rarely given as date gifts in Tokyo, just as leaving presents, table decorations and grave offerings. Of course, when Moo Cow gets flowers it means I get flowers.
My boss came over from Osaka to help with our training tomorrow so it fell to me to entertain him instead of leaving him to be bored and alone in Tokyo. Since he's vegetarian, I opted for the Brown Rice Cafe, a place that came with high recommendation. Here's what I had, served with a side of brown rice, some dipping sauces and a soy chai latte.
Went out for Israeli food again, but that's already been posted here and the photos didn't turn out how I wanted anyway. Need more practice with indoor lighting and using the white balance on my camera.
In lieu of my intended photos, here's the gate of the temple near my company's GHQ in Osaka.
As is often true after I travel, I didn't do much today. Here's more from the shrine in Osaka. I have no idea what the purpose of these stones is, but they look neat. maybe it's the style of the stone that I like so much. It's amazingly photogenic and old-looking. The ones in Tokyo never seem to photograph so well. Maybe it's an age thing.
Edit: I've been told that these are the donors who funded construction.
Near my company's GHQ in Osaka there is a temple that I love to take photos of. These are the lanterns that run across the front of one of the buildings. There's also a small historical record building / museum, shrines and other small structures throughout the area. It's not particularly large, being rather close together, but it's beautiful and never particularly crowded. I tend to go before heading to work if I do an overnight business trip to Osaka.
The Italian restaurant we always go for work has pretty good presentation. The food quality is good too but I always want to take photos of the food. Grapefruit gelatin, peach cream puff and chocolate cake with ice cream, lemon biscuit and vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce.
Sometimes it's amazing that a photo taken at night with the correct exposure doesn't even look like it's night. This photo was taken in full darkness by my eyes.
A lonely train station without people or trains, as viewed from on a bridge behind a chain-link fence.
I've always wondered if it was possible that the food handed to you at a restaurant would look as good as the advertised photos. In Japan sometimes they come close, but I don't think that's the case with this Waikiki Cobb Salad Sub. The taste was good but even after a little post-travel fluffing it didn't quite perk up to that level. Would help if the lettuce was green, for starters...
Of course, everyone knows the foods used in adverts aren't the foods you think they are. Mashed potatoes become ice cream, etc. But it would be nice if the images were kind of accurate.
Koshigaya Laketown mall has some interesting art hanging in various places. I wonder how often someone goes up to clean the dust off of them. The wall designs are made with plastic bottle caps and are sealed behind plexiglas. There's a message written in the bottle caps on the opposite side from this photos, but I don't remember what it says.
Today I got my hair cut and wanted to take photos of the inside of the salon but there were so many people I wasn't comfortable asking if it was okay. Maybe next time I'll show up when they open so I can get photos without people. Hmmm...
In a moment of super-awesomeness my Nikon was left at home and the bag I carried was not my usual one so the Tamagawa fireworks photos I have were all taken with my phone. Well then. Not too bad for a 3MP camera.
Unusual to say the least (to an American) and hard to find in Japan, I didn't end up getting the Roo Rump. Ultimately dinner became a seafood chowder 'pot pie' with a Bisquick top crust. It wasn't photoworthy though so the kangaroo made the cut instead. A careful eye will notice the lower right is cheesy bratwurst too...
It's festival season in Japan. Sure, there are festivals all year, but around now they are rampant and you can be sure that there are some within a reasonable distance of you every weekend so you can take your pick. Of course, some places like this little Japanese-style bar have lanterns hanging year-round.
EDIT: And maybe a month after this photo was taken, the lanterns disappeared with the shop. Sadly, many businesses are being hit by the new, slightly more frugal Japan.
We made rock cornish hens for dinner today; they were excellent. If you've never tried putting olive oil (or butter), garlic and rosemary underneath the top skin of a hen you're really missing out. Put a bit of white wine in the pan with a diced potato or two before tossing it in the oven and you won't be disappointed, but be sure to baste the meat if you don't have a lid for your roasting pan and if you do have a lid be sure to take it off for the last bit so the skin browns a little.
I didn't do much of anything today but there were a ton of nice photos from Hong Kong so instead I'll post one of those. Here I am "supporting" the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha, 天壇大佛) in Ngong Ping.
Before leaving Hong Kong we had dim sum one more time. Some of the stuff was completely unknown to me, but in this photo you can see chicken feet and tripe. The third steamer has shrimp dumplings and the other dishes...are a mystery. I dutifully tasted everything like a good tourist.
Nearing the end of our time in Hong Kong we were rather tired so we spent a bit of time at Moo Cow's family's home, where we ate some excellent fruit. The oranges were good but the dragonfruit was exceptionally tasty.
Food was of course a huge part of experiencing Hong Kong. This is one of the side streets at Tsim Sha Tsui station, also known as TST. Dai Pai Dong (open-air food stalls) are a popular place for locals to gather after work.
In an area we dubbed "Pet Street" there were many shops where you could buy fish and other pets. The fish and aquarium life were hanging in plastic bags on screens like this one. No idea how they handle the oxygen problem if the fish doesn't sell quickly.
There was a Shaolin show at Ngong Ping on Lantau Island just before we left. These guys did a lot of jumping, but they moved so quickly the camera didn't like taking clear photos of it. The area is famous for the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha), which stands 34 meters tall.
Festivals are quite popular in Japan. During the summer season lanterns like these are hung, painted with the sponsors of the local festival. The summer festival is usually the Bon Odori, or the Bon Dance. A group dances around a platform while taiko drummers beat out the rhythm.
Vending machines are often very bright, like this Yamanote line station vending machine. Most of the drinks in this photo are yummy. Except the coffees...but I'm biased against all coffee.
Ginza is a famously expensive shopping area, but if you know where to look things can be reasonably priced. This jewelry display was 50% off all the necklaces and bracelets and such, putting most things squarely in the 500-1000 yen range. Sparkly beads and stones are always fun to look at though, even if you aren't buying.