Finally put up my Christmas tree today. Got a new 90cm tree instead of the 30cm one I had and sprung for pink and silver decorations since I've always wanted a monochromatic tree. Pink is my color of choice lately, plus purple decorations are harder to find.
Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans out there.
A friend requested I post photos of things I make. Today I went to a model lesson at a cooking school near my work. This was the resulting Christmas cake. The shiny sides are the plastic form that will mold the cream as it sets.
The lesson was fun and I plan to sign up so expect to see more Sprytely creations.
Sometimes there are fields in people's back yards in Japan. Even in less populous areas of the city fields take up random plots. It doesn't always make sense.
In this case, this field is exactly where it should be, but it got me thinking about fields.
Last night I went to Arashiyama with my host mother to see the illuminated autumn leaves.
While the brilliant orange and red are featured at every one of these, Tenryuji also has bamboo featured at the end. Sure it's not bright orange, but it looks lovely surrounded by the autumn colors.
Everywhere you go certain food and drinks are relegated to specific cultures. Wine is French, pasta Italian, fast food with the US, etc. Of course, this is because of the origins of each thing. In a place where it seems every other building is a restaurant, these sorts of connections are even more apparent.
In particular, English pubs are extremely popular. To me, this is surprising because I associate Ireland more strongly with alcohol than England, but apparently not everyone feels as I do. In any case, this is a common chain in Tokyo.
While Japan is extremely safe, it isn't without crime. The sign says "カメをかえしてください," which means "Please return my turtle," and is signed by Karen, a little girl. The empty tank has been there for more than a month...
In the country, sometimes flowers grow out of the rock walls surrounding homes or other areas. It's not as common in Tokyo because of the upkeep (and the general lack of this type of wall), but it looks nice and brightens up the rock walls.
Dinner tonight was homemade fettuccine with white mushrooms fried in olive oil, beef medallions with asparagus and alfredo sauce. It was good but by the time I was done with it I wasn't really hungry anymore...
Went hiking in Yamanashi today. We saw Mount Fuji from the summit of another [much shorter] mountain, drank spring water and saw the changing leaves.
After descending we went to see Saruhashi, one of the three most famous bridges in Japan (with Kintaikyo in Yamaguchi and Shinkyo in Tochigi). You can't see the fabulous construction of the bridge from this photo, but the trees make up for it.
Had a steak lunch at a small shop near the office today. It looked so good, but was overpriced and not as good as I'd hoped. And I smelled like grill when I went back to the office. But it was fun to watch the chef.
Went to Cheesefesta in Harajuku today. There's discounted cheese, presentations about cheese, tastings, recipe books, tools, etc. all about cheese. It's fabulous.
This particular cheese comes from the mountains of Switzerland and is served in lovely blossoms. It's called Tete a Moines (monk's head) and should be served using a special board and knife, although I'm sure it's possible to rig your own shaving device.
It's been 6 months since I started this photo blog. This photo is one I'm okay with being the 6-month marker. It's certainly an improvement over where I was when I started.
It's rare that I actually want ramen, but when I do I go to a specific shop. Kamukura is a well-known chain and it happens to sell vegetarian ramen. It's one of the rare places that doesn't use animal products in the broth itself so unless there's meat added afterward it'll be bonafide vegetarian ramen. The side of fried gyoza is a nice touch. The noodes and gyoza can be had for under ￥1000.
Fox tails are a popular accessory right now. Girls pay upwards of ￥3000 for these things sometimes, although these particular ones are a little cheaper. Most clip them on the side, which looks a little weird, but I guess it helps keep them from getting in the way when sitting down...?
Christmas starts early in Japan. Nobody knows or cares about American Thanksgiving so the Halloween decorations are torn down around noon (or before!) on October 31st and the Christmas decorations go up, the Christmas music starts, and the biggest commercial push of the year begins.
Keep in mind the way Christmas is celebrated in Japan is essentially the way Valentine's Day is done in the US, so despite all the music and push, it's a romantic holiday. It's also technically celebrated on December 24th, with cake and expensive gifts. You'll find the Christmas decorations torn down and tossed to the curb as early as midnight on Christmas Eve, replaced by New Year. Why? You might say it's because New Year is the biggest holiday in Japanese culture. I suspect is has more to do with milking Christmas and then milking New Year. Buy! Buy! Buy! Sell! Sell! Sell!
Merry Consumermas, everyone.