In Japan the 31st of the month is "31 Day," which means that ice cream is 31% off from the shop that has 31 flavors (known as simply "31" in Japan). There are several interesting flavors, but in light of my looming birthday, I decided a sundae was much more interesting, regardless of the discount.
These little cubbies all have golden figures in them. Each is labeled with a number. After doing some research, I still don't know what these are. What I can say is they're usually inside the "no photo" area of the temple, but I found this one awaiting installation (or perhaps awaiting disposal) behind the temple so it was fair game. Pretty cool.
Walking back to the station, I stumbled upon these. At first I thought they may have blown over from the flower shop, but it's obvious these blooms were put here on purpose for people to enjoy. it makes sense to do if they fell off the plants anyway, and my friend and I certainly enjoyed them.
Gobou (ごぼう), known in English as burdock root, is an extremely healthy Japanese...vegetable. It's not very common in the west, so when it was fed to American POWs, they claimed that the Japanese fed them trees and sticks and it was horrible. What they didn't know is it's extremely nutritious. Since I find gobou fascinating I decided to sign up for the gobou batons class to see how to properly prepare gobou for cooking.
When you go to a temple or shrine and get a fortune (おみくじ), you should read it and tie it to a branch or a designated fortune area. By tying it you are letting go of the present and can get on with your future. Apparently a lot of people want to get on with things right now. Can't say that I blame them.
Posted by superspryte at 6:20 PM
The simple pleasure of going out for lunch on Fridays is really nice, and it lets me take photos. This place, La Betolla, has a lunch set for under ￥1000 that will definitely make most people happy. The first time I went they also offered a 200g pasta upgrade for free. I didn't take it, but for the hungrier of us it would've been a nice change from Tokyo portions.
One of our teachers noticed that I love the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My pen at work is a Hungry Caterpillar pen and I love the over-sized books we use in class. These are an early birthday gift from that teacher, because she always brings us small gifts. We keep telling her she doesn't need to do that but she seems to like doing it. Anyway, I love this set and keep it locked in my desk when I'm not at work.
Posted by superspryte at 11:20 PM
The concept of 1000 cranes holds significance in Japanese culture. By making 1000 cranes, you can make a wish. These cranes were made by the students at my cooking school for the Tohoku area. The cranes all ad messages inside too. It's more of a symbolic gesture than anything, but it was accompanied by a donation box.
Japanese burgers aren't quite like the ones back home. Some say it's because there's soy mixed in with the meat. Others claim the burgers are pork. Whatever the reason, they taste quite good. Still, being burgers, they aren't very healthy anyway. This is the "Thousand Veggie" burger, which means veggies and thousand island dressing. Wonder what a burger with a thousand veggies on it would look like...
Why does mascarpone make everything taste better? This soybean burger was quite tasty with mascarpone and sauteed mushrooms on it. The patties are excellent on their own, but even more so dressed up. Unfortunately, the place that makes these in Miyagi Prefecture was taken out by the tsunami, so they have become a commodity. Good thing my freezer is full of them...
Today I wanted to help out the Tsukiji market, since I'd heard that they had so much food and so few customers it was going to waste. Turns out they decided to close it after my source article was written and before I went (a span of two days), but it wasn't a total loss. I had some great tuna and saw these quid drying in the sun.
In my attempt to stimulate the local economy--and avoid long lines at grocery stores--I am eating out for lunch every day this week. Today was an avocado salad and cassis drink. The mustard dressing was exquisite.
Why is it that the Chinese gates in Japan are infinitely more colorful than the Japanese ones? Where Japanese beauty is typified by its simplicity, Chinese beauty seems to favor lavish decorations and colors. I'm still unsure which I prefer.
To help eliminate the need for rotating scheduled blackouts, Shibuya has gone dark. The billboards were all dark and many of the building lights were off. Believe it or not, this is about half the usual brightness level.
When walking home from work after the earthquake due to the stopped train system, I finally was able to take a photo of this building. For years I've been eying it from the train wanting to take a photo of it. Well, here it is.
This morning I had a late start at work, so there was time to have a breakfast date with Moo Cow. Since I'd happened upon some pancake mix recently it seemed like a good idea. Here's the resulting stack.
Later in the day was a massive and devastating earthquake that will affect us for months, maybe years, to come. I'm fine and my friends and coworkers are also okay. Please don't worry.
The shape of these curry cheese rolls distressed me a lot. In class, I was fussing with the quarters to shape them properly when my teacher suggested I not worry too much...she then showed me the next step by smashing one of the pieces I had been fussing with. Needless to say, no more fussing!
This special pot is called a tajine, although the only difference from a standard nabe (hot pot) is the conical shape of the lid. In any case, the sweet potatoes and mushrooms made for a delicious meal.
Today I experimented with making orange bread. Unfortunately, the four orange slices centered on the top of the bread moved to the corners. In the future I'll put a bunch all over and hope that they spread out. It tasted good though.
This morning on my way out I noticed a tree of plum blossoms. Before the coveted cherry blossoms come out, these bloom all over and confuse many of us. Just today I heard that there are also plum blossom viewing parties, although in my opinion it's still too cold to sit outside and look at flowers.
I prefer peach blossoms, though they're in early February and there's not a chance I'd sit under a peach blossom tree that time of year.
You know it's spring when you start seeing brightly-colored flowers all over the place. Honestly, there are beautiful flowers all the time in Japan, although it does seem like the plants save the brightest for spring.
During my lunch break I explored a new restaurant basement in one of the department stores near my work. This delightful little novelty café is on B3--yes, that means the third basement level--is completely Alice in Wonderland themed, from the food here to the playing cards attached to the umbrella locks. It's a place I'll need to go to sometime just for the novelty of it.
In Japan granola bars are few and far between and those that are sold are actually sweetened snacks that people use as meal replacements. Bars such as SoyJoy are hardly healthy enough and definitely aren't used properly here--I've heard of people eating snickers as a meal replacement because it's a bar shape and must be as "healthy" as SoyJoy. Like back home, finding exactly what you need can be a challenge so I decided to make my own post-workout granola bars.
The recipe comes from Zuzana from BodyRock.Tv and is definitely worth a try if anyone wants a healthy alternative to commercial protein bars and granola bars.
Today it was raining so I decided to wander the underground passages of Shinjuku station. The beauty of the inner city areas of Tokyo aren't at ground level, but in the buildings, underground, and on rooftops. It's a strange existence.
This is the facade of OIOI ("marui") somewhere near Shinjuku Sanchome station, or maybe Nishi Shinjuku station. They're not too far apart.