My first experience, YAKATABUNE

August 19, 2007

YAKATABUNE is a Japanese traditional night cruise especially for summer. Last night I joined in the cruise with my friends as my birthday present. It was my first time to ride on YAKATABUNE. The harbor is located 10-minute walking distance from JR Shinagawa Station. There are many YAKATABUNE companies, and we took FUNASEI last night. The cruise started at 17:30, and it cruised around ODAIBA and KACHIDOKI BRIDGE for 2.5 hours. Our ship stopped in ODAIBA for 1 hour during the cruise, and we had dinner then.

The dinner was more delicious than I expected particularly TENPURA. We could drink as much as we wanted, but I got drunk because of rolling. I went up to the deck to sober. All recent YAKATABUNEs have decks on the roofs. I could see more than 30 ships and hundreds of people. Maybe everybody was just like me. Acutually beautiful views in ODAIBA in front of me sobered my alcohol. It was also my first time to see ODAIBA from the ocean and the under side of Rainbow Bridge. Fantastic!!

Yeah, I didn’t do anything special for this summer. It was a special to me. Next event could be BBQ alnog a river.

YAKATABUNE

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TANABATA

July 5, 2007

A star, Vega, is known as Orihime in the TNABATA legend. Orihime, a daughter of the king of star, Tenko, is good at weaving and a hard worker. She worked too hard to fall in love; thus one day Tenko permitted to meet a guy, Hikoboshi, who is a cow keeper known as Altair. They fell in love instantly, and Tenko permitted their marriage.

They had fulfilling days. On the other hand they stopped working. Tenko got in rage and separated the two across the Amanogawa River. Orihime cried over everyday. Finally Tenko permitted to meet Hikoboshi once a year on 7th of July if the sky was clear, because if it rains, the Amanogawa River submerges the bridge for them.

However we an additional story of this. If it rains, birds come over and make a another bridge with their wings for the two.

It’s a very romantic story, isn’t it? It’ll rain tomorrow in Tokyo, so the birds will help them this year.

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Ochazuke

June 20, 2007

I described Ochazuke the day before yesterday on “Kamakura under the sun is amazing!“, but I’m afraid if you don’t know what Ochaduke is. Today I wanna explain little more about Ochaduke.

“Ocha” means Japanese tea especially green tea or roasted tea are suitable for the dish, and “Zuke” means submerging. As you can see on the below picture, hot tea over steamed rice is the way to cook. We usually put something on rice in addition to hot tea. What I bought in TORMARU is it. We call it “source of Ochaduke” or “Furikake”.

This is quite simple, isn’t it? However the history is deep. It started before 794, thus it’s more than 1200 years. Basically water over rice is not polite under Japanese etiquette. In Edo Era (1600-1867) slaves worked for their masters, and everything was managed including eating. They only had a few minutes to eat. Can you eat rice and other dishes in a few minutes? They need to save their time, and Ochazuke was the way to do it. At the moment Ochazuke was for people belonged to hard-core poor.

Now the theory changed. Ochazuke is even a poultry item. In my opinion Kyoto has an origin of Japanese food, and the taste of Ochazuke is sophisticated. You can cook at home, but if you have a chance to visit Kyoto, its Ochazuke is different.

Ochazuke

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Kamakura under the sun is amazing!

June 18, 2007

I drove to Kamakura with my lovely dog, because it was amazingly blue sky. We usually encounter major traffic jam on weekend under the sun. It took about 3 hours. I heard that there was an Italian restaurant, which welcomed dogs as well, along a beach, and I went there, but the traffic jam became worse. I ate lunch around 15:00 after all.

The name of the restaurant was “AMALFI Della Sera” close to Shichirigahama Station. The location was on the top of hill. I had to ascend the steep flight of stairs and waited for a hour. Many foreign tourists were there. I don’t know how they found the place. To be honest, pizza baked in stone grist mill was good, but others dishes were normal.However the scenic view deserves to go there.

I had one more purpose on the day. It was TORAMARU’s product, Ochaduke. This is very easy and tasty. Sprinkle Ochazuke on rice, and pour hot water or Japanese Tea (My recommended tea is HOJICHA). There are several kinds of Ochaduke, and I like Shibaduke and Nanohana. I’ve visited Kamakura once a year for 10 years. Every time TORAMARU is my purpose.

Hydrangeas are beautiful in this season, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures at the moment. There is a Japanese style cafe along the Enoshima Electric Railway. My next destination will be there.

Kamakura

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Which cellular phone are you gonna use in Japan?

June 11, 2007

Have you ever used cellular phones in Japan? If you come to Japan for business, your company may pay for you. You really don’t mind in this situation, but it’s quite important once you make a contract on your own. 3 companies exist in the market. NTT Docomo, au, and Softbank are those. I should explain each background to understand them.

1. NTT Docomo
NTT is the biggest telecom company in Japan, and it was state-controlled long time ago. NTT Docomo is a subsidiary of NTT. However its revenue exceeded NTT previously. I guess they had more than 70% of the market share 5 years ago. Now the situation is changing because of the Number Portability System. The share decreased into 54.45%. They dominated the market too much.

2. au
au is a subsidiary of KDDI, which is the second largest telecom company in Japan. My impression of au is that they’ve faced consumers. They knew NTT Docomo had big shares, and it’s hard to defeat them. What they could do was SERVICES based on price, variety of cellular phone, and customer support. Of course NTT Docomo had all of them, but something was different from my customer point of view.

3. Softbank
Softbank purchased Vodafone Japan in 2006, thus the company is well-known as Vodafone globally. They have 16.75% share in Japan. It was less than 10% before the Number Portability System started. Originally Softbank is not a telecom, but their business is multidimensional and related to software, network, and broadcast. Remarkably the president, Masayoshi Son, has a strong leadership. I believe that Softbank’s share will increase near future. I’m a Softbank user.

Generally au provides the cheapest price, and NTT Docomo provides the widest service area. Softbank is in the middle, but they have a special plan between Softbank users. If people around you use Softbank, use Softbank. Of course these 3 companies deal with pre-paid cellular phone, which is suitable for travelers.

Now what’s your choice?

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My friend’s wedding

June 3, 2007

I attended my friend’s wedding yesterday. Sometimes we couldn’t contact each other with some reasons, but I attended his wedding. Maybe we are linked by fate.

He is quite a peculiar fellow. There are several legends. This time he gave me the wedding invitation by hand 3 weeks before his wedding, and incredibly he told me that there was a party after wedding on the wedding day. Normally his behavior is rude, but people, who know him for a long time, can understand it. “Oh! That’s the way he is.”

Instead his wife is mature. I guess she controls his daring and capricious character well enough. Everyone attended his wedding might think so. A host introduced their meeting and happening. I thought that’s him!!

Attendants at the wedding were varieties of people such as age, job, nationality. Most of them were his wife’s network, but all of them accepted him. It’s not “like attracts like” but close. We should surround them and did.

The wedding took place at Park Hyatt Tokyo in Shinjuku. The hotel has the best quality in Shinjuku area, therefore dishes were amazingly delicious. I’ve attended many weddings, and dishes there was the best. Of course his wife selected all of them.

Here is a menu (You can see them on a picture from top-left).
1. Steamed white asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Bottarga and herb visaigrette.
2. Provencal vegetable and chorizo risotto. Sauteed langoustine with virgin olive oil.
3. Pan-fried striped beakperch with new onion puree and fried zucchini flower. Truffle sauce.
4. Plum sherbet with crystal fruit
5. Roasted Koyama beef sirloin and braised savoy cabbage. New burdock sauce
6. Coconut chocolate mousse and milk ice cream with mixed berries.

I graduated my elementary school almost 20 years ago. Many things happened on us. He became an interesting guy. Sometimes it’s hard for me to talk to him honestly. I don’t know why. Maybe we are too close, but now I wanna talk to him honestly.

Happy wedding

Weddig

Dishes at Park Hyatt Tokyo

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The forest of Meiji Shrine

May 31, 2007

This forest is 80 years old, which is not as old as we expect. The oasis surrounded by Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya worships the Meiji Emperor and Empress, and their furnishing goods such as historical costumes, drawers, books, horse carts, and others are exhibited at a treasure house.

the 700,000-square meter garden was an inhospitable country in the beginning because of the World War II. There was no forest and even trees. However over 100,000 trees were donated from all over the nation, and over 110,000 volunteers participated in the recovery of the land. Additionally a lot of donation were gathered for the garden. Finally Meiji Shrine was dedicated. These facts are described in “Three beautiful stories about the beginning of Meiji Shrine”.

There are 3 huge gates at Meiji Shrine, and all of them are made of woods. Whenever I enter the gates, I want to breathe fresh air due to the sanctity. Please remember that we can’t bring back anything even fallen leaves and acorns. There is an old emperor’s garden surrounded by bamboo. Everybody can go inside with an entrance fee (500 YEN) and see many flowers. At this moment more than 150 sorts of iris are beautiful.

IRIS

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