Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back to blogging...

I apologize for no new posts in a few weeks. I came down with pneumonia and didn't have the energy to keeps things going. Everything is  getting back to normal so I hope to resume writing in the next week or so. Aloha!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Daihatsu DeckVan and HiJET

This vehicle is about twice as long as a bicycle and on about 6ft high. You can seat 4-5 people and still stow some stuff in the back. These minitrucks, as they are known in the US, cannot be registered as trucks. They can be registered as ATVs in some states which allows for road travel.
State governments often cite safety concerns for the reason these trucks are not street legal. The US automakers also prefer to sell their products for $20k rather than to allow these trucks to be had for $5k. These trucks have a 3 cyclinder engine. They do about 65mph and get great gas mileage. I read a quote on a Daihatsu forum that said, ``minitrucks are street legal in every country in the world, but the land of the free``.
A final thought about safety. In my opinion, this truck offers more safety than any motorcycle on the road.

Japanese arcade

Tekken 6... The Tekken series is classic.

A little Gundam game. Probably for the under 10 crowd.

This Taiko game has been popular is Japan for years. Taiko is a traditional drum like the ones pictured. If you stay to the beat, you move ahead in the game.

These are family arcades in shopping malls. I haven`t found the ``Blow your whole paycheck`` type arcades yet, but we are heading to Tokyo soon so...

T-Rex Arcade Coin Game

The Dino King III at a mall in Ashiya. This what the family arcade has to offer. It is a token game where you shoot tokens in hoping that your coin will knock down other coins for you to collect. The ultimate goal is to get enough tokens to buy a stuff Hello Kitty or Pokemon doll.

Nothing brings a family closer together than a Sunday afternoon huddling around a game of chance.

The Honda Super Cub

The Honda Super Cub. Manufactured since 1958. 60 Million have been sold world wide making the best
selling motorized vehicle in history.

A 49cc, 2 valve, 4 stroke, air cooled scooter. You can carry 4 liters of gas or 1.1gallons. You can fill up for about $4in the US! Top speed is about 50mph or 80km/h. I snapped this shot at a Koban,  or police box, in Sannomiya. The police use these to patrol the streets and sometimes in speed traps. Takeout food and mail are delivered on Honda Super Cubs. These things are basically everywhere. A friend of mine had a Super Cub for while. He paid about $800 for it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A huge, local, organic strawberry, covered with a sweet azuki bean paste, then wrapped with mochi which is like a rice dough. I like a strawberry that takes three bites to eat and leaves juice all over your hands, chin, and shirt.

Japanese design

Less is more in Japan. A single pine tree surrounded by small pebbles will serve as the landscaping for an entire yard. The focus is the pine tree. When you sit at stare at a single tree standing just two meters tall you notice every detail of the needles and the bark. You see every curve of every branch and you appreciate what the tree brings to the space. The photo above is momiji or Japanese maple(Acer Palmatum). This has always been one of my favorite trees. When I was young, there was a Japanese maple in my neighborhood that had long limbs that stretched out in every direction. As kids, we would crawl out on a branch and lay down; hovering over the sidewalk. People would walk right under us and not even know we were there. It was great fun for many years until one day the tree was cut down. We were pretty bummed for a few minutes, but we found other trees to climb up; we never found another tree we could climb out.  Climbing up a tree was like climbing up a ladder; climbing out on the limbs of the maple was almost like flying. I have seen many huge maples here in Japan, but none seem to be as big as the one we climbed as kids.

Here are some cool designs I have seen in the last couple of days.

A simple strech of lavender. The smell was so strong I wanted to lay down for a nap.

A nice entry to a home.

Keep it simple.

Harborland. A mall on Kobe.

A little bit of old and new. Rice fields in front of cake mansions. A mansion is a way of describing larger apartments. They look like square cakes, hence the name; cake mansion.

A nice bridge with cool lines we crossed on the way to Arima.

The river through Arima.

Arima is the oldest hot spring retreat in Japan. They love the water in this town. They bottle it. They bathe in it. They turn it into beer.

The upper part of the river.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sushi, Garden, and Sake

We went to dinner at a kaitenzushi restaurant. You may know it as conveyor belt sushi.

This place was great! The most popular dishes cruise down the belt. You can special order your favorite dishes by touch screen at the table.

This is matcha, or green tea powder, that is on every table. You mix a small amount with hot water from the spout on the table to make your own tea. I love this stuff. I drank about six cups. I don`t think this system would work in the States. Someone would burn themself on the hot water and sue the joint.

Very tender pork simmered with sake and soy sauce.

Ika or squid. Maybe cuddlefish.  Very soft and easy to eat. We had a few plates of this one.

A special pork dish heading down the line.

When you are finished, you press a button at your table and a staff member comes over to count your plates. She prints out a check tableside and you pay at the front door.

Naturally, we stopped by a yasai-ya (vegetable shop) on the way home to get a few things for breakfast.

This is the butter we keep at the house.

This is chirimen. A small fish, dried, and slightly salty. It is nice to put on a salad.

A water lily we found near the house.

These are some flowers we snapped shots of at a community garden. Any help identifying these flowers would be appreciated.

Kiku-masamune. A famous sake brewery in Nada. We went to the museum in Sumiyoshi.

These are a few sake barrels they had in front of the museum. The original brewery was founded in 1659.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Popular form of transporation

Two kid seats and a basket for the groceries. This is a common way for Japanese moms to get around the neighborhood. The Costco parking lot was also packed with bikes.... I never thought of taking a bike to Costco.

Ramen near Sumiyoshi

Mokkosu. Shoyou ramen, soy sauce based soup.

This soup was loaded with fresh scallions and thin sliced pork. I loaded it up with white pepper and garlic.

I couldn`t identify this car, but it was loud. The dude driving took off like he was racing somebody.
UPDATE: So I remember the logo on the back of this car. It is a TVR. These cars were produced in England in limited quantities.

The TVR. A pretty sweet car.