bakuchiku

Beer Bazooka

No words are really necessary to describe this…. it’s the Beer Bazooka (ビール バズーカ).

Bazooka 1 Bazooka 2

Can’t Get Enough Coffee

Back in America, I wasn’t a huge coffee drinker. Sure, I’d enjoy a nice cup from time to time (my favorite being The Coffee Bean). However, Japan has taken coffee drinking to the next level.

When I’m in need of inspiration, I reach for a cup of, well… Inspiration!

A cup of inspiration

Actually, that can is very cool, it really does reflect that hazy green when you’re looking at it.

And you have to appreciate the effort that’s made in this can’s design (same as above actually). Check out the description:

HTST Process - nothing makes a better cup!

The “Waist-Wave Can”, why couldn’t I have thought of that??? If this coffee can beat the taste of my current favorite coffee, which happens to go by the name of “Tasty”, then I’ll be a believer in the HTST process.

By the way, these cans are only 100 ml (about the size of a Red Bull), and you can get them in practically every vending machine that exists in Japan. In the winter, they even have hot versions. They go for 100 yen a pop. But being the savvy shopper that I am, I picked these particular cans up for 59 yen at the local discount shop (as Chase speculated, the bastard child of Walmart and Food 4 Less, if they happened to get together).

Not Dead Yet….

Just, you know, being lazy. I have a couple of posts that I’ve wanted to write, but I haven’t quite found the right words. Hopefully I’ll get past the writers block soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share a beautiful picture I took tonight (click on the picture for a bigger size):

YUCK!!!! What the hell?? This “thing” was on the wall of my apartment tonight. The very apartment I sleep in. What else could be lurking in the shadows? He measures about 5 cm (body). I don’t think I’ve seen a bug this big or nasty in my living quarters before. Sure, there have been some pretty big spiders, but they only have 8 legs. This thing has almost 30! What I really want to know is, how did he get in? My apartment is brand new (I’m the first to live in it) and it’s sealed tight. He must have snuck in when I opened the window or front door. Sneaky bastard. And what was his intention? Was he going to eat my food or dine on my garbage? Or even more sinister, was he going to crawl into my bed while I sleep? The HORROR!

I’m definately freaked out about the upcoming summer now. I keep hearing about the heat, the hellish heat. I’ve been spoiled with the dry California heat. Here it will be wet, very wet. And now the bugs are coming…. probably bugs even twice as big as this will be knocking on my door soon. Leave me alone I say!

By the way, I didn’t kill the bug. I had an urge to smash him with my shoe, but concluded that I’d make a mess I didn’t want to cleanup. So after a grueling battle, I captured my little friend and freed him far from my apartment.

Lastly, if you can identify this bug, please leave a comment! I’d like to know what I’ll be dealing with here. Thanks!

UPDATE: It’s a House Centipede (thanks Mike).

A Late New Year’s Rambling and Nagasaki Sightseeing

First, before it’s WAAAAY to late, let me just say あけましておめでとうごいざいます (akemashite omedetou gozaimasu). Or Happy New Year as some of you might know it by.

I’ve had a lack of updates as you can see, do to the fact that I was back in the US for the holidays. It was great to be back, but at the same I am glad to be back in Japan. I have a lot to do this year! And now let me get to the meat of this post.

Before the end of the year—actually before I went to the Aso Farm Land—I had a business trip to a ryokan (Japanese Inn) called Taishyo, in the small town of Ureshino, part of the Saga prefecturate. It’s located about 30 mins or so from Nagasaki. The town is famous for its onsen (hot springs). I was told that most of the houses there have their own personal onsen!

Unfortunately, my mind was elsewhere and I didn’t get any pictures in Ureshino. I had the Tom Cruise look going when he was in “Last Samurai”, with my yukata (summer kimono). And yes, men do wear kimonos on occasion!

But don’t fret! I did manage to make a trip to Nagasaki after the business meetings for a short sightseeing session at Glover Garden, and a quick bite to eat in Chinatown. I put on my tourist hat and snapped a few photos that I’ll share below.

First, a little history about Glover Garden: Glover Garden is an open air museum that displays buildings that were home to Westerners living in Nagasaki. Westerners ventured to Nagasaki in the late 1800s, when Japan finally opened its doors (with a little nudge from an American admiral) to the outside world. Some westerners settled on the hill where this museum is located at. The family for which the musuem is named, Glover, was headed by Thomas Blake Glover. His fame in Japan was achieved by helping take down the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Meiji Restoration, and by contributing to the industrialization of Japan.

The musem path first guides you to the top of the hill. After a short walk, you’re greeted with the former Mitsubishi No. 2 Dock House. Included with the house is a neat pond full of fish and an excellent view across the bay.

Walking up and down the hill, you get to see a variety of western style homes and peruse their interior.

This building was the former Glover Residence.

Besides the Glover Garden, I had a chance to take a quick walk through Nagasaki’s Chinatown to grab some lunch. Nagasaki is famous for their chanpon (also spelled champon), a Chinese noodle dish that has a ton of vegetables and seafood. It was delicious.

Finally, leaving Chinatown:

My next trip to Nagasaki I hope to visit at least the Confucian Shrine, Dejima (a former island for Dutch traders), and if I feel strong enough, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.

Oh, and what post isn’t complete without a little cuteness:

Aso Sightseeing

This last Sunday a friend and I went for a little drive, and ended up in the Aso Mountain area. As many of you know, I’m a car nut, and Japan is car heaven. But what am I stuck with? A Toyota Corolla…. yes a Corolla. Now I’m not really complaining, it’s a nice car and all (power windows all around, power fold-in mirrors, and the standard GPS navigation kicks ass), but it handles like a drunk possum. My glory days of driving a real car are over for the meantime, but the dream lives on through my friends. The friend in this case just got his hands on a brand-spankin’ new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Wagon, which is only available in Japan and only 2500 are being made. He offered a ride along, and I quickly said yes. Here are a few pictures of the beginning of the drive:

What started as a little drive up in the mountains ended up with us going all the way to the Aso mountains, one of which is a volcano. There was a bit of snow on the road but mostly slush. Since the Evo was still on it’s dry pavement tires, we kept the speed down. Even so, it was handling the snow with ease. Good thing too, because here’s where we ended up:

The summit was just the beginning. I thought it was cold, but bareable. The building in the picture above is the entrance to the Ropeway, or what we usually call a gondola. It takes you up to the top of the volcano where you can actually look inside the crater. Up at the crater:

I think we spent maybe 2 or 3 minutes up at the top. Why’d I leave so soon you ask? Simply put, the idea of frostbite was not so appealing! My fingers were actually numb, and I couldn’t even take any more pictures. Fleece + jeans + no gloves does not bode well for 0 degree F temperatures. Hey, at least I had a hat! Before hypothermia set in, we got back inside and I warmed up by a gas heater. Even after living in Kumamoto for so long, my friend had never been to the Aso Volcano in the winter. He found out why this day.

The last picture taking spot on our way back was at some sort of Cafe/Museum. Actually I can’t remember anything about it except I was hungry. But across the street was a large field and a few hills. I could see the kids having fun out there with their sleds. Brought back memories of school days cancelled because of snow.

The rest of my pictures are here. I’m looking forward to seeing Aso in the summer time. People visit the area to escape the hellish heat of the valley. I am NOT looking forward to the summer I’ll tell you that. I’ve heard stories. I am scared…. very scared.