Thursday, April 29, 2010

Doho park in April

It is really getting warm these days, but since it was often rainy in April, I didn't have many chances to take a walk in a nearby park. I usually don't have a time to walk around in a park, but when it happens to be sunny I feel the urge to bask in the sunshine and take pics. Anyways, please take a look at how green the plants in my city are now. 

This park is called "Doho Park", and it is run by my prefecture. The other parks that I've introduced since the last year are all managed by my city, but this one is an exception. We can play tennis, enjoy swimming in the hot pool that has a roof, and have a coffee in this park.

There is a section where we can see Japanese-styled small gardens. I think a garden like this was made in response to an increase in foreign population in my city. My city has more foreign people than other cities because of the laboratories where they work.

Do bamboos remind you of something Japanese? I just wish this was much bigger enough to impress you.

Most people in Japan would think of a tulip as one of the flowers seen in spring. When I was small, my friends and I drew pictures of tulips in spring.

From April to May, the trees are greenest and bear really fresh leaves. The building you see beyond is a gymnasium where you can play sports like basketball. The surface of the roof is covered with solar-powered batteries. It has had those batteries for more than 3 decades.

This is called "Yae-zakura" or eight-fold Sakura. You can see multiple petals, and this is the reason why those blossoms are called "eight-fold". We often call multiple things as eight-fold. This Sakura can be seen from the middle of April to the first week of May.

We often see this kind of duck called "Bariken" in Japanese. This purports to have come from Mexico, or Central and South America.

I thought it would be comfortable to read under those trees. Preferably a book by Haruki Murakami
The little brown house facing the pond is a cafe. Those who play tennis often take a rest at the cafe after sweating a lot.

This is a kind of camellia called "Yabu-tsubaki". It is said this flower looks so red in contrast to the green leaves. 

How green or yellow the leaves in your countries are now? I personally want to experience autumn with soft breeze in the Southern hemisphere in April. =) 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Excelsior Caffe in Akihabara

There is a coffee chain called "Excelsior Caffe" in Japan. It is a bit expensive coffee brand of Doutor, which I introduced in this posting. Doutor has been in business since 1962, but this coffee chain is relatively new and it spun off Doutor in 1999.

This shop is at the heart of Akihabara, so it would be hard for you to miss it when you come to this district. You have to come out of Akihabara Electric town Entrance and head for Kandamyoujin Street.

I bet you should be familiar with the automaker Honda. It developed a humanoid robot called ASIMO that walks with its two feet. And on the same floor the Excelsior is you can see "Studio ASIMO".

This one is supported by wheels, but it can actually walk without them. The acronym ASIMO is short for "Advanced Step in Innovative MOblity".

I was about to forget this posting was on coffee. I ordered a "Coffee of the Day". The price was a bit more expensive than a regular coffee at Doutor, 280 yen. The map the coffee was standing on is the 47th edition of AKIBA MAP. As I told you before, you can get this map at the information center near GAMERS. You can see who's giving out this map by clicking this video. She calls visitors to Akihabara "master" and "mistress".

The scenery I could command from the seat was so good. You can see "Yodobashi-Akiba" beyond the windows. You can get almost any electronic devices at the store. 

From the coffee shop you can see trains with green lines heading for JR Ueno station. The trains are called "The Yamanote Line" and they go round the Tokyo metropolitan area in about an hour.

Please take a look at the ASIMO and have a coffee on the second floor of Akihabara Dai Building. You would feel tired after dropping by every shop you like in Akihabara, so take a rest at the Excelsior Caffe where it's cool when it's hot outside in the summer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bando Taro

Today, let me introduce a Japanese-styled restaurant called "Bando Taro". It is a restaurant chain that operates mainly in the Kanto region, and there are so many outlets of the chain in my prefecture. I introduced "Hanaya Yohei" in this posting, and this one was a bit similar.

To let everyone know that this restaurant serves Japanese dishes, this restaurant had a very Japanese-styled exterior. Can you see the white cloth hanging beyond the gate? It is called "Noren" and people hang it when they're in business.

I said the inside of Hanaya Yohei was dimly lit, but this restaurant was much darker. I think old people would prefer dark atmosphere as they prioritize tranquility over splendor.

Do you know that our former prime minister was called "Taro Aso"? Taro is basically a name of an eldest son, but this restaurant has the name "Taro", because it also means "the biggest thing".

I ordered "Negitoro-don". Negitoro is basically minced tuna with sliced green onion. And "don" means a "bowl". This set cost about 16 us dollars. 

I tend to pour soy sauce with wasabi on top of Negitoro-don. I can't have raw tuna without wasabi. The yellow stuff you see in the bowl is pieces of rolled egg. And the black pieces are Nori .

This is called "Zaru-soba". It is basically cold soba, and we have this very often in the summer. It was very cold on the day, but you know, I like to have something cold even in the winter.

As a dessert I had this Japanese-styled one. The brown balls are rice cake with Kinako powder. Kinako is toasted soybean flour, and it is often sweet. And on its right you see Matcha jelly with Anko. Anko is sweet bean paste. This tasted very good with "Kokutou (brown sugar)" sauce you see on the right.

I ordered hot coffee for a change. I liked these cup and saucer. I think not all Japanese-styled restaurants have coffee on the menu. 

The price was a bit higher than ordinary restaurants, but as I was really hungry I needed to have much. When I arrived at this restaurant, I didn't see many customers, but as time went by it started to have many old people. Old people like something very traditional as in other countries, you know.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -6-

---continued from the previous posting.

This is Akihabara kouen (park), where people hang out and smoke. You're not allowed to smoke while walking in the streets of Akihabara, so smokers often end up staying here. To come to this park, you should go south from Showa Dori Entrance of JR Akihabara station.

An advert of "Kud-Wafter", which is a kind of Gyaru-ge (game). Gyaru means "young ladies", and in such a game, the male protagonist sees a lot of good-looking girls and falls in love with one of them. Konata in the anime Lucky Star was a huge fan of Gyaru-ge.

A shop callled "Mandarake" was displaying very old or rare figurines. It mainly buys rare stuff like old manga, figurines, anime DVDs, and CDs. 

There are many office buildings in Akihabara. It is close to an area called "Kanda", where there are so many companies. You can walk from Kanda to Akihabara.

This shop was selling "Neko-mimi earphones". "Neko-mimi" is basically an ornament that looks like cat's ears, and this one had earphones inside. If you wanna do cosplay and listen to music, this must be the one you should wear. To see what it is, click this link and scroll down.

These canned Oden are pretty well-known in Akihabara. Probably you want to have something cold in spring, but Oden is supposed to be very hot usually. I should try one of these cold Oden someday to see how it is different from the hot one

I saw Minori Chihara (the Seiyuu for Yuki Nagato) singing on the screen of Akihabara UDX. This building houses coffee shops, restaurants, and spaces for various events. To come here, you should come out of Akihabara Electric town Entrance and go east on foot for 2 minutes.

As you saw, this is the 6th posting on Akihabara. I think I'm getting addicted to this area not just because of anime goods, but because of the whole atmosphere. The round-trip train fare was about 2,000 yen (21 us dollars), but for me, it was worth paying. I'd like to introduce more things in Akihabara later on. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -5-

One of my friends is a huge fan of Akihabara, but he likes it not because he's an anime fan, but because the district is where young people hang out, and in fact there are many restaurants, coffee shops that satisfy the young. As I said before it takes about 45 minutes to reach this place, but since my neighborhood is a bit boring for me, we decided to visit Akihabara again. I was starting to wonder if we would come here at least once a month.

I could ride the Joban Line, but I preferred Tsukuba Express, whose terminal station in Akihabara was located underground. I had to climb a few escalators to get out.

Somehow, we had bad weather so often in April, and I think this was the coldest April I've ever experienced. You can see people wearing much on the street.

As I told you before, we had decided to have lunch at Go! Go! CURRY! . I had to wait for about 10 minutes until two seats were available. This is the interior of the restaurant.

I'm usually very careful not to gain weight, so I ordered this one named "healthy curry". I liked the taste of the curry very much, so I'd like to try another kind next time.

Anime fans know that K-ON!! Second season started this month, and this instrument shop had this poster at the entrance. The opening and ending song of K-ON!! were so good that anime fans would want to try an electric guitar or the other instruments.

Even though it was raining, people were having food served by these stalls. The left truck was selling "Kebab", which is a kind of Turkish dish.

I found another Kebab stall on the street. Is it now cool to have Kebab in Akihabara??  I don't know.

The eighth floor of this building is "AKB48 theater" where an event related to an idol group AKB48 is held almost everyday. Akihabara is now one of the places in Tokyo where events of idols and Seiyuu are often held. 

---to be continued---

Saturday, April 17, 2010


There is a pizza restaurant in the center of my city that is called "Shakey's". It came from the USA to Japan in '73, so it's basically not Japanese, but as I enjoyed having lunch there when I was a high school student, let me show what they offer. There are many outlets of Shakey's in Tokyo like in Shinjyuku, Ikebukuro, and Shibuya, so when you get tired of Japanese food you might be better off visiting one of them.

Can you see the number "780"? You can have an all-you-can-eat lunch for 780 yen (8.2 us dollars). There are other restaurants that offer a similar lunch, but such lunch is usually priced over 1,000 yen.

You can stay here until you finish your lunch, and you don't have to pay two hours' parking fee if you get your parking ticket stamped by the cashier 

Basically you have to get pizza yourself. Those pizza are served about every 10 minutes or so. They keep serving various kinds of pizza that are very hot.

One thing you should try at Shakey's is this seasoning. This seemed to consist of hot pepper, but it's not too spicy.

And people put the seasoning on potatoes like this. You can see spaghetti as well, and you can have all of them for 780 yen.

This pizza have some pieces of pineapple and chocolate sauce. When you're done with lunch, you might feel like trying sweet pizza like this. You can see salad on your left, and it's included in the price, too.

You can have rice and curry as well. I've heard most of the Americans don't care for rice and curry, so I wonder if they have this also in the USA. But this is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, and I have it at least once a week. I suck at cooking, but I can cook it well as the recipe is so simple.

It was reported in a newspaper that people are pinching pennies by having meals at home, and one of the dishes people like to have at home is hot cake. It's because some hot cakes would quickly make people feel full, and a package of hot cake powder costs less than a dollar. But I wonder if it's possible for Japanese people to keep living small until this recession ends. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cole Colle Cafe

Some of you might already recognize me as a coffee maniac. And in fact I tried all cafes in my neighborhood. And those include fast-food shops like Mcdonald's, Wendy's, and MOS Burger. I think the taste of a coffee is usually in proportion to the price, so I'd enjoy the coffee at Mcdonald's too, as it is priced at just 100 yen. And the second most important factor is the location of the coffee shop.

This cafe named "Cole Colle Cafe", is adjacent to the WonderGoo in Moriya, which I introduced in this posting. After reading anime magazines and buying some manga, you can relax at this place. I mean this location is very good.

You can have those pieces of cake besides coffee. I have to admit I like cake very much, but the downside of cake is that you wouldn't feel hungry at around 7pm when you're supposed to have dinner.

But if you come to this cafe for lunch, those spaghetti wouldn't make you gain some weight. As I said before, Japanese people have anything for a meal, and Italian dishes have been popular especially since the beginning of this century.

As you saw in the first pic, the weather wasn't good, so I couldn't enjoy the scenery outside the windows, but this "ice caramel cappuccino" was so good.

And one thing that really differs from the other coffee shops is that you can read some kinds of manga for free here. This manga is "Psychometrer Eiji", which started in '96. I remember enjoying reading this when I was much younger. 

When you're at an Internet cafe in Japan, you can read countless manga on end while you're having coffee, but you should pay money in accordance with the time you spend. To read manga for free, you should browse manga at a bookstore or come to this kind of cafe.