Friday, December 30, 2011

Akihabara at year-end

Yesterday I went to Akihabara to do some shopping. And since my friend had a birthday, I had made up my mind to treat him to a nice lunch there. I visited Akihabara at year-end of last year too, but it's because I feel like my year doesn't end without seeing the anime area.

 There is a multiple-storied building in Akihabara that is owned by one meat company "Mansei(万世)". I've seen this building many times before, but hadn't known what kind of food they would serve until I checked its website. 

 This is what I treated my friend to. It looks like an ordinary hamburg steak, but the price was much higher than the ordinary and the steak was really juicy. My friend seemed to be satisfied and that made me happy too. 

 While I was walking along the street of Akihabara, I saw this cat dancing. The man on her right was screaming that this was the only opportunity where I could take pics freely. Not too sure what this cat is though. 

  Are you already familiar with who Nana Muzuki(水樹 奈々) is? She is going to sing in the TV show "Red and White Singing Contest" tomorrow. The singers who were chosen by the show are respected as decent and talented ones. Nana is basically a Seiyuu (voice actress), and it is rare for a Seiyuu to be chosen. But she has such an incredible talent as a singer too.

 You know, Akihabara is where you can see many anime things whether they're old or new. This robot is called "Gigantor", or 鉄人28号. I know a bit about this anime, but I guess it was broadcast in the '70s or before. 

 And another thing I saw was these figurines. It's hard to recognize, but Haruhi is wearing the red armor at the left side of the back row. A few years ago, the anime "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" was the most successful anime in Japan.

 After doing the shopping and walking around, we had coffee at this "VELOCE". One cup of coffee was about 2 Euros.

And when I was walking in the station on my way back, I saw this Lucky Star poster that was advertising the 9th volume of the manga. It is only in Akihabara that you can see this kind of big anime poster.

I saw several foreign people, but according to online news, the number of foreign tourists is still far below the average of last year. It's warmer in Tokyo than most cities of Europe, so you'd feel comfortable if you come to Akihabara in winter. :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bruno (A bakery)

I wanted to write something about Christmas, but basically Japanese people celebrate it just in a secular way, and it's often merely an opportunity to give presents to your important people. Today I came to the biggest mall in my city to have lunch.

I could have taken pics of nice illuminated trees in the night, but please put up with this Christmas tree that was in the center of the mall.

And the place I had the lunch is called "Bruno". It's a bakery and you can sit and eat the bread you bought in there. 

I think this bakery has more kinds of bread compared to the others in my city. I don't eat sweet bread for lunch, so this Bruno will be my favorite from this time on. 

I had two breads. One was a croissant with boiled prawns, and the other had chicken and mushroom on the surface. Mayonnaise was on top of them. This lunch was good enough for Christmas. 

It was really cold like 7 degrees Celsius today, but it usually doesn't snow even on the night of Christmas in the Kanto region.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ameyoko and then some

I haven't been to Tokyo in a while, and it was partly because I went on a trip to Taiwan. But living in the small city makes me really bored on weekends, so my friend and me went to Tokyo today.

 I bought some CD's in Ochanomizu, but my friend wanted to buy new shoes. So we came to Ameyoko where you can buy rarely seen shoes for less money than online. You can reach the Ameyoko street from Okachimachi station.

 This is the signboard of the street "Ameyoko". It's short for "Ameya Yokochou". Though I'm Japanese I don't know its meaning. 

 In December this street gets really crowded, because people come here to buy foods for New Years Day. This shop was selling "Kazunoko", which is herring roe. We eat it because it's the symbol of prosperity of our descendants. "Kazu" in this case means "a number of...". 

 You can buy clothes very cheaply as well. As you can see the fleece was sold for 891 yen or about 11 us dollars. Isn't it cheap? The Katakana reads, "London Spor(ts)".

And this is the shoe shop where my friend bought a pair. I think this "ABC-MART" is the most well-known shoe shop in Japan, and it has many outlets in my city as well, but like I said if you want rare shoes, you should visit the ones in Ameyoko. 

These are some examples of the shoes on sale. 

After the shopping, we wanted to have a break. So we had coffees at this Doutor, which we happened to find in Ameyoko. 

It was really cold, but I was sweating from moving around in Tokyo. So I had this iced coffee. We left this shop soon because there were too many smokers. 

After visiting Ameyoko, we came back to Akihabara to have dinner. It seems the third season for "Shakugan no Shana (灼眼のシャナ) " is going to be available as DVD's. 
I don't mind spending much money for dinner, but you can have a good meal for a little money in Akihabara. This restaurant "Katsuya" sells a Katsudon for only 490 yen, or 6.3 us dollars. You can click this link to see what Katsudon is.

The one I ordered was "Katsu Curry". It's a pork cutlet with curry poured over it. It comes with rice as well. This was only 590 yen. You might not notice how cheap it is, but basically dinner usually costs more than 1,000 yen at Japanese restaurants. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kawachi (Drugstore)

Today let me introduce a drugstore called "Kawachi". We used to go to a pharmacy to get medicines and stuff, but this kind of drugstore popped up everywhere in the last decade or so, and we can buy almost any kinds of thing here.

 As far as I know, Kawachi is the biggest drugstore in terms of size among others, and as they sell a variety of goods, it is one of the places people visit to buy things. I think there are some other drugstores in my city, but their competition is really fierce like Ramen shops, so they distribute ads very often to show us they sell things more cheaply than the others.

 If we like to have a good Ramen, we would go to a Ramen shop like the one I introduced in this post, but not all of us have enough time to dine out and sometimes our budgets are limited. So we buy these instant noodles for lunch or as a snack. As you can see there are so many kinds of instant Ramens, and I don't know which is the best.

 These are also instant noodles, but you have to put these noodles in boiled water for minutes. It takes more time than the instant noodles in the second pic, but in my book these taste a bit better.

 When you hear the word "sake" or Japanese liquor, you may think of a bottled sake, but there are package type sakes. If you have some bottled sakes, you might find it messy to do away with the bottles, but these packages can be disposed of easily. And the prices are a bit lower. You can buy a 2 litters of sake bottle for about 11 dollars.

 These are called CalorieMate. Some people are so busy that they don't have time to visit a restaurant during the lunch break, so they have this cookie-type meal for lunch. A package that costs 158 yen or 1.7 us dollars has four pieces of cookie, and if you have them all, the total calorie you get is about 400kcal. 

I think the Japanese people are much thinner than foreign people, but most of us really care about our weight. Some skip a meal to lose some weight, but as you know that is not good for your health. So people have this "diet biscuits" instead of a regular meal.

 After working or studying hard, you would feel exhausted. And these tiny bottled drinks would let you regain your energy. The yellow ones you're seeing in the center and left are named as they are, "Regain", and it's one of the most popular energy drink brands in Japan.

 It's in the winter, and you might easily catch a cold. But these pocket warmers are popular also in Japan. I play tennis in the winter, so I stick one on my back when it's freezing cold. 

 According to a survey, almost a half of the Japanese people have hay fever. So this store sells special masks that keep you from inhaling pollens and small bottles that let you spray some mist in your nose. The latter is effective at least for a few hours. 

As I told you before, I'm a huge fan of canned coffees, but I often have this instant coffee at home, which melts easily in hot water. There are more than a dozen brands, but in Japan ones by "Nestle" are the most popular.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

K-ON! movie premiered!

Hi, it's December 3rd in Japan, and it's the day when the K-ON! movie was released. Like I did for the Haruhi movie, I don't spoil anything for you, but I want to show what I experienced today.

 This is the only movie theater where the movie is available in my prefecture. It's called MOVIX. It's different from where I saw the Haruhi movie.

 I woke up a bit late today, so I decided to see it at 13:10pm. The movie is based on London, so you can see Big Ben in the picture. 

 I was killing one hour at a coffee shop "Bad Ass Coffee" before the movie began. Sorry, my watch wasn't indicating the correct date.

 There was this Prikura machine in the hall of the theater. You can take a pic of yourself with the background the same as the movie. You can set the pic as your cellphone wallpaper as well. 

As I entered the theater, a staffer gave me the lyrics of a song dedicated to Azusa. Can you read the Japanese? It seems like the kind of scribble that high school students leave, doesn't it? 

Sadly about a half of the seats was vacant. Even though K-ON! is so popular in Japan, it proved to be hard to attract most fans. But the movie was good with new vibrant songs! Hope you can see it someday! =)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Narita Airport

Hi, I came back from Taiwan, and since today is a national holiday I felt like updating this blog. The trip to Taiwan was awesome, and I'm feeling strong urge to upload some of the pics I took there. But this blog is about Japan, so this time I'd like to show you the biggest airport in Japan.

The alias for this airport is "New Tokyo International Airport", but this is in Chiba prefecture. From where I live I have to drive about 1 and a half hour to get here. It was Friday when I departed, so there were relatively many people.  

You can't find many interesting shops before you pass immigration. There are a drugstore, bookshop, and some restaurants. We had about 2 hours before I got aboard, so my friend and me had coffee at this shop "Croissant". 

 I woke up very early to catch the flight a little before noon, so I was feeling hungry and ate this apple pie. But soon after the plane took off, I was served food again. 

You can see many duty-free shops after immigration, such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, but I think this Japanese shop "Fujiyama" would seem more interesting to foreign people. 

These were what the shop was selling. The rectangular boxes includes round-shaped sweet rice cakes. It has a bit of Ankou inside, which is made from brown beans called Azuki.  

Lastly a bit about manga. There was a small shop for Otaku in Taipei, and I got this Chinese version of the manga "There is no way my little sister could be that cute". I can only recognize some words like 妹 and 可愛, or sister and cute. When I bought this manga, the shop clerk recognized that I was Japanese, and he said "Arigatougozaimashita" or thank you. 

I want to visit Taiwan again because the climate is mild and the people were nice to us.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

KO:HI:KAN (珈琲館)

As I told you before, I'm going to leave Japan for Taiwan tomorrow. So I needed to buy some things for the trip, and I came to a nearby department store. There was this coffee shop that opened one or two years ago, and since I'm a huge fan of coffee, I decided to have lunch here.

When I was in Tokyo, I often dropped by this coffee chain to relax. In Tokyo, you wouldn't have many places to sit on, so you'd end up at a coffee shop.  

This was a view I could command from my seat. We can see the left merry-go-round in winter at the same place every year. 

These are the sandwiches that I ordered. They had corned beef in between. I was thinking of ordering pasta, but that isn't typical of a coffee shop.  

In addition I had this hot dog. I'm relatively tall for a Japanese, so I have to eat more than ordinary people. The iced coffee was a bit too cold for winter. 

I want to try other kinds of coffee in Taiwan to see the difference. I'm a bit concerned about the weather of Taipei as it was forecast it would be sunny with occasional showers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Taiwanese restaurant (台湾小龍包)

Some of my friends know this, but I'm going to travel to Taiwan next week. So I've been curious about what kind of food I would be able to have there. And when I was online I found this Taiwanese restaurant in a mall nearby, and gave it a try the other day.

Can you read the first two Kanji? It's written as 台湾, which means Taiwan. There are many Chinese restaurants in my city, but this is the only Taiwanese one. I'd like to show what 小龍包 is at the end. 

You might think there weren't many customers, but as I waited for several minutes, the seats started to be occupied gradually.  

There were several lunch sets available. This one I ordered had rice and boiled pork which would have been seasoned with soy sauce and mirin. Mirin tastes a bit sweet, but the sweet pork went well with the soft rice.  

And this is the 小龍包. The Kanji "包" means "to wrap", and as you can see they wrap something inside. The something is again boiled ground pork. It also had a bit of hot soup, and my tongue got burned a bit. Nevertheless I want to try many of this in Taiwan as this is one of the specialties of the country. 

Japan is close to Taiwan, and it takes only 3 hours from Tokyo by air. You might want to visit Japan and Taiwan on one trip.