Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kanda Myoujin (Shrine)

I went to a shrine near where I live on the 1st of this month, but since my friend insisted on visiting another in Tokyo, we decided to pay a visit to a shrine called "Kanda Myoujin", which was about 20 minutes away from Akihabara station. Usually people visit a shine for the first time within 3 days from the start of a new year, but the first visit called "Hatsumoude" can be done by the end of January.  

 This is called Torii, or the entrance of a shrine. As referred to in the anime Lucky Star, this is the place where a bird rests on and this gate separates the secular world where people live from the premises of the shrine.

There was a souvenir shop in front of the Torii and many kinds of charms were sold. And this shop was also selling alcohol called "Amazake", which is made from rice and tastes sweet. Some shrines give it to people for free, but this shop was selling a cup of Amazake for about 3.9 us dollars.

 You should pass through this building to get inside. As you can see, there are two dolls on both sides of the path. 

 Those who came to pray go through this ring and say four prayers that are written on the board. By doing so, you can prevent disease. As I told you, before we get inside of a shrine we should "go through" a Torii, too, which also keeps you from having disease. 

 This lion is called "Komainu" and we often see one in a shrine that is opening the mouth. The one that is opening its mouth has another name,  "Agyou".

 Many people were coming to this shrine to say prayers. I visited another shrine in the midnight on the 1st but as it gets really cold in January (the low is about 0 degrees), you might as well visit one during the day.

My friend wanted to draw a secret lot called "Omikuji", and his result was pretty good. It said every problem he had would be solved this year. You have to shake a box and draw a sacred lot and these shrine maidens will give you a piece of paper that predicts your luck.

The gold figurine you're seeing in the center of the wave is called "Yebisu-sama" and he is said to make your business prosper. He is one of Seven Deities of Good Fortune called "Shichifukujin" and there is also a beer called "Yebisu" in Japan. Many company employees come to this shrine so that their companies will get a lot of business in the year.

I was a bit worried this posting might be redundant, as I made a posting on a shrine on January 1st, but I've wanted to show you how a shrine looks like during the day. And as this shrine is close to Akihabara, it would be easy for you to drop by when you come to Japan =)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -2-

This is another posting on Akihabara. Honestly, I don't go to this area often, and I just sometimes see some videos on the streets in Akihabara, where some girls dressed like maids are wearing kimono, and cosplayers walking around. So I had been expecting to see many cosplayers, but unfortunately I didn't see such people. Perhaps people weren't feeling liberated because it was in the middle of winter.
Of course you can buy any kind of manga or anime dvds, but Akihabara is still the place where you can get electric devices cheaply, and I would also come to this place to buy computer-related things such as memory cards. This is one of the areas in front of the station where there are lots of electric appliance shops.
I introduced this shop called "Akibaoo" last summer, but this time a doll that looked like a maid was announcing something in Japanese. People were just passing by without heeding what she was saying. 

 The ad on the far right says, "The Tsundere Russian Cookies". You would have 10 too hot cookies out of 12. Your survival rate is too low, isn't it? "Tsundere" is a word that applies to a girl whose temper suddenly changes from cold to sweet. "Tsun" describes one's cold attitude, and "Dere" her sweet one.

At this shop you can reserve a figurine called "Black Rockshooter (Black Blade version)". It was originally invented by an Illustrator "huke", and there is a song of the same namesake by Miku Hatsune. Here's a link to pics of the figurine. It is going to be sold in April this year and the price is about 63 us dollars.

 The sign you're seeing in the center is one by "Hogushi Chaya" where you can get massage by a maid and have coffee. "Hogushi" means reflexology and Chaya is an old Japanese expression of a cafe. This cafe's style is based on the Taisho period (1912-1926).

An anime movie called "Fate/stay night" by Klockworx was released on the 23rd. You can watch its trailer by clicking this link

 An ad of a video game called "Rune Lord". I don't know much about video games, but you would enjoy looking at intricate machines and cute girls in this game. 

 This is "Showa dori exit" of Akihabara station. This side of Akihabara is more developed than the others and there are coffee shops, Yodobashi Akiba, and etc. If you walk for 5 minutes or so from here, you can reach a Burger King. 

 This line is called "The Chuo-Sobu Line". There are some other JR lines at Akihabara station such as The Yamanote, Keihin Tohoku Line. I took this line 'cause I was on my way to Ochanomizu station.

I was given this brochure by a girl, with which I can get a 500 yen discount for a reflexology on weekdays. It says "Welcome to a hideaway in Akihabara". 

I basically like anime and things related to it such as music by Miku Hatsune, so I really enjoyed being in Akihbara. But I think the season when you can really enjoy Akihabara should be summer. So I like to visit this otaku area this summer or possibly sooner =)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Posh sushi bar

I made a posting on a revolving sushi bar in October, but I've wanted to make another posting on really good sushi that would satisfy every Japanese. I said before that we Japanese don't go to a good sushi bar so often, and I ended up not visiting such a place in months. But this time let me show you an example of good sushi.

 I can find several good sushi bars in my neighborhood, but as I was searching for a superb sushi bar on the Internet, there were only a few. And this one was situated close to the center of my city, and it is frequented by foreign people as well. 

 I was going to have regular beer before sushi, but since I had to drive back to my home I chose this beer-looking drink that didn't have any alcohol at all. This beverage called "Free" made by Kirin has become really popular among us recently, because you can have the taste that is no different from beer while you are driving. 

 This sushi plate was served in 20 minutes or less. At some good sushi bars, you would be kept waiting for more than 30 minutes. You can see tuna, eel, shrimp and etc. on the plate. When I had all of the sushi you're seeing, I was already satisfied. 

 I think many Japanese people would name sea urchin sushi as their favorite. I also like it, but since it is very expensive, the chef would serve only one piece of sea urchin sushi on your plate.

 These are called Negitoro. I introduced the same Negitoro with this picture, but the tuna this sushi had was much softer and spread in my mouth instantly. 4 or 5 pieces of Negitoro would make you satisfied. Negi means green onion and toro is tuna rich in fat. 

As my friends wanted to have sea urchin sushi additionally, we ordered this. This was sweeter than the one I showed above. You know, truly good sea urchin tastes a bit sweet.

We paid about 4,900 yen or about 55 us dollars per person. You know, people normally don't spend that much for dinner, but we Japanese feel like having good sushi from time to time. Sorry, I repeated "good sushi" in this posting while you're just looking at the pictures.  I want to taste really delicious sushi in foreign lands as well, and see the difference (^-^)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -1-

I got off at Akihabara station to see how this district looked. I came here last summer, but as the anime industry keeps releasing new series, what the shops are selling changes so often. I wanted to get in each otaku shop to take pics, but that didn't seem to be allowed. So I just wandered around the streets.

When I got off The Keihin-Tohoku Line, what caught my eyes in the first place was this big anime board. Foreign people would soon recognize this station is the gateway to the anime heaven. I'm not much of a hardcore otaku, but as a Japanese, I am used to seeing this kind of ad.
 Unfortunately Akihabara station was under construction. The red words on the left indicate where electronic parts are sold.

This is an ad of "at home cafe" where many maid-related events are held. I think what maids are wearing changes as time goes by. I know what a real maid looks like, as I saw some in a foreign country, but I think the whole definition of "maid" is really different in Akihabara.

This is the front gate of "GAMERS" , which appeared in the anime "Lucky Star". A Seiyuu called "Nana Mizuki" topped the Oricon chart (which is the most popular Japanese music chart) recently, and she performed at the most prestigious music event called "Kouhaku Utagassen" on New Year's Eve. And this shop was playing endlessly the part in the event where she was singing "Shin-ai".She is the first Seiyuu to have won the top slot of the Oricon chart. 

The ad on the right is by "Hobby Station", where they sell and buy trading cards. The left part is an ad by COSPA, which sells cosplay clothes, figurines and so on.

Do you know a pinball game called "Pachinko"? You can win some money by getting a lot of silver balls that a Pachinko machine spits out. And in response to the tastes of young Pachinko players, the industry started to feature anime characters such as Evangelion.

This is an ad by Popopure, which has both a maid cafe and an animation studio. You can act like a Seiyuu in this shop. And also, you can take part in producing a short anime.

One of the streets where maids are giving out the brochures of their cafes. I saw some guys being taken to a maid cafe, and I thought if you like to visit such a cafe, it would be better if you go with your friends. 

The biggest electric appliance store in Akihabara called "Yodobashi Akiba". You can find any electric devices at this store. And you can have sushi, rice and curry, and coffee at the restaurants in this building.

A maid was giving out the entire map of Akihabara district. On the map there were some ads of maid cafes and salons where you can have your feet massaged by the maids. This is the back of the map and the names of the shops are written in English.

I'd like to write more about Akihabara later on =)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jyoushou-ken (Ramen shop)

I introduced "Nisshin Chicken Ramen" in this posting, and like I said, we are really particular about the taste of a Ramen shop. A friend of mine told me the other day that this Ramen shop called "Jyoushou ken" had opened in his neighborhood and we decide to try its Ramen. "Jyoushou ken" means an "ever-victorious shop".

Some of us have Ramen for lunch, but if we order a standard Ramen and dumplings called Gyouza as well for dinner we would be satisfied. Normally, a Ramen shop doesn't serve beverages except for a glass of water, so we often see a vending machine in the premises of a shop.

 Any Ramen can be had without seasonings, but we can often see pepper, vinegar, and spice called "Shichimi", which consists of seven ingredients. But the red tiny bottle you're seeing is "Ichimi", and it slightly differs from the former. If you can tell the difference between the two, you must be 200% Japanese.

 We ordered two plates of Gyouza. There are often 5 to 6 pieces of Gyouza on a dish. We dip them in soy sauce. And some of us like to add in the soy sauce a bit of vinegar and very hot spice called "Raayu". It is so hot that you would need only 2 to 3 drops of it

 Usually Gyouza contains minced vegetables such as onion, garlic, carrot, and ground chicken. It sometimes have some juice inside that is very hot, so if you have Gyouzas that have just been delivered please take care so that your tongue won't burn.

 I ordered "Chaashuu men". As you can see, the bowl is topped with slices of pork called "Chaashuu". Before they are put atop Ramen, the chef would burn the surface of them with a gas burner. The brown stuff that is floating on the left side of the bowl is called "Menma", which is made from bamboo shoots.

We were given coupons, with which we can have a bowl of Ramen next time for 500 yen or about 5.5 us dollars. The Japanese restaurants offer such coupons so that they can have the same customers again.

The broth of the Ramen this shop served was made from some fish. I usually have Ramen with broth called Tonkotsu, which is made from pork bones, but nonetheless this fish broth tasted great. I was going to watch a DVD at my friend's place, but my stomach was so full that I had to lie on the bed for the rest of the night.  (@_@;)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tokyo Auto Salon 2010 -2-

This is a sequel to the last posting "Tokyo Auto Salon 2010 -1-". I stayed at this complex for more than 2 hours, but I was too busy taking pics of many cars and girls. I wanted to show all the pics I took, but not all of them were good enough. And as my knowledge about cars is limited, I doubt I could explain all of the good pics I took. Anyway, please take a look at the pictures below.

Probably everybody would think this car can run only on an official racecourse, but the white plate on your right says, "This can be driven on the public road". If you drive this car, I bet you would draw everybody's attention.

Two gorgeous girls were posing in different ways in front of people. I think they're beautiful, but what would you think of these girls? Personally I like the girl with black hair, and people in Japan are starting to appreciate the beauty of black hair.

This is a car called "RX-7" by Mazda. It was replaced by RX-8 several years ago, but there are still many fans of this car. Those who saw the anime "Initial D" would easily recognize this car. 

 This is another car that appeared in "Initial D". This is called "180SX" and the basic structure of this car is the same as that of the first model "Silvia". People who like to drive so fast in Japan prefer a rear-wheel-drive car, or a FR car, and this 180SX and the Silvia are driven by the rear-wheels.

And this is the most popular classic sport car called AE86. Toyota came up with this car in '83, but it has been popular. But you know, maintaining such a classic car costs you much money, and those who own this car should have enough money to do so.

Please don't think me to be weird. It was quite normal for people to take pics of the girls, and when they are so attractive as this, who could resist the urge to take pics? >.<

A car that has Japanese-styled wheels made by a company called "R-PRIDE". People have green-tea under a red parasol like that in Kyoto.

People should be already familiar with this eco-friendly car "Prius". But if it has the hybrid engine and is painted so cool as this, Prius would be owned by more young people.
They were selling fried chicken, beers and so on. I had a hot dog and a coffee for a snack.

 Adult people might bring back these minicars for their children. I didn't see many children and the ones who were enjoying this show were mainly people aged over 30.

 ...and let me show you some "Itasha" again. This car is a Skyline GT-R. I like to explain these girls but I really don't know who they are >.<

 I sometimes wonder why "Itasha" are mainly sport cars, but I think it is because people think good sports cars are made in Italy.

A close-up pic of the girl. It was reported that the printing technique has developed a great deal recently, which made this artwork possible. 

How do you like those pics? I wanted to show you mainly how "Japanese" cars were customized, as the purpose of this blog is introducing Japan. And I guess "Itasha" can be seen only in Japan for now.