Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I like to show another Kaitenzushi which is now in good business. Kaitenzushi is where all sushi are rotating on the conveyor. This Kaitenzushi restaurant is called "Kurazushi", and preferred by families and kids.

Basically the price of every sushi at Kaitenzushi should be about 100 yen or less. There are more expensive Kaitenzushi's too, but there you often have to pay as much as you do at a regular sushi bar. 

Firstly I took three sushi. Clockwise from below: tuna, salmon, and shrimp. Those three are standard sushi and liked by many Japanese people. But basically a very good tuna sushi should have a less rosy color.

And this is a grilled pork sushi seasoned with mayonnaise. I've heard Japanese mayonnaise is bought by relatively a large number of people in the USA. I think we Japanese use it very often, and some people put some mayonnaise in rice and curry, which I don't do.

And a touch panel screen is now a must at any cheap Kaitenzushi. You know, you can easily cut the personnel cost with this computer. You're supposed to press one of those numbers to decide how many sushi you have per order.

And the screen sometimes allows you to win a prize. If you're lucky enough, you can have one of the balls in the box you see in the pic. When I took a closer look, one of the balls had a cell-phone charm.

What is different about this Kaitenzushi is that every table counts the number of sushi you had by taking in your saucers. As a result, the waitress doesn't have to count your saucers to settle the bill.

Before I left, I had this miso soup. Some people have this in the middle of the meal, but as sushi leaves fishy taste in my mouth, I usually have it at the end. 

There is now a word "Setsuyaku zukare", which means "being sick of saving". And according to an article I read, that state of mind prompts you to buy something expensive from time to time. I agree that people can't stay stingy forever, but still they'd come to this kind of Kaitenzushi when the tastes of each sushi are agreeable.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oil Clear Paper

What would you do when you're in Japan in the summer and sweating a lot? Probably you'd take out your own handkerchief out of your pocket and wipe your forehead and cheeks. But not all Japanese blot their sweat with their handkerchiefs.

We can buy this paper called "oil clear paper" at convenience stores in Japan. It doesn't cost much, and the cheapest package is about 100 yen or so. Your handkerchief would wipe your sweat, but the main objective of this paper is to wipe your oiliness in your sweat. Obviously Japanese people don't want their faces to be seen oily by others.

I took out one piece of the paper and it's basically thinner than ordinary paper. When it's so humid and hot, you'd need a few pieces to wipe out your oily sweat completely. Would you think Japanese people care too much about whether they're hygiene or clean enough? I think you would, as we have state-of-the-art toilet bowls like this one.

I'd like to introduce something that is available only in Japan, but is this paper sold in your country too?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

West House

The city I live in is a mixture of rural and urban scenery, but as the population is large, I often see newly opened restaurants even in the middle of this recession. I don't know if the owners of those restaurants were sure of success, but some of the new restaurants went out of business in half a year.
There are two western-styled restaurants called "West House" in my city, and this opened recently near the center of my city. The other older West House is often crowded with young couples, and it is where people can have a large amount of food.

I could see this chandelier over the table we were seated at. The name "West House" reminded me of something that could exist in western America, so this Gothic stuff seemed odd to me.

This spaghetti had some kind of mushroom, tomato and lettuce. It was cool to have Italian dishes in my city several years ago, but now people seem to be tired of something Italian. I think people in my city are now rather into bread, and the bakeries in my city are sometimes crowded.

Have you seen desserts put on saucers like this? It was fun to look at those desserts, but as I don't have something sweet usually, I couldn't tell if those were good enough. The cake on the upper saucer had a yogurt taste. This iced coffee was very good though. 

Would you think this spaghetti set can fill your stomach? Japanese restaurants often charge you much for a little. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -11-

As I live in a rural area, visiting Tokyo is one of the most enjoyable things for me. I usually don't like to be among too many people, but when I come to the capital once in a while I feel energized to see people walking under the strong sunshine.
Have you gotten used to seeing scenery in Akihabara? I often see bicycles going on this Chuo Street, and they really come close to being hit by cars.

As I showed before, this Akihabara UDX is always advertising things related to anime or manga on that huge screen. Upon seeing it, foreign people would easily associate Japan with anime.

As I play some instruments, I browse some stuff sold at instrument shops in Akihabara. Those devices with K-ON characters are tiny VOX amplifiers for basses and guitars. Of course the one in the center with the Mio pictures is for a bass guitar.

Found another new Moe sweet. The big letters say "Akibanana", and it is cake bars with banana flavor sold in this area only. The girl is called "Nana-chan".

And took some rest at the Renoir I introduced before. Akihabara has countless coffee shops.

Do you know we have train cars that are available only for women in Japan? The reason why we have those is to prevent perverts from touching women, or to keep you from being mistaken for a molester.

And this Hibiya line has those women-only train cars. This is one of the subways that is available in Akihabara. 

I'll miss this summer season come September. But it was reported we'd have relatively hot weather also in the next month and October.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bikkuri Donkey

Let me introduce a hamburg steak restaurant "Bikkuri Donkey". The meaning of the "Bikkuri" is "amazing". This restaurant offers so many kinds of hamburg steak, and as the outside look of this restaurant shows, it has some entertainment elements to amuse customers. 

It came from the northernmost island Hokkaido, and as I was born in Hokkaido I've rooted for this restaurant. But due to this prolonging recession, one of the two Bikkuri Donkey's in my city went out of business last year. Most of the Japanese people are still spending less on dining out.

As you can see this lamp differs from those of ordinary restaurants like Denny's. Kids would enjoy having meals here, but as far as I saw the customers' average age should be from teens to 20s. When I first visited a Bikkuri Donkey in Chiba prefecture, I was amazed at its novelty.

The menu is opened like this. There are many kinds of hamburger steak dish in the center, and side dishes on the left, and soft drinks are on the right. When the waitress finish taking orders, she folds this menu and takes it away.

I ordered an "Egg curry burg dish". It is hard to recognize, but the egg is sitting on a hamburger steak. There are 14 dish-type hamburger steaks and everything included in those dish-type sets is put on the same wooden tray.

And I had this "Cafe on the rock" It was made from arabica beans and they were roasted at this company's own factories. I want to praise this coffee, but quite honestly its taste is so bitter. Some wouldn't be able to have this without some milk. But whenever I come to this restaurant I order an iced coffee. 

There is a coffee called "Milk Aisu Cafe" in the menu, and Aisu is written in kanji that means "love". And you know the pronunciation of the "Aisu" is close to "ice". It seems some people came up with unique names for its menu to make customers entertained. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Orzo Latte

Those who read most of my past postings should already know I'm a coffee freak. I was firstly thinking of writing mainly on Japanese coffee, but as Japan is not known for coffee, such articles wouldn't interest you at the end of the day. But please allow me to write more on coffee, or coffee shops.
I often come to this coffee shop called "Doutor", and I showed another Doutor that was in Akihabara. You can have the least expensive coffee for about a little more than 2 dollars, and even if you're a smoker, this Doutor offers you a smoking section. And when I came here on Saturday, it had this "Orzo latte" in the menu, and I had it for the first time. This latte is made from barley, and "Orzo" means barley in Italian. Doutor started to sell it in June.

So basically it's not coffee, but though it didn't have any caffeine, it tasted like coffee. There are countless Doutor's in Japan, and since it offers unique coffees from time to time, I want you to try those coffees, or coffee-like drinks. Whenever I come to this Doutor in a neighboring city, I'm given two coupons you see on the left with which you can get a 30 yen discount per drink. And the right sheets are scratch-offs that give you chances to win a coffee, hot dog, and what not. 

This posting is on a coffee shop, my favorite, but I basically think my blog shouldn't be about myself, and I want every posting to be about Japan in general.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mantoue (An Obon festival)

I told you last week we were on vacation called "Obon", and it is one of the two longest vacations in a year that Japanese people take. The other is one we have around New Years Eve. As I told you before, this Obon is when the spirits of our ancestors are said to come back, and we have to put food, incense, and flowers on the tombstones of our ancestors.

I came to Ushiku city where the biggest standing Buddha in the world is to see how people were spending this Obon. I'm not a Buddhist, but basically this "Ushiku Jyouen" was accepting any people regardless of their religions. You can see the Buddha is being lighted up, but the lights are on on special occasions only.

The black kanji says "Mantoue", which is the name of the summer festival this Ushiku Jyouen holds annually. Offering food for our ancestors is a religious and rigorous event, but on the other hand we have a sense of festivity during this Obon.

Some people put lanterns called "Tourou" on the rivers to send the spirits of our ancestors back to those rivers where our ancestors belong. But at this place I saw those lanterns placed in the garden. The black kanji you see on the nearest lantern says "Namu Ami Dabutsu", which is a kind of Buddhism prayer said to save the spirits of the dead. We also hear Buddhism monks saying the same prayer during funerals.

At the gate to the garden I saw this smaller standing Buddha.

Those who have seen Japanese anime should have seen people enjoying buying some food from stalls like this. This stall was selling "Takoyaki" and "Yakisoba". I introduced the former in this posting. The latter is fried noodles seasoned with Worcester sauce.

And this was selling shaved ice. I showed what it was in this posting last year. I think it sells a lot when it's too hot. It was about 33 degrees Celsius on the night.

I saw a talk show taking place. She said she was famous enough to be on TV, which I doubted as I hadn't seen her before.

And the main event of this festival is this fireworks show. It seemed special to me since the fireworks exploded just beside the Buddha. 

And please take a look at this fireworks show by clicking the video that I've just uploaded. The announcement made before the shots is the names of the people who devoted those fireworks.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Comiket 78 (A comic market)

Yesterday I went to "comiket 78", which is now being held in Tokyo Big Sight. At this event amateur people sell their own original manga. If you have seen an anime called "Lucky Star", you should know it has an episode where Konata and Kagami go to "Ariake", where this Tokyo Big sight is, to buy some "Doujin" manga, or manga drawn by amateur people. 
If you want to come to this Tokyo Big Sight, you have to take this Rinkai Line that is available at Shinkiba Station on the Keiyo Line. 

This is Kokusai Tenjijyou Station, from which you should go to the Tokyo Big Sight, and when I was going up this stairs I saw some anime posters on the walls.

As you can see this station was very crowded around at noon, when I came here. I had saw on the official website of this comiket that the least crowded time period began at 12:00am, but nonetheless I was shoved several times at the station.

A currently very popular anime called "K-ON!!" is broadcast on Tuesday on TV, and its first Blue-ray DVD was released on July 30. The series is so popular but its manga and anime are going to end in September.

I was expecting to see so many Moe cars, or "Itasha", but I just saw two cars that had anime characters printed on. I didn't recognize what anime those characters were from.

And this is the outside look of the "Tokyo Big Sight". You have to walk for about 10 minutes from the station to reach here, and this complex is one of the places in Tokyo where lots of events are held like ones for business purposes. 

And this character was the poster girl for this comiket 78 this year.

When I going down stairs of this complex, I was overwhelmed by so many people going about here. It was forecast more than half a million people would come to this event.
And this is how they were selling their Doujin manga. I was walking around in sections where girls selling their manga, and most of the stuff they were selling was about "boys' love" or a relationship between guys. It is already known some girls who like manga so much prefer stories on gay relationships over hetero ones. I don't know why.

I picked up some manga, and the qualities of the contents were so high that I could have mistaken them for professionals'. And that made me realize how hard it must be for amateurs to debut as manga writers when they could draw so well.

I came here to buy some parody manga, but what they were selling was almost all original. By seeing so many people buying their manga, I guessed those people had already known which manga circles were going to sell what kind of manga. The prices of those manga ranged from 300 to 500 yen. I should say the prices were reasonable.

You are not supposed to sit on the floor of this complex, but walking about for hours would make you feel like sitting. Some were sleeping leaning against the walls.

Some people were selling "Itacha", or painful tea. You know it would be "painful" to see anime characters printed on tea bottles. "Ita" means painful, "cha" is green tea.

When I was on my way back to home, the station was again packed with so many people. More people took the train for Saitama area than Tokyo, the former area is where the hometown of the characters of Lucky Star is. The posters say, "Oreno Imouto" anime is going to be broadcast come October. The meaning of the Japanese title should be "My incredibly pretty younger sister". 

As an additional note, I didn't see so many foreign people at this event. I guess this is because not so many foreign people can read the Kanji written in the manga. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010


We are now in the middle of a summer vacation called "Obon", when people are supposed to go back to their hometowns. It seems people are having this Obon from the 7th to 15th, and because some of the highways in Japan are free until next March, more people are taking advantage of them instead of buses and railways than the last year. But as for me, I decided to stay in my city this year too and am now planning to go to Tokyo, since the capital tends to be deserted during this Obon. But I guess Akihabara will be crowded all the same because it is one of the areas in Tokyo where more people hang out in the summer.

And this family restaurant called "COCO'S" had less people than usual too. This restaurant chain is operated by a company that also runs a Gyudon chain "Sukiya". I referred to the Sukiya in this posting. There are several COCO'S in my city, and its business has seemed to be successful since I was small.

You can see six kinds of lunch set, but only 5 of them are available on weekdays for about 8 dollars. Basically you can have lunch for less money on weekdays at family restaurants in Japan.

And I chose the right one in the middle. You'd notice the actual dish differs from the pic in the menu, but you know, people tweak the pics in menus to make the dishes look more appetizing. You can choose either rice or bread, but as rice fills my stomach so easily I chose the bread. You can see a hamburg steak and salad on the other dish. 

As I showed in the 2nd pic, this restaurant offers what we call "Drink Bar" that lets you have unlimited refills of soft drinks including coffee. I had iced coffees without sugar, but I felt guilty after having the coffee jelly you see on the table. I'm on a diet now. 

This COCO'S originally came from America, but the American company offered its license to a Japanese one some time before 1980. But I doubt most Japanese know this fact as this restaurant was once operated by a company that is headquartered in my prefecture.