Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TomTom (Coffee shop)

I don't know when I'll get tired of coffee, but I'm still a great fan of coffee. I've introduced coffee chains like Doutor, Veloce and etc so far, but the one I visited last weekend was a local one that is called "TomTom".

 Can you read Hiragana? It reads, "TomTom". We sometimes repeat the same word twice like "dandan", which means "gradually".

 I really like this outside look. This isn't really "Japanese", but coffee shops like Karakuan, which I introduced in this post, aren't seen so often.

 I don't know what you'd call this style of the interior, but we call this "log house-styled". I could relax to my heart's content in the afternoon. And what's more an English newspaper called "The Daily Yomiuri" was available. You can read the newspaper online by clicking this link.

 My friend ordered coffee called "soft blend". I took a sip and it had a good aroma that went well with milk. 

And as usual I had an iced coffee, but I wouldn't have to show it to you, as it looked like an ordinary one. What you're looking at is a side dish "Kani-tamago sandwiches". "Kani" and "tamago" each means "crab" and "egg" . Those did have pieces of crab.

I'd like to ask you if our country seems like one that has too many western-styled things. But Japan is a developed country to say the very least. Just our country has been recently replaced by China as the second biggest economy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sushi for lunch

It's Sunday evening in Japan, and today I went to a sushi bar to have lunch. I tend to have lunch at home over the weekend these days, but since an ad said this sushi bar would serve a sushi set for about 780 yen, I called up my friends and went there.

 This sushi bar was in the countryside of my city. The name was "Sushi Ryuu". As I explained before, Ryuu or Ryu means "dragon". So the fighter named "Ryu" in the game "Street Fighter 2" is the same as this Ryuu.  

 Saw this flower at the bay window. When we put flowers in a jar, we say "ikeru". Ikeru means something like "let it live", so we basically put flowers in a jar to keep them alive for a while.

 And saw this crane. Cranes are designated as a protected species in Japan.

I thought this sushi tasted good in proportion to the price. As you can see, every sushi on the plate wasn't expensive, and tuna sushi isn't basically supposed to be so red as this. Tuna sushi looks really good when it is a bit pink. 

You couldn't always have good sushi at a sushi bar. Kaiten-zushi might be sometimes better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shinkiba Studio Coast

I went to "Shinkiba Studio Coast" to see a Korn concert. It is one of the clubs with live music in Tokyo, but since it is located at a place where there are so many warehouses, there aren't many things you can do here except for waiting for the show to begin. "Kiba" literally means "a wood place", and trucks that came here all the way unload the lumbers they've carried.

There were some ads of Japanese musical groups, and I just recognized the one on the right. The group "EXILE" is now the most popular dance group in Japan.

People were waiting until they were allowed to get inside. The lines on the right were people who were going to buy Korn T-shirts and other stuff that had the logos of Korn. We call such stuff "merchandise". And this is the same place where I saw "Slipknot" two years ago.
Upon seeing this you must have noticed the show took place last Friday night. Sorry, my photos are not always new, as I do all pic-taking during the weekend and upload them weekdays. 

I often upload pics related to anime, but it's just because it shows one side of Japan. But basically I'm a great fan of music, and heavy metal is the genre that I like so much. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -12-

I've been a bit busy due to some things that should definitely be done last week. But I was finally liberated on Saturday and came to this geeky area "Akihabara".

I always take pics of this street of Akihabara. You'd never enjoy here without walking down this street. The pedestrian paradise wasn't reinstated yet.

This side of the Akihabara station was under construction for a long time, but it finally had this renewed look.

Got inside of the station and saw this digital panel ad. This is an anime that started to be broadcast this month. If I were to translate the title, it would be "My sis couldn't be this pretty" or something. I don't like weird anime, but I'm totally against people who discriminate against every anime.

"Baka to Test" coasters. I think it's not so widely recognized by people around the world. I personally think it's for those who go to school as they'd easily relate to the story. 

An ad of one of the past prime ministers called "Taro Aso". He was a strong advocate of manga, and was popular among people of Akihabara. But the political party he belongs to was ousted by the current ruling party DPJ.

The cheapest coffee was 20 yen cheaper than the Veloce in my city. Every shop has to strive hard to cut the prices in Tokyo, as there are so many places where people could have food cheaply.

I don't remember correctly, but this should have been a "cafe au lait". I think there were both this and "cafe latte". Not too sure about the difference between the two.
I was wearing a T-shirt only on this day. It is warm throughout the year in Japan except for January and February. This is why Japan's climate is called "extratropical".

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kachoufuugetsu Hana

I introduced a Japanese coffee shop "Karakuan" in January, but it went out of business recently. And this new Japanese restaurant opened at the same place. During the past few years I've seen so many restaurants or coffee shops disappear due to this recession. 

This new restaurant just painted the former sign of the coffee shop differently, and the basic structure of this restaurant was the same as the coffee shop, as both of them were based on the theme of "Japanese-styled".

The meaning of the name of this restaurants is "beauties in the nature". But literally, "Kachou" means "flowers and birds", while "fuugetsu" stands for "the wind and the moon". This is the yard that I could see from my seat.

This is where I was seated. In the 80s or early 90s, we saw so many things that were designed the Western way, but during the past decade I saw relatively many "Japanese" shops or restaurants that got in business.

Sometimes Japanese dishes are more expensive than steaks and pasta. And the lunch set I had today cost more than 15 us dollars. The raw seafood you see in this saucer is called "Sashimi", and it is something like sushi without rice.

The right dish had boiled white radish with Yuzu miso on top of it. Yuzu is an aromatic citron. The left one was boiled fish seasoned with sugar and soy sauce. You can also see some mushrooms sitting on the fish.

I think Japanese people still have a strong penchant for the Western and/or the American culture, and that's the reason why we have so many western restaurants in my city. But it is said old people prefer Japanese food they used to have when they were young. I don't know if it'll be true of me in the future.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cafe Fresta

I introduced an import shop "KALDI" in this post, but today I'd like to show you another one that just opened. If you live in the countryside of Japan, you wouldn't see foreign people so often, but my city has relatively many foreign people who came from overseas to work at laboratories, JICA, and so on.

So, foreign people who miss things available back in their countries would like to come to an import shop like this. But I had thought this shop was merely a coffee shop, as an ad said I could have a good coffee for 200 yen here.

Although I'm a huge fan of coffee, I usually don't buy coffee beans to brew at home. It's because I lack a necessary coffee machine to make aromatic coffee.

Halloween is just around the corner, so this chocolate chips seemed really appealing. But Halloween just started to be celebrated by a handful of people in Japan, and it isn't yet widely recognized by Japanese people. I even doubt most of us know the true meaning of Christmas. 

The taste of this coffee was so thick. And as it had been roasted just a little while ago, this coffee was overwhelmingly aromatic. I could have this for only 200 yen, or about 1.74 euros. 

I'm basically a person who doesn't like to go to Starbucks, as I consider its coffee unauthentic. An iced coffee topped with ice cream isn't always bad, but when the coffee has a chocolate flavor in addition, it's no longer "coffee" to me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Minori Kaboku Center

Japan is now in the middle of the fall, and it is time when we can see some trees bearing fruits and plants blooming. I'm not familiar with plants in Japan, but one of my friends likes them so much that we came to this center last weekend called "Minori Kaboku center". "Kaboku" means "flowers and trees".

Minori is the name of the place this center is situated in, and it is about 1 hour's drive to north from where I live. This center is a place where you can buy many kinds of plants, so anybody can come in for free.

In the fall we often have sweet potatoes. We don't have if for a meal, but as a snack. And when it's winter in Japan, a track loaded with a potato-baking machine goes about in towns to sell baked sweet potatoes that are called "Yakiimo" in Japanese.

Let me introduce three plants that I found interesting. This is a kind of orange called "Dekopon". It is as big as an orange, but not as sweet. 

You might not recognize the size of this plant, but it is about 30cm high. This is a kind of a pine tree "Black Pine Tree". I think this would look Japanese to you, wouldn't it? 

This one called "Hoozuki" can be also seen in the USA and the Southeast Asia, but we Japanese put it on the shelf to guide the spirits of the dead as it seems like a "Chouchin", which is a kind of lantern. Here's a link to a pic of Chouchin.

And I saw very old-fashioned caramel candies as these. The three packages on the upper shelf could be seen in the early Showa period (1926-1989), so those who're in their 60s would be amused to see these. From left to right: Black Sugar Caramel,  Milk Caramel, and Azuki Caramel. As I told you before, Azuki is "red bean paste".

Puppy dolls on sale. This is a kind of dog called "Shiba" , and is the most commonly seen dog in Japan, and it is owned by a baseball player "Ichiro", who belongs to the Mariners of the USA. The paper says, "A naughty Shiba sold for 2,940 yen". 

It was forecast in the summer that this fall was going to be relatively warmer than usual, but it's been a bit too cool because of rainy days....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Andersen (A Bakery)

I've often said the bakeries in my city are doing good business, so you might be curious what a "Japanese" bakery would look like. Of course, we have rice as a staple diet, but over a half of our population has bread for breakfast.

This is a bakery called "Andersen", and it is headquartered in Hiroshima prefecture. This Andersen has been in business since 1982, and the name of the bakery was derived from Hans Christian Andersen from Denmark, who was an author of children's books like "The Ugly Duckling".

The founder of this bakery was impressed with Danish pastries when he was in Denmark, so this Andersen sells mainly sweet bread. It has 74 outlets in Japan, and is recognized by Japanese people as one of the very renowned bakeries.

 But this bakery also sells bread like this picture. The left ones are sandwiches that had fried sliced pork in between. Such pork is called "Katsu" in Japanese, and it is basically the same as Tonkatsu that I showed with this picture.

On sunny days you can enjoy having lunch at these tables. This bakery is in front of Doho park, which I introduced in this post, and people take a rest here after walking about in or swimming at the park.

As I played tennis today and was hungry, I had the bread you see in the pic. It was called "Denmark Sausage Roll", and the saltiness of the sausage went well with the iced coffee without sugar nor milk. I've always enjoyed having coffee at this bakery, and the good coffee should be one of the reasons why this bakery has been frequented by foreign people as well. 

I felt hungry again while writing this article....>.<