Monday, June 27, 2011

Nasu (A resort area)

Over the weekend I stayed in the area "Nasu" in Tochigi prefecture. It was reported in newspapers that the number of tourists who visit Nasu was on the decrease out of concern for the nuclear radiation leak. But according to the website of Tochigi prefecture, the level of radiation in the air was about 0.11 micro sieverts/hour. Under normal circumstances, you can be safely exposed to 1,000 micro sieverts/year, so, the level in Tochigi was safe enough.

 Nasu is where people come to stay away from the summer heat. When I was in my city, the temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius, but it was about 27 degrees here. There were many chic cafes and souvenir shops in Nasu, and we had a coffee at this "Shozo Cafe". 

The coffee cost 650 yen. The coffee I usually order at Dotour is about 170 yen, so you'd see how high the price was at the cafe. But as you can see, we could enjoy this tranquil and green garden while we were sipping. It was worth the price. 

 And after the cafe I came to this Asian souvenir shop. It was located a few hundred meters from there. I liked this ethnic gate. 

Most of the souvenirs sold here were incense and accessories. These incense sticks smelled so good, but I wondered if it would suit my room. While I was here, the temperature rose suddenly, and it really felt hot like Indonesia.  

 Do you remember I referred to Indian God "Ganesha" before? He helps you to be successful in studying and business. I think this shop was full of things from south-eastern Asia such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. I'm Asian but still I found those three to be very different yet interesting.  

The lower temperature of Nasu is attributed to its high altitudes.  I saw some suspended bridges. The greenery seemed so good as a background of this bridge. 

I looked down a bit and the color of the river was nice too. 

The talented singer Lady Gaga is now in Japan and she insisted Japan was safe to visit. I'm really thankful that she came to Japan to encourage us. I just can't help hoping more foreign people come to my country like she did. Btw, how do you like Nasu?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ootoya (A reasonable Japanese restaurant)

Let me introduce what I had for lunch last weekend. My friends and I were looking for a good independent restaurant, but we ended up at a restaurant in a mall. I think the tastes of restaurants in malls are agreeable to anybody, so there is often nothing special about them.

However, this restaurant is known for its inexpensive dishes. The one I ordered cost only 7.5 dollars. Almost all the seats were occupied, and I wondered if that was the case on weekdays too.  

 The purple line reads, "Ootoya is trying to reduce the amount of CO2 we emit". The chopsticks were made of plastic instead of wood. 

And this was "The Ootoya set". On the dish you can see fried chicken, macaroni, a sunny-side up,   and the last one was sitting on a croquette that had mashed potato and pumpkin inside. And this dish had rice, miso soup, and pickles in addition. You might think this set was cheap because people are pinching pennies in this recession, but this restaurant has been offering good and inexpensive dishes since before that. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ichinaru (A Soba restaurant)

I suppose Japan is now in the latter half of the rainy season. During the rainy season, we expect rainy weather at least 3 days a week, but it was shiny when I had lunch at the restaurant below. Some people refrain from washing their cars in June because they'd get dirty once the rain falls.

 There is a shopping mall "Ai Ai" in the center of my city. It was buzzing with people years ago, but on top of the earthquake we're still in recession, so many shops in this mall went out of business. 

But this Soba restaurant is one of the survivors. Its prices are reasonable and the taste is something you can let your guests have for lunch or dinner.  

 I was kept waiting for about 20 minutes because all of the seats were occupied. Is it possible to have Soba in your city? I guess you can if your city has a Japanese restaurant. 

Like most of the countries in the northern hemisphere, we consider June to be summer. So, when it's hot like 27 degrees Celsius (80 Fahrenheit), I feel like having cold Soba, "Zaru". You'd feel hungry only with Soba, so you'd want to have Tempura(the fried stuff at the upper left) in addition. 

What kind of dish do you enjoy in the summer? Anything cold? =)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tokyo is still enjoyable! -3-

Now I can say I have a tendency to come to Tokyo every two weeks. When it's a bit hot and the weather is really good, I feel a strong urge to come to Tokyo to have some fun. And another reason for me to visit the capital is to show people all over the world that it is safe to be in Tokyo. Over 90% of the foreign college students have come back to Japan to study.

Let me show you a Ramen shop. You can't say you're familiar with Akihabara without having Ramen here. I waited for about 30 minutes before I was served. It reads, "Aoshima Ramen".  

If you have Ramen at a small shop, you'd be able to see how the chefs are cooking Ramen. At this shop a woman was the chef, and this is her assistant's hands.   

 One thing that makes this Ramen different is it had some ginger in the broth. It was worth waiting, but I doubt if I could wait again in the summer, because you have to wait outside of the shop. 

 And after having Ramen, I walked about in Akihabara. The ad on the Gamers gets changed every time I come here, and people seemed to be enjoying the artwork. This is the moment I always notice I'm in the Otaku area. 

 While I was walking I saw this ad car. It was advertising the 1st dvd of the anime "Mariaholic". As far as I found on the net, its story revolves around a lesbian girl who entered a female high school. Such an anime is called "Yuri", the opposite of "Yaoi". This is the official website of the anime. 

These days you might find any anime goods on Amazon or somewhere else, but very new and unique anime goods could be seen only in Akihabara. This is a Toaru mouse pad with a calculator. 980 yen is about 12 dollars. Is it inexpensive? 

And after that I came to Okachimachi, where there is a shopping street "Ame Yoko". Okachimachi station is next to Akihabara. This is where you can buy seafood, shoes, clothes, and accessories for less money. It was so crowded, and I saw lots of Chinese people.  

 It was bright until 6:30 pm in Tokyo, so, in order to have more fun, I got off a train at Ikebukuro. The areas in Tokyo that are popular among the young are "Akihabara", "Shinjuku", "Shibuya", and this "Ikebukuro". I noticed almost 60% of the people walking were 20-something. This is a pizza restaurant "Shakey's". My friends and I decided to have dinner here.

The pizza was very crisp and the waiters and waitresses were very polite. There is another Shakey's in my city as well, but the taste of this restaurant was much better. 

There were still fewer foreign people than the last year, but the number of them seemed to be increasing in Tokyo. Hope this trend continues.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shin Chou Jou (A Chinese restaurant)

These days I often go to Tokyo, but I think there are many blogs about Tokyo. So sometimes I wonder if my posts on the capital might be similar to others'. Therefore I like to introduce something local once in a while.

 I came to this Chinese restaurant last week. Basically I think posts should be up to date, but I don't have much free time during weekdays. I think people avoided Chinese food until recently, but when Japanese vegetables are contaminated with radioactive materials, there's no point in saying Chinese food isn't safe. 

 The chefs and waiters seemed to be Chinese. One of them was fluent in Japanese. I often speak in English to understand what foreign people say, but when I'm in Japan foreigners try to speak in Japanese, which I feel strange. 

The Ramen was called "Tou Shou Men", and its noodles were basically shredded pieces. And the fried stuff you can see nearside are "Gyouza". Each sheet of flour wraps some ground chicken that was boiled beforehand.