Intricate and elaborate meals

July 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm (Uncategorized)

We spent a few nights at places where dinner and breakfast are included. When I say dinner and breakfast, it’s not your typical continental breakfast or buffet. There are about 10 little dishes that come at a time. And each dish has multiple elaborate components with lots of decoration and things tied with bows.

The first place was a ryokan in Takayama, a quaint mountain town. The building was an old merchant’s home and our room had a little patio area overlooking the river. That’s where we had some tea while our dinner was being prepared. Dinner was a few waves of many beautiful dishes. And all the plates and bowls and cups were beautiful too. We were able to try regional specialties like Hida beef and this savory paste/jam-like dish that’s cooked on a leaf over a fire.

Wait a second. They’re eating beef? We decided that because Japan has a more thorough policy for oversight of their beef, we would eat beef when it’s some special dish.

We also stayed at a Buddhist temple in Koyasan, this mountain with lots of temples and an amazing ancient cemetery. There are hundreds of thousands of graves of old monks and samurai and shogun and regular folks, from the past thousand or so years. The vegetarian food was also amazing. Especially this particular tofu dish. Very soft with an unusual delicate texture.

We also immensely enjoyed our room that overlooked the mountains and trees. The bonus was that the temperatures were cool AND there were no mosquitos so we could leave the windows open.

We’ve been wondering why the trees here look so beautiful. It turns out that many of them are manicured. There was a little section on the hill outside our room that was maintained by a team of gardeners.


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Japan is a low-ceilinged land

July 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s like the whole country is working together to make sure Mark’s head is full of bumps and bruises. (see photo 1)

We’re waiting out the rain in the Nishiki food market in Kyoto. Sitting across the way from a pickle shop. (photo 2) We couldn’t go watch the cormorant fishing because of the swollen rivers rivers and heavy rains. And we had planned to walk around the Gion district but the huge downpour is putting that on hold. At least we have easy access to mochi and pickled vegetables and soy milk donuts. (photo 3) And I’m happy to report that we have found a lovely umbrella. It’s going to be hard to bring it on the rest of our travels. But it was so beautiful that we couldn’t leave it.

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Mixing and matching to increase yumminess

July 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm (Uncategorized)

Omelette with rice and fried chicken (Japanese style)

Crepe with strawberries, ice cream, whipped cream. All that is standard. But then they also throw in a slice of cheesecake and some pie crust.

White peaches with anything. Like mochi dumplings with a hint of cinnamon.

Mochi wrapped in a pancake. Shaped like a fish.

Ice cream inside of a waffle-shaped cone. Mark especially loves these. They help him satisfy his daily ice cream quota. He’s had at least 3 so far. I say at least because he eats lots of things when I’m not around. So that I don’t get the idea that he eats a lot.

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Capsule Ryokan

July 15, 2010 at 4:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Doesn’t that name just seem to capture everything traditional and modern and efficient about Japan? (ryokan means inn) That’s where we’ve been staying in Kyoto. The rooms are small by American standards but I think of it as efficient. There are tatami mats in a raised platform with storage inside the platform (see photo, pardon the mess. Mark is rearranging his stuff). The bedding folds away. And there’s a shower pod and a toilet pod (see photos). The shower pod is actually one of the nicest showers that we’ve used. And it’s nice and compact.

To complete what sounds like a lodging rec, the price and location are great. And the staff us super nice. And they put together a nice info binder. One for each room! And there are 2 computers for free Internet and there’s wifi too.

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Umbrella watching in Kyoto

July 14, 2010 at 3:27 pm (Uncategorized)

There’s been about 5 straight days of rain. So we’ve been doing lots of umbrella watching. The umbrellas here are so beautiful. Such beautiful colors and patterns and shapes. I especially love the ones with extra spokes (like the ones that my sisters have). We’ll try to see if we can find more once we’re in Taiwan. There are lots here in Japan, but there’s no need to lug them around the country.

Sun’s out today, so maybe we can do some parasol watching.

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Lions vs. Eagles

July 9, 2010 at 10:02 pm (Uncategorized)

How do the fans here know so many chants? And such complicated ones?

Something with long sperm balloons just happened. Now it’s over.

Oh, those were the visiting Eagles’ sperm balloons. Now it’s time for the Lions’ sperm balloons. Caught a photo with the iPhone to give you an idea. I’ll update the post (eventually) with a better photo from my camera camera.

Baseball in the U.S. has a lot to learn from baseball here.

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Birdland Yakitori

July 9, 2010 at 1:46 pm (Uncategorized)

Too much food. Not worth the cost. Some of it was quite good but too much meat on a stick can be overwhelming.

The plan for today, after Mark wakes up from his jetlag-induced nap, is some gyoza, hopefully a baseball game, and some ramen.

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Fun with Ja-puns

July 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm (Uncategorized)

Ichi ni: “one two” mosquito bites on my legs

Host at restaurant: We have a table at 5 pm. What is your name?

Mark: Peterson

Host: OK. Mr. Peter. We will see you later.

Next time we’ll try saying Peterson-san.

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Counting down…

June 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm (Uncategorized)

2.5 weeks until I’m free from working, 3.5 weeks until the wedding.  I’m really looking forward to fun and relaxation, but it seems like there are so many things to do before we get there!  But the more stuff we get done now, the less we’ll have to do later, right?

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