February 28, 2010

Unlikely Uses

Concrete blocks are part of a unique design at Waketoku, a Japanese restaurant in Hiroo.

February 26, 2010

Inadvertent Skype Advertisement

A seemingly innocent want to see actress Gloria Reuben's IMDb page resulted in me almost calling "1-800-Missing" on Skype, which is merely the name of her short-lived TV show. Clearly, Skype needs to learn boundaries.

February 23, 2010

Grandma Style

(In Yoyogikoen.)

The strange phenomenon of blue-haired old ladies is always worth pondering: do they mean to dye it black but find out the color won't hold, or is it their intention all along?

Even bolder than an old lady who walks around with blue-purple hair is an old lady who dresses herself to match her hair.

February 22, 2010

ふやき御汁 宝の麩

Fumuroya, a Kanazawa-based (Ishikawa Prefecture) company that specializes in fu (wheat gluten) products.

One of their specialities is this fu-encased, freeze-dried miso soup.

The miso comes separately. Squeeze the miso out of its packet and put it in the bowl along with the fu. Poke a hole in the fu so the shallots and whatnot inside can come out, and pour boiling water.

Shallots, seaweed, flower-shaped fu burst out of the casing like confetti. You'd never imagine that such a small square could contain that much ingredients. It's an enthralling sight.

The end product, which is as tasty as it is beautiful. It's the most high-end instant miso soup you could ever imagine. Perfect for presents.

A link to their online shop.

February 21, 2010

≠ Cod Brains

Align Center
Shirako ("white children")=cod milt=soft roe=cod sperm, which seems like the easiest way to get people to say "Ewwwwwww". Despite its appearance (and what it is), it tastes great with ponzu vinegar and soy sauce.

February 18, 2010

Tunnel Vision

In Kawazu, Shizuoka. One side of the tunnel was a mural by elementary school boys, the other, by the girls. The boys had their fire-breathing sea monsters and the girls, pseudo-Hello Kittys.

February 16, 2010

Homework, Circa 1956

My dad's homework from when he was six years old. It's artwork of The Tortoise and the Hare, but in his version, the hare wins.

Every month, they had to write the calendar, and draw a picture representing that month. January is a kid on stilts. Notice the screwy "6".

For March, he drew the hina dolls. Numbers are still a hurdle: 14 and 15 are written as 41 and 51.

For July, fireworks.

For November: abstract imagery (of foliage?), which I take to be an indication of artistic development.

February 14, 2010

Local Specialties

Aside from the pretty pink Kawazu cherry blossoms, the best thing about the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival in Izu (from February 6 to March 10) is the many food stands set up in the pedestrian area. And more specifically, the surprising generosity with which sellers offer food sampling.

On the left, wasabi roots.

Dried persimmons.

Stacks of cherry-blossom related mochi sweets.

Blue laver and dried baby shrimp. They give you more food samples than you can stuff in your mouth.

A spiral of fried potato, which the guy at the stand enthusiastically explained "has been featured on TV!"

February 13, 2010

Vitamin C for Squirrels

Mikan (satsuma) trees are rampant in Izu. Who knew? And the squirrels seem to be benefiting particularly from them: there wasn't a tree in sight that didn't have half-disemboweled mikan hanging from its branches.

By the way, aren't squirrels supposed to be in hibernation?

February 11, 2010

Kawazu Cherry Blossoms

The Kawazu cherry blossoms in Izu, miraculously beginning to bloom despite the cold weather. Generally cherry blossoms bloom in spring, but this kind (flowers are larger and the colors a more vivid pink) seems to be an early bloomer. They made a pretty contrast with the bright yellow of the rape blossoms.

February 7, 2010

Tofu Time

(In Tsukiji.)
The old lady and her dog, on their daily trip to the tofu store. See how happy the dog is?

February 6, 2010


A woman on the train with a "There is a baby growing inside me" keychain on her purse and a bag full of smaller L'Occitane bags at her feet. I'm guessing she's decided to take time off work to focus on having her baby, and is heading to her former workplace to say goodbye to her colleagues and give them each a parting gift of L'Occitane hand cream.
The keychains can be acquired at train and subway stations. Pregnant women put them on their bags so those on the train will have greater incentive to give up their seats. As far as I can tell, it works out nicely.

February 2, 2010

Signs of Life

(Near the NHK Studios.)

The yellowed façade, the window sealed with masking tape, the ineffectual window sill -- if not for the occasional load of laundry hung outside, you'd think the house was deserted.

February 1, 2010

As Good as the Real Thing

It's not snow, it's slush. But even that is such a rare occurrence in the Tokyo-Chiba area, even the sight of almost-snow is enough to make me happy.

Ume Season

An ume (plum) tree stands before Mikimoto's Ginza store, the Japanese equivalent of the giant Christmas tree in front of Rockefeller Center in New York City.