Friday, 25 January 2013

Organized, ready and well protected at Kanda firestation.

Only in Akiba?  maybe? AKB-48 inspired?
 Morale boost for the firies?
In keeping with the maid cafe culture at least...
I wonder how long she's been around -
my guess ... about the same time as AKB48.
The other day I walked past the Kanda fire station just near Akihabara station.  

The invisible men -  ready to go... obviously no fear of redback 
spiders climbing in...

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Who on earth did the marketing for this?

I was out and about at a university I will be teaching at next year the other day.  In the office they had a box of  biscuits, produced by Nestle US called "Nips"... I did a triple take... 
I'm not quite sure I know what to think of it... I somehow don't think  the US is likely to sell "gringo" or "nigger" biscuits, not quite sure why Nips is acceptable... Mr/ Ms Nip, like Austraia's Mr Coon of Coon cheese fame?  I also had to wonder why, why on earth does the English office not twig to this...  

While it's very chilly here....

spare a thought for Australia which is in the midst of an extreme heat wave.  Yesterday Sydney recorded 45.8 degree, the hottest on record.  This is the thermomete at my parents' place yesterday.... Hot... very very hot.

Tokyo: you need snow tyres 4 - taxi continues

Friday, 18 January 2013

Tokyo: you need snow tyres 3

There's not a whole lot of point pushing a car into a car in front that is also stuck.

Excuse my hand in the way of the lens in parts.

Tokyo: You need snow tyres 2

This taxi was really struggling before it tuned the corner and made a frontal assault on the hill.

Tokyo: You need snow tyres 1

Man revs engine.
Car doesn't go.
Man checks wheels.
Man revs engine.
Car doesn't move.

I wish I could do a scratch and sniff of the burning rubber smell....

You need SNOW TYRES!!!!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Snow in Tokyo

Today it snowed in Tokyo.  The rain turned to sleet and the sleet turned to snow. And then it snowed, and snowed and snowed.  We went to Akabane.  The trains were chaotic - not running.  There seemed to be a lack of understanding from some Tokyo-ites that snow tyres are required to drive in snow.  Rear wheel drive cars with no snow tyres... I can't imagine that insurance would pay for their misadventures. 

Today was coming of age day - not a good day for walking
around in geta and tabi.

No trains

The worst job in Tokyo today - I think this constitutes human
rights abuse

The whole  JR system was in chaos

The subways were doing a bit better

The Catholic Church in Akabane looked
rather European.

Trains were out most of the day

It's amazing the way some cars think they are invincible to snow....

Tokyo is ill-equipped to deal with snow.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Osechi ryori

Osechi ryori is a  Japanese New Year thing.  Wikipedia gives a thorough explanation which will make any general statements about it redundant, except the fact it's cold, and fishy,  and mostly not particularly tasty.  Hiro's parents - who were born in the late 1930s used to have New Year food at Chinese New Year as children but aren't quite sure when the shift was made to the Western New Year.   There are some parts that are national (though my guess is that like many "national" customs NHK and the eduction system help a lot with national synthesis), and other parts that are local.  I don't think stingray is eaten in many places.
This year NY was toned down, though much less so than last year.  Hiro's father's sister died so the "red things" - prawns, crab, red rice etc were scaled back.  
Hiro bought crab for a nabe, but that didn't seem to be a problem.  Sometimes the rules aren't very clear...  One of Hiro's father's relatives (the matchmater that arranged their wedding) died on the 29th, the funeral was held the following day.  The left overs are brought home in a doggy bag. 
Hiro was remarking how unfashionable osechi has become... but that his mother likes to maintain the tradition.  There is much scope to transform the tradition.
Home made osechi

Supermarket osechi is not very different - except for the shell fish.

More osechi, though I wonder  if this is local - I don't imagine
most places have zenmai in their nimono.

Funerals have a custom of "doggy bags" - what you don't eat, you can take home.
It's quite likely this is a rural thing.  This is the doggy bag
from the funeral of the matchmaker.

Osechi with the doggy bag food made the dinner complete.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Snow and New Year

Most of these are self explanatory.... snow.
They are on the way to and from Hanaoka onsen, on the Hanawa sen,
at the main shrine in Higashi Odate and in the backyard.
No space for overtaking  - a woman on the way to the onsen.

The land in this area has subsided a lot due to mine subsidence.
The river is higher than some of the land on the behind the river bank.

Hanaoka onsen

Photos from the Hanawa sen

the backyard

the backyard

This tree should feel quite appreciative.
particularly if it compared itself to this one...

I guess this tree, beautiful as it is, was not coddled as a sappling.

tying on omikuji
If you don't pull out good luck, you can always go back for another
one... well not really, but it didn't stop Hiro's niece.  She changed
her luck from small luck to big luck so I guess I can only commend her initiative.

Supermarket food

The supermarkets were packed with New Year foods.  It occurred to me this year for the first time, that in Odate there is almost no prepackaged osechi ryori available the day before NY.  I don't know about Tokyo, since I am never here at NY, but people must either pre-order it or make it themselves. The osechi in Odate seemed to be much cheaper than what's available in Tokyo, though I think that reflects the fact that the ingredients are simpler too.
It would have to be the biggest day of the year at the supermarket.


Sashimi from a variety of fish

Salmon and tuna sashim

Crab meat - (perhaps fake crab meat) and flounder (I think)

Frozen crab



Local osechi (traditional new year ) food

supermarket stacked with sushi trays

Salmon eggs

Sea cucumber


will check with hiro what this is

nishin fish with kombu 

Kazunoko - cod eggs

more kazunoko i think




hata hata - the local Akita fish


Meat trays for those who can't bear the thought of another year of
cold osechi ryori.


yakitori - chicken skin and cartelige etc

fried chicken

kakeage  - massive price hike for New Year

Fried prawns