Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Osaka Oushou(a Ramen shop)

Let me introduce a Ramen shop called "Osaka Oushou". This company has been expanding its business rapidly, and it opened a shop in my city recently. "Gyouza" is a dumpling that has ground chicken, minced onion and what not inside. And as for "Oushou", it is close to the word "king". There is a board game called "Shogi", and it has a king piece called "Oushou" and it's almost equal to the king of chess.  
I was going to come here for dinner, as a bowl of ramen easily fills my stomach, but my friends insisted we should have lunch at this shop on the day. The white words on the facade says, "The renowned fried Gyouza".

This interior wasn't like an ordinary Japanese Ramen shop, and rather, this was more like Chinese. The very origin of Ramen was from China, but it has changed its style the Japanese way for a long time. And people in China, Taiwan also define ours as "the Japanese Ramen". 

Naturally I was expecting the Ramen to be very good, but as the pic of this menu suggests, the main dish it was featuring was "Gyouza". This menu says this shop was established in "the 44th year of the Showa period", which corresponds to 1969. The Showa period is from 1926 to 1989.

I ordered a "Tan Tan Men". I like something spicy very much, and as you can see by the color of this Ramen, it was spicy enough.

We usually put pepper on top of Ramen, but this shop had its original pepper called "The Ramen pepper". It is available on a Japanese website for about 4.6 us dollars.

A plate of Gyouza costs 2.3 us dollars usually, but the flier on your right said it sold one (6 pieces) for 1.7 us dollars on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of a month.

And this is the Gyouza this shop was advertising as the most featured dish. I have to say these Gyouzas were much better for its price than other Ramen shops, which made me think I wanted to try them a second time. 

There are various Ramen shops in my city or nearby, so I want to introduce them one by one in the future. Hopefully I like to show each Ramen in ways you could tell the difference between them. And please savor the difference when you're really in Japan =)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cafe Libro

There is a coffee shop called "Cafe Libro" in a department store in my city. As some of you know, "libro" is a Spanish word that means "book". And you can bring in novels or other books except magazines from a bookstore that is next to the cafe.

This coffee shop has been in business for years, and the price of a coffee is relatively high, so it seems this shop attracts people who wouldn't care much about the pricing. And those who come here are often aged over 30 or so. 

And I brought a Haruki Murakami book called "Kafka on the Shore". I'm a huge fan of the author and am now waiting for a new book called "1Q84 book 3", which is due out on April 16. You can bring in any novel, but you have to bring one as a possible buyer. But who knows if you're going to just read or buy it?
People can look into the interior from the outside of the shop, but the entire floor is usually very quiet and you can concentrate on reading. 

This is a regular coffee. I have to say this coffee's taste is in accordance with the price. About 4 us dollars. And what's more, you can have a refill for about 100 yen. If you don't like to calculate the exchange rate, it might be better if you consider 1 us dollar to be a little short of 100 yen.

What's renowned at this shop is its waffle. I could have had ones with some ice cream on top of them, but I usually like a specialty to be standard. These were hot and crispy.

Some nice coffee shops in Japan have "organic sugar". This doesn't differ from regular sugar in terms of taste, but those who like to avoid chemical substances may prefer this. The white words say, "Yuuki sugar", and "Yuuki" means organic. 

I have to admit I usually don't read. But when a newspaper reports a good book is due out, I buy or borrow it from the library. Such books I read are often written by young authors in their twenties, but I basically think an author is the older the better. And Haruki Murakami, who I respect as the best, is 61 years old.  

Friday, March 26, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -4-

This posting is a sequel to "Walk in Akihabara -3-". 

The 4th floor of this building was exhibiting pictures drawn by "Kori Eriko". I think those who like light novels are very familiar with her drawings. She drew pictures for a light novel "Ririko ni Omakase! (Leave it up to Ririko!)" by Dengeki Bunko.

The building you see on your left is "Sofmap", which buys and sells flat TVs, computer-related stuff and other digital devices. Sofmap has 12 outlets only in Akihabara and this is the main one.

This is an advert on Melonbooks, which sells manga for guys. If I were to name a few important manga shops in Akihabara, they should include this one. There is a sister shop called "Livret", which sells manga, light novels, and magazines for girls.

This advert was announcing that a video game called "Okiba ga nai !" would be released on May 27. It is playable on a computer that connects to the Internet. The meaning of the title of the game would be "No place to put it!".

As I said before, the competition among the maid cafes is very fierce, and as you can see there are so many maid cafes in Akihabara. There are various kinds of such cafes, and for example, there is one where a maid cleans your ears with an earpick.
These are figurines from an video game called "Yggdrasil Labyrinth 3". It's going to be released on April 1, and is playable on Nintendo DS. 

 Saw for the first time "Neko Mimi" or cat's ears were on sale. Those who saw K-ON! should know that Azusa was asked by the other 4 members to wear this (watch this video). And some of the maid girls standing on the street had this on their heads. Btw, it's not my hand.

I found Moe canned juice. As far as I saw there were three kinds, green tea, English tea, and grape. I didn't know there were these kinds of Moe juice, but I was looking for things like this to show you when I was wandering about in the street holding the camera.

This is a curry shop well-known in Akihabara called "Go! Go! Curry!". When I looked at the menu, each dish seemed to have much volume, so I decided I would have lunch here next time when I'm very hungry.

I saw many foreign people walking around in Akihabara on this day and that made me think this area was becoming more and more popular among foreign tourists. As I said again and again, Japan is now in recession, so economically this country isn't so powerful, but culturally, my country is getting known to people all over the world. The government should consider attracting more foreign tourists based on that fact.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -3-

I went to Akihabara again to see what was really hot in the area. As I said before, it takes just 45 minutes by train to get to this anime epicenter, and I come here especially when the weather is very good and warm. And it seems Akihabara, or any areas in Tokyo have many people when it is comfortable to walk around. It was about 20 degrees Celsius on the day, so I was wearing a shirt only. 

This is called "Chuo Street" and one of the busiest streets in Akihabara. If you want to buy electric parts cheaply or, see maids standing on the streets to give out brochures, you should cross this street to reach the left side.

Those who come her for the first time would be overwhelmed to see those anime adverts. Some of them are about maid or Internet cafes. It is said it's hard to run a maid cafe for a long time, as the competition is very fierce and the economy is stagnant. 

I spotted K-ON! manjyuu. Manjyuu is a round bun that includes some sweet bean paste. The price was about 630 yen or about 7 dollars. We tend to think that things priced below 1,000 yen are relatively cheap.

A huge Azusa Nakano towel was seen hung. She is an anime character from K-ON! and appears in the anime as a very talented freshman high school guitarist. As I also play the guitar, I can't help but pay attention to the way she plays solo parts. 

What you're seeing are Lucky Star Corone-like cookies and strawberry cakes. Perhaps you can buy those on the Net as well, but you would feel like buying those especially when you're really in Akihabara. 
The girl on the top of the building is the mascot character of an anime shop called Gamers. I introduced the shop in this posting, and it is a very important shop in the anime Lucky Star. 

Liked to have coffee at Doutour as always. The nearest Doutor is about a 15 minutes walk from the station . 
I ordered a "Milano sandwich B". I wouldn't need to explain the black stuff on the right. An iced coffee.
As you can see, it includes fresh boiled shrimps. People think the foods at Doutor are far better than the ones at Starbucks. You would need 4.2 us dollars to have this. 

There are clothes shops that are called "Uniqro" in Japan, and this is one of the outlets in Akihabara. I think it is very close to GAP in quality and pricing. You can buy jeans for about 40 us dollars. Uniqro's been lucrative recently due to the cheap clothes it sells amid this recession.

I think Akihabara is now a hotter area in Tokyo more than Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro. It's popular not only among people who like anime, but ordinary people as well. Even though you don't like anime or manga, you can enjoy the very unique atmosphere at least =)

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Joban Line(Hitachino Ushiku Station)

There are several train stations in my neighborhood, all of which can be reached from my place in 30 minutes or so. And it took about 15 minutes by car to get here. I usually don't take advantage of this station, but as this is relatively clean, I decided to take some pics of it to show you.

This station is called "Hitachino Ushiku Station" and it is run by a private railway company called JR. JR is short for Japan Railways. Though I said I didn't use this station usually, I often see this as this is very close to a WonderGoo, which sells anime, manga, cds and dvds.

There were statues of peasants from Japan's old times. I wish I could explain which period they belonged to, like Edo, Heian, but there wasn't any explanation available. Probably they're drinking sake, or Japanese liquor, out of a bottle called "Tokkuri".

Most of the JR stations are very old, but as this station was built in 98, the concourse is spacious and clean. There are many newly built houses around this station that are intended for young couples.

You can buy ordinary tickets to go through this ticket gate, but people usually use prepaid rail pass cards called Suica or Pasmo. You can store some money in the cards, and by flashing the card over the green circle on the gates, you can go to the platform. 

The terminal station of this Joban line is Ueno, from which you can reach Akihabara in 10 minutes or so. Many Shinkansen or the bullet trains depart from the Ueno station, and it is one of the biggest stations in Tokyo.

This is the Joban line. Decade ago or so, the Joban trains were sold and jolted sideways when it was running fast, but since this new train cars replaced the old ones, people can commute to Tokyo more comfortably.

In order to cater to the rush hour, this Joban line has two-storied train cars. People prefer the upper seats, as they can command a nicer view than the lower ones. 
This is a train car that usually tows freight trains. As you can see, this wasn't towing any cars, so I think it was on its way back. Officially this train car is called "EF 8198". 

I'm not familiar with trains and I'm one of those people who just ride a train when it's necessary. I tend to use the TX line that takes me directly to Akihabara since I like anime so much, but when I want to go to many places in Tokyo I take advantage of this JR line. This line allows you to buy a ticket that lets you go almost everywhere within the Tokyo Metropolis.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mister Donut

I visit this "Mister Donut" from time to time. As some of you know, this originally came from North America, but according to what I found, there are now only 8 outlets in Pennsylvania and Florida, and that its main markets are in Asia. There was a rival donut company in Japan that was called "Dunkin' Donuts", but it withdrew from the business in Japan in '98. The Japanese people are so familiar with this Mister Donut that they call it "Misdo".
There was an outlet on one of the main streets in my city, but now it has moved to a newly built shopping mall. At the former outlet, people could smoke in certain time periods, but now most of the Japanese people started to refrain from smoking, and this outlet bans smoking entirely. 

What you're seeing in the upper right is called "Pon De Ring". it includes something that is soft as rice cake, and many people like it.  And the ones on its left is something similar, but it has some sweet black powder called "Kokutou (brown sugar)" on its surface.

There are so many kinds of donuts, but I like to have ones that have chocolate coating. The one in the center on the lower row is called "Angel Chocolat"

And Mister Donut sells not only something sweet, but what can be had for lunch like the ones you're seeing. The rectangular pies in the left center is "Curry Frank Pie", and the ones on its right are "Hamburger Pies". As you can see, both of them cost 168 yen, or 1.8 us dollars.

I think a Mister Donut is a place where people of all age can relax and have food. But when it's past 4 o'clock, when the Japanese students go home, it is crowded with students.

I ordered a coffee and took a "Chocolat French with Raw Caramel" and a "Curry Frank Pie". These cost me about 6.4 us dollars or 4.6 euros. You could buy a set at Mcdonald's for 6 dollars, but as I don't have much for lunch, this was enough.

To show you what was inside, I cut in two the "Curry Frank Pie". Since I like curry and sausages, I enjoyed having it. In my book it was better than the sausage pies that the ordinary bakeries in my neighborhood offer. 

I could have ordered an iced coffee, but Mister Donut serves a very good hot coffee at a reasonable price. And you can have refills for free. I didn't put in any sugar, 'cause it is good as it is. 

Honestly I sometimes feel as if I was advertising a shop in Japan, but all in all I show you only things I like very much. And since this donut shop is renowned for its coffee, I sometimes come here for the purpose of having a coffee only. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CD/DVD Bargains

There is a home electrical appliance store called "Ishimaru Denki" in my neighborhood and as it was going to get out of business, it was selling cds and dvds very cheaply. I went there to look for some foreign music cds, but when I got there such cds were almost sold out and what was left behind was mainly anime software. Btw, "denki" means "electricity".

There are several buildings in the premises and each one of them sells one or two kinds of the electrical items. For example, one of them sells only computers or computer-related items like SD cards. But since I like music very much, this is the one I've frequented so often.
As you can see, all of the cds and dvds were 50 to 70% off. I usually rent and burn cds, so I rarely buy one, but when the price is as low as this, you wouldn't need much money to buy some.

My favorite Seiyuu Aya Hirano cds. For those who don't know what Seiyuu is, it means a voice actor or actress who does the voice of an anime character or a foreign actor in a film. And this woman is only 22 years old but one of the most popular Seiyuus in Japan. The song "Namida, Namida, Namida" in this cd wasn't included in either of her two albums. And it was sold half the price, about 6 us dollars. 
I don't know the situations in other countries, but those who are really into anime in Japan buy "character songs" sung by a Seiyuu. So the left Haruhi cd includes songs by Haruhi or namely its Seiyuu Aya Hirano. Those character songs aren't usually used in the anime.

Do you know a group called "Morning Musume" these girls belong to? They debuted in the late '90s and had been popular until '06 or so, but later a new girls' group called AKB 48 replaced them as the most popular group. 

This is one of the dvd shelves. I had been thinking I knew much about anime, but when I looked around I came to notice how little I knew about it. 

This is an anime dvd called "Saint Beast" and it is meant for girls. The anime was broadcast in '07 and the story is about the battle between God called "Zeus" and six Saint Beasts. Two of the beast are each called Luke and Judas, which means a reference to the Bible is included in the anime.

This anime is called "Lovely Idol" and it started out as a video game in '05. But later it was released as an anime in '06. When a video game is so popular, it has a possibility to be released as an anime. A good example is "Clannad" by Kyoto Animation.

When I noticed what were left were mainly anime dvds, I looked for Rozen Maiden, The melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but such popular dvds had been already snatched away. I could burn any anime dvd that I rent from a rental shop, but owning a real one would have given me more satisfaction.