Monday, October 31, 2011

A day in Shinjuku

Last Saturday I wen to Shinjuku to see a movie that was shown only there in the Kanto region. It was rare for me to go to Shinjuku, as it is an area for ordinary people (I mean people who aren't Otaku). Shinjuku is where young people hang out, and there are a lot of department stores as well that older people like to visit.

 When I arrived here it was already 12:15. The temperature was mildly warm so you can see people wearing not much clothes. 

 As it was noon, we were feeling hungry. We had decided we would have lunch at a Ramen shop called "Yottekoya", simply because it was near the movie theater. 

And this was what I had. The taste was based on soy sauce, and it had a few slices of pork as well. I think this was very good and reasonably priced (about 650 yen), but my friend said it was just okay. The dumplings were half the price on this day. 

 And this is the movie theater, "Shinjuku Musashino Kan". "Kan" or 館 usually means a building that is not too huge. We saw the right movie whose name was "密告者" or the stool pigeon. I hadn't known the meaning of the English name. 

 I had waited for only 20 minutes before the movie started at 13:00. This movie was based on Hongkong, and since I visited it 2 years ago, the scenery was really familiar and I enjoyed it. And the movie itself was more than satisfying. It was thrilling and each character had own inner struggle, which gave depth to the movie. 

We discussed a lot about the movie at this cafe "Segafredo Zanetti". This was just a few minutes away from the theater.  

This was a cafe latte, but the coffee was so strong that it blended nicely with the milk. This was about 370 yen. You can visit the site of this coffee shop by clicking this. It's in English. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kourakuen (幸楽苑)

I've introduced lots of Ramen shops so far, but today let me show you the Ramen shop where a bowl of Ramen is the cheapest in Japan. The Japanese economy seemed to be recovering last year, but as you know many economies in developed countries have been sluggish, and the trend here is that people started to choose something very cheap again.

This shop belongs to a franchise chain "Kourakuen", which was established in 1954. As you can see on the illuminated board above, the cheapest Ramen you can have here is 290 yen, which is about 3.7 us dollars. You can see this Kourakuen's in local areas too. 

It was Friday night, but sadly I saw just a few customers besides us. I would have had a Ramen more happily with the shop filled with people. 

And this is the 290 yen Ramen. The taste was soy sauce, but the thing is an adult wouldn't feel full after having only this.  

So I ordered stir-fried rice as well. I think many of you would be familiar with Chinese food, and that they would have tried this before. This was priced about 2.4 dollars. 

I don't know when we'll start to see economic recovery again, but as Japan's economy stays depressed, the cheapest are the most likely to survive.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kaisen Misaki Kou (A sushi restaurant)

I think I haven't introduced a new sushi restaurant in a while. It's not because I didn't have sushi often, but because I haven't seen a newly opened one in my neighborhood. I go to Tokyo often, and it's where you can have good sushi too, but I tend to have good Ramen there as each Ramen shop is independent and unique.

 I went to a shopping mall last weekend, and there was this "Kaisen Misaki Kou". The meaning of "Kaisen" is seafood, and "Kou" is harbor, and "Misaki" means an area's name. I think this was the first time for me to try this. 

Have you ever heard you're not supposed to pick up those sushi because you can have fresher sushi by ordering? I think it holds true for almost every Kaiten sushi restaurant, but those sushi in the picture were fresh enough. 

 The nearside sushi is roe. The black round box includes green tea powder, and the Japanese reads, "Two spoonfuls are enough (for one cup of green tea)." 

I saw this sushi for the first time. Usually scallop is served raw, but this was roasted with "mirin", which is translated as "sweet cooking rice wine". It tastes sweet and smells of alcohol. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Houjou (北条)

There is an area in my city that is called "Houjou", and it is where we can still see old streets that seem to be about 30 years ago. Many towns near Tokyo underwent redevelopment, but this area has stayed intact even now.

I could see several old streets, along which old shops lined up, but basically what you can enjoy seeing here are mostly shrines and temples.  

And this was one of the temples that was a few steps away from the street. I don't understand the Kanji on the board, but it seems this temple is based on Zen, which Steve Jobs also practiced to stabilize his mind.  

I could see sculptures on the upper gate. I suppose the Dragons' origin should be China, but it's important here in Japan too. 

While I was walking about I found this cafe. Can you see that cute post?  

The interior seemed to be based on the Showa period, which was from 1926 to 1989.  

These radio and typewriter must have been made in the Showa period too. They seemed really cool, and would be much more so if they work even now.  

I ordered an iced coffee. We call it "Ice Coffee" in Japanese, but when the taste is old-fashioned we call it "Reikou", or 冷珈. The taste of this coffee was that of the latter. 

Would you want to see Japanese things that are old, or new? You can see the both of them in the  areas around Tokyo.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Akihabara and Ikebukuro

 Now more than 6 months have passed since the earthquake. When I turn on TV, they still broadcast things related to the earthquake, such as economic downturn, people evacuated from Fukushima. But if you are in the areas near Tokyo, you'd see people who seem to have forgotten about what happened on March 11th. And this weekend I saw again lots of foreign people in Akihabara.

Do you know a girls' group "AKB48"? Another group "Morning Musume" would be more familiar to foreign people who like Japan, but whenever I see TV, the former group shows up in so many programs. And it opened this new cafe in Akiahabara. It is next to the Gundam Cafe I introduced before.

So I think Akihabara is the place for both idol and anime fans, and I saw this "Hobby Tengoku" opened recently near the station. It sells things like plastic models, figurines, and besides that you can see events for Otaku here as well. This shop is going to be open for three years from now, so it's kinda "limited" things that Otaku people like. Click this to see its site. 

There is a Pachinko parlor "Island", which features anime characters. And this was its ad that said "We cheer up Japan in Akihabara". Why cheer up? It's because Japan is struggling to recover from the earthquake. Pachinko is like slot machines, on which you can get or lose money.  

People think Japan is now full of girls' groups like AKB48, SDN48, NMB48, the Morning Musume  and etc...and this Momoiro Clover.  Honestly there are too many and people wouldn't recognize which girl is from which group. Only I can recognize this as their costumes are based on our ranger series. This is a banner of their upcoming cds. 

My friend and me decided to have dinner in Tokyo, and the taste of the pizza restaurant Shakey's in Ikebukuro was something we couldn't forget. It was about 5pm and it was really crowded like this.  

You know, Halloween is around the corner. This is the entrance of the Shakey's.  

I had to drive after coming back to my hometown, so I had this non-alcoholic beer "Free". And the fried things you can see were chips and shrimps. 

I think you don't have to worry at all about earthquakes and radiation in Tokyo. Like the foreign people I saw on this day, you'd enjoy walking about in our capital.