Archive for July, 2009

30th July
2009
written by martina

Useful information before going to Japan are in TIPS & TRICKS – on top of this page. Good luck!

30th July
2009
written by martina
I’m not Ian from Travel channel or whatever that was but for few days I had my own show …anyway, have you ever asked yourself how come they always get to go everywhere and try everything, go into every possible place for local people, meet everybody, get to eat all kind of food, at the same time have no luggage at all,  and never lose a thing or get mugged? It’s almost like travel in Japan with the exception that you probably go around without movie crew, have backpack that no
shrine doors

matter what you do is always too heavy and of course you forget something behind, at least some towels on purpose.

So, my plans for  A.O. (after Osaka) time were changing from day to day. Since you always have to make reservation for almost everything in Japan that was not such a good idea but with the great help from the fastest train in Japan-shinkansen I managed to solve the jigsaw called the trip. It lasted for a week and the destination was Tokyo.

I went to see Kyoto again-totally worth it since you can go to Kyoto every day in year and still don’t see everything,  hiked through a tunnel made of only the shrine doors, went to see some zen gardens (there is possibility that you spend the night in temple but of course you have to make reservation at least few days ahead-and you know me…) and met lots of foreigners. I kind of felt lost with them.

dsc_0998

my tatami room

Continued at Atami, a touristic spa resorts place, got to know onsen better (Japanese hot spring baths), this time public ones. In every house there is shower and a bathtub located in the bathroom. You take the shower first and then enter the bathtub. While taking a shower you are sitting on a small chair and wipe your body with a small towel dipped in water and shampoo from the water basin. And when you’re clean you can relax in a bathtub, filled with hot water (40°C) and some herbs and forget all the worries and the world around you. They do it every day, everybody uses the same water from the bathtub, change it once per day. And in public spa resorts it’s the same, you have outside/inside bath and you share the experience with many women at the same time (yep, it’s separated). Spent the night in tatami room, so I got the full Japanese experience.

It continued in Yokohama, wonderful city with a big port and Chinatown. The port is 150 years old this year and they had a lot of celebration. There is even EXPO which was at first the main reason why I went there but I started liking this city

Yokohama

Yokohama

more and more every minute.  I saw enormous mechanic spider, made by one French company that makes huge mechanic dolls, and of course some really cool Japanese high tech inventions as cars and high resolution tv screen… It was nice! The best or the worst part as you wish about Chinatowns all around the world is that they’re all the same, colourful, with impossible-to-count-number of restaurants and shops.and only 30 minutes away…

…only 30 minutes of train ride…and there was TOKYO, THE TOKYO, one and only, home to 12!!! million people, its billion lights glowing in the dark inviting the people from all around the world as the sign “follow me” to land in its  embrace and be undoubtly satisfied with this immensive capability of packing these small creatures onto its playground.

From jaw-dropping no-room-for-chaos chaotic crossroad where during one red light for cars, thousands people cross the road to perfect movie-scene view from the Tokyo tower (Japanese version of Tour d’ Eiffel), to Gotham city city hall;

now count!
now count!

from the Electric city where you get all kind of electronic devices,  gadgets and anime costumes or dolls to splendid architecture beautifully-abused  by fashion boutiques;

from best restaurants to homeless people calmly waiting in line for their free meal in the park to early fish market bombed by fresh fish and juicy sea fruits sadly waiting for the revelation of their purpose of life;

Tokyo's circulation with veins and arteries

Tokyo's circulation with veins and arteries

from the third highest Statue of Liberty in the world to the spotless pieces of peace and silence in the middle of the city where the mute temples forbid you to interrupt all that is holy… From to from to from to…

Tokyo is a place you just have to meet to have your own from to. A place that leaves a post it with a note: COME BACK ANYTIME on you. I can’t wait to get lost in it again… and plans:

there are  many for the next time, I just need a ticketo;)

smoking area on the street, outside!

smoking area on the street, outside!

fish market at 6 a.m.-it's late!fish market at 6 a.m.-it’s already late
14th July
2009
written by martina

Our reporters have seen Martina smiling and having wonderful time with Japanese family while staying in their home for one month in Osaka. The family consists of father, mother, daughter and son (he was spotted only one weekend during her stay there). It has been unofficially told that Martina is staying in his room while he’s away in Tokyo studying architecture and is  sharing other rooms with family. We have seen them talking and since we know Martina doesn’t speek Japanese they seem to understand and speak English really well!  She has been treated like another daughter and sister, given delicious dinners and other meals,  been spoken to about history, culture, food, language, travels, taken around with their car to different places, got suggestions about plans. She said that this opportunity to stay with Japanese family for one month has given her a throughout insight into Japanese culture and natural way of living. She liked it a lot and she felt like she became older sister to the children. This is also why she met her Japanese brother in Tokyo and they spent an exciting day there together. She will never forget all the help and places and things that she had done before the trip towards Tokyo together with her Japanese sister (she even has the same camera now;)) and all the adventures and nice conversation she had had with her Japanese parents. And album is just a cream topping on cake!!!

AMAZING FAMILY!!! DOMO ARIGATO!

Tsukamoto station-7 minutes away from my home

Tsukamoto station-7 minutes away from our house

riverside (yodo river)-5 minutes away from our house

riverside (yodo river)-5 minutes away from our house

13th July
2009
written by martina

somewhere in imaginary japanese restaurant a young lady enters:

M: Konichiwa

B: Hello. Don’t worry, I speak english.

M: Oh, really? Am I in imaginary japanese restaurant?

B: Well, of course! You can sit here, there is a hot wet towel to clean your hands with and to wipe your face if you want to, here is a glass of water with ice, chopsticks and menu. So, what would you like to have?

M: Hmmm, sushi?

B: Rice blocks with raw fish on it or with fried eggs or with squid or shrimps or… with spicy wasabi and tasty ginger.

M: ok, delicious (oyshi in japanese). okonomiyaki?

B: A special type of pancake. We mix cabbage, meat or fish or noodles or other vegetables and egg and throw the mix on warm “grill”, then pour special sauce on it and then you cut it and eat it from the  grill

M: Fantastic! Udon?

B: It is a noodle soup, enriched with vegetables, sometimes tempura…

M: Tempura?

B: Yes, not tempera (kao temperaaa, kisa nebo obojiii, takve je boje…-ok, even in imaginary japanese restaurant they do not sing this song…), it’s fried meat or vegetables or fish, shrimp…

M: Chashu rice?

B: Rice with topping made by egg, vegetables, also meat.

M: Oyshiii… And there is sooo much more. Well, that’s great that your menus have pictures of food.

B: Of course. So, you’ll have all this, I suggest also all kinds of tofu, some other never seen vegetable before (well, almost never seen), some row fish (maybe cooked fish head and you just must try the part behind the eyeball!).

The bartender brings everything on different plates in small portions and the young lady starts enjoying the paradise of flavors…

M: Itadakimas!

B: Dober tek!

M: mmmmmm, this is soooo…. mmmm…. I LOVE this food! what is this? and this? nato-(very sticky euro-popular calory burning source wannabe-like caramel but very very sticky)-mmm, okey, let’s rather try some other calory gaining sources…  o, my god, this bbq things are making me nuts…mmmmm… I mix rice with soup with vegetables with meat with fish, mmmm, such a choice… my brain is grateful for all this palette of flavours and this food diversity, every day!!! and yes, of course I’ll try pineapple from Hawaii or Philippines and of course I’m going to eat these small fish which are almost antiosteoporosic medication because of all this calcium…

B: Beer or sake or some more tea?

M: which one?

B: japanese hot or cold tea, uran cha (chinese one, good for digestion) or maybe jasmine tea or other green tea?

M: But it’s evening. I won’t be able to sleep…Do you know what caffeine does to me?

B: Then maybe some sweets?

M: Manju, anmitsu, mochi, warabimochi, azuki (sweet bean-we make almost everything out of it), macha ice cream, rice cakes and other rice products…I WANT IT ALL, well except from macha ice cream-it has strong flavour!!!for me…

B: well, are you ok?

M: mmmmm… I can’t even talk anymore..there was so much food, I’m so fool/full. Delicious and I’m keeping the chopstics!!!

Except from the first part with English spoken bartender everything is almost true. But there is one thing that is for sure. They eat wonderful food, prepare it in all kinds of ways, even fry it and they are still a nation of very fit people… Metabolism probably…and not so big consumers of alcohol (damn, this lack of appropriate enzyme!!!);)

one of the dinners

one of the dinners

japanese style

japanese style

oyshiiii

oyshiiii

the hands are just waiting for the start...

the hands are just waiting for the start...

OKONOMIYAKI!!!

OKONOMIYAKI!!!

And there is of course yakisoba (japanese noodles) and takoyaki (balls with octopuss)…

Fantastic food eaten at home with family and good food eaten outside, everything!!! And really really good!!!