Monday, December 12, 2011

Takaragawa and Ikaho Onsens


Gunma is famous for a bunch of stuff, of which onsens is high up. I checked out a couple with some friends. 宝川 and 伊香保 to be exact. But first, no morning train ride to some far off place is complete without ekiben, those lunch boxes that are only available at the train stations.


I nerded out with a daruma theme. Yes, it was the most expensive one, at 1500 yen, but it came in a ceramic bowl that you can keep. Awesome!

I once got a ceramic chicken as a gag gift at a Christmas party. Instead of throwing it away, I started collecting ceramic chickens. You'd be surprised, it's a thing. Anyways, I have a problem with collecting what can be described as junk. Just thought I'd share.


Inside was some local Gunma grub, like a big bean and some chicken.


My buddy got the C6120 themed set. For those not hip to the scene, the C6120 is an old steam locomotive that was recently revived along a short stretch in northern Gunma.


Looks like the renkon was burnt to a crisp. Neat.

OK, on to the onsen.


Nothing like being greeted by some haikyo at the station. Minakami ain't the greatest, but it's where the bus picks you up. Shitty ramen was eaten. Not enough time to explore the ruined hotels. Sorry Mickey.


Takaragawa is one of the most famous mixed-sex hot springs in the Kanto area. It's been on TV, used in print advertising, and even gained a good reputation with foreigners because some guidebooks or websites or something recommended it. Apparently, soon after the white people started coming, a bunch of creepy Japanese dudes starting going, hoping to see some titties or something. Rad!


The place is fantastic, located in the middle of nowhere along a massive river.


Sorry, but apparently you aren't supposed to make videos of naked people enjoying their bath. Who knew?


When we were shown our room, the old worker pointed across the river to some cages. Two words. 熊, 旨い. Bears, delicious. Yeah, there is a mini bear zoo at the place.


What did he mean with the delicious comment?



Yeah, that's local bear soup. It is said to be very healthy because the bears store nutrients for hibernation. Bon apetit.


Onsen hotels go all out with the food.


It's always local fare. River fish, barbecue, miso stew, pickled, mountain vegetables, tempura, sashimi. Super bomb.


The next day we went an hour south to famous Ikaho onsen. I'd been here ages ago, and remember it was cool. There is this massive stairway in the middle of the town, and in the evening it fills with people. People who have just finished drinking a ton of booze, eating a ton of good food, and enjoying some hot springs. The summertime vibe was chill.


Maybe it was the winter chill, but it was dead this time around.


Also, the town itself suffers from a common onsen city problem in Japan... it's falling apart on the outside. Most mega-famous resort towns in Japan are like this. Atami and Beppu come to mind. What's the deal? The hotels are outdated, and though the rooms are maintained, the exteriors are depressing. And the view of the rest of the town, from up on a hill or on the 10th floor as you consider jumping, is worse. Unused shacks litter the place. Just plain ugly.


But the natural spring water here, which is an unusual brown color, is legit. Drink some local sake and get in.

How about the dinner?


That's a lot of food!


A lot of cold food!

This was definitely a case of quantity over quality. Stale, cold tempura is unacceptable.


This particular hotel seemed to cater to company drinking parties, evident by the off-key karaoke singing that permeated every floor. Drunk people wanna eat. And I suppose this massive pile would be satisfying had I drank a lot more beforehand.


Breakfast the next day was alright.


Good luck!

By the way, Ikaho was ranked #10 in Japan by a recent survey. So I guess I'm wrong when I say that you should go somewhere else.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 2011




Awesome text message of the month.




Inventive sushi at Daidaiya, a slightly overpriced nouveaux Japanese spot. Good place to impress guests though.



Monkfish stew.


Official subtitle translation for Beyonce's track. Miryokuteki.

And yeah, we are watching Glee as part of our curriculum at my High School.






Found this skater-tatooist-artist guy completely randomly out in Kokubunji.


So ill.



F@#k You Jew!

Yeah, so I found fuck you jew street.


This is what happens when you wander around aimlessly.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Donate to the Tokyo Toy Run 2011


This is the 3rd year that my motorcycle club, Gaijin Riders, is organizing our charity toy run. What's a charity toy run you ask? We collect toys and money, strap all that stuff to our bikes, and ride down to an orphanage. And we are all dressed like Santa. It's rad on all sorts of levels.

You can see some pictures from the 2009 event here and the 2010 event here.

For friends in Japan, if you want to donate toys, hit me up before December 11th. For anyone else, please consider sending some cash. Last year, fan's of my blogs sent over $200. So awesome! I bought the kids a Nintendo Wii. But when we were down there, playing games with the kids and what not, we noticed that a lot of them had worn out shoes. This year we are looking to hook the kids up.

You can use the paypal link below:

Thank you for your generosity!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guy's Shooto (MMA) Semi-Final

My boy Guy had been living in Tokyo for quite some time, teaching English to children and beating the shit out of dudes in the ring. Hey, sometimes after teaching a Kindergarten class, I feel like socking the first person (adult!) that I see.

I've been going to Guy's fights, which are in the Shooto league of full contact fighting, for some years. And he's only gone up. Recently, he bloodied enough contenders to be eligible for the Pacific Rim belt.

This is the semi. This is big.


A crossover of Shooto and Shoot Boxing leagues (I don't really know what that means, wikipedia links provided) was the flavor of the day. This meant more fights, more pounding, more blood.


The event was officially called Shoot the Shooto. Check out the official coverage here if you are into this sort of thing.


Or maybe this is your sort of thing. This was the first time we had round girls.



Dude's crew was decked out East LA style. This is an actual subculture in Japan. Japanese dudes who rock lowriders and Mexican street fashion.


White dude in the back, a fighter in the European Shoot Boxing league, was very attractive, so we labeled him the ikemen.


He almost knocked the other dude out of the ring at one point. Crazy!


Here's why we came.


Guy was ranked significantly lower at #9 to Tamura at #4.



We weren't worried.


Naw, I can't lie. This was Guy's most harrowing match to date that I have seen. He dropped his guard at one point and Tamura opened his cheek.


The first round leaned towards Tamura. The 2nd Guy. The 3rd was all over the place. You're talking to the wrong guy if you want blow by blow reports.

It went to a decision.


I love this set of photos.





He moves on to the final in January. This is for a belt. Worldwide recognition. Not to make this about me, but I've been down with him for years. Which means that I get to be part of his crew. Trips to Vegas, doing coke off strippers, expense accounts. Right? Isn't that how things work?


After he destroys this dude in a few months.



Kanpai ya'll!