Sunday, December 02, 2012

November 2012

November 2012


Raw pig uterus and raw pig brain, along with other bits at an upscale spot in Shinjuku.  What do pig brains taste like?  Have you had 白子?  Kind of like that.  白子 are cod semen sacks, by the way.


This month's road trips included an overnighter in Shizuoka.  Not somewhere you would find in a guidebook's best-of list, but kind of a rad surprise.  They are famous for oden, and steamy rows of the shops can be found all over.  Complete with old ladies serving you the stuff.


We were walking and randomly found this, a tea-only gelato shop.  14 types of Japanese tea ice cream should be something we see more of.




Yeah, I got the bike.  Lake Saiko is the best spot for bike-with-Fuji photos, I gotta say.


The Hakone Skyline ain't bad either.




Forgot the name, but this Hokkaido restaurant on the 50th floor of one of the buildings in Shinjuku was so bad that I am now boycotting all restaurants on any 50th floor of any building, just to make sure I never go again.


Also had a road trip to Tottori.



Rock on.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ramen School in Japan


It's no secret I love writing about ramen.  Ramen Adventures has had an amazing reception over the last 4 years.  One of the more frequent mails I receive are from hungry travelers who want to do more than just eat; they want to learn. There are lots of one-day food classes around. Sushi has one.

And now ramen has one.


This is the unassuming school / shop.


This is real ramen, and the ingredients are legit.  Pig head anyone?


This school is normally a multi-week long school for Japanese dudes who want to not only make ramen, but make a career of it.  I met with the teacher and we thought that setting up a one-day course aimed at foreigners would be a fun idea.



Soup, toppings, and . . .


Noodles!  This bowl is 100% from scratch.






After slaving away all day, we serve the extra to random college students who are walking by!


If you or anyone you know would be interested in this one-day class, please check out the page I made over at Ramen Adventures!  The day includes an interpreter.  And you get an official certificate after.  Bonus!


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Haikyo! Abandoned Obstacle Course in Hyogo


I found this 廃墟 something like three years ago when I was out on the edges of Hyogo prefecture for work.  Hyogo is best known for being the place with Kobe, but this ain't Kobe!  This is Miki, and the wikipedia page is pretty boring.  One of the top five links from a Google search on the place relates the depressing efforts of some English teachers in the area trying to meet for a drink.

But there is a nice super-resort out there.  What is a super-resort?  It's a long, long driveway followed by a massive hotel with hiking, biking, a water park, put-put golf, and more.  Randomly in the middle of nowhere.  If that is your idea of a good time, you are not alone!  This place was packed.  With the aforementioned attractions, who wouldn't bring the family out for a good time?

But what if you develop one of these super-resorts, and you build a dozen or so rad attractions, and the public find one of those attractions not so rad?


Haikyo, that's what!


You wouldn't even know, the entrance to this adult-sized obstacle course is totally overgrown.


But it's up there.


Here is the easiest way in. Up a hill, along a service road.  Just hop the fence!


Even the "do not enter" sign is outdated.  You gotta pay to play!


I was hoping for some unseen extension, but this was it.  The massive ring of ropes and tires and metal tubes was probably deemed unsafe to the kids that were climbing it.


Still sturdy.  Sturdy-ish.


Up on this hill, you can here the children playing in the massive water park below.  Kind of a strange vibe for haikyo.


But haikyo none-the-less.  Then I almost stepped on this:


I very recently deceased mole.  Ok, that's kind of freaky.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 2012

October 2012


The Garmin GPS got an updated map.  The fuck?  Somehow I made it home though this mess.

Oh, and I found out that the new bike's reserve fuel tank is good for exactly 45.8 kilometers.



Two TV appearances this month.  One was on NHK World in relation to the Ramen Ambassador project.  The other was for TBS, a regular channel in Japan.  Yeah, I eat enough ramen to be on TV for it.  I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.



The "talent" who we ate ramen with.


A lot of trips this month for work.  First time on the Hayabusa bullet train.


In Morioka, you gotta eat some wankosoba.  Pretty much an all-you-can-eat soba noodle fest served one bite at a time.


I ate 95.  Average for dudes is 50.  Win and lose at the same time!


By the way, if you choose a local train over the mega expensive bullet train, don't miss your departure time.



Next stop, Hokkaido!  Nothing like a local beer and smoked egg on the train.  Livin' life, son!


These trips are a little mottainai, though.  Mottainai is a cool Japanese word that is used universally when something doesn't live up to the potential awesomeness that it could.  A broad word in all senses, I've heard it used to describe someone murdered a few weeks after graduating from a prestigious university (what a waste, he really coulda been someone), and I've heard it used to describe a left-over grain of rice at Yoshinoya (what a waste, some old man totally slaved to get that rice to your table).

For me, these weekend work trips are a bit mottainai.  I flew into Asahikawa Saturday morning, worked for a few hours, took a train to Sapporo, and checked into the hotel.  By then it was about 9pm. The next day, Sunday, more work and a quick flight back to Tokyo.  So really only a few hour of free time in far-off Hokkaido.  Oh, and I can't really drink or party much Saturday night, because I need to be on point Sunday morning.  If you've read Japan Bash for a while, you know that I like slow-paced, explore-everywhere type of adventures.


Found this though, so I guess it isn't as mottainai as I though.


You're welcome!


I used this . . .


. . . to make this!  I am producing an English language ramen school in Osaka.  Stay tuned to Ramen Adventures for more info!  The basic plan is that you spend an intense day making everything that goes into a bowl of ramen, in an actual ramen shop.  Gonna be fresh!