Monday, March 31, 2014

March 2014

San Gatsu


The ides of March came and went without incident.


Just the standard blooming of the flowers. Hand in hand with the entire country of Japan getting some serious hay fever.


Pink flowers.


Pink Lambos.


Crushed these, plus 2 others in the span of 3 hours. Food tours courtesy of Ramen Adventures.


The most bad-ass fridge at one of the most elite of all sushi shops on earth. Kind of overrated, though.


As are the drinks at Tender. I don't know, plenty of mixology nerds regard this as the mecca for shaken cocktails. It reeks of Ginza; a place for old rich people, and the gangster scum they pay, to canoodle with high-priced prostitutes.


This is more like it! As always, Tokyo's west side.


Presentation, son! You know he just brought out some turtle soup with a turtle skull next to it.







Minami-boso, on the southern tip of Chiba, is pleasant as fuck. Seriously get down there if you ride a motorcycle and just relax the shit out of your day.


Just spent the last week doing camps, shows, and science seminars. Spending the next week doing TV shootings, more spring vacation science seminars, and shows. Then April should be pretty chill. Expect something more on JapanBash. Same thing I said years ago.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Izu - A Nice Place to Visit



With the air finally out of single digit temperatures, it is time to get back on the bike for some touring. The Izu peninsula, directly south of Mt. Fuji, is just a couple hours from central Tokyo. My new MB-750 got me there in no time!


Ah, that's better. The 990 SM-T that put me out of commission during the summer. Aside from a couple scratches, you'd never know!

This time, I took the coastal road down the east side, then up the west side to Toi Onsen before heading inland for the main road back. None of these are recommended roads, per se, but the highland skylines still had a bit of snow around, and I don't want to put the bike down again just yet.

Izu is all about random touristy spots. The first stop was Ito Marine Land.

This roadside tourist trap is home to Kanto's longest foot bath!




This was kind of rad. This fish monger had a bunch of samples. Grab some fresh fish . . .


. . . and grill it yourself. Yep, these are the free samples.


No ride down the east cost would be complete without a stop at the バナナワニ (Banana and Alligator) farm for some banana ice cream.


But the real reason I always stop in Atagawa Onsen is for the onsen eggs.


There is a tiny onsen in the middle of town, much too hot to dip yourself in, that comes equipped with baskets to cook eggs in. So, yeah, another do-it-yourself cooking adventure.


If you want some local sea salt for you eggs, you can totally steal it from this shop (they have samples). I bought a big bag of it a few years back, so I don't feel bad stealing a palm-full when I'm down here.


Next up is Inatori. One of my favorite ryokan is in Inatori, a place called Yuen, but they were all booked this weekend. Well, except for the penthouse suite which comes to about $500 a person. Anyways, Inatori is probably the most famous city in Japan for kinmedai, a kind of premium fish. I waited for about an hour at this shop.


It was mehhhhh, not worth the wait or the 2500 yen price at all.


This shop, if they had been open, is your best bet for 金目鯛. Bonus, the ground floor is a foot onsen.

Anyways, they seem to be closed every time I come.


The other famous kinmedai restaurant has a fish seller on the ground floor grilling up free samples. Considering what a fish meal costs in the shops, I probably ate $10 worth of free samples.

Conclusion - just have a couple free samples and move on.


Out on the west side, more touristy crap!


Japan's biggest bronze daruma. Wow, I guess.


This is a temple, but I couldn't tell if it really is a temple, or just a front to make some cash.


$5 gets you in the door.




Anyways, it is near the cliff that looks like a horse.


By the way, I stayed in Toi Onsen at the Minamiso Ryokan. It was strictly normal. I can't recommend it, but I can't say it was bad. Does anyone have any recommends for nice ryokan that aren't hella expensive in Izu?

I had a reservation at La Posada, a random hotel opened by a Japanese couple that lived in Mexico for 20 years and serves homestyle Mexican cooking at their spot. But they had to cancel last minute. Some kind of emergency.


Oh yeah, big ass cherry blossom festival.


Kawazu is in full bloom at the beginning of March. Expect crowds and general annoyance.

More specifically, this is the Kawazuzaukra matsuri - The Kawazu cherry blossom festival. February 5th to March 10th. Sorry for the lateness of this post. Hit it up next year.


The fuck? $5 for 3 pine cones? Really?


This is kind of funny. This ugly-ass sign reads, "Beautiful river. This is our town."

Ok, that is fine and all, but then check out the river!


This is so normal in Japan, but I still get baffled by it.


More famous ice cream. This one is mixed with freshly grated wasabi. It was nasty, I do't know why I keep getting it every time I come.


Last, but not not least, I hit up Shuzenji.

That hot spring in the middle of the river? Well that is where my main man Kukai saw a boy bathing his ailing father in the cold river 1200 years ago. Kukai was like, "da fuck?" and thrust his staff into the ground. At that moment, an onsen erupted from the earth. He then taught the locals about the health benefits of bathing in mineral-rich hot spring.

Anyways, this is little onsen town is famous in tourist brochures, but kind of just a crowded mess. There are some cute shops, though, so make sure you pop in if you are in the area. The local manju sweets shop gives away free samples, a concept that seems to be recurring here.