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The Art of Archery in Tokyo

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

When our friend Alex said “Hey you wanna go to archery?”, beautiful pictures of emancipated women gracefully manipulating bows and arrows came to my mind. Maybe Tomek had the same images in his head as we both said “Yes, we wanna go to archery!” and off we went coming Sunday. Remember that cute girl from the Hunger Games, gorgeous Merida from the Brave movie? All those characters surely had my undivided attention when engaged in the art of archery. One of the most fascinating ancient Greek heroines are Amazons, the female warriors who would cut off their right breast in order to facilitate muscle growth to the right shoulder and arm, as a way to improve their hunting and fighting skills with bows and arrows. Who is the better dressed anyway?   I read that archery is the sport...

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Japanese schools

Posted by on Nov 16, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

As we biked down to illuminated romance excess in Ebisu, we passed two open school events in two different Tokyo wards, and curiously decided to take a look. I was amazed at the projects and the enthusiasm with which students were presenting their food and activity stands. Japanese kids start elementary school at the age of six and they learn to master Kanji for much of their school time, whereas Hiragana is introduced at kindergarden age. At 13 pupils enter middle school and at 16 they are high school students, graduating at 18. Then follows college or university (usually for four years). I don’t know if school subjects are similar to what I had in school but because Japanese writing is more of an art, students do learn calligraphy, as well as the art of Japanese traditional poetry called...

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Romantic Tokyo @ Bread Market, Nezu Museum, Eternal Lights

Posted by on Nov 14, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

To spend a romantic day in Tokyo, we get our bikes out and cycle to events we find interesting. There is always so much to chose from and once we have a goal, we always see more on the way when biking around. The breeze in my hair, the freedom to take any road I want, to be right in the environment and stop to take in anything of interest anytime, makes biking so much more enjoyable than taking the car or metro.   This owner probably thinks otherwise.   But I really love to look at Tokyo’s architecture when riding through Tokyo’s districts. And when I said 70s tile design is hideous, I was proven wrong with this example.   And another lesson to review my aversion to tiles. It is difficult to see, but this building is...

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Design Day

Posted by on Nov 13, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

What better way to spend a rainy day than at home, cuddled up on the couch. Not in Tokyo, we don’t! So we cycled out as it had stopped raining for a while… to park our bikes only two stations from the house, because it was back to rain again and hubby knows I am made of sugar. Today’s motto was design and you are welcome to spend the day with us escaping the rain, which is what you get when visiting Japan in the wet season. First thing at the station, we spotted a very Japanese fish shop with striking seafood design.   Some stores look so European, I thought I was back home – more so, now that they are fully in Christmas mode – two months before Christmas.   At the stations, you will often see...

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Our food & fun distractions in Tokyo

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

The reason to go to Japan, if not sushi, shinkansen, surreal shopping, temples, tofu, manga, maid cafes, Mt. Fuji, conbini stores, vending machines or Harajuku fashion… must be food. Which is why I will share some good Japanese dishes in this post. Japan is one big amusement park – for grown ups. You may walk out the door and find yourself in the midst of street parades, festivals and food stands. Like this one. As we were aiming for Kyodo Station, we met school kids carrying huge stuffies, playing instruments and parading down the street. Just one of those days.   Let’s talk food. Usually we go out for dinner and have breakfast at home. But exceptions are the rule. In which case a good Japanese style pasta with tarako roe and nori does the job.   So do...

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ABC night in Tokyo

Posted by on Nov 9, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

Just wrote up our recent night out with a friend – starting with A…   A is for Alex. We met Alex through the anime fair 2013 for which he was translating a session with Japanese voice actors for gaijin freshman like us.     B. Boredom antidote that is Tokyo. Even in further districts of Tokyo, like Kameido which is where we started our night out.   C. Cool and crazy. I saw turtles with wings.   D. Danger. Japan is regularly shaken by earthquakes and hit by tsunamis. Just a few days ago we had quite a shaking with a magnitude of 3 which swang our house back and forth. Creepy feeling. This monument here, monitors water levels of a nearby river.   E. Eldorado of retail is the Donki store which we visited again. With the...

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Mitsubishi, Tenmangu, Kamukura, Parco = my Tokyo weekend

Posted by on Nov 7, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

This post has nothing to do with cars, although the house we walked through today once belonged to the Mitsubishi magnate Iwasaki Yataro. Big in the automobile business he also owned a big house. Which nowadays can be visited by the less fortunate, for a fee. Although history has been tough on the Iwasakis during WWII. During turbulent war times the family had lost their residence, which is now open to the public. The attraction is called Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens but truthfully, the garden is just a lawn, not at all as elaborate as the house. The real sight is the building itself. Admission: 400 yen per person. Location: 1-3-45 Ike-no-hata, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 3min to Yushima Station (Chiyoda Line), exit #1   Hello readers! Welcome to another Tokyo series of Dasza learning about the world.   This is what I...

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Halloween day is food day in Tokyo

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 2 comments

Halloween is the day of superstition, when strange things happen and the spirits of the dead are up to a lot of mischief. For us, Halloween day was food day. We didn’t dress up, but dressed nice enough to attend a photography workshop in Tokyo, to learn how to produce delicious food porn. That weekend we hosted our Japanese friend Takumi who came from Nagoya and suggested the workshop to improve on image quality (hint hint – he is not the one writing a blog). The day started out calm and I hoped for the haunts of Halloween to spare us. We do travel with a blue penguin mascot – which should be considered normal. In Japan anyway. Donpen, the blue stuffie is an icon in Japan.   As calm as it all started out, I seriously do not...

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Biking Tokyo’s suburbia – learning about Japan

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

I love those days when you can lay back and see what happens, walk out of the house and let the day go by. Effortless PT days. A bike is the perfect vehicle for that kind of sensation in Tokyo. It is like zapping though a Youtube video, pausing or fast forwarding as you please. Today we went for another bike tour through Tokyo’s suburbia. Not knowing what to expect and which way our bikes would carry us. The truth is that this bliss ignorance only goes for me, Tomek knows exactly where we are and where we are going. Without Tomek using Google, I would have been completely lost in the maze of tiny streets of huge Tokyo. This is how we avoid relationship challenges with location findings. I simply don’t do it. He is the alpha male....

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Best of Fukuoka – great sights, good eats, cheap shops

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

Fukuoka translates to fun. It is a small city – for Japanese standards – and easy to navigate. The city reminds me a bit of wonderful Budapest, as Fukuoka was also once divided into the west bank dominated by Fukuoka castle and the east part, still known as Hakata. Merged in 1889 it is now modern but has preserved its compact layout. Starting centrally from our apartment located near Tenjin Station, we pretty much walked to all major sights (scroll through post for more info and location): ❤ Fukuoka castle ruins – enjoy a fantastic city panorama ❤ Mandarake – for anime and manga fanatics on a tight budget ❤ Book Off Bazar – rewards bibliophiles and fashionistas on a tight budget ❤ Kihinkan Hall – for its early 20th century European flair ❤ Canal City – family entertainment...

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Biking Tokyo’s Shibuya & Shinjuku at night

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

This year our fantastic three storey Tokyo townhouse came with two bikes and we are enjoying the city more than ever. We were provided with new bikes by our hosts who are like genie in a bottle. Quick rant on our gorgeous house in Setagaya Three storeys does sound awfully grand, and in Tokyo terms it is, but it is funny to see different reactions from friends. Japanese: “Wow, you live in a house – that is a big house for you two.” European: “It is a house and only has two rooms?” Hilarious. As for my part, I already got used to Japanese proportions and started to love the compactness of Tokyo and its one family house units. The garage takes up all of ground level, second floor is occupied by the kitchen, dining table, toilet and couches,...

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8 attractions not to miss in Dazaifu

Posted by on Oct 20, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 2 comments

One weekend we went on a relaxing day trip to Dazaifu. Dazaifu is a small city housing Kyushu’s National Museum (a must for lovers of Japanese space station architecture), a famous shrine (if you wanna pass your exams go there) and a temple of Zen (get your tranquillity fix here). There is a lot to see but can be incorporated into an easy walking tour.   Eight sightseeing spots in walking order: ❤ Tourist Information at Dazaifu Station. Get an info map with sight explanations in English. ❤ Kasa-no-ya shopping street. Don’t forget to buy the most popular souvenir from Dazaifu: Mochi cake! (525 yen for a pack of five) ❤ Komyo Zenji Temple. (200 yen per person) ❤ Kyushu National Museum. (420 yen per person for the regular exhibition, 1500 yen per person for the Tokugawa family     treasures...

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Japanese house architecture & our condo rental

Posted by on Oct 18, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 2 comments

The most important thing when on the perpetual travel road, is a cozy place to work and live while being close to all amenities of the city. Living in various places gave me an insight into the different housing culture of countries.   Japan’s architecture is easily recognisable, with its perfectly cube shaped small shops and houses, intermingled with tall residential buildings which all stand very close to each other.   Japanese middle class.   Japanese well off.   Sometimes, black cables run from electricity posts in front of buildings which doesn’t look pretty but is easier to fix in the case of earthquakes and also a lot cheaper than putting all those cables underneath. Our town house in Tokyo (I am typing this from now), has a balcony and a great view up to the horizon but cables...

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After the atomic bomb in Nagasaki: Radiation today

Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 in All posts, Japan, Radiation levels around the world | 2 comments

I am no expert on the topic but an exploding atomic bomb does release a huge amount of radiation which effects humans, long after the actual explosion. Does radiation released in one place stay, or does it dissolve over time? During our recent sightseeing in Nagasaki, we were wondering about the current radioactive levels of the city, 50 years after the bombing. The results are somewhat intriguing. It seems that radiation has gone back to normal. In 2012, exactly one year after the Fukushima accident, we also visited Hiroshima (second city to suffer atomic bombing) – and we passed Fukushima Station and measured as well – see Radiation in Japan 2012. In Nagasaki, all measurements were taken on the 6th of October 2013 in various places: Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park, in Urakami, the northern district of Nagasaki. At the...

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Nagasaki sightseeing in one day

Posted by on Oct 16, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 2 comments

Nagasaki is a port city, located in the most western part on Kyushu Island and surrounded by mountains. The city flourished around a busy harbour – which greeted Portuguese ships in the 16th century – and enjoyed a colourful history until the atomic bombing in 1945. On August 9th 1945, the B29 bomber Bockscar, loaded with an atomic bomb, was headed towards the industrial city of Kokura but was confronted with cloudy weather conditions which made it change the course for the second target: Nagasaki. The bomb was dropped and exploded 500 meters above Matsuyama-machi, in the northern part of Nagasaki – leaving about 74, ooo dead and over 75,000 injured. The population of Nagasaki counted around 240.000 people at the time. Consequently our first stop was the impressive Peace Statue in the Nagasaki Peace Park in Urakami (north of...

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Car rental in Japan

Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

We went to Nagasaki for the weekend, that is on Sunday. We tried to spend as little as possible and decided to rent a car and share it with two more people. Car rental agencies and costs. Rental agencies are easy to find – we had three just around the corner. We rented from Budget in Tenjin/Fukuoka. We paid 6.500 yen for the car (including insurance for the day), 3.000 for gas, and there were also bills for various highway tolls. In the end, we paid about 4.500 each (four people sharing the car). The train ride would have been about double that per person. Our incredibly cute car. We were wondering if it was considered a gaijin colour, as all the other cars picked up by Japanese was black or beige. The car was just perfect for four,...

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Japanese seafood kushiyaki

Posted by on Oct 14, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

Japan is the epicentre of food heaven and we are working our way up through Japanese culinary comfortzones. Tonight we felt like going a bit further out to have dinner. In terms of leaving the comfy distance from our apartment but also in terms of trying out new Japanese dishes. New for us but a Japanese classic, kushiyaki (or yakitori) can be skewered meats, seafood or vegetables. We went for the pescetarian version with seafood at the new and stylish shopping complex at Hakata Station. Opened in March 2011, Jr Hakata City is one of the hippest shopping complexes in Fukuoka, home to Hakata Hankyu, Tokyu Hands, Amu Plaza, a multiplex cinema.   Hakata Station has the largest train station with the Shinkansen and other intercity lines passing through.   There was even a wooden ramp especially created for...

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Sushiro – super sushi

Posted by on Oct 12, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

If you are hungry (in Fukuoka), if you have a big stomach but a small budget, I recommend this sushi place! Sushiro is excellent sushi with an increased fun factor. Tasty sushi plates pass by your table on a conveyor belt, you have a touch screen to please greater culinary demands and each plate-portion is 105 to 280 Yen. Of course there are starters and desserts, too! Sushiro is a Japanese restaurant chain all over Japan. For locations check out their (also English!) site:  http://www.akindo-sushiro.co.jp/en/shop/40/index.html   Let me make you drool!   Salmon sushi.   Barbecued shrimp.   Avocado shrimp.   More salmon. I think.   Bonito sushi.   Eeel.   Tamagoyaki. Japanese egg-omelette sushi.   Soups. Like miso and udon.   Deep fried stuff.   Devin here, a delightful gaijin from the States (who teaches English like many...

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