Friday, 26 September 2008

Pod People

Anyone know what this is?

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Sushi with the President

Chris and I were fortunate enough to be invited out for a special Sushi meal with the President of the University. She knew a wonderful place to take us right in the heart of the Ginza - the shopping district that is equivalent to Fifth Avenue in New York.

It is a very stylish place and I saw so many architectural design elements that were pleasing - that I had to resist taking pictures of corners of buildings and eaves. Nonetheless these doors were awe-inspiring.

A historic remebrance of the way things used to be.

We had a marvelous chef at the restaurant. At first he seemed a bit acerbic, but mainly it was to show his seriousness - later he smiled and impressed us with his ability to describe things in English.

Our chef made at least nine different kinds of sushi and I am tempted to put close-ups of everything, but it would never convey the quality and beauty of the chef's work.

Here you can see the items prepared.

The president was merciful with us and did not order the shrimp head sushi that our neighbors got.

Here the chef shows us a particularly delicious sushi made with perilla leaves and sesame seeds. It was SO good!

I can't resist another close-up - Ithink this was a tuna creation.

This could be the yellow tail, but we also had abalone and squid that melted in your mouth (and was not chewy like American squid sushi) as well as gourd and eel. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!

Here is our little group - very pleased and satisfied!

I guess you can tell!

After the meal we needed to shop off a few of the calories so we visited a beautiful paper shop.

...and of course we couldn't pass by my favorite department stores like Takshimaya. On the roof we were able to find Aunt Chris her favorite food.

The top floors of Japanese department stores often have traditional items and crafts and this is the lacquer ware in Takashimaya.

To me this is as good as a museum.

The workers even have little uniforms if they work at the elevator

or the information desk. I feel like Alice in Wonderland at the mad tea party somehow!

News From Home

Spousal unit Don sent me these pictures from home. poor Bart has been having a time with thunderstorms. I just want to cry when I see how miserable he looks in this picture!

The cats seem to be doing better - but Don is confuisng them by bringing foreign objects into the household!

Callie looks quite perplexed by these eggs!

Monday, 22 September 2008

One of the coolest Sights For Me in Japan

(There are a lot of wonderful things in Japan - but sometimes this is the one I like to see the most!!)

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Floor I wouldn't Want in My house for long

I love mosaics and also make them myself, but this is one mosaic I don't think I would want to have around too long.

This is a mosaic made of deli meats. It can be found at the web site:

Trip to Karuizawa

I have taught intensive English in Karuizawa during the Spring four times in the past, so I was very excited to get the opportunity to see this resort town at a different season. For me going to Karuizawa is like going home - a familiar - comfortable place that is a combination of ritzy resorts and tumble down shacks - a place with so many oppositions and contrasts that I just have to feel at home. We were fortunate to have great interest in the trip and so there were 48 of us - My 15 students and a variety of international students as well as administrators from the University with which we are affiliated.

The trip up to the mountains is just beautiful. First there is urban sprawl and then smaller towns

and this all gives way eventually to the mountains.

One of our field trips involved visiting a soba retaurant where they make their own noodles. First we got to hike around in a nature park - famous for its wild flowers.

This is a lovely Malaysian student named Fatin and our International Studies office Liason Noriko. They justseem to glow out here in the woods.

This is a table near a huge gnarled tree trunk. My Aunt is headed towards the restaurant, while I

explored the falls and plants of the park.

There were no bad pictures to be taken.

Even the wasps were pretty.

After the nature walk we went in to the restaurant to enjoy the soba noodles. Buckwheat has never been my favorite, but these were absolutely delicious.

Back at the seminar house I was able to take a morning walk and enjoy some of the neighborhood. A rice field nearby looked peaceful - but the gong suggested that there was danger in the area.

Indeed it wasn't long before I noticed a thief stealing the kernels of rice.

I am told this is the equivalent of a Japanese turkey. It wasn't the only wildlife that I saw on that walk.

Even the view out the window yielded a chance to see a wild moth or butterfly.

We also got the chance to visit the outlet mall. I was thrilled to find Goma (sesame) icecream, which Ihave been told is a very healthy alternative to the usual sorts.

I also ran into the Karuizawa Ginza to visit a couple that I visit each time I am in town. The are always so sweet to me and although my Japanese is limited we also chat a bit and catch up.

They own a lovely souvenir shop and I highly recommend it to any one in the area. They have very tasteful and high quality things.

All too soon it was time to leave and we loaded back into the bus to head for Tokyo.

The scenery was absolutely breathtaking.

No picture does a mountain justice.

At the rest stp we shopped for our last souvenires. I always have to laugh at this delicious treat. But can never force myself to buy it. Who would you give a package of Virgin nipples?

I'll end with a few more scenic shots from the bus trip back.

Of course the students slept through most of the scenery - but it had been a successful trip.

For images from the lava park and of the students themselves visit

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Thursday in Yanaka

Last Thursday we were invited out for a lovely lunch at a wonderful French Restaurant. It was one of those exquisite meals where everything was nuanced and worked well together and we had a delightful time eating everything from Pumpkin soup to blanc mange for dessert. It was divine.

Afterwards we took a little walk through an historic area of Tokyo that is very close to where we live. This area is called Yanaka and although it is famous for its cemetery and temple district, we stayed in the shopping areas and visitied the oldest paper shop in Tokyo.

This is a picture of my aunt in the shop.

Here are a few pictures of the neighborhood.

The tourists have rediscovered Yanaka, so there are Rickshaw drivers available for tours.

Of course it is not all old fashioned stuff. Some buildings are quite European and in tone,

...while others are chic and trendy.

We had a wonderful time with our friend Miki and looked forward to more walks in this lovely neighborhood.