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Archive for February, 2016

Choco Fries

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 21, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

All Pictures

Sweet Potatoes

McDonald’s in Japan occasionally has special promotions where they sell food oddities. Once they sold really expensive burgers with top quality ingredients. (Well, top quality for everything but the meat.)

This time, Mark and I headed to McDonald’s for their Choco Fries, French fries covered in brown and white chocolate sauce.

There’s still time to turn back!

We were given plain fries and a packet of Double Choco Sauce. Mark poured the sauces over the fries and we tried it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I think it would have been good if I were used to French fries being a sweet dish. I’m sure that if I tried the Choco Fries a couple more time, I would start to like it. But since I have enough sugar filled things in my diet, I’ll stay away from this one in the future.

Fries with ketchup have more than enough sugar for me.

All Pictures


Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.   Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank toaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with most cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)

McDonald’s
(マクドナルド)

How to get there:

Address:

Everywhere!

Websites:

Cost:

  • McDonald’s is a little more pricy in Japan, but so is everything else.

Hours:

  • Most are open 24/7.

Notes:

Map:

Posted in Japan | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Sand Day

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 14, 2016

Sunday January 3rd, 2016

All Pictures

Surfers taking advantage of global warming

First Trip of 2016

For our first trip in 2016, Mark and I headed for the beach. It was a lot warmer than we expected. No, we didn’t go swimming. But, many crazy surfers were in the water. It wasn’t warm enough to swim in a bikini, but you could walk around town in a t-shirt and light jacket.

The Berlin Wall doesn’t seem that hard to get through.

Our first stop was at the Sand Museum. This sounds like it would be a very boring place where one can learn about the history of sand; it’s not. The Sand Museum is a fun place where you can see sand sculptures of various themes. The last theme was The Brothers Grimm.

We got there just in time. The very next day, the sand sculptures were schedule to be torn down. The Museum will be closed for several months while they work on the next theme with a new set of sand artists. The Sand Museum will be opened again in the summer.

There is nothing keeping anyone in their chairs.

We could have simply walked from the museum to the sand dune. But, we exited the museum from the back, walked up a small hill, then paid to take a ski lift down. We’re adventurous.

I was a little worried when I saw that the ski lift had no safety bar. You could sneeze too hard and fall right off. No one had fallen off, that I know of, buy many people where holding on the chair for dear life. (Okay, it was just me and some old lady.)

No camel ride for Mark.

Mark wanted to ride a camel. That’s how he wanted to start the year off. This was going to be his year of animal riding.

We knew that the ride would cost about 1,300 yen (about $13). But we decided it wasn’t worth it when we saw that the rides lasted about 5 minutes. Plus, the camel guys shooed us away when we tried to take photos of the camels. I guess photos are for paying customers only. But, it’s a big beach and I have a zoom lens.

Walking up the Dune

It was a pleasant dune; not too hard of a climb up. It’s the smallest dune I’ve ever seen. At the top I took photos and wrote some postcards.

Mark ran down the dune, trying to slide part of the way. When we were on the bottom, we saw a group of people with flattened cardboard boxes trying to slide down. But, their technique was all off.

They tried to sit on the boards and do a scoot start. The friction was too high for that. They should have lain on their bellies on the board and pushed themselves down the dune. That would have been fun.

Sand everywhere!

After leaving the dune, but before getting into our car, we tried to do a complete de-sanding. We emptied out our pockets, took off our socks and shoes, and attempted to shake off every bit of sand from our persons. But still weeks later, we still find sand around the place.

Mark can’t walk anymore.

After the dunes I went to a Lawson to buy some stamps and mail my postcards. I wasn’t too sure how much the postcard postage should cost. This wasn’t my first time mailing a postcard and I thought it should cost about 70 to 80 yen.

I told the clerk that one was to go to Japan and the others to America. She handed me several 52 yen stamps. “Really? 52 yen for Hiroshima prefecture and 52 yen for America?” The clerk discussed this with a co-worker and they both admitted that it sounded strange, but that’s what their postage book said.

When I sent the next postcard from the next stop in our trip, I was told that domestic and international postage was 70 yen. Well, lesson learned for next time.

The postcard I sent to Japan was for one of my schools. A teacher asked me to send the students a post card written in English that would be placed in the hallway for the students to read. It did get to the school. Someone, I don’t know who, paid the additional 18 yen necessary for the card to make its journey.

Purse steeling ghost

Before heading home we went to the Mizuki Shigeru Road. This is the town where Shigeru Mizuki grew up. The road is based off of one of the comics he wrote called, “GeGeGe no Kitarō (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎).

I’ve never seen an English translation of the cartoon version of the comic. So, I’m not familiar with it more than knowing it exists. Mark and I went to see it mainly because it was there and it was a thing to be seen. But that’s why we see most stuff.

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

The Sand Museum
(砂の美術館)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°32’23.1″N 134°14’17.3″E

Address:

2083-17 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture 689-0105

Phone:

Websites:

Cost:

  • 600 Yen for one adult

Hours:

  • 9:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
  • Closed between exhibitions (early January to mid April)

Notes:

  • There is free parking in front and behind the shops near the museum.
  • Behind the museum there is a building with an observation deck.
    • From there you can get a chair lift to the Sand Dune.
    • There is also more parking here.
    • 300 Yen adult one way
    • 200 Yen Adult round trip.

Tottori Sand Dunes
(鳥取砂丘)
(Tottori Sakyu)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°32’26.5″N 134°13’44.4″E

Address:

2164-661 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture 689-0105

Phone:

  • 0857-22-0581

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • There is 500 yen parking near the dune, but there is free parking near the Sand Museum.
  • You can ride a camel for 1,300 Yen, but it is a very very very short ride.

Mizuki Shigeru Road
 (水木しげる記念館) 

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°32’41.2″N 133°13’23.6″E

Address:

Taishomachi, Sakaiminato City, Tottori

Phone:

  • 0859-47-0121 (Sakaiminato Infomation Office for Tourists)

Websites:

Cost:

  • It’s free to walk down the street.
  • Museum Adults 700 yen

Hours:

  • Shops along the street close shortly after sunset.
  • The museum is open 9 – 5 (closed Tuesdays)

Videos:

Books:

Notes:


Sending a Postcard from Japan

How to do it:

  • Buy some postcards from a souvenir shop.
  • Flip the card over to the non-picture side.
  • Write the receiver’s name and address on one side.
  • Write your short message on the other side. (Don’t cross the line in the middle of the card.)
  • Put a stamp on the card.
  • Drop the card in a mail box.

Websites:

Download:

Cost:

This is what the Japanese Post Office’s website says about picture post cards:

  • Domestic (Japan to Japan) – 52 Yen
  • International Surface (slow mail) – 60 Yen
  • International Airmail (fast mail) – 70 Yen

But in reality all picture post card postage are 70 yen.

Hours:

  • Post Office Hours
    • Small Post Offices: 9:30 – 16:30 (Closed Sundays, Saturdays, and holidays)
    • Big/ Main Post Offices: 9:30 – 18:00 (Closed Sundays and holidays)
  • You can buy stamps from some convenience stores like Lawson.
    • They even have a post box right in the store.
    • open 24 hours
    • Make sure you know how much the postage is beforehand. Many clerks have no idea how must is cost to mail a postcard.

Notes:

  • picture postcard (絵はがき) (e-hagaki)
    • Don’t mistake this for a New Year’s postcard, which can be quite expensive.
    • Also don’t mistake a picture post card for a regular post card with addresses and stamps on one side and a message on the other. Those cost less to mail.
    • It’s cheaper if you can get a variety pack of 10 or 12 cards with pictures of things all around the prefecture or city, rather than getting one postcard from every place you visit.
  • Stamp (郵便切手) (yūbin kitte)
  • post office (郵便局) (yūbinkyoku)
  • How much is it? (いくらですか) (Ikuradesu ka)
  • Do you have postcards? (絵はがき ありますか) (Ehagaki arimasu ka)
  • Where is the post office? (郵便局はどこですか) (Yūbinkyoku wa dokodesu ka)

Map:

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Sakaiminato 市, Tottori 県, Tottori 市 | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Kōhaku Uta Gassen

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 7, 2016

Thursday December 31st, 2015

All Pictures

Hot Pot!

 

A Quiet New Year’s Celebration

This year Mark and I chose to stay warm and ring in the New Year indoors. We invited the few friends we had that stayed in Japan over the winter break. Of those, only one showed up. The rest went to Hiroshima for a big city New Year’s party.

Pork, Mushrooms, Vegetables, Mochie, and whatever is already in the pot

We started with a hot-pot dinner. Hot pot is essentially a stew that is cooked and eaten at the same time. If you feel like eating mushrooms, add mushrooms to the pot and wait a few minutes. Meats are thinly sliced so they cook quickly. At the beginning of the meal you have one type of stew, but by the end the ingredients and flavor would have changed.

To make hot-pot, you start with a base of flavored liquid or broth. You can make a broth base from scratch or buy one. (They come the land – pork or beef, sea – fish, crab, or shrimp, or air – chicken varieties.)  Then add whatever you want. In Japan, there are entire sections of the grocery store that are dedicated to hot-pot. Just pick the stuff you like.

Melissa really got into the Surprise AKB48 reunion.

Around 7:30 pm we turned on Kohaku Uta Gassen. There were many Japanese pop stars and lot of enka singers. To be honest I don’t care for J-pop. When I lived in Korea I really got into K-pop. To me, it sounds like music, but in Korean. J-pop, on the other hand, sounds like… baby music.

I’m not a music critic and I don’t have the right vocabulary to describe how I feel about types of music. Plus, I’m not a big music listener. But, when I hear J-pop, I feel like I’m too old to enjoy it; if I were a 10-year-old, maybe I would like it…

One J-pop group singing an anime theme song

Around 9:00 Melissa went home. She wanted to be at a shrine near her apartment at midnight. Later she told me that a Japanese family adopted her for a few hours and showed her what to do at the shrine.

Mark and I continued watching the show. We drank Miyoshi wine, watched the count down, then went to bed.

Happy 2016!!

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Kōhaku Uta Gassen
(紅白歌合戦)
(Red and White Singing Contest)

How to Watch:

Websites:

Cost:

  • The cost of your TV license or internet fee

Hours:

  • 7:20 p.m. to 11:45 p.m on New Year’s Eve.

Videos:

Posted in Japan | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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