September Approaches!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2010 by slackplan9

So…

What has happened since I blogged last? Well, one of Tempetown Lake’s dams broke. I posted some pics a couple of years ago, of some buildings across this manmade monstrosity. Now, you get to see some pics after the water went “bye bye”…

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Needless to say, this place SMELLS now. You’ve heard of EYESORES, well, this is a NOSESORE. I have to go by this every day. Almost as bad as the garbage dump, also on the way to work.

I went on a super secret, sonic bonic, L.A. trip, back in July.

Take a GOOD LOOK at what I found at the Airport (And PHOENIX SKY HARBOR, Not LAX!)…

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My favorite issue of my favorite magazine – Monocle! Tokyo, like I mentioned in my last blog, went down to #3 on the most liveable list. Phoenix was nowhere. BTW, L.A. and NYC were not on the lists either.

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I went to the Original Bob’s Big Boy, restaurant, with my Tokyo friend, Mr. Tamura. On the NEXT Tokyo trip, a trip to one of THEIR Big Boy restaurants is a MUST! Has to happen – WILL HAPPEN!! End of FRICKING story…

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Well, here is a pic of the original BIG BOY, himself! As you can see, the creepy kid stares at you INSIDE the place, as well as eyeballs, outside, as you go into the place…

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Well, ahem…What can I say? I was HUNGRY. That burger was INHALED before I could bring EL GRANDE NIKON into position. Damn…Anyway, I did get some of the outside of the place when we left…

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Here are some jovial people who converged on the Goldman residence. To the LEFT of this the camera, was the view you see in the right pic.

We also went to the Tibet Nepal House, in Pasadena, which has real good cuisine. I didn’t bring the big camera, so I had to use the camera on my mobile to catch these pics (Didn’t get pics of the exterior, gomen nasai…).

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They really made you feel like you were in the Himalayas, including the Lhasa Beer. However, this food was GREAT, beer or not!

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The “Mystery Meat” is in the center. I will let YOU guess that one. I LOVED EVERY BITE, like I was back in NEPAL…

Needless to say, the vacation balance will be reset in September, and this time around, I am budgeting several things – Investment funds, which I want to use for incorporation and moving fees, and another major trip. I smell TOKYO again…

Here are some more of those Tokyo pics that didn’t make the blogs…

Day 6

Higashi-Jujo (The ROOM)

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Shinjuku

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Day 7

Ome

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Day 9

Ueno

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Along Asakusa Dori

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No more pics to post for Tokyo 2010. All the rest will be stuffed away. Hope you enjoyed the ones I WILL post…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Monocle Quality of Life, 2010: Tokyo #4; Phoenix area? KIA (Again!)

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2010 by slackplan9

Seeing that Monocle Magazine’s 2010 Quality of Life Survey results for 2010 on “The Top 25 Most Livable Cities in the World” was just released, It doesn’t surprise me that my most favorite place, Tokyo, Japan, was #4 on the list. The only reason why I think it dropped down one notch, is because Tyler Brûlé & Co. needed to throw all three of their favorite Eurojaunts right up on the top all cozy prime. Ok, fine. He can do that, as long as they give “Brand Tokyo” the credit it has earned.

WHAT? Why is SCOTTSDALE missing?? Well, it’s not MISSING. It simply didn’t make it on the list, as usual. The highest American city on the list, is, AGAIN, Honolulu, in at 13. The only other American city on the list was, to every Zonie’s 120F baked brain horror, Portland, Ore.

I won’t go anymore into this. Every year, I always get on my soapbox and explain why Tyler & Co. will never put this place in their magazine, and how great Tokyo is…But, I won’t do that.

What it IS time for, since it will soon be 90 days since I took the trip, is to show stuff that never made it into the previous blogs:

Day 3

Akihabara and Shinjuku":

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Day 4

Ochanomizu:

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Sangenjaya:

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Shibuya:

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“The Warhol Device” captures Shibuya Crossing from ground view:

Shinkawa: 

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Tokyo Station Area:

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#4, Tyler? I still think it should be at LEAST #2.

That’s it for now. Next time, I may add some more pics for Days 6, 7, and 9.

 

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Sayonara, Tokyo-to…For now…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2010 by slackplan9

I clean the Weekly Mansion I was staying in, and turn in my card key. Here is where I take that long, final walk to Joju-ji temple, when Mr. Tamura is at. While waiting for the time when I take off to the airport.

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I have a Pepsi, for Sergio. 500ml for ¥100. Not bad, for around here.

When we were ready, we took off to Narita airport.

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The tower in the background is the Tokyo Sky Tree, still under construction. I will take a better pic on the next trip.

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More highway shots…

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If you look VERY carefully, you can see the Magic Castle at Tokyo Disneyland.

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Then we arrived at Narita Airport. After turning in the Cell that Mr. Tamura rented for me, then checking in at the ANA counter, they, crediting the miles for this flight too, we had lunch.

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“Whenever I fly out at Narita, I eat at this Chinese restaurant.”, Mr. Tamura mentioned to me.

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This was my final meal in Japan: a Chinese style ramen, fried rice, and a Chinese style gyoza (Not pictured, unfortunately), that I have not seen before.

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Then when I got to the security area, this was my final glimpse of my friend, for 12 years, Taimei Tamura.

The security check was lightning fast. Even though they went through my backpack a second time, it was still lightning fast, and far more professional than the goons we have in America doing this.

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Flight NH008, the ANA flight back to the USA. A B777. On the flight back I had the Pork Fricassee. The movie I watched was called Kaiji: Jinsei gyakuten gêmu. I would buy that on Blu-Ray, actually.

San Francisco…Had to go through the LONG-assed lines at customs. Afterwards, I had to go to security (ugh…AGAIN). LONG lines, unprofessional…Then I hit the United Airlines flight to Planet Phoenix (ugh).

I then arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor.

Then I get to get over the Jet Lag and start work all over again…UGH…

Sayonara, Tokyo…

…Until the next time…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 9

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2010 by slackplan9

The “WARHOL DEVICE” decided the blisters on my left foot were too excruciating for even a small camera like that, so it decided to stay at the room. I, however, took off to Ueno station, also on the Keihin-Tohoku line, as the Higashi-Jujo station.

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I took a pic of this monk on the way to Ueno Park.

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Here is an interesting statue for you.

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This is “The Last Samurai”, Saigo Takamori, leader of the Satsuma rebellion. Sorry, people, he was Japanese, not Tom Cruise.

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These are pics of temples in the local area.

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This guy was feeding the crows.

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These crows reminded me I was hungry. I had to get back to Higashi-Jujo so I could jump into Mr. Tamura’s car to go to his house for dinner with the family.

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We had Sukiyaki. Here are the ingredients.

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Of course, It is now being cooked.

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And Mrs. Tamura puts on more veggies…

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After this week, I guess you get the idea…

MMMmmmmmmm…

I return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 8

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 by slackplan9

Well, Today’s my scheduled visit with Ms. Hisao Muto. She is a Professor and Lecturer at Hosei University. I have known her for 15 years, and most of that time, I haven’t been able to meet up. Because of the left foot, again, this was going to be kind of light.

Prior to that, I have a shot of the “Challenge Round” of canned coffees.

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I can understand the FIRE part of this name. I have a jar of some of the most drank instant coffee in Japan in my room:

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Trust me, the CLASSICO is better. This stuff tastes like they flash fried the coffee beans to ASH first, THEN made the stuff to coffee, THEN freeze dried. You cannot put barely a fraction of a teaspoon of this stuff in your cup until it seems like you are drinking PAPER ASHES. Anyway, the FIRE BLACK is the “Challenge Round” of this. How was it? Well, my kidneys are getting a workover right now…ugh…

After this, I readied myself up, then took off for my 1PM meetup with Ms. Muto.

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I guess, because of her University status, they did this meetup in a traditional Japanese businessman way – in a reserved conference room. WOW! did I deserve this? Anyway, after this meetup, she decided to take Mr. Tamura and myself out for a late birthday dinner. (Get ready PHOODIES!)

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This was the plate of sashimi. Well, I guess I get to take a hit for the cause.

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This was the place of assorted tempura.

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This was the chawanmushi. That is a particular seafood chowder, almost in the consistency of a custard, served in a formal teacup.

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This is a SEA SNAIL. Yes, the bowl is on fire. I have to admit, this had the consistency of liver pate.

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Deep fried sardines, and a bowl of pickled ginger, pickled cucumber, and pickled daikon.

Then…The Main course…

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The UNAGI! This is marinated, grilled river eel. I had Unagi on the ANA flight out of LA to here, but, of course, this was a LOT better.

Also, there was LOTS of…

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Sorry, I forgot to take pics of the sake.

Tomorrow, I will attempt to do another short trip, then my dinner with the Tamura family.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 7

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 by slackplan9

My original plans were to take off to Ome, to run an errand for someone, then I was going to try to hit Kamakura, then to Odawara, then back. If I hit the rapid trains, this was possible. It started to rain when I took off to the Higashi-Jujo station. Again, I took off late. When I got to Shinjuku, I tried to take a Special Rapid to Ome, or to Tachikawa and transfer to an Ome train, however, the train that I was on that was marked as a “Special Rapid” had changed its markings when I got on, and became a “Local”, eating up my time, getting to my destination. I had to change trains at Tachikawa, because this train was going to Takao. Really good, if I was doing the tengu pics, like I should be, however, I needed to get to Ome. So, after time being drained getting there, we emerge at the Higashi-Ome train station…

We emerged to more rain. It got worse, as these pics show.

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Normally we could be treated with a view of Mt. Fuji from this place. Nope. Not in this weather. However, regarding this weather and the place we are going to take pics of? “PERFECT!!” I exclaimed. Does it kill the other plans we have? Well…Including the fact that we left at 11AM, when we should have taken off at 7AM? Yes.

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With this weather, these trees look more nice, I expect archers from another era to start firing arrows.

We eventually reach our destination: the Rinzai Zen monastery of Tennei-Ji.

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Tennei-Ji was a Shingon Monastery until the ancient Takeda clan reformed it, and made it conform to Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

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I took these pics because this is an example of classic Japanese large temple architecture. Later you will see a giant contrast with the architecture of a vastly more modern complex.

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The rain worked out real well with these pics. As the rain got worse, however, it was painfully apparent that Kamakura and Odawara Castle would have to wait, possibly even for another Tokyo trip.

However, I went into the 7-11 on the way back to the train station, and I ran into another surprise…

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I found the dumpling that the heroine in my comic series eats at the beginning of Pt. 1! YEA! I purchase the bready dumpling and hurry outside to get some pics…then I close my eyes, and recite the line in my script…

“…Dump-ling…”

When I open my eyes, I see that I have taken my bite and have savored this treat…

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It’s little things like this, that I DON’T find in the barren sand heap of Zonie Land, that brings tears to my eyes. Even the little things here are ART.

So, our plans for Kamakura and Odawara scrapped, because of this rain, I decide to go back to Shibuya and another treat.

The “WARHOL DEVICE” wasn’t finished yet, as we went on the pedestrian overpass. “El Grande Nikon” refusing to come out of the backpack until we were under some shelter…

After getting under the overpass ahead of us, The big camera came out and took some shots of its own.

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I discovered, after about 15 to 20 minutes, that I was at the wrong side of the station. I needed to be at the WEST side instead of the EAST. I made this correction and took off to our next destination.

On the way there, I discovered an interesting building…

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Granted, it is a major pain in the fraheerhein getting ANYWHERE in this area. This is around that Dogenzaka hills area where Monocle magazine will broadcast at the J-Wave studios, when they are in town. Anyway, after navigating these hills, I arrive at our next stop, the more modern temple complex of Jyosen-Ji.

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This temple belongs to the more modern Honmon Butsuryu Shu, which is a school of Nichiren Buddhism. With its ferro-crete construction, and its use of lots of flat lines, you would think they had Frank Lloyd Wright design it.

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This modern era complex does differ in comparison to the complex in Ome.

Ok. It was about 5PM and time for me to get some dinner. Needless to say, I had to eat at my little hideaway in Shinjuku one more time…

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This time, I ordered the LARGE…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 6

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 by slackplan9

During the daytime, I was going to be light. My blisters from Day 4 were excruciating. I don’t care – I am taking a hit for the cause. Mr Tamura was having a house meeting with some people (Which is one of your duties as a Buddhist monk.), and he took me along. I didn’t photograph the meeting. As the foodie I am, I DID take a pic of the spread of home made food, the ladies laid out.

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This food WAS good. They complimented me on my hashi (chopsticks) skills as I proceeded to escort all the food on my tray into my stomach. This was the first home made meal I had in Japan in a long time, and the first one on this trip. It won’t be the last, as I have been invited for dinner with the Tamura family.

On the way back to the hotel, to get off this foot for a while, I noticed this:

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These cigarettes are that “I dare you!” type that have to punch a hole in the lungs. Like a video game. These cigarettes are the “Challenge Round”. Of course I discovered that American cigarettes around here also have this “Challenge Round”

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I guess “BLACK GOLD” means you earn a solid gold IRON LUNG, if you survive the pack. Ok, Sergio! TAKE THE CHALLENGE ROUND!

Upon getting back to the room, I ripped some of the CDs I purchased.

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The first one, is Kaela Kimura’s “5 Years”. The second one, Ayumi Hamasaki’s “Rock ‘n Roll Circus”, you will remember in the shots and video of Shibuya Crossing. The Third one, Geisha Girls’ “The Geisha Girls Show”, I had purchased once, when I was in the Air Force. I found an unblemished used copy for a little over $2. I ripped it too. Produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto (“The Last Emperor”), this comedy-rap album was, at the time, “The damndest thing I had ever heard”, and, after giving it a once over, still retains this title. I laughed my ass off again.

Ok…Plans for tonight…

Yesterday, I bought an instant bowl ramen from 7-11. By the way, the link is for ordering a 5 pack This bowl was ¥268. I examined this bowl before making it.

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So, this is a “Ramen Houses of Japan” kind of series. I also notice that this is a 7-11 exclusive product. I also notice that it mentions SHINJUKU! Well, that’s nice. The writing down the middle on the tan stripe says “Mochi Mochi Noki”. So, now, I eat this bowl and…WOW! I loved this! Best bowl ramen I had ever had! I had to have MORE of this, but NOT the instant ramen…TRIP TIME!!

Of course, the “WARHOL DEVICE” decided it wasn’t going to miss this, and tagged along…

Google Earth (I am SO glad I have that!) pinpointed this place north of Shinjuku Station, and west of the tracks.

I spotted the landmark, the Shinjuku Prince Building.

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I proceed under the overpass to the left, so I am west of the train tracks.

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I had to include the above two pics, because, for years, Sim City has included the building with the curved base, in their series. I thought you might want to see the building they copied.

I got to around where this place might be. I couldn’t find it… AH! I spotted a 7-11, and…I HAD THAT LABEL! I walked in, showed the part with the addresses (the bottom right pic, above), and asked them exactly where this is. they showed me on a very detailed map of the surrounding 2 blocks, the building this place is in. Well, going that way, around the area of that building, I accidentally ran into this:

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No wonder I couldn’t find it, it’s in the BASEMENT. Well, I go downstairs and attempt to order a “Regular Shoyu Ramen” They got the idea, and about 5 minutes later, they bring out the sacred bowl…

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This place is TINY. It wasn’t jam packed when I went. It is an intimate room. You definitely take a date here, though I would go here, by myself, just on the quality of the contents of this bowl, which was worth the pain of the left foot again. I tend to like Miso ramen (Like the other Shinjuku ramen house, on Day 3 Night.), but I think this ramen here, is the KING of Shoyu Ramen. It cost about ¥660, and NO CREDIT CARDS – CASH ONLY. Sorry people. However, a great deal of Japan still operates from CASH, I discovered.

I decided to take a few more pics of Shinjuku at night, before navigating the highly efficient rail system to get back to my room.

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So, I want you to know, that if you ever encounter this particular instant bowl ramen, 7-11 did faithfully reproduce what they could, without the extra bells and whistles, the finest Shoyu Ramen in, at least, Tokyo, in their series.

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Tomorrow, we will do MORE exploring…

Until then…

I return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…