Thursday, June 7, 2018

Shinjuku and Shibuya at Night

The bright lights of the big city are alive and well in Tokyo now. I remember visiting in early 2013 just shy of a few years after Fukushima when the lights were not quite as bright.  Back then, there were power conservation measures in places as they had shut down a number of nuclear power plants and no new power sources were available yet.  There were still signs on, but they were fewer and the giant Q Front TV was not always on.  I remember seeing only every second fluorescent on in the subway cars too.  Akihabara was dimmer too with the rooftop signage being off.  It seems to be life as normal now and here are a selection of night shots from Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Yasukuni Dori in Shinjuku.
Yasukuni Dori - the stretch made famous in Lost in Translation.
Godzilla at night in Kabukicho.
Kabukicho sidestreet.
The big TV seen on the LABI Building in Shinjuku.  This was in the movie Your Name.  On the other side of the rail tracks from here is Golden Gai for some narrow alleys and bars with a traditional vibe.
Shibuya Crossing at night.
Shibuya Crossing looking towards Center Gai and the F21.
Center Gai, the main street in Shibuya.
The lights at night in Tokyo are one of the wonderful things to experience.  You'll always be in a crowd as there are thousands of people out and about in these areas in the evening.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Big Cup Noodle Potenage (Potato and Chicken Nugget Flavour) Review

This big red cup of noodle definitely attracted my attention when it was announced.  In this Nissin cup noodle you can enjoy ramen, french fries, and fried chicken all combined into one easy to eat package.  The "potenage" part of the name is a combination of potato and chicken karaage (fried chicken).  Another limited edition out of Japan, of course, I was looking forward to trying it after my previous curry cup of noodle reviews.
Front of the cup.
The bright red cup certainly attracts your attention and the bold gold lettering for potenage is trimmed in black and stands out nicely on sparse white background.  I kind of like how they put french fries on the left, and karaage on the right on both sides of the cup noodle to let you know what you're getting.  The red and yellow give this cup of noodle a very shinto / formal kind of vibe.  This package is the real deal.
Ingredients are listed on the lid of the cup.
3/4 view.
Manufacturing info.
More ingredients and nutritional content with the picture of the rehydrated ramen toppings.
Closeup of the ramen toppings photo.
Opening the lid, I could see what looks like the regular cup noodle noodles.  They are not super thin or thick, just normal for cup noodle.  On top were pieces of potato, green onion, fried chicken, and egg.  This is looking really good at this point.  There wasn't any kinds of really intense odor when I opened the lid, and it kind of smelled like cup noodle.
Shot of the ingredients with the cup.  Perspective makes the cup look really tall.
Closeup of the dried toppings.  The chicken is nicely breaded, fried, and miraculously freeze dried?
I added boiling water, closed the lid, and waited three minutes before popping it open again.  Everything was nicely re-hydrated and the soup just needed a good stir to make sure all of the soup base was mixed in well.
Lots of stuff in the cup.  The potatoes were in nice big pieces, and the chicken looked pretty good.
The soup broth was fairly light with a chicken/pork base combined with soy sauce.  There is a little spice to it from black pepper though.  Quite pleasant, it is a lot like the regular cup noodle broth.  The bits of fried chicken were nice and you could taste a mild chicken flavour along with that fried battered coating.  They are not crunchy, but still tasty little morsels.  I'm starting to wonder if the different noodle manufacturers have perfected a way to have freeze dried fried chicken as this is the second cup of noodle I've have with it.  What surprised me the most was the potato.  They must actually fry these in some way as they actually tasted like french fries without the crunch!  The potatoes were definitely different from the ones you get in their curry cup of noodle.  This was an interesting combination of ingredients and I'll enjoy eating the second cup later as I happened the get two of them.
Noodle closeup.

More cup noodle reviews.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tsukiji Market Atmospheric Photos

Tsukiji Market specializes in fish and other seafoods, but it also has a lot of character that comes from being an old establishment.  When it moves to its new location, you can bet that much of the character of the market will be lost.  From the inner fish market to the outer market with shops and restaurants, here are a few interesting photos I took of small things.
Photographing tuna cutting.
Octopus up close.
One of their little carts that hauls around boxes of fish.
A boiling kettle and pots.
Old biycyles
Bonito shavings.
Tamago shrine.
Parked bikes.
Old weigh scales.
Back of a building.

I've only been to Tsukiji twice and there is always something interesting to see if you keep your eyes open.  Interesting views abound and there are also all the different types of snacks and foods you can eat in the outer market.  There is tamago omlettes on a stick, tempura, sushi, even the original Yoshinoya beef bowl restaurant.  All this is probably going to change in the future so enjoy it now.

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Tokyo Dome and Ultraman

We were up early one morning to see Koishikawa Korakuen Garden.  Afterwards we went over to the Tokyo Dome where the Yomiuri Giants baseball team plays.  There were no crowds around when we were there, but we did have a look at the Tokyo Dome City Theme Park from the outside and an Ultraman statue.  A nifty little area to walk around in for a bit, but not much to do unless you want to visit the theme park or see a baseball game.  We just happened to be heading to the nearby train station to head back towards central Tokyo.
Tokyo Dome from Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
The stadium is huge.
Tokyo Dome does look pretty cool from the outside with the big glass roofed promenade around part of it.
Ultraman promotional event, ULTRA HEROES EXPO 2018.  Of course I had my picture taken with him.
The ferris wheel at the theme park.
This is a big roller coaster.
That's pretty much all I had for the Tokyo Dome area.  I was mainly passing through, but I believe there is also a larger Shonen Jump Store at the shopping area by the stadium.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Dori

Sensoji Temple is Tokyo's oldest temple and the major attraction in the Asakusa area.  This large Buddhist temple dates back to 645 AD and is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. There are also Shinto Shrines adjacent to the temple and the very popular Nakamise shopping street for traditional goods and souvenirs.  This shrine has over 30 million visitors every year and hosts Tokyo's most popular festival, the Sanja Matsuri in late spring.
Cherry blossoms with the five-story pagoda at Sensoji.
Visiting the temple is an experience that is different by night and day.  People are praying and burning incense from morning until evening.  During the day (after 11 AM) the area is bustling with shopping activity and tourists.  At night, when the shops close, it is very atmospheric and you can get a more intimate experience around the temple grounds.

Giant paper lantern or chochin at the Kaminarimon Gate.
Most people enter the temple areas from the south through the impressive Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate.  This gate has a massive paper lantern which everyone has their picture taken with.  This iconic symbol of Askakusa has the words for Kaminarimon written on it.  The lantern is huge with a height of  four metres, a width of over three metres, and a weight of almost 700 kilograms.  This lantern is replaced every ten years or so as it is made of paper and is even collapsible.  Do look for the dragon on the underside of the lantern too!

On either side of the lantern are two Shinto gods; Raijin, the god of thunder, is on the west side; Fujin, the god of wind is on the east side.  I have a real soft spot for these two gods as they are both imposing, impressive, and some of the first god statues I saw in Japan.  After passing through the gate you are on Nakamise-dori and run a block long gauntlet of shops and food stalls.  Even further along to the north, you then pass through Hozomon Gate to the main temple grounds.
TOP: Kaminarimon Gate with giant paper lantern.  Bottom: the Hozomon Gate or Treasure House Gate with three lanterns.
Raijin, God of Thunder with his drums.  This is a figure I bought in Akihabara - part of the Figma Lineup
Fujin, God of Wind with his big bag of wind.  This is a figure I bought in Akihabara - part of the Figma Lineup
Hozomon detail.
TOP: Hozomon  BOTTOM: Main temple building.
Main temple grounds and the main temple building.

Wandering around the grounds of the temple at night is very atmospheric and you can get some great photos of the lit up buildings.  It is usually quite quiet and peaceful here.  You can get your fortune here by drawing sticks or omikuji.  I've drawn bad luck a lot here so I've tied off the bad luck and pretty much stopped drawing here after a couple of different visits.
Skytree from the temple grounds.  Hozomon on the right.
Main temple building.
Paper lanterns and vending machines.
Five-story pagoda on the temple grounds.

The temple is well worth a visit, and Nakamise-dori is an amazing shopping street that gets piles of Japanese tourists as well as foreign tourists.  You'll find everything from traditional crafts, food souvenirs, and even anime goods for sale here.  There are many food stalls here too and you can get grilled rice crackers, takoyaki, etc.  Nearby the temple, the area is surrounded by shopping streets.  You can get first class curry pan (curry bread), taiyaki (fish shaped pastries filled with red bean, chocolate, etc.).  This is a fun place to wander and shop.
TOP:Nakamise-dori shopping street.  BOTTOM:A shopping street just off the temple grounds going west.
Wind chimes for sale.
Taiyaki pastries.
Souvenirs for sale.
Grilled sembei crackers.
Buddhas and the Skytree
Covered shopping arcade in the area.
A vending machine for drinks if everything is closed at night!

Asakusa Visitors Center right across the street from the Kaminarimon Gate.  Do visit here for information or to enjoy the view from their top floor viewing deck (it is free).
View from the visitors center viewing deck of Sensoji and Nakamise-dori.
View of Tokyo Skytree from viewing deck.

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