Articles about Japan

A year and a half in Tokyo, the most fun city in the world.

Fuji Rock Festival 2003 — day 1

Crowd-surfing in the blazing sunshine, vodka-fuelled midnight revelry, and majestic views of Mount Fuji. That’s what any reasonable person would expect from the Fuji Rock Festival. Actually, for us it involved none of these things, but I still had such a good time that I’m already planning for next year’s festival.

The first Fuji Rock Festival was held on the slopes of Mount Fuji about eight years ago, but it’s been relocated a couple of times. These days it’s held in a ski resort called Naeba, about an hour or two out of central Tokyo.

I would like to have gone last year, but arrived in Japan a bit too late to organize it. But this year, thanks largely to Jo’s organizational efforts, I made it. On Friday morning, 25 July 2003, Joanne and I met up with Lora, and the three of us set out in search of music and fun.

Continue reading

This journal is about , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments

Junk food

I fondly remember the Potato and Bacon Pies from when I went to McDonald’s in Tokyo in 1992. I’m happy to see that they still have lots of unusual items available. The Korean barbecue beef burger was probably the best, but the curry pies they have now are pretty yummy, as is the tofu burger.

Tofu burger, from McDonald's New Tastes menu

If you’re vegetarian, don’t get excited – I am told that the tofu burger also contains chicken. They don’t really “do” vegetarianism in Japan.

Continue reading

This journal is about , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment

Flower-watching

I have spent a lot of time looking at cherry blossoms recently. It’s “hanami” season in Tokyo, so everybody spends as much time as possible picnicking under sakura trees.

This photo is from early April at Mizumoto Park, in Kanamachi in northeast Tokyo.

Word of the day: hanami. “hana” means flower, and “mi” means look, so “hanami” means flower-watching.

This journal is about , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment

Mount Fuji

Fuji is visible from central Tokyo (e.g. from my office building), but only on clear days. In January we went to Hakone, near Fuji, to stay in a Japanese inn and soak in hot pools. Riding a cable car and then a ropeway up a nearby mountin, we got a rare clear view of the mountain.

Fujisan and a cable car

The photo was taken after riding the ropeway up the nearby mountain. It was a beautiful sunny day, but the wind was so strong it was hard to stand up straight, and freezing cold too. I went through great discomfort getting the photos.

Continue reading

This journal is about , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments

Hakone — near Mount Fuji

Stayed in a ryokan with an onsen (spa), fabulous food and, marvellously, good heating. And the view of Mount Fuji from the aerial cable car was stunning – no fog, no obscuring cloud, just a magnificent white mountain.

Link to website

This journal is about , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment

Sasebo

We spent the new year in Sasebo, a town outside of Nagasaki. We stayed there with Joanne’s host family from when she was an exchange student here. That was fun, though it severely tested my rudimentary Japanese language skills. I have been learning the Japanese equivalent of BBC English, but Sasebo folks speak some kind of dialect. (It reminded me of when I first moved to Scotland.)

This journal is about , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment

Karaoke stripper

A lot of karaoke machines display a “Calories” rating after each song to show how well you sang the somg. Some are a bit more fun.

One night in Sasebo, our hosts took us to a bar where the karaoke machine had a different way of rating your singing: After each song, the screen would be covered with a pattern and a percentage: “0%”. Then the percentage would count up to whatever your rating was, and the background would dissolve piece-by-piece, slowly revealing a naked woman. If you scored 70%, the woman would still be fairly well-covered.

Continue reading

This journal is about . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment

Fugu

At the same restaurant in Sasebo where we ate live fish, we were treated to some fugu, the famous blowfish that is supposedly fatal if incorrectly prepared. It was good, with an exquisite texture, and there were no ill effects (except to the poor fish).

This journal is about , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment

Eating live fish

We were taken to a very nice restaurant during the new year. Among the many delicacies we had were a fish that had been freshly filleted and turned into sushi. The rest of the fish was artfully arranged on the serving plate. It was still twitching. On the next plate was a similarly spasmodic squid. Both were delicious.

This journal is about , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment

New Year in Sasebo

Japanese new year in Sasebo (Nagasaki prefecture). Sake, sashimi, rice cakes, temples, cats, snow.

Link to website

This journal is about , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment