Friday, December 29, 2006


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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Sanda's first snow floats softly to the ground to the backdrop of the computer store and sign for the used porn DVD shop.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by ashleyniblock.
Check out this photo of the Denver photo taken from above by a flickr member. WOW!

Strange thing about being in Japan some things... such as this blizzard... are completely off my radar. I didn't know about this until checking the BBC this morning.

Anyhow, crazy photo.

Coffee, Tea, or Massage Oil?

Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Found near my friend's bar in Nishinomiya this 100円 ($1) discount vending machine has energy drinks and a 1000円 ($10) bottle of massage oil. Now this is machine isn't anywhere near anything or anyone who could possibly be serviced by easily accessible massage oil. Go figure.

If you want to find it it's right here on the south east corner.

Christmas Chicken

Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
In Japan Christmas means fried chicken, and fried chicken means KFC. Go figure. Here's a photo of the line outside of the Okamoto KFC on Christmas Eve.

I got a Christmas gift from Nintendo

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Whoo new beefy straps for my Wii-motes!

Shishiniku part 2

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Ah, so last night I had the shishiniku. It was great! Super yummy. It wasn’t gamy or stinky. It was a little tough but not in any way that made it less tasty. Absolutely great. I want to try it as yakiniku next time I have the chance to have it. Here’s some photos from the dinner.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Garbage Day

Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
This isn’t my garbage dumping spot but it’s near my house and it’s always over flowing like that. Notice that all the bags are the same. That’s because in Sanda the city won’t pick up your garbage unless you bag it in the bags they sell, which aren't that much more expensive than normal trash bags. I think this somehow subsidizes the garbage collection. These bags are for burnable stuff, the majority of things we throw away. There are also bags for non-burnable items, mostly cans in my case, and pet bottles.

猪肉すき焼き / Inoshishi meat sukiyaki

Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Next Year’s animal is the wild boar or inoshishi (イノシシ) in Japanese so in honor of that I went to the JA Pascal store and bought some inoshishi meat (猪肉). Pascal is a wonderful store that sells products directly from the farmers. This store is run by the Sanda branch of the JA or Japan Agriculture which is a quasi-governmental group that basically runs agriculture in Japan, besides offering insurance, banks, and running gas stations. They sell giant daikon for 100円 and the prices for the veggies are also insanely low. Plus it’s the only place to buy shishimeat. (They also had some really yummy looking duck that I was tempted to buy.)

Anyhow tomorrow night for a Christmas celebration we are going to make inoshishi sukiyaki. I’ve been enthralled by these animals since I’ve come to Kansai, they lived all around my old host mother’s house and around Konan University. So I’m really looking forward to munching on some for the first time. I'll report back on Monday.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Crab and stuff pizza

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Crab, shrimp, oyster, other stuff pizza. I ate it, it was OK. Looking at this photo makes my throat kinda hurt like I mildy want to throw up.

Cheap seafood + my stomach = bad idea.

Yea I like all these other things, but together on a pizza is a little hard to get down. I did finish it however.

At least I got a free Pizza Little Party original calendar.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Old photos from Nara.

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Well, not that old. I posted photos I took last year on an art history feild trip to Nara to my Flickr account. Click here for crazy-deer-filled the photo set.

More Photos of Sanda

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
I posted 8 new photos I took of Sanda on this cold, cold day into my Sanda city photo set. Here's the link.

USGS censored

New rules for the USGS will now allow higher ups in the USGS to screen papers before being published, including reading notes from peer reviewers, to check if they are in line with policy. This coming only a few days after the Union of Concerned Scientists published a letter criticizing the Bush administration of injecting politics into science.

Read more here:

(link via Slashdot)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Koya-san photos

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
I've just added my Koya-san photos from last year to my flickr site. You can check out the photo set here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Me and my Miis

Originally uploaded by sleepytako.

Here are the Miis that weve made on my Wii. I brought it down to Yuko's house and we had a ton of fun playing last Wednesday.

From left to right its Kazushi (Yuko's brother), Me (With beard), Nao (Friends 3 year old son who's in my profile photo), Kim (a friend) and Yuko.

And here's a bonus photo of my Wii in action. Wii = love.

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Photos of Iceland

Originally uploaded by brown bird.
My pal Jared just posted photos from his trip to Iceland. Insanely beautiful. Check them out here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Chili Pepper Socks

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Wow, I knew it made my food hot and my mouth burn, but it also keeps my feet nice and toasty. Capsicin, er.. capsaicin, great stuff.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'm Wiiing all over my self...

So this morning (Saturday Dec 2) is the Japanese release date for the Wii in Japan. I don't start work until 12 so I decided to try my luck at getting a Wii. The first store I went to had a sign saying they didn't have any for sale, but the Toys R Us did, and they had the line. I made it in as number 62 of 76. I got there at 8:50, the store opened at 10. They sold out. Here's my photos. I gotta go to work!

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These signs said how many they had to sell, price, and what other things you could buy.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Paris Hilton as an ALT?

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
One of my students told me about this show on NHKe on Tuesday nights at 11:10. He said that it was for beginning English learners, but complained that he couldn't understand it at all. I don't blame him. It's taught by a 30 year old Paris Hilton with a heavy New York accent. If that wasn't bad enough and I thought my handwriting was bad on the board, but hers is like... wow. To be fair I have to say she only looks like Paris Hilton. If only her students could understand her. Her pronunciation of the students names was, well... There is an Atsushi あつし in the class, she calls him "a-sushi." I bet he loves that. Good luck TV English students!

active tastelessness

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
active diet is the 'lite' version of Aquarius, Coke's version of Pocari Sweat, Japan's biggest Gatorade. While its not that bad cold, a bit on the fake sugar side, hot is just a bad idea. I doubt I will see this in many stores. Who would drink warm Gatorade? Bleh

Monday, November 20, 2006

Extreme Ironing!

Athletes extol sensation of 'iron calm' at the limit

"If you do ironing on top of a mountain, you can
get the feeling of double satisfaction from climbing up the mountain and ironing out the wrinkles in a shirt," he said.

Via the Japan Times and Japan Probe

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gaijin don't like natto! WHAT! 外人は納豆が好きじゃない! びくりした!

Japan Probe has a post about a TV special last night that had an old man who wants to learn English move into an English teacher's house for a month. I wish I could have seen this, it looks hilarious! Japanese TV is fulled with these reality like segments in variety shows and as their own specials like this program. Situational humor. Just check out this part as captured by Japan Probe:

I was really worried that natto wouldn’t make an appearance in this video, but after about 6 minutes it finally does! Yokoi-san offers Ryan some natto and Ryan eats a spoonfull. Of course, he finds it revolting! LOL, Gaijin don’t like natto!

Hey I like natto! There are a few other gaijin that like natto too. That doesn't stop almost every Japanese I meet doing a display of shock and confusion when I tell them that. Most Japanese, like the producers of this show love to show gaijin with a look of digust as they attempt to eat the sticky stuff.

Big freaky bugs.

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
I remember reading an opinion piece back when the Pokemon craze first hit America. The writer basically said that Pokemon was part of some Japanese master plan to corrupt the mind of America's children. Obviously he was still pissed that the Japanese economy did better than America's in the 80's and the Japanese cars are still better than American ones... but that said... in the article the writer said that the idea for Pokemon came from the Japanese childhood pastime of collecting bugs, specifically beetles. This is a huge pastime for many boys here. The popularity of it all only hit me recently when I moved up to Sanda. The Japan Discount Store (a store akin to a small K-mart back in the day) had a ton of bug catching supplies. Cages, food, little beetle houses, beetle bedding, and nets to catch the small, er, big buggers all for a discounted price I might add. Now a days on the train I often see elementary aged kids with their grandfathers holding nets and plastic aquariums with the days catch if they were lucky. This reminded me of a friend I had when I was very young. I think his name was Ethan, but I'm not too sure. We would get nets and in his backyard try to catch butterflies, I don't think we ever really saw a butterfly, but we sure had fun running around with nets.

Catching beetles doesn't seem harmful does it? It seems to me to be a normal childhood pastime. Yet somehow the writer in his criticism of Pokemon's commercialism tried to tie that to catching bugs. In hindsight I see how the author threw out a red herring in the form of anti-Japanese racism or simple cultural misunderstanding for the sake of his argument, instead of focusing on the broader problem of commercialism invading our children's lives and critiquing the capitalist economic system that fosters such commercialism.

Anyhow this is a picture of a large scary spider I saw on his web lodged between a phone booth and a light pole in central Kobe (神戸市中区)on my way to get my new visa.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Where there's dirt...

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First in the if there's some dirt let's grow something there series.

I'm not too sure what veggie someone are growing in this little scrap of land between the kaiten sushi parking lot and the alley way leading to my apartment, but its being protected from the cold.

Besides that, I'm guessing that whoever owns that chunk of exposed dirt turned veggie garden has no clue it's being used as such. Or maybe they do know and they are getting a cut of the veggies. Anyhow, this appeared 2 weeks ago and has just grown non-stop.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The dark side of Motomachi

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Oh! So this is where they make them! I thought they were made in China.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What is it?

I got this device when I moved to Sanda.
I am required to use this by city regulations. I used it for the first time today.
What do you think it is?

Want to know click here

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Pork and kimche okonomiyaki at Tonbo, the best okonomiyaki shop in Japan.


New Japanese Landscape?

Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Toys R Us with a rice field and some railroad tracks. New Japan?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

篠山 / Sasayama

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Yuko and I drove out to Sasayama last week and walked around the castle at sunset. It was super pretty, and the air smelt so clean and fresh.


Click HERE for the set.

Monday, October 09, 2006

写真いっぱい / Many photos

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Last Wednesday I walked from Sannomiya to the HAT area of Kobe where the Nagisa no yu onsen is. Great onsen. Interesting walk.
Click HERE for the 神戸(三宮) set.

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Harvesting rice behind my apartment. If there’s some free land someplace there’s someone to grow rice on it.

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The bike parking lot under the train station. It cost 100円 to park there for a day, but for the peace of mind, it’s well worth it.

僕の名前の漢字 / My name in kanji

It’s a little joke, however what do you think about it?
出井火土 場雨和
デイビヂ バウワ
Deibido Bauwa

For my English speaking audience...
Here are the kanji in order they are written with one of their meanings that seemed to fit together.

Exit well fire earth Place rain peace

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Free stuff and plastic... the wonders of Japan

Photo 36
Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Two things I love about Japan. Cool crap from the 100¥ store and free crap.

The drink-er beer-holder stores 4 cans nicely in my small little refrigerator. And the best part of it is it only cost 100¥ (about $0.84). I can't believe that I almost didn't buy it. That little hunk of plastic has done wonders for the organization of my fridge.

The glass in my right hand came with a 3 pack of Guinness. Not only does it make a great beer glass it is a great size for everything else.

Ah... Japan when will your glories ever fail to amaze me.

Friday, September 29, 2006

韓国旅行 / Korea Trip

I had to make a quick trip to Korea because of visa issues. Well I’m back in Japan and I can’t say I had a great trip, but it was fun. Under different circumstances it would have been much better. Scroll down for photos.

Anyhow, last Wednesday I flew from Kansai to Incheon airport and stayed the first night in the Calla motel. Finding a motel and buying train tickets was insanely hard. There is no direct train from Seoul to Incheon so most people take busses. Being the train geek I am I figured that I’d fair better heading into town by train. Mistake. Next time, I’ll take the bus. It’s not that the train is any longer or anything like that, its just not as convenient it seemed.

On this trip I realized how all the typical work I put in before a trip helps. I had to take a few moments to get my monetary bearing, and realizing which coins were really worth something. This was fun because I came into Korea blind. But also blind as far as language. Yea there was some English, and a few bits of Chinese and Japanese that could be helpful, but I had no clue how to read Korean. Unlike travel in Western Europe where the script is not an issue, and I could figure out the meanings of signs in Korea I was completely blind. If I went to China or Taiwan my bad Japanese could have helped me read some of the signs, and it would have been more familiar seeing all of the Chinese characters around me.
I eventually found a hotel for my first night after walking through a maze of side alleys in a love hotel district. The Lonely Planet recommended 4 different places in this area, but the first two didn't seem that appealing. All of the hotels had the car privacy curtains typical of love hotels in Japan. I eventually found the Calla hotel walked in smiled, nodded, and got a room. Well it wasn’t as dirty as some of the places I’ve seen in the US it was actually pretty nice, besides the broken air conditioner. What I liked the most about this hotel was it’s TV. In the US I love hotels because I watch TV in them. Cable TV, I might add. Korean TV was great. I was able to watch the AFN (Armed Forces Network) for American forces based in Korea. No commercials, but very strange PSA’s including one about suicide awareness on base. But the best was some other channel that was airing a CSI marathon in English with Korean subtitles! I had a wonder TV night with some Korean beer and connivence store snacks.
The next day I started on a route of tourist sites, but my body wasn’t up for it. After walking through the nearby park. Famous because a Korean independence document was read there during the Japanese occupation. (The sign out front explained this in English, Chinese, and Japanese.) The park was nice, but I gave up on the palace and headed to the Lotte department store where I had the Korean Lotteria. WOW! It’s nothing like the bland Lotteria that we get here in Japan, McDonald’s was better there too. I feel so deprived.
After the department store I got back on the train and decided to spend the night near the airport and go to the deep sea water bathhouse mentioned in the Lonely Planet. This also let me travel by boat in Korea as I would take the train to Incheon city then the ferry to the island the bathhouse and airport are on. The harbor was eerie and like many other harbor fun areas around the world that I’ve seen. Anyhow, I took the boat and free bus to the sadly empty sauna. It was a huge building and only 5 men shared the deep sea water with me. It was a nice sauna, and if I ever had a long stop over in Incheon I’d take another bath break. That night I stayed at a business hotel near the airport, had yakiniku, and a beer at bar where I spoke in Japanese to the staff that didn’t know much English.

The next morning I took the airport shuttle bus to the airport checked in, bought some omiyage and came home, I mean home to Japan.

Notes on the Korean landscape, first impressions.

Coming into Incheon airport and heading into downtown Seoul by train at night the most common symbols are present in the landscape are the neon crosses coming out of all sorts of buildings and the hot bath symbol that in Korea doubles as the hotel symbol.
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Koreans put a wet paper towel, or a bit of water in the bottom of their ashtrays.
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Metal chopsticks.
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Odd rock-paper-scissors gambling machines on the street corners.
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People selling all things possible where ever possible.
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Shoe shine booths.

I posted a ton of other photos up on my flickr. Click here for the set.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tonight's dinner / 今晩の晩ご飯

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Tonight I made rosemary and sundried tomato pasta. It was really yummy!
Recipie / 料理法

Dead pigeon / 亡い鳩

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Dead pigeon in my neighbors balcony in the rain.

I watched it die in the rain on Thursday morning before I went to work. I think it was looking for a place to get away from the rain.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

城崎温泉日帰り / Kinosakionsen day trip

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Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
Photos from my day trip from Sanda to Kinosaki onsen I took last month.


I rode the trains for 5 or 6 hours for one hour in an onsen. Plus I got drenched by the rain getting back to the station. Oh ya, and lots of delays on the JR. But a fun trip. Kinosaki has a local brewery that makes some really good beers. I went to Kounoyu. Nice place, if a bit small. It has a great outdoor bath with a good few of the green hills.

My Kinosakionsen day trip photoset @ Flickr
Kinosakionsen's tourist site (in English)
Kinosaki from space (from Google Maps)

The gaijin photographer / 外人写真者

Originally uploaded by sleepytako.
This high-school student in Sanda likes to take photos of gaijin on the trains. Beware. He has a funky studded belt and a pink Puma gym bag. I'm sure he's put all his gaijin photos online, so I'm gonna put his up.