Thursday, April 23, 2009

American Micro Brews / アメリカの地ビール

04.21-23 Tucson-4, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

Left to right:

  • Breckenridge 417 IPA 9.2% WOW great stuff. From Colorado.
  • New Belgum Mighty Arrow Pale Ale. Very nice. From Colorado.
  • Abita Strawberry. Great strawberry flavor. Not too fake tasting. From Louisiana.
  • Breckenridge Pandora's Bock. So-so. I'm not a Bock guy. From Colorado.
  • Breckenridge Agave Wheat. Nice easy drinking. I wish this was in Japan From Colorado.
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. Strong IPA high % very nice, but kicks your ass. From California.
  • Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager. Special seasonal brew. If only we had this on tap at the WEX.

Japan has good beer, but no where near this selection! ARGH! Sierra Nevada is my No.1 favorite overall. I'm so bummed that we can't get it in Japan. Oh well, it makes it taste oh so much better when I have to wait for it.

I also got a 12 pack of Missoula, Montana's Big Sky Brewing's beers. They are also top notch.

04.21-23 Tucson-1104.21-23 Tucson-10

Sunday, April 19, 2009

4/17 Costa Mesa Japanese Supermarkets

I use to go to Mitsuwa and Marukai in Costa Mesa, CA all the time. In fact, I had a lot of experience with Japanese food before learning the language. I thought somethings were expensive, but not that bad. After living in Japan I've realized how expensive things are.

Pet bottles of tea or coffee are about $2.25
Mochi is like $10.
Small bottles of Kewpie mayo were $2.

But somethings were insane.

Japanese brand tissues. 5 boxes for $6.

Yebisu 6-pack $19

And... not so insane but,
Calpis is called Calpico in the US.

Friday, April 17, 2009

4/16 Mission San Juan Capistrano

04-16 Mission SJC-8, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

Today we went to the Mission. I had not been there since elementary school. It was very beautiful. Hard to find information on the Mission in Japanese however.

04-16 Mission SJC-1

We also went to Target. Yuko loves Target.

Photo set here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

4/15 Laguna Beach

Dear Readers,
I'm in America for the next 2 months and I'll be posting a lot of non-Japanese stuff on the blog. Basically I'll be posting pictures of my vacation and some other random stuff. (Reverse-Culture shock! No one here speaks Japanese! Fun!) Anyhow, some of it might be Japanese related, but not much. Sorry for the inconvenience.

04-15 Laguna Beach-10
First post: Laguna Beach Homecoming

Currently in Laguna Beach were I grew up. Everything is the same but slightly different. The road that is always under construction was under construction. Traffic was bad. It was unpleasantly windy.

Took Yuko to see my old houses. Could barely find the one that burnt down in the 1993 firestorm. Yuko commented on the size and how rich the neighborhood looked. Back when I was young I thought this place was pretty middle class, upper middle perhaps. It wasn't "rich", nor did the people who lived here thought it was, at least that's the way it looked to an elementary school kid. It was always a weird, eccentric town to me. The people here seem totally different to me now. The anti-tax protest didn't help but to reinforce that. Bleh. Taxes are ok to pay for your wars, but not to bail out all those obscene loans you took out. Give me a break. Massive disconnection going on here.

Seeing the city for the first time as a tourist I realized (1) there are way to many home furnishing/crap stores here and (2) wow it is a really beautiful place. I understand why tourists come here. Laguna Beach is truly a beautiful place.

Saw my pal Alec play live in the Ocean Ave. Brewery downtown. He was great. That was a treat. I miss him and his good energy.

Photos are here

Gotta sleep.

P.S. Wow, AM radio. WOW! It's gotten even dumber.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

120,000 Come To Shukugawa for the Hanami

Children run across the stone steps crossing the river with the bright sheets of the food stalls behind.

I grew up in Laguna Beach which, especially during the summer, was always crowded. Driving from the north end to the south end of town on the Pacific Coast Highway could take an hour on a hot summer weekend day. On the Fourth of July it was hell as people came to watch the fireworks display over the Pacific Ocean. A couple of years I worked in the little newsstand next to the beach on the Fourth. That was insane.

The Fourth in America is a good holiday for a picnic. The Japanese have a similar time, hanami (花見), or flower watching. The history goes back to some rich dudes who would sit outside, get toasted and write poetry about the fleeting beauty of the sakura (桜 or さくら), or cheery blossoms. Today it's an excuse to pack into one of Japan's many parks throw down a blue plastic sheet, bring some food, bring a lot of booze and get totally blotto.

The Hankyu Koyo line crosses over the Shukugawa river and provides easy access

The park that follows the course of the Shukugawa river makes the center of my neighborhood and is lined by almost 1700 sakura trees. The combination of easy access by train, lots of park space and a ton of sakura means Shukugawa is one of the most popular hanami spots around. According to the city authorities 120,000 people came to the park, over 20,000 more than last year.

It was packed this year. Saturday was rainy, so everyone came on Sunday. I had to work all day in the bar, but I had a few brakes in which to see what was going on. The line of stalls on the east side of the river were doing big business. A group of tough looking guys set up a whole karaoke machine and two large tables in one of the most conspicuous spots near the bridge. There was a fight somewhere, but I didn't get to see it. Bummer. This year JT and the Nishinomiya city gave out handheld ashtrays in front of the stations hopefully cutting down on some of the cigarette butts in the park.

Sakura peddles litter the riverbed in a tributary stream of the Shukugawa river

I was able to take a walk on Monday and get a few photos of the park. All in all, it's a crowded mess and a nightmare in some ways just like the Fourth in Laguna. However, it's also beautiful and a great excuse to booze it up outdoors. Hanami is one of the best reasons for living here, and especially in my little corner of Japan.

Here are some quick translations of two news stories about the hanami.

With about 1600 cherry blossoms trees on view for the Sakura Matsuri in Shukugawa Park, Nishinomiya, Hyogo, 120,000 families and couples, 20,000 more than last year according to the Nishionmiya Sightseeing Association, were drawn to the park.
The 43rd Nishinomiya Sakura Matsuri opened on the banks of the Shukugawa river, a wellknown famous place for seeing sakura, with 120,000 people coming to enjoy themselves with the flowers in full bloom.
The city has run the event for 66 years and it has become an established tradition. The Shukugawa river runs 3KM in a north south direction and has about 1,700 trees growing there, which many people come to visit each year. Many photographers and other groups came to the park.
Many families came to eat bento along the river. Mr. Adachi a 74 year old retired man said, "The trees that grow along the river are very beautiful, it's a really a good place. I took many photos."
My Shukugawa Sakura 2009 photo set can be seen here.
A map of the area is here.