Posted in Cooking, Daily Life, Feelings, Health, Japanese Food

New Normal: Binge Cooking

Now I bring lunch to work.

I used to go out for lunch to refresh myself but today I eat at my desk to clear my work fast in case Boss allows us to go back earlier than the clock.

I used to buy Take Out Meals from supermarket for dinner; however, during my Stay Home Period, I tried to cook as much as I can to avoid packed food.

Today, I try to continue a good practice.

To ease my weekday tasks, I binge cooking today / on Sunday,

Dumpling – freeze them as emergency food
Beef hamburgs / Beef Patty
Tomato Sauce for spaghetti, pizza, beef hamburgs, etc
Korean Style Zucchini
Dashi (Seaweed and Bonito Stock)

Hopefully these can save me from time and appetite.

Posted in Choco-chan, Family, Feelings, Food, International Culture, Japanese Food, Surprise

The Last Day of Long Weekend

First, I taught UNO to my niece based on rules that I remember.

However, I worried what if I taught her wrongly and she gets confused when she plays the game with friends.

I checked the official rules practices by Japan UNO Association and I changed rules; yes, to my surprise there is Japan UNO Association!

She is only 5 years old and can play with adults by remembering many rules such as same Colour, same Number, Skip, Reverse, +2, +4 and WILD Card and according to the packaging, the game is designed for 7 years old and above!

I am proud of her!

We were so full from lunch the previous day so we skipped dinner and souvenir – Panda Baum (Matcha Baumkuchen or layered cake) .

After playing few games of UNO and having a light breakfast, we opened the box….there is a cute Panda!

The cake is in Panda shape!

We decorated our Panda Baum with Macarons.

It’s cute and delicious!

We all got excited, regardless our age!

It’s fourth day and last day today.

While she was packing, she asked me what date would it be her next visit?

She is asking for DATE!

I told her we should plan again on her school holiday.

I’m glad to know that she enjoyed her stay at my condo and she is looking forward to visiting me again.

On the other hand, Choco looks happier to get attentions and his quietness after guests leaving.

Yes, we finished our roles as host and we shall get some rest.

Posted in Family, Feelings, Food, Friends, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Restaurants, Tokyo

Totally Eel Day

21 July 2020 was this year’s Doyo no Ushi.

Doyo no Ushi is a date for Chinese calendar; therefore, the date for western calendar changes every year.

On Doyo no Ushi, we have a custom to eat Unagi (Eel).

We believe eel is energy food and we encourage to eat eel during summer when we lose energy.

I had my belated Doyo no Ushi (Eel’s day) on 22 July 2020 at Chikuyotei, Ginza for lunch.

It was nice and surely I gained some energy.

When I returned home, Mom reported she bought Eel Obento (take away) for dinner at our family restaurant, Shojikiya, Roppongi.

It reminded me of my grandpa.

We talked about him and memories with him while having our dinner.

I like eel so I don’t mind to have it for two continuous meals.

Each restaurant has different taste (character) on food even though it’s the same dish.

I think I managed to gain energy which I need it for now.

Posted in Cooking, Family, Feelings, Food, Friends, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Place, Shop, Shopping

Furusato Nozei (Home Town Tax Payment Programme)

In 2014, Japanese government introduced new tax incentive system to support local areas: Furusato Nozei (Home Town Tax Payment Programme).

We can purchase local products and services (hotel stay, experience such as diving, etc) to support the area.

We pay for products and services and the government provides incentives for income tax deduction.

There are few Furusato Nozei service providers such as Satofuru, Furunabi, Department Stores, etc.

This time, I purchase Nama Katsuo no Tataki (lightly roasted bonito) from Katsuura-city, Chiba via Satofuru,

My mother side are originally from Katauura; therefore, YES, I would like to support the city and this has sentimental value for me.

I will purchase more products and services from the areas that I would like to support.

This was my first purchase and I’m glad that I was strongly recommended to use this system to enjoy products and services AND tax deduction.

Posted in Choco-chan, Exercise, Feelings, Food, Hotel, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Nature, Place, Restaurants, Surprise, Tokyo, Travel

Trip to Moto-Hakone

The State of Emergency was lifted; weather is getting nice so decided to go to Moto-Hakone for Onsen (Hot Spring).

Choco found his stay over goods at the entrance so he got excited.

On the way to Moto-Hakone, we stopped to get our lunch and I had my BigMac and Ramune Shake.

Ramune shake (Japanese traditional soda flavored shake) is seasonal and limited menu.

It finishes serving either finishing the ingredients or serving duration.

We arrived Moto-Hakone early so that we stopped at Ashinoko (Ashino Lake).

Some people are enjoying fishing.

I could see a fish, very peaceful.

We checked in at Caro Foresta Moto-Hakone Lucia at 3 pm.

This time, I have chosen a western style room.

There are welcome Onsen Tamago (Hot Spring Boiled Eggs) and cookies for Choco.

These Onsen Tamago were boiled at Ohwakudani: the origin of natural Onsen.

These eggs are also known as good luck because we believe one egg can bring us longer life, 9 years, by eating it.

The air is fresh there.

This hotel is dog friendly and I was busy using facilities for Choco.

First, he exercised at the Dog Run (Dog Playground) at the entrance.

Hakone is famous for Onsen (Hot Spring).

The hotel is equipped with Onsen facility for Choco as well!

He had his first Onsen of his life and it was Iou Onsen (Sulfur based Onsen).

I also dipped myself at Onsen.

After refreshing, I had a nice French for dinner.

All dishes are delicious.

I got so excited when I received the dessert plate!

There is Choco!

After dinner, I took Choco for Indoor Dog Run.

This Indoor Dog Run is opened for 24 hours.

Both of us got tired and slept well.

First thing I did on the next day was dipping in the Onsen.

In the morning, I found a dog greeting me from outside!

I had a nice Japanese breakfast.

After breakfast, I took Choco to the Wood Dog Run.

Again, I took him to the Dog Run at the entrance and Indoor.

The check out time is 11 am; therefore, we rest in the room before checking out.

Choco must have so much fun because he slept in the car on the way back to Tokyo.

I had a big breakfast so I had a late lunch at Misoichi, Nakameguro Shop.

I had a basic Miso Ramen with toppings of corns and butter.

I like it!

After unpacking and resting, went for late quick bite to say hello and congratulate reopening after Stay Home Request to our friend, Sushiya no Goto (Goto’s Sushi Shop), Roppongi.

It’s nice to see smiling face of Taisho (Master) and Mama san (Madam).

I enjoyed Sushi very much after two months!?

It was memorable two days.

Posted in Action, Beauty, Choco-chan, Experience, Feelings, Food, Health, Hotel, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Nature, Place, Restaurants, River, Tokyo, Travel, Waterfalls

Memorable Weekend

First I went to Utsunomiya, Tochigi.

This town is known for Gyoza (fried Chinese dumpling).

In fact, this is my first time to try Utsunomiya Gyoza at Utsunomiya.

There is Gyoza Dori (Gyoza Street).

There are many Gyoza specialized shops and Ramen (Japanized Chinese style noodle) and Gyoza restaurants.

The lamp is also in shape of Gyoza.

I queued and had my Gyoza at Goku, Gyoza Dori, Utsunomiya, Tochigi.

Niku (Meat) Gyoza and Jumbo Gyoza

Then proceeded to Nikko, Tochigi.

In Nikko, visited Kegon no Taki (Kegon Fall).

Today, there is a lift to go down to watch Kegon no Taki in front of it.

It’s very cold there and we can still see some snow.

We drove by Chuzenji-ko (Chuzenji Lake) and enjoyed the view from window.

Recently, we enjoyed warm temperature and suddenly its temperature dropped; therefore, we could see some steam from lake which makes lake look more scenic and mysterious.

We drove through woods on the way to Oku-Nikko, also very scenic.

We drove farther and reached Sengokugahara (wetland) where believed God of Mountain conducted battles.

There is another lake, Yuko (Yu Lake) at the entrance of Oku-Nikko area.

We finally reached Oku-Nikko Kogen Hotel.

We can stay this nice Washitsu (Japanese style room) together with Choco.

I went to dip in onsen (hot spring) before dinner.

There are two sections: Lower (bigger) and Upper (smaller).

Both equipped with indoor and outdoor/open-air bath.

Upper
Lower

It’s cold there; so that dipping in Onsen felt really nice.

I became thirsty after dipping in onsen so I enjoyed drinking cold Wakimizu (spring water).

After getting some rest, we had dinner with local sake made for Oki-Nikko Kogen Hotel.

I went to futon (Japanese style bed) early.

Next morning, I woke up with a surprise.

According to weather forecast, it predicted snow in Kanto region.

However, in few days, we will welcome April – Spring.

There could be some snow but I didn’t expect it to be thick.

Well, I was wrong….

It continued snowing and no sign of weakening.

I became panic because I came with normal tyres, not snow tyres.

To calm myself down, I went for morning dip.

It was still early and there were no one.

I supposed not to take any photos at the bath, but it was so romantic.

Quickly got ready and went to breakfast.

There are many varieties of food and there is an egg and bacons in the pot.

Continued monitoring snow and consulted hotel staffs who are local; well, I had to make a hard decision – abundant my car.

I think we made a wise decision because snow is thick and we surely could not drive through these windy roads: Irohazaka.

Reached Tobu Nikko Eki (Station) by hotel free shuttle bus.

Then Took train, Spacia, back to Asakusa, Tokyo.

Choco behaved his best on train.

I had a rich vanilla ice cream on the train while looking at these sceneries.

It’s scary but breath taking sceneries.

We cannot underestimate nature; I safely returned home.

Posted in Choco-chan, Family, Feelings, Flower, Food, Hotel, Japanese Food, Nature, Place, Shop, Shopping, Tokyo, Travel

Short Trip to Hokuto, Yamanashi

I don’t have any social life for past three weeks.

The weather is getting better in Tokyo, reaching over 20C.

Sakura starts blooming.

I decided to plan a short trip with Choco for refreshment.

Well, Mom followed us.

I thought it would be nice to take Choco for a walk in fresh air in woods.

I still need to avoid contacting people so I decided staying at cottage, Pension Gin No Michi, Hokuto-City, Yamanashi.

The Pension serves dinner and breakfast at cottage so we can avoid people and be with Choco.

Choco doesn’t like to be left alone.

It’s 160 km away from Tokyo and it should take 2.5 hours to reach there.

However, traffic was so heavy….. to go out Tokyo, it took more than 2 hours.

I took a break at highway Hatsukari service area.

I bought Shingen-Mochi and Premium Shingen-mochi Ice Cream and Matcha (Green Tea) Shingen-mochi Ice Cream.

Shingen-Mochi is Kofu (Yamanashi) local confectionery combination of glutinous rice flour mochi, soybean powder and brown sugar syrup.

There are many more products developed by this original Shingen-mochi.

After taking a break, I continued my journey and it took me 4.5 hrs to reach the pension.

We finally reached the Pension.

There are flooring living room connected to a small tatami room (tatami mat room).

Living room is equipped with kitchen.

Then wash room

Bath room

And toilet.

As mentioned, I wanted to take Choco for a walk in woods; however, it was too cold.

In Tokyo, it’s over 20C, so I only brought leather jacket.

It’s only 4C here…

I decided to stay in.

Choco had so many to experience and learn.

I enjoyed home cooked dinner at the room.

The next morning, it was a nice sunny day.

Hopefully, Choco enjoyed fresh air.

I enjoyed home cooked breakfast.

They also baked these breads.

It was a brief stay but very refreshing.

We headed back home.

On the way back, I stopped by at service area for one last glance of Minami (South) Alps and shopping.

The local flower farmer is selling flower bouquet for JPY 1,200 (USD 12) – very reasonable!

Currently, Japanese government encourages people to buy flower because flower business is affected by corona virus.

March supposed to be high demand period for flower for graduation ceremony; however, now almost all schools cancel the graduation ceremony.

I love flowers so I bought one.

I also looked for souvenirs.

There are many Shingen-mochi products.

I bought Shingen-mochi Pudding, Monaka (Wafer and Shingen-mochi (glutinous rice powdered mochi)) and Kit Kat.

I love the original and these are all nice, especially pudding.

It took only 2.5 hours to reach home, meaning there are so many cars on the road yesterday.

I think many of us got board. ahaha

It was very relaxing trip for me.

Posted in Feelings, Food, Friends, Japanese Food, Restaurants, Tokyo

Kainomi, Kanda, Tokyo

I went to quick bite at Kainomi, Kanda, Tokyo, specialized restaurant for Shell.

Basically, it’s a standing bar but I had the only table.

It’s reasonable and delicious.

It has casual dining atmosphere.

What interested me is that we need to make our own drink including simple cocktail such as Highball (whisky and Soda).

Again, food is delicious and VERY economical.

Kanda is known as downtown and this friend of mine is good at discovering a new restaurant.

Cheers and Yammy♪

Posted in Diving, Exercise, Experience, Feelings, Food, Friends, Hotel, Japanese Food, Nature, Place, Restaurants, Shop, Shopping, Tokyo, Travel, WordPress

Trip to Miyakojima, Okinawa (Continued)

When I tried to post numerous photos and videos on my diving trip to Palau, the system was jammed.

I noticed WordPress upgraded the system recently and perhaps, I might not face the problem.

Nonetheless, I’m posting other matters on my trip to Miyakojima, Okinawa on this post.

On previous post, I mainly shared about under water matters.

Now I would like to share on over (!?) water matters.

There are many more activities on the ship.

While we are resting between divings, some divers were enjoying fishing.

As a result, they caught Ika (squids)

And Gurukun (Bananafish).

Gurukun is popular Okinawan fish that we can find it easily on the menu of restaurants.

However, to serve in sashimi (raw), it has to be super fresh.

We have to eat it in 10 mins after catching it.

Therefore, this is the only way to try the taste: on the ship!

You might easily guess that both Ika and Gurukun were super delicious!

While we are moving to next point of diving spot, we met dolphins and manta.

I could catch manta’s fin by my eyes but not able to by my camera because it blended in to waves.

If you are lucky, you can also see dolphins and manta.

We had lunch on the ship over looking ocean.

This place is famous for its clearness and colour!

Lunch was nice; these are all home made cooked dishes

We also enjoyed food and activities in town.

Nice local food and local music at Bunmya.

We had Awamori (distill made of Thai rice which contains 35 – 40 percent alcohol) and local beer, Orion.

The store taught us local way of enjoying Awamori – with canned black coffee.

To our surprise, it’s so nice!!

The musician sang with Sanshi (Okinawan local guitar).

He plays a traditional music instrument, but he rocked the place!

My body started moving automatically!

The next day, Deiriguchi.

We asked other diving mates to join us for dinner and we enjoyed drinking, eating and laughing together.

Yes, we had fried Gurukun (right bottom corner) as well.

The final night, we had our dinner at Yakiniku Inkazi (BBQ Inkazi).

We tried different Awamori every night: Tyumya, Kuon, Ryukyu Ocho, etc.

Every night, despite how full we were, we returned to the Steak House Leon to end our day.

The last day, we woke up late lazily.

We even had our breakfast at our room. hahaha

Since our body was tired from 3-day diving.

We went for massage at Hogushi-Ya (Unwinding House).

After unwinding our body, we went to Steak House Leon for last visit.

I’m gonna miss this…

Then I walked the street for looking for a souvenir.

The place, Miyakojima is famous for production of salt and found a salt specialized shop, Maasuya.

I enjoyed soft cream (ice cream) with free flavored salt.

I bought souvenirs from this shop.

However, I noticed I’ve been to this shop by looking at their products but in Azabu-Juban in Tokyo.

The sales lady happily reported to me that the company has a satellite shop in Azabu-Juban.

I bought souvenirs that I could buy in neighbor. Ahhhhh

Well, good prodicts should be accepted at any markets anyway.

However, sadly I learned the satellite shop in Tokyo will close on 15 March 2020.

The last thing we did before heading to airport is to cross Irabu Ohashi (Irabu Big Bridge) which we crossed under it every morning.

It’s 3,540 m long bridge to connect Miyakojima and IrabuJima.

It’s longest bridge in Japan for free access.

In terms of length, it is fourth longest bridge in Japan after Aqua Line (4,384 m), Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi (3,911 m) and Kansai Kuko Renrakubashi (Kansai Airport Connecting Bridge: 3,750 m).

I believe I’ve done all what I could do in Miyakojima.

I would like to thank my friend to plan and reserve nice restaurants and n advance so that we won’t miss out any good food and time together.

Posted in Diving, Exercise, Feelings, Food, Friends, Hotel, Japanese Food, Nature, Place, Restaurants, Travel

Trip to Miyakojima, Okinawa

Monday, 24 February 2020 was a Japanese national holiday in observance of replacement of New Emperor’s Birthday on Sunday, 23 February 2020.

I took few more days off to go to Miyakojima, Okinawa from 21 – 25 February 2020.

There is a direct flight from Haneda Airport to Miyakojima which takes three hours to my surprise – three hours…

I look forward to use the lounge for domestic flight and I thought we are going to have a bite there.

However, I was informed that there aren’t any food.

When I reached at Haneda Airport, I spotted Mac Donald and suddenly I had a craving for Sausage Egg Muffin, regular Mac Breakfast.

Nonetheless, we stopped at ANA Lounge.

It’s time for boarding.

This is when we realized the flight takes three hours.

The distance must be almost same as reaching to Guam…?

Another world, I could go to overseas with three hours flight.

Today, ANA briefs flight safety in Kabuki (Japanese traditional play) Style.

As you can see, we are not provided an individual screen.

We need to be creative to enjoy flight entertainment which I failed to do so by forgetting to bring my head set for iPhone X.

We are finally approaching to Miyakojima, Okinawa.

It takes two hours to the capital city of Okinawa, Naha, meaning Miyakojima is located much farther.

Once we reached Miyakojima, we checked in at Coral Island Hotel.

We unpacked and waited for other friend from Osaka to join us for dinner.

Unfortunately, this nice Okinawan and Miyakojima local food restaurant, Bocha Tatsuya doesn’t allowed to take any photos of food.

I took some photos for my memory but sorry, I should not post any to respect the restaurant.

This restaurant is must go to enjoy delicious local Miyakojima food.

Despite enjoying various Miyakojima local food, we followed the Okinawan custom – eat steak for last meal of the day.

We went to famous Steak House Leon for a steak and local beer, Orion.

Please remember we just had various dishes and we even emptied two bottles of Awamori (distill made of Thai rice which contains 30 – 45 percent alcohol) at the restaurant.

However this is what each of us had after good food. hahaha

The hotel provides us simple breakfast such as bread, egg or yogurt and drink (tea, coffee, milk and water).

I could enhance it by buying salad and yogurt myself but I’ve been having nice dinner so these are sufficient.

We engaged Aqua Story for three-day diving (3 dives x 3 days).

We passed famous Irabu Ohashi (Irabu Big Bridge) every day.

The diving spots for Miyakojima are famous for Chikei (landscape).

We dive through a hole, looking at cracks and shape of rocks and how sun light reaches at the bottom of ocean.

Sometimes we go up to surface and dive back to return.