Wednesday, October 31, 2018

it's that time of year

It's that time of year for my physical.

It's the first time since we moved to Tokyo.

I was impressed by the origami-like pee cup...after peeing into this cup, you pour it into a plastic capped tube...TMI (too much info)? sorry.

I was also impressed by the size and efficiency of the medical center.

They had a central staff member watching a computer with the 30-something of us and the tests we needed to get done.

As one test was taken, the central staff member would instruct the "escorts" to take us to the next.

Kind reminded me of a coach monitoring their team playing a sport.

Everything was so efficient a lot of us that started at 8:30 were out of there by 10:00.

Speaking of pee...I wanted to share with you the Manneken Pis statue on the platform of the Hamamatsu-cho station. (click on the photo if you want to view the video)

Apparently they dress him up during different times of the year...Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

chicken ginger gyoza

Super easy minced chicken ginger gyoza that I made the other day.

200 grams minced chicken (thigh)
nub of ginger, peeled and minced
Chinese cabbage, 2 leaves finely chopped
2 teaspoons shoyu
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
20 gyoza wrappers

After mixing everything together, I spooned a teaspoon of the mixture into each of the wrappers.
Cook to your liking.

NOTES: I froze half of the gyoza and we ate the other half in soup.
I actually had chicken mixture leftover, so I froze that too and will use it for the next time we make hot pot, or I'll make meatballs to put into soup.
Super easy and delicious...I'm making these again.

Monday, October 29, 2018

google maps dude

The other week as I was walking back from the market, I spotted the Google Maps dude...I've seen them driving around in cars, but this was the first time I've seen him walking...

As someone commented on my Instagram, "I wonder how much he gets paid"....

My reply was, "at least it isn't hot and humid"

Sunday, October 28, 2018

inokashira park

Last year, we said farewell to Satoshi's friend, Gen.

Since then, his family moved out of his company housing and back to Kichijoji, which is where his wife, Kinuko is actually from.

Ever since we moved to Tokyo, Kinuko and I have been trying to coordinate getting together and finally were able to last Thursday.

From the Keio Kichijoji station, Inokashira Park is about an 8 minute walk.

The park is huge!

This was the first time I've seen canned bread and cat purses in a vending machine.

And super spicy snacks.

We had crepes at Cafe de Lievre while we chatted and watched all the doggies out for walks and rides in their strollers.

Even though this was the first time Kinuko and I had actually sat down to chat, I'm glad we were able to find some things in common.

Hopefully we'll be able to get together again more often.

Satoshi also wants me to bring him here, so we'll be back.

Inokashira Park
1-18-31 Gotenyama
Musashino, Tokyo

Cafe de Lievre
1-19-43 Gotenyama
Musashino, Tokyo
Phone: 0422.43.0015
Hours: 10:30-19:00

Saturday, October 27, 2018

koe lobby

Koe Lobby is an eating space/cafe located in the Hotel Koe in Shibuya.

I recently tried their bakery lunch.

Your choice of a bakery item, salad, soup and drink...810 (tax included).

I was surprised when the wait staff brought out a tray of sandwiches...when I saw on the menu "your choice of bakery item", I instantly thought "roll".

The egg sandwich was delicious with lots of capers.

The salad had a nice mixture of fresh veggies (kale, radicchio, lettuce, carrots, avocado), steamed daikon and cauliflower and the citrus dressing wasn't goopy.

I'll be back when I'm in Shibuya.

Koe Lobby (UPDATE 2022: out of business)
3-7 Udagawa-cho, 1F of Hotel Koe
Shibuya, Tokyo
Phone: 050.5595.0617
Hours: 7:30-23:00

Friday, October 26, 2018


The founder of the Nichiren sect died around the 2nd week of October in Ikegami.

Since Ikegami Honmonji is the largest temple for the Nichiren sect, they have a 3-day "celebration" for him.

Food stalls lined almost every street around the temple (they even block actual shops on these streets! don't look at their food prep hygiene, you will not want to eat from them...eep!)

Worshippers on the left, Mando (floats that are lit up and decorated with paper flowers) on the right.

Go up these stairs to pay your respects.

The temple area was decorated for the celebration.

Groups from all over Japan came.

Each group was escorted up to the main temple to give their offerings and prayers.

This is a picture of the mando.

I didn't want to fight the crowds so I didn't go to see the final procession on the 13th but was able to view parts of it on local television, it was quite a large gathering.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Sunday the weather was sunny, no clouds in the sky...perfect Autumn day.

We went to check out one of the 9 metropolitan gardens...Kiyosumi Garden.

This garden is huge!

I found this matsu (pine) tied up like this...thought it was so pretty!

This garden is rather quiet (even though it is smack dab in the middle of the city)...perfect for yoga lessons, which they were having in this building.

It was definitely worth the 150 yen admission for this garden.

Then we went back to Kyu-Furukawa Garden to see their roses which were "supposed" to be in full bloom.

We were totally disappointed.

There were only a few in bloom.

I guess we were totally spoiled with our visits to Aramaki Rose Park.

I did find a dragonfly willing to pose for me.

Lunch was at Ohashiya.

Apparently they have been in business since Taisho 11 (1922).

Satoshi had their cold Okame Soba which had all sorts of veggies in it.

I had their Jizo Soba...this wasn't anything special except there were different toppings on the cold soba (nori, sesame seeds and shiso (perilla)).

At least the tsuyu (sauce) was what we were used to and not thick like that other place...

We then walked Sugamo Shopping Arcade and came across this butterfly.

First time trying a Russian Tale, gelatin like outside filled with mousse and a little cake...sweet-sour with raspberry and dark cherry...delicious.

Apparently I had tried Patissier Yoshinori Asami's confections when he was with Patisserie Kubler back in 2009.

I want to go back to try his parfaits and baked items.

We ended the weekend with another look at Mount Fuji as the sun set...with humidity at bay, it makes seeing Mount Fuji easier.

We also noticed that Mount Fuji had snow on top...oh and that apartment complex is coming up, and we are still crossing our fingers that it won't block our view...

Kiyosumi Garden
3-3-9 Kiyosumi
Koto, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3641.5892
Hours: 9:00-17:00

3-34-3 Sugamo
Toshima, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3918.3434
Hours: 10:30-18:00

Patisserie Yoshinori Asami
3-23-3 Sugamo
Toshima, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5980.7674
Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays
Hours: 10:30-19:30

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


One of the areas in our ward is called Denenchofu.

Apparently, in the 1900s, Eiichi Shibusawa purchased the area and planned for the area to be one big garden.

No fences were allowed between properties only hedges.

Many homes in this area are HUGE and gorgeous.

From the Denenchofu Station (pictured above), the roadways are arranged like the spokes of a wheel branching out, with the station in the middle of the wheel.

They don't use this building as the actual train station anymore but it is neat to see what it used to look like.

Lunch was at Pelican Coffee.

I'm not too sure if they are related to Pelican Bakery.

Satoshi had their keema curry while I had their smoked salmon sandwich.

Beverages are separate from your meal, so it can add up.

I like this cafe though, very quiet and feels like you are in someone's home.

Along the many roadways from the station are gingko trees.

Hopefully these will change color in the coming weeks.

On the way back home, we stopped at Tamagawa Sengen Shrine.

Apparently you can see Mount Fuji from here, but on this day, we weren't able to.

We did see a lot of families having O-miya-mairi ceremonies performed.

This is when you bring your newborn to be "introduced" to the gods.

Near the station we tried ayu yaki from Daikokudo...castella/pancake outside filled with sweet bean paste in the shape of ayu (sweetfish).

This was piping hot and delicious.

Since ayu is a long fish, the ayu yaki wasn't as large as dorayaki.

It was nice to watch the man at the shop make these.

It has been awhile since we've had so much sun and it was nice to be out and about.

Pelican Coffee
3-25-17 Denenchofu
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3721.7951
Hours: 7:30-19:30

Tamagawa Sengen Shrine
1-55-12 Denenchofu
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3721.4050

1-55-5 Denenchofu
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3721.2789
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 10:00-17:30

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

this and that

They've been planning to raise our sales tax to 10% but postponed it and it looks like it will finally happen next October...they also plan to keep the tax for essentials at 8% (what the sales tax is now).

Can you believe that tap water will be 10% but that bottled mineral water will be 8%?

If you eat-in at the convenience store your tax would be 10% but if you take out the tax would be 8%.

I think their logic as to what qualifies for 10% and for 8% is backwards.

Especially since with all the take out containers, trash amounts will increase...

Anyway, I hope the government will reconsider and think things through instead of trying to rush to get this thing passed...

On a side note, I was impressed with the butcher in one of the many shops near JR Kamata.

They do not use styrofoam trays.

Instead, you talk to the person behind the counter and they put the meat you purchase into a plastic bag and wrap it with butcher paper. (photo above)

Semi-old school but not totally ecological (I think old school would be for us to bring our own container for them to put what we purchase into) and I like that their prices are comparable with the big supermarkets....

I've also noticed that Minoo restricted the amount of trash we could put out each week (10 liters per person two times a week), where Tokyo doesn't really (45 liters per bag, up to 3 bags, two times a week).

Changing the subject, most of our roadways near our apartment are straight, so from our lanai we can see straight down for miles.

I try to use Google Street View before going on walks, so I can see what the area looks like beforehand, so I won't get too lost. (love technology!)

The other day, I walked down one of the many roadways until it ended and landed near the edge of the Tama River and what they call the Gas Bridge.

If you cross the river, you will be in Kanagawa prefecture.

We've been in Tokyo for almost 6 months, still lots to explore and new things to learn.

Monday, October 22, 2018

naruto taiyaki honpo

Near the JR Kamata station, there is a Naruto Taiyaki Honpo shop.

We had one at Ishibashi station when we lived in Osaka...they actually are all over Japan.

Recently though I've been seeing the taiyaki being filled with seasonal things like apple (this was delicious and was like eating apple pie).

This particular one though was filled with chestnut and so far my fave.

Hope to eat this again before the season filling changes.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

grilled sandwich & roasted red bell peppers

I recently bought a grilled sandwich maker.

You put your sandwich inside of this meshed "basket" and grill it in the fish drawer.

It came with a little book of recipes to try.

The first time was a fail...the bread stuck to the was pretty frustrating to pry it off.

The recipe book instructs you to use 8-slice bread.

In Japan, our loaves of bread usually look like this square block (see photo above).

You can buy your bread pre-sliced by different slice Osaka we could buy 4, 5 & 6.

In Tokyo, you can buy 5, 6 & 8.

4 means that there are 4 slices in the bag and 1 slice is about 3 centimeters (about 1.18 inch) thick.

5 means that there are 5 slices in the bag and 1 slice is about 2.4 centimeters (about 0.944 inch) thick.

6 means that there are 6 slices in the bag and 1 slice is about 2 centimeters (about 0.78 inch) thick.

8 means that there are 8 slices in the bag and 1 slice is about 1.5 centimeters (about 0.59 inch) thick.

At some bakeries, they will slice the bread for you according to the thickness you want.

Me, I used to buy even numbers because there are 2 of us...who knew a slice was actually scientifically measured...

So, the first time I tried the gadget, I had used 6-size...this meant my bread was actually thicker, I had to cook it longer and at a lower temp.

What you put into the sandwich also determines how long and at how high your temps need to be.

The manual instructs you to cook most everything before putting it into the mesh basket and also try not to put anything too wet in there because the cooking time is so short, everything has to cook quickly so that the bread's outside will stay crisp.

This try I had the heat too high and in for too long resulting in black, black, black...

Finally I think I figured out how to adjust the heat (I can't believe I can't find anything online for my stove model).

I still need to practice with different fillings...but will continue to use 8 size bread, pre-cook whatever I put in there and do this on weekends when I have a little more time in the mornings.

On a side note, I also used the fish drawer to roast some red bell peppers...instead of 40 minutes in an oven it took about 20 minutes.

While the peppers were in the fish drawer, I had flashbacks of Rap Replinger's "Auntie Marialani's Cooking Show"....

If you are not familiar with Rap Replinger, he was local comedian that was part of my childhood.

Anyway, the peppers turned out great, I peeled the skins off and will use the peppers in hummus.

What have you been up to lately?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

naritaya garden

We had one of the donburi for that stamp rally I told you about earlier.

This one was from Naritaya Garden and it was HUGE.

The pork belly was caramelized with black vinegar and black sugar and had a nice crisp crust, while the meat was super tender.

I loved the sweet-sour flavors but it was just too much food for me.

Not too mention they give you a nice serving of tonjiru (pork & root veggie miso soup).

I think we need to eat one more donburi to complete the stamp rally.

We'll be back here to try their other menu items.

Naritaya Garden (UPDATE: 3/2019 out of business)
6-9-8 Ikegami
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3755.5877
Closed Wednesdays
Hours: 11:30-23:00

Friday, October 19, 2018


It had been a couple of years since Satoshi and I went to eat yakiniku.

We decided to try Ajisai for dinner the other night.

We started off with beef tongue.

Sirloin on the left and Kalbi on the right.

Hakusai (chinese cabbage) kim chee.

Choregi Salad...apparently "choregi" is a made up Japanese word, which supposedly means "torn into bite sized pieces".

Everything was so tender and tasty.

AND they gave us dessert!

A cream puff filled with vanilla ice cream.

Oh, and they gave us each a stick of gum too for any bad breath after eating...ha!

We'll be back

6-6-6 Ikegami
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3752.8058
Hours: Mondays-Saturdays 17:00-24:00, Sundays 12:00-24:00

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Sunday, we brought some electronics that we do not need anymore to Book Off to see what they would "buy" from us.

In Japan, many recycle shops, will pay a little to buy recyclables for them to re-sell.

Depending on how old or new the item is, and if it is something that can be resold, will determine how much they will pay you for them.

We've gone to recycle shops in the past and received no payment for our items...some have also gotten rid of some of our items for free (most times we need to pay to have things thrown out).

While we were waiting for their estimate, we had lunch at Shunkoen.

I ordered their mabo tofu lunch and it was HUGE.

Beside the main dish, there was a salad, some egg drop soup and pickles.

Satoshi had to help me finish my food.

Satoshi also had their ramen and yaki gyoza set.

The ramen was shoyu based but I was amazed by their gyoza.

They were huge!

Satoshi says they were filled with soup, like XLB (xiao long bao) or as the Japanese call them "shorompo".

Everything was tasty and I'm glad we got to try this place...we'll be back.

As for our electronics, Book Off gave us 1250 yen for all of them!

We were surprised and happy as we were only expecting them to give us 10 yen or not even anything for all of it...guess it "pays" to recycle.

5-22-1 Kamata
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3733.7677
Lunch 11:00-14:00, Dinner 17:00-24:00 (Mondays-Saturdays
(Sundays only open for lunch)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

tire park

There is a park I've been wanting to check out called Tire Park.

From the Keikyu Zoshiki station it is about a 10 minute walk.

Apparently, they use old tires from airplanes and trucks.

I think Satoshi said that the tire he is posing in was from an airplane...big yeah?!

It was something to see.

I'm glad we got to check it out.

Nishi-Rokugo Tire Park
1-6-1 Nishi-rokugo
Ota, Tokyo