Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Jan and Grant Visit Tokyo

Hi again

Well we have had another successful and action packed weekend with Joss' parents Jan and Grant. They arrived last Thursday night, and after settling into their hotel we took them to Za Watami, which has become a bit of a favourite of ours. We did have some sakes, but not as many as last time.

On Friday Joss, Jan and Grant went to check out a few of the Tokyo sites.
On Friday night after Paul finished work (PM: sshhh, I may have had an early mark) we had a few afternoon drinks and then headed out to dinner to a restaurant called Nabezo, about 10min by train from Oimachi. Nabezo is a shabu shabu/sukiyaki/nabe restaurant, basically all 3 are varieties of Japanese hot pot, where you cook meat and veges in broths at the table. We went for the 2 hours of eat and drink whatever you can option! It was great! Apart from the fantastic food, the decor inside was impressive, the magazine that we found out about it in called the decor Tim Burtonesche. See the pics and judge for yourself.

Inside Nabezo
Grant and Jan in our little booth.
Shabu shabu in action (we had sukiyaki and miso broths)

Our little booth, conveniently located by the vegetable bar! When we arrived the waiter gave us little serviettes to cover our bags. They think of everything!

Saturday we took a day trip out of Tokyo and went to Kuneguma, which is a beach south of Yokohama, and on a clear day Mt Fuji can be seen. However, although the skies were perfectly clear, Fuji was somehow hiding itself behind low clouds on the horizon. We were disappointed not to see Fuji but it was a nice trip out to the beach nonetheless. After that we went to the Ramen museum. For us it was our 3rd visit, and we did a rough calculation and realized that we have been to approximately 26 different ramen shops in our time here so far! And that does not include the few that we have gone to more than once!

Saturday night was a quiet night and an attempt at a home cooked Japanese dinner.

Kuneguma (Fuji is in the other direction)
The Ramen museum
Amongst the action, ready for our first bowl
Outside the Ramen Museum

At home ready to tuck in

Sunday was another day planned around food. We went to Namjatown where we have been previously for gyoza, dessert and ice-cream! Afterwards we wandered around some of the street markets in Ueno, and then onto Sushi train for dinner near out place.

Jan and Grant at Namjatown, after trying 6 varieties of gyoza.

The shark fin ramen flavoured ice cream. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as it sounds. Bit like ice-cream with some bits... bits of shark!

Out to sushi train for some proper seafood.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Roy Ayers at Motion Blue

Hi All

Just a quick update. On Sunday we went to see Roy Ayers at Motion Blue Yokohama, a jazz bar associated with the larger Blue Note in Tokyo. It was a great bar, located in a red brick warehouse building by the water that has been restored and now houses a few restaurants, shops and bars.

We have kind of adopted Yokohama as our second city, as it is very easy to get to, plus Joss works there at the conversation cafe.

We are both looking forward to Joss' parents arriving tonight!!

Anyway here are a couple of snaps outside of the warehouse.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Hakuba Trip 2

In the first weekend of March before all of the snow disappeared we decided to make another trip to Hakuba for some Spring snow sports. We left on Thursday evening for the four and a half hour bus ride, and arrived around 8pm at Hakuba.

Unfortunately the lodge we stayed at last time, Hakuba House, was not available so we settled for what sounded like another nice lodge which was in a different area to the previous, but was similar in layout and services. We were located about five min on foot from the hotels and restaurants of Echoland, the night spot of Hakuba, something we were sure would come in handy.

The lodge itself was quite cool, well equipped with a communal kitchen, two common hang out areas (one complete with a wii), and a beer vending machine! What more could we ask for?

Well we soon found out that the host himself was a bit, errr odd. Let's say socially maladroit (PM: Sorry, he was so odd I had to discover a new word to describe him). He was Canadian and has lived in Japan for the past 11 years and true to form of a large proportion of foreign people we have met who live here, he was weird. His oddness was offset by his lovely Japanese wife.

However, the presence of their 3 kids in the lodge caught us by surprise, all under pre-school age (a pair of twins), and behaving as kids do at home. Having fun, running around screaming and being, well loud in the early hours of the morning. Why they thought that sort of behaviour wouldn't effect the guests is beyond us! Sure we appreciate kid friendly accommodation, but at least they could have provided a warning on their website. It could have gone something like: 'Beware kids on premises, those wishing to sleep later than 6am should bring earplugs (good ones)'. Anyway, although the situation was a bit odd it was more than ample for what we needed and did provide us with a few giggles - the place just seemed to attract random people.

(PM: One of them a drunk and barely legible Finnish guy who reminded me of a very drunk dwarf: big red sunburnt nose, glasses, long hair and the beanie to suit, an apt name would be boozey).

Friday we were greeted with a fantastic sunny day, and we hit the slopes for a long and very successful day boarding/skiing. We both started off the day and weekend with a private lesson, which was totally worthwhile.

A perfect day for skiing, t-shirts and a jacket is all that was needed.
Just look at that backdrop.

Looking back up the slope

Joss in action.

Not really action shots, but hey what about that view?

On the Friday whilst enjoying the snow sports, we met a fellow traveller from Aus, Su, who recommended we go along to a bar in the White Horse Hotel which was frequented by travelers, mostly Aussies. We thought why the heck not, especially seeing as the lodge we were staying did not have the same appeal as our previous trip. What was supposed to be a quiet couple turned into quite a night. We met some great people, one of whom, Ben, was just about to begin a trans-Siberian adventure, so of course we had a lot in common!

At the bar with Ben, Jeni, Joss, Su (background) and the Aussie bar manager Clint.

Everyone at the bar

Well, Saturday provided a bit of rain on the slopes, and even though we were feeling a little weary from our previous nights entertainment, we still hit the slopes for a half day.

Saturday night snowed non-stop, as it did all day Sunday, which meant a good morning of skiing on about 15cm of fresh snow! Unfortunately it seemed word got out in Tokyo about this and the slopes were packed! However we still got some good runs in the morning.

After lunch we packed up our things, made our way to the bus terminal and had an onsen (PM: my first!) before a longer than usual trip home due to the traffic!

On the chair ready for the first run on Sunday.