Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You know you're in Japan when ...

                          For fun, I've listed some things that made a mark on me during my 2 months stay in Japan:

                          You know you're in Japan when ...

                          • You see commuters sleeping on train - whether they are sitting or standing!
                          • All train lines are color coded (Rule of thumb: follow the arrow and follow the color, you won't get lost - had been proven effective many many times!!).
                          • During autumn, one in every five females wear boots.
                          • Middle high school girls wear veeery short skirts - and that's their uniform!
                          • People wont establish eye-contact with you while walking (when they do, chances are they are not Japanese but Filipinos!).
                          • No matter the time, shops (and taxis) always have change for a 10,000 yen bill.
                          • All taxis have GPS.
                          • All trains use the same "voice" in their PA system (high-pitched female voice).
                          • There are so many luxury cars, and the most expensive and fancy looking among them are driven by middle-aged men.
                          • People work like slaves during the week, and party like kings during weekends.
                          • Stationary commuters stay on the left-side of the escalator, leaving the right-side open for those in a hurry (in Kyoto, however, stationary commuters stay on the escalator's right-side).
                          • People are very helpful. Even if they can't speak English, they will communicate with you using sign-language.
                          • Everyone has PASMO (or SUICA) train card.
                          • You see moms-on-bike with groceries in front, and the kid strapped at the back (or the other way around).
                          • You see so many 100 yen shops!

                          Monday, November 16, 2009

                          20/60: My Survival Cooking Dishes

                          20+1/60. Twenty main recipes in sixty days. This is how I summarize my survival cooking experience when I managed our household cooking chores during the two months that Apple was in Tokyo. I asked Geof how he rates the main dishes displayed in this slide show of my survival cooking dishes. Most of them were rated "5" except for the giniling and paksiw - rated "4" and the other dishes that he does not eat - ampalaya and chopsuey - he is not fond of vegetables and the pusit meat but he loves the sauce. Ofcourse aside from these 20 main dishes, there were others which required simple frying or heating of some ready-to-eat food like tocino, longganiza, hot dog, chicken nuggets, dried fish, pork chop, spare ribs, instant noodles and the fried dalagang bukid fish (Geof's favorite fish).

                          Fried Chicken ala Max's and chopsuey
                          I planned to cook other dishes like kilawin kapampangan and sinigang na hipon but was not able to cook them - I was busy lately. Over-all, the experience was very rewarding - imagine with these dishes I can set up a small carinderia .. or may be I will just play "Cafe World" and create my virutual restaurant at Facebook.

                          Read my other blogs on survival cooking.

                          Tuesday, November 3, 2009

                          Bargain Shopping in Tokyo

                          The legend is true: everything is expensive in Tokyo. That is, if you don't know where to look. Being in Tokyo for more than 6 weeks now, I've discovered some places where you can find not- so-expensive items.

                          1. Musashi-Koyama: The shopping area covers the whole street. Available are food stalls, shoes, house items, beauty products, Kimono shops, dried fish.

                          How to go there: From Meguro station (see Nambuko/green line station N-01 or Mita/Royal blue line station I-01), take the Meguro line going to the direction of Ookayama. Musashi Koyama is just 2 stations away from Meguro station.

                          2. Sugamo: This is an old-people's gathering area. The street market is only available 3 times a month - in every date where you find the number 4 (i.e. every 4th, 14th, and 24th of the month). The stalls, of course, are there the whole year round, with products the same as in the Musashi-koyama shopping street. But the street-vendors that sprout during the "number-4" days of the month sell food items that are not available in the regular stalls - vegetables, fruits, pickled veggies, sweetened fruits, street food, powdered (dried) snake and turtle, and other cooking ingredients that I have no idea about.

                          How to go there: Take the Mita/Royal blue line (station I-15) or the JR Yamanote line (station Sugamo).

                          3. Okachimachi: The items you'll find here are are the same as Sugamo and Mushashi-Koyama except that here there are fresh meat items, mostly sea produce (different kinds of fish, crabs, octopus)

                          How to go there: Take the Oedo/ Pink line (station E-09), or the Ginza/ Orange line (station G-15) or Hibiya/ Gray line (station H-16), or the JR Yamanote line (station Okachimachi). The street-shopping area is actually just below the JR Yamanote train.

                          4. Ueno: One station away from Okachimachi is Ueno. In fact, the shopping street of Okachimachi and Ueno are connected so most of the items in both areas are the same. But it was in Ueno that I found a shop run by an old couple, and sells souvenirs that are reflective of the Japanese colors, images, and textures.

                          How to go there: Take the Ginza/ Orange line (station G-16), or Hibiya/ Gray line (station H-17) or the JR Yamanote line (station Keisei-Ueno).

                          5. Asakusa: This is also known as the Old Edo (Tokyo). The shopping area is the street that leads to the Asakusa shrine. So the idea is to shop before or after visiting the shrine. Most of the items that are found here are souvenir items, sweets, and street food.

                          How to go there: Take the Ginza/ Orange line (station G-19) or Asakusa/ Red Orange line (station A-18).

                          Asakusa Shrine

                          As mentioned, most of the items available in these areas are very similar with each other -and the good thing is the prices of the same-type-items are also standard, save of course for some.

                          The trick, therefore, is to find the needle in the hay stalk. There are some shops that stand out in these places, but one must be prepared to engage in the routine I call "walk and check, walk and check."

                          Happy shopping!

                          Sunday, November 1, 2009

                          Geof's Lego DC-3 Plane

                          Geoffrey is now creating airplanes with his Lego blocks. First, he requested me to print a picture of a DC-3 plane. He used the picture to create his DC-3 plane shown below.

                          "This is my plane, a lego DC-3. It seats 7, including the pilot and copilot. : ). It has 2 engines, a bathroom, a bar for drinks, a highly detailed cockpit. It took me 2 days to build this plane. hop ya like it!! (was ment to be misspelled) B-) - Geof Oreta