Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Commuting Bus

Crowded commuting bus in a hot and humid morning. One of those so called "mentally challenged" people who suddenly bursts out, sings, mumbles, regardless of the surroundings but, assuming, be in one's own world which is far, far beyond our understandings. Repeating the same phrase over and over and over in the crowded bus.

Next to it, a mother with a daughter of age 4 to 5, with picture cards, trying to teach her how to count. Mother's voice was loud, not sure if she was aware of the tone, maybe competing with the "special" one's shout, or was devoted to teach her daughter intensely. But it somehow didn't look heartwarming scene at all. Mother's voice sounded so tired, just like a machine repeating. Not pleasant at all.

"How many apples do you see?" "Three." "Which is larger, 6 or 4?" "Six." Behind the dialogue, the "special" one shouts whatever doesn't make sense to no one but himself.

No other conversations were heard on the bus, even though it was packed.

It's just insane. Drive me nuts. Get me out here.

Was not a great beginning of my morning, but it was only a dawn of my miserable day...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Had Singapore chicken rice for lunch with Aki in Azabu Juban. So good, had another cup o' rice for myself...!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


あき&はるか, originally uploaded by piroko_kuroda.

Haruka came to town for her visa at US embassy. Went out dinner with her and Aki at Turkish restaurant in Shibuya.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


IKEA, originally uploaded by piroko_kuroda.

Went to IKEA in Minami Funabashi with my mother on Sun. Crowded with family with kids, super cheap stuff. Dangerous...

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Sky was gray and windy this morning, we borrowed umbrellas from Yoyokaku, and head to the famous Karatsu castle, so called Maizurujo (dancing crain castle). It had elevator (is it a trend these days? Good for elders/challenged people for sure) up to the top of the castle at 100 yen. Took a look around inside of the castle, with some swords that Renfield was keenly taking photos.

Rain started, and we walked around the city, hit Hikiyama Museum that exhibits (actually, it's a storage in show case style) the carts used in the Karatsu Kunchi Festival. Most of these are made late Edo era, more than 150 years old, made with many layers of papers and Japanese lacquers, and still used at the festival every year.

Kept walking toward the station, we had lunch at arcade, and checked out some pottery stores of Karatsu Yaki. Purchased very simple 2 sake cups.

Returned to Yoyokaku, hit bath before the dinner of Shabushabu of Saga beef for the night. Delicious!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Iki Island Day 2

Woke up around 7:00, hit onsen before breakfast.

Typically ryokan's breakfast tends to huge. At this Hirayama Ryokan, they had huge TOFU called Shima dofu sitting on the table, among the other dishes from the island, including organic vegetable salad from Okami's firm.

After the breakfast, Okami gave us a ride to a Katsumoto cho port via picking up her 3 grandchildren and a friend, to take a boat to an island called Tatunoshima.

Elder grandchild, Koto chan looked interested to Renfield, as he didn't look like a local at all, she became a friend of his since then, and we took the boat to the island together.

In 10 min, we arrived a small island with beautiful beach and water. Sand was so smooth and water was emerald green, unlike the other beach of Japan. Hung around for a couple of hours, got on the boat to get back to the port.

Said good by to Koto chan and Okami's camp, took taxi to the other side of the Iki Island to take a ferry to the main Kyushu Island.

Walked around Yobuko port after got off the ferry, snacked some local goodies, took bus to Karatsu heading to a ryokan called Yoyokaku. This is the main reason we came to Karatsu!

Tired from the all travels, I was glad to see the bath with iris leaves. It was a boy's day/iris festival according to an old event calendar of Japan.

Dinner was off course fabulous. Stuffed ourselves, again, we went to lounge to read for a couple of hours.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Iki Island

Pigeon woke me up around 5 in the morning, didn't expect I heard coo in such city area of Nagasaki.

Took morning bath, had big breakfast, then checked out and went to Nagasaki Station to catch a train, Kamome (seagull). It had big leather seats, and slippers (!?), and a drink free of charge. Could be a better train than Shinkansen (bullet train).

Arrived Hakata before noon, the city was already crowded since it was the local huge festival day, Hakata Dontaku. Escaped by bus to the port, we got on board of Jet Wheel to Iki Island. The water was calm and in 1 hour, we got to the port of Ashinobe. Really Genki Okami (owner) of Hirayama Ryokan was waiting for us at the port, and gave us ride back to the Ryokan. Heard it was a stormy day the previous day, and so bad that the ships had to change the course to come in the island. How lucky we are, and I am such a fair weather woman!

Hit Onsen first, relaxed, read some, and we moved on to a dining room for dinner. Okami was telling on the way to Ryokan that her husband was on a ship to catch fish and they had many Japanese flounders and the other kind. Surely our expectation rose, the dinner started with apricot liqueur and sea urchin in a shell!!. Sashimi was also good, no fishy smell at all. They had fresh squid sashimi, which was so fresh it was clistal, and still faintly moving!! We were so full I couldn't finish the sea urchin rice at the end.... This island can grow rice, oats, fruits, vegitables, and off course rich in sea food.

Crawled back to the room, waited for stomach to digest the dinner, we went to a special massage of leg/feet for myself, and the dead sea mud pack for the man.

Hit Onsen before going to bed, and the night was over.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Left home early to Haneda Airport to catch a flight to Nagasaki. Got there before noon, left laggage at Ryokan Sakamotoya . First we went to China town (very small compare to the Yokohama one), and had lunch of Chanpon for myself, and Sweet and Sour Pork for the man at Kouzanrou.

Took tram up to the final stop close to Glover Garden, and took incline elevator. Hung around the garden for a while, checking out the houses the foreigners used to live back in the days. These are all in Western style, but interestingly they used the Japanese roof tiles, so the overall figure is quite unique. The weather was nice, almost 30C degrees.

Got a little tired from the sun, we went back to the Ryokan, took bath, and waited for the local gourmet, Shippoku course meal for dinner. Off course we stuffed ourselves, and went to bed a lot earlier than we usually do.