Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tanabata Redux

It is time again in Japan for Tanabata. If you recall from last year, Tanabata is the celebration of the legend of two lovers in the stars that are separated by the Milky Way and can only meet once a year.

On this ‘magical’ day (which is July 7) these lovers are so happy that they grant the wishes of others.

So, as the tradition goes, if you write your wishes on a one and hang it on a Tanabata Tree, your wish will come true.

My wish is ready to go on the Tanabata Tree in our Lobby.

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‘Amazing’ Encounter

While flying from Tokyo (Narita) to Los Angeles, I happened to notice several camera crews waiting to board the plan. While thinking it looked ‘odd’, I quickly let it pass.

Now, fast forward about 10 hours…

While queuing up to exit the plane, there are pleads of ‘can we please get past you to the exit door’ ring out in the cabin. Please note that the pleads were not rude or demanding in any way. And, passengers (somewhat oddly) seemed to happily comply. It was then that I noticed these people were dressed in athletic outfits and were being followed by the camera crews that had been seen during boarding.

Then it hit me…could I have stumbled across the Amazing Race?

At this time, the passengers were informed that instead of walking off the jetway and to the normal immigration and customs location for our arrival gate, we were going to be put on busses and sent around to another location. Then, the doors to the plane opened and the teams dashed out to the bus. While they diligently checked to see if they ‘all’ made it on the bus, they immediately started talking with each other very politely (very friend-like) as they gathered together at the bus exit door.

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Again, they darted out the doors as they opened; only to gather again on the tarmac before we were let inside to an ’empty’ immigration hall. With cameramen and audio techs keeping pace, the teams were huddled just outside customs and appeared to be getting some sort of briefing from a producer-type person before dashing off once more.

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All quite exciting…especially to find out later via Twitter that this was indeed the ‘live’ happening of the final leg for Amazing Race 25.

Cupnoodles Museum

One of the things we have had on our ‘must do’ list since we arrived in Japan was the Cupnoodles Museum in Yokohama.

The museum consists of a ‘history of packaging’ display, a stop motion-style CGI movie, an educational section on invention, a replica of the shack in which instant noodles were invented, a food court all about noodles, and an area where you can make your very own personalized container and mixture.

As we learned in the quite entertaining movie, instant noodles (just add water) were invented in Japan back in 1958 by Momofuku Ando. In the early 70’s, on a trip to the U.S., he invented the infamous cup version when he realized the western world did not know how to use chopsticks and a cup mode it easier to hold with one hand while eating with a fork. Then, in 2005, at the ripe old age of 95, he invented space ramen; a recipe that could be prepared and consumed without gravity.

The piece de resistance of the museum is the opportunity to make your own Cupnoodles. You get to decorate your own cup, select 1 of four ‘broths’ (traditional, seafood, curry, and tomato), and then pick 4 of about 20 different ingredients (including some quite unique / seasonal offerings like mozzarella cheese, kimchi, and chicken bits with chicken faces printed on them). While getting into the museum is fairly easy, advance reservations for this part of the museum experience is highly recommended as the capacity is somewhat limited.

It was a great time…can’t wait to give them a try.

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For Good – ASIJ Graduation 2014

As the school year comes to a close, it is time to say goodbye to our seniors. Every year at graduation, the choir and Vocal Jazz Ensemble perform a heartfelt song at graduation. This year we sang For Good from Wicked. Despite the (many) tears shed, it was really nice to perform with the seniors one last time.

Ice Cream Update: Melon Soda Coolish

Most of the ice cream at the convenience stores are just the usual cycle types but there seems to be an all new Coolish flavor: Melon Soda with Ice Cream. I have had actual melon soda with ice cream and the flavor is pretty close, there just isn’t the carbonation like the actual soda. Almost like if the soda got stale and the ice cream melted but someone re-froze it. I don’t know how to accurately sum up the flavor but it is like sugary melon. It is amazing to me about how, in Japan, the flavors are so intricate and so precise. Even just for ice cream!

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Kirifuri Kogen

Up the hill a bit from Nikko (which is a town about a 2 hour train ride out of Tokyo) is a beautiful highland area just on the slopes of the Japanese alps.

The Kirifuri Highlands is a popular skiing area in the winter and a wonderful area for hiking in the summer.

There are two routes up to the top, the first is a lovely, meandering path which slowly ascending to the top lookout platform. The second is a direct route: 1,445 steps straight up.

Here is the view looking back down:
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