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Japan is pretty good..
There are some things I love about it and some things that still get on my nerves. 

Things that I love about Japan:

  1. People – The people are vary thoughtful toward each other.  An exmple of this is in traffic where people let each other in and out ot of sideroads.  Another example is at night many Japanese cars have a way to dim the headlights so that they are not too bright for oncoming traffic.  Typically a car will dim thier lights when stationary so as not to cause uncomfortableness to the people that are in front of them.
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    Personality –
    Humor
  2. Food and Culture – there is a rich diverse culture of food and drink, and the Japanese people enjoy both immensly.
  3. Mechanical redesigns and small improvements – The Japanese have a way of accepting new things from different cultures and then trying to improve upon the original concept.  Sometimes this works out for the best, sometimes not.
  4. The Land – Despite the fact that there are so many people packed onto a few islands that together are barely the size of one US state, the people manage to reserve spaces of beauty scattered amongst the concrete and steel.  Some of my faforites include public and private parks, onsens, shrines, and beaches (what’s left of them).
  5. Trains (being able to get most places by train)
  6. Tips are included
  7. Funny TV and Commercials

Things that get on my nerves: (get those out of the way)

  1. Traffic and Roads – I can ride a bike faster than I can get to most places off base.  Major headaches are the trains crossing the roads, and the dis-organization of roads (with no names).  It will take me 33 minutes to travel 10 miles in the morning.  Many “2-lane” roads are really narrow (even for 1 car)
  2. Houses near train stations (highly desirable) are densely plotted, leaving very little room for beauty.
  3. Trains – It’s a love-hate with trains. the part I don’t like about them is they can get very crowded when going certain places during rush our.  Something I would not want my children to experience.
    If you come home late on a train they stop running abour 11:30-12:00 PM so if you miss it you have to pay and expensive taxi ride or walk home.
  4. Cost of living – Japanes Beer costs $7-8 a sixpack.
    A C0ke costs a minimum of a dollar, many times it’s 150 Yen which is actually more than $1.50.

In summary, I’m still getting used to Japan.. and I expect that I will still be getting used to it when I’m ready to leave but I don’t want to think about that now.. since I’m enjoying it here.  I truly am glad I came out here and I’m thankful the Japanese and the command would have me.  I think the experience for me and my family is one that we will remember fondly of for our entire life.  I am especially proud of my children Lindy and Evan who are adapting so well, and I am excited to see what they take away with them when we return to the states.

2012-04(Apr)Hanami
Quadcopter BeerLift
2012 Takao Fire Festival
2012 Skiiing in Shiga-Kogen with my Mom

Check out the video.

Green Tea IPA

Not only is Baird Beer my favorite Japanese Craft Brewer. They are also collaborating with another of my favorite US Brewers Stone Brewing Co.. Baird-Ishii-Stone Green Tea IPA is a collaboration brew, with the proceeds from the beer going to Tohoku disaster relief.

Read more here on the Baird Beer Brewers Blog, and on Stone Brewing’s site.  Click on the photo for a video by the 3 brewers involved.

Rolling Blackout

This beer was a kit that I bought on ebay from XXXX.  I brewed on an afternoon with my family during a scheduled power blackout scheduled by TEPCO**.  This is the first taste after waiting 1 week after bottling.  There is not much aroma except for maybe a hint of dark-maltiness or is it malty-darkness.  There is a little bite on the tongue as priming (3/4 cup of light malt) is starting to kick off.  There is no head to speak of, but hopefully that will develop in a few more weeks.   I was a little concerned because this particular bottle had some yeast (or something) inside the bottle on the neck, but it tastes to be ok.

Ingredients:

  • 4 L water
  • 2 lb. Muntons Dark (Dried Malt Extract)
  • 3.3 lb. Muntons Hopped Dark Bitterness (40-45)
  • 1 oz. German Hallertau Hops (pellets, Alpha 3%)
  • 6 oz. Muntons Crushed Crystal 2-Row Barley (not much!!)
  • 11.5 g, Saflager S-23 Dried Yeast
  • 1/2 Tsp. Irish moss

**Rolling Blackouts: The theory was that because of the earthquake and damaged Fukushima nuclear powerplant everyone would have to endure months of power outages where each city or grid was on a different time so that no one would have more than 4 hours of outage time.  And that the times were rotated so that no one had to endure a very inconvenient time all the time ex. 0600-1000.   Blackouts would be announced on the TEPCO website and on the “big voice” a network or loudspeakers strategically placed throughout each city and prefecture.  unfortunately this was in Japanese so it was just eerie-echo voices that were no help at all to whether the power was about to go out, it was going to go out in the morning, or it was not going to go out at all.

Here is a Google map I have been working on.  We wanted to put things into perspective geographically.  It shows our location in the bottom left, near Zama Train Station, and then the earthquake affected areas.

Here is a link to a very good google map that will show lot’s of points of interet if you toggle things on and off on the left hand menu.


View Japan Quake and Tsunamis – March 11, 2011 in a larger map

It was a nice day in the Kamakura area.  We went to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Daibutsu in Japanese) is a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha in the city of Kamakura, Japan.  But forget all that, check out the surf!  These are pics from Sep 25 (Kamakura), and Sep 26, 2010 Chigasaki (Tsujido beach).  Waves were pretty good as a result of a Typhoon off the coast. 

From 2010 September Surf

Seated serenely in the grounds of Kotokuin, a Buddhist temple of the Pure Land sect, the Great Buddha is one of the icons of Japan.   At 13.35 meters high and weighing 93 tons, the Daibutsu is the second largest monumental Buddha in Japan (after the one at Todaiji in Nara) and to many, the most impressive.

The Diabutsu was cast in 1252 in the Kamakura period and was originally housed inside a temple, as in Nara. But a huge tsunami washed away the wooden structure sometime in the late 15th century, and the statue has sat out in nature ever since.

The Great Buddha is seated in the lotus position with his hands forming the Dhyani Mudra, the gesture of meditation. With a serene expression and a beautiful backdrop of wooded hills, the Daibutsu is a truly spectacular sight.

The Daibutsu is Amida Buddha, who is the focus of Pure Land Buddhism. Originating in China, this sect gained prominence in Japan in the 12th century and remains very popular today. The central teaching is that through devotion to Amida Buddha, expressed through mantras and sincerity of heart, one will go to the Pure Land or “Western Paradise” after death – a pleasant realm from which it is easy to attain nirvana.

(All this Great info from Sacred Destinations)

Really nice hiking area in the Chubu Sangaku National Park.  Nagano prefecture!

I ran the “Shinnenkai (新年会) Run” in Tsunashima on Sunday and it was great!  The weather was nice and a little overcast and cool.

I got there via the Tokyu Toyoko Line having to get on a local train to make sure it stopped at the right spot.

Tsumashima is a smaller town with some buildings but not too big.  Being just after New Years and the weekend there were lots of people going to the shrines with large lines exiting from the shrine in to the nearby streets.

My favorite part was going to a restaurant afterward where you can catch you own fish and then they will prepare it for you in any one of at least 3 ways:

Shabu Shabu – Thinly sliced and cooked in a boiling soup at the table

Sashimi – Raw and delicious like Sushi without the rice

Tempura – Lighty Fried in batter

Nitatsu – Simmered in Soy Sauce, looks kind of baked

I’m not too sure about the last name… will have to check on that.

I was just looking around on Google Maps and noticed this spot very near where I’m working.

Test

I will have to check it out when it warms up.  Evidentally you can check it out on the surf cam so we’ll see.  I’ll put up the surf cam link here when I have the link.

Also here is some additional info regarding surf in Japan.