Monday, January 31, 2011

Surprising Breezes East Readies for the Super Bowl...

A delightful surprise is in store for commuters on S-cho tomorrow morning!

Could it be.....?

Let's get closer to make sure....

It is! It is!

This really enhances the modest decor of SB East.

Kyoto Steeler fans, please email Darrin to reserve your spot for the Monday Morning internet stream.

Little Kyoto Shops

We see things like this in Kyoto all the time. We turn a corner and and see some tiny store, selling something or other. There's never a lot of it, whatever it is. And not in a large space. But it's adorable. Here's an example:

Homemade string for sale.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kura Sushi--Virtual Reality!

We like Kura Sushi, and not just because it was featured in the New York Times.
It's friendly....and cheap (105 per plate).

I took a bunch of pictures last weekend so you can pretend you're there, too. Some of them are blurry (sorry). After all, it's a conveyor belt. Moving, moving, moving....

Here are a few classics to get you warmed up.

Of course, things can get weird. It's sushi, after all. In fact, I can't recall what this one is.

I think this is tuna--with egg and negi.

And this here's a kansai-area fave.

This one's eel. I think.
Tuna roll.
Max likes it.

Whoa! Who put this temaki here?

What the...? It's sweet potato. Maybe. Maybe mixed with azuki bean paste.

Yes, it is. It's corn.
Yes, with mayonnaise. Want some?

Didn't try this one either.

Or this one. We all draw the line at mayonnaise in our sushi.

We were sitting toward the end of the line...the inari got grabbed before our turn!

Raw shrimps. Nope. Didn't try them either.

This one? I tried it. Salmon, onion, and avocado. It was good until I hit the splash-of-mayo. Why do they DO that?

Hugo and Alek's new favorite is ikura. (as in..."ikura, squishy salmon roe like dabby dots of jelly. Salty on my lips, and yummy in my belly!") Raise your hand if you ever read this book to my kids.

Oh, and kani, sweet kani. We ate about 25 plates of this last Sunday.

Nope, didn't try it. Not even for 105 yen. Too prehistoric. Too large. Too weird.

Negi-toro. One of my favorites.

Here's one of my favorites, too.

These egg things were in our osechi ryori. But we didn't fall for it again.

A modern twist--here's hamburger-patty sushi. Can you say, "hambaahguu?"

And some kind of beef thing.

This one's for Mike. Guess what Mike? It's natto. Want some? Don't worry--no mayo.

"Natto? As in, fermented soybeans?"
Yes, Alek!
(By the way, nice haircut.)

Every five plates, we check to see if we won a prize.

A few more onigiri...

And (cold) sweet potatoes cooked in sugar. Yeah, we tried them. was that? Are you more adventurous than we are? Kurt, is there anything here you would not have tried ?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some more nice people

After the bloody ceiling adventure last Sunday, we stopped at this barber shop. Their haircuts for school kids were only 1300 yen! The boys were due. Max stepped right up.

He doesn't look happy, but he was raving about the orange-mint shampoo. They even shaved off his lip fuzz with a little razor!
I do so love a man with short hair....

Alek was less enthusiastic about the process. The barber has three boys of his own, though, so he just grabbed him up in the air and plopped him in the chair.

No smiles. This is "before." The barber was marveling at the loft of his bedhead. I didn't learn the Japanese word for that. Nepatsu perhaps? Anyone?
Reading manga in the waiting room....

Hugo got a good haircut, too. He was even less enthusiastic than Alek. But the lady did his bangs just the way he wanted.
Then we were off for Kura Sushi! The barber said his own 16-year old can put away 30 plates there. I will do a blog about that soon.

Anyway, it was yet another experience with some very friendly and patient people. I can't imagine that the average US small business would be so nice to a bunch of people who don't speak the language very well, and whose kids had to be manhandled into the chair.

What does it mean?

I bought some lotion at a Shisheido store yesterday.

It came in this bag.

Of the many possible meanings here....which message should I take home?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The secret of Genkoan temple...

Do you know the best way to get three young boys to visit a 400 year old temple?

We got a great tip on this from our American friends in Kyoto.

Hint: It's not by promising them a lovely garden.

And, surprisingly, it's not the window of enlightenment.

Or the window of human suffering. (Both of which are beautiful.)
It's this:

In case your kanji are a little rusty, that reads, "blood ceiling."

This ceiling in this next picture in fact. Above my head, you can see....


The full story is told better here. But in 1600, 10 soldiers were in Fushimi Castle (in South Kyoto), outnumbered by 40,000 troops. Instead of being killed, they all committed suicide in the...let's just say...traditional Japanese way. Their blood soaked the floor of the castle. Later, to bring peace and honor to the men's souls, the leaders (who eventually won the war) arranged to have the floorboards incorporated into five separate temples.

What can I say? It was pretty cool.

The rest of the temple was also very peaceful and open.

Here you can read some more about it: