Happy Year of the Snake 2013

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013 to all our visitors. It's the Year of the Snake in 2013, below is the kanji character for the Year of the Snake (巳年; hebidoshi or midoshi).

Happy Year of the Snake 2013

2012 saw a change of government in December with Shinzo Abe and the LDP back in power, increased tensions with neighbors China and South Korea and a further decrease in business and consumer confidence. Still the yen is weakening slightly making Japan a more affordable location for a holiday of a lifetime from the ski resorts of Hokkaido to the tropical beaches of Okinawa.

We wish you all a peaceful and healthy 2013.

White Snake of Iwakuni, Yamaguchi
Jake Davies
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The Japanese Spa: A Guide to Japan's Finest Ryokan and Onsen


Peacock Indian Restaurant Akita

Sunday, December 30, 2012
ピーコック インド料理

Though somewhat far from the center of Akita and a taxi is your best option to get there, Peacock was certainly worth the journey.

Peacock Indian Restaurant, Akita

Delicious curries (including vegetarian options), a spacious layout, friendly staff and an excellent masala chai after a filling thali set.

Thali set meal, Peacock Indian Restaurant Akita

Peacock is known for the variety of its nan bread, will make you a birthday cake if you let them know in advance and make a reservation on your birthday and also does take away.

Peacock is two kilometers directly north of Akita City Hall.

Lunch: 11am-3pm; Dinner 5pm-10pm

Peacock Indian Restaurant Akita

Map of Peacock, Indian Restaurant, Akita
4-17 Yabase-shinkawamukai
Tel: 018 824-6114

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Japan News This Week 30 December 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Japan News.Revival of Hitachi the Company Is a Detriment to Hitachi the City

New York Times

Japanese 115-year-old becomes oldest man in recorded history

The Independent

Japan PM Abe praises Fukushima nuclear work during visit


8 U.S. sailors sue Japanese firm over radiation from nuclear meltdown

LA Times

Meet the woman battling Japan's whaling fleet in Antarctic ocean


Mainali: 15 years in jail equals ¥68 million

Japan Times

Japan's new inflationary strategy: wrong target

Christian Science Monitor

Abe Days Are Here Again: Japan in the World

Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News


The population of Japan is expected to fall by 30 percent to less than 90 million by 2060, with 2 in 5 people being 65 or older.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

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Zengo Station

Friday, December 28, 2012

Zengo Station is a station on the Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line between Toyohashi and Gifu via Kanayama Station and Nagoya Station.

Zengo Station, Aichi

Limited Express trains, however, do not stop at Zengo Station.

Zengo Station is close to Sogenji Temple and the Senninzuka burial mound both connected with the Battle of Okehazama.

The station building is just off National Highway 1, the old Tokaido highway.

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Hotel Metropolitan Akita

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Adjacent to Akita Station, the ALS Hotel Metropolitan Akita, owned by the JR group, is one of Akita's more upmarket hotels.

Hotel Metropolitan, Akita

Facilities at the Hotel Metropolitan Akita Station include the Sazanka restaurant serving local Akita delicacies. All rooms have internet access.

Hotel Metropolitan Akita
Naka Dori 7-2-1, Akita Station Bldg. Akita
Tel: 018 831 2222

Another more down-market hotel close to Akita Station is the Toyoko Inn.

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Bic Camera Nagoya

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bic Camera's giant store at Nagoya Station is on the south side of the station near the entrance to the Shinkansen tracks. The other side of Nagoya Station has the twin towers of the station building and the Midland Square and Gakuen Mode skyscrapers.

Bic Camera Nagoya Station

As well as the usual electronics range: mobile phones, cameras, computers, tablets, TVs, DVD players etc, Bic Camera Nagoya also sells pharmaceuticals, beauty and health products, furnishings, pianos, toys, books, liquor, watches and bedding.

Bic Camera (in Japanese)
Nakamura-ku Tsubaki-cho 6-9
Tel: 052 459 1111
Hours: 10am-9pm

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Merry Christmas!

Bonjour, Nee-how, Hola, HELLO! Merry day-after-Christmas! This post is all the things my mommy got. God has blessed our family with so much! I am so thankful!

From my Aunt Annette: HAND SEWN BY NONE OTHER THAN HER!!! Dollie stuff!!! Sleeping bag, with matching PJ's! (the slippers turned out to small for my feet, but they'll fit another doll I'm sure!)

Also from Aunt Annette, hand sewn: A fun, spring dress (with shoes! They fit me! :D), and a checkered white-and-green shirt and pants, and a cute little hat!

Also from Aunt Annette and hand-sewn: WHAT A CUTE OUTFIT! A red hat, a red shirt, a cute jacket, an adorable jean-skirt, and shoes! (they fit me!)

 From mommy's big sister: Two bottles of lip-balm, and a Christmas clip for her hair!!! YAY!

From mommy's little brother: Money! Aww, how sweet! Can you count how much money is in here in dollars? (Hint: there are 19 quarters!)

From mommy's parents: You know Veggietales? Love that show. Well, this is kind of like a sequel to it! By the same man that created VeggieTales. They're a series of 'episodes' called "What's in The Bible?"

Also from Aunt Annette: HOW COULD WE HAVE FORGOTTEN?! CANDY CANES!!!! TWO FOR MOMMY! Two for her brother! A banana for her healthy sister! xD

From mommy's parents: JOSEFINA MONTOYA!!!! Hola!! Let's get you out of that neck-choking thang!

God has blessed our family with so much, that I was able to get not ONE, BUT TWO adopted sisters......

Cecile Rey! Bonjour! Let's get you out of that stuffy box, Mon Amie! (my friend in French) We weren't expecting you, so we didn't get Christmas presents for you! Don't worry, we'll have some for you right away! Oh, we weren't expecting 2 DOLLS! Thank God for you!

Also from her parents: A mini-tripod for her IPhone! Now, she can take AMAZING stop-motions without it being choppy! :D

Also from her parents: Josefina's accessories! Here are Josefina's: Rebozo, pocket-pouch-thing-a-ma-jig, and her handkerchief!

Her jola, pendant (necklace) and her Handkerchief is shown in this photo, but we already got that :P

These are all the Christmas presents for December 25th! Mommy got some on the Trip to Houston from her relatives. To see, go back 1 or 2 posts!

God has blessed our family so much! 2 AG dolls! I am so blessed and thankful!

Can you figure out how much money mommy's brother gave her?


Molly N' Madison <3

Noichi Zoo Kochi Prefecture

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Noichi Zoo in Kochi Prefecture is a picturesque and interesting place to spend a few hours wandering among the resident animals.

Noichi Zoo Kochi Prefecture, Shikoku

A smaller zoo has many charms. During our visit my daughter and I were able to see everything this lovely zoo has to offer. In California we have the San Diego Zoo, which is indeed a fine institution, but it is enormous, busy, expensive, and exhausting. For us, the Noichi Zoo was close to perfect.

Noichi Zoo Kochi Prefecture

We noticed how the habitats were clean and well tended and provided visitors with an optimal view of the birds and animals. We were intrigued to see animals common to North America as part of the zoo's collection. I have never set my eyes upon a prairie dog or a beaver in my life, but here in Japan there they were.

We encountered a few school children who greeted us with giggles and a chorus of hellos. We passed a group of senior citizens accompanied by their caregivers. The day was peaceful and idyllic.

Noichi Zoo Kochi Prefecture

After we had ice cream in the zoo restaurant we stopped in the gift shop. Of course I purchased a Noichi Zoo hand towel for myself. I also noticed there were affordable items that children could buy for but a few hundred yen.

Noichi Zoological Park of Kochi Prefecture
738 Otani
Kochi 781-5233
Tel: 0887 56 3500

Noichi Zoo Kochi Prefecture

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Taito Tourist Center wins Good Design Award

Monday, December 24, 2012
 浅草文化観光センター グッド・デザイン賞

The Good Design Award is a "comprehensive program for the evaluation and encouragement of design organized by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP)." The Good Design Award has a long history in Japan, having begun 55 years ago, in 1957.

Oblique view of the Akaskusa Cultural Tourist Information Center, Taito ward, Tokyo.

The Good Design Award has numerous categories, most of them covering types of consumer product. One of the non-consumer product categories is "Public spaces, architecture and facilities," and this year a special prize was awarded in this category for the Akaskusa Cultural Tourist Information Center located in Taito ward, Tokyo.

The Akaskusa Cultural Tourist Information Center opened in April 2012, right across from Sensoji Temple, the main tourist attraction of the Asakusa area in Taito ward. The Akaskusa Cultural Tourist Information Center is distinguished by its novel architecture that gives the impression of about five wooden houses having been stacked on top of each other. This daring suggestion of random juxtaposition, however, is redeemed by an artful overall balance, making for an unforgettable example of modern architecture that makes optimum use of glass for interior natural brightness, and wood for a warm, hospitable feel.

The three recipients of the Good Design Award 2012 were the architect, Kuma Kengo; the owner, Taito ward, Tokyo; and the construction company, Fujita.

Tokyo SkyTree and environs from the 8th floor of the Akaskusa Cultural Tourist Information Center, Taito ward, Tokyo.
View from the 8th floor of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
From its first floor Information Lobby to its seventh floor Exhibition Space and eigth floor Cafe and Viewing Deck, the Akaskusa Cultural Tourist Information Center maintains a feeling of both spaciousness and intimacy throughout, thanks to the use of glass and wood respectively. This makes the Center a perfect example of the Organic Architecture championed by Frank Lloyd Wright, especially with it being located in the laidback east end of Tokyo with its decided egalitarian vibe and friendly atmosphere.

Finally, the Asakusa Cultural Tourist Information Center offers a superb view of not only the Tokyo SkyTree, but the architectural cornucopia that surrounds it, including the distinctive Asahi building with its golden "flame" on the roof.

YouTube Slideshow of Asakusa Cultural Tourist Information Center

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Namiki Yabu Soba Asakusa Tokyo

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Asakusa in Taito ward - Tokyo's east end - is home to one of the metropolis's most famous temples, Sensoji, and one of its most famous soba noodle shops, Namiki Yabu Soba. Sensoji is always flocked with tourists, mainly from within Japan, but numerous overseas tourists too.

Soba dish in Namiki Yabu Soba restaurant, Asakusa, Tokyo.

 While the big, bold temple with its vermillion gates and famous five-story pagoda is the central tourism draw, the whole area exudes the kind of atmosphere that is just right for sightseeing: a feel of Tokyo as it used to be, with shops selling traditional Japanese foods, snacks, sweets, toys, clothing, decorations and ornaments.

Right in front of Sensoji Temple is busy, too, with rickshaw pullers at its  Kaminarimon Gate soliciting tourists to be taken around the district for a few minutes in the style of an old monied resident of Tokyo and take in the sights.

Traditional Japanese food is available everywhere in Asakusa, and it was at one of the most famous restaurants in Asakusa, Namiki Yabu Soba that I met up with an old friend on the weekend.

Soba, a thin brown, buckwheat noodle, is one of the three most popular kinds of noodle in Japan, the other two being the thick, somewhat chewy udon and the Chinese-inspired raamen. While raamen is always served hot, soba and udon can be served either hot or cold.

Seaweed topped soba in Namiki Yabu Soba restaurant, Asakusa, Tokyo.

Soba is traditionally associated with east Japan (typified by Tokyo) and udon with west Japan (Osaka). Soba comes in three main varieties, each served by one of three different "schools" of soba restaurant after which each variety takes its name:
-yabu (藪)soba, of the kind I and my friend ate at Namiki Yabu Soba. Yabu soba is the thickest of the three sobas, and the stock is also the strongest in terms of flavor. Yabu soba is traditionally associated with the working class in Japan. Being yabu, this is what Namiki Yabu Soba serves.
-sarashina (更科) soba is quite different from yabu soba in being made of quite fine strands and having a stock with a refined, delicate flavor. Sarashina soba is therefore associated with the upper classes.
-sunaba (砂場) soba is halfway between yabu and sarashina, being of medium thickness and flavor and, as far as I know, is therefore not particularly associated with any social class.

I had to wait for my friend for a few minutes, so, being mid-winter, I followed the lead of the old guy sitting across from me and ordered atsukan - a small flask of warmed sake - just to first thaw out.  My friend was delighted by my choice and, while we were sipping on it deciding what to order, told me that in Japan the soba-ya (soba shop) was traditionally the place to do most of your drinking in Japan, moreso than the traditional pub, or izakaya. The soba-ya was where mom and pop did their familiar tippling, kids often in tow, while the izakaya was more of a special night out.

Namiki Yabu Soba restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo.
Namiki Yabu Soba restaurant, Asakusa, Tokyo (and a queue in front of it)

Namiki Yabu Soba is less than five minutes walk from the main Kaminarimon Gate of Sensoji Temple. Cross the road in front of the traditional sweet/snack shop on the corner and you'll find it on the right side of the street going going directly away from Sensoji Temple, just past the second set of traffic lights. Look for the white, traditional two-story building with a stone lantern out front.

Namiki Yabu Soba is open 11:30am to 7:30pm every day except Thursday, when it is closed.
Being as famous as it is, Namiki Yabu Soba has an English menu.

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Japan News This Week 23 December 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Japan News. Tensions Between Japan and South Korea Complicate Picture for U.S.

New York Times

Japan's Economic Woes Offer Lessons To U.S.


Shinzo Abe's challenges in reviving Japan's economy



Our Planet

Japanese hawk's election victory prompts fears of regional tension


LDP mulling U-turn on Takeshima Day

Japan Times

日本鹿儿岛县樱花提早绽放 或因受三大台风影响_中国网


Were U.S marines used as guinea pigs on Okinawa?

Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News


Fifty-one percent of Japanese support the idea that husband should be the main breadwinner and wives should stay home and do housework.

More than half of those who replied in the Cabinet poll support the "traditional" family arrangement,  a rise of 10.3% over a 2009 poll.

Interestingly, those in their 20s showed the highest rise, which was 19.3%. 55.7% of people in their 20s support this.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

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The Trip at Houston, PART 5 IF YA HAVEN'T NOTICED!!!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012
Hola, Bonjour!

Well, bye. Asta-luh-Vista, BABY!

Wait wait wait. A post? Seriously?


Piccsy wiccsy....come here........

As we came back to the hotel, I realized how blessed I was to be able to go with Madison and her family. Very few AG dolls had this chance. A tear sprang from my eye, as I realized that I was the one, yes, I, that Madison chose to be her very first AG doll, out of millions of others. And I, yes I, was the one being meant for this trip. I love my family!

After such a dramatic, touching and sweet speech I WAS POOPED! I plopped down on the bed and slept.....

After what felt like only a few minutes, it was time to head on the road again, early in the morning. We were going back!


We went to say 'Bye' to Mimi and Papa, and then that was it. We were gone. We would not see them till NEXT YEAR!

 CELEBRATE! (today is December 21st, as that was taken yesterday)

What a big statue! We missed this photo coming to here, but as we were leaving my mom grabbed a shot! Wait wait wait...I FORGET WHICH PRESIDENT THIS IS!

We drove for a long, dreary 2 hours, and then we stopped at.......you guessed it, STARBUCKS!

After the warm hot chocolate was in our bellies and the coffe swishing in their cups for the adults, my mom had a little fun with me....hehe!


 After Madison stopped being star-struck, we stopped at Buc-ee's again!

 Madison got some rock candy! GO MOMMY! xD


 Can I steal yours, mom?

 after driving for who knows what time, we were home.

Home sweet home.


Molly N Madison <3

Christmas Chochin Lanterns At Kanayama Station


These beautiful Christmas lanterns decorate the shopping plaza at Kanayama Station near the performance stage and the branch of Seijo Ishii.

Christmas lantern at Kanayama Station, Nagoya

Produced by a local Nagoya chochin (paper lantern) firm in Nagoya, the design of the lanterns is based on a traditional Finnish look in the shape of a Christmas Tree.

Christmas Tree Lanterns At Kanayama Station

The lanterns are so large they were made in a separate warehouse and then brought to the company's store to be painted.

One of the Christmas Tree lanterns has been purchased by the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo and another is on display inside Nagoya Shiyakusho (City Hall).

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