died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

2 weeks in China

Well this Asian Studies Major just saw the way the other half lives and works.

First flew to Hong Kong (partly because flights to China china were all full, and partly to see the what british colony China looks like), a crazy, sweaty place. Got my (expensive) China visa in transit, then took a ferry to mainland china to Shenzhen (where people from Hong Kong go for flights into China and cheap shopping) From Shenzhen I flew to Sichuan (or as some know it Szechuan) to the capital city of Chengdu, where we started a one week tour of the Tibetan Autonomous region there. We took a two day drive through the (gigantic huge)mountains to Daocheng, and then to the Nature reserve in Yading via Shangrila.

Next was Beijing. We stayed at this nice little hutong fairly close to activities. We went to the Forbidden city (an amazing place) and the Temple of Heaven (another suprisingly wonderful place, with the parks more impressive than the temple) We went to a architect villa called commune by the great wall out near the (somewhat unimpressive) great wall where we saw houses by architects, two of who were Kengo Kuma and Shigeru Ban. A hong kong architect made a 'suitcase house' where all the facilities (kitchen, bathroom, bed, etc.) are in the floor. I also went to the Dashanzi art district , a artist quarters thriving in an old maoist factor district (with communist slogans still intact).We went to the Summer Palace on the last day, the pinnacle of Chinese Landscape. Cixi's impact was felt everywhere in the city.

Beijing is a wonderful huge expansive city. This anti bar fly found a drinking district he actually liked. The Hou hai lake district, nothing but parks a few years ago, is now teaming in actually cool places to sit and drink something (not necessarily alcohol) with friends. Literally tons of sofas are placed right by the balustrades by the water right under the willow trees circling the lake. We sat drinking apple vinegar enjoying the nice scenery and willow trees and rickshaws.

It made me wonder why they hadn't done this with the lakes in Mpls.

Food was great, although greasy, spicy, and almost unpalatable in the west. I found some great buddhist vegetarian resturants in Hong Kong and Beijing that specialize in making 'meat' from vegetable products. In Hong Kong I had 'shrimp' with broccoli which was great. and in Beijing I had 'chicken cutlet' which was also very very realistic and good too. We also found a very good Hakka food resturant, which had a pressed tofu and asparagus shoots dish that I couldn't stop eating. China also puts sugar in most of its bottled teas, something very different (and didn't really like) from what I'm used to in Japan.

Don't listen to anything the media says about China. None of it felt right in my experience in China anyway.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

not just nameko

recently being seperated from a usuable kitchen, I've been doing a lot of eating out lately.

Yesterday, though, I spun by the convenience store near where I'm living now. I found a block of momen tofu. I can eat this stuff plain, but, sure of there being no myoga or kaiware daikon but unsure of there being any soy sauce back at the apartment, I picked up, what I thought was, a packet of nameko mushrooms.

After pressing as much water out of the tofu as I could, I cracked open the styrofoam package. I must not have read the package well enough because not only did this container have nameko, but it also had a little package of ground daikon, very small bean natto(極小納豆), and a package of tare for the whole thing.

Amazing! I normally don't like ground daikon (it has a smell that I just don't like), but the mixture of nameko and natto with the tofu with a little soy sauce was really very good! The small beans of the natto were an interesting variation.

What always suprises me is that stuff like this is avaliable at a convenience store, and it's just normal food. Not ethnic/health food. I can only dream that the US will be like this some day....

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

myoga and kaiware daikon

In January, a friend of mine from the states visited, and I decided to take him to an onsen down in Izu. Unfortunately it was dark by the time we got there, and couldn't really take in the scenery.

I decided to head down that way again last weekend. After going in the onsen, we had a small snack of hiyayakko and daikon salad.

The things that stood out to me were the myouga in the hiyayakko. It was somewhat spicy like ginger, but also had the spice of an onion. It was an addictive combination of flavors, and I am going to start using it more often.

There were also some small sprouts, and when I asked what they were, the waiter told me they were kaiware daikon. These were also similarly bitter and spicy, somewhat the way komatsuna tastes, and were very good.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

the bucho and taiyou

well it's haruichiban today, whew! (couldn't find a very good hyperlink for it, so just look it up if you're interested). usually I feel bad when I do private things at work (pay my taxes, fill out summer school application forms, walking to the central post office next door to mail said items, working on this blog).

Today, out of the blue, bucho waved me over. I don't like being waved over by bucho. He's the nicest guy, and if we talked all the time/had something to talk about I wouldn't mind. But usually out of the blue waving overs aren't good news.

But this time, it was neutral, and suprising in fact. Bucho was closing his bank account in London, and wanted me to check the English on some of the forms he was filing.

I was shocked to see someone so 'off task', and even more so to see that it was our role model, our pillar of the responsible employee, not only using there department white devil good to native check some documents, but going to the bank and dealing with it on company time.

Anyway, I don't feel quite so bad anymore.

I also saw an article in the paper the other day about the solar market tripling by 2008. The largest makers are the Japanese, and the largerst market is Europe, especially Germany. Since bush made a verbal commitment in his state of the union address, something about the US (esentially california) expanding as well. There's a huge demand for silicon as a result, but not nearly enough to keep up with demand. Mitsubishi Electric is one of the top makers of Photovoltaics in the world. Apparently some companies are trying experiments with polycrystaline silicone panels that are getting 15% efficiency, which is somewhat high.The market is supposed to expand to 1 gigawatt by 2008.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The magazine that I write articles for is featuring one of their services with an image of, I kid you not, Hard Gay

I've only heard of this guy, but finally took the time to watch a few of his 'shows'. It's kinda funny the first time (especially the Yahoo one where he auctions his hard gay hat on yahoo auctions and actually makes a good sum of money doing it).

It's kind of funny how it's become somewhat of a cultural phenom. A K-1 wrestler dresses up like hard gay. As I was walking by the closest game center to where I live, they had a crane machine where you could grab for prises which were the hard gay hat, leather tight shirt and leather hot pants.

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Friday, March 10, 2006


It's things like this who remind of why I'm needed at my job...

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Viron and the Fortune 500

I was dropping off a visitor at Tokyo station on Saturday a bit before lunch time. I walked over to Yurakucho via the International Forum, and rummaged through the Muji Flagship store. It's become almost daily for me, which scares me only sometimes.

Anyway, as lunch approached, I decided that I wanted to eat lunch in Marunouchi at either one of two places. Out of character, I called my roommate to come on over for lunch.

One place I had in mind was Benugo. It's a British sandwich store that has opened up a place in the Meidi-ya in Marubiru (they also have stores in Ebisu and Akasaka). It is quite good for a sandwich, and reasonable compared to london (600 yen for a sandwich)

But there was one other place in my new office building called Viron. It's supposedly uses french flour (Viron) in its products. I must admit it was all quite good. They had a vegetable sandwich (a rarity here) and they have a great crisp bread embeded with either tomatoes, olives, or gruyere cheese.

According to Fortune 500 Mitsubishi Electric is the no.8 company in Electronics, (although whether that's a category we fit under is arguable) beating out Matsushita suprisingly. Sony and Sharp are the only other Japanese companies ahead of us. Sharp is by far the largest producer of PV, and I wish I could have worked for them. But alas, they are based in Osaka, and their Kanto branch is in Chiba, and I have no desire to work in Chiba.

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