Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer in Japan - Busing It!

Busing It!

My wife, Chika, and I have taken the bus from my in-laws in Kitami, Hokkaido, Japan to my brother-in-law's in Sapporo. It takes about six hours to make the trip. Six hours on a bus doesn't sound like all that much fun, but if you make it an overnight trip, you possibly save money on a hotel and don’t waste any time in travel because you're sleeping.

Kitami to Sapporo

We left at about 11:50 PM from Kitami and arrived in Sapporo in the wee hours of the morning, around 6:00 AM. Sunrise in Sapporo, Hokkaido is around 3:57 AM (!!!) right now, so you even arrive when it's nice and light out.

Our 5:30 AM Sapporo Morn

Riding an overnight bus in Japan is not the Greyhound experience. They pull curtains over all the windows and shut off the lights for most of your ride. You get a blanket … and a drink holder … and slippers! Slippers!!!

Nice Blanket

Slippers (left) and a Drink Holder

You also get to fully recline …

Recline Button

And have a choice of entertainment.


A little side story. About ten years ago I spent three days on a Greyhound traveling from Portland, ME to Fort Myers, FL. This was a singular experience in both the unique sense, and also in the sense that it is the only time I will ever do it. It turns out there was supposed to be an escaped convict riding my bus. We were pulled over in Georgia by about twelve state cops with six cruisers, pistol grip shotguns, and K9 support. I considered this a wonderful way to initiate a hostage situation. I'd be hard-pressed to think of a worse way to handle the possible situation. Thankfully, the guy never got on our bus and we were just marched off. Throughout the trip we only stopped at fast food "restaurants", and at the end of the trip I wasn't able to feel my right ass cheek for the next couple of days. 6'2" people such as myself are not designed for three day bus rides. I suggest the train, or flying, or driving your car.

Suffice it to say, long bus rides in Japan are a very different experience.

Five Words:
bus seat
busu no seki

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer in Japan - Kaiten Sushi

Kaiten Sushi*

 Five Words:
Japanese tea
soy sauce
propane torchi
propane torch

One of my favorite dining experiences in Japan is kaiten sushi. It's like a food fashion show with a constant parade of beautiful dishes sliding past. The most notable difference between kaiten sushi and a regular sushi restaurant is the conveyer belt that glides effortlessly around the center of the restaurant.

My absolute favorite sushi is the "shaki shaki salmon". In order to make it, take a normal piece of portion sushi and add a squiggle of mayonnaise to the top, then use a blowtorch to sear the whole portion. Finally, add a small heap of thinly sliced onions and (ideally) a few daikon radish sprouts. Beer optional.

Shaki shaki salmon portion sushi... 

  ...with beer!

This guy was the MASTER of the shaki shaki salmon:

Usually at each table you have all your condiments at your fingertips. In this picture: soy sauce on the left, pickled ginger middle left and powdered green tea on the right. Chop sticks in the drawer below.

What meal would be complete without some green tea, tailor made by you to whatever strength you prefer?
 Green tea powder
 Just add hot water!


Pricing is determined by the color of the plate that the sushi is served on. Each plate comes with two pieces of sushi with some variety when it comes to rolls. In this case the more reasonable plates, white bordered with sky blue, cost ¥125, which is about $1.28. Pricey sushi would be served on a black, silver and gold checkerboarded plate (¥525 ≈ $5.37).  

At the end of your meal, the server just tallies up the number of plates that you have:

What make the experience the best of course is sharing it with family!

*Food Porn Warning

Monday, June 10, 2013

Starter House!

So Sonja Condit, a writer in my writer's group, is having her debut novel finished. She's an amazing writer, and I can't wait to read it. I ordered mine!

What's it about?  A pregnant woman moves into her dream home, only to discover she must solve the mystery of a decades old murder to rid herself of a ghostly little boy and save her unborn child!

Order yours here!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Beginning and Endings.

Lots of changes happening these few weeks and as summer progresses I have high plans of easing back into the blog. Beginnings and endings:

  • My 7th and 8th grade students have completed their 2012-2013 school year. I'm bittersweet over the 8th graders graduating because I'll miss them terribly. This is the first time I've had a looping schedule, with two years of the same students. It's wonderful that you get to know them much better, but hard to say goodbye.

Some of my eight graders and their water bottle rockets:

A launch:

  • I'm heading to Japan for a long length of summer. Should be fun and I'll be blogging the experience so that I can remember it later considering my terrible memory.

  • I'm heading into my last MFA residency at Converse College. I'm quite sad, because I love all the readings and lectures.

  • I'll be finishing my novel, A Map to the Heart of London, this summer. I will also attempt to write a novel in the month of July. It depends on how well the MFA work is going preparing for my final semester.
And so the summer begins.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Annual Anniversary Avoidance

So this is just a place holder. I couldn't let a year pass without getting something down here.

I am, right this second, procrastinating from working on the MFA packet that is due the day after tomorrow.

Going to catch Iron Horse at the Handlebar tonight!

And Metallica approves!!