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July 30, 2006

神楽坂まつり・Kagurazaka Festival

金曜日は楽しました。

週末だから、宿題をしなくてもいいだったので飯田橋へ行きました(心配しないで:今日は勉強するつもりです...)。私と学生の友達は昼ごはんを食べに行きました。

来月日米(日本語の学校)は四谷から飯田橋に引っ越するので、新しい場所を見に行きました。新しい学校はいい場所にあります。ビルはOKです、でも飯田橋は四谷よりカフェとレストランがたくさんあります。たとえば飯田橋駅の上でチョコクロやチヌン(タイ料理)やバゲル&バゲルなどあります。

それにカナールカフェへ行って、コーヒーを飲んだり、話したりしました。カナールカフェが好きです。

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(課柄坂へ早く行ってまつりまだ始まりなかったから、カナールカフェで待ちました)


6時ごろ、神楽坂へ行きました。楽坂は古い東京と現代の東京を混ぜています。いい所ですよ。まつりだから人が大勢いました。3時間ぐらいパレードがあります。参加する人打ったり、踊ったり、塩素したりしました。私たちはコンビにの前で安いビールを飲んでパレードを見ました。写真をたくさnとりました。

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(歌ったり、踊ったりしています)

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(...子供も祭りを祝いました)

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(左:私たちは飲んだり、食べたりします・右:コンビにの売店)

まつりのあとでカラオケをしに行きました。二週間前に神楽坂で二回しました。先週の金曜日神楽坂の小さいバーでカラオケをしました。でんとおになります。とにかく、カラオケやは11じまでだけだから、早く帰りました。

Kagurazaka Festival

Friday was a good day. Usually, we go to lunch together after class and we did. After that, we went up to Iidabashi. There were a few reasons for this. First of all, Nichibei is moving there next month and we wanted to see what the new building looked like. It is OK. More importantly, Iidabashi has many more restaurants and cafes in the building near the station, including Choco Cro (!), Tinun and a bagel shop. I am really looking forward to it, even it means an extra ten minutes to get there every day.

There is also Kagurazaka close by, which is an awesome place. And it held its neighbourhood festival on Friday so we had our whole evening sorted out. Being students with our afternoons free, we got there way too early, so we spent some time drinking coffee and talking at Canal Cafe. I have written about that before, so no need to go into detail.

Although there were a lot of mosquitos. One of the guys in our class said he read that you could kill them by putting a ten-yen coin in a glass of water. I must have missed something because all that does is get a ten-yen coin wet.

Anyway, we headed over to the festival about 6pm and watched everyone singing and dancing, which you can see in the pictures above. We eventualy ended up in front of the convenience store where we could eat and drink cheaply (also pictured above).

The festival ended at 9pm, so we went to a karaoke place for a few hours. This is the second Friday in a row that we went to Kagurazaka for karaoke. It is becoming a disturbing tradition...as I do not sing very well. But it was FUN. Luckily (?), the place closed at 11pm so I got home at a decent hour. I could write about a million more things, but putting this into Japanese first has sapped all my energy. Sorry.

Posted by Kirk at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2006

猿島: 赤くなりました

日焼けしました?違いが分かりません。とにかく、今顔が光っています。

昨日猿島へ行きました。猿島は横須賀の近いにあります。三笠公園から、お舟に乗って、15分ぐらいかかりました。猿島という所だけど、猿はありません。ざんえんですね。

友達は毎年この週末にバーバーキュをします。(去年も行きました) 楽しました!いい食べ物を食べたり、ビールを飲んだり、喋ったりしました。およぎたかったけど、海がつっめたでした。みんなは日本人だから、たくさん日本語を話しました。よかったです、でも私は日本語をまだ話しやすないから、恥ずかしいです。(ともこ、春子:すみません)。

ほかの日米学院学生がいました!彼は一週間一回英語を勉強しています。いい学生と一致しました(先生が厳しいから...先生はこれを読んでいますか)。でも日本語だけ喋りました。

とにかく、これは猿島でとった写真です。右の写真はみんなさんがお帰りの舟を待ちました。

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猿島のあとで、横浜スカイスパへお風呂に行きました。素晴らしいでした。これはスカイビルの14階にあります。お風呂に入ったり、リラクセーションルームでぼうっとしたりしました。

横浜スカイスパは花火を見る所の近いです。日本で花火は人気があります。方は弁当をたべたり、ビールや酒を飲んだりします。夕べ、ゆかたやきものを着ている人が大勢いました。下の写真はあまりよっくないです、すみません。左に、みんなさん花火を待ちました。右に、花火です。

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リンク:
猿島
横浜スカイスパ
横浜花火大会2006 

Sarushima sunburn
I went back to Sarushima yesterday. Thank you Tomoko and Haruko for inviting me again...I really enjoyed it. The weather was cloudy, but I managed to get a nice sunburn. Ot is it a tan? I am not sure what to say in Japanese...in my dictionary, it says the same thing (hiyakesuru). Anyway...

There are still not any monkeys on monkey island, which I find very confusing. We did not do any exploring this time, so I cannot be sure.

We had some good food, a few drinks and I even swam a little, but the water was so cold, I did not stay in very long. It was refreshing, however. If you are an intense reader of this blog, you may remember that I did this last year. In fact, it was the very same barbecue, Tomoko, Haruko and their university friends go there every year on the sunday before Marine Day (海の日), followed by a trip to the Yokohama Sky Spa to clean up, and then to watch the Yokohama fireworks.

It was good fun and we chatted a lot, mostly in Japanese...a real test for me. After awhile, my brain switched off and I found it harder to concentrate. That is a little embarassing, but I will get better next time, I hope. And one of the guys I met is also a student at Nichibei in Yotsuya, which was a big surprise. We agreed that it is a good school, mostly because the teachers are very strict. And the child of one of the couples kept calling me "paaata", which we eventually figured out must mean Harry Potter. That is a first for me.

The spa was very cool - basically an onsen on the 14th floor of the Yokohama Sky Building. I bathed and went to the relaxation room and spent my time staring out the window thinking about nothing at all. Lovely!

And afterwards, we headed off to watch the fireworks, which were very close by. I love to watch the fireworks in Japan. It is usually very crowded, but it is a nice tradition. Many people go out wearing their yukata and kimono. Last night was no different and it makes Yokohama seem like a small town. Good fun.

Links:

Sarushima information
Yokohama Sky Spa
Yokohama City fireworks homepage

Posted by Kirk at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2006

これは東京で一番美味しいやきとりやです

やきとりが好きですか。

吉祥寺へ行って下さい。

水曜日、私と学生の友達はあそこへ行きました。クラスのあとで、クリステインとフルバとジェラードと会いました。JR中央線で四谷から吉祥寺まで25分ぐらいかかります。

いい所だと思います。やきとりをたべたり、井の頭恩賜公園をさんぽしたりしました。公園にきれいな池や桜木などがあります。週末、若者がおおぜいます。

しかし、一番いいことが「いせや」というやきとりやです。公園店は駅から一番近い入り口で、公園のとなりです。下の写真を見て下さい。

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いせやはふるいビルの中にあるが、食べ物は安くて美味しいです。私たちはひなどりやつくねやからあげなどを食べました。

美味しいだから、食べてみてください。

リインク:
井の頭恩賜上演
いせや公園店(ヤーフーグルメ)

Posted by Kirk at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2006

Does this really happen in Tokyo?

I almost never have problems with taxis in Japan. The drivers are usually very honest and will take you wherever you need to go with no fuss or unnecessarily long detours. This stands in stark contrast to New York, where it seems they are always trying to chisel aurs. This stands in stark contrast to New York, where it seems they are always trying to chisel an extra buck or two out of you.

I say usually, because tonight I got one of the dishonest ones.

I was on my way home from Shibuya to Akasaka. This is usually a simple drive - you take Roppongi Dori all the way. It is also kind of long, so I started browsing the Internet on my mobile phone to pass the time. When I looked up, we were in Omotesando, which (if you live in Tokyo, you know) is not the right way.

I asked the driver if he knew where we were going, which he said he did. Then I said that this seemed to be the very long way to go, to which he did not reply.

If you live here you already have figured out he was taking me for a ride (no pun intended). If you do not live here, it is explanation enough to tell you that instead of the straight line between where I got in and home he figured a big giant loop was better and about half again as expensive.

Needless to say I was not happy.

When we got to my building I asked him how much it would have cost if we went the direct route instead of the long way. When he started to explain, I interrupted him and asked him the same question again. I did not want any answer that did not include "X" yen (and that being substantially less than what was on the meter). He started to say something else, and again I told him I did not want to go sightseeing and that I wanted to know how much it cost to go the regular way.

He gave in. Now I am happy. Thank you Nichibei.

Posted by Kirk at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2006

Lovely Los Cabos

This is the entry I have been meaning to write all day, if only because the pictures are so amazing.

To celebrate my brother-in-law Roger's final trip as a pilot for Continental Airlines, we flew with him to Los Cabos, Mexico. There were 14 people altogether: family (Sandy, Roger, Terri, Kaitlyn and Diane), flight crew (Adrianne, Marcie, Gary, Coleman) and friends (Michael, Marcus, Craig and Theresa). It was awesome.

We spent 24 hours at the Grand Baja Resort in Los Cabos. The views from the room were excellent, as was the beach:

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It is off-season because it tends to get very hot (37C/100F), but it is a dry heat and there was plenty of water to swim in and plenty of drinks. I was drinking Coronas and I could not believe how fast they went down!

The margaritas deserve a special mention. They were very VERY strong and two or three of those were enough to knock you out. Quite a few people were on the margarita plan, which is why they are not too many more pictures published here - not sure I would ever get invited back if I published the family sleeping off their afternoon drinks in the convenient deck chairs surrounding the pool and restaurant!

Here are a few that are worthy. That is me and one of my Coronas on the left. That is my sister Terri and niece Kaitlyn on the right.

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Other things that come to mind:

* The Mega Mart - this is one of the coolest supermarkets I have ever been to (in every sense of the word). In addition to being fully air conditioned, it was HUGE and it seemed like there was everything you would need.

We went on the morning that we were leaving, which was too bad as we could have used another few beers when all the restaurants at the hotel closed at 11pm. Ooops. There was also a nice man that offered me $200 to sit through a 90-minute meeting on time shares. Ha ha - no way.

* The official photographer! That was Craig, mentioned above, who took some great pictures of the entire trip including flights back and forth. He also lived in Japan a while back and it was fun to compare notes on what we know of Tokyo. His wife Theresa took over official photography duties for awhile (someone was asleep), although we had a hard time figuring out the camera.

* The flight crew - All those stories about airline employees knowing how to party??? True. They were good fun and so easy to hang out with. And good sports the next day when they had to take care of us on the flight back, while we slept everything off. I felt so lazy. Ha!

* Marcus - He came with Gary and it turns out he is a maitre'd at Plataforma, a really good Brazilian restaurant in New York City. By some sort of karmic coincidence, that is where the family went for dinner the last time we were all in New York (two-three years ago). He also smoked, so we had some leverage against the non-smokers in the group. Well, until they all passed out, heh heh.

I would write more, but we basically drank a lot and spent the next day laying around until we had to fly back. I love that sort of holiday. Now that I am not longer employed (are you still reading this far? More on that later!), I should be doing things like that more often.

We are back in Easton, PA now and I will spend the weekend here before flying back to Japan. So, if you are in Tokyo - see you soon. It is time to explore the beaches there!

Posted by Kirk at 12:12 PM | Comments (1)

Easton flood zone

It has been a few days since I updated this, mostly because everything has been moving so fast (or I have been very slow?) since I finally got to my sister's place in Easton.

There has been a tremendous amount of rain over the last week and there were worries that the rivers would spill over their banks and flood parts of the town. On Tuesday, my sister Sandy and I went to investigate. As you can see, the water was running pretty high and some places that should not have been underwater actually were.

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That was pretty exciting, but it got much worse. We were in Mexico, so we missed most of it. When we got back last night, however, we walked around and checked it out. This was the fourth-worst flood for Easton ever, and more ominously, the third time in two years that the rivers (Delaware, Lehigh and Bushkill) had jumped their banks.

The waters receded today, but a lot of people are busy cleaning up. Terrible.

Posted by Kirk at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)