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October 29, 2007

Urawa Reds v Nagoya Grampus

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I met up with Max last night and we went to see Urawa play in Saitama. This is the first time I have been to a J League match, although it is the third time I have been to Saitama Stadium 2002, which is a very cool place to watch football.

Here is the view from our seats:

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It is much more crowded than I thought it would be and there is not really much food available inside the stadium. There were tons of booth

It is much more crowded than I thought it would be and there is not really much food available inside the stadium. There were tons of booths lining the path to the ground, but we ignored them. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake.

Anyway, our seats were almost at the top of the stand...I suppose that is what happens when you buy your tickets at the last minute. On the other hand, I was lucky as I checked a few of the remaining fixtures today and they are already sold out.

After the match, we sat out at the tables in front and had a beer as we waited for the crowds going to the station to thin out a bit. It was really festive and good fun. And...completely different from Tokyo. I tried to get a picture of the stadium from our outdoor table, but it is not looking so good. Whoops.

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Oh, by the way, the match was a scoreless draw.

Posted by Kirk at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2007

The Good San Diego holiday

What better time to review the lovely part of my holiday last week than in the middle of a typhoon. Really, this whole weather/fire thing is a bit frustrating. I just want to have a nice sunny day...is it too much too ask for? Actually, tomorrow is supposed to be better and I have tickets to the football (Urawa Reds), so I am looking forward to that.

Anyway, here is some lovely sunny weather from San Diego last week. My sister and I stayed in Imperial Beach, which is south of San Diego and known as the most South-Westerly city in the continental US. I know you are impressed. In any case, this is the entrance to the IB pier...

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I lived there until I was 9 years old and we moved to Chula Vista. In some ways, it has not changed much. I think my sister was tired of my running commentary as we drove: "Oh, that store/sign/building has been there FOREVER!" Multiply that by 200 times and you get the idea.

On the other hand, it HAS changed but not having lived there for 30 years, it is really hard to remember how it used to be. Anyway, we stayed at the Imperial Beach Club, which is a bunch of condos on the beach. The location was excellent! The condo was not. By the way, we used sandiegovacation.com and unless you like having all your appliances broken, you should try somewhere else. But..it looks good, right? I wouldn't even mention it except that when we told them this as we dropped the keys off at the end of the trip, the woman in the office seemed to not believe us, which is probably why everything is broken.

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Here are some surfers in the water. Also, a cruise ship coming into port with the IB pier in the foreground. You know...what you expect to see if you are in San Diego.

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I did not get any pictures of the the beaches on either side of IB. To the south is the Tijuana River and Border Field State Park. We walked over there but I was camera-less. Later, we walked north towards Coronado. There is a campground called Camp Surf...but it is surrounded by chain-link fences like the ones used on the military bases. It seemed kind of scary to me.

Posted by Kirk at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2007

My timing is still good!

Well, I got back to Tokyo yesterday. It is good to be home, especially as San Diego is on fire. You may have noticed, at least if you read English language news.

We were in Imperial Beach so there was never any danger and we did not need to evacuate. But, the giant ash plumes did put a damper on the whole holiday thing. It was very surreal.

Here are a couple pictures...I have more from the good part of the holiday, which I will post later. I am feeling a bit jet laggy and want to go get a coffee.

This is in Imperial Beach at around 4pm on Sunday...that is the pier in the background.

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And this is from the plaza in front of the pier looking west on Monday morning. You can see the edge of the plume from the Harris fire. When we went farther north later in the day, it cleared up a bit. Apparently, it is much worse now than it was, so it is probably a good thing that we left on Tuesday.

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For the sake of comparison, this is what the sky looked like the day before the fires.

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Posted by Kirk at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2007

California Here I Come

A little bit later today, I am off to Narita to catch a flight to San Diego. Well, flights...no direct service, you see. Woo hoo!

I am not taking my laptop, so no new posts for at least a week. Then again, I have not been prolific recently, so I do not know why I am telling you that. It does also mean I will be e-mail free for a week, so if you are trying to get a hold of me that way, I imagine it will be difficult.

I am going to meet my sister Terri. We plan to relax and also to look at houses for sale. The property market seems to be imploding, so it may be a good time to put some feelers out. If that is a bust, we will have to console ourselves at the beachside condo we rented.

Anyway, I will take my camera and I hope to have some pictures to post when I get back. Enjoy the lovely fall weather...

Posted by Kirk at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2007

50,000 visitors

Hey! There have now been 50,000 visitors to Sarukoen! Thank you everyone for continuing to come back to visit.

Actually, this has been in the back of my mind for the last few months and sometimes, when I was really REALLY bored, I would think of ways to celebrate. Of course, I am lazy, so I never got past the random musings stage. Whoops.

Thanks again!

Posted by Kirk at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2007

Walking in Kamakura

I spent Friday morning walking in Kamakura. Of course, I have been down there a lot, but this was the first time that I went there from Zushi instead of Tokyo. It is much more convenient right?

I met a friend at Kamakura station and we walked from there to Kita-Kamakura, passing all the big temples on the way. I left Zushi at 9am...compared to 8am if I had been in Tokyo. Ha! Even better, the weather was perfect for walking: the sun was out, but it did not get too hot. This is going to be easy to get used to.

Here are a few snapshots, so you have something to look at. I took these at Engakuji, just by the station. We sat for awhile on a bench in a temple overlooking the big grassy area. It was really comfortable there.

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On the way there we also went to Tsuragaoka Hachiman (that is the big, fancy one you walk to from Kamakura Station) and Kenchoji, which is about halfway. If you are interested in Kamakura, this is a really good English language site: www.kamakuratoday.com.

Next time, I am hoping to walk from Kamakura to Enoshima again...it is getting close to the time of year when Mt. Fuji can be seen.

In the meantime, however, I will be in the US for a week helping my sister look at houses in San Diego. We are stayingin a condo by the beach. It should be awesome.

Posted by Kirk at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2007

Progress...well, sort of.

So, I went down to Zushi again today. I have not been down there very much over the last few weeks and when I do go, it tends to be in the evening with a quick return the next day. The good news is that I bought a proper bed and the futon can be retired until someone visits. Since it might be you, I won't complain about my sore back after sleeping on it.

Also, the weather has been kind of strange. And when I say that, I mean it has been raining. This is a picture from the front porch of my Tokyo place on Monday...

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So, of course I didn't really fancy going out. But the weather got better today, thankfully, since I had scheduled my bed delivery. They said they would come between 9am and 2pm, so I took the 7am train to make sure I was there on time. They told me it was very unlikely it would be early, but better safe than sorry, right?

Anyway, I took this picture from the train. Poor Tokyo-bound commuters...the sun is finally shining and they have to pack themselves into a train for the next hour just for the privilege of working the rest of the day. Rest assured, there were not many commuters taking the Tokyo-Zushi route this morning!

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The delivery guys came around 12:30pm and were surprisingly quick about it. And so now...there is a bed. I need to get a comforter and proper pillows, but this will do for now. From the other picture, you can probably tell the apartment is filling up.

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And the best news...

The beach is looking good again. After the typhoon, it was covered in debris, trash and seaweed. It is all gone now! Woo! I went for a walk today and had a look around. On the other end of the beach, the junior high school students were getting sailing lessons. How cool is that? I mean, really. They even have mini sailing boats they use. Awesome.

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Also, I have created a new category for entries...Zushi Life. I will try to put all the beach-related entries in there from now on.

Posted by Kirk at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2007

Cheap drinks at Korakuen

So, we decided to head over to Tokyo Dome for the last game of the season. And being cheap, we opted for the beer garden although the game itself was probably sold out anyway.

Now, I think we are going enough to be regular customers...unfortunately the all-you-can-drink in two hour special was discontinued. I mean, really, how could they do that to me?

Despite that, we stayed longer than we usually do. And, of course, drank less. A beer is 680 yen, so it is still a bargain compared to Roppongi, right?

After that, we went to our customary second party spot, a pub in the LaQua complex next to Tokyo Dome. It has an outside deck, so it is cool. Even better, the bar was hosting all night happy hour to celebrate the end of the baseball season. Woo! Having no idea at the time, I had to ask twice how much the drinks cost because it was so cheap. 670 yen bought a scotch on the rocks and a jumbo-sized (=almost a pint) cuba libre.

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The picture above was our only clue...I understand "sale", although "happy hour" would have made been more clear. In any case, that more than made up for the beer garden disapppointment. Sorry about the quality of the picture...I took it with my mobile phone.

Posted by Kirk at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)