Saturday, July 25, 2009

Maids, Military and bento boxes

The weekend is upon us and ll is calm in my neck of the woods. Kobe is fickle with regards to weather. It seems to be a city that can't make up it's mind. Will I be rainy? Sunny? Windy? Humid? How about all of these at the same time?

Apparently, the wonderful city of Osaka is exporting it's young and delectable "maids" abroad to drum up more business!

Osaka 'maid cafe' waitresses fly to Taiwan to attract tourists
OSAKA- group of seven ‘‘maid cafe’’ waitresses wearing miniskirts and aprons left Osaka for Taiwan on Friday in a bid to attract tourists to the largest business area in western Japan. ‘‘We’ll sing and dance our best to promote Japanese pop culture,’’ Manae Miura, 18, told a send-off event at Kansai International Airport as representative of the eight-woman delegation.

The ‘‘maids’’ are from cafes in Osaka’s Nippombashi district, home of Japanese pop culture in the city. The delegation will take part in a big event featuring animated films and comics as well as an exchange event at a maid cafe in Taiwan, where maid cafes have recently become popular, during their stay through Sunday. See original

Of course, if you are a regular follower if this blog, you'll know that I enjoy posting pictures of cool foods I encounter. Sometimes they are pics of food I eat, my wife prepares or my students will bring to school or on field trips. The Japanese bento box culture is certainly a cool one. No one will ever be able to accuse me of being a "Japanophile" and if they do, be careful...I may smack you in the back of the head. BUT, I have to admit, I am beginning to find interests in places I never thought I would. One of them being; the absolute coolness of some linch boxes!

here are 3 pics I took from a field trip I recently took with my school.

I am interested in the outdoors of course and have been following a story about 2 hikers who recently passed away while climbing Mt. Fuji. One of them was an American man.

2nd missing man found on Mt Fuji later confirmed dead
SHIZUOKA-The second climber missing on Mt Fuji, who was found Friday morning near the peak of Japan’s highest mountain, was later confirmed dead, local police said. The climber was identified by the Shizuoka prefectural police as Takeshi Nakamura, 27, one of two men who went missing after going to climb the 3,776-meter mountain Saturday along with other company colleagues.

The cause of his death was hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, according to police. The other missing climber, Jerry Yu, a 30-year-old U.S. national from Tokyo, was found a day earlier but was also confirmed dead. see original

The other day I checked out a documentary that was recommended by the Japan-based video blogger, BetamaxDC. This one is an American PBS documentary about the Japanese Self Defense Forces. It was fascinating. It's amazing how people in the world know so little about Japan's military. Even most Japanese people know very little. I was surprised to hear that Japan has the 5th largest defense budget in the world.

The documentary is called "Japan's About Face".

It's about an hour long, but if you have any interest in Japan at all or military history, it's a must see!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Rainy Summer

Lots of things happening around Japan in the last few days that are weather related. The massive rains that began last Sunday in the area I was in along the Sea of Japan ended up becoming quite deadly. My train may have ben delayed and really slow on my way back to Kobe from Kinosaki, but I suppose I was lucky just to make it back safely.

Death toll from Yamaguchi mudslides, heavy rain reaches 7
YAMAGUCHI - A female resident at a nursing home for the elderly that was hit by a mudslide was found dead Wednesday in the city of Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, bringing the death toll in the prefecture from mudslides and swollen rivers triggered by Tuesday’s torrential rain to seven, local police said.

Hundreds of police officers, firefighters and personnel from the Self-Defense Forces are searching for nine people who remain missing, assisted by three private-sector rescue workers dispatched by a group in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture along with three search-and-rescue dogs.

Here are some pictures of the beautiful little onsen town of Kinosaki, Japan. I was there for two incredible days with my wife last weekend. I suppose that to foreigners, this town is a living stereotype of what many people think Japan to have been in the past.

Kinosaki, Japan

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cool foods in Kinosaki

I spent the weekend in northen Hyogo prefecture with my wife. We were all over the place. our main destination was Kinosaki which is an onsen (Japanese hot spring) resort town. it was an amazing place to go. The small town has 7 major onsens and people walk from onsen to onsen normally wearing traditional Japanese yuaktas and gaita (wooden sandals). It was like walking around in a Japanese stereotype. Well, at least the stereotype that many of us foreigners have of Japan.

Check this one out. My wife had never seen this either It's canned whale meat. We saw this in a small mom and pop supermarket in Kinosaki, Japan.

Curried mackrel. Apparetnly my wife saw this on television. It's supposed to be quite good. We bought can of this.

This is a "fugu" or Japanese blowfish. This one, obviously long since passed away is used as a protective symbol. The points on it are supposed to scare away eveil spirits. People in this part of Hyogo Prefecture sometimes hang them in their windows...apparently!

I'm going to post a lot more pictures from Kinosaki within the next few days.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I went to Kyoto

I woke u this morning, the last morning of my "quasi-vacation" and I decided to go to Kyoto. It's really not that far away so I went there for a few hours. A Starbucks, a few shrines, temples, gift shops and a lot of sweat later....I was back on the train home.

A did see a few cool things while there. i loved these 2 "cool down" snacks for sale outside of one temple.

In this first picture, there are cherry tomatoes on a stick (iced cherry tomatoes). It was damn hot so I assume these would be a nice little treat. They were going for ¥100...about $1.25 Canadian.

Here are some iced cucumbers on a stick. Apparently (I didn't try one) my wife says these are normally salted as well. I suppose that's doubly good on a hot and sweaty day!

So, did I see a real geisha this afternoon in Kyoto?

Also, I'm going away tomorrow for summer camp with my school. I'll be back on Friday, but then early Saturday afternoon will be off on a weekend trip (no laptop with me on this one). I promise to take a lot of really cool footage and have some odd and interesting videos for you sometime next week!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chopstick Challenge

A few days ago "ericsurf6", a very popular You Tube personality and Japan-based vlogger posted a challenge. In his video, he quickly picked up 10 round objects from a plate with chopsticks and placed them into a bowl. He challenged viewers to do a similar thing. I wanted to get a little more creative.

This is my response to ericsurf6's Chopstick Challenge:

That video is posted on my jlandkev You Tube channel...I have 2 channels!

In other, non-chopstick related news, the Japanese government and parliament has been dissolved. After a lot of pressure and bickering, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso dissolved parliament yesterday and there will be an election in August. Wow, the Japanese have federal elections almost as often as we Canadians do! Nothing says, "I love you", like wasting tax payers money!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Are Girly Men Cool?

I just came across this entertaining article:

'Herbivorous' men changing Japan's consumer society
Tokyo - Japan’s most newly powerful consumer is likely to be in his 20s to 30s, favors cosmetics and sundries over deluxe cars and enjoys eating sweets with his parents at home rather than treating girlfriends to fancy restaurants.

These men are called ‘‘soshokukei danshi,’’ or ‘‘herbivorous men.’’ The phrase is generally applicable to men who are friendly and home-oriented but are not aggressive toward women, love and marriage. Its antonym is ‘‘nikushokukei joshi,’’ or ‘‘carnivorous women,’’ who are in pursuit of an active lifestyle. Read more at Japan Today.

Here's my take on it:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

BusanKevin on Seoul Podcast website

A few months ago I won some stuff from the Seoul Podcast, a weekly podcast I listen to. I made a vid about it. I just noticed today that they posted it here, on their site.

Oh yeah...I posted several videos today:

Last night I went with some friends to a rooftop beer garden. It was the first time I've been to one in Japan. It was a great time.

Cool bento boxes

It's another weekend and I actually have 4 days off. That means I'll give this blog a little more attention. Check out some cool lunch boxes some of my students brought to school this past week!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Another sweaty day in Japan

Yeah, summer is here and the cicadas are starting to make some noise. Also, in some Canadian-Japan news, the Emperor and his wife were visiting Canada.

Emperor expresses sorrow for past hardships in Japan-Canada ties
Tuesday 07th July, 10:12 AM JST

Emperor Akihito expressed sorrow Monday evening over past relations between Japan and Canada that were damaged by World War II as he delivered a speech at a banquet in Ottawa hosted by the governor general of Canada.

‘‘Sadly, the relationship between the two countries was ruined by World War II and my heart goes out to the people who suffered hardships created by the battles,’’ the emperor said, while expressing his gratitude to those who have been dedicating themselves to mend the bilateral ties after the war. Read more at JapanToday...

I am the proud new father of my first Mac. I now have an iMac and from now on all of my videos will be edited in iMovie and soon I will be an owner of Final Cut express. I'm looking forward to some more cool editing options for my videos, but will definitely continue to keep my videos simple. I should have something new out within the next few days. Work is quite busy these days with the Spring semester about to finish.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July and stuff

To Americans all over the place, "Happy Independence Day." Hope the day finds you up to your eyeballs in all things patriotic like fireworks, bbq's and beers. I'm not really sure what happens here in Kobe or in the Kansai area, but I'm sure there a lot of folks out drinking some beers and having a grand ole time somewhere this evening.

Summer is here and I unfortunately heard my first cicada whining in the trees today. That truly means summer is hear in Japan. The Japanese are quite fond of the ear-splitting noise of cicadas and are taught from a very young age that the loud noise is the "song of summer." I of course am not Japanese and although I admire many aspects of Japanese culture and beliefs, the "song of summer" thing....I think it's a load of bull-cocky!

Some other news on the Kevin front. I have a new machine in my home. Yep, it's time to put my 5 year old Samsung laptop out to pasture. I bought a new and shiny iMac. I've entered the world of Macs and am excited about the move. I primarily did it to make my BusanKevin videos a little more spiffy and besides, Macs are just damn cool! I have been playing with iMovie this evening and seems relatively easy to use. I'll have some new videos up soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day in Kobe

Happy Canada Day everyone! Yep, it's July first and Canada may almost be over here, but it's just getting started back home. Hope Canadians all around the world are having a great one. I also hope all of my good friends in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and various parts of Ontario are having a great day! May the suds flow freely and may you have fun.

Here's my You Tube Happy Canada message!

I read this news story last night and not only was surprised, but found it damn cool. I'm into Mother Nature and all of her critters. As a child growing up in rural Nova Scotia, catching salamanders was a summer diversion. A big one would have been a yellow spotted one and measured about 10cm. We felt like conquering heros if we ever found a salamander that large! A true King of Amphibians. OR so I thought.....til I found out about the Giant Japanese Salamander last night!

Giant salamander found walking along road in Kyoto

A 105-centimeter-long giant salamander was found walking along a riverside road in Kyoto by a motorist Tuesday and was temporarily taken into protective custody by police. According to police, a man driving his car along the Kamogawa River that flows through the city spotted the salamander at around 5:50 a.m. and dialed the 110 emergency phone number to summon police, who rushed to the scene. The huge aquatic salamander was then brought to a police station in Kita Ward and held there for several hours in a water tub before being released into a branch of the same river. Kyoto University professor Masafumi Matsui told Kyodo News he was concerned to learn that the giant salamander in question, which resembles a hybrid, was released without proper examination and into a different waterway from the main course of the river along which it was found. The Kamogawa River, the amphibian expert explained, has a serious problem with hybridization between Japanese and Chinese giant salamanders, and there is concern the problem could spread to other habitats in Japan. Read more at Japan Today

Then I checked out the giant Japanese salamander on You Tube. I found this clip from a National Geographic show with Dr. Brady!