For those that might have missed the Super Bowl and the commercials here’s a link a friend sent me. It shows each commercial quarter by quarter.
Every now and then I hear this guy singing a cool little tune at night. No music, just him singing a melody. I asked my fiancee what it is and she told me it’s a truck that sells ishiyaki imo (sweet potatoes). How awesome is that? I would never think “Hey, I could really go for a sweet potato” … until NOW! For a while I’ve been on a mission: run like an Olympic sprinter, catch this guy, enjoy the full ‘Japanese sweet potato out of a truck’ experience. The result? I’ve eaten one of these once, and I’ve seen the truck twice, and I have a picture!
What does Ishiyaki Imo mean? I asked this very same question and here’s the answer broken down. Ishi = stone, Yaki = grilled, Imo = sweet potato.
My Imagination: Now here’s what I was thinking about this truck before I saw it. I figured it was a pickup truck, some guy that cooks them on the back of his truck, and he sings his song out of a megaphone, he’s a happy guy that just loves giving out sweet potatoes late at night and apparently the job is fun and exciting. He drives fast because he wants to cover the entire city.
The Reality: Not quite what I was thinking. From my experience, an older guy drives either a truck or a van. He’s not singing, he’s playing a recording over a megaphone and this explaines why the song is perfect every time he drives by my place. He does drive slow, which means I’m just not running fast enough (time to hit the gym?). He has cooking gear on his truck but when I went all of the potatoes were ready to go. I spent 400 Yen ($3.75 at the time) for a big hot potato. And big as in huge, it looked like they gave me the biggest one in the sweet potato field. Good thing I was hungry!
The potato was hot and it I enjoyed it. Just eating a hot sweet potato is quite different from The Outback Steakhouse version back in the U.S. which is smothered in butter and cinnamon and maybe some sugar.
Here are a picture from the truck.
Here’s an Ishiyaki-Imo old school setup which I’ve never seen in person (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Here’s a YouTube video I found. The song doesn’t have as nice of a melody as the truck Fukuoka, the truck is slow and not busy, but it’s cool to check out.
Here’s another video game commercial I found on You Tube. This game looks pretty sweet and now I’m definitely going to have to get a PS3. A friend of mine recently got one and he loves it. At first it’s all cute until the end where you see Leah Dizon (supposedly) kicking some ass playing Ninja Gaiden on a Play Station 3 in-store demo machine. Cool commercial.
Today I’m going to share some pictures I’ve taken of things in Japan that I’ve never seen before in the U.S.
The picture above is a QR Code. I see them everywhere here, even at McDonalds. They’re on buildings, billboards, magazine ads, product packages, etc. You take a picture with your cell phone and it brings up information or a website.
From Wikipedia: A QR Code is a matrix code (or two-dimensional bar code) created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. The “QR” is derived from “Quick Response”, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed. QR Codes are common in Japan where they are currently the most popular type of two dimensional code.
The picture of the shochu bottles above were explained to me as a “bottle keep” and from my understanding these are unfinished bottles of alcohol. If a person comes in (probably with a group) and orders a bottle but they don’t finish it the restaurant will put the person’s name on it so that person can enjoy the tasty beverage which they’ve already paid for during their next visit. That’s awesome!
Pizza in Japan is usually quite a bit different from the American version. Here they put some crazy things on pizza like shrimp, squid, tuna, mayonnaise, sesame seeds, teriyaki chicken, corn, potatoes, and sometimes mustard. Oh yeah and sausage. Not the sausage you might be thinking, but more like the Super Bowl Sunday little smokies. Also the prices can get insane. A pizza for two people can easily cost around $25 USD. At least you don’t have to tip the delivery person which is a plus. Here’s a menu from Pizza LA. So far I’ve found pizza most like the ones you can get in the U.S. at Costco and Dominos. Costco doesn’t deliver and they are located about 1 million miles from me.
Here’s a Pizza LA Commercial
Out with the cheap coffee maker, in with the …. WHAT WHAT!? I just read this article at the New York Times website and had to share. The Japanese siphon coffee maker at the Blue Bottle CafÃ© in San Francisco was imported from Japan and cost more than $20,000 USD (That’s 2,130,399 Yen at the time of this post. See the conversion at Yahoo). It’s halogen-powered and looks like a chemistry set. That’s a ton of cash for the Japanese coffee maker. Are they serious about coffee? I’m going with “Yes” but are they a bit crazy about coffee? I’m going with “Yes” on that one too. Hmmm, I wonder if that cost included the shipping as well.
Ready for some pictures? Click the picture to see the slide show of images at the New York Times showing the step-by-step process of how coffee is made using the siphon bar.
And an awesome quote from the article:
“The whirlpool, it messes with your mind,” said Mr. Freeman, who practiced stirring plain water for months to develop muscle memory before he brewed his first cup of siphon coffee. “There’s no way to rush it.”
Here’s another interesting quote:
“Siphon coffee is very delicate,” he said. “It’s sweeter and juicier, and the flavors change as the temperature changes. Sometimes it has a texture so light it’s almost moussey.”
Here’s an informational siphon coffee machine video I found on youtube which you might find interesting.
Getting from point A to point Z using the subway is not that difficult. If you’re new to using a subway, or public transportation at all (like I was), my advice is to plan your route and stay calm no matter how busy the station gets. Carrying a small note pad and a pen is a good idea. The subway is a great tool when you traveling around Japan or if you’re heading to work! It’s always on time, so the subway is something you can rely on day after day.
Along with some tips I’m going to share some pictures I took of the subway on a rainy, cold, Friday afternoon around 2pm. It wasn’t a busy time and the station I was at doesn’t seem to be as busy as bigger stations. And it’s always handy to have a Japan travel guide.
Tip #1 – If somebody falls onto the track, hit this button! (Press the red button below in case a person fall sinto the track area. Trains will stop automatically. FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY!)
A lot of people wonder about the cost of living in Japan. Sure there’s living expenses, transportation, food, etc., but last weekend I decided to do some research on the cost of alcohol so you can compare it to your local store. There’s a law in Japan that makes people list their prices with tax included. Alcohol laws can be different in the U.S., so I’m not sure if the tax law applies to alcohol but I’m assuming so (I don’t have my receipt handy).
Here’s a video talking about drinks and social setting in Japan.
Almost all bottles listed are 750ml. Ones that are 700ml will be compared to the USD 750ml price. I’ll show you the actual price of alcohol in Yen from a liquor store in Japan and I’ll also list the estimated price in U.S. Dollars from what you’d find in a U.S. liquor store. From my extensive research I feel the Yen price is accurate and it’s what you’ll find at most stores. Ok, no more blah blah blah. Let’s get our drink on!
|Grey Goose Vodka (750ml)
Cost in Japanese Yen: 3200 (comparable)
Estimated U.S. Dollars: $35
|Absolut Vodka (750ml)
Cost in Yen: 1190 (cheaper!)
Estimated USD: $23** Absolut Vodka Flavored
** (Citron, Melon, etc)
** Cost in Yen: 2289 (comparable)
** Estimated USD: $23
I haven’t been snowboarding in Japan yet. I’ve almost made it a few times and had to cancel our latest reservation for our trip to Geihoku near Hiroshima. It’s all good because life happens and the mountains will always be there for us to throw ourselves down it at blazing speeds at any time.
I miss snowboarding so I thought I’d share a video from last season. I had my ipod blaring, I was thinking about the next stretch of the mountain, and I was wondering why there was a crowd of Ski Patrol. I didn’t see her until it was too late. By the way I hope to book a secret trip soon for me and my fiancee, so if anybody is in Fukuoka and wants to hit a mountain let me know!
Why do I love my fiancee? There are over a million reasons of course, but one of those million reasons is Bento! Here’s a recent photo of the bento box lunch she made for me during a surprise picnic. She does this on every snowboarding trip too. So many delicious items perfectly placed in their own individual area. Who does that? It’s pure excellence.