I have fiber optic internet here in Japan and for about $50 USD per month it’s a pretty good deal for how fast it is. It’s cheaper than my old Comcast cable modem too. Sometimes it seems lightening fast, other times sites from the U.S. load slow but it could be on the other end and not the fault of my ISP. I tested my internet speed today and here are the results. My ISP said it’s a 100mbps line and I’m only getting 25 so I might change my provider to see what other options are like. Click the image to test your speed and feel free to post the results here!
Here’s a commercial for Street Fighter IV: A New Beginning. This looks really awesome! I decided to post this video because of my friend Nick back in California… it reminded me of the home built arcade style controller we used for tournaments during poker night. It seems so advanced compared to the original. You can read more about this upcoming game here.
I forgot to include this picture so here you go! What’s interesting is right when we entered the Yahoo! Dome there was a cell phone company giving us king size snacks that taste like Cheetos. And there’s a snack bar, just like any other baseball stadium, but instead of beer, brats, and burgers they sell beer, yaki soba, takoyaki, and ramen. The prices were about the same. I just can’t imagine watching a game in the stands while slurping on some ramen using chopsticks while drinking beer. In that scenario there’s just too much going on. Of course I say this now, but just wait… in a year I’ll be doing it.
How do you get your drink on for only 300 Yen? Easy, hit up the shochu fair at the Yahoo! Dome here in Fukuoka! We went to the shochu fair the other Saturday (Feb 9th) and it was pretty sweet. This was our first visit to Yahoo! Dome (home of the Softbank Hawks), here’s a picture of my fiancee, Mai, at the top of the stairs.
First of all, what is shochu? It’s a distilled drink and I’ve seen 20%, 25%, and 40% strength with most of them being 20-25%. There are over 20 varieties and the most popular main ingredients are potato, rice, or barley. How does it taste? I’d say it tastes similar to sake but less fruity, it has a bite, and the 40% tastes like whiskey. If I were to create shochu from existing drinks I’d take sake, remove the fruity flavor and smoothness, then I’d take Gin and remove the pine tree flavor, and mix them. If you want to know more, here’s a wikipedia link. Shochu ranges in price and you can get a good brand for 900 Yen or up. If you missed missed my liquor price check post, check out my alcohol prices in Japan.
All, or almost all, of the Kyushu Island shochu distilleries were present at this fair. It was 300 Yen in advance, 500 at the door, and you got sample as many different types of shochu and plum wine as you wanted. Each taste is about one shot or half of a shot so you definitely had to pace yourself and luckily it appeared that everybody was doing just that. Also they made you get a bracelet showing that you’re not driving home before you started your shochu adventure. The guys handing out the 40% shochu were giving me about 1-2 shots worth every time! I ask for a little, then that’s 1 shot, it was crazy.
POTATOES HOOOOOOOO! That’s right, rollin VIP in the JP yo. We visited one of the booths from Kagoshima to enjoy a tasty sample of their sweet potato shochu. The people at the booth and Mai got to talking about Kagoshima and their shochu. The company is one Mai’s friends favorites back in the U.S. so we bought two small bottles for 500 yen as a gift which were connected nicely in twine. As an added bonus they gave us a big bag of sweet potatoes to go along with it! How awesome is that? Word on the street is that Kagoshima is famous for sweet potatoes. I have yet to eat a sweet potato while drinking shochu made from potatoes, but it’s on my list of things to do. The second part of our VIP status happened when we were at a booth who insisted on giving me a double shot of the strong whiskey type of shochu which was 45%. And then they gave us two small bottles for free. That was surprising and very cool of them. He kept saying “It’s good, it’s good!” and I kept thinking “It tastes like ass! It tastes like ass!” but I got to enjoy some last week and he’s right, it’s good. *Note: Sweet potato shochu is not sweet.
Here are more pictures from the shochu fair. First I want to start with my favorite ones. The first one is Mai puring some shochu from a barrel
Fans of MXC will appreciate this one! Hideo Higashikokubaru is now governor of Miyazaki Prefecture.
And now here are the rest of the pictures I took. After the Yahoo! Dome we headed over to Hawks’ Town and I’ll post about that in the next few days.
I had some nabe (pronounced: naw-bay) the other night and it was the bomb! I’m going to throw in some terminology with pronunciation on this Japan it UP! entry. This tasty dish is a soup or stew that’s served in a clay pot because it stays warm after the flame is turned off. You can make nabe for two but we usually eat it with friends and everybody grabs frood from the same pot.
Â This time our nabe was filled with a soup, udon noodles, carrots, cabbage, crab legs aka ‘kani’ (pronounced: Connie), and some sausages. I think the sausages give it a western style taste and this time we used cabbage instead of “hakusai” (pronounced: hawk-sai, or hawkseye) which is Chinese cabbage. We cooked it on a burner right on the living room table. The table is called a kotatsu (pronounced koh-ta-tsu). A kotatsu isÂ a table used mostly in Japan and is a wooden table covered by a heavy blanket with a built in heater underneath to keep you warm. Great for warm winters! Bad for people with dust allergies. I’ve never had it before coming to Japan but here they have nabe restaurants which are very affordable. If you get the chance you should enjoy some nabe with a group of friends. Maybe there are some restaurants in your country that offer nabe, but it might take some investigating to find them.
You might remember my post about the tiny Japanese Coca Cola, well I guess I’d call this one a huge size here in Japan. Mai (my fiancee) and I were eating at a crepes shop a few days back and we noticed this display with a different looking large size container. It’s about the size of a 32oz in the U.S. (or 950ml?) but here it’s shaped as a half cup + half milk carton monster with a hole for a long straw. I’ve never seen anything like this before, and Mai said this is the first time she’s seen this in Japan so it’s not the ‘norm’
With all the tiny cute coffees around I wonder if my eyes are deceiving me and it is actually a 24oz cup. I guess I’ll never know unless I buy one, bring it home, and measure it which probably won’t be happening.
In America we usually do a mutual exchange of gifts, etc. I give her something, she gives me something, I take her on a date, ah… love is in the air. But Valentine’s Day In Japan is something that’s quite different for me. This is my first time celebrating Valentine’s here and there are two parts to this holiday. On Valentines Day a girl will give the guy some chocolate. It’s either purchased or hand made. The 2nd part is White Day where a guy gives the girl a gift, that’s approximately 3 times the value as he received (so I’ve heard from wikipedia). I wasn’t able to get pictures of the store displays, but they look exactly the same as the displays in America except there are tons of chicks and almost no guys wandering in that area.
Because it was too much chocolate to handle, my fiancee gave me a gift on the 13th, and then one on the 14th. On the 13th she hand made a chocolate parfait! It was amazing! It looked and tasted like it was expensive and hand crafted by a chef. It contained chocolate, ice cream, more chocolate, cake, chocolate covered crispy things, and strawberry Pocky. Oh, and hand whipped whip cream! Here are a few pictures (sorry for the blurriness, I’m not used to my friends camera yet). It was delicious.
On Valentine’s Day she gave me a wonderfully wrapped gift. It looked expensive and the presentation was great, so at first I thought she bought it at some expensive shop. She told me that she hand made the chocolate using ‘an idea’ but no recipe and a few ingredients she thought would work. And she wrapped it herself.
Here’s my blurry picture of the chocolates when I opened the cute basket they were in.
And finally here are the chocolates she made. They were powered with cocoa and had a very rich taste. It wasn’t a dark chocolate taste, and wasn’t a milk chocolate taste, it felt like a truffle when I ate it, but it was nothing I’ve tasted before.
When I opened the gift I felt overwhelmed and a little teary eyed when I ate the first piece because I know she spent all of that time and effort to prepare everything and that’s very special to me. Even when it’s not a holiday she often does special things like this to show me how she feels about me, and she is the first person in my life to ever do this. She’s so great. This was the best Valentine’s Day ever.
If you haven’t experienced something like this, you can always take these first steps to dating a Japanese girl.
Here’s an update on what’s goin’ on! I’ve been pretty busy lately with work and I’ve met some new people. You just have to live life as it happens, and with that said… thank goodness for power naps! Some good things regarding this site have been taking place as well.
- First of all I have been interviewed by the Daily J. I have to say thanks to the Daily J because they took an initiative and contacted me which was great.
- The second good thing is my blog has been reviewed at Nick’s blog, Long Countdown. It gives a nice review of my site and I appreciate the time he took to take a look through Japan it UP! He does rant about ‘how anonymous should an anonymous blog be’ which he speaks of the name ‘Smoother’ and that fine. Nobody has ever inquired about it. Could it be my last name? How about a nick name? What about part of a company name? Regardless of this, it has got me to thinking. I first started this blog for friends and family and find a lot of other people visiting here so I just changed things up to show my first name Steve. Nice to meet you
- The third thing is my camera. I haven’t talked about this sad moment in life, but my digital camera broke about 1 month before coming to Japan and I haven’t gotten around to buying a new one. It’s sad because it was a gift from my fiancee, DOH! I’ve been using my fiancee’s but it’s tough because she uses it a lot and then we have problems finding it (and the memory card) when we want it. A friend of ours from Kumamoto came to visit and forgot his camera. What’s the good news? Well… I’ve been using this camera for as long as the battery lasts and now I have some interesting pictures to post!
WTF!? Here’s a Bob Sapp, a MMA Fighter, in Japanese Candy Commercial. He looks scary as hell.
I eat at McDonald’s every now and then here in Japan. I was really impressed with the quality of service and how the food looks when you eat you it. I was also shocked by the smallest soft drinks in the world. It’s probably an 8oz cup filled to the top with ice. What does that mean? Probably 4-5oz of Coke. Here are some other things I feel about the McDs in Japan vs. America and a commercial I found on Youtube… Yes, the restaurant looks like this. Yes, McDonald’s cheeseburgers look like this (to me). Yes, you are happier when you eat McDonald’s in Japan vs the U.S. and yes, you are hungry 2 hours later just like in the U.S.
Speaking of McDonald’s, their profit grew five-fold according to The Japan Times
McDonald’s Holdings Co. (Japan) Ltd. said Thursday its consolidated net profit in 2007 was five times higher than in the previous year, totaling Â¥7.82 billion on record high sales of Â¥395.06 billion, up 11.1 percent.
I find that pretty interesting.