I confess that although I will eat anything I am not allergic to, I've never been passionate about mochi (rice cakes) or udon (thick noodles) - it's just a texture thing. the longer I've been here though, just as after a few years drinking beer I aquired a liking for the finer tastes of whisky, the more I am enjoying my heavy carbohydrates (I am scottish after all). today we had yomogi (mugwort) mochi with anko (red bean paste) filling which comes wrapped in the yomogi leaf. of course, as everybody knows, mochi is imported from the moon where it's made by rabbits.
Posted by stupot at 10:43 PM Sunday 30 Apr
in at the deep end
my first road race of the year, the first in japan and indeed my first criterium happpened on saturday and all in all it was pretty brutal. the experience was great - an insight into the well-oiled machine that seems to be japan cycling: the family day out with all age groups and levels competing, the good marshalling, the individual chips we got to register our times as we passed the finish line. and the weather was very spring like as a bonus - the wicked wind from china having abaited.
we chow down at royal host on sunday mornings after our ride into the hills as a way of regaining a little protein and to have a chin wag about the run and upcoming events. mine usually wags less than the rest but it's not for the want of trying. anyway, royal host is one of these road side places with the tall rotating signs, free refills and smiley waitresses which didn't become a part of my local landscape until I was almost old enough to know better.
the europeans landed in osaka on friday and we went out to play: firstly for a feast, then the mandatory karaoke. should you ever wonder what you might get should you cross a luxemburger, a japanese, an italian and a scotsman in a karaoke booth - it's not a pretty picture - basically a howling mess where everyone picks songs that are in too high a key and far too long. great fun!
there's a great supermarket near where I work and there's a wee wumin that does just rice balls. from the huge choice she had in her old fashioned display case, I eventually plummed for hamburger. I am now no longer a hamburger onigiri virgin and my life is much richer as a result.
holy grail discovered in small, unremarkable bookshop
it's not something that will probably fill many other people with great joy and happiness, but stumbling upon this years road race guide for japan really was the breakthrough of my year. I can now get a schedule going and have some crucial dates to work towards - probably one or two a month with the first race being next saturday. 2 big dates are the mt fuji hill climb and the shimano crit in mie. hopelly I'll make both.
incredibly I couldn't find a comprehensive guide on the net which was disappointing and getting to be frustrating (the JCF's website fails to deliver on most counts and info seems to be dealt with region to region). thankfully cycle sports magazine breaks down every competition from bmx to freestyle to hill climbs. pig in shit. hopefully I'll scan and make available for others, though it's debatable just how many people this will amount to. I've never bought a motorbike magazine before but now I know what it feels like - given this month's cover. scantily clad babes - RAW POWER!
Posted by stupot at 11:07 PM Wednesday 19 Apr
japan is like mainland europe in many ways. the unusual lanaguage, the healthy diet, the weather, the closeness of family, the punctual trains, even sometimes the smells. what I haven't been so keen on seeing recently is the similarity to the infamous german technique of picking your sunlounger the night before.
a present from our cousins
saturday was an odd day - it was sunny and cloudless yet you couldn't see the mountains which are so much a dominating part of the skyline on a nice day. the sky wasn't as blue as usual either but I threw the observation away as I travelled on the train and didn't give it too much more thought due to there being so much change in the air these days. it's funny that even the change in temperature can surprise you every year.
hell of the north
as the sun gets a little higher and the temperature eases toward twenty degrees, it means that the most famous one day classic ushers in the cycling year proper. the paris-roubaix is on sunday and the 165 mile amble through the french countryside is notoriously severe - the famous cobbled sections having snapped frames and broken limbs. if it rains, as anyone who has cycled on wet cobbles will testify, it's kinda like cycling on ice. so all in all a nice way to spend a sunday afternoon.
listening in japanese
since I've lived in japan the things you might say I lack have, I would say, made me stronger. my possessions are fewer yet I have less to worry about. I also fear death less but I'm not exactly sure why. it has perhaps been the most surprising result of moving to japan and I think it is a symptom of three possible reasons. one is being removed from familiar things and people, another is spending more time alone, without speaking and the last is living within japanese culture in general. I think it is a mixture of all three.
back into the mountains after a long and fairly flat winter. yesterday looked warm but demanded the long sleeves and legs. the next best thing about climbing in the mountains after the views are the springs and japan has an incredible amount that are easy to spot - usually having been made into some kind of a shrine. at this one (310 south osaka) there was even a money box for contributions (actually there was also the traditional flashing red light that somehow didn't make it into this picture) and although I didn't have the heart to break the scottish stereotype, I was happy to dismount and have a good drink of the stuff - it tasted good. much creamier than treated city water. you often see people drive into the countryside with a boot full of containers and stock up - not a bad idea considering the stuff is in endless supply. but I can never understand quite how it keeps coming.....
Posted by stupot at 11:11 AM Tuesday 4 Apr
"After all because it is the rain, when while at this time it stocks it shoots, 3 these rollers which have been made the oak were stepped on at last. Than stationary type it is easier to ride for me of the system where the body wobbles to left and right, is. Because so, in at one time by the roller falling car it has been painful eye, considerably it is prudent."
Knowing your place in the tribe
It's really a love hate relationship with the service industry here. The relentless and high-pitched welcome to each shop becomes a fittingly chaotic soundtrack to city life. Although I no longer really hear it, on a busy day the welcoming doesn't stop and like an inexperienced assistant not knowing when to leave you alone - the cries of 'irrashiemase' and 'dozo' wear thin. It's perhaps akin to the 'have a nice day' syndrome in America. Being from Scotland though, this hyper-friendly service is as much suspicious as it is culture shock.
Continue reading "Knowing your place in the tribe"
Posted by stupot at 06:03 PM Sunday 2 Apr
following on from last years collaboration with elley kishimoto etc., UNIQLO has recently released loslogos t-shirts and they're pretty nice. at a thousand yen (a pam shriver) a pop, they are pretty cheap too. as usual the girls stuff is nicer than the guys but unfortunately they're always a little short for me to get away with.
it reminded me of the imminent arrival of IKEA to japan. I suspect the japanese public as well as the likes of MUJI won't know what has hit them: certainly if it's anything like the epidemic in rest of the world. then, six months down the line people will start disliking it - the traffic, the furniture falling apart, the ethics. but as with everywhere else, we'll be back every sunday for cheap hot dogs and our retail fix. fags are out. plagarised cheap design is in!