March 30, 2008

Just When I Thought Japan Couldn't Get Any Better...

...they go and invent this stuff! Yes! It's self-heating sake on-the-go! Perfect for two gals looking to get a little toasted while soaking in the Zen, Kamakura atmosphere. This nifty invention is some sort of physics miracle with a cup of sake in the middle. You turn it over, remove the seal, push the button and flip it over. Wait patiently for two minutes (one if you're my boozie sis,) and open the lid to enjoy nice, steaming sake on a mildly chilly March morn...

I think my hiragana is getting better (or Adrienne's constant nagging for katsudon made me more aware,) because I've never noticed this restaurant right outside the Hase stop on the Enoden line yet I've been here a dozen times and he's been here that many years at least. There was only one fella running the line, serving, cleaning and ringing up the fifteen seats and yet it was packed. It's pricey at twelve bucks but that man does something to his bonito stock because that's the best damn katsudon I've ever had!
Here's an obligatory photo of my smelly sister stinking up the beautiful photo of the Hasedera temple. (Just checking to see if she's reading my blog like she promised to. If not, I take it back--she really does reek a bit. )
"Brochure-inspired," but it's hard not to....

I always feel annoyed when I meet gaijins that haven't at least been to this location when living in the Miura Peninsula. It's like living in Florida but never seeing Gatorland.
On second thought, it's like living in California but never visiting Disneyland. You know what, forget it. It's just lame! (Daibutsu, Kamakura)
What the f-? How'd we end up here? Yumi, that's how! She knows I'll try anything and she's an awesome saleswoman! Next thing you know I've got THIS in front of me! Oh, and if you still haven't figured it out--that's an entire hoof of a pig. Nails, claws, talons--whatever! It's a mass of marrow, bone, nails, fat, skin and a bit of meat. In case you don't understand my reaction...
...maybe now you will. It's HUGE right?! So I've got to be polite and make a decent dent in this thing while Yumi and her parents nod approvingly and I look to my loyal little sister and motion to her like "dig in and help me why don't you?" Her reaction was "I'm full, sorry, not another bite!" What a traitor! So I downed bits of marrow and fat and sucked on pig nails for for an hour (Yumi was quick to point out that there was "much more to eat," halfway through,) before admitting that I was finished. Thanks Takahashi's for my first (and last) pig foot ever and thanks to my little sister FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. (Hideyoshi Yakitori, Kamakura)

March 5, 2008

"White Snow and Black Eggs"

Hakone was coated in a thick layer of fluffy white powder yesterday. Luckily, it was the day that Hideyoshi closes so Yumi and her parents drove A and I up the foot of Mt Fuji and one of the "Fuji Five Lakes," for a day of sightseeing! At Hakone Jinja, Adrienne and I got fortunes that were identical! Out of over one hundred available types, we both grabbed #46 (Daijo!) out of a box that read we'd have the best fortune available!
This is a kurotamago (black egg,) that is cooked in the hot spring water heated by lava. Something makes the egg's shell black but the egg is totally delicious. Each egg you gobble gives the eater seven extra years of life! As we started descending the mountain, a few large flakes came swirling past us. Within seconds, it was a flurry of soft, powdery snow!!! What a wonderful experience as the powder was totally different from the icy snow we got here a few weeks ago. Adrienne hasn't seen snow in fifteen years so it was a real treat for her!
Our final visit was to a famous soba (buckwheat noodle,) restaurant in a two story traditional Japanese home. We sat on tatami floors, sipping brown tea before eating tempura udon, above. Two large shrimp are battered, fried and placed in a hot bowl of fish stock with some local veggies. Sounds of slurping filled the room and within minutes, we were all fat and happy.