September 2, 2008

Little Edo
The Kitain Temple Pagoda. I just found out that pagodas are where they store the temple's Buddha! Or used to anyway...
Unagi, One of the foods (along with Sweet Potato) that Kawagoe is famous for. Above is Grilled Eel basted with a sweet soy sauce over rice, Oshinko (pickled veggies,) and an Eel Broth and Soy Soup with bits of the eel guts. Japanese enjoy eel in the summer because they feel that it supplies them with extra energy to combat the extreme humidity and heat.
Here's a shot of the "main drag" in this small town that captures one of the kurazukuri , fireproof merchant buildings, clustered on this street with the famous belltower in the background. These retro buildings are one of the reasons that this small town is nicknamed "Little Edo," because it has little alleys where you can feel like you're drawn back into a previous Japan.
The 500+ Royan are the five hundred plus statues of "Buddha's disciples" that are in a fenced in area next to the only remains of Edo Castle relocated to the Kitain Temple grounds. No two statues are alike and supposedly, if you visit the grounds at night and feel the heads, one statue will be warm while the others are cold. You should remember its location and visit the next day because that is the statue that best reflects your personality. Anyway, it's a cool place to visit and had a lot of history as well as picturesque spots.
A funny looking Rakan....I think he's had too much sake:)

Funny "engrish" always cracks me up. Thanks to the foot model, Yumi!
The only remaining piece of the Edo Castle. A view from a room to the garden. Taken illegaly I might add!

Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

September 1, 2008

It Only Makes Sense...
...that I'd actually break my back and labor on Labor Day Weekend! With typhoon season announcing its arrival with four days of thunder and lightening, I decided it was time to get off my ass and tackle the twenty new bamboo trees that were taking over the backyard and probably pissing off my landlord--some of which had surpassed my second story bedroom window. Pretty? Yes. A nuisance during typhoon season? Yes. Not to mention that they destroy foundation and pipes (just ask the guys that had to come by when our bathroom toilet backed up--yummy!) and could come right through your floor!
I took this after three hours of cutting down and chopping up bamboo. This was the last of the big boys, so I thought I'd take this photo to show you how tall they can get and how quick! The foreground bamboo are about eight or nine feet tall and they last of the big boys is as tall as my roof.
My Jungle, Zushi

Live Forever or Die Trying

Last year it was the Ginnan or ginko nut, this year it's Goya, a bitter melon that supposedly, is the secret to why Okinawaens (Okinawa being the southernmost island in Japan,) outlive all Japanese and the rest of the world. I was first turned on to this scary looking thing by Dave, of Dave Snaps fame two years ago but recently, Yumi's mom made something that was so delcious (no offense, Dave,) that it actually compelled me to cook! Above is my fourth go at getting the bitterness out of the Goya (thanks to a tip from a cook that I work with=squeeze and rinse...squeeze and rinse.) I figure it can't hurt to try to counter all of the chuhais and yakitori that I've consumed...
FYI: Ingredients include: Onion, Pork, Goya, Tofu, Eggs, Soy Sauce, Mirin, Sesame Oil and enjoyed best over a bowl of rice but equally delicious eaten alone while waiting for your rice to cook!)
My Kitchen, Zushi