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    • Day 3

      Aokusamachi & Plum Wine

      December 31, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

      Food market and general walk around.
      Plus a sample of plum wine which has been a favourite of mine for a long time.

      Umeshu (梅酒) is a Japanese liqueur made by steeping ume fruits (while still unripe and green) in liquor (焼酎, shōchū) and sugar. It has a sweet, sour taste, and an alcohol content of 10–15%. Famous brands of umeshu include Choya, Takara Shuzo and Matsuyuki. Varieties are available with whole ume fruits contained in the bottle, and some people make their own umeshu at home.

      Japanese restaurants serve many different varieties of umeshu and also make cocktails. Umeshu on the Rocks (pronounced umeshu rokku), Umeshu Sour (pronounced umeshu sawa), Umeshu Tonic (with 2/3 tonic water), Umeshu Soda (with 2/3 carbonated water) and the Flaming Plum[citation needed] cocktail are popular. It is sometimes mixed with green tea (o-cha-wari) or warm water (o-yu-wari). Umeshu can be served at different temperatures; chilled or with ice, room temperature, or even hot in the winter.
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    • Day 3

      Samurai District

      December 31, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

      Samurai were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan from the 12th century to their abolition in the 1870s. They were the well-paid retainers of the daimyo (the great feudal landholders). They had high prestige and special privileges such as wearing two swords. They cultivated the bushido codes of martial virtues, indifference to pain, and unflinching loyalty, engaging in many local battles. During the peaceful Edo era (1603 to 1868) they became the stewards and chamberlains of the daimyo estates, gaining managerial experience and education. In the 1870s they were 5% of the population. The Meiji Revolution ended their feudal roles and they moved into professional and entrepreneurial roles. Their memory and weaponry remain prominent in Japanese popular culture.

      The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen, and to a lesser extent Confucianism and Shinto, influenced the samurai culture. Zen meditation became an important teaching, because it offered a process to calm one's mind. The Buddhist concept of reincarnation and rebirth led samurai to abandon torture and needless killing, while some samurai even gave up violence altogether and became Buddhist monks after coming to believe that their killings were fruitless.
      Some were killed as they came to terms with these conclusions in the battlefield. The most defining role that Confucianism played in samurai philosophy was to stress the importance of the lord-retainer relationship—the loyalty that a samurai was required to show his lord.

      Literature on the subject of bushido such as Hagakure ("Hidden in Leaves") by Yamamoto Tsunetomo and Gorin no Sho ("Book of the Five Rings") by Miyamoto Musashi, both written in the Edo period (1603–1868), contributed to the development of bushidō and Zen philosophy.

      The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen, and to a lesser extent Confucianism and Shinto, are attributed to the development of the samurai culture. According to Robert Sharf, "The notion that Zen is somehow related to Japanese culture in general, and bushidō in particular, is familiar to Western students of Zen through the writings of D. T. Suzuki, no doubt the single most important figure in the spread of Zen in the West."

      In an account of Japan sent to Father Ignatius Loyola at Rome, drawn from the statements of Anger (Han-Siro's western name), Xavier describes the importance of honor to the Japanese (Letter preserved at College of Coimbra):

      In the first place, the nation with which we have had to do here surpasses in goodness any of the nations lately discovered. I really think that among barbarous nations there can be none that has more natural goodness than the Japanese. They are of a kindly disposition, not at all given to cheating, wonderfully desirous of honour and rank. Honour with them is placed above everything else. There are a great many poor among them, but poverty is not a disgrace to any one. There is one thing among them of which I hardly know whether it is practised anywhere among Christians. The nobles, however poor they may be, receive the same honour from the rest as if they were rich.
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    • Day 7

      Everything is gold

      March 21, 2019 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

      La ville de Kanazawa(金沢市) a dans son nom le kanji kin 金 qui veut dire or. Le sens exact est le "marécage d'or". On peut donc trouver pour des prix prohibitifs des glaces ou gâteaux avec une feuille d'or. Nous avons décidé de ne pas réaliser l'expérience !
      Nous avons visité le matin le sanctuaire d'Oyama et le 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. Je vous laisse les photos de la piscine, une oeuvre de Leandro Erlich très amusante!
      Nous avons ensuite été visité le quartier traditionnel des samouraïs dit Nagamashi et la maison de l'un d'entre eux . Le jardin particulièrement valait le coup d'oeil!
      Nous en avons aussi profité pour acheter des sucreries japonaises dans une belle boutique proche. La première pour ce soir est kakiho, une pâte de riz gluant recouverte de sésame dorée.
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    • Day 48


      September 18, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

      מה שלמדתי כאן זה שהמסעדות הטעימות ביותר הן הפיציות, אלה שיש בהן אולי 12 מקומות וזהו.
      טעם מקומי אותנטי ומושלם!

    • Day 23


      December 28, 2022 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 45 °F

      Today, I left Sekki sensei's house and headed for Kanagawa. First, we hit up the onsen one more time before heading to the train station. This time was similar to the first time we went, but I decided to try out a part of the onsen where electrical current passes through the water. I assume the purpose is to stimulate the muscles in a way similar to stretching. I've always had problems with my upper back being tight because I'm a nerd and a programmer so I spend lots of time looking down at a screen. I wanted to try it out and see if it would help my shoulders.

      When I first sat down I immediately felt the current go thru my sides. I could feel the tendon within my arm tense up and it hurt a bit. I had to do my best to keep my arms from getting in the current because it caused them to painfully tense up. However, on my body and torso it felt fine so I tried to get just those parts of my body in the current. Overall, I'm not sure it helped much but it was interesting to give it a shot! There were many guys in the onsen who would just lay in this chair for an extended period of time and I'm not sure how they had the endurance for that 😶‍🌫️

      Afterwards, I said my goodbyes to Sekki and boarded the train to Nagoya which then would transfer to another station and then Kanagawa. My JR Rail Pass had ran out so I had to wait in an annoying line to get a physical copy printed out. Normally, I could book tickets online and retrieve them from a machine but when you renew the pass you must talk with a human to get the physical copy. Since I was in Nagoya and it's not common to print passes there, I had a difficult time communicating with the staff. They didn't know much English and kept suggesting things that were incorrect so I kept getting confused 🫠 Eventually, I was able to get my pass and at least got some practice trying to communicate in Japanese! I enjoy the countryside more because people are less likely to switch to English if I'm struggling. I want to improve so I appreciate the challenge!

      I eventually ended up in Kanagawa and right out of the station is a beautiful illuminated gate. I'm not sure the significance of the gate but it was cool to see! I got a few pictures and headed to the hotel. I ended up walking a ton because I thought the hotel was closer than it actually was. I probably should have taken a bus but sometimes the GPS is bad at guessing where I am.

      When I finally reached the hotel, I unpacked my things and got settled in. I booked a pod hotel this time because I wanted to try it out and it was cheap. Plus, this hotel has a spa which I am a big fan of now. The bed is very very firm and the room has just enough space to exist, but I don't mind it too much. I guess the only thing I mind is that all the other pods can hear you so when I open a zipper or ruffle a plastic bag I feel bad 😬 I think if I book a pod hotel again it will only be if I'm in a city for one night and have very little luggage. However, the price was only about 50-60 dollars a night so you can't beat that!

      I walked around a bit trying to find somewhere to eat. I finally settled on an Izakaya a little ways away from the hotel. The waitress offered me a english menu after I attempted to order and I asked if I could have both since I'm studying. One day, I want to be able to read the menu! It just seems like a really useless skill when I'm in America so I didn't realize how cool it would be to read different foods on the menu. I could tell the waitress was having fun and appreciating that I was trying to speak Japanese so that felt really good!

      The couple next to me started talking about me but I was a bit too nervous to chime in because I could only follow the conversation a little bit. When I ordered, the woman leaned over to the man and started talking about how it's cool that I was able to order. The man then started talking about how foreigners know how to say a couple things such as ordering or greetings (挨拶)such as konichiwa, onegaishimasu, etc. Then, when I asked the waiter how to say something on the menu the woman began speaking about how it must be hard to read a menu and that learning kanji is probably super difficult. I was proud that I was able to understand the couples' conversation and I do wish I had interjected a bit to say something. I'm not a shy person, but I definitely am someone who gets shy around people I have not met before. I've been working on this a long time and I'm hoping that I can overcome the fear so I can engage people more and practice 😊 Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes I stay silent, but each success moves me closer to my goal of overcoming the anxiety that comes from initiating a conversation with a stranger!
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Mameda-honmachi, 大豆田本町

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