Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ice Princess

The Winter Olympic is heating up for tomorrow's women free skate final, with the tickets sold up to twenty times their prices according to the newspaper I read yesterday. Last night I watched the women's short program on TV, happy enough to see Mao Asada came second after Kim Yu Na the reigning world champion who stole the show. I can't wait to see tomorrow's showdown between long time rivals Mao Asada and Kim Yu Na, both are amazing but unfortunately there will be one gold medal only.

A doll maker in Tokyo, Kyogetsu Co has a clever way to support Mao Asada, creating a 'negai-bina' doll modeled after Olympics figure skater Mao Asada.

Hinamatsuri doll of Mao Asada, picture captured from YouTube
Monday, February 22, 2010


Monday, 22/02/10 - that's the date we write down using Gregorian calendar system, the internationally accepted civil calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII.

It's also written as 22.-2.22 for the year Hesei 22 (2010), Feb.22 in Japan.

On January 7, 1989, after the death of the Emperor, Keizo Obuchi, then Chief Cabinet Secretary and later Prime Minister of Japan, publicly announced the end of the Showa era, and heralded the new era name 'Hesei' for the new incoming Emperor. Heisei is intended to mean 'peace everywhere, then the Hesei era went into effect immediately after the announcement of the new emperor on January 8, 1989. (source:Wikipedia)

To commemorate the 22.-2.22 of Hesei year, JR West plans to sell 150,000 commemorative platform tickets (printed with 22.-2.22) priced at 120 yen, allow people to go through ticket gates to platform to see off and meet passengers or shop inside the premises. The tickets will be valid until March 31.
(source: Japan Times)

(picture courtesy of : Japan Times)

A quick way to convert the current year to Hesei is to take the last two digits and add 12. Example for 2012: 10+12= Hesei 22.
Saturday, February 20, 2010


What is Marimo?
Here is the definition I found on wikipedia: Marimo literally means seaweed cone, also known as Cladophora ball or Moss Balls is a species of filamentous green algae found in a number of lakes in the northern hemisphere. A marimo is a rare growth from of the species where the algae grow into large green balls with a velvety appearance.
The plant was named "marimo" by a Japanese botanist Tatsuhiko Kawakami in 1898. Mari is a bouncy play ball and Mo is a generic term for plants that grow in water. The native name in Ainu are torasanpe (lake ghost) and tokarippu (thing that rolls in mud), they are sometimes sold under the name 'Japanese moss balls'.
Marimo colonies in Lake Akan, Hokkaido rank among the strangest plant communities on Earth. The growth rate of Marimo is about 5 mm per year, in lake Akan they grow particularly large, up to 30 cm.

Marimo souvenirs from Hokkaido

Marimo, the most unique souvenirs I got from Hokkaido. I bought two marimo, one is the key ring with fake marimo and the second one is real marimo in a can, I need to 'plant' this marimo in a jar with water, I even bought the 'food' for marimo but unfortunately I haven't got time to 'plant' this Marimo and I left them in my hometown.

There is a Marimo Matsuri in Hokkaido, this unique festival featuring Marimo has developed into a major event of Hokkaido and is even referred to in the following way, " The Sapporo Snow Festival is the champion of festivals in Western Hokkaido and the Marimo Festival is the champion of festivals in Eastern Hokkaido." Both festivals were held for the first time in 1950.
Lake Akanko and marimo are closely associated with the indigenous Ainu people, who lived mainly in Hokkaido, as is this festival. (source: JNTO)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Salmon Lover roll

It was a wet yet muggy weekend, on top of that it was Chinese New Year! The city, especially Chinatown strip up to Town Hall was packed with crowd and CNY celebrations, so I opted to go up north there and enjoy my lunch in a leafy suburb of Artarmon, away from the busy CBD's streets and madding crowds.

Sushi-ya, an authentic Japanese restaurant on a quiet side of Artarmon, off the train station then turn right and it's the first restaurant you'll see on your right-hand side, just right on the corner.
It's not a Japanese restaurant with the best service nor ambience but if you love sushi and sashimi and prefer a relaxing atmosphere then this place is worth a try.

My Salmon lover rolls were superb, fresh salmon with a hint of avocado and topped with ikura (salmon roe).

The tempura was light and tasty.

Fish teriyaki served with mashed potato

I had to admit that the price is above average, but the the portion is quite generous though.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Tiger Year!

Wanna wish you all: Happy Tiger Year!

I bought some Japanese clipart books from Japan that come with the CD's contain hundreds of kinda cute Cliparts, here are two of them.


Like Hotdog? Love the juicy Kobe beef? Check this interesting news from Mainichi:

(Photo courtesy of Reuters via Mainichi)

A Japadog hot dog, using Kobe beef sausage and name after Japan's figure skater Mao Asada, is held by a customer before the Vancouver 20120 Winter Olympics in Vancouver on Thursday, Feb 11. The pair of Japadog stands are proving popular with Japanese tourists and press attending the Olympics. The hot dog is seen garnished with yuba, dried tofu skin, cut in the shape of maple leaves.
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hokkaido Sky

The amazing sky of Hokkaido! This picture was taken minutes before my ANA flight landed at Sapporo Chitose Airport December last year. The sky was very clear and lucky that my window seat has a clear view, wasn't blocked by the wing or anything. When I grabbed my pocket camera I wasn't sure whether it's allowed to take a shot, so I looked quickly at the stewardess sitting right in front of me and she didn't say a word, she just smiled! I took it as ".. quick.. quick.. you still can use the camera before landing as soon as no flash" :)

The name of the mountain? Frankly, I have no idea. This was taken somewhere along my Osaka - Sapporo flight. It could be any mountain around Nagano maybe? Anyone have idea what's the name of this mountain?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Iron Chef in Sydney

If you love Japan and culinary show you must know 'Iron Chef', it's been one of my favorite cooking show I watch every Saturday night on SBS one. Two of the Iron Chefs, Hiroyuki Sakai and Kenichi are coming to Sydney! Here are the details:

Date : 6&7 June 20120
Venue : Hilton Sydney Grand Ballroom
Time : 18:00 - 22:00
Cost: $385 per person
Reservation : Call JTB on : 1800 105 451

For you who loves culinary and doesn't mind paying the price, you will enjoy a six course menu complimented by matching wines designed by the Iron Chefs in collaboration with local Sydney Chefs.

I'd really love to reserve the seat but considering the price...
Saturday, February 6, 2010

Natsu-Matsuri in Sydney

Tadaima! I am back home in Sydney now.
First weekend in the city, it's supposed to be a hot summer day but unfortunately it rained all night and then all day today! That was bad, too bad, since it's a Natsu-Matsuri (summer festival) day in Sydney. This annual Japanese Festival in Sydney takes place on Palm Grove, Darling Harbour. There were lots of performances like festive folk dancing, taiko drumming, karate and sumo demonstrations, anime cosplay parade and some yummy food stalls. Once again, it was raining and windy so I didn't manage to take any proper photo and I left before the cosplay starts, yes too bad..

(Natsu Matsuri in Sydney)
Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I can go on and on with things I love. I've got a bunch of post from my trip to Hokkaido last December yet I still have some posts I'd like to share since I love Hokkaido! Hokkaido is famous for its seafood, that's another thing I love in Hokkaido. The Hokkaido King Crab? yes I think that's one of the most famous seafoods from Hokkaido but it's very expensive so I tried only the the small grilled crab in Otaru instead of the King ones, quite affordable though.

One morning when I strolled around Hakodate morning market next to the JR Hakodate station, I found this hotate or scallop wrapped in small plastic bag and hung on every shop in the market. This dried hotate is quite famous, said the 'obachan' who sells it, and I couldn't refuse when she gave me some samples to try. The dried ones was a bit hard to chew but then she gave me another one which was very soft and tasty! It was the first time I ate dried scallop and I love it, so I ended up buying one pack of hotate, the dried scallop from Hokkaido.

Hotate or scallop

Hokkaido King Crab

Hokkaido hairy crab

Fresh seafood at Hakodate morning market