Tag Archives: food

Nagasaki Ramble, Feb. 2020, part 1 (trains, trams, food & rumours of a…)

Unnecessary Preamble:

The trip was meant as a little adventure and to visit relatives and also get away from the house while a few construction tasks were happening (new bathtub! etc.) but…

roll on to Nagasaki

As it goes, this was the “last trip” – at the time the (now infamous) Diamond Princess cruise ship was quarantined – shrouded in mystery – in Yokohama, the city was a bit tense and confused, and indeed, a week later another cruise ship was quarantined in Nagasaki.

Since we were well along the pregnancy, we stayed safe and busy despite my – ugh –usual health challenges, and so very much enjoyed Nagasaki: riding trams, olden Dutch settlements, bomb memorials :(, friendly folks, quirky kissaten cafes unchanged for decades, plus hospital visits for a young relative, and an abacus tournament (really) – Some new friends, strange islands, impossible alleys, hills & plants.

Of course didn’t realize it would be years until our next time out of Okayama prefecture // 2 years feels like 2 weeks or 20 years depending on the day.

Contemporaneous notes follow (there is also a fantastic analog scrapbook somewhere):

Feb 13, 2020: Nagasaki ramble officially underway at Okayama station at best lil coffee stand called Life & Coffee / ordered up a Bizen special cup

#protip there is a piece of Bizen ceramic put in the coffee which infuses with magic powers &/or imbues with extra tastiness

Feb 14: Nagasaki miscellanea diary (not to be confused with the Ryoko’s botanical diary)

Post box (obviously) at station

With a combination of low pressure weather systems, overstimulation of fast trains, and a bit too much activity of late, had a real rough flareup with my mostly-beloved but somewhat-battered body. It’s hard to explain all the pain but when it suddenly comes on, it’s quite scary.

Anyway, sweet wife tracked down some help for me this morning with acupuncture needles connected to electricity and some ice got the immediate pain calmed down.

Then, immediately following whilst on a little walk, we happened across a mysterious tiny café, ate some local dishes & met a new friend, the proprietor – or son of the family or something something. Regardless, he loves fishing and was cheerful and affable. Koba-san!

the famous champon noodles of the area

He knocked off the job and loaded us up in his car for a coastal drive to gaze the remnants of a coal factory mining island (noted in various films).

Plus the related museum displaying the challenges of life on an industrial enclave which was for a while a “fully functioning” city and the most densely populated place on earth.

While every day is a romantic interlude with my Darling wife, appropriately today we viewed the battleship island from “wedding“ rocks complete with a Torii gate, and much fun conversation.

Now a rest, then perhaps a walk to explore the Dutch outposts from long-ago days before the “black ships “ obliged Japan to open up.

Overall everything going well except for my crushing head / end of dispatch #valentinesday

I offer a few photos as evidence. Really the usual: postbox, trains, street cars, telephone, plus a few of the aforementioned items.

Trams

Trains

Trams & Trains video

A montage of trams and trains featuring music by Dan Mangan and Ryoko Olson… It turns out there are literally hundreds of similar videos on YouTube but I’m pretty sure this one is the very best of all of them :-)

Pyjamas

Pajamas provided by the hotel, in this case, button-up long night shirt style. Really fantastic. I’m really trying not to steal these and further ruin my reputation in Japan (and for all other foreigners too). But if no one knows it was me…

Canals & Vibes

Canals, old customs houses, small alleys, mix of Western and Japanese style houses… All in the little area around our hotel. Dreamy // and keep in mind, none of this existed after August 1945

Food, for starters

Harbour Stroll

Due to the (at that time) recent announcement of a mysterious illness entering Japan aboard a cruise ship, the general populous immediately hunkered down – so, when we went on a harborfront stroll seeking splendid sashimi, we had the promenade and the restaurant basically to ourselves.

Ryoko’s Botanical Diary

Chinatown Stroll

While Nagasaki’s interest in history deserves several essays and a miniseries, in brief: as you likely know, for hundreds of years, Japan was basically closed off to international trade with a few exceptions, one being controlled trade with China (who often acted as a middle broker for Japanese wars with other countries) as well as first the Portuguese who were expelled by bringing their religion Against the wishes of the Daimyo (insert story about peasant quasi religious uprising here… Oh actually Melvyn Bragg on the intellectually stimulating “In Our Time” podcast covers The Shimabara Rebelion) so then the trading franchise was transferred to the Dutch who were sequestered on an island // which we will get to later…

So in the meantime, here are a few snapshots of Chinatown – which is Japan’s oldest Chinatown and somehow lent to the feeling of Nagasaki as a miniature San Francisco: a harbor, lots of hills, various cobbled, international vibe, great café culture, trams clattering along – but, as far as I could tell, a lack of Beat poetry and self-aggrandizing tech companies.

More to come

Considering this diary only catches the first barely 2 days of the trip and there’s so much more to share, I invite you back for:

  • Visit to Dejima
  • Abacus tournament
  • Grilled meats
  • Old public bath
  • Quirky coffee shops
  • Atomic bomb museum
  • Experiencing four seasons of weather in three days
  • Of course more trains, post boxes, payphones and so on, probably anyway

Way Home (more trains)

And just so I don’t forget: here are two snaps from the way home on the now decommissioned Kamome train – briefly addressed above at the time but now replaced with a super high speed “new trunk line” a.k.a. Shinkansen a.k.a. bullet train.

I love these “at – grade” class trains as they are wider, have beautiful touches like parquet floors, lounge cars and viewing areas // which you can see in the photo along with the usual photo of my boots, yes these cheap and cheerful chukkas which took me into the Himalayas, along with my stolen suitcase of treasures which earned its stickers.

So we go on.

Diary: New Year Dragons with foods, gardens, bevvies, and themes #calm

what follows is a post-dated diary of various activities in and around New Years day copied from various notebooks, memos, and small dispatches covering foods, outings to parks and graves, bevvies, postcards, dreams, schemes, and themes of calm and endeavours

Dec. 31: We ate soba (buckwheat noodles) as per tradition with parents on new years eve. Most folks watch TeeVee (many famous “wide ” variety shows, singing contests). They leave it off for my sensory overload benefit so i retired early – as i my way – so they could watch if desired.

So tired, heading to bath and bed. {all the tabs will not be closed, many emails unreplied, various messages and conversations left dangling, flip the page, carry-on}

So we go on… gn & gy

i made a video: Good night & good year / Reiwa 6 Ahoy

Jan. 1: GM, HNY – We ate mochi (glutinous rice paste) with other tasty items with parents in the morn as is tradition.

Then, off to Korakuen (one of the “three great traditional garden” of Japan, frequently visited by us).

Early start by my standards – we packed several thermoses and flasks of coffee and tea for the journey…

Off onto the Road: Of course, all manner of beverages are readily available from ubiquitous vending machines yet I prefer our house-made treats. Also, provided opportunity to break out a teabag which was included in the card sent by some friends from Canada.

So off we went, waiting at Tsuchida stop for our first bus ride of the new year…

As is our usual routine, we sit in the very back row (like the *bad kids*) because there are big windows and a little bit more room to stash our gear. Ichi-Stan, of course being a frequent traveler, utilizes the hooks for hanging up his rucksack and travelling cap {usually here I would note that the bus features complimentary high-quality wi-fi and power outlets but you know that by now}.

Note: the *usual* tradition is a shrine visit on New Year Day (bet ya there is a posted in this archive (or maybe still.in draft but… anyhow) this year though we took the with a chance to meet up with Ichi’s best pal and roll around the stellar garden – importantly including the first time in years in which the public could be present for the “flying of the cranes” so… off we went. Plus its a “free admission day!”

Flying of Cranes: The garden was packed but crowd well managed by diligently dudes wrangling pedestrians and keeping on the pathways with optimized view points for the flying of the cranes (a symbol of longevity).

The whole crane flying thing was quite amusing (the wranglers entice them to fly) and yeah cool but i couldn’t help but laugh at the crew of ojisans with their massive telephoto lens, standing on top of camera boxes (no fun for you kids!) and rapid firing like artillery weapon kinda killing the buzz but so it goes, hobbies and all that. {Of course, this is coming from the guy who’s over documenting everything including everything but a picture of the cranes.}

Continue reading Diary: New Year Dragons with foods, gardens, bevvies, and themes #calm

#UW53 bus ride for van Gogh and back home deer & records

Breaking into the secret stash hauled back from the BC Invasion / JJBean Railtown roast ~ “dark and smoky” like my soul :) Memories of this brew daily in the Dunlevy days (which i’ll leave at that).

Ya remember?

Anyhow, the three of us set off on a little adventure by bus.

Away we go, like a trio of sunflowers

The first place we arrived to was the wrong place so another bus to get to the place which was rather confusing to find. We were in search of a “digital” Vincent van Gogh exhibit which I had seen in spectacular reviews and pictures in other cities. This one was the “not necessarily deluxe” version but still, what if it was awesome and we missed it…?

The location featured some kind of super fancy food court on the first floor, some exhibit and retail space on the second floor, maybe some office space on the third and fourth floor… If I sound a bit confused it’s because I didn’t quite understand the “magnet” to get folks to come here & it’s not on a usual transport route and the shops were quite specialized but what do I know. I do know it was just confusing.

By the time we got there, the little guy was eager for some ice cream, me up for an iced coffee, and well since we were there just before the 12 o’clock horn signals the rampage for lunch, some lunch before hitting the exhibit.

Was quite incredible as the food court featured all reusable dishes/cutlery and all kinds of specialized gourmet type operations, again I was just confused as never heard of this place before #Shrug so hey, look at this pizza
Do you ever have a feeling you’re being watched? Someone peering over your shoulder?

The exhibit frankly was pretty underwhelming, some flatscreen TVs with some not particularly hi-res reproduction of the paintings (keep in mind, I’ve seen the two major collection of van Goghs as well as many one offs so very familiar with the works) / in some cases there was the requisite baritone voice over, filled with sadness & melancholy while slide shows of works slip by at the pace you would watch your cousin in law’s crappy vacation slides to Cabo and unnecessary “special effects” to make the photos of the paintings move very unnaturally.

You’ll have to excuse me I’m not at my best, I really need a rest

Aside from the underwhelming digital and projection works and the maudlin overdubs, there was a cool little reproduction of the bedroom Vincent prepared for Paul Gauguin which later became a painting which includes paintings, which are also paintings. So i stopped for a nap / or at least my usual cheesy pose with a floppy hat and a sunflower tie.

Old Vincent’s letters and the backstory between him and brother Theo and Theo’s widow Joanna Bognár are such an integral part of the way V’s story developed posthumously and I can barely look at the letters without seeing my own life as overblown as that sounds. I mean I see them and I know… how it feels to have your heart burn to only want to create create create, sleeping, eating, none of it is interesting, just a feeling of putting a thing out into the world… ahhhh forget it – blerg

Yeah we hit the gift shop, I bought a handkerchief (of the postman) and a postcard (of the husband and wife farmers nestled in a straw field taking a rest).

I’m not the only one capable of a cheesy pose

As I do – duh – I observed a few oddities like a vending machine selling salad dressing. Look at that luscious shade of seafoam green!

And, behind a net (because the bike shop inexplicably on the second floor of a strangely positioned pavilion and closed on a sunny summer day) was a magnificent Kona long tail Ute displayed with a coffee station on the back wooden bench. Oh the dreams!

While Ichi and Mama had their alone time, I was treated to a half-hour foot massage which was quite exquisite. I love massage yet live in the “East Asian country without Asian stuff like massages and pedicures everywhere” – I mean, a lot of countries which are our geographical neighbors have entirely different routines when it comes to night markets and self care but anyhow, this was quite lovely aside from the noise of the, did I mention, very strange building.

Then back on two buses as we talked about the upcoming routine in which I will pick Stanley up from “mountain preschool” and we will ride street car and then bus back home to the cottage. {There are 3 local bus companies with franchise agreements for serving different areas of the region but the one that comes to our house is by far the best. The bus loop at the Okayama train station is terribly designed and they should be redesigning that instead of the other construction they have going on but no one asks me.}

At last! Home (keeping in mind, the day after the tropical storm with bright sun an incredible humidity) where Papa took a rest and Mama whipped up a wonderful feast of venison from the wild boar trapper along with corn from the wizard in Nagano and blueberry sauce with berries from our garden. She is truly a wonder!

Mac-san showed up (arriving while I was snoozing) I rallied up, made us coffees before dinner with which he was duly impressed / dude has high standards and strong opinions so that’s always pleasant.

Of course our convos covered many many topics as we broke into the JJ Bean coffee, plus fig newtons, Cadbury fruit and nut chocolate and some other almond caramel confections brought back from Canada.

Grammy sent us this chocolate and I resisted the urge to be snacking on it at midnight and instead kept it in the freezer. Behind are some newly hung paintings by John Ferrie

Plus we sampled some curious Lecure from Sons Of Vancouver which is usually used in fancy tiki drinks but we just did a little sipping from Sasquatch cups.

Mac and I went out to the kura and sifted through the stacks of records i keep on meeting to make videos about and properly clean, categorize, inventory and enjoy. Listened to REM “automatic for the people” and Lou Reed (listened to Leonard Cohen, Sunny Day Real Estate and Bocephus King during dinner by the way)

Also I had some “dude time” to talk about a few things that have been weighing on my mind since coming back from BC, his dreams and schemes for the goat farm, and while doing so, sifted through stickers, posters, papers, ephemera from the trip, sent him home with an envelope and I also assembled some mic stands and attached some microphones for some well… Dreams and schemes

I turn off the birthday notifications on the so-called social channels and trying to kind of hang out here when have something to say but still, of course friends remember and my buddy Banghi in Olympia remix’d a photo from a very strange night at Mr. Fredrikson’s house somewhere in Thurston County, burning artifacts to close a chapter. Now, I seem to be existing in the midst of an animated, articulated, quasi-realistic future scape with my phwa phwa hair and beverage intact. Thanks for that surprise.

So there it goes, 53, now to be worn by Teddy Blueger of Latvia for the Canucks.

Addendum: the morning of August 17 here in Japan is obviously still August 16 in North America so spent some time on the phone catching up with some friends and opened a few well-timed letters from Rancho Mirage, California and Austin, Texas. Thank you friend so very much.

“The present is an unfinished poem…”

Diary: goat farm anniversary (tasty notes & snaps)

(Most of but not all) of a tasting menu for 17th anniversary of @ruralcaprinefarm & 3rd anniversary of @norikohinuma / such wonderful creative cuisine, eaten in a barn with so many interesting folks and… For the first time in forever a whole bunch of kids outside playing together.

Yes, I know there are palaces, temple, shrines, skyscrapers, amusement parks, gardens, bars, ryokan, etc. etc. but this is my favorite place in Japan (except maybe a certain hotspring :))

These people mean so very much to ‘me and I also appreciate how Mac-san’s shops tiny floor space has 50% devoted to his record collection.

Catching my darlings just being darling. There’s a big drop off here to another goat area, yes, enough to break all of your bones, but our little guy has been coming here since before he was born and knows how to be safe
If you see anything cuter than this kiddo squatting down with a baby goat with a tractor in the background, please let me and the rest of the world know
With my eye infection, rock in the pirate patch and tissue to keep it clean while in a dusty environment and also representing for Japan after the big world baseball classic win… There was some amusement that the only guy doing so was the weirdo beardo foreigner :)
buy a ticket with a bunch of spaces on it and use all the spaces for dishes. I love the juxtaposition of the white China on rustic wooden tables

Snaps: Coffees and Snacks, assorted and spontaneous

At the risk of becoming a cliché or another routine, while tidying up July’s diaries, couldn’t help but notice some lovely beverages and tasty food enjoyed along the way.

visited a Café with loads of Volkswagen memorabilia scattered around including this welcome sign which is quite similar to the one at Mac’s goat farm time

Don’t get out much, so well,.. you don’t need to know because it’s obvious “sometimes I eat/drink something and I take a photo of it” and here are some of those things.

As Warren Zevon wisely pointed out, “Enjoy every sandwich”. Aye, i do and will continue.

Diary: secret restos, airport hangs, voting, drums & creative acts

Restaurants x2: yes our Ramen place is listed in the Michelin guide, we’re pretty fancy after all / maximum stars

For the record, the best restaurant in all of Japan has *no* Michelin stars, nor does it exist in any guide books, map apps, or fancy magazines.

must know codeword

The proprietor has painted the interior completely with her own (rather psychedelic) art.

The menu is succinct (okonomiyaki mostly) and inexpensive, and she (80-ish) sends you home with extra food “just because” + there is the ubiquitous goldfish tank, and even one of my paintings displayed.

Clientele includes noted artists, politicians, community organizers, professors, kimono merchants, curators… But it’s a secret.

Also her end-of-the-year parties at a fancy hotel ballroom are quite legendary for entirely different reasons.

Tomatoes: Mother-in-law‘s garden is producing bumper crop of tomatoes, small and medium ones. Ideas for preserving? I/we can’t seem to eat them fast enough but don’t want to waste any of them. Tried salt ferment and was so so, Freezer seems like a no go, Pasta sauce seems meh.

Rick Rubin: preordered. sometimes i think “im *pretty cool* but im not Rick Rubin cool” and this concerns me. i mean, i’ve done/made/gone plenty in my 51.8 years but dang, ummm i look at RR and think i’ve slacked somehow (yeah i know this isn’t the point) anyhow, this book comes out in 1/23

comes out next January…

Off and Away: Well my darling wife and adorable son are off to Noto for a festival and sensei visit. Guess im gonna *let loose* maybe wash dishes, fold laundry and write some aerogrammes. Yup, scored a 10 pack of legit aerogrammes, smells like victory. I know, slow down Dave, slow down.

Oh put on kettle of hot water to make some barley tea with real barley tea bags. i’ll chill it first. before i get too far ahead of myself, lemon water and couple of acetaminophen and maybe look at buying a massage chair.

Update: with wife out of town, did a lot of tidying up, now eating fancy macaroni and cheese (with tomatoes, avocado and back bacon), banana milkshake and watching Godfather. Yep, it’s a wild wild life + also re-watched last 3 Obi-Wan Kenobi with F-i-L while eating taco chips.

LDN … which reminds me of my quest to find Low Dose Naltrexone in Japan from a reputable source. It’s not illegal here but usually only available as full dose (used in various addiction treatments). However, in low dose (colloquially LDN) is used as pain management for Fibro MECFS #hashtags

Vote: Feeling left out from not voting in Japan (wife voted before hopping on plane, early and easy) so doing Thurston county, Washington primary ballot… It might be last one I do in USA #Foreshadowing (for the record, yes I have *several* citizenships) / ps WA State AFAIK does all voting by mail and my ballots are always early

use a dark pen

Drums / Things I want: a cocktail drum kit like this one (belonging to Stewart Copeland, I asked if he’ll sell it to me or trade for like a bonsai tree or something) if ya see something like this in Japan, let me know OK.

Stewart Copeland’s drum kit and photo thereof

Update: There’s one for a reasonable price but it’s in Staten Island New York… The kit does come with shipping bags… Wonder that what that would cost to Japan :-)

Airport: Darlings went to Noto, Ishikawa to visit Hongo-sensei… so, Now we (f-in-l and me)’re killing time at the Momotaro Okayama airport observation deck like big timers drinking our robot made beverages. Oh they travelled by plane via Haneda as trains are tricky to find way to that corner.

Good news is, with only 1 or 2 flights an hour arriving, we’ll readily see their ANA jet land, taxi up to the gangplank (that’s not the word is it? airbridge? idk) and then just elevator down to meet on 1st floor & 2 mins to car.

got ’em Band is back together #io

He came running out of the domestic arrivals and jumped into my arms and I just about wanted to bawl my face off with proud papa but I was so busy telling him how much I love him and then he told me about the airplane and the fireworks and all of it

Diary: Luxury life with scattershot actions amidst (in)consequential events

So, to no one in particular, “please don’t mind if the posts seem a little scattershot, maybe not finely-tuned, polished and definitely random”… After all this is about fck stats make art make for the future and let the present peek over your shoulder

#daveo50 turns into #daveo52 maybe “finish” by #daveo63

As it goes, left over from my #Daveo50 “personal archaeology project” as well as other sundry diaries, dossiers and whatnot, I have 380 or so posts in my WordPress “draft” folder / Plus switched from “classic“ to “Gutenberg“ which adds a step. So sort of trying to clear the deck. I’m not telling you this for any reason than to give myself an excuse to say that “not every post needs to be a complete mixed media dossier and maybe just rock them out – just make sure they follow your category naming/tagging conventions” / Reminder: Metadata is important for finding.

I really enjoy the process – especially assembling the items and then hitting “public” and floating them out into the world without any expectation – the part I don’t like is sitting and looking at a screen for more than an hour at a time. So many different topics, era & riffs.

So, instead of finishing “important” things already in the “pending folder” what follows are very basic things, photos included for no particular purpose except for my improbable, albeit somewhat inconsequential, documentation of the “usual days“.

Today, so far, recap:

Drink coffee, talked to a friend I haven’t for 3 years, hung out with Ichiro (before he & mama went to tea ceremony), took binders + stuff to kura, organized some scrapbook items, unboxed some new 7” & 10” records, ordered a 45 RPM adapter, usual dishes and laundry.

Amongst the new records is Mudhoney’s “this gift” Subpop split single (with Mr Epp on reverse) + other 7”s by White Stripes, Sebadoh, Shins more + Live 10” by Jesus and Mary Chain including one of my all-time favorite songs “head on“.

PS Still not thrilled with new phono preamp, but also not very technical hi-fi clever, need a smarter friend.

Continue reading Diary: Luxury life with scattershot actions amidst (in)consequential events

Scenes of Life from New Year (shrine, Osechi, cards)

Up the hill to the shrine
Various bells, 5¥ coins and claps
Greetings to neighbours 
Evidence follows

Here are the festive cards received so far arranged on a string with help from my miniature assistant. Expecting a load of New Year’s cards arriving today. Yes I love this arts and crafts part of the holidays.

Once I rode this train when I was Canadian.

Now I’ll always know what year it is. A year for making “a circumnavigation, of sorts” >> free verse poetry, snippets of diaries, fragments of letters, unspoken musings, lists and annotations, compiled and abridged – printed, bound, stamped and shipped #Intention

So, how’s your New Year’s day going? We ate osechi variety platters of (often mysterious) food but most is so tasty and all is elegantly and deliberately prepared (despite what the whiners say)

More to follow as we go along, as we go along… tigers roar meow