Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top of the hill (Shibamaruyama Kofun)

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Going up is not too difficult. The slope is not steep and the scenery is nice. Really did make me feel like I wasn't in Tokyo, one of the most populous cities in the world.

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On the way to the top I come across something interesting.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Because it's there (Shibamaruyama Kofun)

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I found out something interesting when I was looking up information about the places I had gone to while on my December trip.

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That these steps in Shiba Park lead up to a hill. I knew that. I didn't know it was the largest burial mound in Tokyo. Of course I had to find out more and I had to go see it on my trip back. So here are photos from my visit there. There isn't much documentation in English on-line so you might find this interesting.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Stroll: Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach 1

Since we were down at Hermosa Beach, we decided to take a look around.

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Bronze statue of surfer and lifeguard Tim Kelly.

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One of the interesting murals and buildings here in Hermosa Beach. Want to see more?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Food for Friday: Hennessey's Tavern in Hermosa Beach

Henesseys 1

Ever have one of those days when you just want to have a good sandwich with a good view?

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Well toucans carrying beer wasn't expected...

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So you want to see a bit more of Hennessey's Tavern in Hermosa Beach and some really good sandwiches?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Everything was still (Shiba Toshogu Shrine on March 12, 2011)

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Without the ability to go to many places because the trains were not all running, at least I was able to go back to nearby places I had been to in December.

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With the intention to see things I missed my first time there. One was the Shiba Toshogu Shrine of Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa. It's a Shinto shrine which was split off from Zojo-ji back during the Meiji Period. Want to see what it's like?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It felt so empty (Zojo-ji on March 12, 2011)

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I don't know if I can put into words how it felt.

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Perhaps looking at these photos of where people strolled and spent time might portray more.

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So much space in a city with so many people. This was not the same Tokyo.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Japan is broken (Tokyo Tower on March 12, 2011)

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Tokyo Tower is a symbol of Japan. I never felt it more than I did that day, with the top bent. Something so tall, so strong, damaged.

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Walking from Zojo-ji to Tokyo Tower takes one by the area of Shiba Park (Shiba-koen) which is know for replicating a beautiful little valley with trees that turn color in autumn. Would you like to see how it looked on that day?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Stroll: Redondo Beach Pier

RB Pier 1

Redondo Beach is an interesting place in California. There are a number of ocean front areas and piers. This one has shopping and unusual places to eat like Oriental Breeze which I posted about a couple days ago.

RB Pier 2

Want to take a look to see what else is there?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Food for Friday: Oriental Breeze

Oriental Breeze 1

Every just want to have a meal where you ate whatever you want?

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In a nice location with a sea breeze blowing and the ocean glinting?

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Last year we just decided to do just that. Because once in a while it's good to treat yourself. So want to see what they serve at Oriental Breeze at the pier in Redondo Beach?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

For here they rest (Zojo-ji Mausoleum of Tokugawa Shoguns)

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The entrance to the Mausoleum of Tokugawa Shoguns. Six of the Tokugawa Shoguns and their families were buried here. Hidetada, Ienobu, Ietsugu, Ieshige, Ieyoshi, and Iemochi. Seven times a year they open it for visitors.

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However around the gates are several interesting features like this amazing rock. Rocks like this are very important in Japanese gardens. In a way, this is a little garden behind Zojo-ji, worth taking a look at. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To ask for protection (Zojo-ji in Tokyo, Japan)

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Ankokuden, where the Black Image of Amida Buddha is enshrined.

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Dressed with banners for Hina Matsuri, Girl's Day. There is more to see and a bit of information if you want to see.

Monday, August 15, 2011

With new appreciation (Zojo-ji Temple in Tokyo after the quake)

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Sangedatsu Gate for Zojo-ji Temple.

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Way less people. And cones in front although there doesn't appear to be any damage. I see others going in so I go too. Would you like to see what it was like after the big quake?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Stroll: Madrona Marsh

Madrona Marsh

Sometimes the most interesting places are in the least expected places.

Madrona Marsh

Like Madrona Marsh. It's across the street from Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance Calif. but I bet most of the people that go to the mall have no idea there is an actual marsh there.

Madrona Marsh poppy

So just a few photos of when I strolled there one winter month some time ago. Because there's more to see than one expects.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Food for Friday: Sakae Sushi

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One of the things I missed being able to do was take a cooking lesson from the amazing Elizabeth Andoh. She was going to teach us how to make a hanami bento.

But lucky for me, not long ago we found a place that makes special sushi that would work really well for hanami or parties or just having something good to eat when you don't feel like cooking. So let's check out Sakae Sushi in Gardena, Calif.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Closer than before (seeing Tokyo after the quake)

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Still a few salary men about. This was March 12th. Don't know if they were trying to work on a Saturday or finally trying to get home from the day before.

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I took the opportunity of less people to do a little looking around and photos. Since I clearly wasn't going to find lunch anywhere. Want to see?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tokyo is closed

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The ride on the monorail from Haneda Airport was smooth. I kept looking for any damage, broken windows, cracks in buildings and saw none. How could a city survive an 8.8 earthquake with no damage? The only thing I saw that even suggested something was happening were the occasional strange ripples in waterways as we traveled.

I reached my hotel and and convinced the desk clerk to give me a room at that time instead of waiting till 3:00 pm. I knew I would have to pay but I wanted a place to rest, to use the internet and such. Luckily they were still serving breakfast in the little lobby so I made sure to eat finally. So many people were there. I don't usually take newspapers but I did this time.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Always there (leaving Haneda Airport)

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Woke up after an hour or two more of sleep. There were less people around so I ask the nice man who was next to me if they had announced that the trains are now running. He said they were.

I and others tried to see if any of the food places were selling food yet but none were. I decided it would be better to get to my hotel and try my luck there.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Stroll: Sawtelle Boulevard in Santa Monica

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Sawtelle is a very popular street in Santa Monica. You can see all kinds of things there. Take a look!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Food for Friday: There's always a first time

for okonomiyaki!



A few years ago we headed out to Gaja Moc for a new experience.  Gaja Moc is a very popular okonomiyaki restaurant in Lomita, Calif. It's one of the few here that have teppan grills in the center of the table so you can cook your own okonomiyaki, mondoyaki or monjayaki.  This is a bowl of some of the ingredients like noodles, pickles, mochi, cabbage and green onion which is mixed in with water or dashi, egg and flour and usually a little dried yam.

 

That night a friend was the chef. He grilled up some of the different ingredients we added to our okonomiyaki. I should have taken more photos of the completed ones, but there were too many pitchers of Kirin beer in the way

 

You can add all kinds of sauces or mayo or bonita flakes....you name it.  We had three different kinds, including one with mochi, cheese and spicy cod roe. This was a bit extreme for what we usually go for but it was a special night. If you aren't up to cooking, Gaga Moc will prepare the okonomiyaki for you. They also have several pasta dishes, salads and great desserts. Definitely worth going to if you are up for something original and fun.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So this is what the new Haneda International Terminal looks like

I almost didn't go. I sat waiting for the flight to leave and thought to myself what would happen if I didn't go. I could just get up and leave LAX and not go. It was odd at the time because I like being in Japan and of all the trips I have been on, flying Singapore Airlines is the easiest for me.

If I had it would have been very strange considering what happened several hours later. We had reached land, either over Hokkaido or just the north of Honshu when the pilot came on the intercom to announce that Japan had an earthquake and they didn't know if Narita Airport would be open and that he was requesting to land at Haneda Airport if that was the case.

We traveled on, not knowing what had happened just before we had crossed over that land. Everyone was asking each other where they were going to, hoping that it wasn't too bad. In my mind I was remembering the last few large quakes that the north had suffered, land slides, broken roads and bridges. We peered out the windows at the dark land below us. It was late afternoon but still we searched for lights, any lights. The pilot came on a few more times finally to tell us that landing permission was granted for Haneda.

We continued down the coast and as we crossed over Tokyo Bay I could see the thick black smoke and red flames as the Chiba Oil Refinery fire burned. We were all scared. What would we find when we landed in Japan?

Haneda 3

Monday, August 1, 2011

To set the scene

It's been a little difficult to work on the next set of photos and posts that I want to do. Since it's not just another vacation I went on. So perhaps a little introduction might be the best way to start.

my flight

I knew I wanted to go back to Japan. I really missed being there. So I thought while I could go back I should. I made all my arrangements, figured out places I wanted to go. I planned on taking a Japanese cooking class with Elizabeth Andoh and was going to a live with a friend. Both events I really wanted to do for some time.

But something happened when our flight almost to Japan. Something that would change my life and the lives of everyone in the country.

Haneda permission

I'm not going to go into all the details in my posts. Because I'm trying to write all that elsewhere, so one day at least I can say I wrote a book. But I have photos, lots of photos and I will talk a bit about them and what was happening as relates to them. Like the photos above of my flight which stopped being tracked as the 9.0 quake hit and my landing permission at Haneda International Airport. Which was suppose to be Narita but some things can't be helped.