National Azabu is a popular supermarket in Tokyo among embassy staff and office workers from different countries.
The supermarket is located near German and French embassies and in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by Arisugawanomiya Memorial Park, large old royal domain with woods, ponds and even Tokyo Metropolitan Library.
It is a pioneering supermarket and has expanded its line of imported groceries. You can find hard-to-get western commodities and foreign magazines and books there.
Many of the customers are embassy staff, office workers and their family. Meat and fish are sold in American style. Price tags and signs in English jump to eyes: you can feel as if you were in a supermarket in US or UK.
I heard that imported beer is one of the most popular sellers there. I get Diet Canada Dry and Cherry Coke, which are less commonly available in Japan.
It is easily accessible from Roppongi and Akasaka on foot: why don't you stop by when you go to the areas? Five-minute walk from Hiroo station on Hibiya line.
I went to Sendai City, Miyagi on business last week.
Sendai is 350 km north of Tokyo. About one our and forty minutes by Tohoku Shinkansen "Hayate," bullet train.
Miyagi is going to run a campaign to increase the number of tourists from October to December; many kinds of events will be held. "Musubi-Maru," a character of the campaign, greeted me at the entrance of Miyagi prefectural government office.
As you will see from a blog, "The Rice Farming Diary from the Small Rice Field in Tome, Miyagi" on JAPANiCAN.com, Miyagi is well known as a production center of rice. "Musubi-Maru" is inspired by rice-ball, "omusubi" in Japanese, and a samurai warrior helmet of Masamune Date who was a feudal lord in the area 400 years ago.
There are Sendai is called "mori-no-miyako," which literally means the city of forests. You can see a lot of green in the city. May is the season of new green leaves; you can feel refreshed! One of the most famous places is Jozenji Avenue lined with zelkova trees. Shooting of TV programs and movies is sometimes taken.
You can find a bronze statue of a sumo wrestler, Tanikaze, with a bulging waistline Kotodai Park. He was a popular Yokozuna, grand champion, from Sendai in 18th century. Some people say he was the 4th Yokozuna in history. However, there are few historical records about the three Yokozuna before him; according to one prevailing opinion, they were legendary sumo wrestlers and Tanikaze was the first Yokozuna. It is said he had not only power but also a good personality.
To get to Kotodai Park and Jozenji Avenue, leave the Nanboku-line at Kotodai-Koen station, three minutes from Sendai station.
During Golden Week holidays, I went to Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki for "Nemophila Harmony," a flower festival held until May 25th, 2008. 4.5 million blue nemophilas are blossoming over the "Miharashi No Oka", a hill commanding a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
Nemophilas are annual flowers. It's a combination of two Greek words nemos (small forest) and phileo (love). It's also called baby-blue-eyes; surely, the transparent-blue flowers look like pure baby's eyes.
As it has been colder this year, the flowers are late in blooming; only a third of them opened when I went there.
Nemophilas might be their best in mid-May. I want to see them in that time, again!
Access to Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki from Tokyo
It takes about 70 mins. From JR Ueno station to Katsuta station by Express train of Joban line.
Then take the Ibaraki Kotsu Bus, and get off at the "Kaihinkoen Nishiguchi (Seaside Park West Gate)" or "Minamiguchi (South gate)" stop (about 15 minutes by bus).
It takes about 2 hours from Tokyo station bus terminal by Ibaraki Kotsu Bus heading toward "Tokai, Hitachinaka", and get off at the "Kaihinkoen Nishiguchi (Seaside Park West Gate)"
Umishibaura-eki is a train station on the JR Tsurumi Line in Yokohama.
It is a terminus station of Umishibaura branch line.
It's first time to visit there even it is my home town!
As you can see the photo, the one-way platform is located on the waterfront of Tokyo Bay.
The station is located on the land of the Toshiba Shibaura Factory, the principal manufacturing plant of Toshiba. Only employees of Toshiba corporation and invitee are permitted to go through the entrance gate.
But, there are a ticket disposal box and automatic ticket machine in the staion. So we can pass the ticket wicket just for form.
In this station permise, there is a small park named Umishiba Park.
From this park, we can view the Tsurumi Tsubasa Bridge and the Yokohama Bay Bridge!
While a waiting for next train leave this station, we spend a refreshing time there.
Day 2 (Sep. 3)
The ferry has arrived at Tomakomai port early afternoon. As they said, I find it rains.
I went to Toyako-lake, the town of G8 summit 2008 being held.
It also has been raining there. I decided to stop today, as they said it will be sunny tomorrow, and directed to a camping site in Niseko. After a while, I realized that I was in Iwanai, a town on the Japan Sea side. I had passed the camping site, because of rain and fog.
There is no good place to camp in around Iwanai, I go down to south. The rainy crowds have gone and it got to be night. Suddenly, a fox has crossed the road. The tire didn't hit her fortunately. You should drive slowly and be careful for animals at night. Finally I arrived at Setana, where ferry to Okushiri isle departs, set my tent up. (305km run)
Day 3 (Sep.4)
It is beautiful fine day. I drive to Hakodate. You can feel seashore near if you move clockwise. (In Japan, Left Lane Driving) I had crossed to Oshamanbe, a Pacific Ocean side town being famous of crab.
I reached to Hakodate at noon. Kaisen-don (a large rice bowl with Sashimi) and squid sashimi were my lunch. Squid is so popular in Hakodate.
I couldn't go to Mt.Hakodate. Motorcycle is prohibited and the cable car fee costs much. Anyway the town is so beautiful. It is similar as San Francisco of cliffs and sea ports.
I left Hakodate to Sapporo.
Camping in the park(Free) at Kutchan, a town below Mt.Yoteizan, a guy who has been traveling around Hokkaido for 3 months asked me, "You must have been quit your job and came to Hokkaido, haven't you?". I denied with a better smile. (472km run)
It is the souvenir from a famous rice producing area of Japan--
Tome city Miyagi-prefecture. A friend who went there for a business
trip brought it to us. It is a kind of cake with moderately sweet
anko (bean jam) between the soft rice crackers. I think it goes with not only
Japanese tea, but also coffee and tea.
The Tome city is known for a rice producing area from old times, and the
rice field that produces several kinds of Japanese rice, such as
Sasanishiki, Koshihikari and Hitomebore, extends all around there.
And a factory producing cards of Japanese digital cash is there, too
By the way, it is the hometown of famous manga artists (cartoonists):
Katsuhiro Otomo known for "AKIRA" and
Shotaro Ishinomori known for "Kamen Rider" and "Cyborg 009".
Therefore, Shotaro Ishinomori Memorial Museum is located in this area.
How to access to Tome City?
It takes two and a half hours by Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Kurikoma-Kogen Station in the Kurihara city which is about 30 minutes by car from Tome city. Or you can get off at Sendai Station, and take a highway bus for just one and a half hour to the city.
Enjoy "Rice Farming Diary - from the small rice field in Tome, Miyagi"
The rice farming process in Tome city, Miyagi in real time.
When I hear "Sendai", I remember "Gyutan (cow tongue)" at first. Sendai is well known for cow tongue food ...and I'm a person who loves to eat.
I went to Sendai, Miyagi Pref. couple of weeks ago. Sendai is the largest city in Tohoku region. It takes 1 hour and 40min. from Tokyo by JR Tohoku Shinkansen "Hayate".
As soon as I arrived Sendai, I went to Gyutan restaurant right away!
I ordered a fashionable "ladies' Gyutan lunch (950 yen)".
At dinner, I ate a gorgeous "Kaisendon (bowl of rice topped with sashimi. 2,600 yen)" in Sendai station restaurant. It tasted wonderful and even a photogenic look!
There are Gyutan Street and Sushi Street restaurant rows in Sendai station. It is very convenient, especially if you don't have enough time to eat while waiting for your next train.