EppsNet Archive: Food

Japan, Day 5: Snow Monkeys, Yudanaka

26 Dec 2013 /

Snow Monkeys

Jigokudani Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen) is in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen), and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning “Hell’s Valley”, is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests.

The heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), an elevation of 850 metres, and being only accessible via a narrow two kilometre footpath through the forest, keep it uncrowded despite being relatively well-known.

It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata), more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park during the warmer months. Starting in 1963, the monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hotsprings), and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.

Wikipedia

Today we ventured into the cold and hostile forests above Nagano to visit the legendary snow monkeys.

The monkeys aren’t friendly or unfriendly. They don’t approach you but they don’t try to stay away from you either. They might sit still for a selfie but they won’t smile.

Snow Monkey

Snow Monkey

Snow Monkeys in Hot Springs (Onsen)

Snow Monkeys in Hot Springs (Onsen)

Yudanaka

We stayed the night at a ryokan (bed and breakfast) in nearby Yudanaka Onsen, a hot spring resort, where we enjoyed traditional accomodations, including a multi-course Japanese dinner and sleeping on the floor (on tatami mats and futons).

Our room didn’t have beds but it did have a flat-screen TV. There’s a limit to how much deprivation up with which a traveler is willing to put.

Traditional Japanese Meal

Traditional Japanese Meal

Onsen

Onsen

Traditional Japanese Accomodations

Traditional Japanese Accomodations


Japan, Day 2: Kinkakuji Temple, Nishijin Textile Center, Tea Ceremony, Bullet Train, Atami

23 Dec 2013 /

Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkaku-ji (lit. “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), officially named Rokuon-ji (lit. “Deer Garden Temple”), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.

The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai, belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Kinkaku-ji’s history dates to 1397, when the villa was purchased from the Saionji family by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and transformed into the Kinkaku-ji complex. When Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son, according to his wishes.

During the Onin war, all of the buildings in the complex aside from the pavilion were burned down. On July 2, 1950, at 2:30 am, the pavilion was burned down by a 22-year-old novice monk, Hayashi Yoken, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. He survived, and was subsequently taken into custody. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released because of mental illnesses (persecution complex and schizophrenia) on September 29, 1955; he died of tuberculosis shortly after in 1956.

The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt.

— Wikipedia

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple

Nishijin Textile Center

Nishijin is a district in Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan, and (by extension) a traditional textile produced there, more narrowly referred to as Nishijin-ori (Nishijin fabric).

Nishijin weaving was created in Kyoto over 1200 years ago by using many different types of colored yarns and weaving them together into decorative designs. These specialized procedures are tedious, but necessary to obtain the spectacular design needed to ensure the quality of Nishijin weaving.

— Wikipedia

What the blurb above means is that images and patterns are not dyed after the fabric has been produced, the yarn is dyed before weaving, which yields the finest quality but is much harder to create.

Kimono Show

Kimono Show


Kimono Show

Kimono Show


Kimono Show

Kimono Show

Tea Ceremony

We participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, involving the preparation and presentation of matcha, a powdered green tea.

Fun fact: You don’t enter the tea room through that big opening in the front. You sort of crawl in through a small door on the right-hand side, which you can’t see in the photo. There’s a traditional reason for this, something to do with samurai not bringing swords to the tea ceremony (they won’t fit through the little door), but in modern times, it seems a bit of an unnecessary ordeal.

Tea Room

Tea Room

Bullet Train

We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Atami. These trains run on time. If the board says the train leaves at 3:12, it leaves at 3:12. Don’t show up at 3:13 and wonder where your train went.

Bullet Train

Bullet Train


Bullet Train

Bullet Train

Atami

In Atami, we enjoyed a traditional Japanese dinner, so traditional that our guide was unsure of what a couple of the items were. Atami is on the eastern coast and has a spectacular fireworks display that they shoot off over the bay.

Traditional Japanese Dinner

Traditional Japanese Dinner


Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks


At the Drive-Thru

14 Sep 2013 /

“Hi, would you like to try our new [insert product name here]?”

“Do you think I’ll like it?”

“Uh, I don’t know.”

“Then why are you recommending it? Don’t you want me to be happy?”


Taco Warmer

7 Sep 2013 /
Day 320

Photo by supjchwa2

“Jack in the Box tacos have to be eaten when they’re hot, so when I buy them at the drive-thru, I also buy a bag of french fries, set the fries on top of the tacos and use them as a taco warmer to keep the tacos hot until I get them home and eat them.”

“Do you eat the fries as well?”

“No, I don’t eat the fries. I just use them to keep the tacos warm.”

“The french fries keep the tacos warm?’

“Right.”

“What keeps the french fries warm?”


Eating in Restaurants

5 Sep 2013 /

Before venturing out of your home to eat in a restaurant, learn to chew with your mouth closed.

This applies whether you’re 7 or 70 . . .


Comedy Pug

30 Aug 2013 /
Lightning at the Dog Park

Hi everybody! It’s me, Lightning!

I never have any leftovers when I eat but if I did, I would ask for a doggie bag.

WHAAAAA–?! Thanks, I’ll be here all week!

— Lightning paw

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Pictures of Food

7 Aug 2013 /
"The Basket of Apples" by Paul Cézanne

“The Basket of Apples” by Paul Cézanne

Years ago, if you wanted to show your friends a picture of your food, you’d have to break out the palette and the easel and paint one. Time-consuming!

Nowadays, with the likes of Facebook and Instagram, it’s just point and click!

Another way life gets better and better thanks to computers . . .


Food Trucks

12 Apr 2013 /

Food trucksFood trucks have always been the dining option of last resort — “roach coaches” we called them. Now food trucks are considered fashionable cuisine. People actually make an effort to find them and eat from them.

Whoever’s in charge of brand management for the food truck industry has got to be a genius.


We Had Linguini for Dinner Tonight!

26 Nov 2012 /

HW’s Election Previews: Proposition 37

4 Nov 2012 /
Crop Design - The fine art of gene discovery

From the Offical Voter Information Guide:

Requires labeling of food sold to consumers made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits marketing such food, or other processed food, as “natural.” Provides exemptions. Fiscal Impact: Increased annual state costs from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $1 million to regulate the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Additional, but likely not significant, governmental costs to address violations under the measure.

Notice this phrase: “Provides exemptions.” In other words, the statute requires certain things and prohibits certain other things — except when it doesn’t.

Not that it matters because $1 million a year isn’t going to buy you a lot of enforcement anyway. Who wrote this proposition, Dr. Evil?

Prop 37 is supported by people who hate freedom and having to think for themselves.


It’s Not Easy Being a Dog

30 Mar 2012 /
Taking a nap

I’m taking a nap upstairs but I’m hearing noises from downstairs. When I hear a noise, I have to estimate how likely it is to be food-related, and how likely it is if I get up and go downstairs I’ll be able to get some of it.

I can stay right here and snooze. That’s a sure thing. Or I can go downstairs and try to get some food. But if I get up and go downstairs and I don’t get any food, then a good nap has been spoiled.

I have to do this estimation every time I hear a noise.

Being a dog is not as easy as people think.

— Lightning paw

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Turbinado Sugar = Crack Cocaine

21 Dec 2011 /

Chocolate Almonds


Velvety

21 Dec 2011 /

Why is it good for chocolate to be “velvety”? Do you really want a mouth full of velvet?


Who Pays for Dinner?

30 Sep 2011 /
Heart-shaped Bread

I’m listening to a couple of women talking about their new beaus and who should pay for the dinner dates in a budding relationship.

Man pays? Take turns? 50/50?

For what it’s worth, ladies, back when I was dating, I paid for the food, but depending on how the rest of the evening played out, I might have to say, “In that case, pay me back for the sandwiches.”


Happy Labor Day

5 Sep 2011 /
spare ribs on the barbeque

When there’s BBQ ribs to be eaten, it’s every man for himself.

Wait, that’s sexist. Let me rephrase.

When there’s BBQ ribs to be eaten, it’s every mf’er for themselves.

Happy Labor Day!


Refrigerators

2 Sep 2011 /

Office email:

A friendly reminder that all refrigerators will be cleaned out this Sunday. Please take anything home that you do not want thrown out.

I do not want this carton of Macadamia Vanilla Bean ice cream to be thrown out.

Wait — does it matter if I brought the item in, or just that I don’t want it to be thrown out?


Top Dog

17 Jun 2011 /

Top Dog - Berkeley, CA

Top Dog - Berkeley, CA


Pizza and Pessimism

11 Jun 2011 /
Pizza

“There’s a slice of pizza missing,” my son announces.

When I got home from work, there were two slices left over from last night. I ate one and left one for him.

“I calibrated my appetite for two slices,” he says.

“The pessimist,” I say, “sees that there’s one slice missing. The optimist sees that there’s one slice left.”


Motivation

27 Apr 2011 /

Willy and Ethel


Biting the Hand

4 Apr 2011 /
Lightning at the Dog Park

Most people who’ve seen the way I eat are afraid to get their hands anywhere near my mouth but my owner sometimes feeds me treats out of his hand.

The treat can be in the fingers or in the palm. Either way, I can grab it almost faster than the human eye can detect, and I never bite the hand . . .

— Lightning paw

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