Hiroshima tease

Finally got a chance to drive down to Hiroshima, a place I have always wanted to visit. Here is a tease for an upcoming 2-3 part update!

Back in Japan

but not any healthier:

Back into my groove here, so expect more normal updates from here on out!

On a jet plane

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Heading to the states for the holidays. Been over 8 months without any airtravel, and it’s been nice but I need some time away from this country. Will do some driving in Cali, betting in Vegas and you know plenty of eating along the way and in Chicago.

Scooter day out

I found myself looking today through some pictures I took over the summer. It’s getting colder by the day here in Kyoto and I found these shots from a perfect late summer day a few months ago when a few of my friends and I gathered some scooters and rounded Biwako, the largest lake in Japan. While everyone else had a scooter of their own, I didn’t, so a friend kindly let me use his Zoomer for the day:

Along the way we stopped plenty of times to enjoy the scenery. While the southern most areas of the lake are not the best looking, once you get up more north the water quality goes way up and the lack of people make for some nice peace and quiet.

In a few places a few of us stopped and decided to jump in. A few miles on the scooter and you were dry, so we did it a few times:

Ramen for lunch. In the middle of nowhere it was actually hard to find a good place to grab a bite:

Of course the lowest scooter award went to Masa with his Honda Dio.

I tried giving it a ride, but even at my low 170lbs the tire would rub the entire time, but as you can see it’s rubbed clear through the fender and was rubbing frame when I was on it…….

In all, it took us 12 hours from start to finish to make the journey. Passing cars in the middle lane, running to the front of the line at a red light, lots of fun. I was considering getting a scooter for myself, but maybe I will wait now until it warms up a bit around here. That and I just picked up a 2nd car! More on that in another post.

Yamazaki Distillery

Last week I was able to get over to the Yamazaki Distillery. I have wanted to take the tour for quite a long time, and it  turned out to be a fun afternoon. The factory is located just inside of Osaka prefecture.

They offer a quick 30minute guided tour of the facility, showing how they make their whiskys from start to finish.

The dark, cool, alcohol smelling warehouse full of barrels was huge. The oldest I could find was a 1991:

The distillery is located at the base of a mountain that gives Suntory an endless supply of exceptionally clean spring water.

After the tour, 20minutes of free tasting. Basically, how much can you down in 20mins. My damage:

After the tasting, you are able to spend some time in the “Library”, where 7,000 variety of whisky is displayed from distilleries around the world:

Together in the Library, the bar is housed. I counted 98 variety of whiskys from around the world available, fairly cheap, by the glass for tasting.

I opted to try out the 21y Hibiki blend. Normally $180 a botttle, the 500¥ taste was just right. Check out the full set of pics from my afternoon there.

Golden Week

This past weekend we headed down to Shizuoka to visit some of Mayu’s family there. Fearing the horrible Golden Week holiday traffic, we opted for the more expensive Shinkansen down. It was a good decision, there was a 27km (17m) backup of cars on a key stretch we would have needed to take. Nothing was planned, and we just relaxed and saw a few things around. One being the worlds longest wooden walking bridge:

For lunch we drove down closer to the Pacific, were we had lunch at an ocean front cafeteria that serves fresh seafood from the tsukiji-like market across the street. I opted for super fresh maguro-don:

The area also offered a distant view of Mt. Fuji:

After going for a little rest, we all went and played tennis. Something I don’t pretend to do very well. After working up an appetite, we headed over for some much needed meat:

A failed attempt to relax at a local sento sent us home, we relaxed and headed to bed early. The next morning we decided to go up into the Sumatakyou, famous for green tea, various bridges, and natural hot springs. The rolling hills filled with green tea orchards were beautiful:

We stopped near the small Senzu Staton to see some of their still running Steam Locomotives. A cool sight, and one that Mayu’s 2 year old nephew really enjoyed.

Across the street from the station we sat down for a nice light, cool lunch on the oddly hot spring day. Amazingly good zaru soba and shrimp tempura:

After lunch we started the 30min trek up to the “Yume-no-Tsuribashi” (Dream Bridge).

Mayu and I

And more of the beautiful view. We had some awesome weather while in Shizuoka:

After all the hiking, it was off to a local hot spring to kick-back for a few:

After the refresh we drove back into Shimada and headed to a cool little ramen joint downtown:

and go their famous tonkotsu “maru-yo” ramen. I’m not a huge ramen guy, but the juicy pork and flavor of the tonkotsu were an awesome match. I also need to learn how to make boiled eggs with those perfectly jellied yokes:

And then off to the station for the quick hour or so ride back to Kyoto. I then spent the rest of Golden Week doing absolutely nothing, and loved it.

Kyoto from above

Riding out enthusiasm from our climb of Diamond Head in Hawaii, Mayu and I decided to climb the Daimonji here in Kyoto this past weekend. Daimonji proved to be a bit more of a pain to climb, but well worth the view of Kyoto:

I tried to do that whole panoramic thing, but I failed to line it up correctly…oh well.

Where I’ve been

In a place called paradise….

The rest of TAS

If your so inclined (after all the TAS coverage, who would be?) take a gander at the rest of the shots from my little camera of this years show. Click the pic!

TAS ’10

In a last minute move, I headed up to Tokyo for this years Tokyo Auto Salon. Leaving Saturday night at 10:30, we got into Tokyo at 5:30am, and slept in the car for a good 3 hours before heading into the show. Here are just a few of my favs:

We left the show around 5:30, had some dinner (I ate with Takatori, Kuroi, Teramachi and Jikuya and that made for interesting conversation) and got back on the road. I got home around 1AM on Monday morning and got up at my normal 6:30 to head to work….