The Life of Erin

Married life, home projects, music, travel, movies, politics, random stuff I think of on a daily basis

I want to ride my bicycle. March 10, 2009

Filed under: Japan — erinp @ 6:15 pm
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This is one of my favorite shots from our trip to Japan because I think it captures a very integral part of the culture: bicycles and their importance. This is a truck in Inokashira-koen that is picking up all of the parked bikes with “expired” time and taking them to the bike pound. This happened to my mom a few times, right mom? Only I think that these particular bikes were very delinquent.


Bicycles and umbrellas are supposedly the two most stolen items in Tokyo because of their worth. Bikes are a way of life and it’s hard to survive without one. They usually come fully equipped with at least one basket, bell, attached lock, and light that runs on the friction from the wheel as you ride (as in, the faster you pedal, the brighter the light gets). You have to register your bicycle, just like you would a car in the U.S. My dad once got stopped by a local police officer at night because he didn’t have his light on. He had to show his alien registration card and sure enough, the officer “called in” the bike to make sure it was registered under his name.

“I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride it where I like.” –Queen


Five pounds March 2, 2009

I lost five pounds during my two weeks in Japan. I haven’t eaten nearly as well since I got home and I’m pretty sure I’ve gained it all back. I guess sitting at a desk all day instead of walking all day really does make a difference. In honor of my five pounds lost and gained again, here are the food highlights of our trip to Japan:


Shakey’s Pizza. Yes, pizza. All-you-can-eat lunch buffet for 850 yen. Crispy thin crust, lots of sauce and cheese, and toppings such as tuna fish, romaine lettuce and honey, and marshmallow. They also serve the best darned spicy potatoes in the universe. Pass the hot sauce.


Samrat Indian. I’m all about the all-you-can-eat in Japan. This one is AYCE naan or rice with two curries for 980 yen. The naan always come hot and buttery out of the oven. The deceivingly small bowls of curry really are bottomless.


Woodberry’s Frozen Yogurt. Start with plain frozen yogurt and add any mixture of fruit and cheese you want.

Mister Donut

Mister Donut. Our old standby. Favorites include ebi (shrimp) gratin and Golden Chocolate donuts. Bonus=free coffee refills! (And I was a proud member of the “Misdo Club” as a child.)

sweet potato

Sweet potato “puree” in a baked apple. Mom and I could only eat half for lunch. I wish I could have one right now. I want to go to there.


Chicken liver. This was a free appetizer–I never would have ordered it on my own. Man, these were cooked so that the texture was amazing.


Matt was so excited for dango. I wasn’t so much but I did taste it and discovered that the green tea flavor with red bean paste was mighty tasty! And filling!


Kaiseki course #1 at Nakamura-Ro. I am mainly posting this for the lightly fried and candied lotus root in front (the ones that look like pinwheels). So light and crunchy.


Tempura is one of my favorite foods, but not when it’s covered in thick batter and you don’t even know what you are eating. This wasn’t that. It was the opposite of that. Perfect. And the ball of radish made it perfect plus infinity.


Tsumetai (cold) soba is another one of my favorite foods. And this is my favorite soba, made fresh and on premises at Jindai-ji.


Ukai Toriyama. This restaurant is amazing, even if you do have to cook your own meat. This was one of many delicious courses and I especially loved the miso paste. So many meats and fish we ate on the trip had miso paste. What a simple concept–we could even try it at home!


Sasagin bamboo. This was another first try for me and it was another home run. We made fast work of the bamboo, a house specialty at this izakaya.


As unappetizing as these sweets look, mainly made of rice and sweet beans, they were made with love. I felt the love in every bite. The shop that specializes in these sweets has been around for 150 years, passed down through generations of sweet-makers.

This was a small selection of delectable foods we ate in Japan. It was very difficult for me to choose just these. I may have a follow up post one day when I am hungry but am trying to lose five pounds.


Ume-sure February 28, 2009

Filed under: Japan,photography,travel — erinp @ 8:05 pm
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Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are a big deal in Japan. So big that the news has a special weather segment on every night when cherry blossom season starts so you know when they will be in bloom. I think that plum blossoms, or ume, are equally as beautiful, and we were in Japan during prime ume viewing. I practiced using my digital macro setting. A lot. Here are some of my favorites–please vote on which one I should frame (if any)!

1. ume1

2. ume2

3. ume3

4. ume4

5. ume5

6. ume6

7. ume7


Amateurs. February 27, 2009

Filed under: food,Japan,travel — erinp @ 12:17 am
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So I am going to try to post a video that I took and then uploaded to youtube (the only way I can get videos on wordpress). I feel like this is a somewhat true depiction of what it is like walking through the streets of a Tokyo suburb near a train station trying to find hidden culinary gems. I’ll set up this clip: my mom and I are walking through Kichijoji trying to find Woodberry’s, a very small frozen yogurt shop. I ultimately take us the “long way” but it works out fine because we meet up with my dad. So, here it is, wobbly but funny:


Yokatta! February 22, 2009

Filed under: food,Japan,travel — erinp @ 8:07 pm
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Home, thoroughly tired, and missing Japan and Mom and Dad! I think I will actually be in bed before 7:00 tonight, so here are the trip highlights for now.

Day 1, Harajuku:Harajuku

Day 2, Roppongi Hills: spider

Day 3, Kichijoji: Woodberry's

Day 4, Asakusa:Asakusa

Day 5, ume: ume

Day 6, Meiji: wedding

Day 7, Asakusa, again! asakusa

Day 8, Kabuki:kabuki

Day 9, Kyoto:kiyomizu

Day 10, Kyoto: kyoto

Day 11, Jindaiji: soba shop

Day 12, Ghibli and Ukai Toriyama: laputaukai

Day 13, local matsuri: tea


Last night: Sa Ke Please. February 21, 2009

Filed under: food,Japan,restaurants — erinp @ 11:35 am
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Sasagin. More deets later. Here is the photographic evidence.
sakesakeBamboo Before:bamboo beforeBamboo After:bamboo afterdrinks:nigori sparkling?umeshu


Give me a break, I’m on vacation February 20, 2009

Filed under: Family,food,Japan,restaurants,travel — erinp @ 12:22 pm
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Whirlwind days and nights and I’ll be home from Japan on Sunday. It’s very sad but I don’t think I could keep going at this pace for much longer. Tonight, Matt, my parents, and I had a leisurely dinner at Ukai Toriyama (about 1 1/2 hours away from where we live in Tokyo). More details later, just leaving you with some fun photos.

everyone at Ukai

Now the photos take 2 minutes to load up. You get two more:

meatBest meat ever. Slathered in miso and DIY on a hot stone.hutsWe had our own hut.

I love this place–more later.