Digitising Books

Digitalize books
Before our international move, we did a quick discussion on what are the things we are going to move over, to dispose of in Japan and 1 of them would be the vast amount of books we had at home. Sushi san loves books, even though he is too busy nowadays to read anything but I would still received book deliveries to our home at times. It is a myth to me on why he never stop buying books when he has no time to read. In fact, they usually just got unpacked and goes on the bookshelf these days and he always reply me that he would “read” it some day.

However, before the some day came, we were due for another move and this time across the borders. It is far too expensive to ship these books and he told me he would find time to digitize the books. Apparently he have all the gadgets needed, it wasn’t his first time doing it. He has a huge digital collection of books inside his hard disk space. So apparently, he doesn’t keep anime figurines but books *_*

Digitalize books
It was amusing to me as I never know that you can convert your books to e-books at home. (Pardon my ignorance) However, the books would have to be sent off for recycling after you are done as they are reduced to pieces of paper. First you remove the books, then use the cutter board to cut off the book bind.

Digitalize books
then you get the book in nicely cut pieces.

Digitalize books
Then you just place your cut books on this Fujitsu Paper scanner, which auto feeds and scan both sides of the paper automatically and converts the scanned paper into pdf.

Digitalize books
Though he said that he was going to scan the books but no prize for guessing who actually did it since we have tons to do before our move. This is just the tip of the ice berg ne! :P

Washoku En (和食 えん 汐留店)

Shibashi Izakaya
[Throwback October] Our last party before we departed Japan, our friends decided that a real Japanese food dinner would be perfect.

Shibashi Izakaya
Perfect place for post work dinner too as it is centrally located in Shinbashi and with a great Tokyo night view.

Shibashi Izakaya
Welcome appetizer, since service charge is not included in most Japanese eateries, this is served and charged to you as a way to make up for the loss of service charge. (usually 300-500JPY)

Shibashi Izakaya
Fresh sashimi to ensure we get to eat much fresh fish before we leave.

Shibashi Izakaya
Various cold dishes – pickled egg plant, cold tofu skin, salad and cold adagashi tofu

Shibashi Izakaya
The meats – Fried chicken, grilled chicken, grilled chicken bum area meat, cream corn with crab coquette.

Shibashi Izakaya
Grilled fish, grileld fish cake, fried fish cake and egg roll.

Shibashi Izakaya
Our favorite – tuna cubes tossed with some wasabi and seaweed.

Shibashi Izakaya
not to be missed in Japan, fresh clams steamed in wine. (no fishy taste, nor sandy taste)

Shibashi Izakaya
Hakata favorite of motsu hotpot (chicken innards hotpot)

Shibashi Izakaya
Grilled pork served with sour young mango. Quite a unique combination.

Shibashi Izakaya
Pressed sushi with unagi.

Shibashi Izakaya
Thank you to our friends for throwing us a party and feeding us with so much great yummy Japanese food before we leave.

Shibashi Izakaya
good-bye Tokyo, the city that is some times cold but still warm from our family and friends and always surprised with daily with new stuff that pops up! We would miss you….forgot my camera in the midst of our mad packing and had to settle with my phone camera…

Address:えん 汐留店東京都港区東新橋1-5-2 汐留シティセンター 42F

Sugamo Tokiwa Shokudo (巣鴨ときわ食堂 駒込店)

komagome dinner
Apparently this is quite a famous shop from neighboring Sumgano, this little Japanese home style food cafeteria has been drawing quite a bit of crowd since it opened in my neighborhood in September.

komagome dinner
The chef recommended set of fried shrimp rice set for 1280JPY, complete with rice and soup. Like most eatery in Japan, you can ask for 1 rice re-fill.

komagome dinner
We visited in season where sanma (サンマ / 秋刀魚) was in season, which is Autumn. The fish are supposed to reach their prime fatty season. You can get a Sanma fish set freshly grilled with a wait time of 15 minutes after you place your order.

komagome dinner
The place was serving food that almost tasted like from a Japanese home kitchen that we shortly visited it again since we would be moving away soon. This time, we got the fried oyster set.

komagome dinner
Stew sea bass rice set was also available. Anything that is served from home is almost available in their menus here. No wonder it is such a big hit in the neighborhood, especially in the late hours like 9-10pm where most of the salarymen would drop in for their later dinner (supper) before heading home.

Address:巣鴨ときわ食堂 駒込店東京都豊島区駒込3-3-21 1F

Kusatsu Onsen Overnight Trip- Day 2 (草津温泉)

Kusatsu Onsen
1 of the greatest enjoyment for staying overnight in a ryokan is that you just relax, soak in a hot bath, eat, sleep, wakeup and cycle repeats.

Kusatsu Onsen
Breakfast served that morning.

Kusatsu Onsen
Light clear tofu soup for breakfast….

Kusatsu Onsen
healthy breakfast

Kusatsu Onsen
Lounge corner where you can help yourself to the free coffee and leg hot bath soak.

Kusatsu Onsen

Sainokawara Park (西の河原公園, Sainokawara Kōen) covers a valley not far from Kusatsu town center, where several hot spring sources and a large outdoor bath are located. Walking trails around the upper part of the park lead through the nice natural landscapes. Hot spring water can be seen bubbling to the surface here and there, collecting into hot water pools and running down the valley in warm streams before joining the central mountain stream. There is also a small waterfall fed by hot water.

Japan Guide

Kusatsu Onsen
Would be even prettier when the leaves turn a fiery red, we were there early October where the colors were yet to turn full red.

Kusatsu Onsen
A nice photo captured by Sushi papa.

Kusatsu Onsen
The actual spot where I also turn a similar photo back in 2008, didn’t expect to be back here at the same place with a life so changed….the unpredictable life :)

Kusatsu Onsen
I so miss autumn in Japan.

Kusatsu Onsen Overnight Trip- Day 1 (草津温泉)

Kusatsu Onsen
[Throwback October] Headed out for an overnight trip with Sushi’s family, we decided to head over to Kusatsu Onsen, which is one of the more famous onsen towns in Japan and at 1200 meters above sea level in the mountains. It is also a spot for you to enjoy early Autumn.

Kusatsu Onsen

Kusatsu has the largest natural flow of hot spring water in all of Japan, much of which surfaces at the Yubatake in the town center. The sulfurous, highly acidic waters have been considered among Japan’s best for centuries, and the resort town has constantly occupied a top spot in onsen rankings. It is difficult to beat Kusatsu in terms of quality and quantity of its waters.

Japan Guide

Kusatsu Onsen
Kusatsu Onsen is also memorable to me too as I came here back in 2008 all alone for my solo Japan trip without speaking any Japanese and fast forward 6 years later, not only speaking the language and married to a Japanese no less. Life is so unpredictable. :P

Kusatsu Onsen
The Yubatake still looks the same and you have to get use to the sulfuric smell when you first arrive.

Kusatsu Onsen
Apparently, this Yakiniku shop is quite highly raved in this part of town. Since we got in on a weekday, some shops are not open as most of the time they get more visitors in the weekend so we decided it is not sinful to eat a lot of meat for lunch. The small eatery was right beside the Yubatake so it was really convenient location too.

Kusatsu Onsen
The lunch was delicious, we initially just got the lunch set which means everyone gets 4 slices of meat but it was so good that we ordered 2 more plates from the ala carte menu. The marbling was very even, the meat was just marinated with some salt and the moment we place it on the heat, the fats would turn oily and sizzled around the meat. It was juicy and oily that filled our mouths with a great heavenly flavor….(getting hungry just by remembering how good the lunch was)

Address:Agatsuma 焼肉吾妻群馬県吾妻郡草津町大字草津378

Kusatsu Onsen
It was still 1.5 hours away to the Yumomi (湯もみ) performance so we decided to take a short tour of the facilities around the small onsen town.

Kusatsu Onsen
A small temple above a small hill where you can see the overview of the town too.

Kusatsu Onsen

Yumomi (湯もみ) is a traditional method of cooling down hot spring water to bathing temperature by stirring the water with large wooden paddles. The process is accompanied by the singing of a local folk song.

Japan Guide

Kusatsu Onsen
We were lucky to catch the performance as the performance house is currently torn down for rebuild and it won’t be ready till Spring 2015 so there is no performance till then.

Kusatsu Onsen
Ladies dancing away and demostrating how the onsen water was cooled down in the past. As part of the performance, guests are also invited to join in to participate in this cooling water dance. At the end of the participation, you can get a certificate

Kusatsu Onsen
Then it was a short 10 minutes walk from the Yubatake to our hotel.

Kusatsu Onsen
Onsen hotel of a substantial age from the exterior but the interior is very clean and tidy. Furniture is quite dated but in good condition.

Kusatsu Onsen
Almost look like the corridor to our room door but it is not, it is inside our room. We were staying in a elevated tatami room with 2 sides of the room in a extended corridor. We were amazed!

Kusatsu Onsen
The tatami room for us to relax before it would be transformed into a bedroom.

Kusatsu Onsen
Ols style dressing table, very Japanese as you have to sit on the tatami.

Kusatsu Onsen
Rest area near the window where you can look out to a small garden.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
After a quick rest and a long soak in the hot springs, we adjorned next door for our dinner. One perk of vacation during the weekdays, you can use the spare room for our meals instead of eating in your room. Makes cleaning up easier.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
Smoked duck.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
Gunma beef for sukiyaki.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
You can’t miss sashimi in Japan.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
Appetizers to start your dinner.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
Pickled vegetables with seafood.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
Various steamed vegetables.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
Steamed sweet potato rice.

Kusatsu Onsen Dinner
Vegetable tempura with pork miso soup…..so full……

Kamikouchi Daytrip (上高地)

Kamikochi
[Throwback October] The reason why we left our hotel early was so that we can catch the connecting train to KamiKouchi (上高地) which was about 1.5 hours away from we stayed. [In fact, Hoshino Kai is only 15 minutes away from the famous Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route but since we had been there the year before for the snow corridor, we decided to give it a miss even though it was peak time for autumn leaves] We had to take 2 trains to arrive at Shinshimashima Station followed by a change of bus ride. The bus ride ticket is actually good for 2 days so you can spend more time in the mountains if you have time.

Kamikochi

Kamikouchi is a popular resort in the Northern Japan Alps of Nagano Prefecture, offering some of Japan’s most spectacular mountain scenery. It is open from mid/late April until November 15 and shuts down during winter. Kamikochi is a roughly 15 kilometer long plateau in the Azusa River Valley, about 1500 meters above sea level. It is surrounded by tall mountains, including Nishihotakadake (2909 m), Okuhotakadake (3190 m), Maehotakadake (3090 m) and the active volcano Yakedake (2455 m)

– Japan Guide

Kamikochi
In fact, direct access is available from Shinjuku by express bus at around 4 hours per way, and it is a popular summer resort area for Tokyo people to get away from the summer heat. It is also a popular place for autumn leaves viewing and it peaks around mid-late October. We were there in early October so we could only catch some of autumn views.

Kamikochi
It wasn’t too bad of a hike since the terrain is mainly flat. You can choose to take the path near the river or the forest path.

Kamikochi
We decided to stick to the river hiking path (like the rest of the visitors) so that we won’t get to meet head on with any bears since there was bear sightings recently. That is why, most hikers have a “bear” bell tied to their bags as it is supposed to keep animals away with some sounds.

Kamikochi
A mix of green, yellow and red! Isn’t it beautiful? Autumn, my favorites season.

Kamikochi
Zoomed in photo.

Kamikochi
Missed the mountains and hikes in Japan

Kamikochi
The clear river water tha greeted us as we hiked along

Kamikochi
Here’s our hiking path

Kamikochi
Breathing in fresh mountain air.

Kamikochi
Some early red leaves.

Kamikochi
The beautiful valley, it is another 3 hours to hike up to mid valley if you want.

Kamikochi
Unfortunately our time there was short as we were rushing back to Tokyo for a dinner appointment. So we just had a quick lunch at the cafeteria at the end of the hiking trail. Vegetable soba

Kamikochi
Famous fried chicken from Kamikouchi.

Kamikochi
View from where we ate.

Kamikochi
Taking the direct bus back to Shinjuku. It would have been more worthwhile if it was a overnight trip but due to a lack of time, we had to cut out visit short. But it was great to be up close with nature for a little while. Totally miss such luxury……

Hoshino resort Kai, Alps (星野リゾート 界 アルプス) – Meals

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
What I look forward to when staying over in a hot spring hotel is the meal times (next is the hot spring soaks). Some ryokans offer in room eating options (usually a little more expensive), some only have private seating choices or dinning hall options. For Hoshino Resort Kai Alps, meals are served in private dinning area. You can choose either 630, 7pm or 730pm for your meals. We took the 7pm dinner slot as we wanted to chill a little in the hot springs before dinner.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Dinners, usually would start off with some sweet wine but we were served some fruity vinegar drink to freshen us up.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Cold dish appetiser, every thing is just about ART here.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Tea pot soup, A clear based dashi which is heated on a tiny stove. You pour the soup into little tea cup with a dash of lime juice, sipped it embracing the sweet taste of mushroom and fish. After you are done, you can eat whatever is left in the your tea pot.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Fresh sashimi.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Stewed fish with kelp with chrysanthemum (yes that flower)

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Mushroom tempura served in a cage with seaweed salt

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Sukiyaki! I was so amazed with this…..

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Sugar is needed to be added into your sukiyaki sauce to have the salty and sweet flavor, instead of serving you the sauce directly. They made the sugar into candy floss and named this “Snow nabe” How apt.

You fire up the tealight, wait for 30-40 seconds till you see smoke emitting from your candy floss, then pour the sukiyaki sauce over. I guess it is just for the fun of it!

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
The candy floss is gone in a blink of an eye but it was so fun!

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
I always thought that Kobe beef and Hida beef were good but the Nagano beef I had from this trip and another trip was so good that it is etched in my memory for now. It was so smooth and the fats literally melted. Maybe they served it thick? But it was so yummy that I really wanna go back for more…

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
when visiting Nagano, you can’t miss their legendary SOBA.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
You can choose from 4 selections of dessert, I got the chestnut dessert in view of Autumn and he got the creme brulee.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
The hotel was kind enough to come up with a message plate for us when I made a last minute request. Surprised sushi san quite a bit as he never thought that a weekday retreat was to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. The apple sauce was yummy though….

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
It was a pity that they cancelled the star gaze walk that night due to clouds. So we retreated back to our room with a full stomach and soon fell into a food coma.

Nagano Treats
Though we still woke up in the middle of the night for some of the Nagano snacks we had prepared. Sukiyaki flavored potato sticks….yum!

Hoshino Alps Hotel Nagano Breakfast
Breakfast was a choice between 7am and 8am but as we wanted to catch the 9am shuttle from the hotel so we had to wake up early that morning. This was our breakfast set.

Hoshino Alps Hotel Nagano Breakfast
With a steaming pot of miso mushroom soup.

Sunny mascot
Received a photo from our dinner to congratulate us on our anniversary celebration upon check out and a sunny mascot wishing us a good day! So we checked out to head to our next destination :)

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