Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Beach Yuzu/ Natsu-Mikan marmalade manly cooking exploit !!!

Consider the Japanese Yuzu fruit and its cousin the Natsu-Mikan.

No.. You cannot has natsu-mikan


There it hangs, looking like a big orange or grapefruit, ripe on the tree in the small yard of many Japanese houses. Sometimes the ground is littered with them. You would think you could pick a few up, take them home and have them for breakfast, but that would be a mistake.

First, they are a bit more bitter than grapefruit, and not quite as soft inside. Also, Japanese law and custom takes a dim view of "gleaning" fallen fruit, even when it has rolled out onto the sidewalk. I have been staring at Yuzu, treed and fallen for 7 years of visits and never have had to guts to snag one.

Until now.



The first step to perdition was at a park full of plum trees in full bloom. "Please do not pick the plums, we harvest them" read the signs. But there was nothing about a low-hanging Yuzu on the one lone tree in the middle of the park's plateau picnic area. Amazing how a walking stick extends one's reach. One swipe with the stick and the Yuzu is mine.

Once home, we peeled it and tried it. Fairly grapefruit-like, but with a lot more tough rind inside.

Tart!

(I wonder what the difference between tart and bitter is?)




A few days later, the waves at the beach are high, the wind fierce, the sun bright in the sky, the surfers out enjoying the ride and I am out walking on the beach. There in front of me on the sand is a Yuzu. A beach Yuzu! Umi-Yuzu 

Obviously fallen into the ocean and washed up.

It is in perfect shape; no bruises, holes, mushy bits or whatever.
This Yuzu is a legal find. Beach gleaning is a culturally accepted practice hereabouts; I have seen office ladies in inappropriate heels scooping up wakame seaweed along the water's edge, so into the back-sack goes the Yuzu.

To be followed by 4 or 5 more.

Now comes the fun.

My friend relates that the Yuzu used to be used exclusively for seasoning as a dressing with soy sauce. Later they were used for marmalade and jam-making. Can I whomp up a passable Yuzu marmalade?

All your natsu-mikan are belong to us!


The interwebs are full of grapefruit marmalade recipes; most involve scraping, peeling, zesting, boiling, straining , cheese-clothing and much more kitchen stuff that can go wrong and waste time. Fortunately there were also a few microwave recipes on-line.

The secret to manly cooking is to take the easiest bits of each recipe and combine them, so as to do the whole thing as easy as possible. And use free raw materials, so that if it fouls up you can jettison the ensuing compost.

This time I got lucky.

Take 3-4 beach Yuzu, wash the skins to get the sand and salt off them.

Cut them up into slices, chunks, bits. Do not remove anything.

Plop the bits into a big enough microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and nuke for 20 minutes.

Remove from gamma ray forge, puree with stick-blender thing. Add a few ounces of boiling water to make the puree-ing easier.

Do not splash hot glop on you! It sticks and will burn clean to the bone! No wait, that's napalm, but the glop looks almost as dangerous.

Add sugar to taste - appx. 1/3 to 1/2 volume of Yuzu glop will work fine.

Puree again with stick-blender.

Clean off the stick blender, re-cover with saran wrap and nuke again for 15-20 minutes.

Spoon into jars, nuke the jars (minus metal lids) with glop for 2-3 minutes, remove; screw on the lids; turn the jars over so that the white-hot glop sears the inside of the lid and any germoids there adhering.

Let cool, enjoy the un-jarred remains on toast.



Take that Marks & Spencer's

Yup, I can see why it was a tradition to have one in every yard. the compote/ marmalade/ glop is yummy. Very sweet and sour, sweet and tart, citrus-sy.

Win!

Bonus round: A trick from Korea is to mix a spoonful of sweet jam with hot water, as a soothing drink. Add a shot of white rum. Now I can kick back - wait! I have to clean up the mess in the kitchen!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Planning ahead: a data plan on your phone for the trip

I am getting ready for this year's visit in March and I want to ensure that this time I have a data plan for my smartphone, so that I can use Google maps, upload pictures and perhaps, perhaps, perhaps even run a rudimentary translation program.

This is a bit harder than it sounds. I could avail myself of any number of expensive options, or try my luck with the NTT East 14 day free tourist wi-fi hotspots, but there are tons of only-in-Japan restrictions that get in the way.

I have an older flip-phone with a number that I can revive at the airport for $35. Unless it has expired and then it will be $65, Pay as you go, phone and text. Data plans are not available for tourists, unless I wish to rent a "sim" card for $1/day plus insanely high call and data rates.

Free wi-fi? Don't get me started, In Japan it is hard to find; you have to sign-up in advance and outside of Tokyo you are going to have to hike a bit to find a business that is part of the "plan". The NTT 14 day free tourist offer gets you a few businesses. There are other $35 -$45/month plans that get you more. What a drag. Google maps ONLY when I buy a coffee.

Much research later, I think I have a solution!

A data-sim plan. Yes, in Japan you can get a data plan for your phone without the phone plan. Huhhhh? They do this.

It has something to do with security, because all cell phone numbers in Japan must be traceable back to a human, complete with ID, address, blood sample, DNA sample and biometric scan, lest the phone be used for shady business. On the other hand the main phone company on the East coast, NTT East must have built wayyyyyyyyyy too much data capacity into their network, so they make data-only plans available through numerous sub-contractors

So you make your calls on your old flip-phone and you do your maps and lookups on the smartphone or phone-tablet aka the "phablet".

Lets keep this simple and consider a smartphone.

To do this right you need an unlocked Android 4.x or recent (jailbroken) Apple Iphone. You might get away with an earlier Android build on an older unlocked smartphone, but I have heard some of them go crazy trying to connect to a non-existent phone service when a sim is installed while you are getting your data. This runs down the battery fast.

On a newer version smartphone, just pop in the data plan sim, do what needs to be done to register it up and don't try to make calls.

So, next question, who to buy this from?

Look, all of the service eventually comes from NTT East, but prices vary. After much research, I found myself on the phone with the English language rep for ASAHI.NET, signing myself up for 2 months of their LTE 1GB for 900Y/month plan.

A few caveats....

You need a "local" Japanese address to register.

A 2 month (or longer) plan is the cheapest. If you use the whole 2 months the first 2 month are free!

You must return the sim when finished (Kuroneko envelope is 80Y and trackable)

There is a Y3,000 sign-up fee

It takes 4-7 days for the sim to arrive at your Japanese location.

If you try to call their office you must drop the 0 in front of the 03 Tokyo area code if you ever want to get through from overseas. From Canada and the USA it would be 011 81 3.... not 03

The data use is measured in 2-3 day or something limits. If you go over the speed drops to slightly faster than dial-up.

You better know a bit about mobile phones and data plan setups, there is this setting deep in the phone settings that you have to add, it looks like 2 web addresses, thats all. Read their web site's support documents, twice.  They don't do tech support because they have no idea of what type of phone you have and its little tricks.

You better know what size sim you want! Again, check their web site, measure the sim in your phone. You will be removing it and storing it for safekeeping so that you have a phone that works when you get home. You lose it, you are pooched.

Do not lose THEIR sim. Return it when done with it or face a penalty charge on your credit card.

A few benefits...

The English support staff guy was really helpful and patient.
He did not need my passport number, blood samples etc.

They could process my Canadian credit card! Most Japanese companies cannot, outside of airport kiosks and Amazon Japan.

They do not care about limiting what phones you plan on using, so you can bring a spare device just in case

They do not care if you "tether", that is set your phone to act as a mini, personal hotspot so that your laptop can do a teeny tiny bit of internet because you have none whatsoever where you are staying.

They don't care if you use Skype, Line, Google Voice, etc

Their prices cannot be beat, and starting March, they are going up to 2GB/month!
Same price. So if I run this right, they whole thing will run me 3,080Y, 3,980Y if I mess up ending the plan 15 days before I leave or if I leave early. That's full data for a month or 2 for under $40  Yes!

Of course they are hoping to be your ISP for a longer stay, or if you need more data, a mobile hotspot, or the job interview goes well and you get hired. Their plans are very competitive, if not the absolute cheapest, and the English support staff is a real help too.

Finally, if you go over your entire data limit, guess what happens? It gets slow! That's all. Their cheaper plan is real slow unlimited, so that's what you default down to.

So I called from here in Canada (14 hrs plus, so 9pm for 10am Tokyo) and signed up.

After 15 minutes, they have my friend's address and home phone number and the contract and manual and password/ sign-in stuff is on the way, to be followed by the sim card -  "usim" as they sometimes call it, in a week. All on my Canadian credit card, 3,000Y charge, somewhere around $30.

The whole mess will be waiting for me on arrival.

Before I get on the train to the airport to leave, I will visit a combini (convenience store) and send the sim back via 80Y kuroneko envelope.

I will remember to contact them before the 15th of the month in the month I plan to cancel at the end of.

So, very soon after I get to Japan,  I will try out my new no-name Chinese dual sim GSM/WCDMA 3G 7-inch Android "phablet" that I scored on ebay for CA $50. So what if it is woefully underpowered and LIME GREEN (yikes) It was $50 Canadian, and recently the canuck buck has really been taking a beating, so it was really US $37 or something.. If it gets broken or banged up, no great mischief.

If it works out, the Softbank flip-phone pay-as-you-go sim goes into slot 1, the data sim goes into slot 2. The "phablet" can switch between them.

If it fails to work for some reason, the data plan sim goes in my smartphone and the pay-as-you-go phone sim stays in the Softbank flip phone, where it will start the trip - because Softbank will not even look at it to refill your account unless it is in a Softbank phone.

So it will be, for 20 minutes at the Softbank counter at the airport...

Softbank, Docomo, NTT East all run on WCDMA (3G), so make sure your gear can do this, has a sim slot, etc. Note that US/ Canadian mobile phone companies do not all support this, so check your phone. No sim card, no luck. Do not mistake the micro sd memory card for a sim card. Also, some providers have phones with sim card-looking things, but they are not. Telus does this in Canada, sometimes, I have no idea which US companies do it.. Just Google your phone, if it says WCDMA 2100 you rock, CDMA, EVDO, GSM only? Sorry, phhht!

Google maps! Picture uploads, email!

If this was in Indonesia, I would buy a sim from a stall vendor for $8, with local number and data plan and be done with it. And probably have to jam $40 worth of airtime into it as the trip wore on...

Too much phone fraud in Japan, so security is tighter.

They will however have to get over the lack of free wi-fi around business districts sooner or later, it is like 2001 again and the Olympics are coming in 5 years.

I will update this once I arrive and get it all working, but so far it feels right.

Thanks to ASAHI.NET

UPDATE: The Chinese Android phablet turned out to be a bit mis-labeled. 2G/ GSM phone only and no GPS module. Woefully underpowered as well. A bit of negotiating with the seller - who had been snookered by his wholesaler won me a pretty decent price reduction. Someone will be getting a $30 2G Android Phablet for xmas next year. 

Meanwhile my old unlocked Softbank ZTE blade is working fine as my data-only phone, with GPS and twitter posting. Unfortunately, it is really chewing batteries so I have to keep it on "airplane mode" most of the time. My old Softbank prepaid flip phone had not yet lost its assigned phone number (number lasts 60 days + 360 days since last refill.) and was easily reactivated for Y3,000 (appx CA $33) at the Softbank counter at Haneda Airport.

This double-phone approach came in really handy one evening in Yokohama: there are places where the softbank 3G signal can't connect and suddenly you are unreachable when your friend is trying to meet up with you. But NTT Docomo's data plan (through Asahi.net) still gets a signal, so email works.





Monday, January 5, 2015

Retrospective: A small mountain pass near Kamakura

Time for another retrospective post!

The last few times I have visited the area around Kamakura, I have had the fun of hiking the mountain passes, or kiridoshi. Before there were highways, trains and tunnels, these passes were how you got from one town/ valley to the next. Usually they had at least one temple or shrine at either end or in the middle. The climb can be steep, but there are always well-worn steps carved into the rocks, or wood and dirt steps set into the sides of the hill paths. Most of the towns and cities that they join maintain them as hiking paths for their citizens; it is a common sight to run into people walking their dogs, or just walking on a day off and enjoying the exercise.

Kamakura has at least seven famous passes into (and out) of it. I think I have managed to hike at least 5 of them including a spectacular one that has a  short tunnel carved into the rock face of a hill, and is fenced off as dangerous. Guess how many folks navigate around these fences...

The really odd thing about these passes is how many of them end up (or start off depending on your route) at the end of a residential street. Sure, there will be a park or a temple at some end but surprisingly enough, plenty of them also have paths that just come out at the end of small boring everyday streets. It must be great being a kid if you live close by.

Or this can backfire: Another pass one town over has one of its trails end right above a high school, with at least 500 meters of 60 degree angle stairs descending to the sports field. P.E. classes must be some unique form of hell at that school.

The Monkey Garden shrine pass (I think it is officially called the Nagoshi or Nagoe Pass) between Zushi and Kamakura is quite tame in comparison.

Head west down one of the main roads towards Kamakura and you will end up at the nondescript gate for the Monkey Garden Shrine. From there it is an uphill climb, past houses on the grounds, past the cemetery, (off to the side of it is a garden plot area that makes up the modern successor to the "monkey garden", where monkeys were supposed to help the shrine priests grow their food) past the dug out sandstone chambers in the hill, up to where the path divides. To the right a trail continues along the ridges of the hills, eventually ending at a second pass into Kamakura and shortly thereafter, near the eighth, intra-Kamakura Shakadō Pass. But the direct, historic path is to the left, past the back wall of the ridiculously large bubble-economy-era chateau property (rumored to have a 3-car elevator to get to it from the road way below) and then along a short trail into Kamakura, If you look carefully at the Google Maps covering the area most of the path is marked out, at least the part that detours past the samurai tombs and ends in the hills above Kotsubo. Strangely enough however, the other path into Kamakura is not yet Google-mapped.


View Larger Map

There is a historic marker where one of the leading lights of Japanese Buddhism passed by some 800 years ago. if you turn leftward shortly after (at the handy way-sign) you will be heading along the more popular route and soon pass a gated monument to the souls of those who died while using the pass, and a smaller monument for the souls of the animals that perished on the journey. It seems to be always guarded by cats.

A bit further is the fenced-off and gated "Samurai Tombs" area, which used to be overgrown, but recently has been cleaned up. Unfortunately it is only open a few weekends of the year. There was too much mucking about with the artifacts by jerks, so now access to it is restricted.

If you keep going along the path you would end up at the end of a residential street in the little fishing village between Zushi and Kamakura. Because it goes through an area with tight rock formations, this route is what is usually considered to be the main "Nagoshi/ Nagoe Pass", except that it doesn't really get you into Kamakura!

Backtracking and continuing westward will get you right into Kamakura. This is the part of the trip that is missing from Google Maps. No worries; the distances if you ignore the inclines and descents are in the range of long city blocks. Even in January, the last leg of the hike is through a nicely forested section until you emerge along a narrow path right up against the retaining walls holding back the hillside over the main JR train line tunnel.

This is the best part of the trip for me: the little neighborhood high in the cleft of the hill may have to put up with train noise for 16 hours a day, but at least there is no diesel smoke (the trains are electric) and the hillside forms a pocket micro-climate that must be slightly warmer than the rest of town, because every house seems to have a garden and a citrus tree.

Remember when you look at the photos: this is January! A bit of winter scruffy-ness with the foliage is unavoidable.

As you descend to track-level and navigate the rail crossing, you can see a further garden plot right between the two train lines!  If you blink when you are on the train coming out of the tunnel, you will miss it. Before the crossing you can catch a glimpse of a humongous cactus that someone has as their back yard "tree".

From then on, it is a 20 minute walk to the center of town and the main train station unless you take one of the back streets and stop at every temple and shrine along the way. This is historic Kamakura, so of course, there is at least one every block: shrines are generally free to explore, temples generally charge a small admission fee.

Here is the Flickr slide show of the whole hike, January 28, 2014:



https://www.flickr.com//photos/58896081@N04/sets/72157650041129096/show/with/16003829098/


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Retrospective: How to get sick in Japan

I'm not in Japan right now, but I thought I'd add something useful to my blog, and since winter is setting in here in Dogpatch, "What could be more useful than the differences in everyday minor medical emergencies between Japan and South Western Ontario?"

What if you are up in the wilds of Canada and that 2 week chest cold turns into something a bit more nasty? I smoke too much, and have smoked for much too long, so a chest cold can easily turn into bronchitis or worse. Over here in the land of free medical care this means a trip to the "walk-in clinic" and not too early on in the cold, or you will get to sit around in a waiting room full of crying children and finally a lecture about antibiotic resistance. "Thanks Doc, never heard that before, I'll be back when I am drowning in my own phlegm". We pay for our own prescriptions (and our dentists, leg casts, glasses, etc) here still. And the local tribe of white-coats think they are saving the planet by keeping antibiotics from anyone they think is poor and therefore irresponsible.

Good news: if you get that sick while visiting Japan, it is just about the same, only better and a bit more expensive because you are an uninsured tourist.



My 10 day cough kept getting worse and by a certain Monday, I was finding it hard to breathe. Yup, bronchitis or worse. Clear phlegm,  hacking cough, could feel my lungs with each breath. Of course I picked a long holiday weekend to die on, so even though it was Monday, the usual conveniently located doctor's offices were all closed. Fortunately Google found me an Emergency Clinic open not too far from a train line.

Well, screw the train. Pay $18 for a taxi and just get there now! My friend came along to help and interpret. The clinic was pretty well what you would expect; a big operation full of coughing folks and crying infants. After a check in and a 30 minute wait I saw a doctor, pantomimed my distress, coughed and wheezed and was given a prescription, filled on the spot for 5 days of Cipro and expectorants.

Now Cipro isn't usually used for bronchitis in North America, but as it can knock out Anthrax, it is a pretty strong antibiotic - which is what I needed. My friend did a bit of translating for the doc, mentioning an allergy to one class of antibiotics and a past history of pneumonia, so I guess he went for the big gun.

I paid the almost Y9,000 tab in cash and pocketed the little envelopes of pills, after gulping down my first dose.

A bracing, wheezing 15 minute walk back to the train station (interlude with longing looks at the butcher-block like shogi table out in the trash: Verboten!) Y280 back to the local train station stop and another 10 minutes walk and I was beginning to feel a bit better, or at least relieved that I had once again cheated death.

Don't you dare accuse me of hypochondria. Pneumonia is the real thing.



Now to attend to the lose ends. Wait until evening and fire up the Google Voice number so I can call CAA's traveler's insurance line; "Nope I am not in the USA - using the interwebs phone...  I am in Japan, got sick, had to, etc. Just letting you guys know. Thanks for getting the reimbursement form in the mail to me so it will be waiting for me when I return."

CAA charged me about $120 for a month of traveler's insurance and two months later reimbursed the clinic bill and the taxi bill. So kudos to them.  In previous years, I had used  a company called Special Benefits, who were a bit cheaper and they coughed up for the nasty spill I took on my bike as well. So both firms are ok by me, but CAA is a bit cheaper once you reach "a certain age". I think I got a $9 discount for being a member. Either firm can set you up over the phone in under 10 minutes if you are hale and youthful, but the Special Benefits firm wants paperwork for us middle aged geezers.

Moral of the story. Pay the extra for the traveler's health insurance!

A similar song and dance in South Western Ontario would have ended costing about half as much, or more than in Japan if I was a tourist without our wonderful socialist health insurance (for which the flame of the glorious people's revolution still burns in my heart to honour! Just teasing the cousins, ignore me)

One more lesson learned: Don't wait until you are about to drop and it is a holiday.



I hope to be back in Japan for March 2015. Cherry Blossoms for sure this time!




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

auctions.yahoo.co.jp X Japan Post Bank! Gambatte, Dai Gaijin !

Into my second week here, and a few minor injuries are keeping me from fully enjoying the nice weather and fine hiking paths around Kamakura. One of the posts I missed doing last year was about the mountain trails that linked the small coastal valley towns before trains and roads made travel faster, easier and less picturesque. Fortunately plenty of other bloggers have done so, so a quick Google of the term "kiridoshi" will get you plenty of neat pictures and information. The term means "pass", and there is usually a temple on one end or both or sometimes in the middle. These paths are often over 1,000+ years old and now are maintained as municipal hiking paths. Great fun - of which I am not doing right now...

So it was inevitable that I would end up on Yahoo Japan's auction site, furiously riding the Google Translate extension on my browser and looking at all the neat stuff that I, as a visiting furreigner, could bid on as long as the price din't go over Y5,000 (appx $CA55).  I want a used lens and another low-end android cell phone! Be careful what you wish for, boyo!

Unlike Rakuten, you usually can't march down to a combini store and pay at their odd electronic kiosk (used for bill payments, ticket sales, etc). Nope, you need a credit card (Western cards not accepted), a yahoo wallet account (sorry you can't have one) or an auction that offers COD shipping. Or you need to pester your friend living in Japan - who may hold a dim view of your habits of collecting odd bits of used Japanese tech junk as souvenirs. Sometimes you can get away with sticking the cash in an envelope and sending it "registered courier" via Kuroneko delivery service (Did ya know they were a sponsor of Ghibli's Kiki's Delivery Service?).

Sometimes you get a seller who just wishes the irritating tourist who won his auction would give up and go away.

Behold the object of my desire: one more ZTE "Blade" android smartphone. (AKA the Softbank Libero 003Z)  About 4 years old, a bit under-powered , Android 2.1, GPS, wifi, and very very unlockable, with a heap of hobbyist hacked custom operating system re-loads available for it. Also nice and small, so it fits well in your pocket. One day I will bust mine, and I want a backup. Hooray! I won the auction, now to settle up.

Of course Yahoo Japan has not fixed their credit card input section since last year. What do you mean input my name as on the card in Kana? I heard that one can use strange custom character called double-byte or something to do this, but the last time I tried it drove me mad, so this one is a fail, again.

Using Google xlate, I offer to tape the Y3500 into a letter and Kuroneko the seller the cash. "Just pay with Japan Post transfer" comes back as the reply.

Last time I tried something like this, I was told that Japan Post will not let me open an account because I am a short-term visitor. But I never tried a simple deposit to/ cash transfer. So off to the nearby Post Office for a bit of research...

First off, the Post Office does mail, banking and bill paying, so the 7 or so wickets are divided between these functions. Then I noticed that you had to grab a numbered ticket. Then a bit later I noticed that there were 3 different series of numbered tickets: separate ones for mail, banking and bill paying. Banking it is, grab a ticket, sit down and smile.

Now it may be my imagination, but both wicket-staff seemed to have noticed my presence and began to slow down whatever they were processing. Obviously a troublesome customer - let the other idiot deal with him. Eventually, the young guy left his window for something, leaving the young woman to deal with me. So up I waddled, with 3 pages of printed out web page, with the "Just pay with Japan Post transfer" part, in the original Japanese circled, as well as his Japan Post transfer number info circled on the next page with an arrow and the Y3500 drawn with thick magic marker next to it.

Well today is my lucky day! Instead of the expected crossed forearms "you can't do that" sign, I get a lot of polite instruction that I cannot understand, and then a calculator showing me that the transfer fee is going to be Y5,100 (appx $CA 5.50)

OUCH!

Oh well, chalk it up to research expenses and reply with a polite "Hai".

Next comes the transfer form: She cannot fill it out - I have to (I guess this makes sense). So she laboriously guides me by marking a note pad with what I need to fill in where, including the katakana for mobile phone account (I'm guessing) which I render in a horridly illegible way, but close enough for rock and roll. Finally all is done and she pantomimes that I can go have a seat and wait. No problem, I saw this with the last customer.

A few minutes later, I notice she is running into trouble, but is a bit worried as to how to bring up the subject. Finally she motions me back - there's something wrong with my name. I hope she doesn't want it in katakana! Nope: avoider guy next wicket over is back and has a few words of english - enough to tell me that my full name is too long! You to have a name that is at most 13 characters total to transfer funds via Japan Post. After another bit of back and forth, I settle on my first initial, last name, and after much confirmationthis seems to to be acceptable. Four minutes later, I get my change, receipt and get to thank both politely and profusely. I even throw in a "gomenasai", which is a serious "I'm sorry" apology rather than the more formulaic "sumimassen" excuse-me variety.

So....

It can be done! But the cash in the envelope sent kuroneko will run the cost of the envelope, plus Y90. Credit card payment from a helpful friend will run Y158. A bank transfer from a friend will run Y300- Y400.  Rakuten's 7-11 kiosk system is easier and in the middle range of these fees, but the best deals for stuff are on Yahoo.

Now for a bargain used lens.. Something aspherical,  Canon EF mount, zoon to 200 or 300 mm, no scratches or fungus. Japanese camera buffs are the pickiest in the world and bargains are available o'plenty, but summers are humid and mold spots in used lenses are common. Lets see how this one goes. Or I could try hiking some historic passes again.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hayama fish market

One week into my vacation and a small problem has developed: I am really out of shape, and have managed to pull the achilles tendon in my left heel. This is going to cut down the number and range of walks I can do. Also, my friend's knees are hurting. Fortunately the buses run regularly up and down the "shonan coast". Here is a chilly visit on Sunday to the Hayama produce/ fish market at the docks... We made it as they were almost ready to close up.



Some fuji-porn from the marina...


The tiny beach next to it...



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mt. Fuji will come into view

The beaches near Kamakura afford a striking view of mt. Fuji across Sagami Bay. On cold, clear winter afternoons, the haze that sometimes obscures fuji-san lifts and people line up on the beaches to view the sunset