29 May 2007

Izu Hanto

About an hour and a half south of Tokyo is the Izu Peninsula, which is a popular resort area in summer (for the beaches) or winter (for the hot springs, or Onsen).

Amy Hay had just finished up at Polygon and this was her last weekend in Japan, so myself, Atsushi Yamane, Aya Nakamura, and Amy headed down to the sunshine and the waves in Izu!

We stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant -- it was a very local find of feeling, but the food was tremendous! This was the Tai (snapper) sashimi, absolutely yummy! At first we figured there'd be something clinging to life inside the shell, but in fact it was just for decoration.

After that, it was time for swimming! It's very unusual to go swimming in Japan this time of year, but that's more for cultural reasons than comfort ones: the water was clearly warmer than NoCal! We were a little cold when we went in, but we warmed up and had a great time after we did! ...well maybe except for Aya, who was cold the whole time... but Amy had a blast in the water!

And from the ocean, we had to try Izu's other famous treat: the hot springs. We wound our way up to a hot springs in a residential neighborhood and went for a good long soak. Since for obvious reasons I have no pictures from inside the onsen, I give you Atsushi posing out front:

And last, but not least, dinner! We went down to Odawara and did some o-miyage shopping, then wandered around checking out various restaurants. We were standing, looking at the menu at this place:

when a Japanese man came out right in front of us. Everyone excused themselves and then he waited until we finished our discussion on whether Amy should try kujira or not, and then said in perfect, unaccented English, "You guys have gotta try this place, it's the best fish in Odawara! Be sure to sit at the counter!" And he was right -- it was a great restuarant, we had all sorts of Odawara's famous fresh seafood as well as an absolutely dynamite broiled lamb.

After that it got less exciting -- a long drive back to Tokyo that stretched Atsushi's English conversation skills, and a slog to drop everybody off at home. A great trip though!

18 May 2007

Green Aliens swarming Tokyo

So I made the first trek to Tokyo Disneyland this week! The rides are the same as all Dinseylands (meaning they were still fun) -- we did the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Big Thunder Mountain, the Jungle Cruise, and of course the new Winnie the Pooh Honey Hunt ride, since we just finished working on the series!

Character-wise, the most popular character at Tokyo Disneyland is Stitch, from Lilo and Stitch. Not only was the morning parade the Lilo and Stitch parade, there was Stitch merchandise everywhere. I'm pretty sure there was more Stitch merchandise than Mickey Mouse merchandise, which is the first time I've ever seen that at a Disney park!

Among the Pixar characters, by far the most popular character was the three-eyed Green Alien from Toy Story. These pictures are from the store right at the exit of the Buzz Lightyear ride, but there was Green Alien merchandise everywhere!

Three of the girls get down with their Aliens!

It was a really fun day, and to continue the experience we had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (same chain as in the U.S.) -- unfortunately, we were seated right next to the animatronic gorillas so we got growled at every ten minutes or so.

Should you feel the need to be inspired in your figure drawing

then follow these links.


13 May 2007

Fluid Dynamics Game

Fun! Cross-platform!


Thanks to Sally.

08 May 2007

It's in Norwegian, and I still laughed

Sorry for those of you who've seen it already.

Medieval Helpdesk.


05 May 2007

Hike Report

Yesterday I went hiking at Oyama in Kanagawa prefecture. You take a train about 1 hr. from Tokyo, then a bus about 25 min. up into the mountains, then head up alongside this stream.

My route was Minoge Bus Stop (elev. 500m) to Yabitsu Toge (Yabitsu Pass) (elev. 750m), then to Oyama Honsha (the top of the mountain, and of course the location of a Shinto shrine) (elev. 1250m), then to Shimosha (site of a Bhuddist temple) and Oiwake, then back to the train via bus.

Despite losing the trail for awhile and getting pretty tired, I made the whole trip. I'm looking forward to another trip back - the temples Shimosha and the cool built-on -the-hillside town of Oiwake were neat. See all photos here. Hopefully I'll get an earlier start next time!


02 May 2007

Yay! 4-day weekend

Tis the last half of Golden Week, Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun no workee.

Too bad it only happens once a year...