成程 (Naru Hodo) - IC in Japan^H^H Cote d'Azur^H^H USA

Sunday, February 26, 2006

New Pants :)

After searching for trousers in a reasonable length without success for almost half a year, I finally found some in Aoyama, a store chain specialized on suits. Ususally they have trousers sorted by the cirumfence of the belly and some standard length. The idea ist to cut them so they will fit the customer...
As the daily ride to work on the bicycle slowly kills the fabric around the ass, I was quite happy to find some cord fabric pants in brown and grey, that, while beeing not the most beautiful pants I have ever owned, were long enough in their uncut state.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

箱根 温泉 (Hakone Onsen)

Today I went to 箱根, one of the most famous places for 温泉 in Japan, about 90 minutes by train from Atsugi. It town lies spread around a steep valley and most buildings are less than two stories tall.
As you can see in the picture, it was raining, but while sitting in really hot water, this is a pretty refreshing sensation. The Inn ("Yu No Sato Okada") was a little bit larger than the one in 七沢 and even hat a Finnish sauna.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentines Day

Februrary 14th is Valenentines Day. In Japan this means, thanks to the advertisement success of the chocolate industry, that girls give chocholate to males they like. (Or small "giri" (tribute) chocholate to their boss and coworkers to show them that they don't hate them). For the males this implies to return the favour one month later ("white day") with more expensive chocolate or an expensive dinner, which might get complicated if you recieve more than one chocolate :-P.
The page linked above, appearently written by some disappointed guy, describes the situation a little bit sad but perfectly: "... Anyhow, men become gradually irritated when St. Valentine's day draws, because they must feel awfully awkward if they cannot get any chocolate on that day, as it indicates that they are not worth even for "giri" chocolate. However, once they receive chocolate, they have to endure another suffering anyway."
Although this tradition is on the decline, for some reason I got 4 chocolates :-D:

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Snowboard weekend

This weekend we finally went snowboarding. We left Atsugi at 23:00 and arrived the next day at 7:30 in the morning, perfect to get rental gear and get onto the slope. The gear was crappy and old (I would need a 1.80m snowboard, but the largest they had was 1.56m) but really cheap and sufficient for the rather flat slopes we had there. The snow was perfect, slopes were extremely well prepared and not very crowed, so everybody was happy with them for the two days we had to explore them. In the night to Sonday it even snowed so we had fresh powder snow :-P.
On Saturday there was some kind of festival and apart from electing "Miss Skiressort" they had some bingo game. Our Kasai-San organized 20 bingo cards and we were quite successfull, as we won the first (red wine, JinSouk), fourth (apple pie, Kasai-San) and 26th (apple jam, me) 35 (apple jam, YuHuan) :-)
After the first day of boarding we hat a very nice dinner. As it is very custom for Japan, part of the food (some kind of vegetable soup with chicken) was cooked by yourself right on the table.
The hotel was right next to the slope so we could board to the lift right from the entrance.
Sitting in hot water after a straining day of skiing is perfect for relaxing you muscles. Luckily the hotel featured an outside onzen :-P
It still needs to be cut propperly, but here is a first version of most of the usable video footage from the weekend:

Friday, February 10, 2006

First real sized 生ビール(nama biiru - draft beer)

As my pre-predecessor returned to work at Asahi Kasei two weeks ago I am not the only German in the office any more. After work we went to Amataro, the only place in Atsugi where you can get beer in a decently sized beer mug. Appart from that mug that gives one the warm fuzz feeling of beeing at home, the picture below shows the various items present at a typical Japanese restaurant.
Left of the mug are the obvious chop sticks. On the right most edge is the standard set of seasonings (Soy souce, vinegar, spicey oil, red pepper (?) powder, red pepper pesto, garlic pesto and Gari (Ingwer)). Right of the mug is a small wireless battery operated buzzer to call the waiter (rarely used) and behind the mug is the digital, wireless menu. On the menu you choose, with the aid of pictures, what dish/drink you would like, press the order button and 5 mintes later the watier brings you your food.
It even has a build in function to calculate the amount of money per person if you want to split the bill amoung all participiants. In Japan it is very common to order and eat together, i.e. everybody can try everything, so that function is very usefull and even built into most japanese mobile phones... :-P

Monday, February 06, 2006

弦 (gen - strings)

Unfortunately one of my guitar strings broke yesterday. I assume as the guitar was stored untuned in the shop and has been tuned again for each customer to try out, the strings were stressed a little bit too much. As strings are rather cheap that is not a big problem. I got new "recommended by Eric Clapton" strings :-P and Guillaume helped me to replace all strings with the new ones. Appart from beeing recommended by Eric Claption, they appear to be a little bit thicker (i.e. less painfull to the fingers) and sound a little bit better than the old ones... ;-)recommended by Eric Claption

Friday, February 03, 2006

雪だるま (yukidaruma - snowman)

Today it snowed again :-). Last time somebody build a snowman, but it certainly lacked in style. So the other guy from Germany, Stefan, and me decided to show those people, how it is done properly :-P. While we were building the snowman, every once in a while, some Japanese looked out of their doors, propably wondering about the sanity of the foreigners, but we had a lot of fun and are quite proud of the result. :-P