Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Osaka Aquarium- Kaiyukan

Now to catch up on some posts I've been meaning to do for a while.
One of the best day trips to make with kids from Kyoto is to the Osaka Aquarium. It is a full day but a lot of fun. I recommend getting the day pass from the Keihan or Hankyu lines. These are available at the information counters in the respective stations. Keihan: Demachiyanagi, Sanjo, Gion Shijo. Hankyu: Kawaramachi and Katsura. They are 2800Y for adults 1400Y for elementary school and include transportation on one of these lines, all subways in Osaka and entrance to the Kaiyukan- you don't even need to wait in line to buy the tickets. Just going to there and back saves you about 500Y but the deal gets better the more you do in Osaka. The tickets get you discounts at other attractions as well.

We went on a weekend. I don't recommend doing that if you can help it. Even though we had the passes, we had to wait in line for about an hour just to get in. Once in it was really crowded for the first few floors. On crowded days I would suggest going down to the bottom and going back to the top later.

When we went we also had dinner at the Turkish restaurant in the Tempozan mall right next door. It is another all-you-can-eat place. Great food and Turkish ice cream for dessert. They even had belly-dancer. J really liked that.
Adults:1680Y, ages 6 and up 890Y. Kids under 5 eat free. Kosher and Halal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Great Tohoku Kanto Earthquake Disaster

My heart goes out to all who were injured, became homeless or lost loved ones in this recent disaster. We are so far from the devastated area here, and that is a relief, but the images we see (along with the rest of the world) are very sobering.

This post is merely to give some options for information on the disaster and especially information on the nuclear disaster. Right now a lot of the media in the west is very alarmist at times and there are nasty rumors circulating on twitter and via email.

Here are a few good articles and blog posts to help:

English language news sources:
○Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet


○NHK World


Disaster related vocab for watching the news in Japanese:

Some perspective from someone close to Nagoya:

An op ed in the Wall Street Journal about why there will not be another Chernobyl

a good blog post with info about the radiation

From the nuclear power industry:
(not the most reliable necessarily, but technically useful)

perhaps more reliable- from scientists

The image above was drawn by my wife and posted on her blog.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cooking Japanese Food

I've been talking a bit here about places to go out to eat with kids, but what about eating at home. Yes, there is curry and spaghetti, but we also like to eat Japanese food every now and then. It is easy to get the ingredients and it is pretty tasty. We have a cookbook that we got when we were here before: Kodansha's bilingual *100 Recipes from Japanese Cooking.* It is a good cookbook for homestyle cooking and we have a few favorites. We particularly like Kinpira gobo, Gyudon, simmered kabocha, and a few others. We usually avoid the fried stuff, but have done tenpura on occasion. Of course another good way to get recipes is from the web- there are a lot out of good sites out there as any good search will show. Kikkoman.com, the soy sauce maker, has a good selection. Here is a particularly interesting site. In this blog a Japanese woman gives her entire daily menu with several recipes. It offers some insight into what things people eat and gives good menu ideas.
Update: I just found this blog with recipes by someone making food with Japanese ingredients in Nagano. It looks pretty useful. you can also check out this blog, and do a search for "Gaijin Chef." The blogger basically just made an off shoot blog for food, but there are still good posts in the archive of the old one.
Here is a list of food related blogs published by Surviving in Japan.

Toy Stores in Kyoto- Yodobashi Camera

Where do you go for toys when there is no ToysRus in town? Well, this was a question we faced when we first had a birthday in the family. At that time we found something on Amazon.co.jp, but for Christmas we wanted something else. The first place we found was Vivre on the Kita Oji bus terminal. They also have toys at Kyoto Family Aeon Mall on Shijo and Aeon Mall Kyoto Hana Jusco on Shijo. (But there is a serious shortage of toys at the Kyoto Sakura Aeon Mall south of the station.) The best thing we found though is the new Yodobashi Camera north of the station on Karasuma- just north of Kyoto tower. The west half of the third floor has everything you could want- at decent prices too. They have Ultraman figures, Kamen-Ranger, Legos, Pokemon, Anpanman, Bey-blades, Barbie, and other dolls whose names I forget. Part of the floor is also devoted to Gundam models and the like. They also have a video game section and the largest selection of gacha balls (plastic ball vending machines) I have seen. Last time we were there we checked out the new Nintendo 3DS- pretty neat.
PS- Amazon.co.jp is pretty great too. Most things are free shipping (anything over 1500Y). It is possible to pay via credit card, but also through payment centers in convenience stores- the red ones in Lawson for example. We have bought books, legos, an office chair, a heater and more through Amazon. Usually even with the free shipping it arrived the day after we paid at the convenience store.