Saturday, October 8, 2011

October in Fukuoka

Looks like this. (At least at the beginning.)

Also, since I have an iPhone now, I can blog from the beach!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Photos: Muromi Lantern Festival

Sometimes, Nana and I feel like we're wasting our time if we go somewhere we've already been. Why settle for re-runs when there's so much world to see? At other times, though, this kind of living feels a little superficial. How can you really get to know a place if you're always dashing off to something new?

We hadn't planned on going to the Muromi Lantern Festival this year. Don't get me wrong: last year's festival was a highlight of our early autumn. But we'd already seen it, so as the appointed weekend rolled around, with work piling up fast, we figured we'd probably give it a miss. At the last minute, though, a fortuitous burst of productivity and procrastination found us pedalling upriver, like moths to the flame.

And boy were we glad we did! It was a beautiful night, with a slight chill in the air, and lanterns flickering away as far as the eye could see. There's something so charming in the thought of this community, for no real reason beyond the sheer joy of fire and light, should turn the river into such a spectacle every year.

The heck with novelty - if we're here next year, I'm going back.

So anyway, here's the highlight reel from the evening.

Hard to see, but that thing in the upper-right is a dragonfly.

This is in honor of the Japanese women's soccer team, the "nadeshiko,"
which is also the name of the flower above.
This was the grand finale, at the far end of the display.
Seems to be some kind of boat.
The sail had the kanji for "treasure" on it.

Along the paths, they had little hand-colored lanterns,
made by students at the local middle school.

I was incredibly proud of myself for being able to decipher this one:
Muromi River Lantern Festival.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday Weirdness: Almond Jelly Dessert Drink

Japan has a very mature market in convenience store comestibles. Some people can - and do - subsist almost entirely on snacks and bento boxes from the local Family Mart.

The market is particularly robust, however, when it comes to "desert drinks." Not only can you find the standard Starbucks-type offerings, you can also find some more exotic stuff - plus some things that aren't properly drinks at all.

Enter almond jelly dessert milk.

Almond jelly is a fairly common Chinese dessert that is pretty popular throughout Asia. We suspected that this almond jelly drink might be more like almond-flavored milk, but no! It's just jelly, to be sipped through a straw.

Tasty, but certainly odd!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Okonomiyaki: Everything & the Kitchen Sink

A highly knowledgeable co-worker took us out for okonomiyaki the other night. 

Pictured: Wisdom and good taste.
It was, believe it or not, our first okonomiyaki experience.

Pictured: Inexperience and exuberance (left).

I have a theory that okonomiyaki must have been invented by a bachelor. The name itself basically means "throw whatever the heck you like on the grill." Batter? Noodles? Eggs? Scallions? Mayonnaise? Worcestershire sauce? Tomatoes? Cabbage? Seaweed? Squid? 

Inside the mind of a desperate man.
The result, like many things Japanese, is surprisingly tasty, but unlike most other Japanese food, okonomiyaki sits like a brick.

A trowel seems an appropriate tool.
When you go into an okonomiyaki place, there's a counter with a big grill like you'd see at a Japanese steak house in the US. You pick a variety - the variables are noodle type and topping - and the cooks slap it all down under a huge pancake on the grill. 

The art of the dish seems to consist of flipping it over repeatedly and staring at it with a vague look of concern. 

Also, all the eggs have two yolks. Just in case you were wondering if you should bring your appetite to the okonomiyaki joint.

BONUS: Nana and I went back for okonomiyaki this week, and we managed the whole transaction . . . in Japanese! We were even able to affirm that we'd been there before with our co-worker, who it turns out is something of a regular. Chalk up another minor victory in the long struggle to learn some of this language before we leave . . .