Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Big Easy Down in Sapporo

About 25 minutes from our house is a happy, hidden pocket of Americana known as The Famous Door.  Its a New Orleans style bar and is probably one of our most favorite places in all of Sapporo, if anything, because of the people who work and go there (not to mention, the EXCELLENT music that is a million miles away from anything even remotely resembling J-pop!).

This week, the Famous Door had a week-long celebration of their 10-year anniversary, complete with various theme nights including Chicago, Memphis, Kansas City, San Antonio, Nashville, and ending, of course, on New Orleans:

Sometimes it pays to make yourself a regular!  The owners asked me if I could put up a show of some of my New Orleans shots, making it my first (and hopefully not last) photo show in Japan!

The last night of the celebration coincided perfectly with Jacob's birthday weekend, so his party-theme this year was a bit of a fusion, to say the least:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy 27th Birthday, Jacob!

We had an awesome birthday party for Jacob this past weekend (blog to come), but I couldn't help celebrating celebrating again on his actual b-day!  He had to work, of course, but that doesn't mean there can't be cake and presents!

Here's to many, many more!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Golden Week Japan Part III: Sapporo

Back from a whirlwind Tokyo/Kyoto travel high, we were welcomed back home to Sapporo by glorious spring weather, (almost) empty wallets, and only four days left of Carissa's visit to Japan.

Her first night here, we were invited over to our favorite neighbors/boss's house for an AMAZING (as usual) feast of non-Japanese proportions cooked by Takeuchi san...

...before heading downtown to see our favorite chef/bartender hard at work:

A trip to Sapporo isn't complete without a visit to our favorite hole-in-the-wall yakiniku joint! Yakiniku means grilled meat, and usually consists of a grill-it-yourself BBQ style meal:

On Thursday, it was back to work for me, and I had the perfect show-and-tell item for my, not Carissa, but instead a luscious bottle of Kansas City BBQ sauce! Just look at it in all of its glory:

And Friday became Crystal Family Day at S.I.T. as both Carissa AND Jacob came to four of my classes!

The weekend was spent cramming in some last minute Japanese and Sapporo culture such as our fabulous cherry blossom viewing and party, keitan (conveyor belt) sushi, bicycle rides, the magical-mystery of the ¥100 shop, AAAAAAAAND, sampling some new and crazy Kit Kat flavors, including (but certainly not limited to):

Edamame (soybean) flavored...DELICIOUS!!!

Followed by a little espresso for dessert:

And onto the horrendous citrus-chili pepper-macha-chocolate concoction:

Before finishing with a sample of the special Hokkaido baked potato goodness...AWESOME!

I had a ton of fun running around Japan with my little sis...thanks Carissa and we hope to see you next year!

Sooooo, one overseas visitor down, about 100 more to go! Who's next, I ask!! Who's next? We're waiting for you...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Golden Week Japan Part II: Kyoto

From the bustling neon of Tokyo, Carissa and I took the night bus (much cheaper than the bullet train with all the expected sacrifices of comfort!) down to Japan's old capital of Kyoto.  I wanted her to see more of a traditional "Japan's Japan" before heading back up to Sapporo.

Unfortunately, due to Golden Week, everyone else had the same idea and the crowds were awesome to say the least:

I love posing with fake geisha.  The real ones are too fast and too difficult to hunt down!

May 5th is one of the holidays which makes up the blessed Golden Week.  Up until 1948 in Japan, this holiday was known as Boys' Day.  Now, it is labeled (among most anyway) as its more politically correct counterpart, Children's Day.  Colorful carp banners are flown outside of the homes of families who have boys, special sweets are eaten, incredibly expensive and detailed Kintaro (strong, historical figure) dolls are put on display in the home.  Basically, it's a day to celebrate the happiness and prosperity of all children (although, admittedly, with emphasis on boy're not hiding nothing, Japan, with your renaming of the holiday!!!)

While visiting one of Kyoto's many shrines, we happened upon a parade for the Boys' Day celebration:

I particularly like this guy's glare towards me.  Either he takes Children's Day really seriously, or he's not really thrilled about having proof that he was dressed up in that outfit:

Despite the crowds (ohhhh the Golden Week crowds!!!), I still love Kyoto and all of its quintessential "Japanese-y-ness."

We were also able to meet up and have breakfast with one of my international friends from college (and former basketball teammate) Kotomi:

In my opinion, a trip to Kyoto is NOT complete without a trip to the Fushimi Inari, my most favorite shrine in all of the city!  It's so beautiful here and, because of its sprawling size, the crowds actually seem a lot more pleasant and navigable (and at times, dare I say, even nonexistent):

Carissa and I stayed with my favorite Couchsurfer, Shoji, at his amazing Couchsurfing guesthouse (which Jacob and I stayed in during our October trip to Kyoto).  We got to meet with some travelers from France, Argentina, and Italy as well!  I love this place:

Kyoto by night has a completely different feel to it than in Tokyo.  It's more College Town once it's "early-to-bed-early-to-rise" tourists have slipped back into their hotel rooms.

Of course, Kyoto by day is just as fun:

As much as I love Kyoto and Tokyo, it felt so good to hop on a big plane back home to Hokkaido to show my sister around our lovely Sapporo.  Part three of Golden Week to come...