Just when you thought you had seen it all...

Good morning everyone,

If you have the chance to go outside and enjoy the dry weather today-do it. They are calling for the rain to start this afternoon and continue until next Wednesday!! (I'm not making this up.) Every day for the next week has over 70% of rain as of right now. It makes you think that this must be rainy season or something...ha ha! I know for sure that I'll be going out for a 10k run as soon as I finish my blog. And mentally preparing myself for my first ever run in the rain later this week...

Have you had the new "Frozen Nama" yet from Kirin Beer yet?
Frozen Nama
It is a very, very smart marketing move I think. It looks cool! It is unique! It looks fun! It looks like summer! And I really want to try one! I'd love to try one-in fact I will definitely try one on the 26th of June at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium (if it doesn't rain).

I must admit that I'm more looking forward to the actual experience of having one rather than the taste. I don't imagine it'll taste that great to be honest. Or if it is good, that it'll be worth the cost. Who knows though? I might be pleasantly surprised.

In Hiroshima there are 7 shops that are offering the "Frozen Nama". There are 3 beer gardens, the baseball stadium, a yakitori shop, a bar and an izakaya. The bar and izakaya (the last two places on the list) are in Fukuyama so that leaves 5 places that we can hopefully give this faddish beer a try.

MAZDA Zoom-Zoom スタジアム広島 コンコース売店

そごう天空ひろばビアガーデン 海の恵屋

ANAクラウンプラザホテル広島 スカイビアレストラン

広島ダイヤモンドホテル スターライトビアガーデン




I've heard that the Sogo Beer Garden is fully booked for over a month in advance so you forget about going there and ANA's beer garden is probably too expensive for me. I guess it'll have to be the 2 or 3 times that I head to the stadium because I can't really see me making it to any beer gardens this year.

I was asked by a friend to do a private business class and I stupidly agreed. The money is good (so no complaints there) but the class is from 7:30 till 9 every Monday morning! Zzzz! And seeing as last year I usually went to the beer gardens on Sundays, that pretty much means I'll only be going once this year and if this rainy weather continues as forecast, I may not be going at all! Ha ha!

Have a great day! Have a frozen beer and let me know if it's worth it! ;-)


Good morning everyone,

Well, the weather yesterday wasn't great, but at least it stopped raining long enough for me to do my laundry! Today and tomorrow we can expect a mix of sun and clouds with highs around 27C or 28C. In fact the forecast for the foreseeable future has the temperature around 28C everyday. From Friday though, it looks like we the rain will be back. That rain will continue through the weekend. After that, it's anybody's guess...

So, it's a week of firsts for me. After talking about taking guitar lessons for ages, I finally dragged myself to Yamaha and signed up this week.

And, after talking about it for ages, I also finally found myself at 叙々苑 (read:Jojoen).
Jojoen Hiroshima
Jojoen is an upscale yakiniku restaurant that I'll only be able to go to for dinner if I win the lottery, but it does have a reasonably priced lunch. I ordered the basic Yakiniku Lunch which comes with salad, soup, rice and a few slices of beef that you grill yourself. It was about $15. The dinners there will set you back at least $100 per person-not including drinks...
Yakiniku Lunch
I have to say that it was so worth it! I'd only ever been to all-you-can-eat yakiniku places and had always measured the value of the meat by volume! We always try to eat as much as we can in order to feel like we got our money's worth. Ha ha! It's good fun and it always comes with all-you-can-drink beer so we wash down our meat with as much beer as we can squeeze in as well.

However, at Jojoen I was just as, if not more, satisfied. The meat was so tender and juicy. Even though there were just a few-maybe 10-thin slices, it was enough for me. Thankfully they also have a beer special at lunch-you can get a small glass for only $5. I couldn't imagine having yakiniku without beer! Ha ha! So, I've always been a "more is better" kind of guy when it comes to yakiniku, but yesterday's lunch has definitely given me food for thought...

If you have a chance to go there for lunch-it's worth it! Has anybody been there for dinner? Is it worth it?

Have a great day!

Being a tourist in Canada...

Good morning everyone,

Yesterday was much nicer than had been forecast-there was actually one point where I thought I would have to turn on the AC, but so far I've been able to avoid it. I wonder if none of my studenst are complaining about the heat because of the government's push for electricity austerity. Anyway, today and tomorrow are shaping up to be awesome as well, with sunny skies and highs of 28C predicted for both days. Tuesday is still looking like rain...I think I might change my day off to Monday...ha ha!

So, I'll be heading home for a holiday this summer...I love going home to see my family and friends as well as getting to eat some food that I just can't find in Hiroshima. However, going home on my holiday lacks excitement. Do you know what I mean? It's like how you feel about visiting your hometown (or your parent's hometown) on New Year's Day. It's fun, it's great to see everybody and you can enjoy some great food, but there is nothing to get really excited about.

One of my students suggested something that I hadn't thought of before-making some Japanese food for my friends. They live in Toronto which means that they can find restaurant-style Japanese food like tempura and sushi easily, but they probably have never had anything that resembles Japanese home-cooking.

The problem is-neither have I...ha ha! Of course I've been to friends' houses and we had some great food, but I haven't been nearly enough to remember how to cook it and I have no idea where to start.

I guess I could make okonomiyaki-sorry, it would probably have to be Osaka-style even though Hiroshima-style tastes and looks better. I don't have any idea how to make Hiroshima-style and wouldn't have the space to make it either. How do you make it at home? Do most Hiroshimans have a large griddle at home? Or do you make really small okonomiyaki? Ha ha! (a griddle is a large flat cooking surface like you see at てっぱん焼き)

Because I'm going in the summer, hopefully I'll be able to head out and do more stuff than when I go home in winter. About the only thing I can do then is go shopping and eat and drink too much...ha ha! Oh, and spend a ridiculous amount of money on going to a hockey game.

Any ideas? If you were going to Toronto this summer, where would you want to go?

Have a great day!

Balancing the Budget

Good morning everyone,

Well, you'll love today's weather if you are a duck or a rice farmer-otherwise it isn't looking too good out there. Unless of course you are one of those people who don't get up on Saturdays until after lunch. If you are, you won't mind the weather at all because it'll probably be finished raining by the time you get up...ha ha! This weekend the weather will be mild-around 13C or so and fine (from this afternoon until Monday). Monday will be the only day this week where we will experience normal temperatures for this time of year-it'll be 18C on Monday. After that, the thermometer will fall back down to around 13C or so. Doesn't it feel like it's been 13C forever? ha ha!

So, yesterday in Canada they released the new budget. There are some big changes to the government's plan for Canada and I, for one, like them.

There are three changes in particular that are similar to issues that the Japanese government is also facing. I'm happy with how they are changing in Canada. I wonder how they will be implemented in Japan.

The biggest one is cutting government jobs. The government has said that their job is not to create a workforce, their job is to provide service to the community. Therefore, they are going to leave job creation up to businesses and are offering tax breaks to businesses to expand and hire more. And the government is cutting about 19,000 civil servant jobs. I think Japan is facing the same tough decisions and will have to cut a lot of jobs in order to continue to pay for the basic services that we all expect.

Next, the government has decided to implement a change in retirement pensions. We call it Old Age Security (OAS). The age to receive that money from the government will be raised to 67 starting in about ten years. So, no more complaints from my students about Japan raising the age to 65! Ha ha!

Finally, the government has decided to eliminate the penny. That's right. In Canada, starting the end of this year the government will no longer produce pennies and prices will either be rounded up or down to the lowest 5 cents. The government expects that they will save about $11 million a year and small business in particular will find it easier to manage. Most Canadians, like Japanese, just keep their pennies in a jar and take them out of circulation which is a huge waste of money for the country. The government makes them and then they get thrown away or kept at home-like the \2000 note here. When was the last time you saw one of those? Ha ha!

Do you think Japan should do something similar? Or something more drastic? Or do you think that these changes wouldn't work in Japan?

Have a great day!

Hard Rock Cafe

Good morning everyone,

Well, you'd better bring your umbrella if you plan on going out for a drink tonight because rain and cooler weather are on the way again. If you are going home straight after work, you'll probably be ok because it won't start raining till late. Saturday will rain all day and it'll be cold too-both Saturday and Sunday will see lows of 3C and 4C. That is NOT springlike weather. Clearly, I'm going to have to resort to drastic measures. This morning before work, I'll be making a teru-teru bozu or two...ha ha!

I'm not sure how well any of you know Yokohama but we went to the "Cats" performance in Minato-Mirai which is where Landmark Tower and Sakuragicho are located. They are famous tourist attractions which is great for tourists (I guess) but it sucks if you are looking for a place to go have a couple of beers after 9pm.

The entire section of the city closes at 10:00. We got out of the show at around 9:30 and it felt like we were walking through a ghost-town. Who knew how hard it would be to find a place to go out in Yokohama? (If we were closer to Yokohama Station, it would have been easy-there are tons of bars and izakayas there). Anyway, we had two choices-either Pronto, which is like a cheap Italian family restaurant chain or Hard Rock Cafe. We decided on Hard Rock Cafe, not because we really wanted to go, but it was the best of our only two choices...I am surprised at how few people in Hiroshima have heard of Hard Rock Cafe. Have you heard of it? It is a music themed restaurant that was started ages ago by a couple of Americans in London. Now they are all over the world (but mostly only in touristy areas). We knew it was going to be expensive but had no idea how overpriced it was.
We each had a burger and two glasses (small glasses) of beer and the total for two people was....\8500!! Can you believe it?! We were shocked! And it wasn't like the beer was premium beer either-it was Kirin Ichiban. I admit that the burgers were really, really good, but...\2000 for a burger and \1000 for a small glass (about a half a pint) is a bit much.
Not to mention that the bill included a 10% service charge which is the first time I've ever seen that in Japan.

To top it off, the service was really bad. The staff were slow, unhelpful and unfriendly. If we could have gone anywhere else, we would have got up and left after the first five minutes that we sat there waiting for someone to come to our table. It wasn't like they were busy, the place was only one-quarter full and there were at least three waitresses. They were just more intent on cleaning up then they were on serving us...so, needless to say, I won't be going to Hard Rock Cafe again...ever! Ha ha! And there is no way I'd recommend it either. Has anyone ever been and had a good experience there?

Have a great day!