Manga Dog Signs @ Nagano

When I take Mr.B out to spend his pennies, apart from Mr.B himself & house keys, the most important item is a couple of sheets of kitchen rolls so I can clean up after Mr.B has done his No.2. Sadly, some dog owners in my neighbourhood have less respect to their fellow street users and ignore the mess their furry companions leave behind.

Japan is well-known for general cleanliness in pubic spaces such as town squares and parks. Despite seemingly nonexistent of street sweepers, the whole county appears to be litter free at first glance.
Are all the Japanese so public-spirited and therefore do their up most to keep the space spotless?
Regrettably, some of them are as irresponsible as antisocial dog walkers in my neck of the woods and deposit unwelcome souvenir on their trail.

Those signs I encountered during my daily walk in Nagano are all about encouraging dog walkers to pick up dog mess.

“Clean up your mess!”…

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It says “Your pet is a witness to your behaviour”.

This one says “Dog’s mess has to be dealt with!”…

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“Your good behaviour keeps our town clean”.

This one pleads “Please don’t leave it behind!”…

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“Let’s be a responsible dog owner and pick up your dog’s poo. Be careful not to harm public health”.

This sign with an embarrassed dog and his smiley owner says “Let’s take away your dog’s mess home”…

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“Let’s keep our town clean”.
The sign was posted every 30m along the way, which implied the route had a history of being abused by careless dog walkers. The irritated residents must have lobbied to the local authorities and that was why the signs were installed.

How can anyone feel good about littering one’s own neighbourhood?! Treading on a dog mess definitely ruins anyone’s day. It happened on me once and it was horrible.

It’s nearly the time to take Mr.B out and I shan’t forget paper towels for sure…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

The Mac Daddy Burger

This bad ass burger looks soooo seductive and so deadly…

PornBurger

I’m going to let this burger perversion speak for itself… Fried macaroni and cheese, jerk rubbed bacon, lobster, mic drop.

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Saturday @ Broadway Market

During yesterday’s errand, I was caught out in a sharp wintry shower. The rain was driving into my flimsy leopard print umbrella and the scenery I glimpsed through the corner of the shaky brolly was just wet & grim.
However, against my pessimism, the weather is rumoured to be better by this coming Sunday. Let’s have our fingers crossed!

I can’t believe it was only a mere two weeks ago when Hubbie, Mr.B and I basked in the warm sunshine at Broadway Market.

Mr.B was leaving his calling card at one of his favourite lamp posts…

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We parked our car around the corner from the market…

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Look how keen Mr.B was…

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Apart from an original street market on Broadway Market, there were two more sites accommodating stalls…

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A profusion of blue sky with very little breeze…

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Every direction we turned, there were at least a couple of stalls which were offering tasty looking snacks…

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Dutch mini pancakes with various toppings…

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Some middle eastern snacks?…

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A mega cute sandwich wagon…

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This stall was specialised in honey…

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On Broadway Market, free music was everywhere…

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He was so into his zone…

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This adorable duo seemed to be captivated by a trio of French musicians…

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The only drawback of this particular market was a shortage of suitable seating. Those who managed to grab seats were lucky ones even if they were in the shade…

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Most of us ended up planting our butts on the pavement…

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With Mr.B in the carrier so he wouldn’t be trampled by the market visitors, Hubbie and I looked around the stalls…

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On our way home, we dropped in one of our favourite stalls and bought cakes…

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Raspberry bakewell slice for Hubbie…

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and chocolate M&M for me…

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We also bought a bunch of tulips too…

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Don’t they look lovely? I love tulips.
Let’s hope this weekend will be a warm & sunny one…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Eating Habit & Longevity

Wow, I am amazed by how my body, especially my leg muscles, has adjusted to this new & more rigorous fitness regime! In spite of the last practice being a lot harder than the previous ones, I felt much easier during the session and a lot less achy afterward. A prolonged stick-handling drill was a real killer for me. I could feel lactic acid building up in my arms. Still, the practice will definitely guarantee me to tone the upper arms and lift my butt by this summer. Therefore, I shall swear that I will attend it every week. Besides, seeing all the friendly faces at the ice rink is definitely worth a 45 minutes car drive across London…

Recent London seems to have stepped back into the mini-winter again. The sky has been overcast and swept by chilly wind. And it makes me crave for a bowl of steamy ramen noodle!
While mum & I were in Tokyo in last January, the city was grasped by a very cold weather system. It was exceptionally chilly by Tokyo’s standard and in spite of a hotel staff cranking up our room’s A/C to the maximum, we still felt not enough warmth.
‘Shouldn’t we line our stomach with something hot?’ So we grabbed our coats and paid a visit to a noodle bar in Hacchobori…

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Ta-dah, behold my Kimchi Miso ramen. It was certainly fiery and spicy as the colour of the broth suggested and helped me to feel toasty from the inside. The only minor complaint was the seasoning for being too salty? Since I hardly used any additional flavouring, especially salt, on my food usually when I was in the UK, I found some of the foods in Japan a little too salty for my liking.

The prefecture of Nagano, where my mum lives, is well-known for its residents’ longevity. The average life expectancy for both male and female, are well into their 80s. As a daughter, I am very glad that my mum lives in an environment where it encourages its residents to lead a healthy & long life. However, the majority of her generation, born between the 30s and 40s, went through the post war hardship which has resulted in their frugal attitude as well as discipline towards food and lifestyle…

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My mum’s Kenchinjiru (建長汁) – hearty vegetables soup with salmon roe on top – is one of my favourites. Diced Satoimo (里芋) – taro root, carrot, Daikon radish, Konjac, thinly sliced burdock (牛蒡gobo) & tofu were stirfried with sesami oil first, then shimmered in the pot with water and seasoned with soy sauce, mirin, sake and salt. Mum was extra careful not to season the soup too strongly so it was packed with “umami” from the vegetables alone.

While my 3 weeks holiday in Japan, I had a glimpse of modern Japanese eating habit. Comparing it with that of my mum’s generation’s, the younger Japanese’s diet seemed to be far more westernised and consisted of more commercially processed foods rather than home-cooking.
It is purely my private observation and therefore not a general consensus but the recession in which the Japanese are trapped since the early 90’s has changed the way they behave towards food. The immediacy of pleasure tasty foods provide has shifted the general public’s attention from what they own to what they eat. It’s almost like the drabness of recession fades or forgotten while one’s sensory system locks on a tasty morsel in the mouth – the solace sought in comfort eating. Whatever the reason the Japanese diners queue up for plates of towering pancakes or bowls of noodle large enough for 3 portions or tables for “eat as much as you can” style buffet, the eating habit as the rest of the world perceive to be the Japanese way of healthy lifestyle is changing.
While the materialistic obsession in the 80’s only hurt the individual’s bank balance, the present OTT comfort eating tendency will sure to develop to future general health problem. Already, a part of the Japanese children is reported to have diabetic conditions due to a diet heavy on carb and sugar. Comparing my mum’s generation who grew up with not enough food around, an environment in which the present younger generation exists is saturated with an insanely plentiful amount of tasty food. This reality makes me wonder how long the Japanese can flaunt their top place in a worldwide longevity table. Not only that, I am concerned that they will develop serious health problems in future if the present overindulgence continues.

Today’s lunch at my beloved Shoreditch Grind. A bowl of Feta & Falafel salad…

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The salad contained rocket, crumbly feta cheese, balls of falafel, red & yellow cherry tomatoes and pomegranate. The dressing was sweet with a hint of chilli. It was delicious.

And my flat white…

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Who can leave Shoreditch Grind without tasting their celebrated roast?

I feel much less tired now so try my best to update the blog more often and regularly…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tokyo Dome City Attractions @ Kōrakuen

Trudging around my studio, I had been wincing and sighing. It felt like I was a deep-sea diver with lead boots on. After last night’s hockey practice, I was again, a complete wreck. One of great qualities Hubbie possessed was he always knew when to keep his mouth shut. Instead of reminding me that I may be too old for this kind of physical challenge, he just gave me a knowing nod and carried on eating his dinner. Even after 24 hours, every bit of my body aches and I just can’t shake off this annoying fatigue which drapes over my shoulders. Gee, am I really too old to take up the sport one more time? A feeling of doubt raises its head and it bothers me. Oh well, I am not gonna throw in a towel. Not just yet…

Enough moaning.
Let’s turn the clock back to the mid January Tokyo time.
The aforementioned super cute Moomin Bakery & Cafe was situated in the middle of an amusement park called Tokyo Dome City Attraction. This park was used to be called Kōrakuen Yūenchi (後楽園ゆうえんち) which opened its gate in 1955…

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Various rides and attractions were crammed into a confined space.

A merry‐go‐round was built on top of the restaurant and they were wrapped around by a canal for a water slider…

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It was a normal weekday and therefore the park had only a handful of visitors.
Despite the temperature hovering just above 0 degree, some people were boarding “Wonder Drop”…

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Just before each ride ended, there was a final steep descend which catapulted the craft to hit the water so hard that it splashed cold water all over the poor passengers! I guessed they would have to take a refuge in one of the cafés until their clothing became dry.

Another noise which broke the stillness of the under occupied park was a roar of the roller coaster “Thunder Dolphin”…

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Mum was never a big fan of amusement park attractions. We visited Tokyo Disneyland years ago and I remembered her steadfast refusal to climb aboard any ride. No matter how hard she was coaxed – “Mum! You don’t know what you are missing!!”, she never joined the queue. I wouldn’t have minded trying the roller coaster if the weather wasn’t so wintry. My teeth would be chattering with the cold air rather than with fear, I thought…

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Once we finished inspecting the park, we visited an adjacent shopping mall, LaQua.
The view of the park from above…

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The mall was rather unremarkable. Most of their merchandise was not very memorable or original. The only thing which pulled my attention was Shūgi-bukuro (祝儀袋) envelopes on sale…

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Aren’t they cute?
The decorative envelopes are used to wrap cash gift for newlywed couples.
The ones I knew were more traditional kinds – just red & white. Even mum was astonished by the amount of new designs!

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A view of the Tokyo Dome from LaQua..

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This all-weather baseball stadium is the first of its kind in Japan and nicknamed as Tokyo Big Egg. The stadium serves as a home ground of Yomiuri Giants the baseball team and also hosts various sports events as well as trade shows throughout a year. I am yet to step into this air-supported structure but visited the predecessor ballpark, Kōrakuen Stadium as a child. When mum & I were there, they were hosting a nationwide ekiben (boxed lunch) fair. We were tempted by it but didn’t fancy walking around the area over 112,456 m2 (27.788 acres) so headed home.

I feel bad about my blog slacking off recently. Once my body is used to a new fitness regime and I feel less exhausted, I shall log my blog more frequently. Thank you for your patience and understanding. X

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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