Friday, December 29, 2006

Mochi tsuki...this is the thing Steven wanted to do for a long time. He kept asking me where he can see/do for years. Mochi tsuki, pounding mochi is a traditional year-end event in Japan. BUT it is hard to find where to see/do because not a lot of people do this in a traditional way. People use mochi maker instead now a days. But I found the place... Asami Shirine!! This shrine is our family shrine. I first visited here when I was 30 days old (Yes, you read it right 30 "DAYS" old in my grand-ma's arms.) We visit here once a year on New Year's day.First we got Sake as an offering for the shrine. We didn't forget to put our name on the wrapper to make sure they will know it is from us :)My sister and Steven.

They are getting ready to mochi tsuki!!

Steven is ready, too!!

First, knead the steamed sweet rice in the big stone bowl. And....

POUND!!! Yeah, Steven, way to go!!

After poungind, the local ladies are shaping into round mochi...

After the Steven's a little excercise, we went to hot spring which is faced to the beautiful ocean!! It was cold till got into the bath tub but it was sooooo good after that. All the muscle got relax and...Oh, wait, I didn't do mochi-tsuki it was Steven who needed to relax :)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Today was my grand ma's 91st birthday and we brought her favorite chocolate cake. Even she walks slowly with a cane but she beat us playing cards. Steven kept saying "I want to sit on the left side of grand ma!! She always gives tough cards." We had a great time with her.

We had Eel bowl at Imase which Steven had been waiting for so long.
Since my mom loved Steven's cooking last time we visited, we decided to cook something again. Chicken mole!!
Steven:We need this much cinnamon. Honey, are you looking?! Mikako: Oh sorry, is this for mole? I thought you were gonna lick it...
We put some chocolate and cinnamon and other spices and cooked chicken for a while. It was tasty!! Spanish wine went well with it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Last day in Kyoto..
Breakfast has Tamagoyaki (kind of omlett), Yuba(bean curd), Yu-dofu(Warm tofu) AND...

Chagayu. They cooked brown rice in Bancha (a type of tea) and it was very good. It is a little chewier than white rice and has a lot of flavor..we liked it! The lady at Ryokan looked at Steven's empty dishes and said,"Glad you liked it. Not everybody eats this poridge especially foreign people..." Well, he doesn't quite fall in the category "foreign people" because he eats Japanese food a lot and he can tell the delicate flavor in Japanese food. It encourages me to cook more :)

After the breakfast, we went Nishiki Market to buy some fresh food to bring to Beppu and also went to Koadaiji where Hideyoshi's wife's temple.

A handsome guy I saw in Kodaiji.. :)

We took Shinkan sen to Beppu and of course we didn't forget to get Ekiben (obento sold in stations)

My mom and sisters welcomed us with Sukiyaki dinner. Oh it was so good.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Japan Trip-Kyoto-Bro's family-Ginkaku ji

Rainy day...We visited my brother's family in Kyoto. They got a baby boy a few months ago. His name is Sota and he is soooo cute. Hope he will remember my gift. (no chance!!)We went to an Italian Restaurant across from their house. The restaurant and his house are very close each other and they called us from their window when the table is ready !! It was funny.

Dispite the rain, we went to Ginkakuji. Ginkaku ji is a simple beauty and it suits very much with rainy less crowded space...

And dinner was at Ryokan (inn) where we stayed tonight. It is very historical inn and they started as a restaurant so the food was great.

Monday, December 25, 2006

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Instead of opening presents, we left for Kyoto palace in the morning. We joined an one hour Engish tour which we booked from US. You cannot just go and join the tour. They need your name and info before hand to check your back ground and decide if you are good enough to come inside the palace....well, back ground check part is a lie but you need to book in advance and show your picture ID. Security guys in the trench coat were always with us and making sure nobody do anything bad to the palace. We cannot enter the buildings but watched it from outside.

This whole place was emperor's bed rooom.

Steven:"Honey, his bed room is a little bigger than ours!!"

Nice interior...Crane room.

"We like the garden, too. We will take it!!." ...Oh, it was not an open house tour...

After that, we went to Nijo jo
and Byodo-in by train.

Taking a break after the long walk...

We had Italian infused yakitori for Christmas dinner at Koke-Kokko.

Christmas Tree in Kyoto Station was pretty...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The second day in Kyoto. We saw our friend who lives in Osaka. She used to live in SF and had fun in the City together. We went to Arashi yama. Looks like we are sitting on the engawa (porch) in a regular house in this picture but this is Tenryu-ji (temple)built in 1339.
Arashi yama was a bit cold and we need some hot drink...Oh, Look there is Amazake (sweet hot rice drink) !!! I am holding the sign like a promoter.."Got Amazake?" but I hate the drink...It is too sweet for me. Instead I had some rice crackers. :):)

There was a bamboo garden close to Tenryu-ji. We like bamboos because they are soothing and feel very fresh when we stand in the bamboo bushes. My hometown, Beppu is famous for bamboo art craft.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Took a Shinkan sen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto. After we checked in the hotel, went to Daitoku ji to visit Hideyoshi's graveyard. Hideyoshi is Steven's one of the favorite Japanese Shoguns. BUT found out his gravveyard was not there!!! Instead, we found the temple where Matsu (Toshiie's wife) spend her final life and a place related to Hosokawa Gracia so it was good to visit there anyway.

It has pretty gardens as well.

2007 is Wild boar year, Steven's sign, too. We took a lot of pictures of him and wild boar here , there and everywhere. It is going to be a great year!! We walked along Kamo River and had dinner in Ponto-Cho. We had great Kyoto Style Tofu dishes but forgot taking pictures...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Japan trip-Tokyo-Tsukiji-Friends
We are here in Japan to celebrate our third Christmas and New Year together. We had been very busy in 2006 because we both got new jobs this year so this trip is going to be a treat for us. First 2 days are going to be in Tokyo. We are staying at hotel in Tsukiji where we can look down Sumida River. It reminded us of the boat ride we took when we first met :) BUT the main reason we booked this hotel was...

Tukiji Fish Market!! It was not so hard to get up at 5am because of the jet lug. We walked to the market and tried not to bother the people working there. The tuna they were dealing were all frozen and got laid on the floor. Some of them were HUGE. Bigger then people!! We enjoyed the excitement and busy atompsphere from the people selling/buying fish, running around, pushing hand carts to carry the fish and giving a look to tourists, "Not so fun anymore when you are doing this every morning." :)Tsukiji market has a varieties of sea food.
Breakfast time. I know Sushi is the most appropriate food to eat at Tsukiji Market but since we had an incredible sushi and sashimi dinner at Taka last night, we had Tendon (Tempura over the rice). Too heavy for breakfast? Noooo, we had busy and tight schedule after this so we needed to energize ourselves. I am hungry. Here is the seafood tendon!!

We visited to the Japan office of Steven's company and mine as well. Went to Ebisu Garden Hills and also went to Hiroo to see our friends. It has been 1.5 years since we saw them so we were busy catching up, laughing and eating.

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