Asakusa Samba festival

I do not know how the ties between Brazil and Japan were originally made, and even Wikipedia is a bit slim on information. However,  Brazil holds the second largest population of Japanese outside of Japan. I cannot really imagine too dissimilar cultures but it seems to work. And it works a little bit both ways. Whilst Japan does not have the second largest population of Brazilians outside of Brazil , they do seem to really appreciate Brazilian culture. One of the ways they do that is with the Asakusa samba festival – a little version of carnival in Tokyo.

Unfortunately, it seems they have not quite got the hang of the after party yet. Still, the costumes, the energy and enthusiasm were all very impressive. Also, going on the crowd that showed up, I’m sure it was also an economic success for Asakusa.

These photos are from the festival held in August 2012. I’m sure it will be on again in 2013. Keep your eyes out in Metro magazine event listings or for posters in the sub-way.

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Food from home

The food in Japan is renowned for its quality. What people may not realise, is that it is not just the food in the restaurants that is good – it is the food in the markets and the supermarkets and the basement floors of the department stores.

For me the food in Japan represents two of the virtues most synonymous with the Japanese –  value and quality. Lucky for me, I think that flowed through to my cooking!

Dinner Diary: Ginza, LIME Balinese aqua bar

These pictures are from two dinners I had at a fusion Japanese-Balinese bar and restaurant in Ginza called LIME. The restaurant is located upstairs (2F) in the Ginza Corridor arcade under the metropolitan expressway and Shinkansen. A map and review is available from Metro.

LIME has  floor to ceiling fish-tanks running the length of the restaurant and provides most of the restaurants moody lighting. The tanks are chock full of tropical fish, including a beautiful zebra striped moray eel, which hides up near the cashiers.

The food was good. Not fantastic and not expensive, it was good value, interesting fusion food. If you want Japanese food, go somewhere else. If you want pure Indonesia food, go somewhere else. If you want something that sounds familiar but is a little different – same same but different – then give this place a try.

My favourite secret place in Tokyo

Bar Lupin is a stellar little hide-away with a mysterious ambiance and marvelously mixed cocktails. Don’t bother ordering from the menu, just tell the head cocktail chef your preferred base and ask for his recommendation.

My favorite secret spot in Tokyo
My favorite secret spot in Tokyo

This dark, alley-way basement bar is simple and old. Its history dates back to about 1915 and has been kept in-tact with some pain-staking renovation work and true Japanese dedication. The full story of the bar is available in english and Japanese on arrival.

So where is it? You know what, its that good I’m not telling. But these guys are. If you go, go early – they stop serving about 11:30 pm.

Osaka trip teaser

March was an action packed month. Highlight being a 10 day return trip down to Osaka, incorporating Hakone, Koya-san, lloyd-san, Wakayama, lake Biwa, Yoro, Route 19, camping, onsens, world heritage sites, temple ryokans, monks, meditation, mountain passes, snow, storms frozen lakes, raging rivers, swing bridges, Kobe beef, sesame tofu, deer and monkeys.

To give you an idea of some of the beautiful riding, I’ve compiled these little gif teasers. Detailed posts and photo gallery to come soon plus other catch up posts covering at least Nozawa Onsen and snowboarding, Chiba and Ibaraki and the Tokyo bay ocean pass.

Scenic route around the North West corner of Lake Biwa
Scenic route around the North West corner of Lake Biwa
Lake Biwa
Lake Biwa
Entrance to Ina camp ground off route 152 near Chino (Nagoya)
Entrance to Ina camp ground off route 152 near Chino (Nagoya)

Fuji fall photos

Merry festive season everyone. I hope you are taking the time to enjoy the small things. Back in Australia I have been surrounded by love and the things I love. Including fruit pudding and brandy custard the traditional Dot Williams way. Friends have gotten married, family are getting married, there has been time in the pool and down the beach, games of cricket and tiggy, summer storms, wide open spaces, road trips, books, quiet time after lunch and a nana nap or two.

I was also enjoying going though some old photos of a fall trip to Fuji with a good friend. Its a beautiful place, especially with the golden leaves, ultra blue skies and blazing snowy white mountain Fuji towering over all. The beauty of Fuji distills a kind of peace over this place. Never mind the cold.

Please note that a lot of these photos were taken by the lovely Silje.

Major service

The bike had hit 30,000KM and was in need of service. The front brake calliper dust pads were ripped, the lever grating under pressure and the face of the screws on the brake fluid box completely worn and unable to be unscrewed. Plus the engine was running rough with chugging and surging occurring under acceleration and to top it all off suspension oil was starting to leak out of the top air valves.

So, considering it was supposed to be rainy season I pulled the bike apart to get to the carburettors, which I suspected of being responsible for the rough engine performance no doubt caused by the dusty roads in Timor and the poor quality fuel from there and Indonesia.

Sure enough, the diaphragm valves of the carbies both had numerous scratch’s and the butterfly valves were sticky with carbon deposits. I prepared for my toughest maintenance job yet – disassembling and cleaning the carbies. Try as I might though, I couldn’t get past step 1 of the manual – disconnecting the brace that keeps both carbies level! Probably a good thing since you are supposed to have a special tool to make sure they are level when you reconnect them!

Rather than put everything back together and take the whole bike for service, I figured it would be better (cheaper) just to take in the parts that needed work. After several trips to Bikers community land I finally made it in with the front brake (caliper, hose and lever), carbies and translator. They were very surprised to hear of a Kawasaki KLE 500 in Japan! Turns out there would be more parts for my bike in Europe as it was only manufactured for Europe, Africa and Australia. They have been extremely helpful though and we identified enough replacement parts for the carbies and calliper to make it worthwhile, plus I will finally upgrade the brake with a new Daytona lever and steel braided hose.

Upgrade to a progressive spring for the front suspension is also in the pipeline. Should be back on the road by Septermber, just in time for Richys visit.

True Aristocracy

“True aristocracy is in being a nomad; those who settle lose their lineage.”

Yuruk Proverb.

The Yuruks (or Yorouks), as I understand it were nomads of the Turkish/Greek/Macedonian region in the 14th century. Apparently they still be wandering in those areas.

I’m not so sure that lineage is all that important, I see it as distinct and separate  from family, community and aristocracy.  True, historically aristocrats were of a particular lineage that was supposed to be better than the commoner, it implied they had some connection with a god. A greatness of person. It became an excuse for the subjugation, control and repression of the commoner.

If the greatness of people(s) should primarily be measured by what and who they accept, not by what and who they reject – the various nomads of the world would truly be aristocracy. I base this proclamation on the hypothesis that those who settle lose not their historic claim to aristocracy (lineage) but  their modern claim – their tolerance. Settlements entail boundaries, barriers, borders, walls and fences. Settlement entails protectionism and homogeneity, a fear of ‘outsiders’ and those that are different.  This could not be clearer then it is in the land of the rising sun.

Thanks Nick and the young priest in ‘Chocolate’ the movie (Easter tolerance speech) for the inspiration .