February 24, 2008

Houtou is a local dish of the Yamanashi prefecture. It is a stew of odon noodles (wide wheat noodles) and vegetables in a thick miso soup.

(squash houtou)

This dish is said to be the favorite of warlord Takeda Shingen (1521-1573) and his troops. He is a very powerful feudal lord during the Sengoku (warring states) period.

February 22, 2008

Near the base of Mt. Fuji is a village called Oshino mura (Minamitsuru district, Yamanashi Prefecture) where you can find the most beautiful natural ponds formed hundreds of years ago by spring water from Mt. Fuji.
(quaint and rustic, with a great view of Mt. Fuji)

The place where the ponds are located is called Oshinohakkai, which literally translates to "eight springs of Oshino".
(pond with large golden kois)

The waters of the spring are unbelievably clear. You can see all the way to the bottom. A varied collection of underwater plants and colorful fishes (the large kois are amazing) inhabit the ponds.
(crystal clear water teeming with underwater plants)

You can take a sip of the fresh spring water if you fancy it.
(fresh from the mouth of a dragon)

It amazing how the place is preserved. Knowing the Japanese, the springs will still be in their pristine state decades from now.

February 16, 2008

After enjoying the freezing temperature in Lake Yamanakako we proceeded to a mountain called Myouyama 5 km south-east of the lake. Its popular launch site for hang gliders and also offers a scenic view of the lake and Mt. Fuji.


(from a viewing station half-way to the top)

When we got to the viewing station there was a throng of tourist snapping souvenir shots and photographers with their tripods in prime locations, waiting for the light to be just right. One even left this camera mounted on a tripod out on the snow while he waits inside his car.

(Francis, taking his share of shots, and Mr. Nishimoto, enjoying the morning sun)

We stayed there for about an hour before heading down the mountain. Dark clouds are building up on this side so our host suggested we head to the other lakes . There are five lakes in Fujigoko - one down four more to go :)

(panorama shot - 3 photos, heading down the mountain)

More photos at my Flickr

February 12, 2008

Mt. Fuji is the most dominant landmark in Japan. Its majestic peak is visible even from central Tokyo on a clear day. Its also the most photographed mountain in the world. However few foreigners probably know that there is more to Fujisan than just the mountain. The area around the base of the mountain (called Fujigoko, in the Yamanashi prefecture) is home to five scenic lakes.


(along the west bank of Lake Yamanakako)
We set out one winter morning to visit the Fujigoko area.
Even from a distance, Mt Fuji made us feel its majestic presence. Our first stop was Lake Yamanakako (or Lake Yamanaka).

(Mt Fuji as seen from Chuo Expressway)
A scenic country road winds along the west bank of the lake. Rustic restaurants and inns dot the area.

The lake was frozen that time as one would expect it to be during winter =D. The air was freezing but it did not stop folks from fishing on the lake. It certaintly did not stop us from taking a couple of shots. Ok maybe not just a couple of shots :D


(this boat is going nowhere)
Lake Yamanaka is the biggest of the five lakes. It is also the third highest lake in Japan (at 980 meters above sea).

(boating season closed!)
One of my friends could not resist walking on the frozen lake. Its not everyday that a guy from a tropical country gets to step on ice on a frozen lake. He was amusingly watching another guy skating near him. The ice was thick enough to support a man's weight but I didn't dare, not the gear I have :). Or maybe I saw too many movies that I was afraid my first few seconds on ice would be followed with the sounds "craaaakkk, splashhhh!, aahhhhh, helpppp!". :D

February 8, 2008

You can't walk several meters in Japan without encountering a vendo machine. This is specially true for the urban areas around Tokyo. They are not only useful (direct selling at its best), they are also aesthetically pleasing, well at least during the night.

Coke vendo machine in Nakano

So one night (around midnight), with two of my friends in tow, I set out to take photos of vendo machines around Akishima. Oh did I mention it was a very cold winter's night? It must have been below zero because I cannot feel my hands and ears. Ah, the stuff we do for a couple of photos ....


Hot and cold drinks available

Cigarette vendo machine, choose your poison

They also took it a step further. In small restaurants, ordering machines such as the one below are very common.

Restaurant vendo

This takes care of the language barrier when ordering items in the menu. Saves you the trouble of explaining what you want to the waiter/waitress, that is IF you know how to operate one of these.

It isn't very hard actually. Just pop in a couple of bills (and/or coins), cover your eyes with one hand and start pressing some buttons with the other. Little coupons will pop out. Hand them over to a waiter/waitress and wait for your food. If you are lucky, you'll have a dinner you won't forget =D

See other views of the world in That's My World.

February 7, 2008

Six (6) images, just in time for the Chinese New Year! Last January 1 I had 8 images in Picture Perfect. Is there another new year this year? =D

February 5, 2008

It snowed hard on my last day in Akishima. I have to catch a plane to Seoul that day and to do that I have walk to the train station, then to the bus station for the airport bus. Sounds simple, and with the snow, sounds even exciting.
(photo by Francis Atendido, who had the courage to take out his camera. Check out his blog at libot.blogspot.com)

Snow can be fun. But not if you are dragging a 20-kilo suitcase.
The rollers don't work too well on thick snow. Instead of rolling, my suitcase is literally plowing so I have to carry it most of the time. I didn't count how many times I swore that morning.

One could also easily forget that snow is made of water. So what do you get when you are covered in snow and you go inside a warm place? A nice cold bath!