Thursday, July 30, 2009


The historic and incredible village of Shirakawa-go is one of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The town is located in the Shogawa river valley, basically in the middle of a mountain range. The road out to this town was amazing, we drove through about 20km of tunnels to get there, then all of a sudden you burst out of the end of the tunnels in the middle of this lush river valley.

The village is famous for its thatched roofs that are built to withstand the heavy snowfalls in winter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kenrokuen Garden

We took a daytrip to the Kenrokuen garden, a huge garden in Kanazawa. It was hard to take a bad photograph here, everywhere you look there were trees, ponds, bridges and tea houses. The entire garden covers 25 acres, with little trails and pathways that wind through the whole place. The ugly photo below is a Koi that came out of the water to try and take a bite of my camera.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Traditional Japanese Breakfast. No Captain Crunch in sight.


The phrase itadakimasu (ee-tah-dah-kee-mahss) is said before every meal to annouce that you are going to begin eating and to show appreciation for the preparation of the food. It has become my favorite word to say because every time I say it, I know I am about to feast on some incredible food. Below are just a few of the excellent home cooked dishes I have been sampling.

Unagi (freshwater eel)

Ikura (salmon roe) on daikon.

Pork and potato korokke (croquettes), salad, kabocha (pumpkin soup).


Tempura everything.


Assorted sashimi, caught in the morning off of the Toyama coast, fresh as it gets.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Surfing Destination: Sea of Japan

We have made a few attempts to find waves around the Toyama area in the Sea of Japan, and for the most part it is like you would expect, flat. We have made the most of it though and had a few fun sessions in Solimar-like surf at a few beachbreaks. On the positive side, the water is warm, there are no crowds, and there is cold beer and warm food waiting for you in the beachfront dining shacks. Off to the east coast soon to try and find some better waves...

Tunnel Vision

This is one of the most perfect rivermouth setups I have ever seen, with 6-inch right tubes draining down the sand bank. All we need is a swell!


A few photos from the around the Toyama neighborhood. Quite a difference from San Diego, or anywhere in Socal. Everywhere you look it is green, green, green. The climate here is very tropical and it feels just like Hawaii, rains every afternoon. There is a great zen garden in the back yard, and countless rice fields around the neighborhood in every direction.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More Tokyo

It would probably take 2 years to see all of Tokyo, we tried to see it in 8 hours. Below are some highlights...

The Asahi Beer headquarters building in Tokyo. Look closely and you will see that the building resembles a giant mug of beer with a foamy head. This building makes me thirsty!

Making homemade soba noodles at a restaurant in Asakusa. I love eating these noodles, and it is considered polite to slurp the noodles noisily. While eating soba with Aya and her family for lunch at this restaurant, I felt like Tom Selleck in this scene from Mr. Baseball, except my mustache isn't as big.

The busy main shopping arcade at Asakusa, where one can buy any kind of souvenir imaginable.

We looked around for a "Cafe Bart", but couldn't find one.

Entering a shrine in the middle of the Shinjuku area near our hotel. It was interesting to see how these simple shrines were located in the middle of such busy urban areas.

The prayer board at the shrine, you can buy a piece of wood and write your prayer or wish on it.

Ringing the bell.

Tokyo skyline view from the hotel room.

First official dinner in Japan, we dined on some Yakitori! Very tasty skewered chicken, you can order any chicken part you can think of, (skin, heart, wing, etc.) they all tasted great.

Nikujaga, a very tasty stew of potatoes, pork, carrot and onion.

Shibuya Station street crossing. This was in the morning, not the busiest time for this intersection, but it was still madness. I hung out of the car window to snap this photo.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flew into Narita Airport at about 6pm and took a van into the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, in the middle of the madness, late Sunday night. Tokyo is nonstop action and does not slow down, even on a Sunday night. Kind of like the strip at las vegas, but stretching in all directions for miles and miles, but with more neon and many more karaoke bars.

View from the hotel room.

The main strip.

Pachinko! parlor.

Jet lag took its toll and I couldn't make it back to the hotel, so I snuck in a a quick catnap in the town square.