Making Nagoya fatter

I have family visiting, so I’ve been able to take some time off. I’m visiting places I rarely see outside of the weekend or evening hours. It is kind of interesting. Hey, people in black suits, what are you doing in Bic Camera at 2:30 pm? GET TO WORK!

Today, my brother and I joined all the junior high school kids who are on vacation and wandered about. I think we’ve pooped out my mother so she stayed behind and read. We’ve had a pretty busy time since they got here so a little down time for a woman who was almost a teenager as WWII ended was probably OK.

Since the weather was nice, we decided to walk from my apartment to Nagoya Station, so I entered the station from street level instead of from the subway. As soon as I arrived, I saw a long line. There was a baumkuchen shop that had opened up previously that used to have quite the line. Things had settled down. But then I noticed a sign that said, “Krispy Kreme” in Japanese. Oh no, not again.

Which way for the Krispy Kreme line?

Unfortunately, this wasn’t my first Krispy Kreme in Japan experience.

Lining up in 2007

Here’s the crowd in May, 2007, in Shinjuku in Tokyo.

Unfortunately, my fears were realized and a new Krispy Kreme has sprouted up, this time at Nagoya Station. The lines in Tokyo were at least an hour and a half when it first opened. I suspect that the wait in Nagoya is the same.

Lining up in 2010

Steve and I were lamenting the fattening of Japan, and the bad influence of western diet. Then we went to the ramen shop in the train station where we noticed huge tins of refined lard. Hmmmm.

Ramen.  Yum

The refined lard makes the heat stay in the ramen. And quoting a friend quoting from “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Fat is the medium by which flavor travels. Fat is what makes food taste good. This is why a wise and loving God gave us fat in the first place.”

Doubly boneheaded

I typically us a train credit pass to get around Nagoya. It works on both the Meitetsu train lines and the Nagoya subway lines. That’s good for me because those are the lines I use the most. I could get a monthly pass, but there isn’t great value to those, they are expensive, and I think I am prone to losing that kind of thing.

I buy a card for 5000 yen that has 5600 in credit. Hey, that’s over 10% free. The problem of course is that the amount you have on the card at the end never equals an amount that you actually need for the next train ride. You know how much you have by the display as you pass through the wicket and by the fine printing on the back of your card. (As an interesting side note, you can insert the card in any orientation, it will come up correctly stamped. Cool, huh?)

Nagoya subway / train pass

Today I had 100 yen left on my card. My total commute is 490 yen, which 290 yen on the Meitetsu train and 200 yen on the subway. At the ticket machines, you can put your old card in and that acts as money. Then you “top off” the machine to the amount you need, get a regular ticket, and drop your now liquidated pass into the little recycle box. Tonight I was very distracted – it was another 12+ hours at the office, I had a phone call, and I was tired. When I got to the ticket machine and inserted my card and cash, I chose a 490 yen ticket. That’s great, that’s the total of my trip, but that is the total of BOTH tickets. Drat.

At every exit is a “Fare Adjustment Machine” where you can update your ticket if you ended up riding the train further than the cost of your regular ticket. I thought I’d try the reverse of that – try for a refund since I overpaid. Guess what? It doesn’t work that way. So I put my 490 yen ticket for my 290 yen fare into the wicket and hoped that maybe it would pop out the other end. Nope. Oh well. Out 200 yen.

When I got to my subway entrance, I needed to buy a new pass. So I inserted my 10,000 yen note (over $100) and push the buttons but got button happy and push the wrong combination and ended up buying a 290 yen ticket. DRAT!!!! I wanted a 5000 yen pass. So now I was another 90 yen overpaid. I finally got my pass, and finally got home, after paying 780 yen for a 490 yen fare!

Meitetsu train at Jingumae


To cap off the evening, I was able to pass a guy talking on the telephone, smoking a cigarette, and urinating into the planter in front of Lawson on my main thoroughfare as I was walking home from the subway station after work. Now that is class!

Yummm – monja!

Last weekend, while in Tokyo, Tomo and I went to 月島 (Tsukishima, another reference here) in Tokyo to meet up with a couple of his high school classmates for some もんじゃ焼 (monjayaki). That had not been our plan at all. As a matter of fact, I was hoping to go to Gonpachi, where the big restaurant brawl from “Kill Bill” was shot. OK, touristy, but still I have wanted to see it. As we were heading to the subway, Tomo got a text saying, “Where are you?” Oops. So we had a decision to make – go with our plan or take the same subway line a different direction. Since Tomo recalled that he had made the tentative plan he decided we would redirect to monja.

Tsukishima is famous for monja. If you’ve never had monja, imagine someone puking on a teppan and then scooping it up with a little spatula and eating it. That’s the visual. Sound appetizing? It actually is really, really good. And like most Japanese food, it is very social and very interactive.

You basically have different ingredients, usually including some cheese, cabbage, veggies, and meats, all in a brothy bowl. You put the hard stuff on the teppan and start grilling it. After it is sufficiently grilled, you make a ring out of it and then pour the broth in the middle. The broth bubbles and congeals a little bit, and then you mix in the previously grilled stuff. It is sort of runny, sort of not runny, and you use a little spatula to scoop it up and then pop it in your mouth. Of course, none of this could be accomplished without the help of draft beer.

Monja in Tsukishima

The ring with the broth bubbling in the middle.

Monja in Tsukishima

Monja getting mixed and almost ready to eat.

Monja in Tsukishima

One bowl prepared, and another one sitting in the queue

Monja in Tsukishima

Tomo prepares dessert. Somehow he poured the batter and spread it like a crepe. His friends were impressed. The filling is sweet red bean paste, a favorite Japanese dessert ingredient. To finish the dessert you flop the side over, roll it up and then slice it. Very good.

You leave the restaurant feeling very good, step outside, and realize, “Oh my God! My clothes and my hair have absorbed every smell in that restaurant.” Tomo and I went to an onsen afterwards and got the smell off our bodies. A very Japanese evening.

Oddest search hit yet

This isn’t much of a post, but I had to share this search hit to my blog: