Saturday, November 27, 2010

Karinba Chinese Restaurant

Karinba Chinese Restaurant is very popular among the Americans living in Misawa. This is probably the reason why I avoided going here for so long, but today I decided to try it.  First of all,  it is expensive and the food is not tasty. I would call it American style Chinese but even at that it doesn’t taste good. The best part of our lunch was the pickled dish! (And the ice cream, but that is pretty hard to mess up). I’m not saying that nobody should go here, (Asian tastebuds beware!) but it really isn’t my taste and needless to say, I won’t be going back. One of the dining roomsOne of the regular tables looking out the window
I hate to leave this blog on a bad note, so I will tell you one good thing about Karinba, the atmosphere is really nice.
If you would still like to try Karinba you can get there by going out the POL gate, past 4 stoplights and it will be on your left.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pizzaria Massimo

I went to Pizzaria Massimo two weeks ago and it was awesome. Best pizza in Misawa by far! It has just opened up recently in American Park on White Pole road. Once you go in the large building, go through the “supermarket” section and it is on your right. There is a wood fired oven inside. They serve “Naples Pizza.” The atmosphere is very cozy with photos of Italy and some very Italian looking musician, I didn’t have a chance to ask who he was. You can order a pizza set (which comes with a salad) but one pizza was enough for me! With many toppings there is sure to be one for you! Here is the margherita pizza I had. It was superb! Next time you are having a craving for pizza, head over to Pizzaria Massimo! 
Here are some more pictures from Pizzaria Massimo. Also, I asked who the musician was in so many of the photos. His name is Luciano Ligubue. I checked him out on YouTube. He is like an Italian Bruce Springsteen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hirosaki Castle: Chrysanthemum Festival

Hirosaki Castle in fall
November 6th was the second to last day of the Chrysanthemum Festival at Hirosaki Castle. It also commemorates the 5 month anniversary of me arriving in Japan. ^_^
DSC05566Hirosaki castle is 400 years old! This sign is made out of apples
When you get to the first booth, they only have maps in Japanese. If you go to the booth near the castle, they keep their English maps there. Many people were taking leisurely strolls but I knew I wanted to see the castle first, so even though the man on stage singing Kabuki-type music was amazing…I searched for a sign leading to the castle. Once I got there, I went to the booth, showed them my ticket (which allowed me to go inside the castle, you have to pay extra). I went inside the castle. The castle is actually a lot smaller than I thought it would be and even more so inside. They had samurai armor and other artifacts. There are 3 floors to the museum and apparently 5 floors to the castle. The stairs are very steep and very narrow so watch you step and watch your head! While you are in the castle, don’t forget to look out the windows. I got a great shot of the mountain from there.
 view of the mountain from inside the castle
After I got my fill of the castle, I was really hungry so I downed a adzuki bean bun I had brought with me and just started walking. I think I got lost and maybe even went to places I wasn’t supposed to be in. Oops… I did see the “Cherry Blossom Tunnel.” Hirosaki is a prime spot for cherry blossom viewing in the spring. Unfortunately, I was not in Japan this year to see it but I can’t wait until April/May already! Here is what it looked like in the fall:
Imagine this road covered in pink cherry blossoms !
So once I got here I think I got to an impasse so I turned around and decided to find the Chrysanthemum section. There were many manikins like the one shown below dressed in kimonos made of flowers.
manican in flower kimonoGiant Chrysanthemummarigolds, I thinkDSC05683DSC05667
The flowers were really nice and the chrysanthemums were gigantic! But what I really loved was the fall colors on all the trees. Some were so red they looked like they were on fire! I haven’t seen colors like that since I lived in New England!
haven't seen fall colors like this since I lived in New England!
beautiful golden trees
Hirosaki Castle was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back this spring to see the cherry blossoms in bloom! I know for sure it will be very crowded unlike the chrysanthemum festival.

Directions:Hirosaki Castle (with toll road)

Follow general directions to Aomori City. Misawa -->Route 8 -->Michinoku Toll Road  -->Route 123
Proceed on Route 123 and turn left at the green sign denoting Aomori Higashi IC.
Get on the toll road (Aomori Expressway -->Tohoku Expressway
Get off at Kuroishi IC and take Route 102 towards Hirosaki City. You will cross a bridge over railroad tracks and follow the signs to your destination.

Hirosaki Castle (without toll road)
Follow the general directions to Aomori City. Misawa --> Route 8 --> Route 4
Proceed on Route 4 and you will come to a big intersection with Route 7 bypass
Turn Right onto RTE 7 Bypass (Hirosaki is about 50KM from this point)
Once in Hirosaki City there will be an off ramp to turn Left, proceed down it and turn Right under RTE 7.
Follow signs to your destination.
To go to Hirosaki Park (Castle) pass by the first sign that tells you to turn right at the Castle and proceed down to the T intersection.
Turn Left at the T-intersection and follow the road around the castle grounds.
Parking is fairly limited near the Castle - you may end up parking a few blocks away and have to walk. The parking lots near the Castle charge about 1000yen

Friday, November 5, 2010

Culture Day

November 3rd was Culture Day in Japan and in preparation for it, The Civic Center had an art exhibit and dance shows the week before. I have been taking Oshie classes since I got here and all the oshie I have made were put on display. It  was nice to see my work out there but it was also great to see how much talent our little city has whether it was pottery, painting, ikebana, bonsai, washi dolls or calligraphy.  Take a look!
clay monkslarge calligraphyJapanese flower arranginglarge painting Noh Theaterone of my oshie's on displaya picture made from pressed flowers


Tohoku Academy

Halloween is not celebrated in Japan, but because we live in Misawa a lot of children have an opportunity to celebrate it with us! On October 30th I hosted a Halloween party for the children at Tohoku Academy. It was a lot of fun. We ate hot dogs, played “trick or treat”, Twister, had an eyeball relay and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. Most of the children were dressed up. Unfortunately, the amount of costumes available in Japan are slim to none so we had a lot of witches. I dressed up as Dorothy but everyone thought I was Alice from Alice in Wonderland. (She is really popular here!)

Dorothy and Toto

After the party I went to the Halloween Ball. It was pretty fun. A lot of neat costumes. I didn’t take many pictures because well… it was really dark.
The Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy, Jasmine and Genie
On Halloween I worked the Haunted House on base from 3-9. Haunted house is kind  of a misnomer since it was more of a slaughter house than anything. I was an escort so I brought people through the last half of the house. (This house is getting ready for demolition so they decorated however they wanted…mostly with “blood”) There was a PG show and a rated R show. I didn’t see too much difference between the two but a lot of people brought small children to the rated R show! I was shocked!
Edit: As promised, here are pictures of me with my makeup for the haunted house!149116_1696865704181_1314019772_1810089_1155353_n148841_1696863304121_1314019772_1810083_77573_nBOO!