Nagoya Expo

The Expo in Nagoya is over… But actually I went way back in like May.

Actually my favorite booth at the Expo was the MANGEKYO, the giant building which doubles as a kaleidoscope. However, pictures of that don’t turn out so well… So I’ll share the Toyota show with you.

Seriously though, the Mangekyo was very cool. You would enter the building, look straight up, and the top of the building is open, with a giant panes of color and water sliding around. Since it is straight over your head, and the sunlight comes through to light up the display, it really looks like you’re looking at the sky and it’s on fire.. and ice… and on… yellow… and stuff… all at the same time. And moving… After looking at it for about 10 minutes… I think I almost fell over.

Toyota was showing some cool vehicles at the expo. I believe it was called something like the iDrive or iPod or iGopher or i’macheesyTechName… ah yes! i-Move! The vehicle carries one person, and can convert from a reclined position, to a more upright position, while in motion, and while the driver is still inside. Pretty cool! Plus, the whole thing is electric, and runs extremely quietly. Which is a bonus if you want to sneak up on a segway and run it down. The show though was cheesy… yet entertaining. It included people dressed up in what could only be described as iMac meets TRON type get-ups… and had everything from glowing rainbow orbs to fire shooting out of the floor as the iMove’s drove around by remote and saved the neon-suited dancing people. Sorry if my explanation sounds like a drug induced dream… but that’s what it was like.

It was 撮影禁止 so, sorry for no pics.

I’m not sure how practical these would be… but they sure looked cool, and they seem to ride extremely smoothly.

This guy was chillin’ in his crib with his hat all twisted in stuff. He’s dope.

Aichi Banpaku in da house!

I’m out.

– Harvey

Noodle Making

I went to a soba shop in Saitama run by my friend’s parents. This was a rare experience because I was able to go to the shop at 7am and watch the udon and soba being prepared for the rest of the day.

The shop is run by a husband and wife. They get into the shop every morning at about 6am to prepare about one hundred servings of soba and udon to keep the people in the city fed everyday. Of course, the amount they prepare depends on the season as well. In summer, soba seems to sell better than Udon, and on cold says, Udon is popular.

This shop wasn’t a hand-made soba place, instead they use a machine to mix, press, and cut the noodles. The same machine can be used for both Udon and Soba. Basically the Soba is first prepared in a dry powder, and then mixed until fluffy. After that, the mix is run thru the machine and pressed into a sheet. This is redone about 5 times to increase the strength and density of the pack.

After the pressed roll of noodle is ready, the machine is retooled and set up to cut. The same method is used for preparing udon, but in the case of udon the machine cuts each noodle a little thicker. After all the noodles are cut, next is time to boil them.

A giant vat called a “kama” is used to boil the noodles. It was interesting to see the giant pot filled with so many servings of Soba. Getting the noodles out of the pot after about 10-15 minutes when the noodles were done boiling was also a sight to see. My friend, the owner’s daughter said that she could never do that, because of the heat of the noodles, and possible splashing of the water.

Other things in the shop included a big bucket of “nukazuke” 糠漬け. This is a foul smelling mix of a mud like substance that is used to make Japanese tsukemono. You can put any type of vegetable inside for about 6 hours, depending on the type of vegetable… and it will come out with a sour taste absorbed from the nakazuke mix. To keep the mix useable, someone has to mix it around once a day… but if you are diligent and keep it mixed the same bucket can be used for more than 40 years! If you forget one day, it will mold and be unusable however. Sensitive stuff.

I didn’t have the guts to stick my hands in that nuka-stuff. Foul.

Since I was in the shop in the morning I was able to eat “kamaage” udon. The udon hat comes straight out of the Kama into your bowl. Normally, the udon is boiled in the morning, taken out of the kama to sit and cool. When a customer orders, it is dipped into the kama for a short time to heat it up again before serving. The udon straight from the kama was great! Very warm and soft and fresh! I was very lucky to see that, but I don’t think I’ll get up at 6am for udon again!

– Harvey