Takoyaki at Yoshimoto

I went to check out the famous Yoshimoto Grand Kagetsu (Namba Grand Kagetsu) few months ago to check out the famous Japanese comedy shows.

A lot of the comedy shows on TV in Japan are filmed here. It’s the most famous comedy venue in the country.

Below is a shot from one of the opening acts. Photography was prohibited during the main events…

So I bet you were wondering where Takoyaki would come into all this?

Usually in performance halls in Japan eating is prohibited. However, one of the really Osaka-esque (大阪らしい) points of Namba Grand Kagetsu is that you can eat during the shows.

Apparently, old ladies would come catch the lunch time skits while eating their obento lunch boxes. These days, employees walk through the isles selling Takoyaki and other snacks before the show starts as they would popcorn at a baseball game.

Yup. It’s real Takoyaki. Yum!

Now that I have moved to Yokohama, I’m starting to miss cheap Takoyaki available on every corner!

– Harvey

Tsutenkaku in Osaka

There is an area in Osaka called Shinsekai (新世界), which literally means “new world” in English. This area is famous for being dirty and a little dangerous at night, as well for having lots of an incredibly unhealthy yet delicious food called Kushikatsu (串カツ). Because of Shinsekai’s old town feel, many Japanese compare it to Asakusa (浅草) in Tokyo.

The tower pictured above is known as Tsutenkaku (通天閣). Tsutenkaku is a famous tower in Osaka right in the middle of the Shinsekai area. The official homepage for the Tsutenkaku tower is here (JP Only). The tower is sponsored by Hitachi, so it shows mostly neon ads by Hitachi throughout the day. Apparently they change the colors of the lights every year.

I have heard a rumor that there are plans to tear the tower down… But they may just be rumors.

Just near the tower, you will find this Kushikatsu shop. The people sitting down in the lower right are waiting in line to get in. This place seats about 110 customers, but it is so popular there always seems to be a line at around dinner time.

Kushikatsu must be one of the most unhealthy Japanese foods… Basically you stick something on a stick, bread it, and fry it in oil. Then it is dipped in sauce and eaten. In most Kushikatsu places the sauce is in a metal tin, which stays on the table throughout the day. It is common knowledge that no double dipping is allow, but still. Eww!

Think of Kushikatsu sauce as a public bath, or onsen for your food! Everyone bathes together.

Typical things that can be made into Kushikatsu include…

Beef, Pork, Chiken, Mochi, Mushrooms, Onions, Various types of Potatoes, Various Types of Fish, Green Peppers, Gobou, Pumpkin, Squid, Octopus… The list goes on in on. As you can see in the picture below, most of the items are 100 – 200 yen per stick, so it’s pretty cheap for Japan standards!

I don’t know how this happened… But this is the only picture I took of the actual food! There is only one left… The rest have been eaten… Sorry for the lonely Kushikatsu picture.

Other Tsutenkaku Information

Tsutenkaku (通天閣)on Wikipedia [EN, JP]

Shinsekai (新世界) on Wikipedia [EN, JP]

Kushikatsu (串カツ) on Wikipedia [EN, JP]

You can get to Shinsekai by getting off the Sakaisuji Subway Line at Ebisucho station, and taking exit 3. It’s about a 3 minute walk. If you are not sure where it is, ask people where Tsutenkaku is and you’re sure to get there!

– Harvey

Outdoor Washing

Some apartments in Japan are so small, that the washing machine is placed outside of the home.

Also, most Japanese homes do not have clothes dryers inside, so clothes must be hung out to dry.

Could you imagine having to step outside of your home in the winter to get your wet laundry out of the machine? Since the machine is outside you can bet that the clothes inside will be freezing when they’re done. It would be terrible to have to stick your hands in there to pull them out of the machine in order to hang up to dry.

I’ll know soon. This is my place…

– Harvey

Becoming Buddha

Here’s an interesting Japanese phrase I recently learned.

「おしゃかになった。」 Osyaka ni natta.

The meaning of this phrase, is the same as 「だめになった」 Dame ni natta. Which means, “it was broken”, or “it became useless”.

The root of this phrase is very interesting. The kanji for Osyaka, is 「お釈迦」which means Buddha. If you literally translate Osyaka ni natta, it means, “it became Buddha”.

Now why would a phrase which translates to “becoming Buddha”, be used in the case when something becomes useless, or broken? Isn’t becoming Buddha a good thing?

According to the 広辞苑 (koujien, a Japanese – Japanese dictionary, like our Webster), the phrase comes from a story like this…

Someone was trying to make a statue of another god, such as Jizou, or Amida, however failed, and instead the statue ended up looking like a statue of Buddha.

Thus, the term “it became Buddha” is used for when something becomes useless or broken, and especially, when someone is trying to create something, but destroys it in the process.

Our Japanese teacher used this phrase when referring to a cassette tape that was eaten by the player. A student was trying to wind the reel back into the tape, and she said… 「それはもうお釈迦になったと思うよ」
Good stuff!

– Harvey

When Mormons Attack

I would say that 85% of the time in Japan, and sorry to pull race into this, but if a well dressed white person randomly starts a conversation with you while you are alone on the street somewhere, chances are they’re Mormon missionaries.

If they happen to be wearing a name tag, you can increase that confidence interval to 95%.

One exception I have experienced to this was once in Nagoya when I was approached by a J.Witness members… Similar, to say the least.

Here are some Mormons on the hunt now.

Run Kid Run!

They’ve got him.

There is nothing wrong with this. It’s important to recruit as many to the cause as possible. Time is short.
Here is another blog entry about the Mormon in Japan phenomenon from SushiCam.

– Harvey

Visited Countries Update

I got to keep on movin’ ♪

You can create your own map here!

After my trip to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand I’m at 22 countries now, or 9% of the countries in the world.

Visiting countries is cool, but really, most of these places are just on a “I’ve been there” level. As a tourist mostly. I wonder if I will ever live in another country for as long as I have been here in Japan? Too bad it takes so long to get to know a place…

I wouldn’t mind being able to live in one country for 2 years, before moving on to the next. The world is a big place! I still haven’t been to Africa or South America…

Or the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park for that matter…

– Harvey

Sharks and Takoyaki, or not

This is a good one.

This is a Chinese snack. A friend brought it back from mainland China as an Omiyage.

Inside the package, is dried squid.

Outside of the package, is a picture of a shark, and text which says “TAKOYAKI”. Which, as we all know, are fried breaded octopus balls. (Or is it?)

What’s going on here? Is this related to the shark-eating octopus?

Even though I am no longer living in Osaka, the takoyaki related posts WILL NEVER CEASE!

– Harvey

Vocab: Fifty-Fifty

Random vocab I came across recently.

五分五分 – ごぶごぶ – gobugobu – fifty-fifty
I had no idea you could say “gobu gobu” to mean 50/50.

It surprised me because the kanji are so easy, and it sounds like something I should have run across before…

Learn something new everyday!

For example, the title of this newspaper article I found by googling 「五分五分」。

北の核実験、可能性は五分五分 強行か牽制か韓国緊張

きたのかくじっけん、かのうせいはごぼごぶ きょうこかけいせいかかんこくきんちょう

kita no kaku jikken, kanousei ha gobugobu kyouko ka keiseika kannkoku kinncyou

The North’s (North Korea) missile test, a show of force, or diversion? The possibility is 50/50. South Korea is tense.

Translation is not my strong point… How would you guys translate that headline?

– Harvey

1 2 3