Monday, September 29, 2008

Dream Car Show 2008

The Dream Car Show 2008 was held at Port Messe Nagoya over the last weekend.
Companies involved in the automotive industry such as audio and body kit firms had stands and vehicles on display showcasing their products.
A couple of luxury car clubs had their members cars on show.
There was even an area where you could see some Self Defence Vehicles on show.
I didnt have the courage to confront the friendly soldier near one vehicle and tell him they had incorrectly spelt a word on their display.Vehicul.
Rather oddly,there was also a wrestling ring complete with Japanese WWF style wrestlers in one of the exhibition halls.Team Makehen wrestlers,both male and female performed a number of bouts on both days.

Apart from the cars,vans,4x4s,motorcycles and racing cars,the other attraction at such shows that seem to pull in a particular section of the crowd are the models who languidly sprawl and pose over the vehicles.
There was a dearth of such models on Saturday which made those who were there even more in demand from their camera and video touting male admirers.
As soon as one appeared it was like a feeding frenzy.Imagine a school of piranha armed to the teeth with the latest and largest photographic equipment purchased by man.
A great seething,jostling mass of elbows and flashes as each competed to get their snap.Its not often one sees such impoliteness and lack of consideration on public display as they vie to get a good photo.

As well as the standard luxury cars that had been pimped up with expensive stereos and glass like polished exteriors there were a couple of hot rods that caught my eye.I was impressed with the size of the engine block on this one.Basically its a rocket on wheels.

Several thoughts crossed my mind as I took this shot.Firstly,do any of the people taking the photos even remotely care or have any interest in the car?Secondly a bit Freudian but can you gauge the interest the photographer has in his subject by looking at the size of his equipment?
It seemed the younger guys taking the photos were using cellphones or entry level SLRs.On the other hand,the older(and to my mind slightly creepy) enthusiasts were brandishing top end Nikon and Canon gear with huge telephoto lenses.
Then again,why would you want to video such a thing as a couple of punters were doing.Its not as though theres much in the way of action or movement taking place.

The final shot shows a customised Bentley Contintental GT with its custom grille and front bumper.It was also sporting side skirts,rear fenders and exhaust tips.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Flash..New Haagen Daz Ice Cream Flavours

Two more new Haagen Dazs flavours that hit the shelves this week in Nagoya.I spotted them in various supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the city.
The first is Cafe Mocha,obviously a coffee flavoured icecream.Its fairly light with dashes of chocolate sauce liberally mixed in to boost the amount of caffeine.
The second is English Milk Tea and like the Cafe Mocha tastes exactly as described.
A thick milky creamy sweet tasting ice cream.It reminded me of the canned Royal Milk tea available here in virtually every corner vending machine.
Both these flavours have a certain novelty value but personally I cant see myself going out of my way to buy them again given the other flavours available.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Toothless in Nagoya

There was a loud rendering crunch.I started eating lead.Blood.The apple flavoured stick of KissMint I was masticating had prised off one of my fillings.I spat the dull gray metal onto my desk.
Borrowing my co-workers pink Hello Kitty makeup mirror I gingerly inspected the damage.A small cavity.No.More like an abyss or a chasm.Not good.
What to do.Saturday.I could trek out to one of the three places in Nagoya that offered dental services over the weekend.Or bide my time and wait two days and find a local dentist.
As the pain was bearable due to the numbing effects of alcohol I decided to delay my visit to the dentist a little longer.I mean..not having been to a dentist for five years what harm could another two days do.
Luckily a friend gave me the name of an English speaking dentist so with some apprehension I went along this Monday morning.
For those familiar with Nagoya,Kimura Dental Clinic is almost opposite the entrance to the FreeBell Building.Freebell seems to house an inordinate number of foreigners which is probably due to its central location near Nagoya Station.
Theres a large pink neon sign with the words Kimura Dental Clinic,overhanging the footpath,which is hard to miss.Unless you happen to be standing directly underneath it.Cursing my inability to read a map or speak Japanese well,I bounded up the stairs.
I explained my problem to the receptionist,"koko ga itai desu"(it hurts here) while pointing to my mouth.And also explained I didnt have an appointment but that didnt seem to be a problem.

Although it was only slightly after 9:30am the place was buzzing.There were four chairs for patients.All occupied with people in various stages of discomfort.The dentists modus operandi seemed to be one of darting between the chairs doing a bit of drilling and filling and moving to the next chair.
I had no trouble understanding him.Even behind his clear protective plastic face mask he had much better language skills than my feeble Japanese.He explained the treatment and the cost of restoring the filling.Both were reasonable.I left three quarters of an hour later much relieved.

The lunch box below has two helpings of rice.The one on the left has some small nuts and wheat like grain mixed through it.The rice on the right is the more usual white rice.
The lower two sections contain a selection of meat and salads.The right hand side includes a salad containing pumpkin and grilled pieces of lotus and other vegetables.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Flash..Autumn Tea

You can always tell which season of the year it is by looking at the products on sale at convenience stores,supermarkets and the like.Gradually over the last few days the local convenience store has been filling its shelves and coolers with autumnal fare and drinks.Typical of the products available are these bottles of tea adorned in the orange reds and browns of fall.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sumo...Up in Smoke

The first day of the Autumn Sumo Tournament began yesterday set against a drug scandal that has been capturing headlines and television coverage over the last month.
The drama began following the arrest of a Russian wrestler Wakanoho after police claimed a small amount of marijuana was found in his wallet.After an emergency meeting on August 21 the Japan Sumo Association dismissed him and handed down a lifetime ban.
He has the dubious honour of being the first active wrestler to be given his marching orders.
Wakanoho,whose real name is Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev,has subsequently filed a lawsuit to nullify his dismissal.
Following on from his arrest the JSA tested all 69 wrestlers in the top two divisions. Two other Russian wrestlers,Roho and Hakurozan,who are brothers,tested positive for the drug.A second test conducted by an internationally certified lab apparently found the presence of the drug.Both wrestlers have denied using the drug.
Like Wakanoho they were dismissed and are also considering filing lawsuits against the JSA.
The final act in the current saga came on Monday September 8th when the Japan Sumo Association Chairman Kitanoumi resigned over the current scandal.He is Hakurozan's stablemaster.A former yokozuna,Kitanoumi was replaced by Musashigawa as Chairman and gave a speech at the start of the first day of the basho outlining his plans to revitalise the sport.
As to the actual results of the first days bouts in Tokyo they pretty much went to form.Hakuho won over Asasekiryu while in the penultimate match newly promoted Baruto lost against Asashoryu.Hopefully if Asa can stay fit he can challenge Hakuho and make this tournament more competitive and exciting than the previous one in which he withdrew early through injury.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Flash..Additions to KitKat and Haagen Dazs

Two new items I spied on the shelves this past week.
First up is the new KitKat flavour,Muscat of Alexandria.As the illustration on the box indicates these are grape flavoured KitKats.The photo shows a somewhat lighter green KitKat stick as I had put the box into my fridge prior to taking the photo.Straight out of the box,off the shelf,the KitKats are a more vivid green and also more sticky as the outside layer melts in the late summer heat heat.
Nonetheless straight off the shelf or out of the fridge these have quite a pleasant taste.

Another addition to the Haagen Dazs range is Maple Cookie.The ice cream has a maple flavour which greets you as you open the plastic lid.Mixed through the ice cream are small fragments of cookie dough.Very sweet and cloying.Im not sure I could get through more than one mini cup.Good if you are a sweettooth or need a sugar rush.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Printed Temptations..

Printed Temptations is the title of an exhibition currently running at the Nagoya City Art Museum.Odd title.Odd exhibition.
The blurb reads.."Published art isnt just limited to standard printing.Printed art can be found in a diverse range of medium-from photographs to postage stamps."
So its a pretty loose brief and thats my primary problem with the exhibition.

There appeared to be no focus.One expected to see printed material but other medium are also on show.Sure there are prints and photographs.There were even posters of previous exhibitions which seemed no more than an attempt to fill out the show. Nothing spectacular.Nothing even particularly tempting.Lots of nondescript black and white photos.Theres a series of photos taken of winding towers.Nothing a good amateur weekend camera buff couldnt take.
There were some swirling black and white prints with lots of bold strokes that wouldnt be out of place in a kindergarten fingerpainting class.

I didnt expect to see non printed medium on display.One wall is given over to two huge brown paper wrapped parcels.Each about the size of a futon.Hardly printed material.
Nor was it the first time they have been on display if you looked closely at the posters of previous shows.Several other non printed material items were also getting an airing.One looked like a coat lying on a full size single bed while another was a self portrait collage made out of material such as silk and other fabrics.

I just the feeling that it was a hotch potch of old permanent collection items that have been dusted off with no real thought given to the relationship between the items or even if they fell under the definition of printed material at all.

The exhibition runs until September 28th.Admission was 1,300yen for adults and the only temptation I felt was to ask for my money back.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday Flash..Irish Iron Merchandise 2008

Some of the new merchandise available from Irish Iron,the official supporters club of Scunthorpe United Football Club based in Ireland.Proceeds from sales of their merchandise and membership fees go to the club as players kit sponsorship.Check out the website for more details of their range of merchandise at
Above is a shot of the new Irish Iron supporters scarf complete with green shamrock.

An Irish Iron polo shirt.There are currently three Republic of Ireland players at Scunthorpe and one player from Northern Ireland hence the Irish connection with the club.

An Irish Iron baseball cap in an attractive,fetching green complete with wide brim to protect the wearer from the elements.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Houjicha KitKats

Another addition to the KitKat confectionery range.The actual spelling of the main ingredient seems to vary.Ive seen it spelt as "houji","hoji" and "hoj" but Im sticking with "houji" having consulted several Japanese friends.
Whatever the proper spelling,houji is a kind of green tea.It differs from other green teas because it is roasted over charcoal.This apparently not only changes the leaf colour from green to brown but also produces a less astringent,milder light to reddish brown tea.
In fact the taste is so mild that I thought it was pretty average when I sampled one of the mini bars straight from the pack.It was difficult to distinguish it from other chocolate products.It was only after I put the pack into my refrigerator and ate one later that I could detect the houji taste coming through.A mild,nutty slightly caramel like flavour.Nothing world shattering,though I do recommend that they taste better chilled than straight out of the packet.

Nippon Domanaka Festival

Billed as Japans largest dance festival with over 200 teams and some 23,000 dancers the Nippon Domannaka Festival was held over last weekend.With Saturdays torrential rain I saw many dancers who looked like drowned rats in their soaking wet costumes.Fortunately the weather cleared on Sunday.It was impossible to go anywhere in central Nagoya without seeing a group of colourful performers going to and from one of the many venues dotted around the city.

Many groups also had their own unique transport and support vehicles including this unusually decorated vehicle that not only caught my eye but also that of many other passers-by.

Two More Delicious Treats

Two more treats from the local bakery/patisserie.
The first is a a thick sponge with a creamy lemon flavoured interior.It had quite a sharp zesty,refreshing taste despite its somewhat bland appearance.Topped with a couple of raspberries and a sliver of white chocolate.

The second photo shows a circular blueberry sponge topped with a sweet glaze and two blueberries.On cutting into the interior of the thick brown sponge one is greeted with a bluish,purple interior of blueberies.The small round sponge sits atop a chewy caramel biscuit