Japan: Ishinomaki (Part 2)

Onagawa is a town heavily damaged in the 11 March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The tsunami reached 15 metres (49 ft) in height and swept 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) inland, destroying the town centre and leaving over 1000 people missing, with over 300 confirmed dead. [via wiki]

Grace Mission Tohoku brought us to see Onagawa’s bay.  The tsunami’s power became real once we arrived — even though the devastation has already all been cleared away, one building remains toppled on its side:

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This is the bottom of the building: (more…)

Japan: Ishinomaki (Part 1)

Ishinomaki city was among the most seriously affected by the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami which hit on 2:46pm 11 March 2011.  Located 300 miles North of Tokyo, it takes around 4 hours by train (2 transfers) to get there.

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I first heard of Grace Mission Tohoku (GMT) through Crash Japan, a Japan-wide Christian disaster relief organization (thanks to John for connecting me with Crash Japan in the first place!).  GMT’s relief, rebuilding and caring efforts in the Ishinomaki community has been both impactful and well received.  I’m so glad God brought me there for a week, meeting and partnering with all the GMT staff — Rimpei sensei, Virginia, Satoshi, Atsushi, Kathleen, Richard & Mickie…!  It was eye opening to see their dedication and faith through these tough times.  Even though we are now miles away, I know God is doing wonderful things with them there!

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Japan: Instant Ramen Museum

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Instant Noodles are a hungry man’s best friend, and actually a large part of my childhood.  So while I was passing through Japan, I paid homage to the man who invented it — Momofuku Ando and his Instant Ramen museum located in Osaka (and also Yokohama, which is closer to Tokyo!).

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Sleeping in Japan (Part 2): Manga Cafe

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Manga Cafe also known as mangakissa in Japanese is a kind of café in Japan where people read manga (comic books).  Patrons pay for their time in the café where they can read in a comfortable setting.  Most offer internet access and drinks.  For an hour’s stay, the cost is generally about 400 yen (~$4.5).  Longer stays are often cheaper, and so staying overnight is actually affordable.  With Peter’s help, I stayed overnight at a Manboo, a manga cafe located in Shibuya for only $22.  Below are photos of my adventure…

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Japan: Haru’s cooking class

Haru’s Cooking Class

One of my most memorable times in Kyoto was Haru’s cooking class.  I learned how to make Dashi (soup stock), Aemono & Kinpira (vegetarian dishes), Tamago (omelet), Kobe beef & Miso soup!  The recipes were simple, but got me started in Japanese cooking.  Taro (the teacher) holds the cooking classes in his home alongside his wife and daughter Haru.

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Sleeping in Japan (Part 1): Capsule Hotel

Capsule HotelThe first capsule hotel to open was in Osaka, Japan in 1979.  The need was driven mainly by travelers too intoxicated to safely get back home, or too embarrassed to face their spouses.  These hotels have extremely small “rooms” (capsules) intended to provide cheap and basic overnight accommodation for guests not requiring the services offered by more conventional hotels.  The capsules are often stacked side by side and two units top to bottom.  Also, most capsule hotels only service men. Clothes and shoes are sometimes exchanged for a Japanese yukata gown and slippers on entry.  The benefit of these hotels is convenience and price, usually around ¥2000-4000 (US$25–50) a night.  In fact, ~30% of guests are unemployed or underemployed.  [wiki]

Traditional capsule hotel 

Of all the capsule hotels in Japan, one stands out.  I’m referring to “9 Hours“, a one-of-a-kind ultra modern deluxe capsule hotel.  Its simplicity and functionality so refined, it feels like something Apple and IKEA would have made.

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