The best place in Japan

May 21, 2009

This is ALT Susono’s first Japan blog matsuri (carnival) entry. The theme of the blog matsuri is “The best place in Japan” and is hosted this month by The Nihon Sun.

For my article on the best place in Japan I am going to define best as a place that gives me tons of value; a place where I have the chance to visit regularly; somewhere I always look forward to going to; and a place in the town I live…Susono!

Introduced in pictures I present 大貴(Daiki), the best place to eat on a budget in Susono Japan.

It takes less than two minutes to walk there from Susono station.

view from the station

The shop front up close.

shop front

My seat.

the counter

My current favorite 定食(set meal) is the aji fry set.

aji fry set

Daiki holds a special place in my heart. I was taken there on the very first day I arrived in Susono over six years ago. Since then I have probably eaten there about 500 times.

As long as you are not a vegetarian, the menu is wide enough to find something to suit your mood. I usually go for something fried but in Japan even that is healthy!

The obasans running the place are a bunch of gossips so it’s fun listening to them opine about the latest local scandal.

If you ever find yourself in Susono, visiting from our sister city in Australia or on your way to climb Mt. Fuji, my hot tip is to get your set on at Daiki.

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Kite Flying

May 6, 2009

How did you spend your Golden Week? Were you concerned about buta influenza and keep things close for or did you get out and about?

I’ve been taking things pretty easy myself but decided to make a short trip down to Hamamatsu to check out their Kite Flying Festival. I had been down before but as I’ve got back into stunt kite flying myself since then, I wanted to go and check out the big boys again. At this kite festival, they don’t simply fly, the fight!

From the station there was a shuttle bus that ferried people to and from the beach. It cost 500 yen for a return ticket which was a fair price. Considering the amount of staff driving buses and directing traffic I doubt they were making much, if any profit.

People from Hamamatsu were really friendly. On the way from where the bus drops you off, about 800 meters from the main festival area, I was stopped by some obasans who wanted me to try on a happi. Initially I was ready to get defensive and tell them I didn’t want to buy on but that wasn’t the deal at all. They were simply getting people to try them on and get their pictures taken. I was happy.

kite flying

Then as I continued walking the rain started falling. Being without my own umbrella I gave a J-girl a bit of a fright by ducking under hers. Not a bad way to start a conversation.

The festival runs on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of May. Groups from all over Hamamatsu fly their massive kites which are about 2 meters long, almost 4 if you include the bamboo spine. Once a team has their kite in the air it’s time to start kite fighting. The aim is to bring down opposing groups’ kites by attacking their kite lines. Two or more kites that do battle end up with their lines twisted around each other. With lots of pulling an appropriately timed shouts of yoisho one of the kites’ dance in the wind comes to an end as it crashes out of the sky.

warrior kite

As I walked along the path eating my takoyaki a felled warrior smashed into the ground less than 10 meters in front of me. There were quite a few startled Japanese even closer but everyone managed to hang on to their okonomiyaki, yakitori and so on.

There were a variety of festival stalls selling all kinds of foods and the usual gold fish, Doraemon masks and kids toys stalls too. The food stalls appeared to be charging a flat fee of 500 yen for their various dishes. I had some great takoyaki and some less great Hamamatsu gyoza. The gyoza to me seemed just like regular gyoza with extra grease.

stalls

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so good when I went on the 5th. There were grey skies and a little bit of rain. What impressed me though was that it didn’t appear to affect the Japanese warrior spirit. At one stage I counted about 30 kites in flight at the same time.

In the evening there are other festivities in the center of the city but due to the weather, I didn’t hang around for them this year.

kite battle

You can get more festival details, in Japanese, here.