Tag Archives: Kyoto

Japanese How-Tos

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One thing I admire about the Japanese is how easy it is to figure-out their illustrative instructions or specifications. When they illustrate something using figures, symbols, or images, words become unnecessary. This is why, for most Japanese products, figuring out how to assemble toys or opening a packaging the right way, is relatively easy by just following their illustrative instructions – even if one cannot read hiragana, katakana or kanji.

I’ve worked on Japanese projects for 3 years with no knowledge of their language. This limitation didn’t prevent me from creating reporting solutions with layout and data in accordance to their specification which was in the form of matrix and symbols. An indication of how good they were able to illustrate the details of the specs without the need for lengthy narrative. From my years of experience in information technology industry, I think Japanese specs are truly superior.

Even in non-complex uses, here is a clever instruction in Kyoto of how to properly leave garbage bags during designated yellow garbage bag collection days. A photograph of the exact spot including the tree, plus few symbols, you’ll then have a simple yet effectively clear instruction on where not to put the yellow garbage bags.

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Japan Running

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Runner by the river at wintertime in Kyoto

What I like about taking spontaneous snapshots of runners is that the pictures portray running in its most honest form – no staged ones.  I remember one Christmastime, I took snapshots of runners in Boracay Island, Philippines. Similarly in Japan, I took few running pictures in springtime and wintertime, of which I’ll share today.

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Presumably an ultrarunner who has started very early somewhere, and still running by noon here in Kawagoe

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Boys running in Asakuyama Park at springtime in Tokyo

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A group of school kids running in Kawagoe

Egghead Octopus Snack

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Cute like an alien infant

To retain the figure of the marinated boiled baby octopus, someone thought of filling its head with boiled quail egg. Or perhaps, the idea is how to eat whole quail eggs in an innovative way – by using octopus head as edible packaging. Whatever it is, the outcome is an appealing, appetizing and filling snack. I shall never forget how I stood near the skewered stuffed octopus table at Nishiki food market as I chewed the egghead in wonderment.

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One way of eating quail eggs is to stuff it in the head of a baby octopus

Cute Despite its Macho Function

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Takaoka

Only in Japan where an object that hides the sewer, or keeps you from falling into the hole, can be so cute despite its macho function.

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Osaka

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Kyoto

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Kyoto

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Hida-Takayama

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Shirakawa-go

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Ainokura in Gokayama Region

Ikura at Nishiki Market

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Salmon roe locally known as ikura are those orange spheres and usually sold like this – without its sac. Tastes quite similar to lato in the Philippines with its burst of subtle saltiness that initially I thought it’s a kind of seaweed.

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Nishiki market where I took snapshot of the ikura. Pretty crowded as this was New Year’s rush

Inu-Yarai, a Singularity of Kyoto

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Whereas the curved split bamboo gutter cover (inu-yarai) design of Kyoto traditional wooden houses came to be for various purposes in the old days such as protection of the wall from dog pee, or horse dung, or rain falling on its roof, and or from eavesdroppers.

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Today, I suppose inu-yarai is used as concealment for unsightly gutter, pipes, and faucet from the street point of view – something neat and attractive yet something functional. Inu-yarai is therefore a noteworthy fragment of Kyoto’s identity.

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Narazuke

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Narazuke (cucumber fermented in sake lees)

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Tasted so good that I wish I wasn't itinerant so I could have bought some

Kyoto and its Yellow Garbage Bags

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About 8:00 in the morning of Dec 29, 2014, in the course of the long walk towards the streetcar station, I saw several garbage bags in front of homes and in designated pickup spots. Obviously, that day was the assigned day for collecting yellow garbage bags.

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As noted, each bag was neatly tied. Apparently, yellow bag must only contain burnable trash (e.g. kitchen trash and paper trash). Garbage not placed inside the official yellow colored plastic bags will not be collected on the scheduled yellow garbage bag collection day.

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Several days after in another place, I saw colorless transparent garbage bags with all sorts of bottles – presumably, another category of garbage. With this, I must say that Kyoto’s color-coded garbage collection system is such a neat idea.

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Very neat like in a queue

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May look like a small dump truck but it has the ability to crush garbage bags thereby making it compact

Kyoto Bird Control

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Bird control spikes

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Old World Monkeys at Mount Arashiyama

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Almost at the summit of Mt Arashiyama

Mount Arashiyama in Kyoto is one such location for seeing Japanese macaques. Referred to as the monkey park, this place is a great way for fellow primates to bond (humans and non-humans).

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Macaques roam freely while the humans are caged

These red-faced old world monkeys that reminded me of Borneo’s Proboscis monkeys are native to Japan, hence my interest in visiting them. The walk up the mountain at winter, though chilly, is generally a short and pleasant hike as long as you’re fit.

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Caged cabin for human primates to rest, warm themselves or feed the non-human primates

Interacting with the macaques can be brought to an intimate level wherein visitors are allowed to feed them by hand, provided that you are inside the cabin. The idea is that the macaques can roam freely while the humans are caged.

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The proper way to feed by hand is to put food in one's palm for the monkey to reach out for it

Other than meeting these relatively good looking fellows, the top view of Kyoto City from here which is as tall as the Kyoto Tower is my kind of high altitude sightseeing, that is, hiking up in a natural setting rather than riding up an elevator towards the roof of a skyscraper, or steel tower. Generally, no matter how grand those steel towers or glass skyscrapers are, and no matter where they are, I feel nothing for them. No fresh air, vegetation, earth, exercise and sometimes red-faced primates.

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Path on the way up to the monkey park

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View of Kyoto at Mt Arashiyama

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My daughter wrote those and insisted I do this

Meanwhile in Arashiyama

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These two snapshots certainly do not convey the expanse of Arashiyama and its every beauty. But the memories of its elements and structures influenced a feeling of calm in me, that perhaps a couple of images I’ve documented here shall remind me of this place as a whole.

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Of River and Running in Japan

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In Japan, there’s always a running path along a river. This one is in Kyoto.

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