- - - 9/29/2006 - - -


Filed under: — Andy @ 7:07 pm

Following the nice visit to Toyota, my parents and I took some time to see around Nagoya. The first place we visited was the Nagoya castle. It burned down in WWII, but it was later rebuilt. The exterior of the castle looks beautiful, and is a great example of great castles in Japan. I was disappointed though with the inside of the castle which, when rebuilt was turned into a cheesy museum. Not how the inside of a castle should look at all. In the evening we went to a famous Nagoya izakaya and ate all the famous Nagoya foods like ‘tebasaki’ or the Japanese version of the spicy chicken wing.

The next day before taking the shinkansen back to Tokyo we went to the remains of the 2005 Aichi Expo. Although not much was left, I enjoyed seeing what I missed last year. We also rode the giant Ferris wheel.


- - - 9/27/2006 - - -


Filed under: — Andy @ 7:40 pm

The parents and I went down to Toyota to visit one of my mother’s old friends from high school. Toyota is in Aichi prefecture near the city of Nagoya, and is the home to the Toyota car corporation and many of its factories. We took the shinkansen down to Nagoya where we meet my mom’s friend, and took another train to her house in Toyota. That evening we had dinner with her and her son’s family, where I acted as English teacher again to the kids.

In the morning, I took a walk around the area. It was much more rural than what I am used to around Tokyo. There was a beautiful river with people fishing in it and rice fields everywhere. Following the walk, we went to the Toyota factory for the factory tour. No pictures were allowed, but the factory was really interesting. I saw automated machines, computers everywhere, and conveyer belts that went in all directions. I saw cars going from the welding shop, where machines weld the parts and sparks fly everywhere, to assembly where people placed all the parts together to make a car.


- - - 9/24/2006 - - -

Tokyo Game Show 2006

Filed under: — Andy @ 9:17 pm

After a year of absence I went back to see the Tokyo Game Show this year. I remember two years ago I got to play Tekken 5 for the first time at the 2004 show. I also saw the PSP before it was released. This year the focus seemed to be on cell phone games, and of course the Playstation 3. I was disappointed at not seeing Nintendo’s Wii, yet Microsoft’s uninspiring Xbox 360 was there. Compared to two years ago, there didn’t seem to be many new ideas or technologies. However the Playstation 3 really did surprise me when I had a chance to play it. The whole system, although incredibly huge, was beautiful. The graphics were great and the game play was wonderful, especially with the new motion censoring controller. When flying around on the battlefield, if you rotate the controller your plane moves in whatever direction the controller moves with surprising precision. Although on a cell phone, I still got to play Tekken as well.

Microsoft’s 360

Tekken 2 on a cell phone

The Playstation 3

And of course everywere you looked there were girls all dressed up promoting their products…


- - - 9/22/2006 - - -

Parents visiting and Sumo

Filed under: — Andy @ 10:10 pm

My parents are visiting Japan, and the first thing to do was see a sumo tournament. I haven’t seen my parents for 2 and a half years, but in that time they haven’t changed at all. Actually being at a sumo tournament was really interesting. I sat in the really small box seats on a cushion and saw all the famous sumo people compete. Afterwards, we went out for the famous sumo food of ‘chankonabe’.

- - - 9/10/2006 - - -

China - Photo Gallery

Filed under: — Andy @ 3:39 am

China Photo Gallery

- - - 9/9/2006 - - -

China - People

Filed under: — Andy @ 10:40 pm

It’s a given that when you travel you are going to meet people. Along our travels we met many people and had some great experiences with them as well…

more people… (more…)

- - - 9/8/2006 - - -

China - Shanghai

Filed under: — Andy @ 5:39 pm

I was told that Shanghai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and from what I saw it seems to be true. Shanghai is more like Hong Kong, a big industrial and business oriented city, rather than the other cities I visited. We really only had 1 day in Shanghai but that was enough to see most of the cities major attractions.

At ‘The Bund’ looking out across the river to the high-rise section of Shanghai.

Atop the Shanghai Tower.

The city still has a lot of British and foreign influence.

Relaxing the day before the flight home.

- - - 9/7/2006 - - -

China - Food

Filed under: — Andy @ 6:53 am

Chinese food on the whole was good, but compared with most Japanese foods a lot on the oily side of things. Most of the food was really really cheap, of course since we got the foreigner price a little more expensive than it should be, but still cheap. We ate a variety of foods at a variety of places including street food, food court style cafeteria, expensive restaurants, and small alley shops.

Chinese ramen noodles. Very good: $1

I can not go to Beijing and not eat Peking Duck. You can even see the head. Delicious: $10

Steamed dumplings. Excellent: $1

Colorful pastry sweets. Disappointing: 50c

Fish at an expensive restaurant. Excellent: $15


- - - 9/4/2006 - - -

China - Xian

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:24 am

Xian is the ancient capital of China but the city itself seemed more modernized than Beijing. Despite the bad air quality we had throughout the entire trip, Xian to me was a beautiful city. The city was surrounded by a city wall, which by bike can be circled to get a good view of the city as well. We took 2 side trips from Xian. The first was to go climbing on Mt Huashan, one of the 5 most famous mountains in China. Despite a little bit of rain and thunder we made it to the highest point, the south peak. We then also climbed the west peak and the north peak. Unfortunately, we took too much time climbing the various parts of the mountain that we missed our bus back to the city. Then next day we went to see the Terracotta Warriors. Although I’ve seen pictures of them before, I never realized the grand scale of what was buried there without seeing it with my own eyes. Simply amazing.

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

Downtown center of Xian. Especially in the evening when it full of people relaxing after a hard day

The almost vertical ropeway up to Mt Huashan. From the top its another 3 hours to get to the south peak.

Celebrating at the north peak when we should have been going to the bus.

Terracotta Warriors.

Taking a rickshaw ride atop the city wall at dusk.

- - - 9/3/2006 - - -

China - Videos

Filed under: — Andy @ 11:02 pm

Chinese Military Marching (1.5 MB)

Chinese Choir in a Park(1.5 MB)

Rain at the Temple of Heaven(600 KB)

China - Beijing

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:43 am

Two weeks after coming back from china, here are some of my pictures. More posts as well as a photo gallery will also be following shortly.

First stop on the China trip was Beijing. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of China before I got there, but when I arrived in Beijing as was able to explore the city some I was surprised at some of the things I saw. I was occasionally shocked at how big and beautiful the place actually was and how friendly some of the people were, but then again saw things that made me realize that this is not one of the cleanest or most modern of countries as well. The food was delicious and cheaper than you could ever imagine. Most of the prices of goods as well were super cheap, although as a foreigner you will always get a foreigners price. The main tourist attractions, given that they were very tourist oriented, were overall very nice but were mainly crowed with the millions of other tourists. Surprisingly though, most were Chinese tourists who took my picture at any opportunity they had.

Matt. My partner in crime.. I mean travel.

Typical everyday Chinese people.

Me, Mao Zedong, and my rent-a-bike that took me exploring all around the city for a few days.

The Great Wall of China at Bataling. We spent the good part of a day climbing up to both ends of the wall.

Of course we saw the Chinese acrobats show. Tip, get to the place 5 minutes before show starts, buy the cheapest tickets, and you may get placed in the very front row :) The things the performers do seem even more amazing when up close.

Tiananmen Square. Much fun was had here as well.

The Temple of Heaven. A must see if going to Beijing as it is the most famous and recognizable of all Chinese temples.