Friday, 13 January 2017

Wagashi Class

Yesterday, I learnt how to make 浮島 (ukishima - the cake like thing) and 桃山 (momoyama - the biscuits in front). The MVP of the day was shiroan (white bean paste) because we used it for everything.

And I mean everything.

First the 浮島. Here it is just out of the oven. It's basically shiroan + egg + a little bit of flour + meringue. And then it's steamed to produce a fluffy cake!

The green stuff is matcha-flavoured and the pink is food colouring. My sides don't look so good but you can sort of see the "wave" when you cut it:

There are little bits of adzuki inside.

We're not supposed to cut it until it's cooled, which means we have to bring it home, but I had zemi that day and was late. Late in the sense that when I finished the wagashi class, my zemi had already started (for almost two hours). Sensei said that all would be well if I bring him what I make so the teachers helped me cool the cake down so I could cut his portion out.

And these are the 桃山 before they go into the oven. I made them in the shape of 梅 (ume; plum) and 松 (matsu; pine). I think ume is cuter though. Believe it or not, but the outside "biscuit" is shiroan (plus boiled egg yolk plus raw egg yolk plus mirin plus oil) and the inside is yuzu + shiroan.

Quite amazingly, it doesn't merge while baking but separates into biscuit plus filling!

And here they are out of the oven. The brown colour is from the mirin I brushed on top before baking. I guess it's better not to have too much.

I don't know if you can see if clearly, but there are cracks in the cookie. I think it's more obvious in the next photo:

The teacher says that if we let it sit a day or two, the cracks will disappear!

Everyone in the class was really nice. They knew I was rushing, so they told me not do the last part of the washing up and just leave. And the teacher even gave me a plastic bag (I was planning on just holding the box all the way).

And don't worry about my class - we ended up finishing at 11pm, so I was there for a few hours.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

New Year Buys

So this has been a very, very quiet week, as expected. Good for me, because I've made progress on my graduation paper, but I guess a little boring for you. And to break up the monotony for me as well, I thought I'd share about the things that I bought during the New Year sale!

Lucky Bags

1. Gindako

This one contained about 7 vouchers for a free plate of takoyaki (so about 4550 yen's worth if we average 650 a plate), 12 100 yen coupons (1200), 3 stamps for members (don't know worth) and a box of octopus rice mix (also don't know worth). So total worth is about 7000yen, I think?

2. Sanrio

Sadly, both the Ghibli and Baskin Robins fukubukuro (the ones I originally wanted to get) were sold out, so I ended up getting the Sanrio one (3240 yen). What can I say? I saw the pyjamas and they look pretty comfy and I've been wanting more pyjamas to wear around the house! Plus, it comes with a small tote, which will probably come in handy.

3. Tutuanna

On Jan 2, I went to Tenjin and saw the Tutuanna fukubukuro, which was only 1000 yen!!

And this is what's inside. I can definitely use most of these - I think there are two pairs of room socks plus more tights (though I'll probably only wear black) and the low socks for heels? Not sure what I'm gonna do about the high socks though, since it's not my thing.

4. Accessories

And opposite Tutuanna was this accessory shop! The 1080 bag has 10,000 yen worth of accessories and the 540 yen bag has 5000 yen worth of accessories (or so they say).

I got the 540 yen bag because I was told there was more variety. And this was what it contained:

Sale: BookOff

After I *ahem* succumbed to the fukubukuros, I went to BookOff and discovered they were having a sale!!

Only 20% off, to be sure, but for some reason that turned a switch in my mind and I bought like 2200 yen worth of books.

Two humour comics/short sections on what it means to be British (not sure if they're accurate but they were funny), two Agatha Christie books (there were so many today! Got one short story collection - which I just finished and enjoyed - and one Poirot that I highly doubt I've read before) and one book on food.

I actually put down a book on Book Collecting. Somehow, I wasn't in the mood for that.

And that's more or less the shopping that I did over the new year! Now, I'll have to be more careful with my spending, so that I don't end up spending more than my allowance for the month :p (Although I have been quite good compared to previous years)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope your 2017 is full of happiness and laughter.

Nothing much to report on my end - I've been working on my graduation thesis, which seems to hate working more than me because it has crashed my excel and word a number of times. But I have to finish it by the end of this month so onwards I go!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Inzemi 2016

Much like last year, we had our inzemi (although it seems like I didn't blog about it). Last year, the Industrie 4.0 team didn't take part, but this year, the Pokemon Go team did (although the fourth years didn't have to present).

The Pokemon Go team made a lot of good progress and I'm very proud of them for that. We had a practice run the day before, and when I compare the actual presentation to that, they made a lot of progress. In the end, we placed 6th out of 9. Our other team managed to place 1st, so our sensei was very satisfied overall.

Most of the teams were really interesting, although I quite disagree with the one talking about migrant labour in Thailand and Myanmar. Their proposal was to restrict the flow migrants from Myanmar to Thailand (and eventually stop), but I think to clamp down the legal flow will only increase the number of illegal immigrants, which in turn carries a higher risk of human rights abuses. So I asked them about it, but their reply was:
We're economic students so we decided to ignore the human rights issue.
Good thing I had a mask on because I was definitely not making a nice face. I think that when you're talking about developing countries, you have to consider the country as a whole, especially since such issues will affect the economy (plus not to mention the shadow economy). It's hard, to be sure, but a good guesstimate will be better than completely leaving it out of the model.

Plus, when you're talking about Tier 2 Watchlist and Tier 3 countries, there's even less excuse to consider these factors.

Apart from that, though, I found that most of the presentations were really enlightening. It's always interesting to see what other people are studying since my zemi has a very narrow focus.

And just in case I don't post before the new year, I hope everyone has a happy new year!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope you all had a great day yesterday (and are having a good boxing day today). I went to Church and had a baking class yesterday, so I had a good Christmas!

The cake I baked:

I'm planning to work on my graduation essay over the new year break.

What about you? Anyone have any interesting year end plans?

Friday, 23 December 2016


I finally managed to go to Yanagawa (with my family)!! Unfortunately, it rained the whole time, so you can expect some rather dreary (but hopefully still pretty) pictures. For our trip, we decided to get the Nishitetsu tokumori ticket that includes the train tickets, the boat ticket, and a lunch set at one of the designated restaurants. It's a bit expensive, at 5000+ yen, so if you've got picky eaters or if you're bringing kids along, you may not want to get it. For us, we got my brother separate tickets, because he's a picky eater and there are no "child prices" for this set. Tickets can be bought at the counter outside the Nishitetsu station and advance bookings are not needed.

Yanagawa Boat Ride

Once we got off the train, we headed to the free shuttle bus to the boat ride! The lady who sold us the tickets was very nice and helped us calculate our route - that if we took X train we would arrive by Y and be able to board the shuttle bus at Z and such. It made travelling a lot easier.

I actually didn't think I took that many photos because it was raining, but it turns out that when you have a boat ride that goes on for over an hour, you will end up taking quite a few photos. Here's one of the few colourful ones:

And this was our guide! He basically pointed out interesting parts of the river and sang songs for us. Plus steer the boat and make sure it stayed balanced.

My biggest impression of him is that he doesn't believe in ghosts, since he mentioned that many, many times.

Oh, and the main problem with my photos was that I was seated in the middle, which means that I can't really get good shots without someone in the picture.

Going from the river to the canal! The guide was quite happily pointing out that Yanagawa is the Venice of Fukuoka, and that they are rather dependent on tourism. Sadly, Yanagawa has a shrinking population. But then again, the real Venice is also 'shrinking' because its residents are basically driven out by the tourism industry.

I was told that these staircases were built a really, really long time ago:

It really is very lovely, but Yanagawa isn't known for its autumn colours. The guide actually told "You came at the worst time".

Apparently, the building on the left is (was?) a brick factory.
Me - sees something not green or bare.

*immediately takes picture*

And those are the "floating" shops up ahead:

Our guide really didn't want to stop, though. He told us not to raise our hands because then he'd have to stop.

Apparently, this is a huge fishing net, but it's not being used now. The guide said that this is just for show.

We also saw one momiji tree, which made my mom and I really happy.

We ended at around 1:50, and since the place I wanted to go for lunch stops taking orders at 2:30, we hurried to the restaurant!

Lunch @ Tachibana Residence

This is the set lunch that we had. I chose this restaurant because it comes with a ticket to the rest of the place, while the other places didn't have such additional perks (there is one that allows you free access to the onsen, but it closes at 1:30 or something like that).

This is some kind of eel nabe. Before we ate, we added a raw egg and let it cook for a while.

And this was the steamed eel with rice! Of course, the eel was nice but the star is clearly the rice!! It's kinda like takikomigohan (hope I remember the name correctly) and so delicious! I would be happy just eating the rice haha.

Apart from this, we also had dessert (chocolate cake and two pieces of fruit) and a soup. So it was a rather filling lunch.

As for my brother, we ordered him this:

Most of the food is eel-based, which he doesn't eat. So we had to get him the kids bento (1080 yen, including tax), which was more rice + chicken, saussage and the like)

After we ate we went for a walk around the place. Actually, we were supposed to do this before eating (since the food takes some time to prepare), but we were so cold and hungry we decided to just sit and rest.

Sadly, the house is undergoing renovations so the picture isn't as pretty as advertised.

And we found this really awesome room! Apparently in Yanagawa, if you have a girl, you have to make for them one of these hanging things (this is like a bunch of the hanging things).

I seriously love the expressions on the dolls, which are insanely adorable.

And we found a really pretty spot on our way out!

This is the 出会い橋 (deai bridge), if I remember the name correctly.

It's supposed to be a very popular photo spot, especially if you're in the boat! But I wasn't able to get a good shot until after we got off.

We also saw a rainbow while hunting for an onsen that was open!

The first onsen we went to closed at 3pm (until the evening), but that turned out to be a good thing cause the onsen at the community centre had a family room!

It was really cosy! After we got out of the onsen, we managed to board a bus back to the station and back to Tenjin.

Yanagawa is really beautiful, but it's probably best enjoyed during the peak season of Spring and Summer, if I remember correctly. I did hear that there are a few winter events (something about illuminations), but they seem to be held during a very specific time period. So if you're planning to go in November or December, it might be a good idea to search for information about the various events online and then plan your trip accordingly.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Exploring Itoshima (Part 2)

Ok, I'm back with the second part about my trip to Itoshima. In the previous post, I stopped after our visit to the salt factory. So after we had our fill of the ocean view and salt pudding, we decided to head towards Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩). Finding this on Google Map's was a little bit complicated because there's a much more famous Meoto Iwa in Ise. But if you search for 桜井二見ヶ浦の夫婦岩 (sakurai futamigaura no meoto iwa), you'll be able to find it. There's a public car park just next to it, so parking isn't a worry)

And of course there's an obstacle. Luckily there's a spot where it's rather narrow and easier to jump over. 

It's really just a torii in front of two rocks, but if you're looking for a day at the beach, it's not a bad place. I saw shower areas near the restaurant opposite (next to the carpark)

賑やかな春 (Nigiyaka na Haru)

We were actually aiming to go to this shop that we heard sells interesting stuff next, but we passed by Nigiyaka na Haru and decided to take a look!

It basically sells organic food (and there's a BBQ place, plus a bakery nearby), and we did buy a few things, but the real reason we stopped was because of this:

The animals. It wasn't really a farm, but we thought it would be interesting to take a look.


Our last stop was Dover, a shop/art studio run in an old miso factory. The artist is American and I think we spotted him painting in the back.

This definitely had a very hipster vibe. The things were lovely though - pity they were all really expensive!

Artist at work
 But I really do adore how they decorated the place. Totally feels like shabby chic, with the fake autumn leaves everywhere.

Also, whoever created this jar has the right idea of the amount of chocolate that one needs to have in the house.

That basically marks the end of our trip. We decide to drive back to Fukuoka city for dinner, since my brother wanted sushi and I needed to pick something up from school. It was definitely very fun, and I'm glad that my mother finally got to go to Itoshima!