Thursday, January 12, 2006

Den Den Town and More

I am going to start by warning everyone that this post is going to be all over the map because I have lots of stuff to show and tell. First, thanks to all for the nice comments and emails over the past couple of days. I appreciate them and they helped me out. I am in a much better mood today.

As the title may suggest, I went to Den Den Town this evening. Den Den Town is the second biggest electronics market in Japan behind Akihabara in Tokyo. This probably makes the area one of the largest in the world. Training finished early today and so I figured I would trek over to Den Den and see what it was like and if I should make a longer more dedicated visit on Sunday or Monday. The answer, is a resounding yes. I did not bring my camera with me for the trip so when I go again in a day or two I will take pics.

Let me say this, take the biggest electronics store you have ever been in, like a Fry's for example. Now multiply that store but 15 or 20, add in some obligatory porn, and a bunch of very Japanese kiosks, and you have Den Den Town. It is one of those places that if you are a nerd, you just have to see to believe. Den Den Town is named as such because the Japanese word for electric is "denki". There are stores there for everything, robotics, CPUs, cell phones, video games, porn, more video games, old video games, TVs, everything, name it. I bought a miniature model of a Gameboy Color with model games that go in it from a vending machine there, its so friggin' tiny and cute. There are stores there for just trading card games and toys. There are stores for every major electronics manufacturer in the world. There is everything. When people come to visit, we WILL be going to Den Den Town.

Next, I will talk about Takoyaki. Takoyaki are little balls made from bits of octopus mixed into a pancake-like batter and fried in special little skillet things. I first heard of these from playing Katamari Damacy and rolling them up. I thought they were little candies or pastries but they are actually little fish ball things. They are actually quite tasty too. I watched the lady make a batch from start to finish and the process is kind of cool.

Below is a pic of what the takoyaki look like while cooking. Notice the little thing in which they are cooking. They are made from cast iron and have a bunch of little semi-spheres in which to pour the batter.

After the batter has been cooking for a minute or two she will add bits of octopus to it. They sink down into the batter and make the nice center for the snack. She then spreads what I think was cornmeal over the top and then after a minute or two starts to rotate the balls in their mold to let them cook evenly. After several minutes of rolling the balls over and over in their molds, they start to turn a golden brown color and that is how you know they are getting done. I bought a batch of ten of them for $3.00 and shared them with some of the people from my group because I had told them all about takoyaki and wanted them to try it. This is what they look like all cooked and packaged for me.

They were yummy and come glazed in a variety of sauces, mine was in soy sauce. Takoyaki are not found everywhere in Japan. Each region has its own special food and takoyaki is cooked only in the Osaka region for the most part. The people here are quite proud of it and now I know why.

I spoke in an earlier post how I liked the streets of Osaka and how they were narrower and busy than those of Nagoya. Keep in mid that the pics below are of the area by my hotel and may not be this way all over Osaka. The downtown area for example is quite modern. Either way, this is what the streets around here look like.

In the above pic, if you look at the old guy standing next to the bike on the left side of the frame, that is where the takoyaki stand is at. He bought 40 of them before me. And if you look at the car driving down the street, that is not a wide car, that is a very narrow street. Here is another pic.

In other news, the people in my group are starting to get pretty tight knit I think. I came home this evening and Reid was about to put a note under my door, telling me he had a surprise for me. Reid and his fiance, Carrie have been very cool. We have gotten along since day one and I will miss them not being close to me when we all split up. Anywho, they found me milk and Nesquik chocolate milk powder. They rock, I have been dying for chocolate milk all week and they made it happen. They also let me have a blister pad for my foot. All of this walking is wearing my feet out. They rock.

Tomorrow, I teach my first lesson and it should be easy. The kids are about eight years old and I am pretty well prepared. I have already been to the class they are in and so I know how to get there without much hassle. It should be fun, I will post later to let you know how it went. Anywho, I am going to take off now, this post has gotten really long. Goodnight!


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