A bit more on Sendai

here are few more photos of what I saw in Sendai. I recommend to use the loople bus, this is an old fashion type of hop-on hop-off version, very cute and with that you get an overview of the city.

 

 

Here are some views of the tour

 

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We were there at the end of July just before the week end of Tanabata Festival on 5th and 6th August, this is very special apparently. While Japan celebrates and have their Matsure in May, Sendai celebrates in early August and that brings over 2M visitors in one week end!

Everywhere, where displayed the Tanabata and the hotel do their own with the employees every year.

 

 

Supermarket

This very basic chore never stops to impress me, every time I go for groceries, I discover new items, try out new food, here are some differences

Beer – Coming from Belgium, I thought we had a huge choice of items in a long shelf, well, here, all beers are stored in fridge sections, in a long shelf, but 90% comes in cans and you get god knows how many different type of strength, color, flavour, mostly from a couple of brands!! I only recognise one so far (Asahi grey can) and only this one comes in 4 different formats, S, M, L and XL

Fish – as you would guess, there is plenty of choice, one thing to remember, in Japan, sushi are displayed in the ready-meal section while sashimi come in the fish area, it sounds logical but good to know. Fish is almost always great value for money and much cheaper than in Belgium or Europe in general. To give you an idea, I can get a large sashimi plate with 12 to 15 pieces for 400 Yens (3.50 euros), 2 portions of salmon fillet would come around 300 Yens (2.50 euros)

 

One thing that I enjoy a lot here are the pickles, they are healthy, tasty, not to vinegared and there are so many different choices. for a guilty pleasure and more quality and taste, I pay trips to Isetan monthly to buy the best of all

Rice is still very difficult to choose and it comes better from a rice cooker, which I have not got yet. So, I buy a different one each time and make notes to be able to discern (maybe one day). During my trip to Niigata, where rice is at its best, I could really taste the difference, it is excellent up there, trust me!! try it!

choix de riz

 

so, all in all, nothing to do with what we are used to, here is how a typical shopping day looks like

Great Earthquake East Japan

This has been an expected and very emotional part of my trip to the Miyagi Prefecture. After work and visiting the competitors in the area, my colleague suddenly asked me whether I would like to go to the seaside.

Even so he is overloaded at work and has already spent the whole day with me, I felt embarrassed to take more of his time but I felt he was keen on it. So we drive across the city of Sendai about 5km and quickly reached an area where they grow rice. For us, westerners, these rice fields remind us of Vietnam and so, only seeing this and exchanging was a learning for me.

He then mentioned briefly that the rice could be grown as soon as the next season and was ready for October soon after desalinization. And I suddenly got his point, he wanted me to visit the area affected by tsunami (language barrier). I have been shocked by the 2011 earthquake like many of us since I knew the country and had friends there, it was close to me in some way. I did not dare asking questions around it as I felt it would put my colleagues at an unrest and now, he was the one offering.

The next minute, we stopped at a building and I recognised the school we could all watch on TV years ago, a nice gentlemen approached us and explained that this would remain as such and would become a memorial where people can precisely come and ask questions.

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We drove another 500m and reached the seaside and then I felt overwhelmed. There is a memorial where the tsunami hit. the water was going over the head of the statue at that point, can you believe.

The house opposite has simply been washed away so as all the houses in what used to be a street from the seaside to the school. 2000 people were living there.

 

Can you imagine the event? Do you realise this was on a lenght of about 200km and not just the one spot. I could see a lot on TV but never realised the scale.

My colleague was remembering all these things vividly. I remembered that in 2012, during the London Olympics, our company flew over one employee to run the olympic flame at our headquarters, he had lost his daughter in the event. they explained to me that this person was actually my colleague who had been sitting next to me all day at the meeting

 

Now, it is all about reconstruction, you see a lot of signs for “hope”, “reconstruction” in the city and the Olympic Committee has just announced 2 possible routes for the olympic flame in 2020, one starts there precisely and I hope they will get it as it would be a great symbol of life.

At the gym

What a blast!! Once a week, I attend a zumba class close to the office. 15 Japanese regular guests…and me who understands just right and left. They are very kind and gradually incorporated me in the group, they laugh at me as I always miss the instructions but all together it is great fun and I learn new words at each session

In the meantime, I spent a day on trial at another club in town. Massive, 1 floor for a 25m swimming pool, 1 floor for the reception, and changing rooms, 1 floor for the gym and the studios, 1 floor for the professional training! Again, very very nice people but not a single one speaks English. Great facilities, never seen so many machines in one place, every scary. A race track around the gym. In the changing room, I was highly impressed by the shower room, you get open individual cabins where you can sit to shower and on the other half of the room, a massive bath to relax in. we, in Europe, could learn lessons out of it

On the next one I tried, high attendance rate, you need to book your classes on line and depending on your membership level, you have a lesson cap of 4 or 8 classes bookable a month. The rest, you request at reception on the same month. Great facilities, impressive technology, and they offer me H2 water, did not even what it was, had to browse to see what this product was. Been told it increases focus and performance, …. I am not up to that level just yet my dear Japanese friends!! Keep calm and carry on

 

Isetan, Mitsukoshi and the rest

My guilty pleasure? Spending a couple of hours at one of the large pricey department stores, they have a grocery section on the basement with beautiful products. But, in my case, what I especially like about it, is that you can try out many products which helps identifying what my next buy will be AND all products are labelled in Japanese and English so I take photos!!! Here is a view of the amazing section for raw fish, so many diferent Tuna! did you know that the clearer in color, the better it tastes?

on the right picture, are Shirasu, May is the season for those little fish that you can have with a bowl of rice (shirasudon), great in Enoshima Island (see my day out there in the Tourism section)

Now, I have a photo of the “no sugar” mention in my phone for the yogurts!!