Sunday, May 21, 2006

This Just In...the VaNATTO

One of the more disgusting foods I’ve ever eaten is natto: fermented soy beans. So, imagine my surprise when I found this article in my Google alerts on Japan news. A Virginia farm company is now producing natto for the Japanese market.

Natto is a traditional Japanese food, and has the consistency of baked beans covered in molasses, except with a revolting “dirty feet” smell. It’s got wonderful health benefits, and was eaten by poor Japanese years ago when there was limited access to animal protein. Personally, I couldn’t get past the smell. I’ve tried it twice, once even under the influence of a bit of sake, and it still was inedible. The worst part is that it adheres to your teeth like peanut butter, and is difficult to dislodge. Even swigging and swishing with beer must be repeated frequently until it’s gone, or you just don’t care anymore.

But, good old American ingenuity…find a product, find a market, and sell, sell, sell.

The below description in red is so, so accurate…Something tells me that if you gave natto to some of these militant vegans, they might forswear their forswearance of meat. Click the link to go to the article.

Specialty soybean grown in Virginia finds a market in Japan

The beans are smaller than typical soybeans and are a bright, golden color.

"Think of pork and beans, drained, and add clear glue," Taliaferro said.

The beans ferment through a natural decay process similar to bacteria found in rice.

"The bacteria develops a clear mucus," he said. "When you eat them with chop sticks, they stick together."

They're usually served with soy sauce and mustard. They're also high in protein and good for the digestive tract, according to traditional food advertisements in Japan.

Recent Pictures

It's been far too long since I put up any pictures, so I'll do that this post... I'm sorry about that, but I have been taking a lot of them. It's just that it takes time to download, and process them, meaning, shrink them to a managable size that doesn't kill servers. I love the camera...the quality of photos is incredible, but it takes a little effort to make them postable.

So that said, here goes..

Pictures from the Kamakura trip with Mike and Takano-san...


Please help me drink this Sake!


Holy water fountain

Daibutsu, the Great Buddha of Kamakura

My Melody

My Melody

Flowers at Hase Kanon Temple

Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura Japan

Me and my coworkers, Takashi, Hiroko-san, and Mike

Tokyo at night

Saturday, May 13, 2006


We're in Taegu (or is it spelled Daegu?), South Korea right now visitng our good friends Paul and Amy. We finally got to meet their new daughter, Caroline, for whom we are godparents. She was baptized tonight at Mass, and we followed that up with a delicious meal at a French (Freedom) restaurant.

Flying in to Busan last night was sort of strange. Normally, when we get on an international flight, it's 10 hours before we get off. Last night, just one and a half hours later, we were landing and exiting the aircraft in another country. Nice not to have jet lag going on...

We've just kicked around town today, and spent time catching up with Paul and Amy. We share a lot of the same interests together, namely travel, and had a good time comparing notes on some of the places we'd been in the past couple of years. Of course, their traveling is somewhat curtailed now that they have the little girl, but they're planning to start back out on the road in a half a year or so.

Korea feels a lot like Japan, with narrow streets and lots of people, but we don't understand any Korean at all, as opposed to the little bit we know in Japan. Otherwise, it really doesn't feel much different.

Last weekend, we went out with some friends (Toshi, Hiroko, Akiko, Takashi, Mike and Melody and I) to eat at a Yakiniku place and sing some karaoke. We'd spent the day walking around Kamakura with Mike and Takashi, and then headed up on the train to meet the others. The meal was great, and at less than 40 bucks a person, a bargain. Yakiniku restaurants have a little grill at your table on which you grill meat. One strange thing was that half of the meat was offal. Why do people eat intestines and stomach? It's something that I just will never understand...some of the meat was great; some, not so great. The intestines were like chewing meat flavored gum...grill it for a while, then dunk it in soy sauce, and chew, chew, chew. Finally, I just had to get it down with a big swig of beer. Not bad tasting, just difficult to eat! But, in spite of eating pig colon, we had a great time.

After the offal experience, we walked up the street to a karaoke place, and spend a couple of hours singing. What a fun passtime....we really had a great day.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Melody and I are at Narita airport right now getting ready to fly to Korea. Our friends Paul and Amy are having their little girl Caroline christened and we are the godparents. They live in Taegu, in the south part of the country. We will blog more when we get back. My thumb is cramping up. Posted from the phone.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

New Feature! Sand and Tsunamis Stuff!

We're embarking on a new feature here at Sand and Tsunamis...Merchandising.

Yes, that's right...We're plugging our Official Sand and Tsunamis Stuff. Get yer Official Sand and Tsunamis T-shirts! Get yer Official Sand and Tsunamis Coffee Mugs (both large and small sizes!!)! Get yer Official Sand and Tsunamis Greeting Cards! Get yer Official Sand and Tsunamis Refrigerator Magnets!! All for very reasonable prices that will fund future travels and blog entries.

I borrowed the idea from one of my favorite blogs, The Global Trip 2004 and Erik Trinidad who pushed his stuff and promised postcards from the road for those who supported him. We'll do the same for you...if you buy something, email us at sandandtsunamis at yahoo dot com with your address, and we'll get a post card in the mail to you. It might be of a limaceous sumo wrestler showing far too much of himself, but it will be a real postcard from Japan (or someplace else if we're there...). We do have future travels around the Pacific planned...who knows from where it might come.

We're starting with the fare offered at the Sand and Tsunamis Store, so surf on over. We'll add additional designs and items as we get the creative juices going. If you see something on that you'd like us to offer, let us know...If you've just been dying for that spaghetti strap tee-shirt with one of our cool pictures on it, we'll oblige! Check it out!!

Permanent link on the side, under v.1.0.

Friday, May 05, 2006


As I am walking right now, a bird just pooped on my arm. Thank goodness for hand sanitizer.

(above was typed on my phone while walking to the train station)