Design Festa 2014 in Tokyo

 Preparing for something is always fun. Last weekend one of my friends joined an art festival so called "Design Festa" in Tokyo, and I help it :)

 It was my first time being there, so many people coming there to see, and so many spaces for selling and showing a number of their arts. I spent almost 12 hours by the way, stood in front of our space, sometimes took a walk for taking fresh air.

 Turkish foods are more common in recent Japan. Many young people like eating it, thus you can find Turkish restaurants here and there, even in this place.

 I took a cup of thick ice cream ;)

 Surprisingly, some were drawing and painting on site, they like calling it "Live Paint". I've heard of the word though, wow, it's the first time for me to see in my own eyes :D

 I guess I'll come back next time :)


Tasting Sake in Echigo-Yuzawa Station.

 Last weekend I went to the northern region of my country called "Hokuriku". On the way back to Tokyo by train, I stopped over "ponshu-kan" in a timely fashion. It's located inside Echigo-Yuzawa Station So...what's this? It's a place we can taste a whole bunch of Japanese alcohol Sake :D This station is in Niigata Prefecture, where is one of the most famous prefectures for producing Sake. In this post, let me show you some pictures in addition to a brief introduction how to relish it :)

 The entrance says it's 500yen (about US$5) for tasting five small cups of sakes. It's not the admission fee, you know ;) Entaring is complimentary, so you can just walk inside.

 As you pay 500yen at the reception, they give you five gold coins and a small small cup used to drink. Too small, you think? Because sake usually contains much alcohol, thus it's naturally small. Additionally, we're going to take a lot of sake. We have to sip bit by bit! ;) It's 25cc for this cup, for the record :D We call this cup "choko", almost the same pronounce as chocolate by the way. Easy to remember, isn't it? ;)

 Now, you can taste whatever you want to take from 97 kinds of sake! "I can take only five of them." You might think so. But, if you're unsatisfied with the amount, go back to the reception and get another five coins with 500yen. Note: don't drink too much, haha :)

 Here's a thing: How to use this strange machine? It's so easy that let me show how.

 First, place your cup right on a red labeled circle. Although we can't see it in this picture, let's find it previous picture, you can manage to see it :)

 When you put your cup appropriate place, then insert a gold coin.

 And push a yellow button which allows sake to be poured.

 Only a few second, it's ready to be drunk! :)

 Wow, this sake looks so clear. The taste was so nice, fruity and sweet :)

 Likewise, there are many salts for tasting as well. They are for people paid 500yen for tasting sake, and sure, I took some!

The name indicates this brownish salt is from seaweed.

 Each of them has a unique taste, not only salty, but also tea flavor and stuff.

 Haha, even local soy pastes are available! Yes, I'm definitely a big fan of them :D

Interestingly, we can try blind tasting for sake, and the way is quite simple. You taste five kinds of sake and tell them what the name of each sake it is. I have to be honest, how can I possibly tell exactly the five correct names out of 79 sorts?! However, it seems there are professionals exist.

 This paper is the result of it. Look at the below chart, in January of last year, 25% of challengers found out the correct answer. Just amazing, I can't do it =)

In case you want to wash your cup or through away your remaining, then put it here.

 There are many papers related sake, and you can easily spend hours there :)

 And when you taste or take a rest there, you can leave your belongings in a particular place. The cation "watch your belongings so that it wouldn't be stolen." is written though, most people including me don't care it. This is a small reason why I like this little country a bit. Sure, someone robs left luggage or something like that, however, as long as people respect each other, it wouldn't happen so frequently.

 Unlike ordinary places like this, they have many foreign languages such as English, Chinese. I was so surprised that I asked them if many foreigners come such a remote place. "Yes, they come almost on a daily basis" they replied.

 Outside of the tasting place, you can buy souvenirs from sweets to dish. I bought a rather tall tumbler made of sand by the way :)

 At last, I found a stall selling huge rice balls, or onigiri. They named it "bomb onigiri" after its largeness and black color on the surface, since dried black laver wraps a rice ball. You want to know what it's like?

 This is it ;)