A Special Arch Way

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This is Umanose-domon rock archway which is located just off the Miura Peninsula (90 mins by train SW of Tokyo) on the south side of an island called Jogashima. The arch was created by erosion and the bottom of it used to be in the water so you could row a small boat through it! But in the Great Tokyo Earthquake of 1923 the land on which the arch stood was lifted up by several metres and now sadly the archway is out of the ocean so the sea can’t flow through it any more. But it’s still worth taking a look at, especially as the top part of the arch isn’t very thick and may be eroded away completely in the not too distant future!

Beginner’s Sushi

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Most people think that Japanese sushi is just raw fish, rice and seaweed but this is not actually true! OK there is a lot of raw fish but there is also quite a lot of none-fishy sushi and even a few cooked fish types (such as eel). This picture shows three really common types of sushi (I like all of these) and only one of these has fish in it and it’s not even raw! The brown one at the front is called inari. It is pockets of tofu with rice inside and it tastes really nice. The one at the top is called tamago (which means egg) and that’s exactly what it is – a slice of omelette-style egg with rice and a strip of seaweed holding them together. Then the last one is the only one which has fish in it – it’s called tsuna mayo (tuna mayonnaise) and it is tinned-style (cooked) tuna and mayonnaise (and sometime tiny pieces of vegetables) mixed together on top of rice with seaweed around the edges holding it all together. There are also lots more types of sushi without fish (like cucumber, pickles, natto beans, eggplant with miso etc.) so if you don’t like fish but come to Japan don’t be scared to go to a sushi shop!

Black Kite

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This is a Japanese hawk – in English it is called a Black Kite and in Japanese it is called ‘Tobi’ (which I find funny because my little brother is called ‘Toby’ 🙂 ).
Tobi are quite common birds at the Japanese coast. They’re really impressive to look at with a huge wingspan and they make a funny sort of ‘giggling’ cry or call. But you have to be careful because they are always on the lookout for tasty morsels and they have super sharp eyesight. Once I was eating a rice ball (onigiri) and a tobi swooped down and snatched it right out of my hands. I didn’t hear it coming at all, I only felt the wind as it flew past me!

Sorting Rubbish

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Japan is probably advanced, but also the most difficult country in the world when it comes to throwing away rubbish! This is because there are so many different bins for the different types of rubbish that we create. For example in this market there are six different bins to choose between!
The nearest one is for glass bottles and cans, the next is one for plastic ‘PET’ bottles. The white bins are for general plastic and vinyl. The brown one at the end with the green sign is for paper, magazines, newspapers, paper cups etc. and the final bin (with the red sign) is for general rubbish that doesn’t fit into the other categories.
Of course if you can’t read Japanese then it’s even more difficult to decide which bin to use. In that case I recommend looking into the bins to see if you can find stuff that matches what you want to throw away!

Tiny Trees

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These are traditional Japanese bonsai. Bonsai are trees which people have planted in shallow trays (the meaning of bonsai is tray planting!). Because the trees are in small trays (so the roots stay small) and the owners skillfully keep on cutting them back, they grow in to what look like big trees but actually they are still only about half a metre high! All these trees are more than 100 years old, but the one in the first picture is more than 500 years old. But however old they are they stay tiny little trees. How amazing is that!?!

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A Mechanical Suit

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This is a statue of a mechanical ‘Gundam Suit’ from a very well-known Japanese manga, television show and video game series called Gundam. The statue is located in front of the main entrance to a shopping mall on Tokyo’s Odaiba Island called Diver City. There’s a Gundam Café and a Gundam museum called ‘Gundam Front‘ in the shopping mall too. The Gundam stories and battles are set in a different universe to ours and in this universe people in huge robot suits (like in the picture) battle each other. This robot suit statue is about 18 metres tall (‘life size’ according to the makers!). It lights up at night and steam comes out of its chest. It’s very impressive even if you don’t know anything about the Gundam stories!

Speedy Horses!

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This is a horse racing stadium located in Fuchu, western Tokyo. This horse racing stadium is the biggest in Japan, and is said to have the biggest digital screen in the world. Horse races are held here about 20 times a year and each race day is made up of 12 races. Of course visitors can bet on the races (not children though, betters have to be 20 years old at least because it is gambling). In the huge viewing area of the stadium there are lots of seats from which to watch the horse racing, lots of places to eat and drink and masses of special machines which you can use to place your bets. You can bet 100 Yen (which is about 80p) up to 10,000 Yen (which is about £80)! Each race day the betting machines take in about forty million to a hundred million US dollars per horse race. Bear in mind there are 12 horse races in one day so that’s A LOT of money! My family did some betting but only with 100 Yen coins. On the very last race the horse we bet on came 2nd and we got about 2,000 yen back. So actually we made quite a big profit!

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