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Trying horse sashimi at Bariking

Horse sashimi (basashi)Horse sashimi (basashi)
Horse sashimi (basashi)28-Nov-2014 18:15, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 800

Horse is not an everyday food in Japan, but with a little looking, it’s not hard to find. In Fukuoka, it became quite easy to find when the restaurant Bariking opened (in Japanese the name is 馬力キング which means “horsepower king,” and literally would be pronounced bariki kingu, but they shortened it). They serve nothing but horse. Back in November, our friends Greg and Miki invited us to try it with them, a few weeks after the restaurant had opened for business. Needless to say, the boys were emphatically uninterested, and Maria wasn’t that keen on it either, so I went by myself to meet Greg and Miki at the restaurant.

We arrived before 6, so the place was almost empty at first. It filled up quickly though, and mostly with men. So eating horse is apparently more of a male activity, at least in Fukuoka.

Having no experience with eating horse, we started with a variety plate of basashi (horse sashimi – raw horse), with various cuts of meat. Eating it was anticlimactic. Most of the cuts tasted tough and chewy – it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t that good either. The thigh meat was fairly good, as it was relatively soft and flavorful, but it’s not anything worth going out of your way for. Having said that, I’ve had fish sashimi that was tough and chewy, and I’ve had fish sashimi that’s heavenly, so it’s certainly possible the shortcomings were in the preparation, not the horse meat itself.

The next round of horse meat was also raw when it was brought to our table, but these cuts were intended for cooking on the grill at our table. It came with some veggies and garlic cloves. This was more enjoyable than the sashimi, but again, nothing to get excited about.

Without thinking about it, I ate some whole garlic cloves from the grill. This earned me a night on the couch, as Maria said my odor later that evening was “like chemical warfare.”

If you find yourself in Fukuoka and want to give it a try, here’s a write-up with a link to a map (it’s in Japanese, but Google can give you a rough translation).

You grill the horse meat yourself at the no frills tables
You grill the horse meat yourself at the no frills tables28-Nov-2014 17:57, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Horse meat for grilling
Horse meat for grilling28-Nov-2014 18:30, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 800
Grilling our own horse meat
Grilling our own horse meat28-Nov-2014 18:41, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
Inside the restaurant
Inside the restaurant28-Nov-2014 19:17, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800

The Yokohoma Foreign Cemetery

This is a Throwback Thursday post, with pictures from our trip to Japan in 2004.

Kai cleaning the Toyoda family tombKai cleaning the Toyoda family tomb
Kai cleaning the Toyoda family tomb23-Jun-2004 22:50, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.008 sec

The Japan Visitor blog recently published a post about the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery. It was especially interesting to me because Maria’s family tomb is there.

The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery… is an important historical site dating from the late Edo and early Meiji periods, when Japan was opening up to the world under pressure from Western powers. [It] was established in 1854 when a sailor, Robert Williams, on Commodore Perry’s flagship The Mississippi died after a fall on Perry’s second voyage to Japan. Permission was asked of the Japanese shogunal authorities to bury the sailor onshore and to provide a resting place for any future Americans who died in Japan.

The Yokohama Foreign General CemeteryThe Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery
The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery23-Jun-2004 22:49, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.008 sec
The Yokohama Foreign General CemeteryThe Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery
The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery23-Jun-2004 22:46, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.008 sec
The Toyoda family tombThe Toyoda family tomb
The Toyoda family tomb23-Jun-2004 22:45, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.005 sec
The Yokohama Foreign CemetaryThe Yokohama Foreign Cemetary
The Yokohama Foreign Cemetary23-Jun-2004 22:57, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.006 sec

The post goes on to describe the most well known foreigners buried there. Among them were:

  • The founder of the first Boy Scouts’ troop in Japan
  • The first foreign-born rakugo comic (Rakugo is a traditional Japanese form of comedic storytelling)
  • The Frenchman who taught the Meiji Emperor French
  • The Frenchman who introduced the baguette and French confectionaries to Japan (thank you!)
  • A physician who was instrumental in spreading rugby in Japan
  • The Prussian penologist who helped setup Japan’s penal system

The post is great, but there’s even more about the place that’s worth sharing.

We were there in 2004, to visit Maria’s family tomb, which is in the section reserved for Catholics. To this day, Catholics (and Christians in general) are very rare in Japan. Maria’s great-grandmother became Catholic, and the tradition was passed down through the women in the family (Maria has 3 aunts who are nuns). Even though her family is native Japanese, they probably chose to be buried there since it was specifically for Catholics.

In the main section of the cemetery, there are also many graves for unknown foreigners, who were killed in the Namamugi and Idogaya incidents (these were attacks by samurai on foreigners in the 1860s). The post didn’t mention one of the cemetery’s most memorable tombstones, which is shaped like a safe, and bears the inscription “they say you can’t take it with you, but I did.” There’s also a monument in the shape of a giant beer stein, dedicated to the Germans who first taught the Japanese how to brew beer. The main section of the foreigner’s side was closed the day we visited, so unfortunately I don’t have pictures of them (Maria had seen them on a previous visit).

The neighborhood around the cemetery is also interesting to see:

It is a district with a very particular and almost unique atmosphere in Japan, since it doesn’t seem to be in Japan. When the port of Yokohama was opened to foreign trade in 1959, foreigners were allowed to settle in the area… From then on, more and more wealthy Westerners moved to this area, building a lot of Western-style houses, churches, schools and buildings, many of which still remain today.

My blog has been quiet for a while, as we’ve been recovering from various colds and flus, and getting settled back at home after 6 months in Fukuoka. There’s a lot of stuff I still want to write about from our time in Fukuoka, so stay tuned!

Twitter weekly updates for 2015-01-28 – 2015-02-03

The Sayings of Chairman Frank

The Sayings of Chairman Frank
The Sayings of Chairman Frank02-Feb-2015 19:28

Frank Rizzo was mayor of Philadelphia in the 1970s, so he was before my time. But I came across a website that mentions an out of print book, The Sayings of Chairman Frank OR I Never Saw My Mother Naked, which looks hilarious. Some choice quotes:

  • “I like art. It was us Italians who started most of it.”
  • “The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It’s only the people who make them unsafe.”
  • “Just wait after November you’ll have a front row seat because I’m going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot.”
  • “A conservative is a liberal who got mugged the night before.”
  • “Listen, Foglietta couldn’t beat me in South Philly if I gave him the voting machines tonight. Councilman Foglietta, if you had any sense, you could take a reading of the crowd here today and go home and slit your throat.”
  • Politicians like him are a thing of the past. This is mostly a good thing (his political career was beset by scandals), but there’s definitely an entertainment value that we no longer have. If you’re curious LOLadelphia! has a summary of his career.

Twitter weekly updates for 2015-01-21 – 2015-01-27

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