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Studied technique and continual effort

Alps Ski World Cup at Yuzawa NaebaTestimonial from the ski school

Those words were written on the testimonial I received at a skiing competition I was invited to by the ski school sponsoring the event. Just reading the words it sounds like I tried very hard, but in truth that’s not really the case...

It’s been several years since I even went into the ski school, just enjoying free skiing instead. My technique has probably improved, but it’s still difficult to maintain the status quo...

Effort and studies are pretty far from the truth.

A week later top athletes from around the world competed in the Alps Ski World Cup at Yuzawa Naeba, a first in ten years for Japan, and 41 years since the last world cup at Naeba.

There was a lack of snow due to the rare warm winter we had this year, but the courses were built to near perfection several days prior to the race. As it happens there was a heavy snow after that, leading to the manual removal of a lot of snow.

Still, both days of the competition were blessed with Spring like weather. Then during the night, heavy snow. Even still the event staff were able to create what coaches from around the world were impressed with commenting “this is a world leading competition course.”

I assume for many of the staff it was their first world cup, yet it’s safe to say their “studied technique and continual effort” led to a successful competition.

Here at Akiba Die Casting, I want our work to go just as smooth.

Even if I don’t get a testimonial.

From 3+


Abnormal Weather?

January 2016 snow in TakasakiSnow cleared solar panels in Takasaki

We had a string of warmer days during this years predicted mild winter, until we were hit by what they call a low pressure bomb. The prediction for big snow two years ago was 15cm, and with the same prediction this year I looked out my morning window at the all-encompassing white. Thankfully it wasn’t the 70cm we ended up with two years back, more along the lines of 10cm this time around.

My Tragedy starts here.

The snow on my solar panels had not melted even though a week had already passed. We were supposed to be blessed with good weather after the snow, yet I was blessed with nothing but sighs.

On the weekend I climbed the roof and started scraping at the snow amidst clear weather but the snow had evolved into solid ice and my scoop designed for power was proving unfit for combat!

Changing scoops, trying out different tools, after a fair amount of time my solar panels came out of their week long slumber and started moving again.

You hear talk about risk management, but such things rarely come true when weather is involved. We here “Abnormal weather!” or “Global warming!” and others, but abnormal weather has become the norm, and global warming isn’t global warming, it’s just plain warm.

We do what we can.

From Pumping both wheels


Annual movie festival

How is everyone faring amidst this season of alternating temperatures?

In Takasaki, it’s almost time for the annual movie festival. As this year is the 30th anniversary a variety of events are being planned.

These include “Symphonic Night” with the Gunma Syphonic Orchestra and Tomomi Kahara scheduled to start on Saturday March 26th at 6:30PM in the Gunma Music Center. There are only reserved seats, already on sale at 5,000yen per seat from Ticket Pier, The Gunma Music Center, Takasaki City Gallery, and others. Buy them while they last!

On top of that, Yuusaku Kiyama and Norimasa Fujisawa, who became famous on the 2008 program “home” will be appearing as guests, so it’s sure to be a fun night.

A smaller project on Sunday February the 14th will also be showing the 1963 film “Shitamachi no taiyou”. This showing will be even more interesting as the director Yoji Yamada who is famous for such movies as “It’s Tough Being a Man,” “Living with My Mother,” and others will be appearing as a guest speaker.

The bulk of the movie festival will take place from March 26th through April the 10th, though I’m also looking forward to early March as the official schedule will not be released until then.

From Aqua


The holy land of large portions

Isn't food just wonderful.

An update from me who finds happiness in delicious food.

This time I would like to introduce a restaurant in Maebashi, “Pumpkin,” the holy land of large portions. It’s a restaurant that’s certainly been in the media a few times, but I am amazed every time I go. At its heart an Italian restaurant, the volume of their dishes reaching towards gargantuan.

All of the items on their menu are heavy in volume, though I will introduce a few exceptional examples.

- Spaghetti au gratin (830yen)

Spaghetti in a white sauce with cheese powdered over it is packed into a clay pot. Inside are shrimp and squid creating a feeling of bliss around the time you finish the dish.

※Try only if you’ve courage; there is enough pasta for what normal restaurant would label as 5 or 6 people.

- Italian Tomato small size (980yen)

Spaghetti in a tomato sauce is stuffed into a hollowed loaf of bread the covered in a white sauce. The caramelized white sauce goes wonderfully with the tomato spaghetti. Keep in mind this is the small size. The normal size has another fifty percent this volume.

- BIG Honey Toast (2,500yen)

3 loaves of bread are well toasted and smothered in honey, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chestnuts, oranges, pineapple, apple, and banana for a high calorie dessert. There is no way to finish it, but it is definitely a sight to behold.

For anything you are unable to finish, you can certainly take it home with you, so order without hesitation. It’s fun knowing that way too much is coming, I recommend giving it a try.

From Creampuff-Fingers


Sleeping Book Revival Series #1

Let's fully enjoy Japanese Sake

“Let’s fully enjoy Japanese Sake” By: Matsuzaki Haruo
Published: January 24th, 2007

This year I’ve resolved to revive a book a month from those I received in the past who have been sleeping on my shelves.

For January I finished a book my wife bought me during a period when I was trying different sake’s. When I first haphazardly opened the book towards the middle there was a string of specialist words like, “polishing ratio,” “pure rice wine,” and methods of production; as well as talk of “sake sound rice” and yeast, creating a heavy first impression that caused me to close the book.

Amidst the nine years the book slept I returned to it having drank a variety of sake’s in the past, though more so to better understand and thus better enjoy sake from here on.

Mentioned in the book of course are names you see at the liquor store and at pubs like “Daiginjo,” “Hon Jyozou,” and “Jyunmai.”

Name Raw ingredients Polishing ratio
Jyunmai Jyunmai Daiginjyou rice, rice malt Less than 50%
Jyunmai Ginjyou " Less than 60%
Jyunmai " No limit
Hon Jyozou Daiginjyou rice, rice malt, distilled alcohol Less than 50%
Ginjyou " Less than 60%
Hon Jyouzou " Less than 70%

※”Normal sake” does not make it onto the above list of sake types.

The difference between jyunmai sake and honjyouzou sake being whether distilled alcohol is added or not.. Before reading this book I thought that the difference was in the polishing ratio.

The polishing ratio is how much the raw rice was scrubbed or polished down to its core. A polishing ratio of 60% means 60% of the original rice remains after polishing. It does not mean 60% was polished away. While brown rice is said to have a much more flavorful taste due to the brown exterior (where minerals, proteins, and fat are stored) for brewing sake, these components create a chaotic taste and so are removed for a clear smooth taste.

Ginjyou, with a polishing ratio of less than 60% has a gentle flavor with a soft feel for an all-round delicate and witty flavor. Daiginjyou, with a polishing ratio of less than 50% pushed that trend even further, or so is written in the book. Recently on TV there was a special about the 15th generation Takagi Breweries master Takagi Akitsuna called “The birth of sake brewing, the essence of daiginjyo.” He said that daiginjyo is the most difficult of sake’s requiring a complete understand of sake production and a concerted harmony amongst all involved in the process. (I plan to write an article about Takagi Akitsuna in the future). In other words daiginjyo is the representative of all sakes.

Even with only this level of understanding next time you enjoy sake you can try and guess what kind it is. You’ll be saying “ah! this is a jyunmai daiginjyo,” or “last time I tried a jyunmai daiginjyo from this label but their jyunmai fits my tastes better.” And going to the liquor store is more fun.

This is just the start of the book though, I can’t explain all 124 pages of it. For the rest of the knowledge you’ll have to read the book for yourself.

It may be a completely different world than diecasting, but there is much to see and learn in the development of sake suitable rice, yeast, selection of water, management of rice cleaning, and many other factors sake manufacturers consider important.

All in all it seems that most important is those involved. The ideas of people, the connections between people, looking forward to drinking with one another, makes one want to work harder the next day. And please rest assured I am not an alcoholic (haha).

Japanese SakeNama ZakeJyunmai Ginjyou

From Jyoushin Electric Railside Resident


A first in 2 years…

The snow from last Monday

 With this year’s strange Winter we were expecting a large snowfall, and yes it snowed.

 I had already heard that it would starting falling during the night of Sunday, so I woke up early to check. Looking out my veranda there was about 15 centimeters of snow. Waking up early kept me from being late to work, but the ride did take over and hour where normally it would only be around 40 minutes.

The snow at work

 At work, a scene full of snow.

 After lunch the snow stopped falling so we all set out to shovel. Just when I thought the muscle pain that cropped up from shoveling had passed, Wednesday greeted us with more snow. After a second round of shoveling and traffic dodging waking up early in the morning has become a painful experience.

 According to the news we’re in for more snow on Saturday. I am hoping for snow of a level that does not require more shoveling.

 By the way…

The snow from two years ago

 The last picture is looking out my veranda from the big snow 2 years ago. I was awoke surprised by around 70 centimeters back then.

 If we can get it to snow that much then it’s smart to take the day off and have a day of Monster Hunter, hehe.

From Naotyn


The Second Biggest Question

Our place in our galaxy

 Not so long ago it was believed that we were the center of the entire universe and everything existed to support us. Stars were just sparkles on the ceiling of our world, and the Earth was a flat plane that one could only travel a certain distance on. People were so scared of change that they even executed people who suggested otherwise. We evolved as a society, and were eventually able to embrace the fact that the world is round and that space is unimaginably huge. Yet even today there are facts that we have been reluctant to embrace.

 The second biggest question of our species today is: are we alone in the universe?

 We pretend alien life is fun for the movies, or perhaps best left to a few eccentric scientists, when in fact it is one of the two most important questions of our time.

 In 1961 Dr. Frank Drake came up with the now famous Drake Equation that tried to guess at how many planets in our galaxy would have intelligent life that we could find and measure. It requires a lot of very small chances like how often are planets at just the right temperature for life, whether they have water and energy, what is the chance for bacterial life to evolve into intelligence, and others. The chances are very small, but the galaxy is so big the equation suggests that 60,000,000,000 planets should be able to support life. And that’s just one galaxy of which there are over 100,000,000,000. Yet with tremendous ignorance we still pretend there are 0 species in the universe beyond our own.

 There is even a list of over 500 high-ranking officials from around the globe who openly admit to having had direct personal experience with alien species. Some of these people include NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell PH.D., the sixth man to walk on the moon, Director of the CIA Vice Admiral R.H. Hillenkoetter, US Navy Commander Graham Bethune, US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Dwynne Arneson, United Kingdom Chief of Defense Admiral Lord Peter Hill-Norton, Russian Space Communications Center Major General Vasily Alexeyev, and hundreds more. Not to mention the tens of millions of people around the globe who claim to have seen a U.F.O.

 Is it so hard to accept that we are not alone? What do you think?

From Postman


The start of 2016

 buttuerbur sproutsAt last 2016 has officially started.

 This year’s winter is expected to have many warmer days than our average year making for quite a different situation than usual.

 Due to the lack of snow there are only a few ski courses open, with most of them still unable to open. On the other hand, the butterbur sprouts that usually don’t bloom until February through March are already growing to full size.

 Due to the warm winter, winter vegetables have also grown much faster flooding the market with prices around 30% cheaper than most years.

 The nappa cabbage have especially seen a price reduction sometimes as far as half the normal price making them the perfect addition for winter hot pots.

 It looks to be a year different than normal and here at Akiba Die Casting I am hoping for a year of good changes.

From Aqua

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