Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Beer (Page 1 of 2)

Yokohama Afternoon

After we got Danny off to Haneda Airport on Friday morning, the girls and I headed to Cup Noodle Museum. This stop on the Julia Tour was especially for Chase-Chan. The little one loves ramen. First step, stand in line to buy your cup to decorate.

Next, we spent time decorating our Cup Noodle.

Then we added our noodles, seasoning, and flavors.

Finally, our perfect, made-to-order Cup Noodle is packaged and sealed.

After making our personalized Cup Noodle, we spent time exploring the Cup Noodle Museum. The museum encourages innovation and persistence in pursuing your dreams.

The Cup Noodle Museum is on top of my list of places for kids in Japan. However, it might be one of the loudest places in Japan. Therefore, I like to incorporate a beer stop before or after for the adults. This time, we choose the KIRIN City restaurant in Yokohama. Jennifer and I ordered a frozen beer. After our adventures in Miyajima and seeing the sign missed labeled for beers as bears, we decided they should be calling the frozen beers “polar bears.” Haha! The foam was completely frozen. It was a little different, but nonetheless refreshing.

We finished up the afternoon with a little shopping before heading home for a relaxing night before their flight on Saturday.

Saturday morning, Jen and I enjoyed one more walk to Zushi Beach. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. It was our lucky day.

A few hours later we were saying our goodbyes as they waited for the Narita Express.

Dave and I enjoyed a wonderful week sharing Japan with the Thompsons. I still can’t believe how quickly the week passed. We enjoyed so many laughs and created so many memories. We will see you soon, friend-family aka fri-amily. Ja Matane

Sakura Dreaming in the Snow

We awoke this morning to a light dusting of snow. It was slushy, messy and not as pretty as the snow last week. I snapped a few pictures to document the occasion. Two snows in one Japan winter!

This next picture is of my two Sakura trees. Both are starting to show their buds. I’m hoping the cold temps will slow down their blooms a little bit. It’s too early!

Speaking of Sakura, the talk has already started about the Sakura bloom forecast. I have seen several forecasts. The forecasts are split between the peak bloom being the week of 3/24 and 4/1. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the week of 4/1 so our friends who will be visiting can enjoy them as well.

Besides talking about the peak bloom, Sakura items are starting to appear. At my English class today, one of my students brought us special Sakura mochi.

The mochi pancake was filled with red bean paste and wrapped in a pickled Sakura leaf.

It was surprisingly delicious! Mochi and red bean paste are not usually my favorite. I’m beginning to enjoy them more, but I never buy them for myself. This little treat was really good. The salty flavor of the pickled Sakura leaf balanced nicely with the sweetness of mochi and red bean paste. It also helped that I washed it all down with an Asahi beer in a decorative Sakura can! The beer was cold, refreshing and had no taste of Sakura.

Wishing you a very happy Friday and for my friends in cold weather, I hope Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow! Happy Groundhog Day! Kanpie!

Meatball and Beer

On Sunday, Dave and I went up to our favorite barbecue and beer spot in Yokohama – Bashamichi Taproom. Our beers were refreshing and delicious after our 40 minute train ride.

We both enjoyed our meals. Dave opted for the Lucky Seven Anniversary special.

I happily picked my favorite, the brisket sandwich.

After lunch, we walked around the local area a little bit before going back to the train. We found this little bar called Thrashzone Meatballs. The sign outside said “meatball and beer.” Yes, please.

We popped inside to check it out. The beer list was longer than the meatball menu! Look at the last beer. Lagunitas IPA! My Chicago heart was so excited.

However, I did choose to drink local. I selected the Speed Kills. It was excellent.

The meatball menu consisted of two options. Regular or the Special. Regular meatballs were served with marinara with mozzarella. The Special was a Moroccan style meatball. The meatballs were served by the size number.

We started with four regular meatballs. They were served in small cast iron skillets.

The meatballs were made using a “takoyaki” maker. Takoyaki is an octopus dumpling very common in Japan.

As we sipped our beers, we chatted with one of the managers. He is an ex-pat making a go here in Japan. We decided we couldn’t leave without trying the Special. The Moroccan meatballs were served with small pitas.

We couldn’t help but make Happy Gilmore jokes with each bite. “That’s good meatball.” With all fairness, they were delicious and the beer list was extreme as promised. It was worth the stop and I will make sure to stop in again soon.

On a slightly different note. I know I mentioned the strong winds we have been having. Sunday was glorious. Sunny and no wind. Monday was sunny with strong winds. I took a couple videos from our walks to the beach each day. Check out the difference a day makes!

Sunday 1/14/18 – so calm and peaceful.


Monday 1/15/18 – watch for the wind surfers!


Buddha & Brews

The weather on Tuesday was beautiful. I decided to mix up my day trips and use the lovely day to explore Fukuoka. The Midori-Huis Ten Bosch Limited Express train makes the trip to Fukuoka from Sasebo in about two hours.

I arrived at the Sasebo train station with plenty of time to spare before catching the 8:06 train. I’m glad I did. I’ve learned in Japan that trains with special names require a special ticket at a special price. Such was the case with the Limited Express. I needed two tickets. One ticket for the train and one for Express Train! Yikes! And that is only one way! I needed to make the most of my day!

Once arriving at Hakata Station, I switched to the JR lines and took a local train to Nanzō-in Temple. I first learned about this Temple from my friend, Paula. She and her husband were stationed in Sasebo and went to visit the Temple. Her pictures were so cool, I knew I had to add this to my list. The Nanzō-in Temple is known for its large bronze Reclining Buddha statue said to be the largest bronze statue in the world.

The statue is about 134 feet long, 36 feet tall, and weighs 300 tons. It was spectacular. Better in fact than I anticipated. I thought I would stop by really quickly, snap some pictures and leave. Instead, I lingered and enjoyed the serenity and harmony I felt during my visit. The long cord from his hand is connected to the prayer area so visitors can “touch” Buddha as they pray. His feet are decorated with symbols to represent healing powers.

The statue is reclining because it represents Buddha at the moment of death or as he enters nirvana.

Besides my feeling of serenity, I also wasn’t expecting fall foliage to decorate the beautiful temple.

These two might be my favorite.

But, then there’s the one with the waterfall and bridge.

Like I said, I spent way more time here enjoying a sort of fall foliage meditation. I’m so glad I decided to visit today while the skies were clear.

I returned to the train station and caught he 12:02 train back to Hakata Station. I wanted to take the 15:32 Limited Express back to Sasebo so I could meet Dave for dinner. The 15:32 put me back at 17:24. So, I had about 3 hours to kill before my train. On my way to Fukuoka, I researched different options. Parks, foliage, “Fukuoka” ramen, and/or shopping were all viable options. As I was on the train after my visit to the Temple, I was ready for a beer. One divine search for zen leads to another. I searched “breweries” in Google Maps and the Asahi Brewery popped up. It was only one stop from Hakata – 4 minutes. Perfect. I arrived at the Brewery around 12:40.

The receptionist was so welcoming and asked if I had a reservation. No. Ok, then how about 1:00 tour? Hai! Arigatōgozaimas! She gave me a set of headphones so I could enjoy the tour in English.

The tour took an hour. It was really fun despite the language barrier. Oh, and did I mention – FREE! The hops were not edible but the barley in the canister was available for sampling.

A couple more pictures of the packaging process. Did you know the only place in North America that brews and packages Asahi is the Molson Coors Plant in Canada!

A couple pictures to help you understand the volume of beer brewed and packaged at this plant. This is where cans are filled with Asahi. It fills 1500 cans per minute.

This is a picture of the bottle filler. It only fills 600 bottles per minute.

After our tour, we were given the opportunity to sample Asahi beer. Asahi encourages consuming alcoholic beverages in moderation. Therefore, you only have three FREE samples to consume in 20 minutes with your bag of beer snacks. Moderation is the Wabi-Sabi of life. I think so.

Just in case you were wondering what it was like to be a blonde American traveling alone today, I felt like a rockstar. I railway staff helping me buys tickets, use my PASMO, and find my correct track. At the Brewery, the tour guide checked on me throughout the tour and sat me at my own table. It went above and beyond excellent customer service. My third sample and my fellow tour members.

I purchased some of the beer snacks for Dave as a little present. I would bring him beer, but there is an alcohol restriction on American service members stationed in Japan after a Marine killed a Japanese man in a drinking and driving accident Sunday morning in Okinawa. The incident is very sad, preventable, and unfortunate.

As the sun sets on my day trip and I reflect on how I spent my time, it was pretty perfect – for me. I didn’t see the amazing shopping mall or sample Fukuoka ramen. But, I was able to enjoy Buddha, fall foliage, and a beer (or three). My take away from this outing was – you can’t do everything, you can’t please everyone. So, do what you love and make sure you have fun doing it!

The Crossroads of America

Dave and I are headed to Indiana for a week. We plan to spend some quality time with family. I’ll do my best to keep up with Wabisabisole. However, the same applies. I’m going to take time to be present and enjoy family time. Plus, I know my cell signal will be nonexistent for part of the week.

After Indiana, we are going to Virginia Beach for a week to celebrate a dear friend’s retirement. We are very excited for our trip and look forward to time together and with family and friends. 

Before leaving Japan, we enjoyed one last bowl of Udon and beer before our flight. 

As always, thanks for reading! 

Silver Lining

Dave had a full day of work off. So, I planned an afternoon in Yokohama sampling different craft brews. 

All was right in the world until… I received a message from my GF Audry asking if I could forward her one of my September blogs about Japanese eggs. When she tried to access the post, the pictures wouldn’t load. Hmmmmmm. 

When I tried to access the same post I had the same problem. What in the world? My stomach started to knot when I realized what has happened. Stay with me as I explain… 

I write wabisabisole via the WordPress app on my phone. In March, I was having issues with the lack of storage on my iPhone. One of the biggest storage problems was the WordPress app and all the pictures. So, I started to delete pictures. I was delighted in how much storage I reclaimed by deleting so many pictures. It wasn’t until today when I realized the repercussions of my actions. All of the blogs from mid April back  to August 2016 – have no images. As I scrolled through, it was like looking at a skeleton. My heart broke. So much work. Such a rookie mistake. 

Simultaneously, Dave and I had plans to have a nice day together. It’s just a blog. Get a grip! Ugh. 

As we ride the train to Yokohama, Dave asks me if I’ve backed up the pictures elsewhere. Yes, on the iCloud, Google photo, and Shutterfly. I have most of them somewhere. It’s just a matter of downloading them and uploading them in the right spot. Where is the right spot!? This is when Dave says, “I saved wabisabisole in my emails, will that help?” Say, what!?! Omg- yes! I can match the email (which doesn’t change regardless of my edits) to the missing pictures. Simply, amazing. Unbeknownst to me, Dave made a folder for wabisabisole emails and has saved them for the past year plus. Dwyer for the win, yet again. He seriously is the sweetest and the best. #silverlining 

Dave saved the day. And so did beer! 

While in Yokohama we visited Yokohama Bay Brewing for a pint. 

For lunch, we enjoyed a delicious bowl of ramen. So, good. 

Half way through, I saw the ingenious way to add sesame seeds. Check it out! You might think it’s mustard. Nope, sesame seeds! 

Despite the wabisabisole set back, the day ending on a positive note. Time together exploring and enjoying. Tomorrow, Monday, will begin the great wabisabisole edit of 2017. I’ve been procrastinating on this task since I reached the one-year point. I’ll take this as a sign. As always, thanks for reading and sharing the adventure with me! A special thanks to all of you who talk about/share my adventures with others. As always, beauty is in the imperfection. 

Kirin Brewery 

The Kirin Brewery in Yokohama made it into my top six “Favorite Brewery Tours.” 

Also in the top six are: Revolution Brewing (Chicago, IL), Magic Hat Brewing (Burlington, VT), Lagunitas Brewing (Chicago, IL), Heineken (Amsterdam) and Miller Brewing (Milwaukee, WI). 

The tour was free, lasted 80 minutes, and had three free tastings at the end! The staff was friendly and the tour was animated with automation. I can’t wait to go back! 

Sonia and I took the train to Yokohama and then switched to a local line. From there we walked to the Brewery. 

The area was very industrial and gave us the feeling we were in the wrong place. Until we saw this sign. 

Yay! We are on the right track and only 200 meters away! Walking up to the entrance, we were greeted by a security guard. 

He showed us to the reception area. We arrived at 11:10 am. The receptionist asked if we had reservations for the tour. No, we don’t. That is ok, she said. The next tour is at 11:20. Would you like to go? Yes, please! We were given buttons to wear and an English lamented guide to help us understand the tour because it was all in Japanese. Our tour guide came and introduced herself to us! Talk about feeling like a royal! The first part of the laminated booklet included the rules. 

At the beginning of the tour, we watched a short movie. Please notice all the kids who were part of our tour! It’s important to teach the youth to appreciate beer. 

As we moved along the tour route, we stopped for a tourist pose and to snap kawaii pictures. 

After the movie, we moved to a room where we could play with the malt and hops. Tables of different sizes were set up for participants to taste and smell the ingredients. 

My favorite quote was on the ingredients page. “All the ingredients of beer are gifts from nature.”

We left the ingredients room and were taken to see where the mashing occurred. Another video and light show was used to show the purpose of each tank. 

From here, we were able to taste the wort. The kids were so excited! They were cracking us up! 

I would describe the wort as tasting like raisin bran water. Like if you put water on your raisin bran instead of milk and then drank it when you finished the cereal. Sweet and branny. 

After tasting the wort, we had another interactive exhibit to understand the fermentation process. These cute little cartoons were projected onto a table. A true love story. Yeast eats sugar releasing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Voilà – Wort becomes beer. 

Check this out! We passed by a classroom that can be reserved and you can make your own beer! They will store it for you and ship it to you when it is ready. For a small fee, of course! 

The final part before tasting is the packaging. The beer we have been learning about is now packaged into Kirin Beer cans. 

Japanese happiness is shared throughout the world as Kirin is shipped globally! Locally, we enjoyed the final stop on the tour in the tasting room. 

After our tasting, we were ready for lunch. We stopped at the Spring Valley Brewery restaurant on the grounds of the factory. 

We split a flat bread salad and yogurt fried chicken. It was delicious! 

As we were leaving, we couldn’t resist a few shots lifting the (empty) pony kegs. 

It was a fun day! I am more than willing to add this to the Julia tour when you visit. I mean – free beer!! 


Dave and I made a quick trip to Kamakura on Sunday night for dinner. I’ve had the bar/ restaurant, Barchie’s, on my list of places to take Dave for a few weeks now. 

Despite the information on Google, they close after lunch at 1500 and reopen at 1700 for dinner. The service at the restaurant was excellent! For example, when we arrived, the server brought the beer list to our table! 

We started with a Heartland Lager (always on tap) and a Coedobeer Session IPA. I love seeing an American pour! 

We ordered an appetizer of garlic edamame. They were really delicious! 

For dinner, I ordered the seared tuna and avocado rice bowl. Very good tasting and a larger portion than normal. 

And Dave ordered the herb sausage platter with salad, grilled vegetables, and rice. 

We will definitely return and perhaps modify our orders. The portions were large and we could have easily shared the rice and salad in my bowl. There is always a learning curve in ordering food in Japan.

We tried two new restaurants this weekend and both made it to our favorites list. We classified this as a successful foodie / craft beer weekend for the Dwyer’s in Japan! Kanpie! 

Bashamichi Taproom

Dave and I went up to Yokohama to check out one of the microbrew bars. Bashamichi Taproom is owned and operated by one of Japan’s best craft breweries, Baird Brewery. Besides delicious craft beers, Bashamichi Taproom also serves American barbecue. 

We started with a Shuzenji Hertitage Helles and a Suruga Bay Imperial IPA. 

We ordered a nacho appetizer. The nachos came in orders of four. So, you could order 4, 8, or 12 nachos. We were confused as well. We decided to go with an order of 8 nachos. Turns out it was 8 tortilla chips with perfectly placed toppings. Seriously. Only in Japan can you get an order of 8 tortilla chips. 

As we were preparing to order our second round of beers, I noticed the menu had a back. Surprise! The amazing barbecue joint has a brisket sandwich. Yes, please! Good thing we only ate eight tortilla chips between us! The sandwich was delicious. American smoked brisket meets Japanese pan (bread). As the brisket fell apart, the pan held the sandwich together. Perfection. 

The second beer I ordered, Teikoku IPA, might be my favorite craft beer I’ve found in Japan. 

Dave and I shared the sandwich. The pickle bite was so many levels of perfect! 

The building is three floors and we were seated on the second. All things considered, there was so much space! No doubt we will return. Mainly because of a communication problem…

While we were eating, I saw an advertisement for a beer stamp card. It said you could get 12 beers for the price of 10. Seemed like a great deal. We already had four, we were well on our way! When I asked the waitress for the bill, I also asked for a stamp card. She asked if we wanted to put Dave’s beer on the card. (I think, she was speaking Japanese and gesturing.) we said, hai! She then told us to go to the register (first floor) and she would bring it to us. (I think)  

We took the ticket to the cashier. Another person rang us up. ¥14,000. Wait, what? $140 for four beers, eight nachos, and one brisket sandwich!?! That’s ridiculous! 

But, I pay. And then try to understand what happened. Dave and I are discussing the price of food and the fact beer prices weren’t listed. Surely, the beers weren’t ¥2,500 each. That’s absurd. We were on the train home and it finally dawned on me to look at the receipt. That’s when I realized, the card itself costs ¥10,000 – $100!!! The food and four beers were only ¥40,000 – $40. Much more reasonable. 

And notice Dave’s beer isn’t on the receipt, because it was the first stamp! Simultaneously, the other side of the card clearly showed the price! 

So, yes, we will be going back. We have 11 more beers to drink and perhaps 11 more brisket sandwiches to eat! 

Patio Weather

The weather has been so delightful the past week. I like to describe it as patio weather. For lunch, Dave and I went to one of our favorite patios in Yokosuka. Napoli’s pizza. We started with a salad. 

And ended with a pizza. I ordered a four cheese pizza. They suggest honey to be added. It sounds weird but, tastes amazing. 

Patio, pizza, and beer. It was a nice lunch. 

For dinner, we decided to avoid the crowds of Golden Week and instead visit our favorite patio in Zushi. Ours. We set up our table top grills and enjoyed our Japanese style meal. We started with edamame and Sake.

Dave was my personal chef. He made veggies (cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts) on the hot plate in the ceramic bowl and grilled steak and pumpkin. I nicely displayed the tuna sashimi and tuna rolls. 

It was a team effort of deliciousness. 

I hope when you visit we are able to enjoy patio weather. 

PS. Saturday we had the pleasure to welcome friends from Great Lakes who just moved to Japan. It was very fun to see familiar faces. We took them to the first place we had ramen in Yokosuka. Seemed appropriate. Welcome, Jenn, Heath, Hayden, and Mady! We are happy to have you in Japan with us!! I also promise to take a better photo next time we are together! 😉 in the meantime, ramen. 

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