Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: 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. 

Yokohama Baystars 

Dave and I went to the Yokohama Baystars baseball game on Saturday afternoon. This was our second time to a Japanese baseball game. We went last summer shortly after we arrived. It was funny to read my previous post. It truly seems like forever ago and that I was still in a jetlag haze. This experience was so much easier!

It was a beautiful day and I was able to take a few pictures of the flower gardens surrounding the stadium. The tulips were stunning.

Unfortunately, the Baystars lost. They are actually off to a rough start this year. It still was a fun day with my favorite liberty buddy.

Despite the lose, the game is entertaining on so many other levels. Including the always happy beer girls.

Not only have they perfected the art of the perfect pour, they climb up and down the stairs the entire game. All while carrying a pony keg on their back and smiling. Plus, they look perfect! They pin their hats to stay in place and their makeup is flawless! I can only imagine how strong their legs are by the end of the season!!

The other entertainment is the constant chanting for each batter. It is constant regardless of who is at bat. The highlight is during the seventh inning stretch. Everyone releases blue balloons.

The other treat is as the food options. Because we are in Japan, edamame is always an option. And always a good one!

Another cultural difference is how clean the stadium is after the game. Attendees are expected to put their garbage in the garbage cans. The stadium is very tidy, for the most part, after the game. Imagine expecting Americans to put their trash in the trash can!

The Japanese baseball schedule follows the American schedule very closely. Please consider that if you are interested in attending a game when you visit.


Friday night, Dave’s work held a “Department Head” outing at an Izakaya restaurant in Yokosuka. Izakaya is a Japanese style restaurant that offers an all you can eat and drink set menu for a set period of time. The Izakaya restaurant we went to was called わん or One.  The cost was 4,200 yen (~$42.00) per person. For that price, we enjoyed 10 courses of tapas and drinks for 3 hours. This wasn’t our first experience with Izakaya, just the first time I knew what to expect and was prepared to snap pictures!

At わん, we dined at low tables with benches. There was space for our legs to go under the table so we didn’t have to sit cross-legged for three hours. We were given an oshibori (wet towel) to clean our hands prior to eating. Wet towels are served at most restaurants in Japan. Along with heated toilet seats in the winter, wet towels are a favorite “Japan thing” of mine! The table top gas grill will be used to cook the crocodile pot – course 9. Each setting had two bowls, a plate, a dipping plate, chopsticks, and a glass for your cold beer!

Izakaya is different than other Japanese styles of eating because the food is shared, similar to Spanish tapas. The portions in each of my pictures (except the sashimi and ice cream) was shared by 4 people.
Our 10-course menu included:
1) Edamame

2) Bang-Bang Chicken Salad

3) Sashimi Set (Tuna, Fatty Tuna, Octopus, Salmon) This was my favorite course, of course!

4) Deep-fried Sea Eel

5) Chicken Ball Grilled Avocado Cheese – I didn’t get a picture of the tray before the Chicken balls were served. This is my plate of meat and the chicken ball is on top. Food started arriving quickly and I had to load my plate because I couldn’t keep up!

6) Fatty Tuna Flavor Rice Sushi – This was my second favorite.

7) Karaage Chicken

8) Beef Steak

9) Crocodile Pot – The crocodile pot was cooked on the table top gas grill featured in the first picture. Seriously, the crocodile tasted just like chicken.

10) Desert is Green Tea and Vanilla Ice Cream

As we walked through the Honch to the train station to head home, we ran into Darth Vader. Never a dull moment in the Honch!

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Seriously. I couldn’t make this story up. Last night, I met Dave in Yokosuka for our traditional Friday night date night in the Honcho. We meet when Dave is finished with work for dinner and drinks (beer). 

Side note: the Honcho (pronounced Honch) is the area of bars, restaurants, and other establishments right outside the main base. It has the reputation of a typical sailor town. However, being Japan, it is clean and safe. Which, of course, is atypical of an American sailor town.

Frequently, we will run into someone we know, share a pint or five and tell a sea story or three. Last night, was a relatively quiet night in the Honcho. We went to our favorite curry restaurant, Delicious. The coconut chicken curry is my favorite and I don’t really like coconut! And the naan! It’s amazing. 

As we were walking through the Honcho on our way back to the train, we saw these two creatures approaching. 

I tried to switch my phone to video. But, I wasn’t fast enough!! They were running full speed!! 

Fortunately, these two Tyrannosaurus Rex were friendly. In fact, they were happy to pose with me. Looking at the picture now, the one on the left is throwing a peace sign and the one on the right is about to bite my head off! Haha! 

Seriously. Two T-Rex were running through the Honcho on a Friday night. Suddenly, drunk sailors don’t seem so bad!! 

Asakusa Seven Lucky Gods

After visiting the Tokyo Skytree, we went to the Sensō-ji Temple where we began the Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage around Asakusa (pronounced A-sox-sa). The Sensō-ji Temple is one of the largest and most well temples in Tokyo. There were so many tourists!

A selfie at the start of our pilgrimage, the front gate of the temple. It was such a bright and sunny day!

After crossing through the front gate, there is a street with many stores selling every imaginable souvenir. Some of the stores weren’t open yet and so I was able to get a couple pictures of the art painted on the store doors.

The temple is very large and beautiful. 

With this Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage, we were able to collect Temple stamps and small prayer cards that hang from a branch. At Sensō-ji Temple, I purchased the branch with a rooster card (2017 is the year of the rooster) and the card for Daikokuten, the God of commerce and prosperity.

Very close to Sensō-ji Temple was our next stop at the Asakusa Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Ebisu, the God of wealth and prosperity.

Ebisu is the patron of fisherman and is shown holding a fish on the prayer card.

Our next stop was at the Honryuin Temple where Bisyamonten is honored. Bisyamonten is the God of War. He is pictured with an angry face to defeat evil!

The temple was unique because it had daikon that could be purchased as an offering. According to the temple brochure, “the daikon represents our minds trapped in deep ignorance, emanating poison of anger, but by offering a daikon to Kangi-Ten, that poison will be purged from our body and soul.”

Also, while we were waiting for my temple book to be stamped, one of the monks encouraged us to take dust from a beautiful gold urn and rub it on our palms and all over our bodies to cure any ailments. We rubbed it into our hands and down our legs hoping for a pain free marathon next weekend.

Cleansing water.

The fourth stop was the Imado Shrine or the Lucky Cat Shrine. This one has been on my list of must visit every since we went to the Lucky Cat Temple. The legend of the Imado Shrine was about an old woman who lived in Imado (Asakusa). She was forced to sell her cat due to extreme poverty. In her sadness, she dreamt of the cat telling her to make its image in clay. She created the clay cats and sold them. They were so popular she soon became very prosperous.

Here we collected the first of two prayer cards for Fukurokuji. Fukurokuji is the God of wisdom, luck, longevity, wealth, and happiness. The Imado Shrine features cats coupled together and visiting this temple is said to bring good fortune to your marriage. Also, if searching for a spouse, this is a good temple to visit and pray.

I purchased one of these cute of course a lucky cat prayer cards! Kawaii!

Look at these watering cans!

The next stop on our pilgrimage was the Ishihama Shrine. Here we collected the card for Jurojin, the God of longevity.

I loved the mixture of the stone and red wooden Tori gates.

After this stop is when my navigation went astray. I marked all of the Temples/Shrines on Google Maps the night before. Unfortunately, I tagged two of the wrong temples. Temples often have the same name. Like saying “First Baptist” or “United Methodist” – there can be more than one in an area. I should have looked at the map I was given at Sensō-ji Temple a little closer. I would have saved us about 1.5 hours of back-tracking.

The good part, we found a delicious conveyor sushi spot to eat lunch. All was not lost!

When we finally arrived back at the Fudodin Temple where we collected the prayer card for Hoteison, the God of good fortune.

If you notice Hotei on the map, you will see this temple was very close to where we just were when we went to the Ishihama Shrine. I added a 1.5-hour detour. Fortunately, we did ride the train and eat lunch for some part of that 1.5 hours.

The Fudodin Temple was small and colorful.

Now we were back on track with two stops remaining. As we were walking towards the Yasaki Inari Shrine, we came upon a vending machine selling beer. Yes! Another new experience! Would we be able to buy a beer? Yes, yes we were! And thanks to my fabulous brother, I had a koozie to keep it cool and my hand warm! Kanpie!

I’m still confused about how this is possibly legal. Regardless, we happily drank our beer and walked to next stop, the Otori Shrine also dedicated to Jurojin. Our second Jurojin – Jurojin is the God of longevity and pictured here with a deer, a symbol of longevity. 

I am not clear why there are two Jurojin on this pilgrimage. There are also two Fukurokuju – we skipped the last one. Here is the Otori Shrine. Small and bright. 

Continuing to the last stop, the Yoshiwara Shrine, we came across a small shrine around the corner from the main Shrine. Both the main and smaller Yoshiwara Shrine are dedicated to Benzaiten, the Goddess of water and music. Check out the artwork!

We continued on to the main Yoshiwara shrine. It was just as embellished!

The main altar. Gotta love the Sake barrels!

The prayer card of Benzaiten.

I took another up close picture of the hanging offering outside the entrance.

And one last selfie at the completion of our journey.

Our branch is now complete with our cute prayer cards for each lucky God.

This is my fourth Seven Lucky Gods. I enjoy them because they take you through parts of an area you wouldn’t normally visit. Plus, I love seeing the different temples/shrines. They are all so unique. Simultaneously, I love the scavenger hunt aspect. Yesterday was the perfect setting for wandering around Asakusa gather luck!

This Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage was a bit longer than the others I have completed. According to Dave’s Fitbit, we walked 13.30 miles on Saturday. (This also included our trip to the Tokyo SkyTree.) None the less, it was a lot of walking and my side excursion only made it longer. By the time we finished, we were ready for a cold beer to celebrate our pilgrimage. Kanpie! 

Alcohol Vending Machines

Vending machines are very common in Japan. There is always one nearby when you need it. In fact, when we go out for a long run, we take yen with us and stop at a vending machine for water. It is a very convenient alternative to having to carry water on long runs. Normally, we see this type of vending machine. It is stocked with sodas, water, sports drink, coffee, and other options. If you look a little closer, notice the color of the price tag. The items with a blue price are cold and the items with a red price are hot. 

The other day, Dave and I were on our way back home during a long run, we saw a vending machine and decided to stop for water. Upon approaching the vending machine, we realized it offered a different option! The vending machine was stocked with Chu-Hai and beer. Kanpie! 

We were confused about the advertisements for the Sake Pass. I took pictures and shared them with my Japanese friend Miki hoping to get a little bit more information.

Here is the information Miki shared with me. I copied and pasted her message.

“Oh! I didn’t know the liquor pass card.? the machine is not old. google….

When we buy alcohol by this machine. We put in Sake pass or drivers license. If we show ID the liquor store. They give us The card. It’s free. The idea was made by the maker of the vending machine company’s. but performance is badly. ha ha sometimes it doesn’t work. 

I asked my son about Sake pass card. he said There is two vending machines near my house. However, It’s not work? the machines don’t read the cards and Driver license. minor can buy Sake! 

They have friends who are over 21years old. I think minors can get the cards! 

They can buy Sake. They don’t need show their ID. It’s useful for them. Im confused about rules about alcohol.??Like you?”

Miki is fantastic and very funny. She has become my go-to when I have a “Japan” question. 

The even funnier part of the vending machine is the setting. Right in the middle of a neighborhood and right across the street from a bus stop. Convenient if you need a beverage to hydrate as you climb the hill to home! 

As always, every day is a chance to learn something new! Happy Friday! Kanpie! 

Update 10/19/17: since first posting this article, I have been able to find several alcohol vending machines during my travels. I have also purchased myself a Chu-Hai and Dave a beer. They were cold and delicious. 

Japan Brewers Cup 2017 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a beer snob. When we learned about the Japan Brewers Cup 2017, I wasn’t quite sure it would be all that. 

Until I realized there was an IPA category. Yes! Dina and her husband accompanied Dave and I and together we took the train to Yokohama. The event was held at Ōsanbashi Pier. Here was our route. 

The Brewers Cup was much less crowded, with more breweries and more English than I expected. The beer variety was very impressive. 

We started with a sampler.


Interestingly, Founders All Day Session IPA was #2 in the World Cup. 

The number one IPA is pictured here – they wouldn’wouldn’t let me take a picture of their sign. It was awkward. So, I took from a far. 

There were beers to the left of us and beers to the right… 

It was pretty fun, until Japanese pop music started.​ And we needed to go. To save our eardrums… 

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