Friday, August 29, 2014

Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets

Hubby and I had been to Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets on 12th July. Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets is a shopping center located in the rich natural surroundings of elegant Izumi Park Town in Izumi-ku of Sendai City in Miyagi prefecture. The shopping center is operated by Mitsubishi Estate - Simon Co. Ltd. This outlet center originated in the United States of America and belongs to the Premium Outlets Group (formerly Chelsea Premium Outlets). The outlet center building has an image of New England region of the northeast corner of U.S.A., where the climate and latitude is similar to the Tohoku region.

Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets was opened in October 2008. It is located on a huge site with an area of 75000 square meters and has a lot of green all around. The actual commercial facility area is about 15500 square meters. The facility has a huge car parking area where 1800 cars can be parked at a time. The outlet center features about 80 popular foreign and domestic brands of clothing stores in the facility, where visitors can buy a variety of brand-name items at 25-65% off their full prices everyday. The outlet center also features a restaurant. In addition, there is a supermarket adjacent to the outlet center dealing in food and daily necessities. Visitors can enjoy shopping at this upscale outlet center for various brand-name clothes and other items, and also enjoy all-round shopping in the adjacent supermarket.

Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets is located about 250 kilometers southeast of our home in Yurihonjo City, and it took us about 4 hours of car ride to reach the outlet center. On our way to the outlet center, our car hit 100000 kilometers, and I took a photo of the LCD circular panel showing the distance. We parked our car at the car parking area and walked up to the front entrance area of the outlet center.
LCD circular panel showing 100000 kilometers mark of our car

Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets building is huge and we took a few photos from outside the outlet center.
The front of Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets

Yet another photo of the front area of the outlet center

I am standing on a walkway along with the building of the outlet center in the background

I am standing on the walkway leading to the outlet center

Afterwards we entered inside the outlet center and enjoyed visiting various stores. Hubby and I are not into fashion and brand-names, and usually buy cheap and comfortable clothes from Shimamura, Uniqlo, Aeon Mall or such inexpensive places. So it was a bit difficult for us to shop at this outlet center as everything seemed overpriced. But we loved the experience of entering inside various brand-name stores and just looking at the clothes. In fact, window-shopping was a great learning experience for both of us. In the end, we bought a few clothes that were sold at 60% discount. I loved the cute dresses that hubby chose for me. He bought a few formal shirts for himself. Overall the shopping was fun. After shopping, we went to the restaurant associated with the outlet center and had Takoyaki which was delicious.
I am standing inside the outlet center building

Hubby looking at a few brand-name stores

I am tired after almost two hours of moving around various brand stores

Photos of a couple of dresses I bought at the outlet center. Hubby clicked these photos in late July or early August.

Hubby having Takoyaki at the restaurant associated with the outlet center

We left the outlet center at about 3.30 pm. Next we went to Yonezawa City in Yamagata prefecture. Yonezawa City is located about 120 kilometers southwest of the outlet center and it took us about 2.5 hours of car ride to reach a hotel in Yonezawa City where we stayed for the night. Hubby was very tired due to driving for about 6.5 hours that day, and so he slept immediately on reaching our hotel room. Next day, we went to see Uesugi Jinja Shrine and Uesugi Family Mausoleum in Yonezawa City. I will write about these sightseeing trips after a couple of posts.
Hubby driving towards Yonezawa City

Hubby deep asleep in our hotel room in Yonezawa City

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Indian restaurant Khana Khana

Six years ago today (21st August) I wrote the first post in this blog. It is hard to believe how fast six years have gone by. To celebrate the sixth anniversary of this blog, I will write about our visit to an Indian restaurant named Khana Khana. It is a small restaurant located in a place called Hiroomote Hirune along Highway 28 in Akita City.

Hubby and I had lunch at Khana Khana restaurant on 2nd August. The restaurant is located about 50 kilometers away from our home and it took us about an hour to reach there by our car. On reaching the restaurant area, we realized that they do not have a parking lot. But a supermarket named Itoku, located diagonally opposite the restaurant, has a huge parking lot that was almost empty at that time. So we parked our car at the supermarket parking lot.

On entering Khana Khana restaurant we realized that it is a very small restaurant with four tables and only ten customers can eat at a time. But it is a cute and extremely clean restaurant managed by Japanese staff. The restaurant serves authentic Indian food cooked by a Japanese chef and his assistants.

We ordered two types of Thali lunch set. Both the set menu lunch were priced at 850 Yen. I ordered red chicken curry (chicken vindaloo) Thali set and hubby ordered shrimp coconut curry (Goan prawn curry) Thali set. In addition to the chicken curry or the shrimp curry, each lunch set consisted of a dry curry, rice, salad, Papad, and mango pickle. Chicken curry and shrimp curry had a lot of curry sauce. The dry curry of that day was potato and cauliflower cooked in curry paste. The vegetable salad was made of shredded cabbage, tomato and crushed Papad, and was topped with a special curry dressing. The rice used was Indica rice grown in Niigata prefecture. Hubby and I shared our food so that we could taste both the lunch sets. The red chicken curry was hot and spicy while the shrimp curry was mild. The taste of the curries was balanced with the right consistency and went fairly well with Indica rice. We relished eating different curries with various levels of spiciness. All the curry dishes of the lunch sets were served in small steel bowls on a round steel main tray, and it was fun to eat from such cute little bowls. We enjoyed eating Thali lunch sets.
Hubby’s Thali lunch set

Dry curry, salad, and shrimp coconut curry (left to right) in hubby’s lunch set

Hubby having lunch

My Thali lunch set

Dry curry, salad, and red chicken curry (left to right) in my lunch set

I am having lunch

Hubby had Lassi and I had Mango Lassi along with the meal. Both the Lassi were so delicious and went quite well with the spicy meal.
Lassi (left) and Mango Lassi (right)

Hubby having Lassi

Hubby and I enjoyed having lunch at Khana Khana restaurant in Akita City. It was the most delicious Indian food we have had in Akita prefecture.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden

During the New Year holidays, hubby and I had been to India about which I have posted several posts earlier (here and here in March, here and here in May, and here and here in June). On 4th January, we visited Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden in Pune. I have delayed writing about our trip to this garden for almost six months now. This is mostly because I was a bit busy and a lot lazy.

Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden is located on Sinhagad Road in Dattavadi, Pune. The garden is known by various names like Pu La Deshpande Japanese Garden/Park, Okayama Friendship Garden/Park, and Okayama Garden/Park. Pu La Deshpande was a famous writer of Marathi literature and history. After his death in 2000, Pune Municipal Corporation decided to name a garden after him. During those days, a Japanese delegation under the Association of Friends of Japan visited Pune to promote business and cultural relations between Japan and India. The Japanese delegation proposed that a garden similar to the exquisite Korakuen Garden in Okayama be built in Pune too. Consequently, the Japanese Garden was built and was named after Pu La Deshpande. The garden is a symbol of friendship between India and Japan and was opened to public in February 2006.

The Japanese Garden in Pune is spread over an area of 40470 square meters. It is based on the 300-years-old Korakuen Garden of Okayama City in Japan. The garden in Pune is magnificent and has manicured lawns, arranged rock patterns, streams of water flowing by, small bamboo bridges, bamboo seats with shades, ponds having many beautiful colored fishes, and a small waterfall. Various trees are present all along periphery of the garden. Evergreen plants that are easy to maintain and easy to prune into shapes are used in the garden. In addition pine trees, which express longevity and happiness, are also present in abundance. Bamboo is extensively used for bridges, walkways, and for fencing the lawns. Water is the chief design element of the garden. The garden also has several decorative stone lanterns of various shapes. The landscape makes the design of the garden so magnificent. This garden in Pune represents the culture and intricate ideologies of an authentic Japanese garden.

Hubby and I visited the Japanese Garden in Pune at about 4 pm on 4th January. Near the entrance area of the garden, we saw a ticket counter where we purchased two tickets as admission fee to enter the garden. I paid just 10 Rupees, while hubby being a foreigner, had to pay 50 Rupees as admission fee.
Hubby standing near the entrance gate of Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden premises

Hubby reading the details about the garden

Hubby standing near a stone monument located at the entrance of the garden

We followed the excursion route and experienced the garden landscape as a dynamic event with sequential views. We walked along the pathway and enjoyed the elegant naturalism and charm of the garden. During the initial stages of our stroll, we saw streams of water flowing by, and many bushes and shrubs pruned into fine oval shapes. The garden is meticulously planned.
I am walking along the pathway inside the garden

A stream of water and pruned bushes

Hubby standing in the garden

Flowing water

We walked along the pathway for a few minutes, and saw a big pond in the center of the garden. There is a small arched wooden pedestrian bridge with bamboo railing over this pond. Standing on the bridge, we enjoyed excellent views of the garden. We saw many colorful Koi fishes in the pond. We loved the coolness, tranquility, and peaceful atmosphere of the garden.
Pond located in the center of the garden

The pond, the pathway, and the wooden bridge

Hubby viewing of the beautifully landscaped garden located to his right side while standing on the wooden bridge over the pond

Yet another view of the garden as seen from the wooden bridge over the pond

A stone lantern located on a mini island in the pond

I am standing on the wooden bridge with bamboo railing

Several Koi fishes in the pond

The fishes are so colorful

The pond and the beautifully landscaped garden as viewed to our left side while standing on the wooden bridge over the pond

We continued walking along the pathway, and next saw a wooden pavilion with wooden seats. A few people were sitting and just relaxing and enjoying the views. Beyond the pavilion, we saw a mini cascading waterfall. We loved the melody created by the water falling from different heights. It revitalized our senses and rejuvenated our spirits.
The pathway and the wooden pavilion

I am standing next to the mini cascading waterfall

Hubby standing next to the waterfall

Next, we walked towards a small hill inside the garden. This hill is just a raised area located in the back portion of the garden. Standing on the hill, we got a wonderful bird’s eye view of the entire garden which looked so beautiful. The well-maintained lush green lawns, the pond, the waterfall, oval shrubs and trees, hills, and carved rocks looked so peaceful and recreated the spirit of Zen. We took several photos of the garden from the top of the hill.
I am walking towards the small hill seen in the background of the photo

Fantastic view of the garden right in front of us as seen from the top of the hill

View of the garden to our right side

View of the garden to our left side

The garden and I

Hubby and the garden

We and the garden

Afterwards we continued walking along the pathway and reached another elegantly landscaped area of the garden. Here we got a wonderful view of a stream of water flowing by, carved stones, a stone lantern, oval shrubs and plants, and a small arched wooden bridge with bamboo railing. The simultaneous use of wood, stone, and water made the place feel so cool and serene. In addition, the trees, shrubs, grass, ferns, and bamboos made the area so green and peaceful.
Elegantly landscaped area of the garden

Wonderful view of the stream, stones, a stone lantern, and pruned shrubs and plants

Hubby enjoying the exotic view of the garden

At this point, we finished the tour of the garden, which was really nice. Although the Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden is not a vivid imitation of Korakuen Garden due to the contrast in climatic conditions of the two countries, it does represent the culture and ideologies of an authentic Japanese garden. However, there are two points which hubby found rather strange. First point was that since it is a Japanese Garden, he naively assumed that the people will stay on the pathways and just appreciate the beauty and serenity of the garden as done in any typical garden in Japan. But he was shocked to see that many people went off the marked pathways and were touching the shrubs and stone carvings, walking on the green lawns, entering the waterfall and streams, or just screaming and shouting around. I guess the differences in the cultures of the two countries are bound to give rise to such issues. Another point that hubby (even I) found extremely strange was that while taking photos with mobile phone cameras was ok, normal cameras were not allowed inside the garden. So all the photos in this post are clicked using our mobile phone camera!