Month: May 2014

Kumamoto & Matsumoto: Magnificent Castles of Japan


Japan is a country filled with castles all constructed during the Sengoku era more than 400 years ago.

I’ve come across the best of the best of these massive structures in the Land of the Rising Sun and wanted to let all of you out there in the blogging world know that these worldly treasures do exist and are in fine shape. So without any further ado, let’s begin the journey…

Up first is Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture. It is also known as the crow. The reason being, the black walls appearance, these walls are wing like. This castle has many features that make it to have an excellent look to many tourists. One is that it has been built between a plain and a hilltop. The look of the castle from these points makes it to be awesome and a good background of many photos.

The castle was built many years ago. The government found that it would cost it a lot of money to renovate it due to various issues. Hence, the government found it wise, to auction the castle to save them from the embezzlement of funds. The castle was seen to be providing limited value to the military.

In 1878 the castle was purchased by a local citizen saving it from the hands of the auctioneers. One of the intriguing factors that you would not fail to find in the castle is the main strong hold. If you take your time and view it from the exterior you would find as if it has three stories, in real sense it has four. The hidden floor was aimed at concealing defense. It was a home of the koi and the black swans.

Another intriguing castle is Kumamoto Castle. This castle was built in 1607; it is also known as curved walls. It was used as a defense mechanism against the attackers. This mechanism also prevented the wall from having scales. During the Seinan rebellion, the samurai who were being led by Saigo Takamori, one day marched to the castle. Here they expected to attack the enemies from this point and also to take refuge from the enemies. The group received opposition from the government forces from the castle.

The castle was later destroyed by a fire regretfully. It was then renovated in 1960. It has now become the samurai museum of Kumamoto. Many visitors find displays of various things that were used during the rebellion. Some of them include swords, uniforms and armors among others. If you ascend to the top of the castle, you can have an exquisite view of  Kumamoto city.

You need to make a point of visiting these places and experience the magnificent appearance of these structures firsthand. But if for some reason you cannot travel to either Kumamoto or Nagano, I suggest you look at picking up some sengoku period souvenirs and other sengoku japan items from Sengoku Japan on the world wide web. With so many interesting goods available for purchase, you can feel like you are in Kumamoto or Nagano without ever having step foot in their castles.


The History of Plastic Food Props

Faux Food Displays

Faux food dates as far back as the time of Egyptian Pharaohs. It was a common practice then to bury the king with whatever they needed to traverse to the spirit world. Of this essential package for the journey to the gods was food preserved and buried together with the King. Modern world has gradually grown into the art of perfecting fake food. It all started in Japan after the end World War II when foreigners went there to assist with the rebuilding efforts. Because of the language barrier, both written and spoken, Japanese restaurant proprietors had to pack a sample food for each item and display it for the foreigners who could pinpoint whatever they needed. Real food proved difficult to maintain in an appetizing state because of natural decay, thus new methods had to be devised. One of these innovative ideas was the revival of the plastic food props industry. This idea was taken up by Japanese candle makers and artisans who came up with platefuls of waxed artificial food props for restaurants. Up to the late 80s, paraffin and wax were the most common materials used to model the food replicas. However the disadvantage with paraffin was that the colors tended to fade away on exposure to heat. Since then, the latest generation of faux food manufacturers have switched to vinyl chloride.

Modern technologies have made it possible for high quality plastics to be used to manufacture realistic looking faux food. To date, over 90% of the food replicas are handcrafted by artisans and highly skilled craftsmen. They use brushes and other forms of painting to create perfect imitations of real food.

The use of fake food in TV and other form of media is common place these days. Food displays are used in various ways including as props for backgrounds in trade shows, print ads, television commercials, for movies, theatrical plays, and television shows.

On television, display food can be used in cooking competitions whereby chefs cut and fry fake foods which apart from lack of the smell of actual food look and feel realistic. In movies and commercials such fake food are used for creating stunts and playing with them. That could be the reason why they say don’t try this at home. Clowns on TV shows also utilize this fancy food for their tricks.

There are certain tricks used in TV to make the display food appear real. For instance leaving bits of skin on fries and a sprinkle of salt unevenly makes them look realistic. Another way in which watchers are convinced is through placement of fake food in containers or places where real food are normally placed.

Making display food commercials are not always easy. It takes a team of stylists, designers and photographers to recreate fake food from their original real food. This involves highly skilled techniques being employed to perfect the illusion of the food. It’s a painstaking exercise entailing photography of real food and handcrafted recreation of the same in form of plastic and silicon models. As mouth watering as they look, they are designed chiefly for that purpose. The intention is to get you off that couch and stroll to a KFC or McDonald’s for a bite.

No matter the semblance of these fakes to actual food most are made from toxic materials hence one needs to be careful with them around toddlers.

What are your thoughts about fake food? Let me know!

A Look at the Upcoming World Cup in Brazil

2014 FIFA Brazil World Cup Logo

The 20th FIFA World Cup, an international men’s soccer tournament, will be held in Brazil from the 12th of  June to the 13th of July. This will be the second time the country is hosting the world cup after 64 years, the first having been in 1950. Brazil was balloted unopposed when FIFA chose to hold the tournament in a South American country. The cup will feature thirty two teams playing over sixty four games in over twelve Brazilian cities.

The pre-qualifications for the 2014 FIFA World Cup began three years ago in June 2011. On the 3rd of March 2011, 31 places, excluding the host country, were allotted to all the confederations based on the previous tournament, 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The qualification draw was held on the 30th of July at Marina da Gloria, Rio de Janeiro. Whereby Brazil qualified automatically.

The qualification stages involving 203 FIFA national teams that ran between the 15th of June to the 20th of November 2013, produced 31 qualifiers. Note that 24 of the 31 qualifiers had participated in the previous 2010 tournament. Bosnia and Herzegovina lumped together as one team was the only national team to make its first debut among the giants in the field of 32. The most notable absentee is Ukraine along with the failure of all members of the Oceania Football Confederation to send a team to represent.

All World Cup champions since 1930 have qualified for this respective World Cup. These are Uruguay, Italy, Germany, England, Argentina, Brazil, France and Spain. The current defending champion is Spain having beaten the Netherlands 2-0 in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup tournament. Previously, South American teams had won whenever the cup was held in their region. This fact till now will be tested once again when the 2014 World Cup commences in just over 1 month’s time. Will Brazil win or let its neighbors take home the trophy? Why not test your luck at one of the bookmakers based in Europe like bet365? You can be sure that they will be expecting a lot of action during the months of June and July as the World Cup takes place.

If you are “new” to the world of online sportsbetting, I’m sure you are wondering how to open an account at bet365 or at any of the other sportsbooks. In addition, a popular question is “how can I deposit money at bet365 or other reputable bookies?”. For answers to your questions, please be sure to conduct your own due diligence before playing online such as by visiting But I have to warn you, once you get started, it’s quite a thrilling experience that makes it quite hard to stop. As always, use your best judgment and enjoy the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.