Shinchan, Hiroshima, Japan

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake mainly associated with Hiroshima and the Kansai area.

While you can get Okonomiyaki at any number of restaurants in Hiroshima, the mecca is the vertical village called Okonomi-mura in central Hiroshima that houses 24 Okonomiyaki restaurants all cooking the dish in their own special way.

I made the walk from my hotel with the help of Google Maps. It wasn’t too far.

I walked up to the second floor that has 8 outlets (there’re 8 on each floor). All were busy in the early evening which was a good sign. I headed towards the back and found a spare seat at Shinchan.

I asked for, and received, an English menu from which I chose one of their special Okonomiyaki dishes which included “double meat”. When I ordered I thought that this meant double pork, but as was to become apparent once my meal was delivered, the two meats where pork and oyster.

While I didn’t overly enjoy the oyster, once I worked out what the taste was, I was able to eat around it and eat the rest of the dish.

I was disappointed that I hadn’t read the menu properly, so I can’t blame the restaurant. Just remember to ask if you’re confused before you order.

Once you try Okonomiyaki you’ll keep wanting to eat them.

The Okonomi-mura website is here.

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Yakitori Daikichi, Kyoto, Japan

It was my last evening in Kyoto and I wanted to finish off 4 great days with a good meal. As I had had curry for lunch I decided to try to find a Yakatori restaurant that wasn’t too far from my hotel.

The usual review sites were consulted and it turned out there was a reasonable restaurant about 150m away, just across the road.

I crossed the road around 5:15pm, found the shop and proceeded in.

Yakitori Daikichi is quite small, less than a dozen seats all overlooking the grill. I took a seat at one end of the counter.

I was the first person in, and the staff were still prepping but I soon had an English menu and had ordered a Japanese Lager.

Over the next hour or so I ordered a good selection of pork, chicken and vegetable yakitori and a couple more beers. I enjoyed being able to watch my dinner being cooked in front of me, and served seconds after being taken off the flames.

As time progressed the number of people coming in increased. By the time I finished and left around 6:30 all the seats were taken and people were queuing up. This is obviously a good place!

The prices were quite reasonable, the food tasty, and ordering easy for someone who doesn’t speak Japanese. But get there early or face a wait!

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Kotokikichaya (Kotaki Tea Shop), Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

Arashiyama is about 15 minutes by train west of Kyoto.

The area is designated as a Historic Site as well as a Place of Scenic Beauty. You’ve probably seen photos from Arashiyama before showing the world famous Sagano Bamboo Forest.

The day started hot and humid which made the kilometres of walking along with undulating hills an onerous affair. The views made up for the effort.

After completing the circuit through the bamboo forest and walking along the river the clouds closed in down the valley and the heavens opened up. Luckily it was approaching noon so I went looking for somewhere to eat.

As I approached the bridge that goes across the Hozu / Katsura River (yep, the river has a different name on the north side of the river than on the south side!) I spotted a small cafe that was serving lunch. A quick look at the photos on the menu showed Japanese Curry was on the menu, so I headed in.

I was lucky enough to get a seat on the counter that looked out over the bridge. From here I was able to watch the world go past, and people get very, very wet as the rain swept through. I could also pace my meal to ensure that I finished when the rain had finished.

I ordered a tonkatsu curry lunch special (crumbed and fried pork cutlet with rice covered with Japanese curry sauce, some pickles and a cup of miso soup) and a bottle of beer.

My meal was delivered in about 10 minutes and tasted superb – there’s something about Japanese curry sauce that is just so moreish.

I relaxed for around half an hour until the rain had passed and headed out into the main road well fed.

Apparently in Cherry Blossom season this is one of the places to go to.

Great feed, great views.

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ASUS RP-AC68U – what a piece of crap

Firstly I want to say sorry if you, like me, ended up with one of these pieces of shit on your network.

The device worked at the start until the latest firmware was released. When firmware is released you don’t think that the firmware will be so broken as to make your entire network will go off line intermittently due to this device deciding that it wants to do its own thing.

I was using this device as an Access Point – to connect wifi devices to the LAN. Simple really! The device is marketed as an Access Point, so it should function correctly as one.

An Access Point should act as a network bridge. Packets come in over wifi and the AP sends the packets out the LAN cable, and when the packets arrive at the AP over the LAN then the AP send them out over wifi.

That’s it! It is that simple. An Access Point should NOT intercept or tamper with traffic. It has no reason to act as DHCP or DNS server. Anyone who wants an AP will already have DHCP and DNS servers somewhere else on their network.

Unfortunately the ASUS RP-AC68U does just that – it’s trying to be too smart by half. But sadly the developers who wrote the firmware are incompetent. They made mistakes by acting as a DHCP and DNS server even though an AP has no business with offering these LAN services. But that would most probably be OK if you could disable that functionality but nope, can’t do that.

What makes matters worse is that there is a disconnect between the GUI and the actual configuration of the device which is where the real trouble starts.

In the GUI you can set the IP address of the default gateway, and also set IP addresses of 2 DNS servers. Any sane person would think that that would mean that the default route of the device would be set to the default gateway IP, and that the /etc/resolv.conf file would have 2 entries.

BUT no, for some absurd reason the developers decided that your default gateway IP address should be added as a third DNS server in /etc/resolv.conf. The only way to not have the 3rd DNS added is to not set a default gateway – yup, how broken is that!

This makes the device useless to people who run a split DNS – one internal DNS forwarding to specific forwarders, and one external on your router. So this means that when the AP intercepts your DNS request there’s a 1 in 3 chance of your request being forwarded to a DNS server you don’t want the request going to. Chaos ensues when internal hostnames fails to resolve.

So, once I worked out what was happening I raised a ticket with ASUS local “customer support”… got a response quickly asking for screenshots which I sent in that day… and then I waited, and waited and waited.

About a month later I poked them so get a status – we didn’t see your e-mail. So I had to resend and asked for acknowledgement of receipt. All good, getting some action.

Weeeelllll… no…. a month later I poke them again and they asked for me “Do you want us to send this to global support?”… WTF?!?!? They’ve been sitting on this support ticket for 60 days and have done nothing with it. Now I had to fill in a word document with screenshots and descriptions that I’d already supplied them.

Problem finally gets sent to global support and I got asked for some clarifications later that week, I also sent them results of an experiment I did to show the problem, and since then it’s been nothing but silence from them.

It looks like local, in country support, have zero technical ability and they just act as paper pushers to forward e-mails to the global team once customers get irate enough. And the developers can’t seem to grasp why what they’re doing is wrong.

In the meantime I started seeing the RP-AC68U giving out DHCP leases to LAN clients as well… not good.

Downgrade I thought! I downloaded an order version of firmware that I’d used before the upgrade, but nope, can’t downgrade… sigh…

I shot off an e-mail asking how to downgrade…. silence… sent off another e-mail asking how to downgrade (or get a refund)… silence…

That was the last straw, so today I decided to buy a proper Access Point, you know, an Access Point from a reputable company that knows networking rather than some hacks.

So now my network is running a brand new Ubiquiti Networks Unifi AP AC PRO (model number UAP-AC-PRO)  Access Point. It was a breeze to setup (the UI looks like it was written by an adult rather than the amateur looking ASUS UI), wifi speeds are faster, but most importantly it’s acting as an Access Point and not intercepting and tampering with my network traffic!

And then, with much happiness, I took to the piece of shit RP-AC68U with a hammer, and then deposited the pieces in the bin where it really belonged. I toyed with selling it on eBay but I couldn’t in good conscience pass this junk on to another poor soul.

The lack of ASUS support has guaranteed that there will never be another ASUS product in this household. Life is too short to have to deal with fucked up devices and non existent support!

Do yourself a favour – buy Ubiquiti wifi gear, you will love it!


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Beer Komachi, Kyoto, Japan

I visited Beer Komachi on my first visit to Kyoto a couple of years ago. I checked the reviews to see if 1) it was still in business, and 2) if the craft beer bar still had good reviews, which it did, so decided to make a second visit.

Beer Komachi is in a small laneway about 20 metres from the western exit of Higashiyama subway station. If you hit a set of street lights you’ve gone too far.

It’s a very small bar, maybe 4m wide and 10m long with a small number of seats along the bar and opposite wall and a couple of small tables towards the back.

Both times I’ve visited there’s been a decent number of people here for the size, but was able to get a seat.

There’s an extensive beer list which changes often – even while you’re sitting there! As one keg of beer runs out they tap a different beer.

I chose a number of local brews which quenched my thirst in the warm summer evening.

The food menu is small but very tasty. Offering dishes such as pork with ginger, which was superb. They aren’t meal sized, more snacks size, so you’ll be getting several different dishes while you work through the beer menu.

Staff are very friendly – happy to chat and talk about the beers.

A great place to visit if you are in Kyoto.

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