Gluten Free Travel Japan: Eating Out and Grocery Shopping

Japan is an excellent destination for the traveler on a gluten free diet. With these simple gluten free travel tips, no Celiac or gluten intolerance sufferer need feel deprived while visiting Japan.

Avoiding Gluten in Japanese Food

There are relatively few wheat based . The gluten free traveler should avoid noodle dishes (including soba buckwheat noodles, as they are seldom made solely from buckwheat), fried foods such as karaage (fried chicken) and tempura and batter based foods such as takoyaki (an octopus dumpling-like dish) okonomiyaki (a savory pancake-like dish). Further, to avoid hidden gluten in the guise of soy sauce, the traveler on a gluten free diet must be wary of most foods prepared with sauces, including salads and greens with dressing, simmered dishes (nimono, in Japanese) and stir-fry dishes.






Finding Gluten Free Japanese Food at a Restaurant

Unlike Japanese restaurants in other countries, restaurants in Japan frequently focus on one type of food. Sushi restaurants and restaurants offering teshoku set menus are most likely to offer gluten free meals. The gluten free traveler will find few options in noodle shops, okonomiyaki restaurants and curry houses.

Most Japanese restaurants are furnished with a display containing plastic models of the different menu items, located either outside the shop or just inside the entryway. This handy display can help the visitor determine if there is any safe food to be had within. A few of the dishes that can relied upon to be gluten free include:

  • sushi prepared with raw fish
  • sushi prepared with raw vegetables
  • shioyaki salt-grilled fish
  • chilled tofu

Many restaurants offer a teshoku set menu, in which rice, soup and a number of small dishes are served together. Rice, unless flavored or mixed with barley, is sure to be safe, and miso soup is usually gluten free (miso is sometimes made with barley, so showing a gluten free traveler card to the server is a good idea). To avoid soy sauce, skip any simmered dishes, stir fries or dressed salads. Pickled vegetables are usually gluten free, but it is wise to ask if they have been seasoned with soy sauce.



Gluten Free Meals at the Japanese Supermarket

Japanese supermarkets have a section devoted to take out food and bento boxed lunches. These can be a good place for the gluten free traveler to find a quick meal. Look for:

  • shioyaki grilled fish
  • raw vegetable and raw fish sushi
  • potato salad
  • edamame young soy beans
  • white rice or rice steamed with adzuki beans
  • onigiri rice balls containing ume boshi pickled plum, takuan pickled daikon radish or tuna salad
  • green or mixed salad with dressing packed separately

With a selection of these foods, a balanced meal can be pulled together at any supermarket and many convenience stores.

Gluten free travel can be a challenge, but a little preparation will go a long way. By choosing restaurants with gluten free menu items like sushi and grilled fish, Celiac and gluten intolerant travelers can enjoy some of the best Japan has to offer by way of food. What is more, visitors can bring back a love of Japanese cuisine and, upon returning, incorporate Japanese dishes into their own gluten free diets.

Avoid Summer Traveling Tragedies by Always Carrying Cash

During the summer, we decided to take a trip into the Upper Peninsula of our state. While on our way back home we decided to stop for something to eat. As we handed our debit card to the cashier, we prepared to get our receipt and be on our way back home. Little did we know that the bank had made a mistake and closed our account and reported the cards stolen. Luckily, since we both had our cards and licenses on us, they knew that it was nothing that we had done and in fact it was more of a bank problem.

Earlier that day my husband had drawn some cash out of the account, so we were able to pay for our meal and head back across the bridge. If he had not prepared for the event and had cash on him, we would have been stuck with nothing to eat and no way to pay the toll to get across the bridge. In the end, I learned a valuable lesson. Don't ever assume you don't need to have cash on you because you never know when you might need it.

Time Traveling with Jake Gyllenhall and 'Source Code'

In "Source Code" a solider (Jake Gyllenhall) is sent back in time to prevent a train bombing and capture the man who set the bomb. For Gyllenhall fans, the film may feel like a step back into time and familiar territory for the film star.

Two of Gyllenhall's other movies, "Donnie Darko" and "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" are vastly different in plot and style, but all of the movies can be broken down into a simple time travel story. This trend of films has proven successful for Gyllenhall, showing that the actor's journey through the space-time continuum should continue.

"Donnie Darko"

In Richard Kelly's debut 2001 film, Gyllenhall plays the title character of this mind-bender. One of his earliest roles, Gyllenhall shines as the sometimes creepy, always interesting Donnie Darko. In the film, Darko's life begins a weird journey as a plane engine crashes into his home, he is guided by a man in a bunny suit, and time travel expert Stephen Hawking is mentioned.

The time travel in "Donnie Darko" is pivotal to the plot and events that occur throughout the film. Fans of the film have analyzed the story, gone deeper into the plot, and it became so popular that a "Director's Cut" was released with more explanation and time travel elements.

"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time"

Nine years after Gyllenhall left the bunny costume behind, he got himself a British accent, grew some muscles and entered the video game adaptation film "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time." In the film Gyllenhall plays the lead character Dastan, a Prince who acquires a dagger that can reverse time.

The big budget film showcases a complicated time travel. Dastan retains his memories as he moves back in time and has to save the world from a giant sand hourglass that could destroy everyone.

The small instances of time travel are similar to the short bursts found in "Source Code." On the surface the films are vastly different, but if you modernize "Prince of Persia" and replace the dagger with a watch, there would be a lot of similarities.

You would need a time machine to see if Gyllenhall travels back in time in future films, but for now his collection of films provide action adventure and a solid mix of science fiction elements.

Seattle: A Traveler's Guide to the Emerald City

Situated in the great State of Washington, Seattle is a romantic destination for travelers from all over the world. Offering a varied extreme in climates and unlimited outdoor activities, Seattle, Washington, is a destination in which many vacationers turn during summer months to escape the summer heat.

Lying within 120 miles of the Canadian border, Seattle offers vacationers a unique travel destination with cultural mixture of American, Canadian and even French. With over three million people living in the Seattle area, the downtown population is full of hustle and bustle with a whopping half of a million people residing in the Seattle city limits alone. Known for the extreme rainy conditions, Seattle's dryest climate falls from June through August with temperatures, in the summer, rarely exceeding 75 degrees. In the winter, the city of Seattle rarely experiences snow and temperatures rarely dip below 32 degrees. With water abound, Seattle is the city of bridges providing optimal siteseeing opportunites across many lakes and waterways.

In terms of outdoor adventure vacation, Seattle, Washington, is known for a catering environment of bikers and walkers. Considered one of the fittest cities in the world, Seattle offers several cycling opportunities around the Puget South Region. Cycling trails are virtually unlimited and offer a variety of terrains for beginning cyclers to professional cyclers. For walkers, the Seattle, Washington, terrain offers a variety of opportunities from flatland walking to a diverse and scenic hiking extreme. Additionally, Seattle is known for the most populated area of live music bands and clubs, per capita, offering, yet another, opportunity for night life vacation entertainment and exercise.

In addition to biking, walking, dancing and hiking, vacationers to Seattle, Washington, are encouraged to experience and enjoy a nice, relaxing vacation along the Alki Beach. Known as the city's longest white sands beach, Alki Beach reaches over two miles with areas to relax along the shores, trails for rollerblading and courts for volleyball. Seattle, Washington, offers a romantic getaway for a couple on a honeymoom or anniversary celebration.

Whatever the intent of the family vacation, or even in a romantic getaway, consider visiting Seattle, Washington, for an outdoor experience never seen before. As a vacation of outdoor activities, family and couple vacations to Seattle, Washington, cater to nature and fitness enthusiasts of all walks of life.

PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open: A Look at Phil Mickelson and the Field for the WM Phoenix Open

Who’s There? Who Cares?

Something seems amiss as the kicks off the 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open. The money (a million plus), as well as 500 FedEx Cup points are on the line, but the excitement is still lacking. Maybe it’s just because they’ve yet to make it to the famous 16th and tee it up, but so far the hype around the events is tame. This could be due to a field that is perceived to be weak by many. Obviously, Tiger Woods will, once again, not be playing. The surprise omissions come in the rest of the field, however.

Why the No Show?

The Phoenix Open begins just days after the conclusion of the WGC Accenture Match Play event, and more importantly is played at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona. This is essentially right down the road from last week’s match play event in Marana, and should have been an easy make for any tour pro. This convenient location may not have factored into the decision of the players at all, however, as many may have had their mind made up that would not play the following week of the match play event. There is a simple reason for this, fatigue. In many instances, rounds are shortened in a match play format due to an eventual impossibility that a competitor can come back and the match is thus ended. In many instances also, the match plays out all of its 18 holes or even enters extra holes, as such was the case when Casey played Villegas. This can become a grind for many players, which causes them to take the next event (Phoenix Open) off. Out of the top ten players in the Official World Golf Rankings, only three will be playing in this week’s event. This should be a golden opportunity for one player, whose credibility, and golf ranking, is dropping fast.

Phil Mickelson

The 2010 WM Phoenix Open winner’s share: 1,080,000 dollars.

What a win would mean to Phil Mickelson: priceless.


Mickelson hasn’t played badly. He is a virtual top ten lock in every tournament he plays. This isn’t enough for many, however, who have placed Yankee-like expectations on Mickelson now that Tiger Woods has taken a leave from golf. The expectations might not be fair, or realistic for that matter, but nonetheless they are present. This would seem to be the perfect opportunity to steal one. He is well-rested after skipping the Accenture match play event, and should be able to win with a display of solid golf. Mickelson does not need to put forth a Herculean effort, and the pressure to do so seems to be a big factor is his recent poor play.



Amtrak Railroad Travel

Although it is classified as an independent company, Amtrak is the monopoly railroad service in the United States that is essentially controlled, managed, and financed by the government. Amtrak has been an eternal money pit, now gobbling about one and a half billion dollars of the federal treasury every year.

Amtrak officials insist that the popular northeast corridor service between Washington DC and Boston is profitable. The Acela train is the fastest in the nation, running only on the northeast corridor at about 85 miles per hour, much slower than trains in Europe and Asia.

Over several decades, the bleeding of red ink by Amtrak has invited frequent calls for reform by Republicans. Lately there has been talk of opening the northeast corridor to competition against the Amtrak monopoly. As usual the White House and the senate are voicing their opposition to the idea of competition, in spite of mounting economic woes. One interested party is Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group who already operates railroad service in the United Kingdom.

Amtrak claims that failure to achieve profitability comes from the essential transcontinental services that Amtrak must provide, which have never made money. Cross-country service traverse many thinly-populated parts of the country, which produce few riders.

If the United States wants to maintain a railroad passenger service that covers the entire country, it may be stuck with forever having to subsidize the maintenance of railroad stations along these long routes that provide little or no revenue. However, what is not known is the exact breakdown of Amtrak labor, equipment, and maintenance costs. Even if the long routes remain unprofitable, they could be made less so.

Are Amtrak employees paid more than comparable labor in the private sector? Could Amtrak accomplish the same amount of work with less employees? A one percent pay cut for all Amtrak workers would be bearable to all of them, yet save a lot of money. Could the amount of Amtrak stations be reduced, or their operating hours reduced? Perhaps initiating service to neglected communities could bring more revenue. There are a lot of possibilities to explore, if only the government would allow it.

The Diary of a Lost Girl: #2 Traveling

Dear Diary,

It has been about a month since I have been living this life of homelessness. I feel a sense of loss within me since I have no idea where I come from. I feel sort of alone and I have no idea where to go from here or what to do.

I found another shelter as I began wondering around the streets to find some answers. I just took myself and the clothes upon my back and headed down the street. I let my feet guide me and fate take me to where I need to go. Now, I am lying down upon this not so comfortable cot resting my body. I plan to stay here for about a week and then I will begin to make my next step to find out my past.

I feel like I have a huge case of amnesia but I do not think I have been hit in the head, nor do I think anything bad has happened. I guess I will find out someday what my past holds. Until then I must build a bridge from my present to the future. One day at a time.

Yours truly
Tibet an Summers.

The Bible – A History on Channel 4: Ann Widdecombe on the Ten Commandments

Traditionally Sunday telly has succumb to the paltry existence of accommodating religious programmes on the Beeb, tacky family films clogging up most of Five’s schedule and soap omnibuses all round. It’s a depressing day to be blanking out in front of the googlebox especially for those people who suddenly realise after two hours of Coronation Street that the weekend has evaporated into the ether and they’re back in work the next morning. It’s best to spend the time doing something more worthwhile.

But if on the off chance there’s nothing else to do make sure you avoid any show that boasts Ann Widdecombe as host, it might just be the bleakest downer to mark the closure of the weekend. The Conservative MP puts forward her viewpoint of the core Christian text in The Bible: A History, with her focus on the importance of the Ten Commandments and why they should be re-introduced.

Realistically though it’s mainly an excuse for a despondent old gasbag to bemoan modern society and the people in it for living a life they choose rather than following the rules and teaching of an ancient book. These arguments are brought up every generation, as referenced in this documentary, and are best kept to the pages of the Daily Mail for its closed minded readers.

Ann Widdecombe on the Ten Commandments

Widdecombe leads to this point with the familiar story of Moses and how he came to write down the ten basic rules passed to him by God. That’s according to the Bible of course. This is where Widdecombe’s commentary on The Bible: A History starts to unravel as she speaks about the Old Testament as if it’s fact and happened as it was written (all contradictions intact).

Her blinkered viewpoint and reluctance to accept other opinions is infuriating. When a scholar suggests that her research and lack of archaeological remains shows that Moses didn’t write sections of the Bible Widdecombe is personally offended and asks sarcastic questions alluding to Moses not existing. The scholar can’t be certain, and Widdecombe smugly declares her victory against a sceptic.


Of course nobody knows for sure, the point of history is to find evidence of what happened in the past and not just go along with one manuscript because it agrees with your opinion. It still doesn’t stop her moralising after hearing a mother’s harrowing tale of aiding her son suicide due to his suffering with Huntington’s disease, using it as an example of how killing could be made legal. It’s not quite as simple as that, and thankfully she does acknowledge the complications of the situation to some extent.

Ann Widdecombe vs Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens

Science be praised for Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens popping in for a quick chin wag – to put it lightly – following a public debate on religion. Both put forward rational thoughts on biblical teachings, not saying that the basic principles of the Commandments are absurd but taking the Bible as a whole without picking out the best bits is ridiculous. Hitchens becomes so enraged by Widdecombe’s pompous attitude that he walks out.

Admittedly this has no more been a review than what could be viewed as a personal attack on Ann Widdecombe but it’s hard to take anyone seriously who seems adamant to push their lifestyle on others. The series as a whole is a good idea if it does represent all sides of the discussion on Christianity, not merely acting a soapbox for one parliamentarian who wishes mankind to be dragged back to an era where understanding of the world was very basic and slavery, as Fry points out, was fine and dandy.

There is a problem with violence and frivolous spending at the moment but oppressive laws backed by religion are not the answer. If 3,000 year old rules suit your way of life that’s fine, don’t think it’s okay to thrust them upon everyone else. Where’s Richard Dawkins when you need him?

Days Out & Weekends Away in the Southern Highlands, Accommodation

The Southern Highlands of New South Wales have been a destination for travellers from Sydney, Canberra and the coast, seeking a refreshing change of climate, frosty winters and open spaces, since the 19th century. These days the Highlands' attractions range from sophisticated resorts, bed and breakfast getaways in Bowral with its numerous cafes, restaurants and bookshops to Sutton Forest and Bundanoon with its cycling in the Morton National Park, Highland Fling in November and Brigadoon Scottish Festival in April. There are also vineyards, open gardens, antiquarian print and bookshops and antiques to be found. Accommodation is equally diverse. Here are a few tips on the accommodation front.

Resorts, Hotels, Motels and Guesthouses

The Highlands has accommodation for everyone, including a range of resorts and good hotels. Peppers Manor House, which offers a luxurious weekend away on acres, including golf at the Mt Broughton Golf Club, is at Sutton Forest on the Old Hume Highway near the corner of Oldbury Road. Sutton Forest has a number of attractions including pub lunches at the Sutton Forest Hotel, the open cottage garden at Red Cow Farm (each year from 18 September), an antique shop and vineyard.

Sutton Forest is an historic area with many fine old homes, one of which, Hillview, was the holiday retreat of the New South Wales Governor. On Judges' Hill, Oldbury Road, you can see other fine homes including Whitby, an Arts and Crafts mansion with finely maintained English hedging around its extensive grounds.


Bowral, the centre of cafe activity in the Highlands and home of Bradman Oval and the Bradman Museum, offers resorts and boutique hotels. Another Peppers resort is at the historic Craigieburn Manor House on Centennial Road. Craigieburn and its extensive gardens have been taking guests since 1909 and is a popular venue for weddings and special events. Centennial Vineyard with its restaurant and wine tastings is nearby.

Other historic hotels In Bowral are Milton Park Country House On Horderns Road with its fine gardens and Links House with its Vida restaurant is in Links Road. Berida Manor is another historic and atmospheric hotel offering chintzy charm and open fires in the winter.

Bed and Breakfast, Inns, Farmstays

The Southern Highlands Online website lists a number of good motels with family accommodation, bed and breakfasts and farmstays in Bowral and the surrounding villages such as Berrima. Berrima is an historic village with many craft and gift shops as well as the sandstone Berrima Jail which still operates. Berrima is home to the White Horse Inn which has been feeding and accommodating travellers for over a hundred years.

Bundanoon Hotels, Solar Springs Resort and Bed and Breakfast

Bundanoon is a village about 25 minutes south of Bowral, close to the gorge country and views of the Morton National Park. Many guesthouses operated in Bundanoon in the late 19th century and through the 20th century where visitors would stay, cycle and take walks to the views in the Morton National Park. Many have closed but a range of accommodation remains.

The Bundanoon Hotel is an Arts and Crafts delight in Erith Street with a pool (a bit chilly until summer sets in) and tennis courts. The Solar Springs Resort on the Knoll is a destination in itself, a health resort, weekend break and relaxation centre. Tree Tops Guesthouse is an Edwardian cottage that has grown to offer a range of accommodation including family suites. There are other bed and breakfasts and a motel in Bundanoon listed on the Southern Highlands online website.

Cycling in the Morton National Park

Camping is not permitted in the Morton National Park but cycling and walking are. Bundanoon is one of the closest access points for the park and offers walks to Glow Worm Glen, Fairy Bower Falls, Echo Point and Bonnie View. The information about the walks is available at the NSW Government environment website.


To access the Southern Highlands from Sydney take the M5 to the Mittagong exit. The tourist road begins there and will take you to Bowral, Moss Vale, Sutton Forest, Exeter and Bundanoon. From Canberra take the Hume Highway north and use the Moss Vale or Mittagong exits. If you want to use the tourist road through all the villages turn off earlier to Tallong or Bundanoon. From the South Coast the Illawarra Highway to Picton and then left on the M5. A scenic route is up the mountain from Jamberoo or Macquarie Pass.

Climbing Mt. Kenya via the Naro Moru Route: The Fastest and Most Popular Route up Mount Kenya

It’s reputedly the easiest, and certainly the fastest, way up Mt. Kenya. The Naro Moru Route is also the most popular. But take the words “easy” and “fast” with a grain of salt: at 16,000 feet, give or take, nothing comes without a good deal of effort. Africa’s second highest mountain has plenty of challenges.

The Naro Moru River Lodge

The starting point for most treks up the western side of Mt. Kenya is the , a resort that offers a wide range of accommodations, everything from bunkhouses for backpackers on a budget to nicely appointed cottages, as well as a swimming pool, tennis courts, a sauna, and two restaurants. The lodge is located on 20 acres at 7,100 feet, just 10 miles south of the equator.

The lodge also has an extensive operation for equipping and guiding climbs. Guides and porters can be booked and gear rental is available, making this the most practical option for people who want to trek, but didn’t cart a full complement of backpacking gear to East Africa. It’s also a good choice for trekkers who would like to hire guides to assist on an attempt to summit the technically demanding peaks of Batian and Nelion (Mt. Kenya’s true summits, which require technical rock climbing skills; Point Lenana, 700 feet lower, is the more common goal for trekkers.) .

Desctiption of the Naro Moru Route on Mt. Kenya

The Naro Morru route is the quickest route up the mountain. Most hikers start by booking a ride up the 13-mile dirt road to the western park entrance, then hiking another 5 miles to the meteorological station (although some four-wheel-drive vehicles will go up this far). Typically, hikers camp at the so-called Met Station (9,840 feet), then hike the next day to MacKinder’s Camp (13,645 feet). This section of the hike features the unforgettable so-called “vertical bog” which can be compared to hiking cross-country up a steep ski slope covered with a combination of humpy tussock grasses and mud.

From MacKinder’s it’s typical to take an “alpine start” (about 2 a.m.) so as to be at the summit by sunrise. The trek to Austria Hut – every step of it uphill – takes between 4 and 5 hours; from Austria Hut, it’s another half-hour to the summit via a 700-foot rock-scramble.


Note: Because it is possible to gain elevation so quickly on this route, altitude sickness is a very real possibility. Hikers should be aware of the symptoms of mountain sickness, and be prepared to stop and take an extra day to acclimate before proceeding.

The return to the Met Station can take one or two days. Warning: Doing it one day is utterly exhausting, and by the time a tired hiker arrives there, the “vertical bog” can seem endless.

Whatever the itinerary and schedule of a Mt. Kenya trek, the Naro Moru River Lodge at the bottom offers welcome respite and rest from the rigors of Africa’s second highest mountain.