Saturday, February 28, 2009

I ♥ Kotooshu

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I can't believe I forgot to post about this!
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Earlier this month, Otis and I took a group tour to a 1-day sumo tournament. I've seen sumo a gazillion times on the tube, but this was my first time to see it live. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!! My interest in sumo had always just been cultural, there are lots of really interesting sumo traditions and customs, and it's just so........Japanese. But I'm a huge fan now!
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Ryogoku Kokugikan

This arena is mainly used for sumo, but it also hosts other sporting events, concerts, etc. The tower to the right holds a huge drum that they beat before a tournament
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Sumo wrestler at McDonald's
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We had about 2 hrs to kill before the tournament started, so we walked along the Sumida River and around the neighborhood. We stopped for a quick bite at McD's because we weren't sure what kind of food (if any) would be available in the arena. Turns out there's tons of different food inside. As we were walking around, we passed a building down the street from the arena, on the 2nd floor we could see some of the wrestlers getting their hair done (a wrestler's hair is a major part of the sumo tradition).

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We had great seats. The lower level is box seats, and you sit on the floor on cushions. The upper level has regular seats. We were in the first row of the upper level. I can't imagine enduring the 6-hr tournament sitting on the floor!

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Ozeki doyho-iri. (Ring entering ceremony of the champion rank) Kotooshu is facing the camera in the black kesho-mawashi with rainbow pattern

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Kotooshu whoopin' Asashoryo's ass! Woo hoo!

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In the end, it came down to Kotooshu against Hakuho. Hakuho won. Eh, it was a great match anyway, very intense. I really like the one-day tourney (most tournaments are 15 days), it's instant gratification, since the winner is decided that day. It's a lot of fun watching your favorite wrestler battle his way through the ranks to the final match (if you picked a good one).

It's interesting to note that none of the day's top performers, Kotooshu, Hakuho and Asashoryo, who are, respectively, one champion, and two grand champions, are Japanese. K is from Bulgaria, H and A are both Mongolian. Hakuho is the current grand champion.

We had a great time, I can't wait to go again!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

15 nano-seconds of fame

Meg and B. made the Pacific military news (AFN - Armed Forces Network) with HC, theyr'e right at the end of the clip. Don't blink!

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They're here!

I got my darumas on Monday! They're even better than I remembered!
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The big one on the left I picked up at a recycle shop late last year, for only 200Y! Yes, he's used, but he was the biggest daruma I'd ever seen, and it's nice to know that someone's prayer was obviously answered! The smallest ones on the right are actually a nesting set.
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I put the bill in for scale, so you could see how big they are >
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>If I had to pick a favorite (I can't, I love them all!) it'd probably be this one! I love the spiders. This picture is crap and doesn't do him justice at all, I'll try to take a better one later.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hear her roar!

As most of you probably know, Hillary Clinton was on a diplomatic tour of Asia over the last week. She started here in Japan, visited Indonesia, S. Korea and China.
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Well, guess where she stopped today to re-fuel on her way home?!?!
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Gen. Rice, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, introducing Hillary
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We'd only been back from Tokyo for about 3 hrs, and I was taking a nap. Meg came bursting into my room "Hillary Clinton's coming! Ms. Heather wants us to go meet her!" Turns out Mrs. Clinton had decided to do a little impromtu 'meet n' greet' with some of the base community. Only a few people were notified of the event, with the hopes that they'd invite a few, but not too many people. It worked well and only about 100 people were at the hangar when she arrived.
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We had great seats, second row, center! The speech was short and sweet, nothing political, just the usual "Thank you for your service....Let's all be good Americans, blah, blah, blah", but I was so excited just to see her! I've been Hillary fan for a long, long time. I was in a major dilemma during the elections, agonizing between her and Obama. The speech was only about 10 minutes long, then she spent a solid 20 min walking through the crowd shaking hands and taking pictures. She could have easily come and gone without even getting off the plane, refueling a plane can be done in just a few minutes, so the fact that she not only took the time to come off the plane, but was also willing to have a whole "to do" was really great!
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My neighbor Heather, who had invited me, is also Meg's Girl Scout leader and her daughter B. is Meg's BFF, so we decided to take the girls with us, you know, Girl Power, rah, rah.
They were suitably impressed. Meg knew who she was and that she was "Secretary something" and had been a presidential candidate. When HC saw the girls in their GS vests, she stopped to shake their hands and tell them that she had also been a Girl Scout!!!!!!!
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Shmoozing with the crowd
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And the best part:
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Meg and B and HC

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Big Tig!

My sweetie boy is four today!

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E's 1st birthday (sigh, I miss my pool)
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I think this is probably the last year I can get away with not having a real birthday party, the kind with friends and favors and all the ensuing chaos.
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2nd birthday

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This is the first year that Ethan actually understood the whole birthday concept, that it was his special day, that there'd be a cake with candles and presents to open. He was so excited and so happy, all afternoon he just kept giggling and hugging everybody, it was so cute.
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3rd birthday

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We had to wait for Papi to get home for work, and of course, for the first time in months, he had to work late! But he finally came, we watched E open his presents then lit the candles (okay, so they weren't actually candles. I put the candles somewhere so that I wouldn't lose them, then I forgot where that place was, so I just shoved 4 matches in the cake, lit them and we sang Happy Birthday really fast!) and enjoyed some cake. I ordered the cake from the grocery store, because I've really been craving that whipped buttercreamy frosting, oh so yummy! The design was Hot Wheels, but he had asked for a monster truck cake, so I just bought a toy monster truck and replaced the race car that came on the cake. It turned out cute, and he loved it.

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Ever since we visited the Harajuku Kiddyland in November, E has been dreaming about a shinkansen set. It wasn't in the budget for Xmas, since by that time all my shopping was already done, so he got it for his birthday. I set it up while he was at school, because I knew it would take some time to put together and I knew it'd be agonizing for him to wait if I left it as a gift for him to unwrap this evening, so it was waiting for him when he came off the bus. I had to drag him away from it to open his other presents and have some cake, he took one bite of cake and went right back to his tracks.
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Ethan, and the love of his life ( I built that train table for his 2nd bday!!!) Look at that actual smile on his face! Not the usual cheesy-for-the-camera-grin. He was sooooo happy!
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Fen enjoying some birthday cake
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How fresh is too fresh?

Because of some contracting issues/regulations/blah, blah something, all the food that is sold at our grocery store on base MUST be shipped in from the U.S. including all fruits and vegetables, all meats, seafood, everything.
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As a result, we don't get any fresh meat, poultry or seafood, it's all been frozen for shipment from the States. All juices and refrigerated products, frozen for shipment. We have an okay selection of fruits and veggies, not great, and everything is slightly less than fresh, since not only does it have to survive the shipment from it's original country to the U.S., it then has to be processed and shipped to us in Japan.
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But on the bright side, pricing is extremely reasonable, close to half of what we'd pay at a Japanese grocery and we have all American products. While the selection can't compare to an actual American grocery store, it's definitely good enough to keep you from getting homesick in your kitchen, and believe me, I know just how fortunate we are. And we do get fresh bread and pastries because there's a bakery on the base, our bakery makes all the bread products for all the U.S. bases in Japan, so that's nice.
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And then, there's the milk. I bought this carton on Friday, Feb. 13:
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No, that's not a misprint.

This milk, bought on Feb. 13, expires in 2 MONTHS, on Apr. 11!!!!! I still haven't quite figured this out. It's processed by something called "ultra pasteurization". It tastes fine, and really does last the whole two months, usually several days longer. But I'm still a bit concerned about how healthy it actually is.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Calling all moms of Japanese speaking kids!

All my new blogging mommy friends! Some of you have contact links on your blogs, some don't so I thought I'd just send this request out to everyone en masse!
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Most of you have kids the same age as Ethan, so I know you'll have some insight for me!
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I don't think E is getting the most out of pre-school, because he's just not picking up enough of the language. Since he only hears Japanese at school, he's just not getting any reinforcement. We watch a lot of Japanese TV, but just silly cartoons, not much on his level and no educational value. So, I'm looking for recommendations on Japanese pre-school DVD's, something that teaches shapes, colors, numbers, etc. (he's fine with all that stuff in English). Anyone have any particular favorites, or heard good things about any certain shows?
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Another issue: I've found out recently (I didn't realize I needed to ask) that E's school teaches virtually no academics, they don't work on reading or writing skills, math, nothing. And not just the younger kids, there are no academics at any level! It's basically just a big daycare center! That was fine when he was younger, but as he reaches Pre-K and kinder, he'll end up really far behind when we return to the U.S. and he starts American school. Is this typical in a Japanese preschool? I'm thinking it's not. He really loves his school, and other than this one issue, I do too, I'd hate to move him. Maybe I should start him in Kumon? Hmmmmmm.
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I'm so ready!

In less than 48 hours I'll be leaving for my conference. And wouldn't you know it, Meg and Ethan are coming down with bad colds!!! Thankfully, Otis had already taken off work Wed - Fri, in anticipation of me being gone, so there's no stopping me!!! Woo hoo! (Having a nurse for a husband comes in handy sometimes!)
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My excitement level is nearly through the roof!!!! I know a Girl Scout convention doesn't sound too terribly exciting, and I can't speak for conventions in other places, but some these West Pacific Girl Scouts are a lot of fun, and when you get a bunch of us together, you're guaranteed lots of laughs and good times (especially once all that pesky convention business is out of the way!!!!), pretty much just what you'd expect of a bunch of women together, husband and kid free for a week!
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I found out yesterday that we're supposed to be going to one of the Iron Chef's restaurants for dinner on Thursday! I'm so freakin' excited! Chef Kobe's Italian restaurant is in Ebisu, it's the closest to the hotel, so I'm guessing that's the one we're going to. But any of them would be totally awesome! I love the Iron Chef!
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Couldn't resist!

Even though we were totally FTB with gyoza, there was no way we could be anywhere near Tachikawa station, and not stop at Krispy Kreme!!!!! From gyoza heaven, to donut heaven!

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Sometimes the wait at KK is literally hours long, I'm not kidding, I've heard of people here waitng 3 hours for donuts! On a Saturday night, I fully expected wait to be even longer, but I still had to check, just to be sure the line was indeed too long, and...................IT WASN'T!!!!! Yes! There is a donut god, and she's smiling on me!

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We were in and out in less than 15 minutes!
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Japan's KK's have the typical Japanese twist, lots of different flavors than what you get in the U.S., but of course, they have the classic: hot, glazed donuts. I swear, these donuts are orgasmically delicious. If, by some insane chance, you've never had a hot, glazed circle o' heaven from Krispy Kreme, RUN, don't walk, to the nearest KK and have one NOW!!!!!


Yes, you're reading the menu correctly, Y1600 for ONE DOZEN PLAIN DONUTS!!!!!

(about $17.40 right now!!!)
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Our choices: two cream cheese-filled, one stripped, double berry-filled, one chocolate mocha heart, two chocolate w/ sprinkles, and six warm orgasms........I mean........glazed donuts. To my credit, I've only had one cream-cheese (my new fave!!!) and one glazed! Go me!

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Another truely Japanese twist, everyone waiting in line gets one free glazed donut!



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Again, on the waaaaaaaaay off chance that you've never actually been to a Krispy Kreme store (does that person actually exist?), KK is also famous for it's open kitchen; there are big windows that allow you to see right in, so you can watch the donuts being made! This is was always the big field trip when I was a kid! And that white curtain looking thing at the end? It's actually the never ending sheet of sugar glaze that the donuts pass through, a vision of true beauty.

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Heart-day recap

As you might have guessed by the name of my blog, I LOVE gyozas!
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I'd been wanting to check out a place in Tachikawa, alternatingly nicknamed Gyoza Heaven and Communist Gyoza by the Americans around here, for a long time. After many glowing reviews by O's co-workers (for some reason, he doesn't trust my judgement at all!) O finally agreed to take me there for dinner on Valentine's Day. Gyoza Heaven definitely lived up to it's name! Although it's actual name is Gyoza 1059, it was total gyoza heaven!!!!! I think the Communist name comes in part from the oddly strict rules this place has. Among them: there's a one-drink minimum per person, if you don't order a drink, they add Y315 to your bill (this isn't a club or bar, it's just a regular little restaurant!), they do not prepare take-out and you're not allowed to take any leftover food home with you! But I'd gladly follow a whole book of stupid rules for absolute oishiiiiiii-ness this place churns out!
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Otis and I left the house around 5p on Saturday evening, we parked at the train station and took the train 2 stops to Tamagawajosui, where the train and mono-rail share the same station. I love the mono-rail, you get to see the city from a whole different perspective, gliding along 2 stories above the street, and the mono-rail goes through different parts of the city than the train, it's a really great change of pace, and scenery. This was Otis' first time on the mono-rail, he enjoyed as much as I always do.
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O waiting for the mono-rail
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We were in Tachikawa by 5:45, we had planned to wander around the station for a while, there are 3 huge malls in Tachikawa station, but in anticipation of stuffing myself to the brim at dinner, I hadn't eaten since b'fast, so I was starving! We headed straight for the restaurant, we had a map from the tour office on base and had no trouble finding it about 4 blocks up the street.
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We'd never been to Gyoza 1059 before, but had heard really good things about it. As with all great restaurants, it was a totally unremarkable, hole-in-the-wall kind of place! The kind of place you could pass 1,000 times without even noticing it.

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There was a line forming as we left

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There was a counter right at the grill that sat 5 people, then only 3 other big tables, and a small private area towards the back that could be reserved for bigger parties. Because there were only 3 big tables, if you come with a small group of only 2 - 3 people, you have to share a table with other people when it's crowded, which it was on Saturday. We shared a table with a very nice family:, Mom, Dad and their adult daughter.

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Looking towards the kitchen from our table.

The door is on the left, just out of frame, next to the long, black sign. There was another table out of the shot to the right and the private table was directly behind me.

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O purusing the menu

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This place serves gyoza. And alcohol. That's it. Nothing else. And that's all they need! Among the choices of gyoza: squid, cheese, garlic, chicken, shrimp, octopus (in winter only) and leek. On recommendations from friends, we ordered the cheese and the shrimp gyozas. You get 5 gyozas in the flavor of your choice for anywhere from Y735 - Y950 per plate. There was a warning on the menu that take-outs and doggie bags were not permitted, so we took that as a sign that the portions would be big. Boy, were they ever! The cheese gyozas were absolutely divine! Ridiculously delicious! All the gyozas come stuffed with the usual gyoza meat, I'm guessing ground pork? The cheese ones also had a huge, melt-y glob of cheese (it was white, that's all I know) right in the middle. And the shrimp ones were a mixture of gyoza meet and 5 - 6 nicely sized shrimp. These were, without a doubt, the hugest gyoza I'd ever seen! They were so huge, I could only eat 2 cheese and 1 shrimp. O managed to pack away 2 cheese, 2 shrimp, and we were both so completely packed full, we had to leave the last 3 behind!
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I put my hand in the shot so you could see just how big these gyozas were!
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I had a sinfully delicious glass of umeshu rokku (plum liqueur on the rocks), it's one of my newest loves.

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After dinner, we rolled ourselves back up the street towards the station. Since Otis has only been to Tachikawa ONCE, he's never seen any of the malls or shops, so we walked around for quite awhile, so I could show him some of my favorite places.
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We got back around 8:30p. We'd ordered Pizza Hut for the kids before we left, so they were fed and Gabi had gotten everyone in their jammies by the time we got home. We had a really nice evening, I'm always so happy when I manage to drag O off the base, and he ends up enjoying himself (for some reason, he's always sure he's going to hate whatever we do, even though he never does!)


Oh, and O gave me a single, long stemmed rose, a sweet, sweet card and some chocolates, the kids gave me a cute card and some candy.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm pretty proud of myself

This is day 3 of no caffeine for me. I love soda, and easily drink 3 - 4 20 oz bottles per day. Very unhealthy, not to mention devastating to any weight loss efforts I might be tempted to make.
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I haven't cut out soda all together, I just don't have the discipline or will power for that, but I've switched to caffeine-free Coke and Pepsi, and have cut my intake by more than half, I'm down to 2 (or less) 12 oz cans per day. I'm not having any mental or emotional withdrawal symptoms, just massive headaches, but they're tamed with medication, so no big deal.
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This is also day 3 of drinking at least 40 oz of water per day. A much bigger deal than the soda, because I HATE drinking water, normally I can't even manage to choke down 40 oz per YEAR, much less per day!! That is not an exaggeration! And yes, I know that 40 oz is only half the recommended daily amount, but I'm a work in progress.

So, we'll see how long I can stick it out. I'm not getting any younger, and it's way past the time that I need to start taking my health more seriously (and I could also stand to lose quite a bit of weight, but I need to take this in baby steps!)
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Happy Heart-Day!

Hope everyone has a sweet day with their sweeties! Otis and I are taking the mono-rail (a nice ride, the elevated track makes for great views of the city) to Tachikawa, there are lots of great stores in and around the station, then we're heading to Gyoza Heaven for dinner (that's not the actual name, just what Americans call it, I'll find out the name tonight). I go to Tachikawa alot, it's a quick, easy train ride from here, but, surprise, surprise, O has only been once!!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sooooooooooooooooo EXCITED!!!!

Next Wednesday, I'm heading off for a 5-day Girl Scout conference at my little piece o' heaven in Japan...........The New Sanno!!!!! I'm so freakin' excited, I'm already packed LOL
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The conference is for adults only (YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), all Girl Scout leaders, trainers, council members, etc. The official conference doesn't start until Thursday morning, but people who are travelling in from other places (Korea, Okinawa, Guam) will be arriving Wed. night, so you know I have to be part of the welcoming committee arriving around lunchtime on Wednesday! And the conference is over Saturday afternoon, but since I'll already be there, I might as well spend the whole weekend, right? O and the kids will take the bus to the hotel Saturday afternoon, hopefully O and I will make it to dinner at Ninnikuya, a garlic restaurant in Ebisu that I've heard great things about. You may remember I posted about trying to eat there once before, but we found out we needed reservations, so we ended up at the super yummy Mai Thai restaurant.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sweet cheesy corn! YUM!

Today, I had an English lesson in Tachikawa. My student usually comes here (she loves Taco Bell) but sometimes I like to go to her, just for a change of scenery. I left a little early and treated myself to lunch at Saizeriya, a popular Italian chain. I'd been wanting to check out Saizeriya for a long time, but Otis is an Italian food snob! After living in Italy for 2 years, all other Italian food is sub-par, peasant fare that he only tolerates on the rare occassion that I force him into an Olive Garden (which we don't have here), so I haven't really had much of a chance to try it out. It was.......eh. Not horrible, but nothing to write home, or in my case, blog, about (so glad I didn't nag O into joining me!!!).
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After lunch, I met K at Starbuck's for our lesson. She's 27, never been married, still lives with her parents (not unusual in Japan these days, as most young people can't afford to live on their own!) and works at the Clinique counter in Takashimaya (an upscale department store). She's very hip, very....chic.
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Today we were reading a newspaper article. The article mentioned a "cheesy commericial", and of course, K asks, "What does cheesy mean?".
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Me: Hmmmmmm.....well........when something is cheesy, it's..........it's kinda corny.
K: Corny? Like corn?
Me: No, not like corn. When somethings cheesy, or corny, it's.........it's like, sappy.
K: Sappy? Yes, I know sappy, from a tree, for pancakes.
Me: No, not sap, it's sap-py
K: Ahhhhhhh, yes, I see (Japanese code for "Never mind, you obviously have no idea what you're talking about!)
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Since I know absolutely nothing about Japanese popular culture, I couldn't give her any kind of example of something that's cheesy or corny or sappy. And although she's pretty up on all things American, she couldn't pick up on the cheesy nuances of, say, a gold chain nestled in a thick mat of chest hair, an after-school specials, or Hallmark commercials.
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So, to all my fellow English teachers here in Japan, or English speakers, who also speak Japanese, how would you explain "cheesy"?
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Daruma Show

My friend Maou, from one of my culture groups, owns an art gallery with her mom, in Ome. The gallery is in their family home, a 150 year old farm house. In English it's called the Worth Gallery.
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Last month they held a daruma show. Starting in early December, local artists, residents, anyone really, could buy a plain, white, unpainted daruma to decorate/create for the show. The finished daruma(s) were then put on display in January, at 5 different locations throughout Ome: some in the gallery itself, the others divided between a cafe, 2 ryokans (Japanese-style inns) and a restaurant. You could pick a map from the gallery, then spend the day moving from location to location, checking out all the super cool daruma(s). Which is just what we did about 2 weeks ago.
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Worth gallery


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Some of the daruma were for sale. In the bottom left corner you can see a bit of the robot daruma that I bought, I also bought the 3rd one up, the red, flowery one. I bought one other super cool one, but now I'm loving that yellow above! I'm not picking them up until this Thursday, I'll post pix when I get them.



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We ate lunch at the restaurant, Irori, where a portion of the daruma were on display. I've given up on trying to identify anything I eat in a Japanese restaurant. Any of my Japan blogging buddies, feel free to chime if you recognize anything!

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In front of the restaurant was this super old-fashioned foot onsen, it was actually heated by a fire underneath!

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Our feet in the tub! I'm in the blue jeans. It was a cold day and my feet were aching from walking all over town, so the onsen was the perfect ending to the day!

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Monday, February 9, 2009

The apple has name!

Well, almost! I think her name is something-ani, today Ethan has said her name is Ohani-chan, Onani-chan, Ihani-chan, Inani-chan, Imani-chan..........but I like Apple Head! LOL And he says today she ran away from him, and "she always wears diapers", so I guess she's not potty-trained yet. I'll get to meet her on the 28th, when the school has their end-of-year performances (Ethan will be playing a mouse, one without a speaking part I'm sure!).
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saturday in the park

I've finally figured out how to get my husband out of the house on the weekends! Offer to let the dog come along!
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Otis' preferred state on the weekends is vegetative. If I would let him, he'd veg-out in front of the TV and computer ALL WEEKEND; more often than not, he doesn't even change out of his pj's! Obviously this is not cool with me, my moving-back-the-States countdown clock is ticking loudly in my head (honestly, it has been since the day our plane landed!) and I can't stand to waste a single second just hanging around the house, doing nothing!
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But for the last two weekends in a row, we've visited local parks that we've never been to before, and O came along happily, almost excitedly, because we brought the dog (his idea)! Whatever, I'm not about to question it, or complain!

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Yesterday we went to Mokusei park, on the Tama river. It's only about 10 min from the base and there's a really nice bike/walking trail that winds along the river for miles.

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Fen has never been near anything bigger than a mud puddle, so we were excited to see how he's react when we got to the river. He wadded out a tiny bit, only to his doggy ankles, but the water was absolutely frigid, so I don't blame him. E had a blast throwing rocks into the water, unfortunately, visiting the park is on the very bottom of the girls' list of weekend activities, and since we weren't going far, or doing/seeing anything interesting, I let them bail on this trip.
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Volcano Day

As most of you already know, last Monday Mt. Asama erupted. Asama is located about 65 miles west of us and is one of Japan's most active volcanos. Thanks to perfect weather conditions and dead-on winds, we got quite an accumulation of volcanic ash in our area, so much that schools on base were closed on Monday due to health concerns for the kids. It wasn't that bad, except maybe for kids w/ asthma. Still, totally wild!!! Earthquakes are really normal here, we have them nearly monthly, but I never expected a volcano eruption! I scooped up a little pile into a ziplock baggie to keep as a souvenir. Check out this video of the eruption.
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The notification on the Commander's channel. The base uses this channel to communitcate information to the base population.
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Ash on O's car. Looks like snow, doesn't it?

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mystery solved!

The 'apple girl' mystery has been solved! Thanks Heather, you're a genius and obviously a yochien pro!

At Ethan's school, the kids all have a sticker with a picture and their name stuck next their "space" i.e. their coat hook, cubby, spot on the shoe shelf, so that they know where their things belong and can identify their own stuff, before they're able to read their names. Each kid as a different picture, and that picture is on all their things and all their spaces. Ethan's picture is a rocket ship, and Apple Girl's is.........AN APPLE ! I already knew what E's pic was, but I asked him anyway, just to confirm that he knew what I was talking about, then I asked "What about your girlfriend? What's her picture?", "An apple. She likes me, she always kisses me and pets me!" D'oh! Wasn't expecting that extra tidbit of info! But when I asked him to show me what she does, he kissed my cheek and patted the top of my head. Kawaiiii!
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Friday, February 6, 2009

And?

So much for NaBloPoMo! 46 posts in 1 months, then absolutely nothing for an entire week! I've got loads of pictures on my camera, and several posts swishing around in my head, but I'm having trouble downloading the pix, so the posts will have to wait.

Nothing much going on, except......the VOLCANO ERUPTION on Monday!!!!! And nearly losing an eye at a Setsubon festival on Tuesday. Schools on base were closed Monday because of all the volcanic ash! LOL The girls have had hurricane days, snow days and typhoon days, but this was their first ever volcano day! Totally unbelievable, will post with pix, eventually. Then, I went to a shrine not too far from here, for their festival on Setsubon; dried beans were hurled with amazing ferocity, I was totally unaware it was going to happen and was wedged in tight in the middle of the crowd, so there was no escape. Will post with pix, eventually.

On Tuesday, I cleaned out E's backpack and found a little piece of Disney Princess paper with some scribbles on it and when I asked E what it was, he said "That's from my apple friend, her's sick so her's not at school", "It's a girl?" I asked, "Yeah, her's my girlfriend" ?!?!?!?! I don't know where he'd have heard the term 'girlfriend', much less how he knows what it means! Then today he came home and said "My apple girlfriend is all better." I asked her name, but he just says "Her's my apple girlfriend, she lives at the apple spot, her's in Himawari (his class name)." So, no clue what that's about or why she's "apple". Note - he uses she appropriately, but when he should use the contraction she's, he says her's, don't know why. And another note - I recently found out his sensei has started taking English lessons a few months ago, so she can communicate w/ E better, how sweet is that? It would also explain why he's not picking up more Japanese, his teacher speaks English to him all day :(
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