Jade’s Escape from Japan: Last Night in Okinawa

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Last Night in Okinawa

Japanese businessmen with too many drinks and skewed neckties watch me walk up a block of squat business plazas and timeworn bars, most with red lanterns swinging in their wooden doorways. This is Naha City, the capitol of Okinawa, three hours by plane from Japan’s famous capitol, three decades behind what people would call Japan when Tokyo comes into a conversation. Even the powerlines, which have no intention of migrating underground, provide background noise to the drunken businessmen and the beckoning shop owners in this expensive drinking sector of Naha. The men enter and exit their doors, some stumbling with tomato faces and smiles into waiting taxis.

This is my last night in Okinawa, and I walk next to my best friend, a Japanese soccer player who became my first friend in Okinawa five years ago. We were both teachers, me in the loose sense as an Assistant Language Teacher and him as my coordinator who spoke fluent English with a New Zealand flare. Though he left English teaching a few months later, we remained brother and sister in the islander sense, and whenever we saw each other’s family members at the mall, we were meeting another relative, an extended vein from our friendship.

Now, even after five years, I notice Japanese men trying to pry me from my place next to him—seeing a tall Japanese man in a casual shirt and chinos next to a black woman walking in this area is rare, unless this American and hondoujin are lost. This is our area, our yen is better here. Your yen is better over there where you turned off International Street. At those guys, I make eye contact, and they quickly turn their eyes elsewhere. Wherever yen was going to be spent, tonight was my night to let someone else do the spending. I, as a returnee to the States, was not allowed to dirty my own farewell party with my own cash.

My friend leads me to a wooden, four-story business building that looks as tan and old as the other buildings we passed. We go up a flight of wooden stairs and duck under a curtain to enter what my friend calls “my brother’s work”. The shop, a small but clean sushi bar, boasts three tatami areas with traditional floor tables and zabuton, or colorful Japanese cushions. Wooden doors, wooden pillars, and wooden countertops provide the aesthetics rather than hanging paintings or woodblock prints. My friend and I sit at the counter, and from an open doorway with a white curtain, his brother emerges in a white sushi chefs outfit. It is my first time to see him in four years, but through my friend, I always know where he is working. He is shorter than my friend by a head, but his small eyes and humor resemble my friend’s. Before they exchange a handshake, he looks surprised to see me. “Long time no see,” he says with a shy smile. Unlike his brother, he is reserved and gracious in his demeanor.

But it’s my friend who teaches me about the life of being a sushi chef. “Being a sushi chef,” he tells me after we have wiped our hands and cheered over a glass of chuuhai, “takes a lot of training. When we were kids, my brother was always shaping rice with his hands.” Only the best traditional sushi, which consists of a select cut of fish, a dab of wasabi, and a thumb-sized amount of formed rice, could lead sushi chefs into stardom in the industry. “Every day, chefs have to make $500 to $700 a night for the shop owners. Once they make a certain amount of money for the owners, the chefs can move on to owning their businesses.” He is proud of his younger brother, watching him deliberate over the rows of sliced fish in front of us, and in a way, I hold that same pride for this young chef.

The sushi looks different than the usual sushi I used to eat from the market or in a restaurant chain like Hamazushi. The fish are colorful and thick, hearty even, but easy to chew while the hint of wasabi lacks the sharpness of typical sushi, emphasizing the flavors of the fish and the shaped rice as a tasty unit. As I chew the second sushi, I suddenly realize why I feel as if I had skipped something: I did not dip it in soy sauce. It is completely unneeded.

My friend’s brother places sushi after sushi in front of us, lapsing into English for the fishes’ names and joking in Japanese with my friend. We get another drink, and it starts to wash away my senses. I laugh a little too hard, smile a little too much, eat the delicious handcrafted sushi a little too fast. I want to remember the warm feeling that both the chuuhai and Okinawa had given me for five years. People here are warm, and even those with cold interiors have no choice but to obey Japanese etiquette. When Okinawan people speak to me, it feels as if I’ve come home after a long absence, and they’re gently easing me into what I forgotten. Five years ago, I was surprised by this feeling, and every year, I renewed my contract to get closer to it, something akin to my Filipino home in the States. Other colleagues remarked their envy when I admitted I hardly felt homesick in years.

Between the second drinks and red snapper sushi, three Japanese people sit at the bar next to me. Immediately, one of the drunk women says, “You look like a famous singer.” For a while, everyone’s stumped. It’s when our last sushi arrives that the lady announces, “Diana Ross!” For the remaining twenty minutes there, she and her two friends address me as the former Supreme vocalist until my friend bids his brother goodnight and pays the bill.

“Goodbye, Diana Ross!” the three drunk birds say before we disappear down the stairs and into the warm summer streets. Now less business suits haunt the plaza doorways, and the taxis line the curbs. This is their time to strip drunken workers of their last yen. We avoid them and walk to a close-by Family Mart to get some cheap alcohol. At 2 o’clock in the morning, the clerk looks at us with an eyebrow quirked above his glasses. “There might by a typhoon tomorrow,” it says, but his thin lips only utter, “259 yen.”

When we get outside, the wind has picked up, flinging lose plastic bags and what little trash adorn the entire city towards the south. My friend and I cheer and drink our alcohol. As the night grows cooler and windier, our conversation—his kids, my husband, our jobs, five years of being an American sister and a Japanese Okinawan brother—turns into something warmer and sadder. Tonight, I think, let’s drink and eat before it gets too sad. As the lights in some stores dim and metallic doors slide over their shops, my friend and I stand up and smile at each other.

My last night allows me to return to a pair of eyes that can see Okinawa’s beautiful islands, see its people in their chinos and suits, and appreciate looking at all of them together in one place.

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Devil Pocky for Pocky Day 2014

Japan has many food holidays on specific numbers such as Strawberry Day (January 5th), or ichi go, which means “strawberry”, and  Veggie Day (August 31st), or ya sa i, which means “vegetable” in Japanese.  One food holiday that uses dates with a special meaning is November 11th’s Pocky Day. November 11th, which is 11-11, looks like a pack of the chocolate-coated biscuit sticks. Glico and their amazing marketing team put together a commercial just for this sticky snack.

This year’s commercial idol is Gantz live action star and ARASHI boy bander Kazunari Ninomiya. In the commercials, he plays a “demon of sorrow” while holding his precious Pocky.

I love how Kazunari screams, “Help me!” at the end of this commercial. Dude, you’re a demon. Even you’re sad, stop tearing up my neighborhood!

Anyways, how can you celebrate this fun and simple holiday? You can buy Pocky or try the Pocky Game Challenge.

Happy International Beer Day!

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Happy International Beer Day!

How’s beer in Japan? The good news is Japanese beer is cheaper than any Western beers like Budweiser and Guinness ranging from 80 yen a can to 320 yen for a bottle. The bad news is Japanese beers all taste alike. “The nail that sticks up must be hammered down” is a proverb that explains both Japanese culture and the sameness between the top beer brands in Japan. I don’t know if it’s Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, or Orion’s faults for making these beers. Maybe it’s just the people who’ve learned not deviate from the tastes of their peers and try something new, and so, the companies cater to their flavors.

I would recommend going to a liquor store, local brewery, import wine shop, or a good bar that sells import drinks for different beer tastes. My favorite place is the import wine shop in Chatan that carries imported German, Austrian, and Italian lagers and alcohol. Just watch out for the price tag–imports are very expensive.

7 Useful Websites to Survive in Japan

 

Imagine getting an invitation to your welcome party and a co-worker hands you a map to the location. You don’t think to ask about the place or what do all the squiggly lines mean–not like you can if you don’t know Japanese–so when the time comes to go to the welcome party, you realize that you don’t know the way. But that’s only one worry from living in Japan. Japanese language resources, English books, organic products, and even emoticons are different in the Land of the Rising Sun. Thanks to the internet, you can simplify your needs while living in Japan.

 googlemapsGoogle Maps: In Japan, you can easily get lost. There are no street names, and multiple routes with the same number make finding a certain business nearly impossible. Good thing all businesses must print their ads with a map to their shop…right? If everyone relied on those 5-centimeter sized maps, no one in Japan would use Google Maps. My advice: stick to landmarks!

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Japanese Emoticons: Western emoticons are great, but Japanese ones are easier to read and have more pizzazz. Plus, each emoticon conveys the exact emotion I’m looking for in a tweet or email. \(^▽^)/

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Japanese Fonts: If you’re learning Japanese or you make anything with text in Japan, this website is the best! You can download and install the fonts that actually write Japanese, not the gibberish you find on Fontspace. Just be on the look out for the fine print. Some fonts are licensed for non-commercial uses, which means you can only use them for unpaid projects.

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Book Depository: Japan has a severe lack of English books that aren’t condensed readers for English exam takers. Some Japanese English-reading residents are fine with the scant choices of English literature at Toda Books and Book Off (they mostly have YA and best sellers). For those who want books without the expensive shipping fee from Ebay, Amazon, Abebooks, Book Depository is the best. They ship books worldwide for free. Are the books cheaper than Ebay or Amazon? No, they’re full price, but they’re brand new books.

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iHerb: If you’re missing your beloved African soap bars or certain organic cookie mixes and you can’t get them from home, iHerb is the next best option. They have a flat $4 shipping rate to Japan and they sell organic and vegan household products.

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Weblio: Japanese is hard. Even Google Translate has a hard time making Japanese understandable. Weblio is another translation website that offers a literal translation of the English and example sentences using the main verb.

Wunderground: Between June and October, Japan is plagued with typhoons and stormy weather. Reliable English-language weather forecast sites like Wunderground are few in total, considering that many are in Japanese. Still, Wunderground is a good place to watch any severe weather changes in the Western-Pacific region.

Japanese Candy and Snacks Haul


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I’m doing an international candy swap, so I bought a ton of candy and snacks that’re very “Japanese”.

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Because Attack on Titan is so popular in Japan and abroad, I couldn’t pass up these chewy candies with chibi Attack on Titan characters.CIMG2857

Similar to Attack on Titan, One Piece has a strong fan following. It’s no surprise to see Trafalgar Law representing this pack of chews.
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This box of Kidorikko cookies were too cute to pass up! Plus, in Japan, cute characters are on all products targeted for kids. Think of this as animal crackers for Japanese children.

Super Saiyin Level 4: My 4 Years Living and Blogging in Japan

I’m at Super Saiyin status! Yup, I’ve reached 4 complete years of living and blogging in Japan!

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I know, I know. Some Americans have reached city-stomping, moon-transforming monkey status in their tenth, twentieth, or even thirtieth years in Japan. Good for them! For me, it’s an awesome thing: I’m still living my dream! And I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Anime and manga does and doesn’t equal culture.

Just as any media doesn’t fully capture a single culture, it also says a lot about that culture. The Japanese population is mostly Japanese. From the time Japanese people are born until they die, there are certain things that’re taught to them. Did you know that Japanese students take Ethics and Morals in junior high school? And did you know Japanese students are punished more for not following the rules than their grades? No, maybe not. In reality, Japanese people aren’t allowed to stand out. Japan is a collective society, and in a country the size of California housing millions, the population can’t afford to be individualistic. But in anime and manga, you’ll see students who are totally different because of their natural talents or super abilities. In a way, these media are reflections of a country where the hammer strikes down the standing nail.

Design and marketing is on a whole different level in Japan.

Wherever you walk in Japan, you’re bound to find billboards upon billboards, posters behind posters, signs above signs of ads, ads, ads. Even if you can’t read them, these ads are successful at embedding colorful and creative images into your brain. Everything has a mascot (ever hear of Hello Kitty, Kumamon, Pikachu, or Luffy?). When I think of American ads, they don’t compare. Then again, the States has it good with creating recognizable brands. Hmm, maybe I’m wrong… Still, Japanese advertising makes me laugh!

Quality of (Insert a Noun) is cities above the American sense of quality

I’m absolutely in love with Japan’s sense of quality. It shows in mundane things: merchandise at thrift stores are clean and cared for; lunches are freshly prepared by mothers and lunchbox pros same day; fast food actually matches the pictures. So, yeah, quality of life is awesome in Japan. There’s the national healthcare that every working person can receive (OMG, Japan is Socialistic ::gasp::), and the older you are, the cheaper your optional car insurance becomes. Don’t get me wrong, I do miss the States, but some things–the crappy secondhand buys, the fat-salt-sugar-saturated processed food, and the bombardment of unhealthy lifestyles–aren’t living up to my quality of life anymore.

I miss the straightforwardness of the West

Japan is the land of beating around the bush. You can’t say anything directly because it’s seen as unfriendly. Instead of saying, “Why aren’t you wearing an undershirt?” you have to opt for a round-about way of saying things. “Aren’t you cold?” The real meaning: you’re not dressed properly for work! Then again, no one will tell you at the very beginning how to dress for work in Japan like in the States. “Do I have to wear suits? What color? How long?” You have to become a really great observer in Japan and answer the questions yourself. In a way, I find it refreshing. As Haruki Murakami wrote in 1Q84, “If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.” 

Not Like Anime or Manga: 10 Realistic Ideas for Your Japanese School Festival

School festivals are central to all manga and anime centering around Japanese schools as well as Japanese society.

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Everyone participates in the school festivals, even the foreign English teachers like myself. Last year, I was faced with the school festival, and though I wanted to do something as typical as a cafe, rules kept the maid outfits at bay. “There are only two places where food can be made, and they’ve already been claimed,” a teacher told me with a sympathetic smile. “You’ll have to come up with some other idea for the English Club.”

Great. I guess my anime dreams of doing a maid cafe couldn’t come true. Ideas, I thought, I need ideas. Of course, my students couldn’t come up with anything. You’ll find that unless you offer Japanese kids ideas, you won’t come up with anything concrete.

For those of you in the same situation, here’s a list of ideas you can do with a small club (3 to 5 members) or more.

1. Cake Walk (Musical Chairs + Raffle): Use Daiso vinyl tape and make footprints or circles on the floor into one big circle. Put numbers in each circle. Participants will stand on the circles, and when the music starts, they will walk to each circle. When the music stops, a number will be called. The participant on the called number will win a cake or a prize. For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cakewalk_(carnival_game) 

2. Costume Booth (Halloween + Photography): Get a lot of costumes and props. Designate someone who will print pictures and put them in cellophane holders. Participants will pick what costumes they want and the theme of their photograph.

3. Skit: Pick a Western-origin or English-language skit such as Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, or Harry Potter. Adjust the script, pick the actors, and perform the skit on stage.

4. Names in Cursive: For more artistic people, participants will get their names written in pretty cursive. If you’re into graffiti, do names in graffiti.

5. Dance: Do a traditional dance from a different country (i.e. Philippine’s tinikling or binasuan or Mexico’s folklorico).

6. Western bazaar: Get lots of new knickknacks (stickers, posters, bilingual books, toys, stuffed animals, bracelets, snacks, etc.). Set up a booth or room with the items all tagged with prices. Get a register or cash box and put someone responsible for it.

7. English wanage (Ring Toss): Make rings and stands out of cardboard and tape. (I would use Daiso colored tape to make the rings and stands more interesting, seeing that cardboard is pretty ugly.) Use vinyl tape as a distance marker. Give participants the rings and prizes after they’ve gotten the rings on the stands successfully. For an English-involved ring toss, put pictures on the stands. Show the participants an English word. They will throw the ring onto the matching picture of the English word.

8. Basket Toss: Make balls out of tape and set up cardboard boxes. For an English-involved basket toss, put pictures on the boxes. Tell the participant an English word, and they will throw the ball into the matching picture. You can also do this with teachers’ pictures and tell the participants a teacher’s profile (where they’re from, the subject they teach, the homeroom they’re in charge of).

9. Western Cafe: Pick any theme for your cafe (find ideas at CelebrationsatHomeBlog.com). Get refreshments (cupcakes, brownies, muffins, breads), drinks, utensils, table clothes, napkins, and props that fit the theme. Set up nice tables and have the club members be waiters (make shifts!). Customers will come and order food and drinks from an all-English menu. The waiters will take the orders in English as best as they can. For the non-food option, still set up the cafe the same way but make a separate table with different candies, knickknacks, and lots of gift wrapping materials (ribbons, wrapping paper, tape, scissors, cellophane bags, hole punches, and stickers). Customers will look at a menu of themes and make a gift for their friends, parents, or lovers. The waiters will only clean up after the customers and offer suggestions to them.

10. Movie: Make a movie with the club before the school festival (summer vacation is the best time to do this if your festival is later on in the year). Sit down with the club, write the script, schedule times to film, practice all the scenes, film, edit, and add Japanese subtitles.

11. English Scavenger Hunt: Give attendees a scavenger hunt paper with tasks such as “Find three married teachers” (3人の結婚したの教師を探してください). If they complete the task, they get a stamp on their paper. They can show their stamps at one location (if you have no room, use a kiosk or table-top cart) and get prizes. If you’re looking for examples of this kind of activity, it has been done at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Okinawa for their annual festivals (おきなわ国際協力・交流フェスティバル[English][Japanese] ).

If you’re having trouble coming up with school festival ideas for your English club or the English Speaking Society, just think of a fundraiser or carnival event and try that.

Japan: Land of Interesting Chocolates

Every month, there’s always new chocolate appearing on my desk. Gotta love Japan, Land of the Omiyage!

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FEBRUARY – A librarian I talk to every week gave me this cat chocolate as a トモチョコ (tomochoko), or friend’s chocolate, which is becoming more common between women on Valentine’s Day. In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a day where girls give boys chocolate and sweets. No, it’s not a day to subject Japanese women to being, well, subjected. On March 14, boys “return” the chocolate and sweets that was given to them by the girls. As Japanese girls become women, they still do this tradition, but I’ve noticed how every year, the women get more disgruntled with giving ギリチョコ (girichoko), or obligation chocolates. I suppose this friend’s chocolate is a way of saying, “Valentine’s Day isn’t just for guys.”

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MARCH – This one came from my student who went to Tokyo as part of her school trip. Every year, Japanese students (usually second years or eleventh graders) visit different parts of Japan. I understand going to different parts of the country, but its really hard for poor students. They usually pay anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 to make this week-long trip. My student went to the Skytree, the new tower in Tokyo (not to be confused with Tokyo Tower).

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APRIL – This $5 chocolate is one I bought for myself at Lawson’s (one of many convenience store chains in Japan). It features characters from my favorite recent anime, Attack on Titan (新劇の狂人, Shingeki no Kyoujin).

Western Actors in Japanese Commercials

Japan should be called “Land of the Forgotten Commercials” starring Western actors looking for some easy money and international fans outside of their famous roles.

The former California governator, Arnold Scwarzenegger, made many Japanese commercials in his younger days for Nissin’s Cup of Noodles, Arinamin C Drink, and Direct TV. In the commercial above, he stars as a foreigner gambling with Japanese middle-aged men. In superhero fashion, he dashes away to pull out a Japanese energy drink while saying, “Good!”

Leonardo DiCaprio (Great Gatsby remake) in Japanese commercials mean that regular items like whiskey are going to be promoted as cool, premium items–even if those products will be sold for 800 yen ($9) at the local supermarket. Here’s Leo in a recent Cool Bourbon Jim Beam commercial.

Although Bruce Willis (Die Hard) tries hard to say his Japanese lines in these Daihatsu commercials with the disapproval of the director, he still looks very awkward and dubbed in every scene. I think taking the same measure as his Hollywood pals and saying very little (or nothing at all) would help.

The actor who takes the cake–er, the coffee–is acting veteran Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black series). He didn’t just star in commercials for different products. Even to now, he’s a face for the canned coffee brand, BOSS. Everywhere in Japan, his wrinkled face adorns BOSS vending machines and ads.

Galloping to the Goal in the Year of the Horse

Last year, I made 5 resolutions:

1. Lose weight. I managed to lose 15 pounds from July to November by exercising 3 to 4 times a week. Injuries got in the way. I injured my left knee twice in June and July and strained my neck in December. Even though I’m starting from zero again for 2014 (at 154 pounds, only 1 pound lighter than last year), I’ve figured out the exercise program that works for me.

2. Learn Japanese. I had planned to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), but I missed the deadline. Still, this year, I finished one full journal in Japanese, applied for a Japanese speech contest for foreigners, and re-started organized Japanese studies with an advanced course.

3. Save more money. I didn’t save more money this year. I spent more money (yikes!). I did, however, started seriously paying off my student loans and my husband saved the majority of money.

4. Travel more. Because of our savings, my husband and I decided not to travel.

5. Get to reading and writing! 2013 was a good year for me in regards to writing and reading. I won a science fiction writing contest and one of my stories was selected for a science fiction anthology. I also read 32 books out of my Goodreads’s goal of 30 books in a year. Along with my writing and reading progress, I took two very insightful Coursera classes: Comic Books and Graphic Novels (University of Boulder) and Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (University of Michigan). They helped me improved my writing style and approach to fiction.

Now that I’m staring my 2013 resolutions in the face, I understand why most of these goals failed. They’re so broad! I need concrete, realistic goals, not general ones that can be transposed from me to another person.

So here’s another shot at my resolutions:

1. Lose 25 pounds in 2014 and keep it off. If I exercise 30 minutes 3 times a week every week for a year, that’ll make 144 workouts in a year. This is possible if I look at it as in half a pound a week is lost in 48 weeks (a year). Luckily, I’ve found some great workouts online for free (save money!) and I can put my birthday gift to use (Nike Plus Fitness on Kinect). And, since my husband and I have decided to only eat meat in one meal a day, we’ll be helping each other stave off the pounds.

Ultimate goal: Weigh 130 pounds.

2. Take the lowest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). I missed the deadline last year, but I have another chance in July. I have a tutor to help me with this resolution now, and I can concentrate on kanji (Chinese writing system) and grammar through old textbooks.

Ultimate goal: Pass N1 of the JLPT, finish 2 Japanese journals, and pass my Japanese advance course.

3. Pay off 100% of my last credit card, pay off 95% of my student loans, and save at least $1,000 a month. This is totally possible if I ignore the horrid yen-to-dollar exchange rate. From October, I already implemented my student loan pay off. This year, I have to take the reigns of my budgeting plans by creating monthly bill deadlines and alerts.

Ultimate goal: Have $0 on all credit cards, have $700 left on student loans, and have $10,000 in savings.

4. Read 50 books this year and win 2 writing contests. I’ll have to pace myself and read more e-books while I’m at school. I need to develop a writing schedule and stick with it for the year.

5. Create 8 manga podcasts on Anime 3000. I’m a manga podcaster for Anime 3000’s Manga Corner. I was able to release only 4 manga podcasts last year. I’d like to re-vamp the show a little and interview 8 different guest stars. If you’re an anime, manga, or Japanophile podcaster, you can contact me (mangacorner [ at ] anime3000 [ dot ] com) about being a guest star.

Milky Matcha

Today, I bought Lipton’s Matcha Milk drink. It’s not tea, just milk. I wonder if the U.S. has this flavor…

今日私はリプトンの抹茶のミルクの飲物を買った。それは茶じゃありませんが、ミルクだけ。私は米国では味があるかなあ。

Valentine’s Day in Japan

I always thought that the way manga and anime depicted Valentine’s Day–with girls making chocolate and confessing their hidden feelings to a boy–wasn’t a truedepiction of the day in Japan. I was wrong.

 

I learned about oppai choco, or boobs chocolate. How I got this beautiful, tit-shaped chocolate is amazing to me. One of the Yakuit-brand ladies came to my school to sell healthy Yakuit yogurts and drinks. Because it was Valentine’s Day, they gave all their customers a sa-bisu (“service”) chocolate–the boobs chocolate. The vice principal, the office workers, the teachers, we all received this edible nipple in return for buying healthy food.

Filipino Lumpia in Japan

I come from a Filipino family, so lumpia, or eggrolls, are a common item at the dinner. Since I moved to Okinawa, Japan, I haven’t seen any lumpia–or, at least I didn’t think I did. In Okinawa, lumpia is called harumaki (ハルマキ), stuffed with the same fillings (grounded meat, carrots, onions, and seasonings). Despite my twenty-six years of living, I have never made lumpia from start to finish. My nay (“mother” in Tagalog), the master at lumpia in the family, always prepared everything, and my brothers and I would sit down to roll around fifty to a hundred lumpia. Now that I live thousands of miles away, making seemed easier than when my mom had catering deadlines and fundraisers looming over our heads. The lumpia wrappers come in small packs that you can buy at any local store. My husband and I mixed together grounded pork and beef with carrots, onions, green peppers, eggs, pepper, salt, garlic, and basil. I could only go by smell and consistency to make the lumpia before rolled out twenty lumpia and fried them. For our first time making lumpia on our own, they turned out really good.

Today’s Dinner Menu: Homemade Burritos

It’s hard coming across good (and cheap) Mexican food in Japan, even in taco-rice Okinawa. But, if you’re on the look-out like my Mexican husband and I, the ingredients are available to make homemade burritos.

Although there aren’t any corn flour tortillas floating around in San-A or Marudai, but there are flour tortillas in most cold sections of the grocery stores. Also in the regular grocery stores are: avocados, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, lemons, and meat.

 

Food from this Weekend (August 4th-6th)

Here’s some of the food I made during the weekend.

Per my husband’s request, I made chicken noodle soup.

Chicken noodle soup with bell peppers and onions

We didn’t have any crackers or crunchy things (something my husband always needs during a meal), so I decided to make flour tortilla chips. Normally, tortilla chips are made out of corn tortillas and fried. Unfortunately, the stores in Okinawa mostly have flour tortillas, so I just improvised. Actually, I preferred these chips compared to buying Doritos for nachos. First, I brushed some oil on both sides of the tortillas, sprinkled some salt on them, and cut into pieces before baking them for 5 minutes. The first attempt wasn’t so much a failure but a learning lesson. One minute makes a big different in how good your chips will turn out.

My first attempt at baked flour tortilla chips

My second attempt at flour tortilla chips, and they turned out really good! I added a little bit of guacamole to go with my husband’s brunch of fried eggs and bacon.

Hubby-san’s brunch

Food Blog: Teriyaki Stir Fry

Since I wanted to use up some of the bell peppers slowly warping into leathery skin, I cut a couple with some onions and a slab of boneless chicken fillet before tossing them together in a saucepan of teriyaki sauce. The magic came in with the seasonings, though. I added basil, parsley, garlic, salt, habanero pepper, chili pepper, and grounded pepper until it had a little bit of a kick. Just a tablespoon of soy sauce pulled out some of the teriyaki flavor.

The rice wasn’t regular Japanese white rice, but during the boiling process (surprisingly, I don’t have a rice cooker), I added a chicken bouillon cube. My husband doesn’t like plain white rice anyways.