Friday, January 30, 2009

Waving Goodbye January and to the pooch under the gate!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Safe Food

Glass containers and fruit are always protected with foam or paper wrappers. Good thing it's possible to recycle almost everything here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

CSA Stovetop Cooking 5

Pasta with kabocha squash, blue cheese, and pine nuts. And yes, I really was eating it on the floor (while skyping)!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thoughtful Eating

This is our nearby little store where we pick up our weekly CSA box loaded with locally grown organic goodies.

Below is what was in the box. All of that, plus a bag of mikan (mandarin oranges) and a block of tofu was under $30 USD. Joining a CSA has been great for us - it has helped reduce our food budget, we eat more veggies, try new foods, and we appreciate eating locally and in season.

Date night with Bond, James Bond

Last weekend we went to a movie theatre to see the latest Bond film. It was the "sneak peak" premier of the film - the real opening is tomorrow. The theatre was conveniently located close to a downtown subway stop, and the ticket booth was on the ground floor of a building - fairly normal. After purchasing our tickets (almost $20 USD per person) we learned that our film was showing on the 6th floor of the building. They also had another screen on the 7th floor of the building, and 2 additional screens in a different building around the corner.

We headed up to our floor and M got snacks for us - 2 beers and a "large" popcorn, which was about the size of a Big Gulp cup. After the movie (yes, it was in English, with Japanese subtitles) everyone politely filed out of the theatre and lined up to properly sort their trash and recycling.

From there we headed to a nearby pizzeria. There wasn't any English on the menu, or any English-speaking staff, but we were able to decipher enough of the menu to be able to order a margherita pizza and a salad without meat. Our salad arrived first, with large chunks of raw bacon all over it. We summoned the waitress over and said (rough translation of the conversation) "Excuse me, we had ordered a salad without meat on it." Waitress - "Right. That's pig."

This isn't the first time we've had this happen, and it seems that pork just falls into its own unique category here!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Cheers to A! It's her birthday!
And for more insight into living in Japan, check out her blog. She works full time and still manages to blog daily - very impressive.

So for a toast, how about a Corona that comes with its own lime juice?? The prices are cropped a bit, but a Corona is about $3 USD and a Hoegaarden is about $4 USD.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bike Accommodations 4

Who needs special bike accommodations when you can just use a regular parking space?!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Faux Sashimi

In one of our recent CSA boxes we got this liquid filled bag - it reads "sashimi konnyaku."

Thanks to the very helpful Kat over at Our Adventures in Japan, I learned that konnyaku is made from yams, and is considered a type of diet food. It can be used a number of different ways, but this type (like a blob of very firm jello) is meant to be eaten like regular sashimi.

So we sliced it up and ate it cold dipped in shoyu. Definitely a unique texture. Fish is not something I miss from my omni days, but for vegetarians who do, this might be a good substitute.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kei-Cars are okay

Walking around here it is impossible not to notice that the cars are a lot smaller. And some of the smallest of the small have these yellow license plates. They are Keijidosha class (or Kei for short) cars, and could actually be a van or a pickup truck too. M told me about how they are vehicles designed to take advantage of the Japanese car tax system - they have to meet certain restrictions on the car's size, as well as the engine capacity and power. Owners then benefit from lower taxes and insurance, and in some areas home owners with a Kei-car can have their parking requirements waived. (1)

The kei-car standards originated at the end of the WWII (when most Japanese people could not afford a full-sized car) in order to promote the growth of the car industry, as well as to offer an alternative delivery method to small business and shop owners. (2)

On there was an interesting article last fall regarding the popularity of Kei-Cars: Jargon Watch: Kei-Car Sales Up 6.2% In Japan While New Car Sales Dropped 13.1%

Monday, January 12, 2009


It's snowing again today. Huge fluffy flakes that almost look fake. It looks pretty (from inside), but I thought I was getting away from this!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

January Snow Flowers

It's a bit hard to tell in the photos, but this morning we woke up to snow. It looked pretty as it fell in front of our neighbor's bright pink flowers - but I am happy that it isn't cold enough for it to stick

Friday, January 9, 2009

TV Time

Every time we turn on the television there is some type of a game show on. Truly. This particular show was all about breaking world records.

The gentleman above was attempted to break the record for jumping rope with a dog.

And with the help of his purple-eared poodle, he did!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Frustrating Morning

This morning I went to the gym for my mid-morning aqua bootcamp class - like I have been doing for over five months now - but for some reason today was my day to cause a commotion with these:

Yup, 2 earrings earned me the third degree. I'd heard that tattoos were not allowed in many pools or spas, but I had never heard about the taboo on jewelry. I'd gotten in the pool and was waiting for the class to start when one of the gym staff called me over and started speaking rapidly in Japanese. Although I didn't understand everything, it was clear that my piercings were a problem. I pulled my swim cap (mandatory for being allowed into the pool) over my ears and asked if that was okay. Nope.

By this point I was gathering a crowd of people, and one of them said that my earrings could fall out and stab someone in the foot. I tried to explain that this wouldn't happen. They don't come out. One screws on and the other links into itself - they've been in place for more than 5 years now. That did not translate well, but it wouldn't have mattered if it had. In Japan a rule is a rule is a rule, no matter what.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Walk This Way

At this intersection there are "regular" crosswalks as well as diagonal crosswalks, with pedestrian signs for each. (I know there are cities in the States with these too, but I just think they're fun!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Holiday Cooking

In addition to eating lots of junk food and sweets, we cooked a lot over the holidays. M made a great batch of vegetable stock, I tested out my shiny new bread maker (thanks dad!) with a tasty pesto loaf, and we also made some delicious soysage based on this recipe.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Go! No Wait, Don't Go! Um, Go?

Traffic lights here crack me up. At this intersection, it isn't even possible to turn left (you'd head into oncoming traffic), but it is possible to get two green lights (for the only two directional options you have) and a red light at the same time.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

No Parking (?)

No parking signs here look like the blue and red circular one in the photo below (left side - the red has faded a bit on the sign).

Now look at the picture again. The black car on the left, the white truck on the right, and the white car further back on the right are all, you guessed it, parked.

This is very normal, and perhaps a sign that Nagoya could benefit from more parking meters?!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Wait a Minute Mister Postman

If we miss a package, we get little slips like these in our mail box. Unfortunately it isn't an option here to leave a little note with instructions to just leave the package at the door.

But thankfully, these slips have an English-language assistance line, and they will promptly re-deliver. With these two, I missed a morning delivery, called for re-delivery, and was offered either 5-7 pm or 7-9 pm that same evening. Pretty impressive.

Anywho, I chose the 5-7pm range, and about 10 minutes later was called back. The woman I had just spoken to apologized profusely that 5-7pm was no longer available, and asked whether the later time slot would be okay. Of course that was fine, and she then proceeded to thank me multiple times for my kindness and understanding. Talk about great customer service!