07 March 2013

Japan: The First Days, Part I

Our first few days on the island were HECTIC!!! We decided to start things off right by waking up early that first morning and going with our friend KayCee to watch her coach youth softball.  It was nice to get outside and relax. 
We walked around a bit during the game and found our first humorous sign...Turkey Leg Dog!!!  Poor guy, first he's born with a turkey leg, and then he's not even allowed to hobble on the track! Sheesh!

We watched the game for a little longer, and headed off with Jake (KayCee's husband) to go get us cell phones.  Conveniently 2 of our best options had a kiosk/store in the Exchange1 mall, so we got to check that out, and compare plans (both companies had the same exact plan), phones, and service quality.
 We easily made up our minds when I questioned one of the sales people about their service having dead zones on base.  She shrugged and agreed that yes, there are dead zones.  Dead zones aren't cool, and if your sales person agrees with the complaints...it's time to move on, so we did just that, and moved on to the original company.  We had heard people complaining about the prices, but for 2 smart phones and comparable plans that we were use to, it wasn't much more a month than we were use to.  Having the convenience of maps, email, and apps to communicate back home with, it was definitely worth it to us.

KayCee met back up with all of us, and we all headed out to lunch.  By now we were starved.  So we all went off base to Taj Okinawa, a place none of us had been to yet!
I think we all ended up getting a lunch special, but with a different type of curry each.  This giant feast you see below cost 900yen which was about $9.89 that day.  It also came with a brothy soup with pasta and veggies in it, and a drink of your choice.  I chose lassi, which is a yogurt type beverage. It went really well with the spice level of curry I chose.  Check out that nan! It was HUGE!!!
We headed back to base where we picked up our cell phones and met some more folks from the squadron at a BBQ/kids birthday party.  We may have done some other things, but KayCee knew I'd love to check out one of the produce markets off base, so we went there next.  I loved it, and it turns out to be even more awesome because it is only a few minutes right outside the gate we live near.  I've already been shopping here a few times.
Still being my first real day in Japan, I couldn't resist buying one of my favorite Asian snacks.  Steamed buns!!!  Right in front of the market are a handful of vendors making food right there and selling it.  I got a spicy pork steamed bun.  I LOVE THESE THINGS!  I think this cost me 100 yen ($1.09) and was worth every penny/yen.
Before I show you what else I got, thought you might be interested in a receipt.  Or not.  It's the little things here that I notice and enjoy.
Another favorite snack/side is seaweed salad.  There are tons of different variations of this, and I don't know what this was called, but it was seaweed with a soy sauce based dressing and sesame seeds.  I planned on mixing it with some other veggies, like cucumbers and peppers, but we ended up just eating it like it was in our hotel room.  This was from an additional stand at the market, and I think it cost somewhere around $3-$4.
Okay, I don't know what's up with their carrots here, but they are HUGE.  That is a normal sized DINNER fork right next to it.  You could seriously damage someone with this.  I also thing you'd have to alter recipes that call for 'one carrot'.
Another favorite Japanese snack is onigiri.  I could eat this for every meal.  I'd love to blog about onigiri over at Kacey's Kitchen, but they are basically a snack made of rice and seasonings, sometimes fillings. The rice is mixed with herbs or veggies and rolled into typically a triangle shape by a salted hand.  I've never had one I didn't like, and I particularly like the salmon filled ones.
Later that evening we had dinner at KayCee & Jakes.  It was nice to help KayCee in the kitchen again (we'd often have each other over for meals while we were in Oklahoma together), and we had some time to catch up while the boys entertained the baby (their baby - not that you needed me to clarify) and catch up themselves.  The night was awesome, they had another couple over for dinner, which was awesome to be able to meet and hang out in a low-key setting.  We met so many people in 24 hours I barely remembered where we went, never mind names and faces!

Don't worry, I don't plan on writing our entire 3 years in such detail, I just really want to share our first few experiences on the island, and then I'll be more selective on what I bore you all with!

'til next time!!!

I describe this as the military department store.  It's THE place to buy stuff you need.  Depending on the size of your Exchange, you can get cloths, furniture, household supplies, gifts, tvs, etc.  I think ours here is one of the largest Exchanges in the world. Don't quote me on that though.

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