Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Japan – Day Two

Photos for Day Two - click on this link!

We tried to stay awake last night, at least until 10 pm. The hope is to get over the jet lag as soon as possible. Joe left a note that mentioned there was an English language broadcast of the news at 9 pm, so we figured out how the TV worked and settled down with cups of tea and channel surfed until then. Wow, what a bunch of weird TV shows. QVC is the same, of course, as well as the historical soap opera show. However, I could not figure out why what appeared to be celebrities were watching a documentary about locust swarms.
The news finally came on, and it was nothing but coverage of how Japan beat Cuba in a round of the World Baseball Championship, translated/read in English by some man with the most sleep-inducing voice ever. Soon, we were slumped over, drool running down our chins. 9:30 pm –bed time!
We woke at 5 am, bright eyed and bushy tailed. A couple of cups of coffee and a bowl of yogurt and granola later, and we were off to the university to take advantage of their wi-fi Internet access on campus. After catching up on email, skyping with my mother, and posting photos on our blog, we were starving by 10 am, so we decided to go grocery shopping. We really wanted to get some rice to try out our rice cooker and some vegetables. Our last couple of meals have been at restaurants, and we were craving some home cookin’. Although, last night, we got really tasty sushi to go, brought it back to our apartment, and had a little dinner party with Josie and Katrina, a current teacher who lives down the hall.
While our street is very quiet with little traffic, there is a larger street about 150 yards away that has many restaurants and a convenient 24-hour grocery store. Almost everything is wrapped in plastic and printed in Japanese. It took us over 15 minutes to find rice! Just in front of the store is a little sushi stand that is popular with the CELE teachers. For 450 yen (about $4.50), we got six sushi rolls with egg, some kind of fish, and sliced cucumbers, as well as three sweet tofu-skin rice balls. We also bought some type of bok-choi greens, onions, and garlic; we whipped up a quick stir fry to go with the sushi back at the apartment.
Today, on the way to the one store where we saw brown rice, we found a farmer who was selling some produce from the back of his truck on the sidewalk in front of a bank. Our area has many large gardens (almost small farms) where people seem to grow a great deal of vegetables. The veggie selection in the supermarkets is not varied, expensive, and wrapped in plastic. This farmer had a great selection, cheaper prices, and no plastic! We happily bought a bunch of stuff and tried to learn the Japanese names.
We also stopped in what appeared to be a specialty rice store that sold rice from different areas of Japan. With our dictionary and lots of pantomime, we communicated with the shop owner and learned about the different types of rice. Surprisingly, rice is expensive in general in Japan… Not sure why yet.
We also stopped at the 100 yen store (The Dollar Store in the States), where they sell a little bit of everything. We bought an apron, a bamboo spatula, and a garlic press for 315 yen…
Out of time! Off for a quick run…

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