We have been in Japan now for just about 2 weeks. I have taken lots of pictures, learned about the culture, learned some of the language, and seen some really cool stuff. This is just an introductory post since I know many of you are curious about Japan and I have not yet had the chance to post any pictures.
The flight over is nice and smooth, and actually arrived about an hour early. Here is what I wound up being served on the plane:
We had two meals served but for the first one they could not locate anything vegetarian, so I just got a bunch of sides, which is usually what happens.
The process getting in was well organized, but long because we were so tired. As a result, dinner was this:
Yeah, we have a Pizza Hut at this base. So much bigger than Lajes! The fast food came in hand the first few meals when we had nothing else. Breakfast was usually at BK. Yep, a BK too on base.
My first few days on base did not feel like I was in Japan at all. Other than Japanese people working on base and some Japanese writing, it seemed pretty American on base. It took a few days before I could get off base and see what Japan was really like. but I was really tired so this was OK. Not only was I tired, but I woke up so early because the sun comes up a little after 4 am and we had the windows open because it was so hot and there is no A/C.
But I did get off base during the first week. Our first meal off base was at a place called Cheese Roll House.
This is a favorite among people stationed here. Everyone I know who has been stationed here before told me I have to go here, so I was excited that the person we were with took us here first.
These are cheese rolls:
It's almost like a wonton wrapped string cheese that is fried. Similar to a mozzarella stick, but much better.
This place also serves yakisoba, which is a noodle dish. I had the shrimp yakisoba, and Ryan had the chicken. All I can say is YUM!
Oh yeah, I should mention I am awful with chopsticks, but I did give it a go and had success eating these noodles. I have gotten much better since then.
One cool thing about a bigger base is that more things come here, and by things I mean entertainment and activities. The first weekend here there was former American Idol Contestants on base performing and here they are signing autographs at the BX (which is similar to Walmart since it carries just about everything).
When Friday night rolled around, Ryan and I hit the streets, on foot of course since we didn't have a car yet and there were none to rent. Here are some cool pictures I took just walking around on our way to dinner.
First up is this random vending machine. They have these everywhere, and by everywhere, I mean everywhere. Yesterday I saw one in someone's front yard next to their door. They are in the middle of nowhere too. Everywhere! They also dispense both hot and cold beverages.
Here are some restaurants and stores that we passed.
I thought this sign was really cute. No idea what it says, but I do know this is a construction site.
This is a car wash.
Here is where we were going to eat dinner, but we forgot one vital part of traditional Japanese dining. We were not prepared to leave our shoes at the door, and were in flip flops, with no socks. Unsure of the proper protocol for shoes and bare feet, we decided to hold off and try again another time when we at least had some socks with us.
Instead we wound up here, at a place serving pizza and curry.
We ordered a meal deal, which included some beer. Of course we wanted some Japanese beer!
Lesson learned: The pizza has pepperoni. FAIL!
I ordered shrimp curry. I have no idea what to say to this because it turns out there was probably meet in the sauce. I am used to Indian curry, which is not the same, and although I did not expect it to be the same, I did not think there would be meat. So only after trying another curry place which clearly shows a choice between pork or beef curry, I now know not to order it again. While it did not taste like meat, I could really only taste the spice, and this was HOT!
Walking home we stopped into a fun liquor store to scope out the sake, which is Japanese rice wine.
Just before the base we stopped into a bar to enjoy another cold beer. Since we were on foot we took advantage of this. The legal limit for drinking is really low, and about only half a drink for females, so when out walking about it seems like a better time to enjoy a beer.
Another reason why we stopped was because I had to use the bathroom. Meet the washlet:
This is no ordinary toilet. I have not tried it yet, but this does it all. It works like a bidet too so you can get your wash on in this toilet. It also has a seat heater. These are very common in public restrooms that use Western toilets.
For our beer, we enjoyed some Kirin this time. We had a good laugh because we were drinking Kirin, and the three Japanese guys were drinking Bud and Heineken.
Ever seen Yen before? Here is some Yen:
That was it for our first week, out and about, exploring town. We even picked up some sake to enjoy. It was already chilled so we kept it in the fridge, but it is really served warm.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever been to Japan? Ever tried sake? Ever tried yakisoba? Ever seen a washlet? What's your favorite Japanese beer?