Food!

Prelude to Spring Break

We’re heading home to California on August 1, 2018.  Our tickets have been reserved and paid for and even the cats have tickets home.  Our Japan adventure abroad is coming to an end.  This August we will have lived in Japan for 2 years.  Before we leave this part of the world, we could (should?) take one final family trip. Our last spring break in Japan.  What to do.  Last year we went on a ski vacation in Nagano with 2 other families.  This time the kids voted to stay home in Minoh and do nothing.  One last overseas trip?  The question is, where to go.  How about Singapore, Malaysian Borneo or China?  The kids say we don’t want to…

Exploring Taipei

The ORIGINAL Din Tai Fung on Xinyi Road.  Did we really need to go there for dumplings and fried rice?  (Just a 45 minute wait the lady said.)  Read on. On Friday, March 16 we decided to stay in Taipei.  First: Our cash is almost gone.  We didn’t bring enough.  All over Asia, cash is king.  By now we’ve traveled to many countries so you would think we’d have figured that out.  I called AmEx early in the morning from John’s handy Skype phone number.  He pays a few cents a minute to have a California phone number and so it’s very easy for us to call the US.  The AmEx man said he could assign John’s AmEx card a…

Treasures, Treats & Teatime in Taiwan

We had a lot of adventure and some misadventure in Taiwan.  The misadventure involved nearly running out of cash (because we barely brought any, Duh!) and eventually not being able to access any more.  Not only did we waste 2+ hours trying to get cash at the American Express international office on Fuxing North Road, but it got down to us counting dim sum dumplings at Din Tai Fung to see how many we could order.  This kind of limits the Din Tai Fung experience when you are trying to figure out if you can afford 5 or 10 dumplings, but we decided to just spend our dwindling wad.  We left enough cash in our wallet for mango snowflake ice…

Making Vegan Ramen

Living in a country that loves its Kobe Beef, lives and dies by seafood, loves pork dripping with fat and cracks a raw egg on everything that goes in a bowl, vegan cuisine is hard to come by.  Luckily I’m vegetarian/pescatarian, not so much vegan, but I do enjoy this kind of food category. It happened one day that I saw on Airbnb an offering of a cooking class, in Osaka, for making vegan ramen and I knew I had to try it.  When I read the awesome description of the class, and the fact that it was near the train station AND the chef instructor listed UC Irvine as a place he had studied, I double knew I had…

Okinawa stories and photos

My prior post detailing my trip to Okinawa started to get a bit long and wordy so I had to cut it off.  Here are more sights and stories from Japan’s famous island to the south. I landed at Naha Airport in the early evening.  By the time I traveled from the airport to my Airbnb apartment and got settled in, it was dark.  On the main street, Kokusai-dori, brightly lit stores were crowded with high school students, marathon runners and foreign tourists.  It was raining lightly so everyone was trying to duck out of the drizzle.  Locals were everywhere, luring visitors to their stores, hawking t-shirts, keychains, Okinawa treats, restaurants menus, drinks and even two Owl Cafes along the…

Naha Marathon, Okinawa

On Friday, December 1 I am traveling SOLO to Naha, Okinawa.  I am going there for a long weekend getaway to watch my friends run in the Naha Marathon.  John was kind enough to let me go away by myself (he’ll spend the weekend planning his own trip I’m sure) while he holds down the fort at home. For the past year I have been working at a company called Semco teaching English once a week.  I teach for about 4 hours every Tuesday.  Semco is a family run business that deals with research and product development for pest control management.  Our friend Jay is the president of this company, his father founded it, and his mother ran it for…

Going home

Our tickets back to Orange County, California are booked for August 13, 2017.  This will be a year to the day that we flew out on our big move across the Pacific Ocean.  It’s unbelievable how fast the year flew by.  We decided to stay another year in Japan (an agonizing decision that I might post about later) so before we fly out we have to pack up our belongings, move to another house, clean our old house thoroughly before the owners come home, and host more guests from the US.  We have about 12 days to do all of this. It is not as stressful as when we moved from California to Japan, but it feels overwhelming at times. …

Summer Guests Part 2

Now we’re back from our 2-week adventure through Southeast Asia and immediately we must get ready for our next round of US guests. First is meeting up with the son (Sean) of another of John’s cousins (Peggy).  John often likes to talk about how as a kid he would spend his entire summers at Peggy and her sisters’ house in a Chicago suburb.  So we’re looking forward to meeting Peggy’s son Sean since it’s been about 15 years since we last saw him.  He’s here on an internship with Mizuno, a famous Japanese sports apparel company.  We’re going to show him some local sights since he said he’s mostly done only touristy things so far. Last night, Saturday, July 29,…

Minoh Kawayuka

Back in early 2016 when we were thinking about moving to Japan, my Auntie Meiko said she and her sisters were coming to Japan on a tour in Spring 2017.  That seemed like a far way off.  But suddenly it’s Spring 2017 and she has already come and gone!  I’d been looking forward to her visit for a long time. The day finally arrived on Saturday, May 20.  I picked her up at Shin-Osaka train station.  She said it only took 13 minutes by Shinkansen (bullet train) to get from Kyoto to Osaka.  I guess that’s platform to platform.  I couldn’t believe it!  She said she was nervous about taking the train by herself, but it was a piece of…

Discovering Seoul

The boys are so lucky to have this year at Osaka International School.  The school organizes spring camps for the middle school and upper school grades.  They get to go with their classmates on field trips to fun places that would be on anyone’s tourist agenda.  This year, Kaiyo and his grade 8 classmates rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima.  The trip cost 45,000 yen ($400) for 2 nights and 3 days, all inclusive except lunches.  They spent the first day at the atomic bomb museum and peace park.  In the evening they had a talk with a survivor of the atom bomb blast at their hotel.  They spent the second day on Miyajima Island, hiking, exploring and eating….