Food!

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….

Skiing, Skating and Eating in Sapporo

On Saturday, February 11, we got to go skiing on Hokkaido.  This was a special treat for us.  As I’ve mentioned before, the snow coming down from Siberia is super light, fluffy and dry.  This special snow makes for some of the best snow conditions in the world.  However, either it’s been a light season or they just haven’t gotten their big snowfall yet, because the piles of powder I’ve heard about were nowhere in sight.  We met Mayumi and her family at the Sapporo station where the buses line up.  We got on a bus headed for Teine (tay-nay), a ski resort about an hour away from the city. After we arrived, we rented our ski and snowboard equipment…

Jingisukan at Sapporo Beer Garden

Friday, February 10 and Sunday, February 12 we went to arguably the two best restaurants in Sapporo.  Maybe in all of Japan!  It’s just my opinion of course, but Sapporo cuisine is very famous and there’s a good reason for that.  And anyway, I think John agrees with me.  We had been really looking forward to having some amazing food.  Mayumi warned us ahead of time that our waistlines might expand during our stay there.  Sapporo is famous for several things, among them are: BEER of course, ramen, seafood, especially snow crab, cheese and soft serve ice cream, which is called soft cream here.  A signature cooking style on Hokkaido is called Jingisukan.  You kind of have to stretch your…

Mochitsuki

On Saturday, January, 14 we were invited to a mochitsuki event at our friends’ church.  Mochitsuki means “mochi making” and it’s a traditional New Year’s activity for Japanese folks.  Mochi is sweet rice that has been soaked, steamed, pounded and formed into little round shapes.  I have been making mochi my entire life.  My father’s side of the family gets together at the end of the year to make mochi and has done so since before I was even born.  When my grandparents, my father’s parents, were alive we would get together on the family farm in Riverside.  The photo above is a past mochitsuki from 2013. My family cooks the rice the traditional way with a roaring wood fire…

Holiday in Bali – Part 1

On Saturday, December 17 we got up early in the morning and made the trek to Kansai International Airport.  John learned from our Thanksgiving trip to KL that he wasn’t going to take any advice from me on what time we should leave for the airport.  He led the charge and we left an hour and a half earlier than before.  We had already dropped the cats off at the pet hotel on Friday night so we didn’t have to worry about them.  We flew Garuda Indonesia Airlines and landed at Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, the most beautiful airport I’ve ever seen, in the evening. This was our first time flying on a nice Asian airline and I think…

Two Special Japanese Dinners

It has already been nearly three weeks since we’ve been back from Malaysia and a lot seems to have happened in that time.  Including I got a very bad cold and I wasn’t able to do much but lay around and think about all the things I felt I should be doing.  It’s almost Christmas and I have shopping, wrapping and shipping to do.  But I was so tired and achy I couldn’t even write much, let alone get up and shop.  So I’m catching up again. We returned from Malaysia on Sunday, November, 27.  The following Sunday, December 4, we had plans to take the Shinkansen (that’s the speedy Japanese bullet train) down south to Hiroshima prefecture to a…

Petronas Pewter & Hard Rock Caves

Our last full day in Malaysia is Saturday, November 26. After the long and exhausting day we had yesterday we all decided to sleep in. But then we kind of had to rush around for the rest of the day to fit in everything. I don’t think we got back to the apartment from our adventure at Inside Scoop until around 10:30pm. We all needed to pull the covers up over our eyes when the sun came up.  This photo is sadly the only one I took of our 3-bedroom apartment at the Nomad Bangsar Serviced Residences.  It was a good value for the rate and in a safe area. When we were all up and dressed we decided to…

In the Waterfall in the Jungle

Here we are, cooling off IN the waterfall! Our second day in Malaysia, Friday, November 25, was the best adventure ever.   While searching through Trip Advisor for off-the-beaten-path activities, I found Outdoor Sky Unlimited, the outfit that we hired to take us into the Malay jungle.  Amos, our amazing guide, started this company when he realized that working in a bank was not for him.  Now he and his buddy lead guests on challenging hikes in the jungle.  But it’s not just a hike.  He picked us up at our apartment lobby at 6am, drove us an hour to a small town locally known as KKB, took us to a restaurant for an amazing breakfast before our hike, took…

Thanksgiving Malaysia-Style

It’s our Thanksgiving/Fall trimester break.  Who knew we’d have several days off around Thanksgiving just like in America?  We thought a lot about what to do/where to go.  John really wanted to go to Hong Kong.  He also wants to go to Seoul, South Korea.  I started researching Hong Kong but I just couldn’t put together a travel plan that I wanted to move forward with.  A very good friend of mine from my graduate school and television days is from Malaysia and I’d heard lots of stories about Kuala Lumpur and her family back there.  I started to look into Malaysia and it looked like a great place to bring the kids.  There are so many things to interest…