The Wandering Foreigners…

July 22, 2009

(Originally Published 02/09/2007)

Today I went for a walk with Willy and Lee in an entirely new direction – and became totally lost.  Well, not totally lost.  We always sort of new where we were, just not exactly how to get back.  Anyway, we walked for a ways, searching for a restaurant for lunch.  Well, we didn’t find any. More...

We wove in and out of narrow residential streets and came upon our first rice paddies!  They were just nestled in an empty lot between houses.  Cool!  We came out right next to the railroad track and still couldn’t find a restaurant.  We found a cool park with lots of trees but it was kind of dirty (full of newspapers and open cans of cat food).  Nearby, we found a river with big koi (carp) swimming around.  We crossed the tracks and found a pretty major road.  We passed a few places but they either looked closed or didn’t have much of a menu.  We passed a “family-style” restaurant (Western food, it looked terrible) called Tomato and Onion.  We passed a McDonalds too.  None of this really appealed to us but we were all getting pretty tired and hungry and it was really hot.  We finally found a kissaten (coffee shop) and went in for omeraisu (omelette rice) and iced tea.  It was really nice to get in out of the heat of the day.  We continued on our way in the general direction of the Seminar Houses and passed an abandoned book store right next to a new Tsutaya (a book chain, maybe kind of like Barnes and Noble in the US).  We passed some animal hospitals and were happy because we could read all the kanji (Chinese characters).  Eventually, we came to a river and followed it back to the dorms.  It was very hot along the river and there weren’t any Japanese people up there walking in the midday sun.  We felt like silly gaijin.

Engrish of the Day:
Crunky – kind of like a Crunch bar but with a cooler name
Creap – a contraction of “creamy powder”, I think it’s like coffee creamer
Man-to-Man – Itto Man-to-Man Counseling Center.  Apparently this is a common phrase in Japan and means one-on-one.

Things I miss today:
Vegetables – The kitchen setup here hasn’t been that great so far so it’s either eat pre-made foods from vending machines or conbini (convenience stores) or go out to eat at restaurants.
Rice – I’m getting a little tired of noodles.
Chocolate Milk – Ain’t gonna find it anywhere in Japan.  Cocoa – yes.  Milk – yes.  Coffee Milk – yes.
Peanut Butter – Some people have some.  I don’t.  I don’t know where they got it.  Maybe they brought it.

Surprises so far: There’s a lot more meat here than I thought there was going to be.  Everything’s got meat in it and it’s hard to find a vegetarian option.  Well, I haven’t really let it bother me and I figure since it’s a different world over here I might as well try to get by as well as I can.  I’ve been eating meat and it hasn’t been too hard.  But I really miss steamed vegetables and salads.
There’s lots of graffiti here!  It’s almost as prevalent as in the states.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Cool stuff of the day:  There are lots of birds!  I saw a bunch of egrets and herons and other shorebirds (similar to killdeer, perhaps) running around in the river.  The rivers are nice-looking even though they are entirely controlled by man now.  The concrete walls don’t really detract from the beauty of the nature.  Much.
At a shop in Den Den Town yesterday, I found a stuffed block and a turtle shell from the Super Mario Bros games.  If you punch the block (suspended from the air by a string) it makes the noise from the video game (BRRRING!).  If you bop the turtle shell from the top, it makes the noise from the video game (pikon!).  Naisu.

Even though it’s still hot, I think I’m going to go sit by the river and do some studying.  Willy and I still haven’t been to Daddy’s Shoes (the local bar) and maybe we’ll go tonight.  I really want to try some shochu at some point but it’s pretty expensive.


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