…Posts Tagged ‘Japan’…
Thursday, May 17th, 2012
I met my grandmother and uncle on my father’s side for lunch in Tokyo on Saturday. We went to a tempura restaurant on the top floor of a nice department store, where they had gone with my brother a few months ago. It was the best tempura I’ve ever had. Everything was just so fresh and the best part is, they only give you a few pieces at a time so nothing gets soggy or cold. I’m not the biggest fan of tempura sauce so I ate it with different kinds of gourmet salt. Yum! Again, I didn’t whip out my camera for the meal because I felt a little self-conscious and regretted it afterwards. The nicest meals I’ve had were with my family and my dad’s friend but since we were in really nice places, I didn’t photograph my meals. My dad’s friend took Mike and I to the Japanese restaurant in the hotel where we had a 10 course meal, each a work of art and SO delicious. I still dream about that meal.
But back to my dad’s side of the family – my parents and I always joke because in a lot of ways, I’m so much like my dad, it’s slightly frightening. We have multiple moles in the same exact spot (is this TMI?), we both have crazy wavy hair, we get cavities all the time, and we have to have dessert at the end of the day. Sometimes multiple desserts. I loved it because my grandmother and uncle are also both sweets people and totally understood and appreciate my love of sugar. Actually, we also discovered that my alcohol intolerance also comes from this side of the family. I love when you discover things like that. I obviously didn’t grow up with my extended family around, though I saw them every year until I was 12 or so until I decided summer camp would be more fun. (Sigh, children are stupid) It’s such a beautiful and comforting feeling to feel so at home with your family even after not seeing them for so many years. This trip for me just felt like I was getting back to my roots in so many ways and I am so grateful I was finally old enough and mature enough to appreciate all of my different experiences. (I can go on and on but it’s getting a little too reflective for a food blog.)
Anyways, we had a really fun time laughing at each other (actually, mostly me) and then I was sent home with a bag of gifts!
I had some time to kill before meeting up with Mike so I shopped a bit (of course), explored Akihabara which is where Tokyo-ites go to buy electronics, and then bought a magazine and sat in a café. When I was studying in Kyoto, my friends and I used to sit in this chain café and study for hours there, so when I saw there was one right near my hotel, I had to camp out there for a while. I used to always eat a mont blanc which is a chestnut cream tart!
Felt a little different since this time it was consumed with business men around me who were smoking heavily and not my wonderful friends… Ah well. You can’t win them all.
I found Mike a little while later and we went to the bar at the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku, where they filmed Lost in Translation. Mike got me a $97 drink and a pizza and we enjoyed the view of Tokyo even though it was a bit overcast. Okay, it wasn’t $97 but it was probably close.
The following day we went to the Tokyo National Museum and then headed back to Shinjuku and Harajuku for lunch. At some point we ate this:
It was like an okonomiyaki but I believe there was a runny egg involved somewhere…
For our “official” lunch, we stopped into a ramen place that was run by a father and son. Or at least that’s the story Mike and I made up, but I believe it to be true. It was a tiny hole in the wall but there was a line out the door, so we figured it was going to be pretty good.
I ordered the spinach ramen since it had been a while since I ate a serving of vegetables.
AMAZING! It was the best ramen I’ve ever had but it may have been because I was starving.
I’m a big fan of ramen. Thankfully, there are some good, authentic places to eat it in New York City, but there’s nothing like eating ramen in Japan. Totally different experience.
Later that night, as Mike and I were wandering around Shinjuku, we stumbled upon an okonomiyaki place that looked inviting and was rather full. (always a good sign)
It was nice that one of our last proper meals in Japan was okonomiyaki because it was the first meal we ate together in Kyoto. Nine years earlier, I had a slightly stressful trip to Kyoto, which involved me crying into a pay phone in the San Francisco airport, asking my parents if I could just come home instead of going to Japan. (answer = no) So after two long flights, an awkward encounter with another student who was watching Japanese television and smoking in my room, a big group of students decided to walk to get some food. Mike and I didn’t sit at the same table where you made your own okonomiyaki but I distinctly remember him being there. So it all came full circle and now we can be done being friends. Just kidding.
I got the vegetable okonomiyaki which is chock FULL of cabbage and a side of natto, which is fermented beans. Sounds gross, tastes delicious.
Mike got one that had meat and seafood in it. He is clearly very happy about what’s to come.
So you just mix everything up and then put in on the grill.
And then when you’re ready, you flip it over. Mike will demonstrate:
LOL. Best picture of the trip for sure. We couldn’t stop laughing. I’m laughing hysterically just looking at it again.
Mine with sauce and mayonnaise:
That would be my name in Japanese. You also put shaved bonito flakes and dried seaweed on top.
We went back to the hotel after dinner because we were planning to wake up at 3:45am the next morning to visit Tsukiji Fish Market. This fish market in Tokyo is famous for their tuna auction. It’s exciting, quick, and the tuna is GINORMOUS!!!
It became a tourist destination much to the chagrin of the tuna buyers. They all come representing restaurants and all have their name on their hats. They take an instrument that looks like an ice pick and flashlight to inspect each tuna, which is flash frozen.
The auctioneer helper writes the highest bidder’s restaurant name right on the tuna and then the bidder takes it away on a small wagon. I think the whole thing took about 15 minutes and was really fascinating and civilized.
After the auction, Mike and I walked a few hundred feet to a row of restaurants. We just picked a random one and had the freshest sushi I’ve ever had in my life.
Every piece was delicious and melt-in-your-mouth perfect. The sushi guy behind the counter just placed pieces as you finished eating so I didn’t get all the pieces in at once, unfortunately.
Amazing. I think by the time we finished eating, it was about 6:30am :)
We then went back to the hotel to nap a bit and then stayed in the area until check-out time since we didn’t want to be lugging around our suitcases all over town. We went into a convenience store and picked out a bento and snacks.
We found a nearby park and tried to get as much outdoor time as we could before we were stuck on a plane for 13 hours, even though it was quite chilly. We found a bench and as I placed my bag of cookies next to me, a HUGE crow took it and flew away! I think you can see him in this photo:
It was traumatic not only because I hate birds (I don’t like any kind of flying thing) but because it meant I didn’t get to eat my cookies. It was a sad moment – let me tell you.
To warm up, we stopped into a Starbucks for some coffee. I love Japanese Starbucks because their smallest size is actually manageable. Here it is next to a water bottle:
After we killed some time, we got back to out hotel to check out and then headed to the airport. We took a cab to train station and while our cab driver was a slightly aggressive driver, especially for Japanese standards, he got out of the cab when we got to the station to show us exactly where the elevator was and how to get to our platform. So nice!
Mike and I thought we would go to the airport and get some food at a convenience store but there turned out to be none there which was such a HUGE disappointment. We ended up filling up on random snacks and a beef donburi (rice bowl) that was just microwaved at the airport stand. Sadness. And then we were off!
Sigh. And so concludes my Japanese adventures. I’m already saving up for my 2014 trip ;) Stay tuned. But before I sign off, here are a few practical tips I learned on this trip that I thought I would share with you:
1) Always wear comfortable walking shoes. Trust me, it hurt to ruin a cute outfit with sneakers but it’s basically a must. Plus, you can always just take pictures from the waist up and no one will be the wiser ;)
2) Invest in a Japan Rail Pass if you’re planning on going to more than one major city – especially if you’re going to spend a good deal of time in Tokyo. You can use the pass for all JR Lines, including the Narita Express.
3) Make sure you enjoy the company of your travel partner. I know this is one of those “duh” things but it’s so important to be comfortable being crankypants/hangry around him/her and to know they won’t ditch you in stressful situations. In fact, if you can, have Mike travel with you. He’s the best travel companion I’ve had so far.
4) Never say “no” to food when in Japan. Even if it looks or smells suspect, you will most likely be pleasantly surprised.
5) Book through a travel agent. You get a lot of free perks.
6) Don’t underestimate the power of a onigiri from a convenience store when you’re in a pinch. (This applies to absolutely any situation – food related or otherwise) Seriously. In fact, I would advise you to always be within 5 minutes from the nearest one.
7) If you’re considering getting a tattoo before your trip – don’t. You won’t be able to experience one of the best things about Japan – hot spring baths. Trust me on this one.
8) Beware of Japanese crows. They will take your cookies.
9) Don’t be afraid to ask for directions – even if you don’t speak Japanese! People are so helpful and will muddle through broken English just to help you. Eight times out of ten, they’ll probably draw you or outside a diagram.
10) If you happen to find yourself in an earthquake, try to get to Roppongi Hills. You won’t feel it.
Monday, April 23rd, 2012
For Part I of this Japan Eats series, click here.
So the last time we left off, we were headed to Tokyo, where my family lives. Mike and I stayed at a beautiful hotel in Iidabashi where my dad’s good friend works. It was probably the nicest, cleanest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
The pictures don’t really do it justice.
We were pretty tired from traveling but we headed down to one of the hotel’s restaurants for some chirashizushi, which is just sashimi on top of plain rice. This was some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. I don’t normally like uni, which is sea urchin, but this was so fresh that it was actually delicious.
We had a lovely conversation with the sushi bar guy who told us that he would come hang out with us if he wasn’t working. Mike and I just pretended we didn’t understand him so as not to get trapped in an awkward situation. Oh wait, maybe that was just me…
We then booked it to an onsen, which is a Japanese hot spring bath, near the bay for some relaxation. I was THISCLOSE to getting a tattoo this summer but my experience in the hot spring bath has dissuaded me from doing so. Japanese people associate tattoos with the yakuza, so if you have one, you are denied entrance into things like business hotels and hot springs. I really really enjoy hot springs (while studying abroad, my friends and I planned a trip to Kyushu because they have some of the best hot springs). Basically, you go in, get a yukata, which is essentially a Japanese bathrobe, and then go change in the locker room. Then the boys and the girls split up and go to their respective baths. This one had 12 different kinds of baths (varying temperatures, outdoor ones, ones with minerals in it…etc.) but they also have a washing area where they provide soap, shampoo, and conditioner. After you’ve soaked, you go back into the changing area and they have all kinds of moisturizers, hairbrushes, hair dryers, razor…etc. all for the price of admission, which was about $15. Luxurious!
The next day, we went to the Tokyo Imperial Palace. It’s kind of like Central Park in that it’s a little oasis within the bustling city. Except that it’s surrounded by a moat. Bloomberg, get on that.
While we had been getting plenty of cardio, I realized we were lacking in the weight training area, so we lifted huge slabs of rock to make sure our muscles didn’t go to mush.
We also enjoyed the scenery.
(Notice, this picture is also taken on top of a large hill)
I really liked the Imperial Palace not only because it was beautiful but because back in the olden days my great grandparents used to come to the castle to entertain the Tokugawa Shogunate. My mom comes from a samurai family so they frequented the castle. Some of it is burned down but it was still fun to imagine my great-grandmother walking around in her kimono and unruly wavy hair (probably where I get mine from) where I was walking. A girl can dream…
We then walked to Ginza, which is like the Fifth Avenue of New York. I dragged Mike to Lladro to see if they had anything different from the New York Store. I wanted to show him the beautiful nativity set my mom has but unfortunately they didn’t stock any Christmas things for obvious reasons. We were slightly exhausted and I was getting pretty hangry so we went to the top floor of a department store for some eats.
In Japan, every department store has restaurants on the top floor and sell gourmet carry out food items in the basement. While we were in Kyoto, we would sometimes go to Daimaru (or whichever store it was) and eat samples all the time. We were sorely disappointed to find lack of samples during our trips. Gone are the days when poor students can fill up in department store basements. (Collective sigh, I know)
Anyhow, we ended up at a tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurant and I ordered the “health” special, which was the fried pork with tons of daikon and scallions. I poured ponzu sauce on it, I believe. I guess the “health” part is that you don’t drown it in tonkatsu sauce? Unclear.
As you can see, I was very unhappy that I couldn’t put tonkatsu sauce on my tonkatsu so I instead drowned my shredded cabbage in it. The waitress asked us if we wanted healthy barley rice but we were having none of that. Puh-leaze.
I also took a picture of the toilet area afterwards because I think that’s what foreigners are supposed to do.
It’s like a spaceship. My hotel bathroom toilet was similar. I won’t get into details because this is not dinner conversation, but there are some “amenities” that I will just never get into, if you know what I mean…
Afterwards, we went to the basement to pay (another sigh) for snacks. Mike and I both got savory breads.
And I also got this guy:
It had custard on the inside, which did NOT agree with me, but it was so worth it. It’s also honey flavored, hence the bear shape.
The next day, I went out to the suburbs to visit my mom’s family. Unfortunately, the only picture I took was this:
My grandmother is an amazing baker. My uncle owns a coffee shop and my grandmother used to bake for the store (THAT’S HOW GOOD SHE WAS). My uncle is a brilliant man who is always hungry for new information and learning. In fact, when I was visiting, we took a walk around this traditional soba factory/restaurant and he went right up to the man who was picking rocks out of a barley basket and asked what he was doing. I thought this was hilarious because it’s so something my mom would do. When we were at the farmer’s market recently, there was a woman buying a huge amount of mushrooms and my mom just went right up to her and asked her what she was making.
So back to my uncle… When he was younger, he dropped out of college, which was a huge shock for my mom’s family, who place a lot of emphasis on education. My grandfather was another brilliant man who taught, my younger uncle teaches, and all three siblings grew up around students and scholars who flocked to their home to have conversations with my grandfather. Anyway, so my uncle drops out of college and starts a coffee shop that encourages younger people to learn about the world. My mom was an international flight attendant and she would often lecture at the coffee shop and tell customers about her travels and what she learned. My uncle regularly invited other lecturers who taught about different subjects. He may not be a traditional teacher and scholar, but he certainly is in other ways.
In any case, my siblings and I all have very vivid memories of my grandmother’s chocolate cake. Unfortunately, she’s not baking anymore since she has Alzheimers but if you mention “obaachan’s (grandma’s) chocolate cake”, we all get the taste in our mouths. I remember being younger and sitting at the table while she chiseled away at this huge block of chocolate to melt for the cake and being in awe. I used to not understand that the block of chocolate was not actually sweet and was always frustrated I couldn’t just face plant into the block of chocolate and eat my way through to the other side.
My aunt has been trying to get the recipe perfected so she cut me a huge slice to try. Delicious!
If there was any doubt as to me being related to my mom’s family (I was convinced for a good chunk of my life that I was adopted because I looked neither like my mom or my dad) this trip really confirmed my origins. Why? Because they were CONSTANTLY feeding me. I mean, from the second I got there to the last minute before my train, I was eating. Love it. I ate curry bread, soba, cake, coffee, and sushi all within 5 hours. It’s a shame that I still get embarrassed about taking pictures of food because it was delicious sushi. We also ordered these HUGE oysters that I am still dreaming about, to this day.
Later on, I met Mike and we headed over to Roppongi to wander around and eat at an awesome izakaya with lots of character. This picture was taken of the Tokyo Tower in Roppongi Hills.
The exact moment I took this picture, we experienced an earthquake. And when I say “we experienced”, I mean, it happened but we were so oblivious that we didn’t realize it until they made an announcement two seconds later and we noticed light fixtures shaking. When I saw my dad’s family, they asked me if I was drunk when it happened, since I didn’t notice. I was not.
We ate at an izakaya in the neighborhood. I didn’t take pictures because I checked my coat and I realized later that my camera was in my pocket. It’s interesting because you really can’t smoke in most places, including sidewalks, in Japan, but then you’ll go to a restaurant that doesn’t have a no-smoking area. This was one of those places. But the food was so good and so perfect with an ice cold Japanese beer.
Japan also has vending machines everywhere, which I love. I particularly like the ones that sell hot beverages. Here is my favorite tea with a scarf on it, to show that it’s warm.
Sadly, it didn’t actually come with a scarf…
The following day, we went back to our old stomping grounds in Kyoto. We immediately went to Fushimi Inari shrine because I have always wanted to go there. Our study abroad class actually went on a field trip there but it was a few days after I tore my meniscus so I was advised not to go. It’s made up of all of these torii right next to each other. You can purchase them for a lot of money and write the name of whoever you’re memorializing. (is that the word?)
Naturally, it goes UP A MOUNTAIN.
Then we went to Mike’s favorite temple Kiyomizu-dera. This is one of my favorite areas because it has a lot of traditional shops and there are always lovely ladies in beautiful kimonos. And food samples.
You guessed it, you have to climb a huge hill to get there.
They have a spring that you can drink from and it’s supposed to give you a healthy life or something like that.
We then stopped to get ama-zake, which is a sweet sake.
The first time I had it was at kiyomizu-dera with my friends and it made me immensely happy to re-create that memory.
While walking back down the mountain, I spotted a cool pork bun stand that was calling my name.
It was slightly chilly out and this was the perfect snack.
They steam it right in front of you, which is fascinating. You really feel like you’re on a movie set because everything is so traditional and beautiful.
I’m going to be honest, folks. I consistently ate more than Mike, who is at least a foot taller than me. This should tell you something about my appetite. I also believe that there is no point in traveling to foreign countries unless you eat everything you can get your hands on.
We were pretty spent by the end of the day so after some marathon shopping, we stopped into Mos Burger, which is essentially a Japanese MacDonalds, but not as gross. We had both been craving it for some time so Mos Burger, it was.
I felt a little disgusted with myself immediately afterwards, but it was pretty delicious going down. We really couldn’t find a Mos Burger anywhere in Tokyo thus far, so since we knew where it was in Kyoto, we made a beeline for it. Of course, after traveling all the way to Kyoto for a Mos Burger, we found one down the street from our Tokyo hotel. And everywhere else.
We went back to Tokyo that evening and passed out in our hotel rooms. My siblings had recommended going to Ghibli Museum so we had a friend’s mom, who lives in Tokyo, buy us tickets in advance. It’s Hayao Miyazaki’s museum and it has a lot of his original sketches and a mock studio in there. They don’t let you take any pictures there so just use your imagination. Most of Miyazaki’s movies have been shown here in the US – Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo…etc.
We bought some stuff at a convenience store to eat en route:
Why are Japanese sandwiches SO GOOD???
It’s the bread, I think.
And these renkon mustard chips.
I LOVE renkon, which is a kind of root, but don’t really get to eat it here in the States. I guess it’s cuz they don’t really sell it here? These were dried renkon with a TON of spicy mustard on it. Delish.
I saw these baked donuts at the train station, so I indulged. The smell was overwhelming and I gravitated towards it like a moth to a flame.
I took a picture of it in case I can find it in New York. Probably not.
Are you still here? Amazing. Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
So I know I’ve been emphasizing lately that I have been REALLY poor and while that’s pretty much a norm in my life, it’s been more so the past few months because I was saving up for an epic trip to Japan for two weeks. My friend Mike and I literally just ate our way through Okinawa and Tokyo.
Now, let me tell you a little bit about my good friend Mike. I met him while we were studying abroad for a year in Kyoto. He was extremely quiet the first few days (which if you met him, can’t believe – I know) but after our first conversation, I knew he was going to be my buddy for life. He’s one of the most intelligent, FUNNIEST people I’ve ever met and after putting up with me for two weeks, I can tell you, he’s a PATIENT and kind man. Not that I didn’t know it before but this trip really confirmed it. He was up for anything and put up with me being HANGRY (that would be “so hungry I’m angry”) most of the time. He’s a saint, folks.
So this starts my three-part series of Japan eats. Feel free to just scroll through the pictures because I’m probably NOT going to be very pithy here.
After a slightly painful 13 hour flight to Tokyo from JFK (painful because I was awake the whole time and really restless), we had a three hour lay-over where the only sustenance we could find was onigiri, Japanese rice balls, and then another 2.5 hour flight to Naha, Okinawa. Okinawa is the cluster of the southernmost islands in Japan. It was its own country until Japan took it over so it really has a unique culture that has a lot of Chinese influence. We got to our hotel at around midnight and pretty much passed out. Here was our digs:
We rose early in the morning to go to the center of town where there’s a main road with an outdoor market and lots of fun stores and restaurants. After dropping off our bags at the ferry terminal (we were scheduled to depart Naha for a smaller island, Zamami, in the afternoon) we walked around to find Kokusai-dori, which is the street with all the fun stuff. On the way, we dropped into a small udon place. Everything on the menu looked good but when I saw our neighbors finishing up a HUGE breakfast with lots of stuff on it, I pointed to it and told the server whatever was on those plates needed to be in my stomach immediately.
Yes, that would be udon, rice, salmon, pickled vegetables, and a meat/Japanese pumpkin dish. And if you’re wondering if I ate it all, the answer is YES.
We walked around, shopped a bit, and kept seeing these little tarts everywhere.
It’s a tart with an Okinawa sweet potato that is purple on the outside. It was sweet, creamy, and delicious. Well done, potato!
Then we got on a ferry to Zamami. Ah, Zamami. The village of Zamami is about 4 city blocks by 7 city blocks and has about 3 restaurants on the whole island. Most of it is uninhabited because it’s very mountainous. We were thinking of renting bikes but the minshuku (bed and breakfast) owners told us that it was too hilly to bike and that we should either drive or walk around. So walk we did! We took a little path that ended up on a lovely lookout.
It was drizzly and overcast but still beautiful! We were thinking we were taking an evening stroll but it ended up being quite the strenuous 35 minute hike. We worked up an appetite so dropped into one of three restaurants.
In Okinawa, they make this tofu with peanuts (or was it sesame…) and it was DELICIOUS. We ordered that as an appetizer.
Forgive the unappetizing photo. I dug into it before I remembered to take a picture of it. Another Okinawa specialty is Chanpuru, which is basically a stir fry. The most traditional one comes with an Okinawa vegetable called Goya, which is like a bitter melon with a firmer texture, and eggs. Mike got that one so I snuck a bite. And yup, it’s bitter.
I got a vegetable chanpuru.
For dessert, we walked to the only store on the island and got some chocolate. You know me – I can’t end a meal without something sweet :)
The next day, we decided to go on a planned hike. The minshuku made us a DELICIOUS and HUGE breakfast consisting of that peanut tofu, SPAM, shredded cabbage, miso soup, rice, and yogurt. Again, if you’re wondering if I ate it all – ABSOLUTELY. Those island people really enjoy their spam. In fact, we both bought an onigiri to eat for lunch and couldn’t find one without Spam. You could get one with Spam and cheese and ketchup or Spam with eggs and soy sauce. I think I chose the one that was soy sauce flavored.
It was a long hike but not as steep as the one from the previous day. Here I am at the top:
Apparently you can sometimes see whales from there but we saw none, unfortunately.
Afterwards, we just kept walking all around the island until our feet were aching.
We started to get slightly bored since there was literally nothing to do on the island, however, we did accurately reflect that one day we were going to look back on the day and wish we were re-living it. We had another delicious dinner with grilled fish and Okinawa pork that went undocumented. Then we watched Japanese television until we thought it was an acceptable bedtime. I believe it was about 9:00 pm.
The next day, we had another great breakfast at the minshuku:
We took some pictures outside the minshuku:
And then boarded a ferry back to Naha. The island is so tiny, there are only three ferries that leave the island. A fast ferry (which we took) at 10am and at 4pm and a slow ferry at 3pm. However, if the waves are over 3 meters, the fast ferry gets cancelled and if it’s over 4 meters, the slow ferry gets cancelled. And how do you know if it’s cancelled? They announce it over a loudspeaker throughout the village – LOVE! Mike and I were checking the weather report the night before and found out the waves were supposed to be 3.5 meters the next morning. There was definitely a panicky moment when we thought we would get stuck on the island and miss our flight to Tokyo but in true Mike fashion, he very politely told me to CALM THE EFF DOWN. (Sorry for the profanity, Mom)
Thankfully, our ferry wasn’t cancelled (though the other two were) and we were headed back to Naha. The mom from the minshuku actually came by to see us off – it was so cute and heart-warming :) We went back to Kokusai-dori (surprise, surprise) to shop and eat one of those purple potatoes:
DE-licious! At some point we went to Shuri-jo, which is the castle in Naha. I feel like this would be a good time to tell you my secret for not gaining weight on vacation while eating your face off. It’s called “climb the highest point in a 1 mile radius. This was clearly evidenced on our Zamami excursion but it really started our first day in Naha. To get to the monorail from our hotel, we had to climb a RIDICULOUS hill just to get to the street. After zig-zagging our way to the street twice, we realized there was actually a hidden staircase that just went all the way up. Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos but picture a stone staircase that goes up about an eighth of a mile.
Then to get to Shuri-jo, we had to climb from our hotel to the castle and then there was more climbing.
We saw some more stairs to the side of the castle so instead of wondering why no one else was going up them, we climbed. Because that’s our thing. This is Mike wondering what going downhill would be like.
There was also a sign that said there were poisonous snacks on the stairs but the magnetic draw to get the highest point was just too strong.
Afterwards, we went back into town and finally sat down in a cute little café.
I had one of those potato tarts:
And Mike got this:
We explored Kokusai-dori again (there’s REALLY not that much to do in Naha when it’s March) and stumbled upon Fangorn forest.
In this little area, which was hidden from the street, they had a whole building that made traditional crafts like pottery, glass, and weaving stuffs. You can actually get an appointment to blow glass and try your hand at pottery if you like.
And then we decided to karaoke. We started the first half an hour singing Japanese tunes but by song number 6, we had exhausted our repertoire. Enter: Beyonce.
EPIC, I tell you. I’ve got video of Mike singing Single Ladies in a Johnny Cash voice.
The next day, we woke up and headed straight to the airport.
I got a donburi with tuna, ikura, egg, and tororo (which is a root) over rice.
I also ordered an iced coffee with the world’s tiniest straw.
We still hadn’t tried Okinawa’s sea grapes, which is just seaweed that looks like grapes and is described as green caviar, so Mike ordered it. Oh my gosh, SO GOOD. It kind of tastes like ikura (which is sitting on top) and is just plain delicious.
We then shopped in the airport for more gifts. Here’s why Japan is so great. They have samples of EVERYTHING in these cute little boxes.
I firmly believe that if there were more samples in the world, it would be a better place.
After snacking on different sweets and buying purple potato flavored kit kats, we headed to Tokyo!