January 17, 2008

Another Pictureless Blog Entry

So now that we've begun settling into our new digs on Rokko Island, we can begin to share a little bit with you about our initial impressions of the area. We left our hotel on Monday and experienced a remarkably smooth move-in to our apartment. Between getting our air shipment delivered and unpacked and having a truckload of rental furniture schlepped up into our new place, we actually managed to head out for a little tour of the island, get Japanese cell phones and dine on traditional Teishoku (set meal/combination with miso soup, rice and main dish).

Daily life in Japan is very different than in the US. Mike has been heading off to Osaka (by way of three trains - but still much better than the commute into Manhattan) every morning, leaving Ilena and the kids to figure things out on the home front. Ilena and the rice cooker have become very well acquainted. Shopping for groceries is a daily event, as very few people drive cars here and most people take their bag or two home with them by bicycle. Since Ilena and the kids have neither (yet), they have been checking out all the stores one by one and are doing their best to choose wisely. There are three nice grocery stores very nearby.

It's sometimes VERY hard to figure out exactly what things are, since we don't know how to read Kanji, Katakana, or Hiragana (the 3 Japanese character sets). Yesterday, Ilena came home with something that the kids called "hot dogs" - but didn't taste like it. Mike took the package into work with him today and the mystery "dogs" were identified as a type of sausage made from fish meat - typically heated and eaten, mainly by children. Lauren seemed to have no problem taking a bite of it right out of the package (it wasn't clear whether it was intended to be cooked or not, another problem with not knowing how to read!)... ah, the innocence of children. Today, while shopping, the kids chose a package of, what they thought were meatballs. Turns out (upon throwing them in a saute pan) that they are actually octopus balls, a delicacy which we have already become acquainted with and intended not to revisit.

While we've had some culinary adventures/mishaps, we've been getting amazingly fresh fish every night to cook in our fish broiler, a tiny little device inserted beneath the cooktop. We can't figure out how we ever survived without a rice cooker and highly recommend that you all purchase one. The kids have been very brave and keep trying new things. We did manage to snag a small jar of peanut butter (for about 500 yen - roughly $5.00) so that we could remind them of home a little bit.

We've been busy sprucing up the apartment courtesy of the 100 Yen store and the kids have been hanging all of their colorings/drawings on the walls too. We have a playground directly across the street from our apartment building where Jacob is begging to go hang after the big kids get out of school. He has been making friends playing rugby, soccer and even showed them a thing or two with his frisbee today. One of the kids even gave Jacob and Lauren a snack bag of traditional Japanese rice crackers (which ended up in Ilena's pocket, since they're not quite fans yet).

Another terrific resource right here on Rokko Island has been CHIC Kobe, which has classes and community events intended for expats like ourselves. Ilena signed up for a Japanese supermarket tour and Jacob is signed up for a Yoga class. Ilena and the kids visited their school - the Canadian Academy - today to drop off some forms; it really looks terrific! They start school a week from Monday.

This weekend we intend on exploring Kobe a little bit and perhaps buying some bikes. We'll post a bunch more pictures when we get a chance. Nice to be reconnected! Keep those comments coming...


Totalb said...

Howdy, Kasdans! Doing some work avoidance, er, catching up on your activities, and am duly impressed with all you've done and accomplished. So proud of your gumption and get-up-and-gotion.

We'll miss you in Vermont this weekend. Perhaps I'll remember to bring the camera and take some actual snaps so you can have a little of us with you.

By the way, I wish I could make friends as easily as Jacob does. And let Lauren know I'm not fond of rice crackers either.

Love to you all. I can't bring myself to say Go Giants! but I don't wish them ill either.

Beth S

Melissa said...

I'm sensing a theme with the octopus and other fearsome sea-creature eating... you are braver souls than I!

LOVE the blog - please keep the posts coming!

oh, and I like Japanese rice crackers. even those funny shrimp ones that look like crinkle-fries.


Lisa said...

Since i'm addicted to rice...i have loved my rice cooker for about a year now! I make the best sushi rice! Love you all!

MattO said...

It is amazing how quickly you guys have adjusted...I'm so impressed. Supermarkets, bikes, peanut butter...you guys are braving the new life very well. Speaking of the new friends Jacob is making...how about you guys? Have you met any other couples about your age or with 2 little ones? How is the job working out? I am looking forward to home prepared sushi for my visit with your new rice cooker. Miss you guys!

Sanjay said...

What a great adventure :-) Been really enjoying the postings and the pictures. Looks like the kids are adjusting really well. I remember moving around a lot internationally as a kid and enjoying every minute of it :-)