February 8, 2008

We've Got Sea Shipment!

When we left for Japan, we sent a bunch of stuff by air that we wanted immediately (clothes, some toys, and books, etc.). But most of our toys and games, outdoorsy things, as well as food and toiletry items, we sent by sea. The slow boat to Japan arrived a few days ago, cleared customs, and our things were delivered this morning. It was actually pretty exciting, since we had forgotten exactly what we had sent. The toy and game highlights include Jacob and Lauren's scooters, Mike and Jacob's baseball mitts, frisbeers, soccer balls, footballs, play doh, puzzles, more books, and board games. The real highlight, however, was the food - protein bars, Bisquick, maple syrup and honey, peanut butter, dried fruit and nuts, our favorite cereals, Quaker oats, and Nutrigrain bars. (We did a monster Trader Joe's and Costco shop before we left!). As great as Japanese food is, its nice to have these back-home staple items around the house.

A couple observations:

  • Banking in Japan is so different than back home, because of the lack of personal checks. We already wrote about paying bills at convenience stores. You can also pay for large items (for example, the airline tickets that we just purchased for our March trip to Thailand!) by bank transfer, which you can do through ATMs. The ATMs also will automatically update your bank passbooks. You just shove it into the machine and it updates the transactions and balance.
  • We need to work on our slurping skills. Slurping noodles (with gusto!) is very big here. Mike had lunch at a Donburi place and his neighbors at the barstools around him put him to shame with their loud slurping of the accompanying udon noodles.
  • Stationary is HUGE here. Mike went into a stationary store near work to buy some small gifts for the kids (a Friday tradition). It was pretty amazing. They have every conceivable type of paper and writing implements, decorations, stickers, trinkets. The fascination with stationary and the level of detail is hard to describe.
Daily food entry: Yesterday, Mike's work through him a welcome party in a private room at a traditional Japanese multi-course kaiseki restaurant. It was a great time and the food was amazing - course after course of food, including a spicy hot-pot stew (nabe), seriously delicious sashimi, and various types of fish and meat dishes.

Meanwhile, Jacob and Lauren are making fast friends. Here are some pictures of Jacob and Lauren with Jacob's classmate and new best buddy Jae Won, and her sister Su Yeong. They are from Korea, and Ilena and the kids have been having a good time with Jae Won and her family. At the last play-date, Jae Won dressed Lauren in one of her traditional Korean dresses, called a hanbok.

Finally, some funny pictures to leave you with. Valentines Day is coming up. But get this, in Japan all the women buy the men chocolates! (Then, a month later, there is another holiday called White Day, on which the men buy even more expensive chocolate for the women. Some insist, this tradition is just a ploy to sell more chocolate, but whatever the reason, it is interesting.). So we hope that on February 14 everyone at home has a "heartful valentines!"

This is another favorite, a puzzling sign on a store near Mike's work: "Every Life, Every Fun!"

Finally, being here has increased by tenfold the awe with which we behold the World Wide Web (aka the Internet). It truly is amazing that we can plan and book a trip to Thailand, explore foreign cities and countries in detail, all while watching the Super Bowl on our couch! It is equally amazing that any interesting Japanese word or custom that we want to share on this blog can be typed into Google or found on Wikipedia within seconds. Thank you Al Gore!


Penny said...

You guys are great and your blog is absoltely fabulous!! I read it first thing each day and allow myself to be transported to Japan. I love to live vicariously through others!! You seem to be making your life there both fascinating and mundane all at once. Keep up the good blogging!

Penny G.

Robin said...

Chocolates for White Day?! From my days at TCO, White Day was all about the jewelry.

It sounds like you guys are having a wonderful time.

We miss you.


jmgesq said...

I always knew I thought the world about Al Gore....but I never realized that he would be responsible for my laughing so loud!

So...do tell more about the Thailand plan!