Friday, May 20, 2011

Food Fun Friday- Hanaya Yohei

I have been meaning to post about Hanaya Yohei for ummm- since last October?  Better late than never I suppose?
Hanaya Yohei's website  (sorry the link function isn't working properly)

Hanaya Yohei is described a family style sushi and Japanese food restaurant.  It is a chain restaurant, and can be found everywhere.  The atmosphere is like Coco's in the US, very family friendly with large booths and no frills.  the first time the kids and I went was when we first got here.  It was a challenge to order our food and we were afraid to push the button on our table to ask for more water.  I think I have mentioned it before- the waiters and waitresses in Japan will not bother you or ask you to take your order.  You have to summon them.  At first it seems like they are ignoring you if you are used to American style dining.  But then you realize it is NICE.  No one comes by to ask how your food is a million times- and every time you have a mouthful of food.  And no one rushes you out with your check and a meaningful look that says "please leave" so we can clear this table.  Here in Japan all of the places I have been to do not blink an eye if you sit around a chat for an hour after you have finished your food.  I am sure part of that is because Japanese people do a lot of family and friend get-togethers in restaurants.  Their houses are too small to host people, so they meet and socialize over meals.

Anyhoo-  the last time I visited Hanaya Yohei was with my good friends Jaime and Jason.  It was "Beer Garden Friday" and we usually liked to go eat before we headed to the beer garden.  The menu involves many different combos and it is difficult to choose.  There seem to be at least five different things in each selection on the menu.  The sushi is very good, and my favorite thing to eat there.  I did try fried octopus"fries" that night.  They are so delicious!  I would take them over french fries any day.

If you are willing to be adventurous and try things you have no idea what they are, this is a great place to go.  And if you like sushi, this is also a nice change of pace from a sushi go-round.

my meal- cold ramen noodles (I think it is called "somen" when cold?) and tempura.  Yumm!
fried pork or chicken cutlet
sushi- *nom nom*
chicken cutlets


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Life is Good!

We've been back in Japan almost 3 weeks now.  It almost feels the same as before except so many people and services here on base are missing. Yes I know we are all lucky to not have been in the path of destruction as seen on March 11th.  So I am not complaining so much as WISHING and HOPING.  There is a difference, yes?

Hubby is home and working one hellacious night shift.  But he is home nevertheless, even if we only see each other in passing.  I am just glad we are all in the same country once again.

I have resumed my workouts and I feel great.  I am down 15 pounds and have lost inches all over.  I actually tried on a couple of bathing suits today and didn't walk out in tears.  Like I told my bestie Jaime today- CrossFit is the shiznit!  I recommend it to everyone (especially certain roller-derby superstars to-be)!

To sum it all up, LIFE IS GOOD.  I am going to enjoy it all I can.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's good to be an American

I don't really really have anything to write today.  Instead I want to share a blog post from an old high school friend.  Alex is an amazing and inspiring person, and he has a way with words.  He has three prosthetic limbs- both arms and one leg.  He never feels sorry for himself and always exhibits the most positive attitude.  To top that off- he has a great sense of humor.  I look forward to his witty Facebook posts.

This blog post he wrote reminds me why it is good to be an American.

Read it here at Adventures of Being Alex.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

nothing like sleeping in one's own bed...

I am back home, and I am extremely happy to be here!  The trip back wasn't as long as the trip out, thank goodness.  The only snag I hit was when the airlines didn't want to let Brownie on the plane because her kennel was too big for their little puddle jumper we were about to board.  I argued that we flew in on a similar sized airplane (albeit a different airline).  They conceded and made an exception.  The night before i was panicked because it was supposed to be 24 degrees that morning- too cold for Brownie to fly.  So I was surprised about the size restriction.  If they hadn't let her board- I WOULD HAVE DIED.  Not to sound dramatic, but I really would have passed out on the floor right there.  It was so much work just to get her "safe for flight" so we could get her back into the country of Japan.

The first flight we flew to Denver- an hour long flight.  It was not so bad.  Luckily, we had an hour to find our next gate- because Denver is HUGE.  Our next gate felt like it was a mile away (which would fit the whole "mile high city" theme.  I think we got on at least 5 walking sidewalks.  The flight to Seattle was MISERABLE.  Brother sat in the middle and he proceeded to elbow me the entire flight.  It didn't help that we were in the back and everyone was lined up to use the bathroom.  The flight attendant kept squeezing by, which meant his butt swept my beverage tray each time.  Brother was getting irritated with Sister, and I was irritated with him.

In Seattle we had 3 hours to hang out before our flight to Tokyo.  By that time I literally wanted to  punch my son.  I know.  That sounds AWFUL.  But you have to understand we were all sleep deprived and Brother is not very fun when he has no sleep.  In fact, he usually does his best to make sure everyone else is as miserable as he.  He is pretty skillful at that unfortunately.  So he antagonized his sister every time he thought I wasn't looking.  Good thing we were in public.  I am just saying.

Being in SeaTac International Airport was bittersweet for us.  We have so many friends in the PNW (Pacific Northwest).  I wish we could have been able to see stay a day or two and see everyone.  So I just posted to Facebook that I was waving at everyone.

Changing planes when your dog is flying in the cargo hold is a bit on the terrifying side.  There are so many things that could go wrong- namely your dog could be put on the wrong plane and sent to Timbuktu.  And since we were flying a million miles to Japan, that makes it all the more complicated.  I mean, they lose luggage all of the time, right?  Before the plane takes off, an airline attendant is supposed to bring you a little slip of paper the baggage handlers filled out to let you know your dog is on board.  We watched her being loaded onto the first two flights, but forgot to look for her on the last.  I did verify that she was waiting to be loaded, but that was one hour before our boarding time.  Usually I will ask the attendants once I get on the plane to let me know if our dog was on board- if I didn't hear from them first.  On our last flight that day, I totally forgot.  That is, until the plane was taking off- and the attendants were all buckled down in their seats.  Talk about a moment of sheer panic.  And of course it was the LONGEST take off EVER.  Ever.

There is a happy ending of course- she was on board.  *big giant sigh of relief*

Brother fell asleep right away (he had an empty seat next to him), I enjoyed two small bottles of red wine, and  watched Gullivers Travels with Sissy.  It was an extremely long flight- but it was 100% better flying commercial than on the Patriot Express (military "airliner" we flew to Japan on when we first got here in 2009.)

The best part?- besides seeing my honey once again?  We didn't have to ride the "prison bus" home!  The base has a lovely tour bus they use to shuttle us back and forth to Narita airport.  They normally do not allow animals.  But with the evacuation- they decided to bend the rules (God Bless them for that.)  That meant they brought out the white "prison bus" to put our big dog kennel on.  They can't go underneath the bus, and they cannot be let loose on the bus.  So we had to set our kennel on the back seat.  The normal tour bus they use doesn't accomadate the big kennels, so they brought out the white buses that are used for shorter trips.  I was very appreciative of them for this, I really was.  But it was a cold and uncomfortable ride to the airport.  I was not looking forward to riding on it again (that and waiting an hour or so to even leave.)

My honey rented a van and picked us up.  That was the best present I have had all year.  And now we are all home again.  I didn't realize how MUCH I missed my home and missed Japan.  It is like being given a second chance, there is so much I want to do and see.  Now if I could just kick this jet lag in the butt, I can get started on that!

Lastly- here are a few random pictures I took on my iPhone of our trip there and back.  Mostly it is our trip TO the States.  They are totally out of order too, sorry...

"airplane food"- Sissy's lunch at one of the restaurants in Narita

Poor Brownie still locked up in her kennel at LAX- we were trying to find the dog park so we could let her out.

"Dog Park" at LAX- just what we needed!  Poor Brownie was so thirsty- she drank for days.  (She did have water in her kennel, in case you are wondering.)

"non-working" fire hydrant

They even provided poop bags.

riding to Narita on the "prison bus"

our good little traveler- just the beginning of our journey

inside view of bus

I was so happy to have one last Cherry Blossom Frappucino at Narita before we left!

Brother's hamburg lunch
Last one- a very tired and delirious little girl on the last plane to Narita.  Almost home!
Now I will get back to my spring cleaning- so good to be home!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Going home

I am going back to Japan!  I am very excited, but I still don't have tickets in my hot little hands.  Until I get those tickets I will be anxious.  Shoot!  I will still be anxious because I have to get Brownie's health certificate so the nation of Japan will let me doggie in!  And let me tell, when there is no military vet nearby, it is a PAIN IN THE BUTT!  

Basically I will be relying on a couple of overnight packages and paying lots of money out the nose.  I really was hoping to leave Brownie here with the in-laws, but they don't have dogs anymore and I think Brownie would be lonely without us. *sad face* 

 Taking a pet to Japan is no easy task!  Even though we have only been gone one month- we have to jump through all of these hoops.  Luckily, she already had her FAVN test (test for Rabies antibodies), and it is still valid (they expire after 2 years).  She has all of her shots, microchip, and FAVN test.  Now the vet must examine her, fill out the paperwork to be faxed to the USDA office for pre-approval.  Once they get that, we have to overnight the paperwork to USDA, and include a pre-paid overnight envelope to send the certificate back.  I just hope USDA works quickly.  I would have done all of this already- but.  But the certificate is good for 10 days.  Make that 9 days seeing that we will lose a day traveling to Japanland. Oh- I have to let Japan know I am bringing a dog to the country.  It is supposed to 40 days notice, but we are exempted this time around. :)

 I am not looking forward to the actual flight.  But I AM looking forward to seeing my honey again!!  It will all be worth it when I am in his arms again...

Cross your fingers I receive my itinerary tonight (morning for Japan)!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can I go home now?

We are on week three in Safe Haven land.  Now that the jet lag is gone and we got to see family, I am ready to go back.  Unfortunately, things don't seem much better in Nipponland.  They aren't WORSE, but not much better either.  I think things ARE better in Tokyo as they don't have so many rolling blackouts to put a stand still on everything.  But as far as the Nuclear reactor problem, they have made baby steps so far.  I know things will get better, I just need to be patient (take a cue from the Japanese.)
My in-law's pad is gorgeous- better than a hotel.  In area it is bigger than the 4-plex we live in on base.  But it is not my HOME.  Know what I mean?  I miss my bed, my things.  I miss being able to make a mess and being able to pick up after myself at my own leisure.  I miss running my own household.  Here I feel like I have worn out my welcome.  I know I haven't really, but you know how it is when you feel like you are "in the way?"  I have interrupted the "flow" here and I hate that.
So after feeling sorry for myself- I see this.  My heart is still breaking for Japan.  I want things to get better so I can return.  But more importantly- I want things to get better for the Japanese people who are suffering.  I am sure they aren't whining like me.  I am so grateful my family is well and safe.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

missed my blogiversary

I just realized that on April 1st, I had been blogging for 2 years.  Geez, it feels LONGER than that.  Happy belated blogiversary to me.

Looking back:
2 years ago I was trying to get TO Japan.  The No-Fee ASSport Passport people were making me jump through hoops to prove I wasn't born in Mexico.

2 WEEKS ago I was trying to get OUT of Japan.

2 years ago I was missing my sailor terribly- knowing I wouldn't see him for another 5 months.

Today I am missing my sailor, not knowing WHEN or WHERE I will see him next.

2 years ago my kids were both in elementary school.

Today my son started middle school. (He was still in elementary school when we were in Japan.  Here in Colorado 6th grade is MIDDLE SCHOOL).

2 years ago I thought GETTING TO JAPAN was the hard part.

Today my heart aches because I had to leave.

2 years ago I was determined to learn Japanese.

Today all I can do is order food.

2 years ago the only foreign countries I have been to were Mexico and Canada.

2 years later I have added Japan and Singapore to that list.  I was hoping for more than that- but I am grateful nevertheless.

2 years ago I didn't think I will be able to keep up a blog.

Well, here I still am!  I haven't been the most consistent blogger.  I know some of what I post is pure dribble and a snoozefest.  But I do have some good memories here.  If nothing else- I have my Food Fun Friday posts to look back on.

One of my favorite pictures as of late:

This isn't really related to my blog post.  But this picture just tears me up.  It is a Japanese man hugging one of the Helo guys (I believe it is HS-4) who came out with relief supplies for the tsunami victims.

I hope that on my next blogiversary I will be able to report that all is well in Japan again.  Ganbate Kudasai!