Sake to me Baby – Japan Day One

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It was so emotionally hard to leave Canada.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to family even though we know we will be back.

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We got into Vancouver quite early and had about five hours to kill before our next leg to Tokyo.

I had to share this pic that I took from the first leg of our flight. Yeah, that jacket shouldn’t be a problem to anyone at all shouldn’t it?

Luckily one of the cabin crew told her to take it down a  short while later.

We had a pretty good flight – no complaints. Got a great breakfast at Vancouver Airport. So good I had to share pics.

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Oh and the airport itself is huge and has lots to look at including these colourful fishies.
We should know, we’ve spent over ten hours  at Vancouver airport in the last few weeks.

 


I don’t think it really hit me that we were flying into Japan until we touched down! I hadn’t even really been thinking about this portion of our vacation time.

IMG_0396I was going through the Japanese phrases I know and I’m completely fluent in Hello, thank you, excuse me AND water. If the situation I’m in calls for more conversation than that, I may be in trouble.

The train trip from Narita airport took just over an hour.

The man sitting next to me must have had some sort of OCD as he was always opening and closing his luggage.

I saw tons of things I could have photographed while we were on the train but I felt like it could have stressed the OCD man out so I didn’t take many.

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I did manage to snap one of their well designed “stack em on top of each other” type car parks.

It’s pretty common here seeing as they’re space poor.

We found our apartment very easily and went straight on in. It’s very hard to describe it. Its certainly one of the roomiest (in terms of floor space) we’ve had in our many trips here but also one of the oldest.  As space is always an issue, we’re used to things being tight and awkward but this one definitely wins the prize. Although it’s roomy, the appliances are all shoved awkwardly into one small space.
I don’t want to say anything negative. It’s certainly clean. And some people don’t mind not shutting the bathroom door so if there’s not enough room for you to sit on the throne AND shut the door at the same time, it’s not a big deal is it? Hubby and I like to keep a little mystery in our marriage so we’re definitely going to have to work out a system there.

First thing to do was go shopping for some basics. As soon as I entered the supermarket I saw this.

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I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing.

We had to get milk as well. I’ve explained before how difficult it is because although we have that fab vocabulary of four words, we don’t read Japanese. So how do we know we’ve bought regular milk for coffee?? Is it Soy? Skim? Almond? We just wanted regular milk! I haven’t tried it yet so hopefully what we bought is ok.

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And speaking about buying things I have no clue about, I bought this drink (bottom left) because it was zero calories. I don’t know what it tastes like and I say that AFTER I’ve had some.
Have I told you before how difficult it is to buy diet lemonade here?? So this will have to do.

We didn’t buy sugar because finding it seemed to be an issue again and we were too tired to keep trying. Looks like we’ll be having sugarless coffees in our apartment.

We also bought our regular Milk Tea because, well, we are in Japan.

 


I’m pretty sure I’ve been up over 24 hours now so it’s time for this tired girl to get some shut eye.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned that this apartment, bigger floor space than most, doesn’t have one double bed, it has two beds that are slightly smaller than a double. So instead of putting a nice sized bed in the bedroom and allow for food traffic, somewhere to put your luggage etc, they took up the whole floor area with two beds. Hubby (all six foot seven of him) and I are going to try to sleep in one bed. This can only end badly!!!

So Sumimasen if I say Konichiwa.  By the way, do you know where I can get some mizu? Arigatō (gozaimasu)

 

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Turning Japanese – Part Two

Everything is new for us right now. I’d love to be able to claim that I’m food adventurous but I’m probably not.

Hubby and I spent a good hour at least, walking the streets of Narita, looking for a place to have dinner.
It should be easy right? Lots of places look interesting..
Lots of restaurants look full but they’re small restaurants so put 16 people in there and they’re crammed!
Other restaurants didn’t have many people in there but then you have to think, “why aren’t people in there?”
So we walked… and walked… and walked…. and finally our choice was either to pick up some sandwiches from the seven eleven or try this one last place that had both Japanese and a couple of Western food options.

The other thing that’s confusing us slightly is the money. We’re never quite sure exactly what we’re paying for things…
In any case we ended up going into this last resort place.

The menu was up on the footpath but to get to the restaurant you had to go down a set of dark dingy stairs. We had no idea what was going to be at the end of that stairwell…
As we were going down we heard a bell.  The bell is to alert the staff that people are coming down.

When we got into the restaurant it looked more Western than any of the others we’d seen and that made us feel comfortable.
A non english speaking waitress brought us to a table and gave us a couple of menus.

FullSizeRender-1There were about eight pages of food, all in Japanese.

We kept looking and looking, trying to decide what we were actually going to order.

We were going to see if the waitress, even with her limited English, would be able to help but but she never came back.

Finally, after some time, another waiter came to our table and gave us some English menus!! Oh thank god!!!
So we looked through there and picked some dishes with more confidence, including “pizza” (which ended up being sooooo delicious!!) It was quite some time again until he came back however when he did, he showed us an item on the table that said “press to order”. It was a bell to alert the Waiter that you wanted to order. Arrggghhh would have been nice if we’d known that!

But more interesting than that was how this place worked. Hubby and I ordered four things to share but what the other tables were doing, were ordering one dish at a time, calling the wait staff after each dish to order their next one. It was quite interesting to watch.
The people at the table next to us had a tag each so when they ordered, the wait staff put their order against their tag, therefore they would all get a separate bill.

Speaking of the English menu, it was quite lucky we had that as I would have hated to have ordered the item below by mistake…
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I’m not sure if my nervousness to eat is just that we’re in Narita (a relatively smaller place) or if it’s going to be the same in Tokyo… I’ve not even been here twenty four hours and I’m craving Western food.

We’re in Tokyo tomorrow so time will tell!

 

I’ll leave you with a pic of some of the English menu…

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Turning Japanese I really think so…

Today on the Dining Diaries….. Something very much different!

Hubby and I were lucky enough to spend a bit of time in Japan lately and not being familiar with Japanese food, I didn’t feel comfortable reviewing the way I normally would. What I’ve done instead, is give you little updates along the way so you can experience a little as we are.

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We were in Narita and if you’re familiar with the walk to the Narita temple, you’ll know that it’s filled with many touristy shops that have different and amazing items.
There’s also many restaurants but hubby felt they were charging “tourist” prices so we ended up getting our first meal in Japan at a place off the train station.

We walked in like a couple of novices. The menu was clearly illustrated so we knew what we were getting but we didn’t know about the ordering process.
And I thought McDonalds did it first….
What they had, and perhaps many places have, is a self service board.
Like a vending machine, you tap the item you want, put your money in (cash only) and the machine spits out a ticket.
You then take this ticket to the counter and the lovely ladies behind the counter whip up something magical for you.

Luckily the Japanese are very polite and a patient lady who spoke three words of English took us almost by the hand and guided us step by step through this process.

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Now everyone has said we MUST have Ramen noodles… unfortunately these were not Ramen but they were nice! I wish I could remember exactly what it was.

I was more excited that I was able to use the chopsticks at a four year old level. I’ve been told there are some “kid” ones that you can get that teach you how to use them. I’ll have to look out for those.

The rice on the left was nice, however I could have done without the seaweed (I’m assuming that’s what it was) on top and the huge dollop of horse radish that wanted to make me spew with every bite.

I have to say that everyone we have spoken to here could not be more polite.

Even though the food scares me ( I don’t know what half of it is) and communication is difficult ( shop signs, street signs, trying to talk to a vendor – it’s all difficult) I think I’m starting to fall in love with this place!