The flight over was long, but comfortable – we were all very happy we had upgraded to the premium economy level. Brett said it felt like there was almost too much legroom! We were fed well, including a mid-flight snack of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – that was a first. Delta provided a large selection of movies to choose from, and I was able to see La La Land (meh), Manchester By the Sea (excellent), and Florence Foster Jenkins (very enjoyable and fun) as well as fit in a short nap. Clearing immigration and customs was easy once we arrived at Narita, and our son and grandson were waiting for us when we came out. After that it was a short walk to catch the express train into Tokyo, with the ride to our station just slightly over an hour.
We took taxis from the station over to the New Sanno and got checked in, then unpacked all the gifts out of our suitcases and got them into the appropriate gift bags and headed over to our son’s condo to meet our granddaughter and have a celebratory dinner of sushi and some other goodies. At that point Brett, YaYu and I though were about to drop dead – we had been up for nearly 22 hours! Our room is very comfortable, and we all had a good night’s sleep.
Our new granddaughter is a delight! She’s a very happy and easy-going baby, and lets each of us pick her up and hold her without any fussing. Our grandson is a bundle of energy and a load of fun to be around. He’s a fantastic big brother too – very loving and tender with his little sister.
We had an enjoyable, and relaxing day today beginning with breakfast at the hotel followed by a walk to a nearby supermarket and bakery to purchase breakfast items we can have in the room starting tomorrow. Then we headed over to our son’s and all of us went to the train-themed curry restaurant for lunch. It’s a small place that seats only around 15 people maximum, with the whole place covered in Japanese train and station memorabilia. Meals are delivered to the table via a large model train that runs around the restaurant! The owner and chef came out after we had finished and talked with Brett (who loves trains), and told him about many of the pieces he had collected over the years while our son translated. Then it was back to the hotel with our son and grandson for a swim followed by dinner at the hotel restaurant. Brett and YaYu have collapsed, but here I am wide awake!
This evening I am:
- Reading: I brought along my Kindle but have not had time yet to start A Man Called Ove. Maybe tomorrow.
- Listening to: The room is perfectly quiet – both Brett and YaYu are sleeping.
- Watching: Nothing so far, although I want to check out Japanese TV while we’re here to see if I can understand any of it. One thing that’s quite different these days from when we lived here is that every U.S. cable channel is available for the military. Back then we had just one English channel (Far East Network) which mostly carried old or dated shows and loads of public service announcements.
- Eating: We had American breakfasts in the hotel this morning – very good, very filling and very reasonable. Then lunch at the curry restaurant, and dinner again with our son and grandson at the hotel following their swim. Tomorrow we’re hoping to eat either tonkatsu (pork cutlet) or ramen while we’re out.
- Happy I accomplished this last week: We’re in Japan!
- Looking forward to next week: Tomorrow and the day after we’re babysitting our grandchildren, and tomorrow after we’re done Brett, YaYu and I plan to go to the Ginza to check out Ito-ya, a very old and famous paper store with 12 stories of all things related to paper, including one whole floor dedicated to pens and pencils. We’ll also hopefully have a chance to check out the Tokyo Kabuki theater, which is nearby. As for the rest of the week, we’re just going to play it by ear.
- Thinking of good things that happened: The KitKat hunt is off to a good start! The small Navy Exchange in the hotel now carries KitKats, and we were able to get four different flavors, including a new one: sake, which contains real alcohol. Although I’ve been feeling like I haven’t been getting all that much from my Japanese lessons with Rosetta Stone, I’m surprised by how much I can understand now that I’m here, and how much I can read. I’m still incapable of putting a sentence together though. And, it turns out I don’t need to buy a pre-paid SIM card for my phone here. Our very affordable phone plan in the U.S. turned out to include free data and texting in Japan, and reasonable prices if we decide to call while we’re in country (which we would do only in case of emergency). $$ saved!
- Grateful for: We’re all so thankful (and fortunate) our son speaks Japanese – in just the time we’ve been here he’s been hugely helpful making sure we understand what’s going on, that we buy the right ticket, that taxi drivers get us to the right place and so forth. And, we have the most wonderful daughter-in-law in the world. I’m not sure what we did to deserve her.
- It’s so Japanese-y: I love Japanese sweets even though they’re not very sweet by American standards. Today my daughter-in-law stopped at a wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) shop on our way back to the station from the curry restaurant, and bought me a sakura mochi, my all-time favorite, made of sweet beans inside a thin layer of mochi, and then wrapped in a pickled cherry tree leaf. The briny leaf perfectly compliments the sweet mochi and bean filling. Sakura mochi is only available for a short time every year, around cherry blossom season which is coming up soon. Brett got an ohagi: a layer of sweet beens over a mochi filling.
That’s it for this Sunday from Japan. How was your week? What have you been doing? What good things happened for you?