Sunday Evening 3/19/2017

We had a nearly 4-hour layover in Honolulu before heading to Japan.

We’re here!

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 sweet baby girl!

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!

The Niagara curry restaurant sports loads of train memorabilia inside and out. Our grandson is checking out a vending machine in front that sells miniature train cars. (Yes, grandma bought him one.)

Menu choices are posted on a board outside the restaurant. In the upper left corner is the kid’s meal – it arrives on a train plate. Inside the restaurant, you actually order using a trai ticket machine!

The seats for each booth are from old trains, with the original blue velvet upholstery. Track can be seen on the ledge beside the table – a model trains delivers each dish from the kitchen to your table – fun!

An employee of the restaurant makes balloon sculptures for children because usually everyone has to wait for a table. He made our grandson Super Mario this time.

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.

    I had vegetable curry with green pepper, carrots, eggplant, and kabocha pumpkin – so delicious!

  • 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.

    Three of our favorite KitKat flavors: Rum raisin, wasabi, and strawberry cheesecake. We’ve already found a new flavor this trip: sake!

  • 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.

    Two treats: ohagi and sakura mochi. The ohagi looks black, but the sweet beans are actually a very deep purple.

  • 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?

22 thoughts on “Sunday Evening 3/19/2017

  1. Janette says:

    Thank you for blogging! I am glad the Rossetta Stone has helped a bit.
    Your Grandchildren are beautiful!
    Happy Family time!

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  2. Laurel says:

    I love everything about this! That baby…so sweet! And the train restaurant. My grandson would be crazy about it…he loves trains! Your grandson is also adorable…that balloon is impressive! The food sounds amazing and I love all the details and pictures. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

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  3. Tamara Reddy says:

    So much fun to read this! Japan is on our list of places to visit in the next couple of years for sure. We hosted Japanese students for 10 summers in a row when our girls were growing up, and it was a wonderful experience for all of us. I’ve had a soft spot for Japan ever since.

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    • Laura says:

      I first came to Japan when I was 18, and I’ve been in love with the country ever since. You should try to get over here – I guarantee you will love it!

      Like

  4. Jennifer Eldredge says:

    You time in Japan sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing as I have had a travel bug lately so I really enjoyed reading about your adventures. Your grand kids are sooooo darling.

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  5. JJ says:

    I think we were at the Honolulu airport at the same time. I’m back home now and recovering from jet lag. Had a great time. The weather was sunny and warm the whole time. We didn’t see any whales, unfortunately, but maybe next time. I also watched Manchester by the Sea on the plane, but was having trouble hearing it so I found the ending confusing because I felt like the movie didn’t really go anywhere in the two hours, but maybe I missed something along the way. Anyway, glad you’re enjoying Japan and your time with your family. Your grandkids are so cute!

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    • Laura says:

      We were at the Honolulu airport for nearly 4 hours! The only flight from Lihue where we could use our FF miles was before 7:00 a.m. and our flight to Japan didn’t depart until 11:30. Too bad we couldn’t get together!

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  6. Vivian Gibson says:

    I’m amazed that you are able to read any Japanese. Have your husband or daughter studied the language?
    The train restaurant sounds like a lot of fun. Hope you continue to have a good time.

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    • Laura says:

      What I can read is about !/5000 of what I would need to know to understand anything. It all feels like a secret code that I can barely understand. We’re very lucky that our son is so fluent.

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    • Laura says:

      One of the things I love most about being in Japan, is that every time we step out it’s an adventure. It never gets boring here – even something as simple as the walk from our hotel to our son’s condo provides plenty to look at and think about.

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  7. Cindy k. says:

    Glad you are finally there! Can’t wait to hear more about it. You always do such a great job painting a picture with your words. Have fun!

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  8. Rowena says:

    Yessss! You got the KitKats! I was so looking forward to seeing some when I noticed this post in my reader. I don’t know how you’ll be able to find time to read while there…everything is looking like so much fun.

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    • Laura says:

      Yes! We haven’t had much luck finding more, although we visited a KitKat “Chocolatory” yesterday and found a few more unique flavors (although at a price). At this point we plan to wait to buy more at Narita airport right before we depart.

      Like

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