We’ve had a busy, wonderful week! On Monday we went to Hiroo, our son’s old neighborhood, to pick up a loaf of tasty raisin bread and to get some yen at the New Sanno Hotel. We also went shopping at a Costco with our daughter-in-law on Friday, an interesting and fun experience; took care of our grandkids for a few hours and spent an afternoon with them at a park on Wednesday; went to see a puppet show our grandson was part of at his school (very fun!) on Thursday; and Brett spent yesterday afternoon watching our grandson skate and then C came over to our place and spent the night. And, of course we finally reached a decision on where to settle next December, a big relief for both of us. The insomnia is gone.
The trip to Costco on Friday was fascinating. Inside it looks much the same as a store does in the U.S. I was surprised by the number of U.S. products available, but most of the merchandise, around 70% or so, is still Japanese. Annual membership costs less than it does in the U.S., only around $41/year, and they also have a credit card that gives back rebates (there is no executive level membership). Prices were for the most part slightly higher than in the U.S. but low for Japan according to our DIL. M was especially thrilled by the number of organic products available. And, of course there was a food court, with prices about the same as in the U.S. – we had hot dogs before we left! My one disappointment was that their sample game was weak – I had hoped to try some interesting things but that didn’t happen. And, I still have no idea where people store the big packages they buy there. Perhaps much of what is bought is shared with friends and/or family, but otherwise I have no clue. Thankfully our son’s house has quite a bit of storage space for all that M bought, and maybe others who shop there do too.
What did we buy at Costco? I found the giant bag of mugi-cha tea bags that I was looking for, more than enough to get me through the summer back in the U.S. They will be divided up, repacked and tucked into both Brett and my suitcases when we go back to the U.S. We also bought organic bananas, big packages of blueberries and raspberries, a large bag of Australia-made granola, a bottle of red wine for Brett, a box of organic Medjool dates, a case of bottled water and a case of bottled (caffeine-free) rooibus tea. We also divided up a dozen of Costco’s huge muffins, a big package of dried prunes, and a box of wonderful goat’s milk soap bars with our DIL, and we bought our son a big bag of Cretor’s Chicago mix popcorn. The store was running a fabulous promotion on Nespresso machines, and Brett and I both said that if there had been a way to get it back to the U.S. we would have bought one.
A few cherry trees have started blooming, but the best is yet to come. Up until yesterday the weather had been warm, to the point that we didn’t even need sweaters and could leave the heating off in the apartment, but yesterday snow was falling parts of Tokyo! LOL – welcome spring!
This morning I am:
- Reading: I got a lot of reading done this past week. I finished A Rising Man, read The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz in just two days (I could not put it down!), and quickly read Super Cheap Tokyo by Matthew Baxter to see if I could learn of a few more fun and low-cost things for Brett and I to do while we’re here. I’m now reading Strength of What Remains by Tracy Kidder, the inspiring story of an immigrant to the United States.
- Listening to: Brett is reading, and C is playing games on my phone and talking back to phone, or singing or asking me questions. In other words, a typical seven year-old boy,
- Watching: I started Ricky Gervais’ After Life, which is good, but haven’t gotten back to it for a few days because I’ve been reading so much.
- Cooking: Brett made Lucky Charms pancakes for our grandson this morning (plain ones for me, thank you), and tonight we’re going to have leftover spaghetti with marinara, so no real cooking for me today. All I know about the rest of the week is that tomorrow I’m going to make Caprese-style eggs for our dinner, and we’ll be having stir-fried pork with cabbage and chili shrimp for dinner on another day.
- Happy I accomplished last week: I don’t feel like I “accomplished” anything special this past week – I just did the things we set out to do. Nothing was big or special, but all of it was fun.
- Looking forward to next week: Meiling arrives on Thursday! Brett and I will get ourselves out to Narita to meet her and her boyfriend and get them back here and settled, and then on Friday morning Brett and I are going with M & M and the grands to Odawara for an overnight visit (Meiling will be fine on her own here – her boyfriend has visited Japan before and knows how to get around). On Sunday morning we’re all getting together for the fabulous Sunday brunch at the New Sanno Hotel to celebrate Brett and my 40th anniversary, and then we’ll visit the Meiji Shrine and Harajuku with Meiling and K. Brett and I are going over to the Imperial Palace on Tuesday (weather permitting) to walk the path around the palace and to check out the cherry blossoms.
- Thinking of good things that happened: The whole week was just a nice one, with lots of time spent with family but also enough time on our own to relax and read and get things done here in the apartment (there is always laundry to do every few days). We finally got around to picking up some takoyaki (octopus balls) from the corner shop – they were delicious and affordable, and the shop is close enough that the takoyaki were still hot when we got it home. WenYu messaged to let us know she had been visiting Israel for a few days – they had a long weekend and a classmate was going and asked WenYu to go along with her.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: We did not spend a whole lot of money this week and even with our Costco shopping we are still under our daily budget. The only extras we bought this week were some special cherry blossom cookies in Hiroo and the takoyaki. We were tempted to buy a whole lot more at Costco but we didn’t. We have also been doing a good job of eating up our leftovers, and making sure food in the fridge gets eaten on time so nothing gets thrown out.
- Grateful for: I am thankful that we will be in Japan this year for the cherry blossoms because we just missed seeing them on our last two visits. Also, Meiling will get to see them as well. She is the last of our children to come to Japan, so I’m hoping this is one of the things that will help make the trip extra special for her.
- Japanese word of the week: Gokigen ikaga desu ka? ご機嫌いかがですか Well, that’s more than one word, but the phrase I learned this week is how you say how are you? to someone of higher status (which is something I totally don’t understand how to judge). I’ve always said Ogenki desu ka? お元気ですか and thought that was polite, but learned this past week that’s what you say with someone you see regularly (because if you’re very familiar, as with a family member or close friend, all you have to ask is Genki?). Having to always figure out you position in relation to someone else and then choosing the right language is one of the biggest reasons Japanese is so difficult for English speakers.
While I was reading Super Cheap Tokyo, I found myself thinking again and again, I’ve already done this or I’ve been there. It was amazing to me to see how much I have done and seen over the years in Tokyo and the surrounding area. Our visit this time though is all about getting a feel for what it would be like if we could live here versus us doing a lot of sightseeing, so while it’s still fun for us to go out and do things, we don’t have an urge to see or do everything – daily life here is interesting enough. However, I did find a couple of cool things in the book that I didn’t know about and want to check out – one is going to be a mystery outing for Brett!
I won’t be posting again until next Monday as we’ll be out and about all day Sunday. In the meantime, I hope you had a great week, and that plenty of good things happened for you!