This past week went nothing at all like we thought it would. Our son and family all came down with a stomach virus beginning last Sunday. It started with the grandkids, so they were home from school for a couple of days meaning no school pick-ups for us. Then the virus hit our son and DIL hard on Tuesday night, so we went over and got the grandkids on Wednesday, took them out to lunch and spent a couple of hours in the park with them before taking them back home and helping them play quietly until their parents woke up and were functional again.
The weather was pretty crazy this past week as well. On Monday, when we headed over to the New Sanno Hotel and the National Azabu Market, the weather was very cold and overcast, and it felt like it would start snowing at any moment. But rain showed up instead in the evening, and on Tuesday it rained. All. Day. Long. Seriously – it never stopped for even one moment. We stayed indoors and read and stayed dry and warm. But on Wednesday we woke up to bright sunshine, blue skies and temperatures more normal for April than January. Thursday and Friday were also very nice, but nowhere as warm as Wednesday; in fact, by Friday night it was bitterly cold again. Yesterday was sunny and clear again, and fairly warm again, and I can see blue skies outside again today.
Other than Tuesday and Saturday we’ve been out walking every day, racking up the steps (anywhere from 8,000 to over 10,000 per day) and climbing stairs (at least 14 flights per day). On Wednesday we went with the grandkids to the Olympic Memorial Museum in the Komazawa Olympic Park (which was built as a secondary site for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics). The museum is one of the free places listed in Secret Tokyo. It’s a small museum primarily covering the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but it had some interesting displays and activities. For example, visitors can walk around with one of the actual (unlit) Olympic torches that had been used by runners, see different uniforms the Japanese team had worn, and see medals awarded that year. We picked up both kids from their respective schools on Thursday and got them home with lots of train riding and stair climbing and walking but zero complaints! Brett and I went to Shibuya early Friday afternoon to check out a new-to-us discount market, Don Quixote, famed for their supply and selection of KitKats, and then picked up C later on and brought him back to our place for a sleepover. While we were in Shibuya we also went over to the nearby Tokyu Hands store so I could have a tea float (iced tea with a scoop of ice cream – absolutely delicious) while Brett enjoyed some hot cocoa. We made a trip out to the Atsugi base yesterday and stocked up on American foods and supplies that will help get us through the next three months.
Overall though it was a very good week. Our son and family are well again, Brett and I didn’t get sick, we did and saw some new things as well as some old favorites, got some other things accomplished and had fun as well. We’re looking forward to resting and relaxing today though before starting in again next week.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I honestly thought I was going to get to the end of January without finishing a book, but I finished both Killing Commendatore and an Inspector Morse book, The Wench Is Dead this past week. I’ve started the next book in the Inspector Morse series, The Secret of Annexe 3, and I’m also reading the second book in the Harry Potter series, The Chamber of Secrets (while still reading the first book with our grandson). It appears this year is going to be one of nostalgic reading, at least for a while. I’ve also been considering rereading John Le Carré’s George Smiley series later in the year. We’ll see.
- Listening to: Brett’s rustling around and making coffee in the kitchen but otherwise, all is quiet – I love it. I thought we’d be hearing more noise outside because of the nice weather this morning, but there’s been nothing but silence from out there.
- Watching: I watched Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse with C on Friday night but that’s all.
- Cooking: The chicken soup and beef curry on last week’s menu plan didn’t get made, so we’re having the curry tonight, and the soup tomorrow, both with some naan bread we got at the commissary. We bought an inexpensive Crock Pot at the exchange and got a pot roast at the commissary, so I’m going to fix a Mississippi pot roast later in the week along with some roasted potatoes, and we’ll use the leftovers for French dip sandwiches on another evening. I’m also planning to make CookDo sweet and sour pork along with some rice this week, and maybe spaghetti with marinara and sausages one evening. The whole family is planning to go out for udon with us on Friday. There’s a very good restaurant down the street from us where they serve some amazing housemade noodles and we’ve all been looking forward to eating there again (our DIL said she could eat there every night and never grow tired of their noodles because they’re so good).
- Happy I accomplished this past week: See all the above. I accomplished everything I wanted to and then some.
- Looking forward to next week: Other than doing school pick-ups every day, Brett and I are planning to visit a couple of nearby places in the Secret Tokyo book. Also, we want to do a bit more exploration in our neighborhood and go check out a few alleyways that look interesting. We learned that our neighborhood is apparently one of the hippest in Tokyo, especially because of the little bars and gastropubs (izekaya) that line the alleys.
- Thinking of good things that happened: I got to try a delicious new Japanese dish when we took the grandkids out for lunch on Wednesday: a “seafood doria,” a combination of shrimp, scallops, and rice in a delicious cream sauce and topped with cheese. I had no idea what a doria was before this, but have since discovered it’s a Japanese-style casserole made with seafood, chicken, or other meat along with rice and put together with a cream sauce and a small amount of cheese. I am now collecting doria recipes! We had another great time with C when he slept over on Friday night – we really enjoy spending time with him. We hit the KitKat jackpot at Don Quixote and found 11 more flavors, so we’re now well over halfway to our goal of finding at least 18 different flavors!
- Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than buying food and the KitKats this past week, we spent very little, or at least it felt like we did (our son paid for our lunch out on Wednesday). We budgeted $400 for our shopping at the exchange and commissary but only spent $253.50 The Navy Exchange is running a scratch-off coupon event right now, and we won 15% off our entire purchase there, the highest amount off available! Although we saw several things in Tokyu Hands that we thought about buying, we were able to walk away and didn’t spend anything there other than for our drinks. We spent only ¥580 ($5.32) for our takoyaki on Friday, and even with the addition of some potato salad for us and a beef korokke (potato croquette), cherry tomatoes, a dinner roll and ice cream for C’s meal that evening (he doesn’t like takoyaki), the total for everything was still only ¥1843 ($16.92), so ¥1200 went back into our dining out envelope.
- Grateful for: Both Brett and I very thankful we didn’t pick up the stomach virus from our son, DIL, or grandkids. I don’t even want to imagine.
- Bonus question: What won’t you eat in Japan? There are only two things I can think of that I absolutely won’t eat in Japan: natto, fermented soybeans, and niboshi, tiny, infant sardines used as a condiment. I have tried to eat both and just can’t do it even though natto is considered a superfood and is beloved in Japan. I can’t get past the smell of natto (like rancid, old socks to me) and with the niboshi it’s the hundreds of tiny eyeballs staring up at me as I bring the fish to my mouth. There are other foods I avoid, but I could still eat them if I have to, but these two are absolutely not happening for me.
Although it can be tiring sometimes, Brett and I are very happy for this opportunity to help out our son and daughter-in-law when we can, even if it’s just for a few months, and of course spend time with our grandchildren. With our DIL now working (a fairly intense job, it seems), and with our son’s and the kids’ busy schedules, we are thankful we can give M & M a breather now and again, and serve as a back up when needed. It may be a while before we can get back to Japan again after this visit, but we’ve seen and done so much here already and are happy to make the most of our time with them and help as much as we can.
We experienced our first earthquake very early yesterday morning, a little after 2:00 a.m. We’ve been through several earthquakes here in the past, but this is the first time we’ve been awakened by our phones flashing off and on and blaring “Alert! Alert!” We were curious how they knew to call our number but our son said as long as we are connected to any Internet network we will get an alert. The earthquake was a small one, just 2.3 on the Richter scale and very short, but all earthquakes here are taken extremely seriously.
Anyway, that’s it for this week. I hope everyone had a great week with lots of good things happening for them and is looking forward to the week that’s coming up. For now, Brett and I are looking forward to a well-earned day of rest!