Lalalalahhhh, next week is Golden Week!! It’s the longest holiday I get during my stay in Japan, so yeah, means- traveling lots and eating only bread for the next month. Travelling in Japan burns money real fast, especially when Golden Week is like the peak of the peak season in Japan… when most Japanese travelling in the country (some travel elsewhere, but it’s expensive).
Back from my weekend trip to Kyoto. Exhausting! My night bus arrived in Yokohama yesterday at 6am, I immediately returned home to unload my stuff, took a quick shower and went straight to work(arrived 9am)!
This is my 3rd post of today, crazy eh? Before I go to Kyoto, I gotta finish writing
this series about my trip to Kamakura on Sunday (April’s Fools Day). Because I had many interesting things happened to me that I absolutely have to document this unforgettable experience. Okay, maybe I’m too dramatic… but you get the point. Be ware- only read if you have time to spare, because I babble a lot…. as usual.
Although Kamakura has been on my To-go-list… I didn’t plan to visit until my supervisor suggested me going before my Kyoto trip. Why? Because it’s somwhat just a mini-Kyoto, except closer to Yokosuka (just 20 mins away). Also there are some good hiking trails, leading to several shrines… and along the way, there are some ancient tombs. If you wanna know more about Kamakura, just WIKI it. All I can say is, every couple blocks you walk, you are very likely to bump into a shrine or temple. It is also a popular tourist spot, so it’s best to go in early morning to avoid the crowds.
There were thousands of people lining up to get into the US Navy Base the past Sunday. Yup, the Navy guys open the base for the public twice a year. It was supposed to be a Hanami event (Sakura viewing) too, but the weather in Yokosuka has been to cold for any flowers to bloom.
I got up late that day – 12pm.. all because I didn’t sleep till 7am. Anyway, I got out my door before 1pm and began my 10 minutes walk to the Mikasa Park, where the Navy Base was situated.
Oh my, I had never seen such a long line up in my life… it’s several blocks away from the park and people were in a single file to enter the park. I had an urge to turn back and go home, or head to Yokohama for a shopping spree or something. “But the Navy opens up twice a year, it means if I miss this, I won’t see it again…” I decided to go in, check it out and leave if it’s no fun.
The Mikasa Battleship was the first thing I saw after entering the Park… and I was stupid enough to pay 500 yen to go inside, on the (probably) busiest day of the year. Partly because I thought it belonged to the US Navy……… which obviously made no sense now (looking back)… it had a fricken’ Japan flag on it!
However, I still took my time inside the museum, as I paid 500 yen for it. I watched a movie there, about the war with Russia… The Japanese commander of the Mikasa Battleship was a lucky dude, surviving so many battles and lived until the age of 86.
I joined the massive lineup soon after… and got into the base after 3o mins. The reason why it took so long was because every person’s personal belongings were checked before entering.
However, successfully entering the base didn’t make things any better. Because lineups were still everywhere! For food, for washroom…I hadn’t eaten since waking up, and was hungry. But I decided to wait a little bit longer, hoping the lines would become shorter eventually.
The base was like a mini American town, with residences, high school, McDonald’s, Food Court, Fire Department, Bowling Place, Theatre…
Since I had nothing better to do.. and I saw many people carrying boxes of large pizzas… My craving for food (pizza specifically) finally became stronger than my fear for line ups.
After 40 mins of lining up, it was close to 4:15pm. And suddenly the pizza lady came and told us they were sold out! $#!$ WTF, should’ve notified us sooner.. that way I would’ve lined up for a jumbo dog instead. But of course, it’s Japan, so nobody complained…
The Base was pretty bland, it’s just like any other small American town… except you could see officers in uniforms. But the Japanese people were indeed very intrigued by the place, the food… pretty much everything there.
This was a dull weekend, as I stayed in Yokosuka without going anywhere (not even Yokohama). But I did catch up on some much needed sleep, reviewed some Jap, cleaned my room etc.
First thing I did yesterday(Sat) morning was to hurry to the nearest ATM… My paycheque+ air ticket money was finally deposited on Friday! I had seriously ZERO cash(except for some coins, not even enough for an onigiri) in my wallet, and in the past few days I had to borrow transit money from N-san just to make it to work T_T As for food, I was surviving on instant noodles, which I previously bought for emergency purposes.
When I saw my account balance, I knew it’s the end of my financial crisis. Phew, a major relief. If I don’t spent extravagantly, the amount should last for at least 3 months.
Since the ATM was located inside the post office (my bank is a post office bank), I also tried to pick up a parcel (received a slip in the morning).
But the post office lady told me to return at 5pm. It was 1pm then, which meant I had to chill in Yokosuka Chuo for another 4 hours…
After a fulfilling meal (the only meal I ate for the day… since it was costy- 2500yen!), I went for grocery shopping…
Let’s fast forward to 5pm, when I was ready to pick up the parcel in the post office.. The lady apologized to me and said the postman would actually delivered the parcel again to my place between 5-7pm!! Shit, I couldn’t miss it (I knew the parcel was my debit card).. So I ran as fast as I could to get home. However with so many bags, what I actually did was fast sprints for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 secs lol
Finally I made it, and I saw the post man on his motorbike about to leave- “Sumimasen!” I yelled and showed him my pickup slip. Phew… It’s a small package, but since it had confidential info, the guy had to make sure I was the receiver by following me home and confirmed that I could open the door with my key haha.
Besides grocery and snacks, I also went mall shopping to kill time (since the post office lady misled me to go back at 5pm =_=)
After unpacking, time for cleaning….
After sweeping and cleaning up… The entire night was spent reading a Manga called “Parasyte”/(寄生獣).
A colleague recommended it to me after finding out I visited the Parasitological Museum. It was about this young teen’s (Shinji) right arm got infected by a Parasite. He was lucky as the parasite did not take control of his brain and turned him into a human eating monster… The whole story was about how the parasite (called Migi, means “right” in Japanese and Shinji co-exist and fight other parasites to save mankind. I finished it, in one night. It was bloody but engaging! It also had a meaningful message about species on earth and the environment.
Today is the one year anniversary of the 3.11 Earthquake in Japan. I did not go out, but I heard that trains would stop around the time when the incident happened…
Since I stayed up till 4am to read Parasyte, I woke up at 1pm today- my first time since coming to Japan .
I bought some chicken breast yesterday… so I decided to cook that for my late brunch. I didn’t want plain chicken breast and dip with soy sauce… I had eggs too, might as well make Oyako
Sometimes a chill weekend like this is quite enjoyable, especially going to Tokyo is quite physically+financially draining. A good way to get some work/jap review done without spending much money (though I still managed to spend quite a bit during grocery shopping oops)!
After visiting Meguro last Saturday, I went to Shibya. It was only several stations away. The train station was so huge and I was lost (I wish I have a GPS built into my head). Took me 10 mins to find the Hachiko Exit.
In fact, it’s my first SUCCESSFUL blood donation…
Saw the blood donation poster featuring AKB48 a while ago at the workplace. Red Cross finally came today, so after lunch (gotta eat something since I never eat breakfast) I went straight for it!
There were many people… since I was a first time blood donor, I was asked many questions and had to fill out some paperworks. I was really nervous, like I always do when people speak Japanese to me 😀 Phew, finally, all the questioning was done… thankfully I could read Kanji, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to fill out those questionares (though the answers were always “NO” except for the first question). Finally it was my turn to register for a new donor card, and there were some system errors… =_= had to wait for 20 mins before I received my card and moved on to blood testing.
It was stationed by a nurse and an old doctor (I saw him falling asleep during the system down time lol)… he measured my blood pressure and the nurse took a tube of blood sample. I was then given a pack of biscuits and a bottle of Pocari beverage, and told to drink half of it. Soon I was brought into the donation area by a nurse… she was very gentle and diligent. I lied down on a bed, with blanket too.
During the donation, she found my hand was cold and gave me a can of warm tea to hold on to 😛 It was over before I realized it… like under 10 mins. Too bad it was a short afternoon nap….
Before I headed back to office, I was given some donation gifts too! and of course the can of tea as well =)
I will donate again before I leave Japan, probably around June. This felt great, completely different from my last horrible experience in Vancouver…. which the nurse couldn’t find my vessel, so she kept poking the needle around (several times!)… and the blood flow stopped after she messed with it.. So at the end, there was only less than half a bag (if under 200cc, the blood couldn’t be used 😥 ) I bruised up so much too, it hurt for a week! This time however, was quick and painless! Plus, Canadian Blood Services doesn’t give out free hand creams!
I have just gotten back from Roppongi… My legs are sore from all the walking I’ve done over the weekend… should’ve worn shoes that are more comfy. But I LOVE Roppongi, I wish I could walk further to see more.. but I guess I’ll pay another visit soon! I realize I haven’t blogged about my weekend trips much… I almost forgot what I did in Asakusa/HakkeiJima… so while it’s still fresh on my mind, I’ll first write about what I did yesterday 😀
Last night at around 11pm, I was snacking and chatting with a friend… Then my apartment floor began to shake. It was a subtle one… I froze for five seconds then started typing to my friend “Shit, earthquake!” She was like, “OMFG Hide under a desk!” At the moment, I was thinking, should I stay indoor or escape? I totally forgot the instructions on the goddamn emergency manual, which I had read before coming. I was about to grab the earthquake kit that my mother packed for me (which was a carry-on luggage with all the survival essentials. But since I got here, it’s mostly occupied by my new shopping goodies.. I guess it’d still be useful to keep myself warm with layers of new clothes :D)… Then it stopped. The entire thing lasted for less than 40 seconds… and I told my friend “False alarm, not a quake.” Maybe it’s a hallucination caused by the plum wine that I was drinking.
Then I told this to my colleagues during lunch today. And they were like…
OH you didn’t know? >>Apparently there was an earthquake in Tokai area today.
So this is your first time?! >>”Well,
I was a earthquake virgin, so what?” I told them, “there was none during my time in Vancouver… although rumor says our time is due, and there’ll be a high magnitude one in the future.”
Really, but earthquakes happen so often in Japan… We already had several during February. >>What? So I’ve been missing out the entire time? At least this is the first one that I could identify as an earthquake.
They are just so used to earthquakes that they didn’t even talk about until I brought it up.
I think this is the one that I felt last night… I was looking at the JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) website, holy crap, there were so many earthquakes happening in a day.
Anyhow, I should re-pack my emergency kit and brush up on some earthquake survival knowledge. I just realized I didn’t know the Japanese of “Earthquake”, here it is- アースクエーク (a-su-kue-ku)
Today’s lunch I had chirashi sushi (ちらし寿司), basically just sashimi and seaweed on top of sushi rice. The difference between Chirashi Sushi and regular Sashimi Don is it has vinegar in the rice =o=;;
It’s the best lunch I’ve had in my company’s canteen. The set even came with miso soup+cute colourful tofu balls and red bean Mochi for dessert. This is actually a seasonal special lunch for the Hina-Matsuri festival 雛祭り that is going to be on March 3rd << I mentioned it before, it’s Girl’s Festival… and this weekend I’m gonna go see the Hina-Ningyo dolls at Gajoen 雅叙園 ,a traiditional wedding place in Japan.
Some Sushi Etiquette for you… Keep those tips in mind when you visit a Sushi-ya next time =P
Can’t wait to visit those museums over the weekend… hope the weather will be nice (all indoor, so not that it matters anyway).
Interactive Arts Exhibition: http://megei.jp/
Parasitological Museum: http://kiseichu.org/english.aspx
In my last post, I ranted about how gross Mentaiko (明太子) was.
The way it looked, the way it tasted… Eating it with Natto was plain nasty, and I was sure it was all Mentaiko’s fault.
Coming home tonight, I did my usual brainstorming exercise on what to eat for dinner… and I saw the left over sac of Mentaiko. Damn, I thought, and it’s expiring today. I had a dilemma of whether to chuck it away or not. But it cost 250 yen! So 125 yen right here…. with this money, I can buy an item from 100 yen store with 20 yen surplus! OKAY, FINE. It’s like getting on a scary coaster, you just gotta do it.
Since I was trying to save money and had ONLY a piece of bread for lunch (130 yen! I hate counting how much I spend, it’s worse than counting calories… ), my stomach told me I needed A LOT of meat, or carbs- which ever is available. I took out the only 2 packs of udon left in my fridge and gave Mentaiko a second chance..
Thank god I had 2 packs of Udon… It was so savoury that I licked up the whole pan, just to not waste a single bit of fish roe! The udon and Mentaiko just complements each other! Since Mentaiko is already marinated and full of flavours, it’s not necessary to add any salt at all. I am in love with it now. Gonna buy more after I get paid and try to eat it in different ways. A few ideas I have now…
1. Eat with crackers/toast
2. Pan fry plain Mentaiko (inspired by the burnt bits on the rim of the pan, was sooooo good)
3. Mentaiko Tofu salad
WTF, I thought Spring was coming since it kind of warmed up last week. Yet it started snowing today!!! Not the flaky type too… Plus the strong wind, I almost froze to death this morning walking to the station… This must be a rare case because I saw many of my colleagues taking photos throughout the day. I hate snow, I just do.
Yesterday I went to check out a Foreigner Association close by the Yokosuka Chuo station. It was my lucky day! I was just gonna visit the office to ask about Japanese classes. I got there 5:45pm and there was a class starting at 6pm! Apparently there’s no registration involved… There were 3 students including me, and 4 teachers LOL And it cost only 1000yen for a term (3 months, weekly)!! So it’s pretty much private lesson and costs close to nothing. I checked out the schedules of other classes (different locations, but close by) and there are only night classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. IS THIS PERFECT OR WHAT? I am busy on Wed (badminton) and Thurs (Jap@ Yokohama) anyway… So I will go to ALL classes on those three days from now on! I swear I’m gonna work to hard on Jap.. and watch only Jap dramas XD
So one of my ‘classmates’ – a girl of from Shanghai… apparently, her husband works at my company too! He was an intern before and became a fulltime last year. They live in a dorm a block away from mine! She’s been in Japan for a year, and she can converse in Japanese. She said her husband did it in just 3 months!
Some good news,
- My credit card application got approved, so I can soon pay bills with my Jap card (no need to worry about 2% transaction fee using canadian cards)
- I MAY get paid on March 9th, so if I can survive one more week, it’d be all good (plus my supervisor said he would lend me $$)
- Since $ is “no longer” an issue, I will stick with my weekend travel plans (Roppongi 六本木 for an interactive design exhibition, and Meguro目黒 for two museums: Parasites and Gajoen(雅叙園).