Food in Japan, 5

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Making the octopus crackers
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In line for them!

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The best okonomiyaki – we went out of the train station while transferring to the subway in Tokyo and walked down the street looking for a place and found this one.

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Finally found more kitkat flavors than just green tea. I wouldn’t have known it was sake if it wasn’t for the label. It tasted fruity like sake, but not alcoholic.

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MosBurger, Japan’s fast food chain like McDonalds. Better quality for sure.

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Yakitori stand

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bean paste filled pancake-type stuff.

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Convenience store breakfast

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trying natto again, with leeks, since that’s how my Japanese friends said they like it. Still not a fan.

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one last time at our favorite sushi place

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food from the playgroup Christmas party. I feel bad for Ezra that he never really got to experience what I got through playgroup and English Class – homemade Japanese food!

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had to stop at the bakery again… we were hoping for curry bread but there was none. And then on our walk home we got some dried persimmons that were SO tasty.

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pastries at last English Class – two days before we moved and probably the saddest part of leaving.

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we brought back a box of goodies for both sides of the family, and these are just some.


Japan: What we didn’t do + resources

I still have a few more posts coming about our excursions and exploring in Japan, but with only a small amount of time left it’s pretty safe to say this stuff won’t get done – but if we had another year here we would have done it!

Quick Travel Guide
Ninja House
Golden Pavilion
Ninja Museum (their website).

Peace park

We had planned to do Kyoto and Hiroshima with this package.

Top 10 Must See Places in Nikko

Closer to Tokyo
Yunessan (mostly from curiosity, and I would have liked to have gone to Hakone)
Ofuna POW Camp (this is where Louie Zamperini was held). We never did it because there’s not much to see and it’s not that easy to access. More info, and the actual location.

6 Places to Escape the Elements (we wanted to try Kid-o-kid but never made it).
Tokyo has tons of crazy restaurants and themed cafes. We usually stuck with Japanese food, though.

Resource for travel in Japan
– Google Translate App
– Hyperdia App (or website, for trains)
– If you’re coming from outside Japan and not living her, get the Japan Rail Pass if you plan on taking the train a lot, especially the Shinkansen.
stuff to do in Japan for Free
Japan on a budget
booking a ryokan (not budget friendly but well worth the cost!)
Japan guide
Tokyo Urban baby
Japanican (we actually booked our ryokan through Japanican)
– Some more links for booking Shinkansen and tours: one, two, three
– we used TripAdvisor a lot, mostly because they’re linked with GoogleMaps so we could find a place to go or eat on TripAdvisor and then get directions to make sure we ended up at the right place.

(This ends my scheduled posts, so I’m not sure when I’ll be posting again. We’ve been with family for the holidays and then will head to our new area to look for a house, but I have some half-written posts, including at least one more on Japan, and by then will probably have some other thoughts to share as well).

Tokyo: Ueno Park

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We wanted to do something over Thanksgiving weekend since Ezra did get most of it off and our house is pretty empty right now. But we didn’t want to take too big of a trip and end up exhausted, so we picked Ueno Park and don’t regret it! We went to the zoo and science museum, and spent a while walking and sitting enjoying the leaves and nice weather after the previous day’s snow.

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S’s first zoo trip was when she was Ellie’s age. It was so much fun to take her now that she’s old enough to interact with the animals: the elephants and polar bears were her favorite, she roared at the lion and tiger, was scared of the gorilla, was underwhelmed by the long anticipated porcupine, and thought the noises the emu and hippo made were them pooping.

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S was an attraction…

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Science Museum. We enjoyed it more than S, but she loved seeing the “bisaurs” (dinosaurs).
We actually hadn’t planned to go to the science museum. I had heard about a Ninja thing in Ueno Park, so had planned to go to that, but when I pulled it up on TripAdvisor when we were in Ueno it said it was 271 miles away! Apparently there’s another Ueno park near Kyoto, which would explain why none of the Tokyo Ueno Park info had had anything on the Ninja museum. So we decided to check out the science museum.

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Periodic Table of the Elements WITH the elements

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Enjoying lunch in the park before heading home

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Tokyo: Studio Ghibli Museum

When we heard there was a Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo we decided we had to go. Tickets go on sale the 10th of every month and sell out fast, but we managed to get some thanks to my mom and Candace staying with the girls so I could make a quick trip to Lawson to get our tickets, and to the man working there who helped me with the machine that was entirely in Japanese. Apparently you can book online, but I didn’t want to risk that not working since we only had one shot at it before we moved.

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Signs walking from the train station

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We had the last time slot and it was plenty of time, although if it hadn’t been closing (and we hadn’t been hungry) we might have waited out the line in the gift shop and taken S to play in the Catbus one more time, since she had a blast climbing all over it and then sitting inside it with soot gremlins in her lap and a huge grin on her face.

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One of the downsides to the museum is that you can’t take photos inside. I wish I could have captured S’s joy at the Catbus. But other than that I can see why Miyazaki doesn’t want photos inside, since it takes away from the wonder. There truly is a sense of wonder as you wander through the rooms and find all sorts of nooks and crannies with little details among the gorgeous wood trimmings.

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You also get to see a short film that only plays at the museum and changes every so often. That was S’s first movie and she loved it and wouldn’t stop talking about it or the Catbus. I was afraid she’d be too young for most of the museum but she really enjoyed it and so did we. There’s no question it’s worth the price (only about $10/adult), and even the trip across Tokyo (though trains cost more than our tickets…).

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Here are a few photos of the interior of the museum.

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I will say, though, that most of the lesser-known Ghibli films are lesser known for a reason. But we love Ponyo, Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and The Wind Rises. And even when the storyline falls flat in some of the other movies, the animation is always beautiful and enjoyable (and if you want to cry, watch Grave of the Fireflies).


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I took the photos off her photo string and had left them on the floor. She found them while falling asleep for her nap and fell asleep on them.

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playing around while the movers were here

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S was dressing Ellie up while she nursed

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And dressing herself up

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cupcakes for S’s birthday! She was thrilled with her cupcakes, crackers, balloons, boxes to color on and play in, and her favorite friends at her ‘happy be party.’

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Ellie’s first time on the train, going to the Studio Ghibli Museum (coming in another post!)

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The first time I’d seen carts like this here

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Taking a shopping break to watch the puppies

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She asked to eat breakfast outside

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Got to play 3 times this month! 🙂

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2 year photo shoot… she’s not very cooperative anymore though!

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Went to the 100 yen store. Spent 7,000 yen. Got lots of looks from everyone because of how much I was buying…. but it was our last trip.

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S’s thankful tree

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My favorite Engrish.

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YUMMY pizza.

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Snow on Thanksgiving.

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And a beautiful day the next day, which we were thankful for since we were going into Tokyo.

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S was an attraction at Ueno Zoo.

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enjoying onigiri in Ueno Park.

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We turned in our train cards, which made leaving Japan feel a lot more real.

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She refused to wear her coat but wanted her mittens.

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our chopsticks. We took a long time to buy any because we wanted to look around and pick our favorites.

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miso soup at home

>>>Updated my post about what we will and won’t miss about Japan<<<

favorite recipes// pumpkin breakfast cookies // butternut apple salad // honey sweetened frosting // daikon apple slaw // pumpkin corn chowder // thai peanut chicken (minus cornstarch) // apple bacon blue cheese pizza // bbq sauce (would use half molasses half syrup next time, and a tad less spice) // pumpkin scones // slow cooker Mexican lasagna //
It’s been nice to be in the kitchen again, and thankfully cooking again has gone rather smoothly, though some days it feels like I’m cooking all day since I start prepping early on in case Ellie doesn’t nap in the late afternoon (she hates that nap).

best of online//  finished Ellie’s Christmas stocking // doing this for Advent // this too // exercises you can do holding baby // vitamin N //

reading of late// War and Peace, for midnight feedings

thinking about// what’s “best” for baby methods is what works for you // Christ as intercessor

what brings joy// actually going Christmas shopping (not just online)// baby giggles // oboe, especially with Charlotte // S’s love for Ellie // Japanese food

The Munchkins//
S gets her own birthday post coming soon!
Ellie. 2 months || 10 lbs 11 oz || sucks her fist and her lip || amazing us with how well she naps, but still a night owl || happy as can be || loves Sophie the Giraffe, and as of the end of November (2.5 months) is giggling

writing// ha.

Things We Will (and Won’t) miss about Japan

We only have about a month left in Japan. While we’re excited to be closer to family again we have mixed feelings about leaving.

We won’t miss…

Japanese sized portions… we often need to eat more when we get home or order an extra entree!
Not being able to park without help – there are often men directing traffic in or leaving parking lots.
Tiny water cups at meals, often without refills
Using Google Translate at the grocery store
Feeling like S is always so loud and so outgoing
Wondering if we’re breaking an unwritten rule
Hot, humid summers with cold, dry winters
there not being soap in public restrooms
houses without heat!

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kicking S while getting groceries.

We will miss…

Child seats in bathroom stalls.
Walking down the street being an adventure
Having so many things to explore only a short train ride away
So much yummy food!
Kids’ silverware and bowls even when we didn’t order a kids’ meal
How polite everyone is and how much of a novelty S is with her blonde hair and blue eyes
How safe it is
heated toilets, tables, and carpets

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Puppies in the store

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Playing at Toys R Us after shopping for groceries.

Japan: Enoshima Island

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Ezra and I had been to Enoshima last fall to see the illuminations there, but I took Hannah there for the day when she was visiting and it was fun to see it in the light.

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Not stroller friendly, though.

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View of the island from the train

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In case you don’t have someone to take a photo for you

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Street performers

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We also got the fresh octopus crackers this time.

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Because I was so pregnant and because it was still pretty hot out, we paid to take the escalators up. Definitely worth it, especially since you still see most of the island walking back down.

While we aren’t big fans of going to shrines and temples, and that’s the main attraction on Enoshima, we love the feel of the shopping street and it’s such a beautiful place to walk around and see some of Japan.