And I Thought Only Dogs Drank From the Toilet!

Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | 0 comments

    Not if you have a special Japanese-style toilet, apparently. Then, cats love it too! I guess in Wasa's defense, at least she's drinking the clean water coming from the back of the tank. I personally am a bit freaked out about using any sort of toilet water to wash my hands with, be it clean or not, and I don't really know of anyone who actually takes advantage of these marvels of efficiency....besides our rabid cat, that is.
  We're off to Nagano bright and early tomorrow, so the next post is going to be full of travel pics. Stay tuned next week...

                                             Mmm, fresh water!!!

                        Further fun exploring the apartment...besides a great new source of water, playing in empty cabinets is lovely, too!

Mission Accomplished!

Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | 0 comments

  We are officially living in our new apartment! For the time being, I'm going to forget about the massive piles of stuff that I need to get organized and put away. I've realized that I have way, way, WAY too many 1. clothes, 2. books, and 3. shoes, while Yuki tends to collect electronics equipment. Which basically means that our second bedroom looks like a a family of five's belongings have been dumped in it. By a tornado. Ouch.
  Wasabi is adjusting to the new apartment ok, although she seems to be having some separation anxiety. As in, every time one of us leaves the room---and she's always in the same room that we are---she howls like a banshee. It's even worse when we leave the place, too. As a result, I'm guessing that our neighbors on the other half of the duplex hate us already: we probably should've given them a bigger box of cookies when we moved in! (Over here, you have to give presents to the neighbors when you move in). I have to say that I much prefer the American tradition of your neighbors bringing you stuff instead....on top of packing, moving, unpacking, etc, finding the time to get to a department store and buy fancy treats seems like overkill to me!
  No pictures today since we haven't gotten the desktop set up yet, just our travel laptop. For now, it's back to work attacking the pile upstairs!

Wasabi's Dance Moves

Posted on Friday, April 23, 2010 | 0 comments

   I happened to have some Lady Gaga on while packing this turned out to be the perfect background for Wasabi's 'dance' moves. That was an hour ago, and she's STILL playing with the light cord! I've given up counting how many times she's turned the light off and on by now, the little beast.
 ...Lady Gaga herself was actually in Yokohama last weekend, which we'd forgotten about until we were shopping downtown and started seeing tons of oddly-dressed girls in a neighborhood not usually known for them. Too bad I didn't have my camera at the time--the girl with false eyelashes comprised of bird feathers (on only one eye) would've been a great shot!
  See Wasa in action here:

I Forgot How Much I HATE Moving!

Posted on Thursday, April 22, 2010 | 2 comments

   Right now, about the only one having any fun with the whole idea of moving is probably Wasabi! Yuki and I are more than worn out from trying to pack, clean, and sort through things we don't need any more. 2 days to go until the big day; at least the end is in sight! And even better than that, a week from now we'll be vacationing in Nagano!!

                       What's more fun than a box? A box with a toy in it, of course!

                 Endless hours of fun: batting at the light cord from atop a pile of boxes

Miso Caramel Cookies

Posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 0 comments

   We found these cookies on sale in Yokohama last weekend; I think they're only being tested in certain locations, since I have yet to see any around here. Hopefully they'll appear soon though--as weird as they may sound, they were actually pretty good!

          Caramel Miso Cookies (made with red miso; it's slightly sweeter than white)

                Ok, so they're tiny in comparison to American cookies, but they're also only 50 calories each!

                           Chock full of chocolate chips, caramel, and miso

Butter Source Salmon??

Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | 0 comments

          I bought this salmon last week at the store and suffered some major confusion as a result of the English writing on the butter package provided with it. First off, I didn't realize that the butter package was actually a package: I thought it was simply a seal stuck to the salmon pack. What can I say, I was in a hurry when I grabbed it. Secondly, my brain still automatically registers the English before the Japanese, so I didn't bother to read the katakana writing and assumed that the English was correct. Silly me!
  The English, as you can see, reads 'Butter Source' when this fact was combined with the idea that I was looking at a sticker and not a packet of liquid butter, I was under the misguided and very confused impression that this particular salmon had either 1. been fed butter (in my defense, I was honestly doubting that) or 2. was especially soft and moist, comparable to butter.
  I decided to ask Yuki about it when he called on his lunch break, and for about a minute couldn't figure out what he was talking about when he told me I could just throw the butter sauce out if I didn't want to use it. At that point, I finally took the time to read the katakana (the symbols just below the English on the seal). 'Ba Taaa Sooo Su'. Say it 5 times fast! BUTTER SAUCE. Doh. However, I can also see where the problem in translation occurred: if you want to write 'source' in katakana, it's going to be the exact same as 'sauce', seeing as there's no strong 'R' sound in Japanese to begin with.
  So, after all that, I chucked the butter sauce (source) and baked some lovely butter-free wasabi-mayo salmon. Forgot to take a photo of the finished product, though, but it's definitely worth making. Feel free to ask for the recipe if you're interested.


Posted on Monday, April 19, 2010 | 0 comments

              We spotted this sign at a grocery store in Yokohama yesterday. It's located at the end of the junk food aisle. Guess it's better than being located at the end of the liquor aisle....


Posted on Friday, April 16, 2010 | 0 comments

   We're getting more and more impatient to welcome our new furry edition home, so we emailed and asked the woman at the NPO where Mochi is currently being raised to send us a recent picture of her. And...this is what we got. I'm not really sure which one she is...or if those are all her brother and sisters: when we picked her out, we were only shown 2 other brothers along with her.
The question that we're now wondering is...which cat is going to be delivered on May 8th? The one we chose, or a random impostor?? Although as long as she's cute, female, and isn't prone to random biting attacks like Wasabi is, I probably won't complain too much...

                                 How they really make kittens...on the assembly line

Raspberry Kit Kat

Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 | 0 comments

           Spotted a new flavor of Kit Kats in the store today...raspberry. Or 'framboise', as they say here after the French for raspberry. (Side note--d'Anjou pears are called 'La France', I guess since that's where they originated?).
  We were pleasantly surprised by this flavor--dark chocolate in combination with very obvious raspberry. It's probably an 8 on the 10 point scale, not counting the fact that our particular package was for some reason impossible to open at the indicated spot---EVERY package in Japan has a little slit or spot for easy opening, there's none of those chips/cereal/crackers/catsup-flying-through-the-air incidents that make opening packages so much fun in the US. Except for this package, which had the specified site but still wouldn't open.
  After we finally yanked the wrapper apart and pulled out the mangled Kit Kat, Yuki then managed to take out a good chunk of his tongue along with the first bite. Ugh, makes me squirm just remembering it. But I guess you know that it's a pretty good Kit Kat when even blood doesn't stop you from eating it!

Unagi Bones!

Posted on Sunday, April 11, 2010 | 0 comments

   After a few good weekends of doing pretty well at saving money, we caved and went out for an eel lunch today...this being directly after we spent way too much on curtains for the new apartment. (Did I mention that I've packed 7 boxes total and we move in just under 2 weeks??).
  This little eel restaurant is in Haibara, a small town about a half hour's drive from Shizuoka. We didn't arrive there until going on 2 pm, seeing as shopping for curtains takes way, way longer than one would expect. Much, MUCH longer if you happen to be incredibly picky with a knack for always choosing the most expensive merchandise while on a limited budget. We were of course starving by that point, but the upside to arriving so late was that we didn't have to wait for a seat.
  It'd probably been a year or so since I'd eaten at this restaurant, even though it's our favorite. Not only do they have some of the best eel around, they also have fresh fried eel bones. I'm guessing that most people are gagging at the mention of eating eel bones, but they're basically like really crunchy kettle chips, albeit with a somewhat more roasted flavor. And they're high in calcium, what more can you ask for? Hopefully we can get back there again before another year goes by.

                                      Some of the decor

                                  The Lovely Bones!

                         Lunch set: eel on a bed of rice, pickled veggies, and soup

Wasabi's Nest

Posted on Friday, April 09, 2010 | 0 comments

   Wasa news: Wasabi decided a few days ago that she was going to start making herself a nest for afternoon naps. She now crawls behind the fridge, digs into all the extra plastic bags that we keep for scooping her poop, and passes out. And yes, I do realize that it's a mess back there. You're welcome to come over and try to find another place to store stuff, I dare you.


Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010 | 0 comments

  This is by far one of the best hair salon names I've come across here...although I still think that Grease, the salon down the street from us, takes the prize. We're pretty certain that the owners simply look through an English dictionary and pick a word that seems least, I hope there's no logic behind these choices...If so, then I'm definitely not getting anywhere near another local salon, which is named 'Courage'!

Here, Mochi Mochi Mochi!

Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2010 | 0 comments

   Wasabi is about to meet her match....we went and looked at a bunch of kitties yesterday, and I think we've found the new addition to our family! This little one is all of 2 months at the moment so can't leave Mommy yet, but we plan on getting her after Golden Week (around the beginning of May). I'm really praying that a new playmate will be a good thing for Wasa....and that she won't try to kill the new kitten!
  We're pretty sure that we're going to name the new baby Mochi...if you're not familiar with Japanese food, mochi is a sort of soft rice cake that's made from pounding a special kind of rice into a gooey mess. Or, as Wikipedia sums it up in a much for eloquent manner: 'a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape'. Mochi is eaten year-round, but it's a traditional New Year's food, and you'll see a lot more of it being sold around that time. 
 Why 'Mochi', you may be asking? Well, 1, I love food. Especially Japanese food. 2. I hate giving my pets traditional names, so why not give them food-related ones? Finally, Yuki and I decided that since Wasabi has been living up to her name so well, the spicy little rat, that we'd give this new girl a name with a very soft image and pray for the best! Here's to actually having a lap cat instead of one that acts like a ferret on crack most of the time! (Not that we don't adore Wasa, but you know...)

                                              Mochi on Sunday

                                      As an infant

                                 Who could resist that face?

Shizuoka Sakura Matsuri

Posted on Monday, April 05, 2010 | 0 comments

   Saturday, we went downtown to meet some friends for the Shizuoka Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival). It's held I think the first weekend in April every year, and the timing for this one was almost too late--by next Saturday, probably most to all of the cherry blossom trees will have sprouted leaves and lost a lot of their flowers.
 This festival can get quite crowded, especially on Saturdays, when they have a 3 hour street dance-a-thon from 5 to 8 pm. Still, it's worth braving the masses of people at least once to see the dancing--and of course the trees themselves. Sunpu Park is where the majority of cherry blossom trees are, and while it's probably not the most beautiful viewing location around, it does provide lots of room for hanami (roughly translated to 'cherry blossom viewing party', basically a picnic under the cherry blossom trees, usually involving beer or sake).
 It's a little sad to think that the cherry blossom season has passed again so quickly, but at least that means warmer weather is finally on the way!

                           Lining up for the annual parade

                          I think that maybe this guy was supposed to be Tokugawa Ieyasu
                                             Sunpu Castle

                     We tried the jumbo takoyaki this year...unfortunately, they were nasty! No flavor and not much tako (octopus) or spices inside, either. If you like takoyaki, stick with the regular-sized ones.


              Sometimes the festival-goers are more fun to watch than the parade members...look closely, she actually has a cat tail attached

                                     And, the front view....Meow!

                            Night dancing

                                     This kid wins 'Mullet of the Year'

The Most Evil Cookie Bars In The World

Posted on Friday, April 02, 2010 | 1 comments

   I made these blondies a few days ago, and it's honestly hard to believe that there are any left, especially since Yuki was out of town last night and didn't bother to hide them or take them with. Amazingly, I only (only, hah!) had 2 last night, although I was sorely tempted to finish off the remaining 3 bars. The only thing that prevented me from doing so was the fact that I calculated the number of calories per bar....about 351 kcal each, ouch!!
  The original recipe is posted here: Chewy Coconut Chocolate Chunk Blondies
 but if you're interested in trying them (and I would highly recommend it!), I made a few minor changes:
-I added a cup of chopped walnuts along with the listed coconut and chocolate
-Used 2 teaspoons of vanilla instead of 1.5 tsp.
-Chocolate chips are notoriously expensive here in Japan, so I instead chopped up Hershey's milk chocolate Kisses (also incredibly expensive here, but we had a bag leftover from our trip back home last month). I chopped up about 32 Kisses and threw them into the batter instead of the called-for cup of chocolate chips. 
-just so you know, 4 oz. of butter is about 1 stick or a half cup. Why they put the measurement in ounces, I have no idea
-For the toppings, I melted 2 (60 grams each) dark chocolate bars and mixed them with the teaspoon of butter. You'll get maybe a half to 2/3 of this mix out of the plastic bag, but the topping is definitely worth the extra effort. Yuki swore that it 'made' the blondies. I really don't think that you need a full cup of chocolate chips though (about 182 grams), especially if you're using a darker chocolate.

  Seriously, these are some of the best cookie bars I've ever had. We've renamed them Evil Chocolate Chunky Coconut Walnut Blondies, the 'chunky' part because that's what they'll make you if you eat too many!

                              Fresh out of the oven

                            Drizzled with chocolate topping

                                     Crunchy on the edges and gooey inside!

A Walk in The Park

Posted on Friday, April 02, 2010 | 0 comments

  Here are some pictures from a walk I took a few days ago...I love that we live about 15 minutes from this park!

    Cherry blossoms and Mt. Fuji: Two of the major symbols of Japan. Now all we need is a samurai, some sushi, and a tailless cat in the picture!

                        Local artists always come here to paint the spring and fall colors

                         It's hanami season (cherry-blossom viewing party, usually involving a picnic and/or much drinking of sake)

                             Overlooking the valley