We Are Moving!

Posted on Friday, November 04, 2011 | 0 comments

  Now that we've moved countries, we're also moving blogs. I'll be posting at http://teatimeUK.blogspot.com from now on. Head on over and see how life in the UK is treating us!

Happy Halloween!

Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2011 | 0 comments

  We're back online! Just a quick post tonight but more to follow shortly....still trying to figure out a new name for the blog now that we're in England. It's been a bit busy so I haven't had time to think about it much. For now, here's a new seasonal Cadbury product: Dead Heads! Caramel-filled milk chocolate eggs, delicious and entirely evil in terms of addictiveness. Happy Halloween!

Satoimo From Doc Brown

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2011 | 0 comments

     Right as we were leaving our apartment for good last week, our farmer friend (the one I mentioned saying good-bye to in the previous post) appeared and gave us a HUGE bag of satoimo. What he thought we'd do with a big bag of potatoes en route to England, I'm not sure, but it was kind of him nonetheless. And we did find time to use them, luckily. Too bad I don't know his name or address in order to thank him. We usually just called him Doc, since he resembled Doc Brown from Back To The Future. Minus the Delorean, unfortunately.
  ...Known by the name of taro root in English, satoimo is a kind of starchy vegetable/potato that is rather slimy once peeled. You can avoid the sliminess by boiling the satoimo first and then getting rid of the resulting gunky water, or I'm told that you can also fry them to form a sort of crust on the outside, thus preventing said sliminess from occurring. Or, you can embrace the sliminess and use it as part of the dish you're making. Which we did when we made this big batch of satoimo/tofu crumbles. It was a really easy recipe and tasted even better after chilling overnight. Yet another Japanese food that I'm going to miss!
 PS This may be the last post for a while, since I'm told that our internet and telephone in England won't be up and running for another couple of weeks. Sigh. Resisting the urge to compare it to Japan's ever-speedy service and keeping fingers crossed that weekS is an exaggeration!

                                       Raw, unpeeled satoimo

                                    The cooked product: looks unappetizing, tasted great!

Bucket List: Scenes From Our Daily Walks

Posted on Saturday, October 15, 2011 | 0 comments

  Our now-former apartment wasn't actually in the country at all, but if you walked to the next street over and started hiking up a hill, this is what you came upon. Such a beautiful area in the middle of housing developments; it's basically a group of plot gardens lining an old road, with the land in these pictures located at the very top, where the road dead-ends. I was hoping to walk up it with Keila one last time before we moved, just to tell the local farmers good-bye, but we were so busy on our last day that I never got the chance to. We did get to tell one farmer who was always working the land behind our place that we were leaving, however. In typical farmer fashion (they were constantly giving me food), he kindly sent us off to Yokohama with a bunch of sato imo (taro root). Now to figure out how to make something with them....

Mont Blanc Kit Kats

Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | 0 comments

   Well, it's definitely fall here in Japan, as evidenced by the abundance of Mont Blanc-flavored products appearing on shelves recently. The latest I found is Gateau du Mont-Blanc Kit Kats. They're a bit pricier than the usual pack, but you get 6 minis to a box so I guess it justifies the rate hike. We tried them after lunch, and they were quite good! Maybe an 8 out of 10? Definitely worth buying if you come across them. Keila once again preferred the box, however. Still working on learning what's edible and what's not!

Keila's 11 Month Update

Posted on Saturday, October 08, 2011 | 0 comments

  Keila turned 11 months on Thursday! Unfortunately, our internet service was turned off that day due to moving, so we're a bit late in posting.
  Here's what's been going on with her in the past month:
 1. She's talking a LOT more lately. Definitely saying 'Mama' on the rare occasions that I'm not around, and she'll also call for 'Dada' when he leaves the room. However, she tends to call any and all animals 'Daaaa' or 'Dadadadadaada', so we're working on that one. I'm sure it's more than a bit confusing when Daddy tells her the cat is called 'neko' and I tell her that the cat is called 'kitty' or 'kitty cat'.
 2. Keila's fangs are now fully in, so she's definitely ready for Halloween! However, her upper middle teeth just broke through as of yesterday, so she might not get to be baby Dracula on the 31st after all. In addition to those 2 new ones, another upper tooth came in some time earlier, but I didn't notice it for a bit because it's off to the left side of her top canine. Meaning, she's now got 9 teeth in all, and she knows how to bite!
 3. In terms of sleep: she nows goes down for naps on her own on most days! This is a MAJOR accomplishment, even though I hear it's the norm for most babies. Night-time wakings are still pretty much a given, although she is sleeping for longer periods at least. Maybe one day she'll begin sleeping through the night again....maybe...
 4. We're still scooting all over the place and terrorizing the cats; no walking yet however. Standing has become quite routine, especially at night when I'm trying to get her to lie down and go to sleep. There's nothing quite like the sight of baby Keila in her sleep sack, wailing and shaking the bars of her crib!
 5. I've fallen behind on introducing many new foods since we've been so busy with moving preparations. Once we're in England I plan to get right back on forcing organic veggies into this kid. Cheese is still a huge favorite, as are crackers. We have been attempting more textured foods, but so far they're simply spit back out and then flung at the wall.
 6. New favorite activities include: feeding Mom or Dad whenever she gets full herself; pulling up Mom's shirt in order to pinch her stomach (OWW); and Keila will also clap her hands on cue now! She's realized that we get really excited whenever she does this however, so she'll then keep clapping and clapping...and clapping. Give her some cymbals, and she'll rival the Energizer Bunny!
 7. Separation anxiety will still rear its ugly head off and on, but for the most part fear of strangers is a thing of the past. Now if we can just train her to let anyone besides Mom put her to bed at night, life would be even better!
 8. Finally, Keila is still around 9.5 kilos, so she's at least maintained her weight since last month. I think she's in about the 60% percentile currently, so she'll see how she does come November and the 1 year mark.

Bucket List: Ton Katsu (Pork Cutlet)

Posted on Saturday, September 24, 2011 | 0 comments

  Check another one off the Japan bucket list: today we had ton katsu for lunch. Ok, actually I had fried shrimp and veggies (but incredibly unhealthy so still counts) and Keila ate zucchini with oatmeal, her foot, and a chopsticks wrapper....a good time was had by all! Now, back to packing, aka flipping through British magazines and telling myself it's still equivalent to preparing for the big move....
                                    My lunch

                                  Ton katsu, cabbage, and fried oysters

                                                    Keila rather enjoying her lunch

                                         Yum, yum!

Bucket List: Atami Family Trip

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 | 0 comments

Once again, just a quick post since the nasty duty of packing boxes still awaits me tonight.
  ...We had a great time in Atami last night and this morning! Ate way, way, WAY too much lovely seafood and thorougly enjoyed relaxing in the hotel. Thank you, Otousan!!!

                                   Family pic

                                      Sashimi, I will miss you

                                       MASSIVE sashimi boat

                                             Overhead view

                                      One of the countless courses at dinner

                                      View from the breakfast buffet....enlarge the picture and look closely to note what this lady is drinking...at 8 am. When on vacation, all rules are out!

The Bucket List

Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 | 0 comments

  Well, in case you don't already know, the big news here is that we won't be here for much longer. We're being transferred to Worcester, England. And while I'm really happy in some ways to be heading to Europe, I'm also really sad to be leaving family, friends, and life in Japan. Especially since time has suddenly sped up, and we've got maybe a month left. There's sooo much to get done before the big move, so I'm not sure how many posts I'll get in before we go....but I'll at the very least try to put up photos as we work on our bucket list for the time left in Japan. (In case you're not familiar with the concept of a bucket list, it's a list of things you want to do before you die...or in this case, things we want to do before we move).
  For now, here's our list:
 1. Eat ikura aka salmon roe. Lots of it! (Already did it once, again would be nice)
 2. Visit Kamakura again. And eat at Hachi no ki (great vegan/Buddist monk cuisine)
 3. Eat Belgian chocolate soft cream from Mini Stop. (Did it, will post pics soon)
 4. Visit Kyoto (did it last month, see pics from previous posts)
 5. Take Keila to the zoo
 6. Eat houtou (a type of noodle/stew) near Mt. Fuji. We really like eating, what can I say.
 7. Eat unagi (eel). I'm going to gain 10 lbs before we move!
 8. Returnee friends reunion in Tokyo
 9. Yuki's final band concert
 10. Have dinner at Budou no Oka (great buffet near our place)
 11. Relax at Kinzaburo green tea shop
 12. Photograph favorite sites along our daily walks
 13. Stay in Atami with family (planned for next week)
 14. Mountain drive/hike near Shizuoka
 15. Buy more Nontan for Keila

  I may/may not add more to the list if: 1. we remember anything else and 2. time prevails. I think that our list would be rather different if activities weren't restricted by Keila's nap times, etc, and also by our own lack of time here. As it is, we've tried to think of things we'll obviously miss and won't have access to in the UK.
 Obviously once we move, this blog will no longer be about life in Japan, but instead will detail England and whatever European trips we take. Not sure yet if I'll keep the same web address or will change to a new one; details on that after we get settled, though!

Finally, New Kit Kats!

Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 | 0 comments

   Kit Kat flavor production seems to have slowed down since the big earthquake in March...but maybe now they're starting to ramp things up again? At least, here's the new flavor for Halloween: pumpkin cheese cake. Pretty good; Yuki said he could taste pumpkin right away but it took me a bit longer to notice it. Definitely creamy, although the American in me was expecting more of a pumpkin pie spice/cheese cake flavor rather than just pumpkin cheese cake. Maybe a score of 7 or 7.5? Keila, however, was not big on the wrapper and only gave it a score of 3 out of 10!

Weird Product Alert!

Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 | 0 comments

  I spotted this at a Mini Stop yesterday and forced Yuki to toss it in with the other items we were buying. He resisted at first, asking me what I needed it for, but I used my 'It's for the blog!' card and won. Besides, it was half off, apparently because nobody else could figure out a good reason to buy it, either. So, what is this mystery product, you ask?? 
..........................a curry-scented sparkler!!! Odd even in consideration of all the other weird products I've found here. The front boasts phrases such as 'It smells of curry!' 'Can you smell it?' and 'Indian people will be surprised, too!'
  We tested one out tonight, and it definitely smelled rather spicy when we opened the package. However, the only scent emitted upon burning was your usual sulfurous sparkler smell. Oh well, I still think it was 53 yen well spent in terms of the entertainment factor alone!

Tenryu-ji in Arashiyama

Posted on Monday, September 12, 2011 | 0 comments

  Only about a month later, I'm finally posting some more pictures from our Kyoto vacation. These are at Tenryu-ji in Arashiyama, a northern part of Kyoto. It's registered as a World Heritage site and while quite beautiful, I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing the bamboo forest in back of it more than anything!


10 Months Old!

Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 | 0 comments

  Yep, Keila turned 10 months old today! And she's been making a TON of progress these past few weeks. Here's the monthly update:
 1. She's getting louder and louder! 'Mama' is a regular word, although I'm not too sure whether she yells it when she wants me or just when she's upset, seeing as how she usually wants me when she's upset. Besides sounds, her new oral trick is....drumroll....spitting! Nice huh? I swear she got about 3 feet out of one on our walk yesterday. It's especially fun when she's got a mouth full of food at the time, too.
 2. Again on the subject of her mouth...we're at 5 teeth now! 3 on the bottom and 2 on top. The 2 on top are not the middle ones, but instead the canines. When they're fully in, I get to start calling her Baby Dracula.
 3. Sleep is still not going well, unfortunately. She was actually doing really well and had slept through the night for almost a week, but then Dad had to leave on a business trip and we came to stay at Grandpa's. Not sure if it's the change in location or lack of Daddy being around (probably combined with teething), but sleep patterns have reverted! And the only way she'll nap is if I'm holding her in my lap. So it's either...no nap = cranky baby or nap = Mom doesn't get anything done during the day.
 4. Still no crawling...and I doubt it'll ever happen, seeing as of August 9th she started actively scooting. It's really funny to see since she rather looks like a gimp baby in motion, but she's also quite fast! The cats learned this fact the hard way. Also, starting last week, she finally started pulling herself up to standing. Turns out that she probably could've done it a while ago given the proper incentive....ie a toy or the tv remote sitting on Grandpa's couch cushions. So far the remote hasn't been broken...so far....
 5. In terms of eating...she now wants to do it all herself! Meaning that the mouth clamps closed whenever a spoon comes at it. She can feed herself baby crackers but so far other items are a bit difficult. Melon was definitely a thumbs down, but onions (in her crackers for flavoring) seemed to be a pretty big hit!
 6. Favorite activities now include: hitting or pinching Mom repeatedly and then laughing when Mom yells 'OUCH' or 'NO'; pulling on any and all electrical cords and attempting to stuff them into her mouth; playing with Grandpa's fire extinguisher until she's caught; and turning the tv and lights on/off. She can also clap her hands when she feels like it, and she waves bye-bye a lot...even when nobody is going 'bye-bye'.
 7. Separation anxiety is still driving Mom crazy, but otherwise she's an incredibly happy girl!
 8. Keila weights approximately 9.5 kg now (almost 21 lbs). We'll see if she maintains or gains on her cracker-only diet, though!
 Until next month....


A Typhoon Is Coming!

Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 | 0 comments

                  Combine incoming bad weather with sale day at the grocery store, and what do you get? Lines like these.....I couldn't even get it all into the picture, but here's an idea of how crowded it was! Needless to say, I immediately gave up on the idea of buying my diet Pepsi....

More New Products

Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | 0 comments

   Well, it's the last day of August, and you know what that means: Halloween stuff is coming out! Yep, saw these Halloween/ghost Pringles at the store today already. They're onion gratin soup flavored...which basically means they taste pretty similar to sour cream n' onion chips. Not bad, but nothing special either.

                   Next up, we have Meiji's chocolate mint gum. And once again, Meiji's done a rather good job! The little cubes of gum look like mini brownies, and their texture is actually that of a rather gummy brownie. Nice minty-chocolate taste, and the flavor lasted for at least 15 minutes! Considering that for some reason even with all the new technology here, nobody can make gum with flavor that lasts very long, I'm impressed! Would definitely buy this one again!

Product Review: Gyoza Flavored Curls (カール)

Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | 0 comments

   Found these at the grocery store today: gyoza flavored corn curls. Produced by Meiji, the product name is, conveniently Ka-ru, or 'curl' in Japanese.  The first time I visited Japan, I'm pretty sure that I inhaled enough of the salad dressing flavor Kurls to keep the company in business for that year, so I decided to try these out of a mixture of nostalgia and curiosity.  (Quick digression: the salad dressing flavor was really a lot better than it sounds, but sadly I haven't seen it in since my second visit here).
  I was pleasantly surprised by the obvious gyoza taste as soon as I bit into one of these. Good work Meiji! There was of course a slight corn aftertaste, these being corn curls, but otherwise they're pretty good. My only complaint is the odd somewhat-gyoza-flavor that formed and lingered in my mouth for about an hour afterward. Not sure if it would've stuck around had I eaten something else after the curls, but figured it was worth mentioning in case you're inclined to try them. Probably won't buy them again as I'm not in the habit of eating chips any more, but not bad!

Hotel Review: Kyoto's Matsui Honkan

Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 | 0 comments

   We stayed at Matsui Honkan the first night of our Kyoto trip this past week. It was an upper-middle range hotel in the travel agency's listing, but WOW. I honestly can't imagine what the high range hotels are like, if Matsui Honkan is merely middle level. The quality of service there was simply amazing, as was the food and our room. For some reason we were upgraded to the VIP 2-room suite, perhaps because we'd mentioned that we were celebrating our wedding anniversary while there. Whatever the case, I'm guessing that the suite was almost as large as our entire apartment, and a lot more beautiful! Included with the suite was VIP treatment, although perhaps they're simply that nice to all of their guests? We were also given anniversary gifts (chopsticks, chopstick rests, and sweets, among others), and they had a children's promotion going on at the time, so Keila got to 'toss' a ring and win a stuffed rabbit. Definitely the place to stay if you want to relax after viewing the major temples and shrines, too---it's quite close to the main shopping street with quick access to the subway. 5 stars on all counts for this place!
  Here's the link to some photos from the hotel; I'm giving Flikr a try for photo hosting so hopefully it works ok! http://www.flickr.com/photos/66602122@N04/sets/72157627351429683/


Posted on Monday, August 08, 2011 | 0 comments

  Found this little peeping Tom hanging out right after I turned off the shower! There was definitely a bit of screaming from the bathroom at that point, but only because I thought it was one of the infamous cockroaches that are so prevalent here. Newts/lizards/salamanders don't really scare me. Good thing, since I had to catch this cute little guy and put him outside! I looked up the various types of Japanese newts/salamanders (who knew that there is actually a Japanese Giant Salamander?? THAT would have made me scream for sure), and I think this one is a Tokyo salamander. Whatever the case, apparently it's a right of passage to discover one in the house, seeing as the people I've mentioned it to this evening have all replied that they hate finding them in the bathroom. How this one got in is beyond me, but if he's smart he'll stay outside: he narrowly missed a long, slow, and painful death at the paws of Wasabi and Sushi!

Beauty Dressing

Posted on Sunday, August 07, 2011 | 0 comments

   Another new product: DHC Beauty Dressing. Got these a couple of weeks ago (thanks, Otousan!) but first tasted the wasabi flavor tonight. It tastes great, not too sure about the beauty part though?
 The wasabi one boasts that it contains isoflavins from soy beans, while the tomato flavor has collagen peptides in it. I guess that these are supposed to help improve looks via better skin? Maybe I should conduct a test by taking my picture each day from here on out to see if it works. However, I think these would have to be some miracle dressings if they can erase the signs of sleep deprivation from my features! Good luck DHC!

Keila Is 9 Months Today!

Posted on Saturday, August 06, 2011 | 0 comments

             Keila turned 3/4 of a year old today! Here's an update in terms of how she's progressed in the past month:
  1. Still making lots of sounds but nothing too new that I've noticed in particular...then again, I'm around her pretty much 24/7 so maybe they're just not new sounds to me. She was blowing raspberries a while back, quit, and then started up again last week. It's great when she's got food in her mouth at the time!
 2. Sleep is still something that she fights like a wild cat. I've figured out that she will actually take 2 naps at day, one during our morning walk and one in the afternoon. However, if she does settle down for her afternoon nap, that pretty much guarantees she won't go to bed at 7:30....or if she does, she's back up again within the hour. Every night is a toss-up though, so we're hoping for at least 6 hours straight tonight! Speaking of sleep (or not sleeping), one of her new favorite activities is smacking Mom and Dad in the face at 6 am. She usually starts the night in her crib and ends up in our bed by around 5 am...then lets me sleep for another hour if I'm lucky. Investing in some light-blocking curtains probably wouldn't be a bad idea.
 3. Tummy time is still pretty much a no-go. Screaming usually starts up every time she's put down on the belly. Meaning that crawling hasn't started yet either. Keila's getting around this by acting as a sort of whirling dervish: she will use her legs to twirl herself around in circles while seated, slowly making her way across the room towards an unsuspecting target (ie Sushi or Wasabi). It took me a while to figure out how she would suddenly go from being on her mat to being halfway across the room, but Yuki figured it out after watching her a few times. Only Keila would be able to move without appearing to!
 4. Baby food: still not wanting much in the way of more textured foods, but tofu is ok, as are apricots, potatoes, and plain yogurt if it has some fruit mixed in. Not a big fan of sour foods. She also HATES this rather pricey salmon/vegetable dinner pack I ordered for her from the US. Recommended by Dr. Sears and everything. All I can say is, Dr. Sears apparently never ate that garbage! I tried it and am pretty sure even the cats won't bother with it. Poor baby! Now we're stuck with about 20 packs of stinky cat food-like salmon dinner. Yuck.
 5. New favorite activities include pulling out Sushi's fur, pulling out Mom and Dad's hair, throwing toys across the floor, throwing things in general, and trying to eat Mom's books and magazines. She also LOVES rolling a ball back and forth and can wave bye-bye. Smart girl!
 6. Finally, fear of strangers kicked in early last week. If someone looks at her too closely for too long, watch out! Random people will set her off for reasons that I can't discern, too. Poor baby! She does get really excited when Daddy comes home or she gets to see Grandpa, though!
  Until next month....

                                       Sneak attack on Wasabi....

Hello Llama!

More Pepsi: Energy Cola

Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2011 | 0 comments

  Here's another Pepsi out: Energy Cola. Ingredients are: sugar, royal jelly, guarana, Korean carrot, caramel color, ascorbic acid, caffeine, etc etc etc in that order. Basically, one big sugar rush. Taste? Like some herbal tonic has been poured into a really syrupy sweet Pepsi. Not good, but oddly addicting! Even with all those random herbs/plants included, I'm pretty sure that the only energy you're going to feel comes straight from all that sugar. The label indicates that it's good for sports, studying, on the job, and for dates. Huh, who knew. That's still not enough to get me to drink another one, though!

                          Keila had fun playing with the can, at least

Pepsi Caribbean Gold: White Sapote Flavor

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2011 | 0 comments

   Pepsi released its limited edition summer flavor today: Caribbean Gold. The label goes on to say that it's 'white sapote' flavored...which I had to look up, considering I had no idea what that was. Turns out it's a type of tropical fruit found in eastern Mexico on down south through Costa Rica. Huh. Having visited Mexico and Nicaragua, I'd imagine that I would've come across it at some point....or more likely seen it in the produce section of our local Walmart! Apparently white sapote just isn't all that popular, perhaps because eating the fruit is said to induce drowsiness? Although I would think that would make it MORE popular than not, but maybe that's just my brain talking after limited sleep every night for the past 8.5 months.
  Anyway...back to this Pepsi. Perhaps the name Caribbean Gold was chosen in the hopes that it'd bring to mind Pirates of the Caribbean and thereby further increase sales (Pirates is HUGE in Japan)? Whatever the case, it's obviously not named after white sapote, which I don't really need to point out isn't even native to the Caribbean. Someone at Pepsi didn't do their research! The flavor itself did bring to mind a tropical feel, however. Imagine cream soda mixed with pineapple pop, in a good way. I'd definitely recommend buying it. Way better than that cucumber flavor they came out with a few years ago!!

                                      Pepsi Caribbean Gold, White Sapote Flavor

                                             Keila liked it, too! 

Typhoon Mishmash

Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 | 0 comments

    We've been stuck inside for most of the day due to Typhoon Ma-on (I didn't name it), so now is as good a time as any to play catch up with some random products I've discovered over the past month. First up, we have 2 new Kit Kat flavors: cookies 'n cream and strawberry hazelnut. Sadly, neither one of them was good enough to make me buy them again. Cookies 'n cream tasted basically like a Cookies 'n Cream Hershey's bar, while the strawberry hazelnut was nice and strawberry flavored...not so much hazelnut though. I'd give them both a 6 maybe? Decent but nothing special.
  Second, we've got 2 new stationery sets that I just couldn't resist. The first one reads: 'Fatty Animals' and in smaller letters underneath 'I do not mind fatty!!' Love it! The second one isn't quite as funny, but still cute and reminded me of our old dog Scooter. That one reads 'Little Butler. We will put delicious tea in. I will do the highest entertainment' and then farther down 'I am only your butler'.
  Don't ask me where they come up with the wording for the stationery sets here, but major props to whoever's creating them!
   Finally, the last 3 pictures are from Haneda Airport's new international terminal, which I had the pleasure of exploring when we saw Yuki off on his last trip to China. I have NO idea what the sign in the toilet means?? Perhaps this is self-obvious to anyone else looking at it, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what the little platform that folds out of the wall onto the floor is supposed to do. Anyone? (And yes, I do realize that taking a picture in a toilet stall is kind of weird).
  Next up, the sign just before security. If the English is taken literally, then you can just stand there all day and try to figure out the never-ending loop of whether or not you can bring liquids on board. I would've thought an international airport could do a bit better than that on translations, but at least it's good for a laugh!
  Last picture, this cute little bunny apparently reminding you not to forget your skin when you fly. Good advice, Bunny-san!

                                 The new Kit Kats: Strawberry Hazelnut and Cookies 'N Cream

                                     Fatty Animals!


I really want to know what this contraption is for!

                                'Liquids cannot be brought on board aircraft. However, liquids can be carried on by following the rules'. Rules? See #1: Liquids cannot be brought on board aircraft!

                                'Have a nice air trip and your skin!!!'