April 2009

The Japanese Maple. Other than sakura and bamboo, probably the most stereotypical nature photo I could post.


Here are some sweeping generalizations and observations I’ve made in the past week here in the Yokohama area:
• Dachshunds are the dog of choice for pets here. (we’re up to five for five with the dachshund count).
• All Caucasians wear sunglasses.
• Rice is surprisingly expensive and fish is incredibly cheap.
• Going anywhere near a Japanese street is a death wish.
• I am very tall (in case I forget, I am informed of this several times daily).

a long-haired standard dachshund is tempted by and apple.

a long-haired standard dachshund is tempted by an apple.

Every nation has its old paper-bag lunch standbys. Okay, so Japan doesn’t rock the pb&j, but they do have Onigiri (おにぎり). Take the leftover rice from the steamer. Squish it into balls. Jam some kind of weird fish product into the centre. Wrap in nori. Chow down.

If you forget your lunch, you can even find onigiri in any respectable convenience store. But in an effort to keep the nori from getting soggy, it has a highly-engineered plastic package. Here Tomoe will demonstrate the proper technique:

step one.

Step one: peel back the plastic labelled #1 to free the nori wrapper.

step two

Step two: peel back the plastic labelled #2. Nori meets rice.

step three: remove the remaining wrapper.

Step three: remove the remaining wrapper. Rice ball becomes perfectly wrapped.

Did you know that おにmeans Demon. And that makes Onigiri おにぎりthe favourite snack of evil spirits. Again, Tomoe demonstrates:



From the land of the Midnight Sun to the land of the Rising Sun, I’ve finally got my feet on the ground in the south of Yokohama.

everything is green and lovely in japan.

everything is green and lovely in japan.

Getting off the plane, the air was sticky and I braced myself for the onslaught of people. Tokyo and the surrounding mega-cities have swollen to some 25 million people. But the crowd never came. Narita International Airport is an exceptionally calm and clean place, with very polite and helpful employees.

The two-hour train ride into Totsuka was uneventful (there were even seats) and from there a very polite and helpful cab driver took us the rest of the way in his exceptionally clean cab. Even the jet lag wasn’t a problem because the time difference made me wake up at about 5:30am and want to sleep at 9pm – completely socially acceptable. I hope the rest of my year is this easy…