Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thursday, June 17 – Saturday, June 19, 2010-

I have been told by countless previous exchange students to enjoy the last few weeks of your exchange because they are by far the quickest of the entire year. Well I’m finding that to be sound advice. The past three days have zoomed by and now I find myself trying to catch my breath once more. The rush to pack so many things into my last week at Japanese high school has meant for long days - well that and the fact that I’m staying up way to late watching World Cup Soccer games too!!

Quick shout out to my AATG Germany Exchange 2006 friends. Can you guys really believe it has been four years since we were in Nürnberg? Parts of it seem like ages ago and others so clear it could be last week!! Well here’s to our awesome exchange, and to Saranya’s suggestion of Reunion World Cup 2014 Brazil =D

But back to my current nation – JAPAN!! I’ve been trying to take in as much as possible and it still feels like my cup is overflowing. It’s all of the little things too, for example a day of fishing and soccer with my homeroom class; a heartfelt collection of photographs and good-bye letters from Oshima-Sensei and my third year friends; and a delicious, but still sad, good-bye dinner with the Kobayashi’s at our favorite sushi restaurant. I really don’t have much time this morning either, I’m meeting Grace and Kris, two of my ALT friends, in order to spend the afternoon and evening with them in Otawara city to the north. And seeing as they’re going to be here in an hour and I’m still lying in bed I really ought to go!! =P So enjoy the photos, I should be able to write once or twice before my trip next Tuesday, but until then “Go Japan!!” Our game against the Netherlands is tonight; hmmm we’ll see how this one turns out!! Haha =\

I consider this "the setting of the rising sun." Kind of like the end to my Japanese exchange at Bato High School
The new fishbone background also ought to symbolize the finishing of Fishery School!! Haha, not to be morbid or anything =P
On Thursday I had my last fishery field trip. We went fishing all day at a river up north. The weather was (as you can see) perfect.
Then once we got back to school we all spent an hour or two playing soccer out on the pitch - GREAT DAY!!
Miki and his classic peace sign
Nasushiobara - the same area where I went skiing with the school back in January
Plenty of fish to be caught!
Tanaka taking a break from fishing. He has the right to as well, he's ranked as one of the top 10 Ayu Fishermen (of any age) in all of Tochigi Prefecture!! And that's saying something
Seiya and Yoshida-Sensei going over the day's catch
Misaki, Yoshida-Sensei (aka Katherine Norrie's twin), and Azu in the art room
Art was my very last period of school, so we had a fun going-away party and played games
Seiya, Miki, and Yoshida-Sensei
Ma and I pretending to use their incredibly generous going away present to me: a lacquer tray and real gilded Kyuushu pottery!!
I realized that the very first time we went out to dinner as a host family we went to this same restaurant. It seems like a long time ago but it was really just last January!! Crazy what six months can do
THIS is the picture from January!! haha, does Ma look older =)
I think they look like brothers more than the same guy seeing as he now wears glasses - funny

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010- (THE JAPANESE TWINS LIST)

First of all, my sister Maria has started her blog for Rotary Youth Exchange to Argentina 2010-2011. It is cleverly named "La Vida Mia" which in Spanish means both "My Life" and "The Life of Mia"(her childhood nickname!) BE SURE TO CHECK IT OUT!! She just posted her first entry:

And now for one of the blog entries I've been thinking about for months now.
And it all starts Katherine Norrie...or at least her twin sister, whichever one you want to pick. It was she/they who set me off on a yearlong quest that is finally coming to fruition. You see the art teacher here at my local high school could be the perfect Japanese match for my art teacher and close family friend, Katherine Norrie, back at my alma mater of Northfield High School. It took less than a day at my school here before I started making a list of “Japanese Twins” based on family, friends, and celebrities back at home. Obviously I don’t have pictures of all these people, but for the most part I have found people who look like someone I know. As you’ll see from the following list, it is one of the most random conglomerations of names to ever grace the blog-o-sphere. I would like to say, before we begin, that this doesn’t in any way reflect how I feel towards you. I didn’t even find my own family, so if you aren’t on the list, don’t feel bad, it just means I haven’t found your Japanese clone yet!

  • Katherine Norrie and her sister, Yoshida-Sensei, are both fun and energetic art teachers. In fact, the word for glue in Japanese is even pronounced nori. It’s like it was meant to be! *
  • Yujie Sun has a fellow partner in (fashion) crime with Kikuchi from my homeroom. I’m pretty sure they’ve both at some point or another worn suspenders to school
  • Taylor Lawson served me sushi at a fast food restaurant
  • Miki, my other best friend from school will admit himself that he resembles everyone’s favorite Disney character
  • A woman walking her beagle - PERFECT match to Faye Caskey
  • Tyler Lebens apparently quit college in the US only to attend fishery school
  • Chelsea Koenigs’ kindred spirit is one of my other good friends here
  • Matt Vogel was in a children’s news program on channel 12
  • The quiet and smart kid from the fishery class last year was a mixture of Kyle Smested and Ira Hanson
  • Laurie Brackee was on the news in a story about her elderly mother living independently
  • Calina Hall is a Rotary rebound student who went to France for a year
  • A mixture of Cindy Barrientos and Sarah Behr also spent a year abroad through Rotary
  • My fishing and kayaking teacher Tanaka-Sensei is just like John Daniels*
  • The 45-year-old version of Jonny Bauman was snorkeling for giant salamanders in a sewer
  • Doug Hiza enjoying a nice dip in the local hot springs
  • Arlene Carol passed me while biking
  • My cousin Phil has the same sense of humor and comical facial expressions as Abe from my homeroom class
  • Russell Anway’s voice was on one of those cheesy tapes accompanying the school’s English textbooks
  • The twin of my other cousin, Brian still towered over his fellow soccer players in the men’s local futsol league
  • Steph (of Jeff and Steph fame) quietly read her book on a train to Utsunomiya with me – I was tempted to ask her how she’d been doing lately but didn’t want to disturb her from her novel!
  • Adrian Lazaro’s new name is Shogo, one of the Rotex friends I made
  • Amber Woitalla’s voice came floating (okay screaming) down the hallways of my high school…just like the good old days, minus the Japanese of course!
  • Sonja Norgaard plays the guitar in a bright purple dress, apparently
  • Ashley Reilly was in the background of some political event on TV
  • Brekken, the rambunctious German shorthair dog owned by my cousins, was doing what she loved most – hunting. But this time, instead of pheasants she was chasing stray monkeys through the hills of Nagano!! Turns out monkeys are a bit smarter than birds. I could just see her little mind running though, - I’ll even go through the trouble of translating it for you! - “Awww, man I almost had that one!! Really, really. Jeez, I’d even give my left ear if I could just climb these darn trees!! Then they’d really be stuck. I’m gonn- MONKEY!!!!” and off she would sprint again.
  • Cindy Kramer and Deb Thomforde both have children going abroad next year. I’ll bet you didn’t know that, did you ladies?! =)
  • Siri Thompson is a TV celebrity
  • A third year in my school is Meowth from Pokemon - his hairstyle even looks like cat ears
  • His friend looks like an Orc from Lord of the Rings, or maybe a goblin. I’m not sure which yet, all I know is I feel really bad for that guy…
  • Yosh Soltis was a doctor giving flu shots
  • A duo of third year students remind me a bit too much of lizards. I tend to steer clear of them!*
  • Isaac Tut stood out for obvious reasons in a crowd of short little Japanese people
  • Margaret Colangelo in a convenience store buying juice
  • Donna Paulsen making her way home on the train
  • Katy Shuermann was a teacher leading her class through the castle of Naha, Okinawa
  • Danyelle Fuhrmann in the international street of that same city
  • Jacob Merkle driving his scooter near the beach
  • Pam Vig in a full body wind suit jogging happily with a friend (in an equally flashy outfit) along the sidewalk. I always knew you had a neon pink and yellow flare to you, Pam!
  • Jeanne Tamura outside of a Harajuku 100 Yen store
  • Sam Studer was dressed like Santa Claus in Shinjuku, Tokyo
  • Susan Boyle dropped off her kid at Bato High School
  • Alan Riveros riding a Tokyo train
  • Nick Arvidson in a business suit. Lookin’ spiffy Nick!
  • Katrin Holl, the Austrian exchange student who came to NHS a couple years back, was shopping in a Yokohama mall
  • Bri Lane was also (surprise surprise) power shopping at the mall!
  • Mia Miller was my waitress in a Chinatown restaurant. You looked a little bit upset though, Mia, what happened to you on December 6th, 2009?! You were making your twin angry =P
  • Ellen Mucha boarding a Shinkansen Bullet Train in Tokyo
  • A fortuneteller who looked a lot like a giant toad. Too bad her own fortune didn’t turn out better
  • Mrs. Salisbury owns a books store near my house
  • Maya Rudolph from SNL was waiting at a stoplight
  • Felicia Hansel walking home from school
  • There’s a girl in my cooking class who looks like Allie Lyman did during her self admittedly awkward childhood years. Anyone who’s been to her house, picture the little league button on their fridge!
  • A drawing of a Christmas elf on the side of a chocolate bar looked like Barry Carlson
  • Maren Dvorak was on the side of every cigarette vending machine in Japan for the month of December
  • Casey Watkins in a Sendai department store on Christmas Eve
  • Someone walking the streets with his girlfriend had the same hair and nose as the Crazy Horse statue in South Dakota
  • Sarah Martens on a TV show about savings the cheetahs
  • Kylie Daniels was some school girl making mochi rice cakes on channel 4
  • Rachael Stets was a very fashionable girl on the train who wore a giant fur hat and even had a “Rachael Stets-ian” scarf
  • Angie Tanghe was wearing an expensive kimono in an Utsunomiya department store
  • Vicki Dilley is a singer dressed all in white who sang at the New Year’s television special*
  • Cousin Alisa competed in the Japanese version of Name That Tune.
  • Wendy Smith holding a bouquet of flowers in a crowded train station
  • A mixture of Rachel Sampson and Emily Quinnell (or kind of like the recent, and much improved, version of Miley Cyrus) eating ramen noodles in Sano. Still the best-looking girl I’ve seen all year!!
  • Chisaki Iijima even had a Japanese twin. Max and I were convinced it was her for a minute
  • Frau Winkelman boarding a train in Utsunomiya
  • A fifty-year-old, excessively well groomed Jacob Anderson was standing talking to himself about how cold it was in the station waiting room
  • Gary Carlson gave me a kind nod as I biked to school – very Gary Carlson of him!
  • Tommy VanWylen was touring the Asakusa Shrine
  • Phil Soltis stopped to enjoy a street performance in Ueno Park
  • A 45-year-old version of Neil Wefel near the Japanese National Museum – Neil’s favorite place, of course
  • Hillary Van Wyngeeran had more than just a little bit of sass as she walked down a nearly empty Tokyo sidewalk. It was like she was struttin’ her stuff on the catwalk rather than a dirty city walkway! But good for you, Hill.
  • Cinda Laabs gave me a very Cinda-esque smile and nod a narrow Tokyo street
  • My grandma Estenson was (in my mind) wearing a far too racy and lacy black sequins dress for a nationwide karaoke competition on TV. She even had long black gloves and matching red hair…That one scared me a little bit. I can honestly say I’d never pictured my grandma Asian before!
  • Again, Allie Lyman if she were thirty years older this time, and owned a Chinese restaurant – shoot for the stars Allie =D
  • Bjorn Carlson was an aspiring acapella punk rocker on a competitive music program
  • I found a 12-year-old Cale Steinhoff on my host brother’s soccer team, he played defense and not only was he half as tiny as everyone else, he was twice as crafty
  • Lila Weaver seemed very happy to be spending the day in Tokyo Disney Sea
  • In a Rotary magazine there was a picture of a big, scary foreign man (I’m guessing Ukrainian or Belarusian) who had a flat top and was wearing a black and blue soccer warm up. I was convinced Cohrs had finally seen the light and become a Rotarian!
  • I saw Emma Twito in fifty years. Don’t worry Emma, you’ve still got your same spunk and style =)
  • Céline Dion was driving her van near the supermarket – gotta make that sushi!
  • Amanda Frazier was on a Japanese game show…and failed horribly!
  • Taylor Shroyer (or his dad, seeing as they look the same) reeled in a 20 kilo Giant Sea Bass on a famous fishing program, well done Shroyer, well done.
  • I saw a tall blonde foreigner that looked so much like Solveig Hagen that I was left wondering if it wasn’t really her. Solveig, were you by any chance in rural South-central Japan this February?
  • I found Amberly, my fellow exchange student, waitressing in the Tsutaya Wired café n the top floor of the Shibuya shop. Is that how you afforded all those crazy Harajuku outfits, Amberly??
  • Professor Snape was an Olympic long jump skier*
  • Kristy Wacek and George from Seinfeld were holding hands on an early spring walks through town
  • Sandra Bernhard has moved to tiny Tochigi, Japan. The last place in the world any paparazzi would be looking for her (but then again, when was the last time any were!)
  • Ruth Bauman is a little country farmer
  • Congratulations Kevin Holmsten, you graduated from high school in Japan also.
  • My Aunt Barb and Lois Peterson were a duet at a local music concert. I didn’t know you two could play the Japanese koto!
  • Meanwhile at that same concert Bruce Dalgaard sat with a smile on his face, just like I’m sure the real Bruce would be enjoying a koto recital.
  • Jake Sager was eating at a hamburger restaurant called “The Grab Happiness”
  • Beret Amundson if she were a middle aged Japanese house wife
  • There’s a pair of really dense fellows in the fishery first year class who remind me of Crabbe and Goyle from Harry Potter
  • Imagine Liz Brady in a perpetual state of fear, like when she makes her eyes so big you can see the white all the way around them, and that was the face of a woman trying to park her car in the restaurant parking lot. Very frightening
  • Lindsay Vonn apparently did some post Olympic R&R in Nakagawa, Japan
  • Picture a frog with a big curly Afro like bubble of hair and that’s one of my classmates
  • Abby Stets was one of two people, either the youngest (and as you can see from the picture on the right - cutest) grand-daughter of my first host family or a freshman at my high school who has hair longer than her waist. So you can pick Abby, which do you want to be?!? =)*
  • Liza Rod served me lunch one time
  • Joe Gallagher was really into photographing trees…what’s that all about, Joe?
  • Ron Sommers cruising the countryside roads in his truck
  • Sam Maus out for a jog
  • Aaron Bradley drives a fancy black Nissan
  • A clone of Emily Stets, but with the personality of Dusti Boyum
  • Funny enough, the first find during the trip with my cousin Andrew was none other than our grandma Alice. She was sitting across from us on the train and proceeded to pull random items out of her purse, in true grandma fashion. Her hair was even the same style
  • Heather Scott was the first person I recognized in the Kyoto station
  • A very “Jenny Kram” like girl was checking emails at our Kyoto hotel
  • A nice plump Rosie O’Donnell waiting for the Osaka train
  • Mr. Joyce fell asleep on the metro across from Andrew and I. Andrew wanted to pull a prank on him, but I convinced him it probably wasn’t the real Mr. Joyce
  • If Sam Weaver’s aunt Trish looked a little bit more like an Eskimo I could have sworn that she got on a metro train with us in Osaka
  • The previous Prime Minister Mr. Hatoyama for some reason looks like he could be in the Abdella family*
  • A Japanese mix of my cousin Molly Studer and Katie Nygren on the metro
  • Beyoncé also loves the metro system apparently
  • Stina Nesbit was, of course, a Japanese television drama star
  • Colleen Norton almost hit me in her Jeep. Don’t worry Colleen, I forgive you =)
  • Alan Cox, definitely an Alan Cox, was spotted on my way to school
  • Justin Stets if he wore glasses and were a banker
  • Mary Carlson perusing a Tokyo CD store
  • I served Katie Ingman lunch at our restaurant – she ordered soba noodles and tempura (good choice, Kate, good choice!)
  • 17-year-old Anne Minske passed me in rollerblades
  • Jim Thompson dropping off his daughter at school. But unless Siri or Liv have shrunk by about a foot and dyed their hair black, I don’t think he was dropping off either of them. =P
  • And finally, just a few days ago, I spotted my cousin’s little boy Cole Sommer, frantically trying to escape from his parents at a rest stop. He put up a good fight too, getting out of their grip and halfway across the parking lot before he was recaptured


So there you have it. It’s been a random yet fun task for me over the year, and it’s brought me more than a handful of laughs along the way.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010-

I’m hoping to do two blogs today, but the second one is proving to be quite a task so it might not get posted until tomorrow or later. I’ll keep it a secret for now, just to build the anticipation!!

~ This is the point when you as the reader can excitedly bounce up and down in your chair saying, “Ooooh, I wonder what it might be?!? I’m so excited!” You know, like Sam Weaver does for all of my blogs ;) haha, just kidding ~

Today I had a fun lunch over at the fishery school that we as a homeroom class prepare ourselves. It was curry and rice, salted and grilled ayu fish, chocolate cake and this awesome waterfall method of eating soumen rice noodles involving a garden hose, a metal saw, ladders, chairs, several poles of bamboo, chopsticks and ninja-like reflexes! Haha, if that doesn’t sound like a fun meal I don’t know what does.

Miki helping make the cake
This is when we're happy there's still at least one girl in the fishery class
Koike and Tanaka making the Shioyaki Ayu
Sitting down for lunch, we'd work up a good appetite
And this is it!! It's called 流し素麺 or "Nagashi Soumen"
It involves cutting several pieces of bamboo in half, hallowing out the middle, and creating your own little noodle river!!
Just turn the water on high, send some noodles shooting down and the goal is to grab and eat all of them before they spill off the end!! So funny, I can't believe it took until my last week for us to do this =P

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010-

There have been moments over the past week when I’ve run into brick walls

Not literally, that would be cause for some concern, but at times I feel as if I am an Olympic sprinter, rushing forward headfirst so fast that I hardly have time to absorb the surrounding crowds. I am getting closer and closer to the finish line, and I’m certain to come out on top no matter how it finishes, but it feels like I’ve striven all year to do a 400 meter dash only to discover that there are unexpected hurdles awaiting me in the homestretch! None of these hurdles are bad or disappointing things, only sudden jolts of realization and sadness that tell me I won’t ever return to this track again. My race is ending soon and before long the baton will be passed on to another.

An example of one such hurdle came this afternoon while I stood in front of the entire Bato High School giving a going away presentation in Japanese. I was explaining my exchange, talking about all the things I have learn this year, all the adventures I’ve had and all the unforgettable memories I’ve made. And that’s when (BAM) I suddenly had a vivid flashback of one similar speech in August of last year. I was stumbling through some sort of introduction, explaining how I would be at their school for one year during which I would do my best to take the most out of my exchange as possible. It’s been a real marathon since then and I didn’t know if I would find my way at times, but today I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort knowing not only that I’ve made it, but that I’ve done it. I’ve taken my most.

Grace Lee and I
The school getting ready for my good-bye speech
This is random, but I got a couple fun snapshots out of it so I figured I'd upload them as well. It's mid-June here now and Grandpa's bonsai trees are in full bloom. A quick afternoon shower yesterday was just enough to entice outside to take a couple pictures
Toori Gate
There are literally dozens of different styles and colors of flowers in his garden
I'll maybe try to take a couple too when the weather isn't so misty and mysterious but sunny instead
雨 ~ あめ ~ Ame ~ Rain
The bees are out in force!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010-

Take a guess at what this blog is about. I'll give you a hint (as if the following photos don't explain it clearly enough):
There you have it. It has undoubtedly been one of the highlights from my exchange and now with just a week or two left to enjoy my new favorite Japanese dishes I figured I'd share a bit with all of you. I've experienced so many new foods this year that I don't even know where to begin. So I thought I'd tell you some of my favorites and least favorites foods, along with the strangest, the least expected, and the ones most likely to become popular in the USA within the coming years.
  • Favorites: Still sushi and sashimi, but also tempura, soba noodles, Okonomiyaki, and unagi freshwater eel
  • Least Favorites: Ume boshi pickled sour plums, Shiso leaf which is a sour green plant added to salads and sushi sometime, and a variety of countryside preservatives such as boiled chicken innards or perhaps rice mixed with potato, sake alcohol, carrots, and...oh yeah, salmon heads. YUCK!!
  • Strangest: Sea urchin, wild boar or puffer fish
  • Least Expected: Raw horse or whale - both, I'm half ashamed to say, I enjoyed the taste of quite a bit
  • Most likely to take off back home: Either tonkatsu fried pork cutlets or Okonomiyaki pancakes
And so with that, I now invite you out to dinner - Bon Appétit
Before the Japanese begin any of their meals they always recite the word
From what I've learned it carries the meaning of gratefully receiving. In the distant past this referred to the animals and plants that had given themselves for our nourishment
With the first Japanese match of the World Cup taking place as I write this blog, I figured we could begin with a nice cup of green tea, some quality soccer gossip, and several hours of sitting cross legged on tatami mats. That's the true Japanese style! Haha
If you need a quick snack you can always make your way to the convenience store and buy a cup of ramen noodles
They've only got a couple different kinds though =\
During a cold, rainy soccer game they're the best
But if you feel like a more filling meal you really need to take your time when picking out what you'd like. Japan has a great variety of dishes.
Thankfully there are usually enticing window displays in front of restaurants in order to help hungry customers choose what to enjoy first. But beware, you don't want exactly what appears in the window - those are plastic!!
Okay now that we've decided what to eat and we've gotten comfortable in our yukata robes, let the courses begin:
How about beginning with a giant Hokkaido Scallop?
Some vinegar soaked Octopus
And oh, this one is awesome!! Duck breast wrapped around sweet leeks in a juicy teriyaki sauce
There's always a whole conch shell
In the summer time you can't go wrong with a nice salted, grilled Ayu Sweetfish over the fire
You know you're in the countryside of Tochigi when you sit down, have a cup of green tea and the side dishes offered to you include pickled cucumbers, sour preserved plums, whole cloves of garlic, and a seaweed, soy sauce and ayu fish head salad...yummy =\
Also very distinctive to the countryside is Devil's Tongue, or Konnyaku
What about a nice Okinawan specialty - Pig Heads!
If you'd prefer a most reasonable appetizer, I'll offer you a wild boar croquette (a seasoned and deep fried potato pancake), along with some lightly fried tempura slices of squash
There's always rice cakes, pounded into "mochi"
This variety has sesame seeds, seaweed flakes, and peanuts in it!
Andrew really liked the variety of fried meats and vegetables on skewers
Especially famous in Osaka, there are Takoyaki fried Octopus cakes
A common soup during the winter, this is a blend of daikon radish, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and leeks. It's best served with a dash of chili seasoning
Kimpira (as made by KTP)
What about some (korean) ground beef served with a raw egg, onion slices, pine nuts, salad, and apples? The sauce is the best part though!
Gyoza dumplings are a must. Do you see at how good they look when friend properly in the background?!
I know it's not Japanese, but I had escargot for the first time while in Japan and it was delicious. Buttery, garlicy, and covered in toasty bread crumbs! Good snails
Now we come to the main course. Just like with the rest, we have a variety of choices. There's always a mixture of tempura and soba noodles like at my host family's restaurant
You know I love them soba noodles!
Or there's ramen noodles
Breaded and fried oysters
Hambagu and Ebi-furai
A beef patty (usually served without a bun and in it's own juices) along with deep fried shrimp
There's donburi
Or rice covered in various meets, veggies, and sauces
Although we can only get it at New Year's, these specially prepared boxes of Japanese delicacies are a real smorgasbord for both the eyes and the taste buds
If none of the above fits your fancy then there is the incredibly delicious (and I'm convinced would do well in America) Okonomiyaki pancakes. They are cabbage, egg, sauce, seasoning, and then any kind of filling you want all mixed together. My favorites include pork, shrimp, kimuchi, or mochi. Then they are fried right in front of you on a hot griddle. Add a little Japanese sauce on top and it's superb
Another griddle favorite from this year was while out to eat in Tokyo with Ayano and Mai. We had Korean fried rice with melted cheese right in the middle
Another great dish is the tonkatsu I mentioned before. It is high quality pork cutlets, coated in fine panko breading and fried
Again, if you add a little sauce on top they can't be beat!
But how about a little seafood, right!? I mean we ARE in Japan.
If you just want to buy directly from the supermarket you can always buy a whole frozen squid or perhaps an octopus in a bucket!
And who could mention Japanese seafood without getting into sushi?!
There's maki-zushi, which are tiny rolls
Sushi can include anything, even delicious ikura salmon roe and uni sea urchin!!
There's onigiri, which is just a rice ball with fish draped over the top
Or there are bigger rolls of sushi, such as the salmon roe and cucumber ones in the previous picture, or the seafood salad ones found in the center of this photo
If you don't want a sushi roll or onigiri, then there's always sashimi.
Sashimi is basically just the fish, no rice or seaweed attached
Mmmmm, what a good looking sushi platter
Here is some from the world famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. There are all slightly cooked with a blow torch before being sprinkled with salt and pepper.
From left to right they are Maguro tuna, Tai red snapper, Sake salmon, Basashi raw horse, and Hotate scallops!!
Here's Andrew enjoying some Unagi eel and larger maki-zushi rolls
Also at Tsukiji you can buy tasty rice bowls layered with different kinds of fish on top. For example salmon, octopus and tai as seen above
Gotta love that octopus
At this restaurant you can even grill your octopus and squid on cute little skewers
You can't leave Japan without trying some sort of sun dried fish as well. These are covered in miso and sesame seeds
If you ever get to visit my second host family, the Kobayashi's, then you really ought to try their Unagi eel!! It's freshly cleaned and grilled to perfection
Another great seafood snack: whole raw oysters drizzled in soy sauce and vinegar!! Out of this world =)
Kaitenzushi is the conveyer belt sushi, and if you're not careful you can build up quite a stack of plates for yourself!!
Finally, we've reached dessert. How about some Anmitsu? That's Japanese gelatin covered in a sugar sauce, fresh fruit, anko sweet bean paste, and if you're lucky, ice cream!
Okinawan purple sweet potato pies
I think I'm drooling
This is raspberry sorbet, fresh fruit, whipped cream, and a waffer
As far as ice cream goes, Pino is king in Japan. Tiny chocolate nubs that even come with their own poker stick
Tochigi is famous for fresh, ripe strawberries like you can see in this cake we made in my food design class
More mochi rice cakes, these are covered in kinako soy flour, which surprisingly enough tastes kind of like peanut butter
Who could pass up some Crunky Kids...
Who doesn't love the Japanese and their candy names??
And if you're really hungry for dessert (like Ayano here) you could always order this cookies and cream loaf of honey toast!!
And finally, let's end where we began, with a little green tea. This macha is quite a bit thicker than the usual kind, but its foamy, bitter taste has played an important part in Japanese culture and cuisine for years.
We're all done, and clearly we've eaten way too much for our own good, but hey that's how my whole year has gone!! Haha
Now when the Japanese finish their meals they say the words
「ご馳走様でした」 "Gochisousama deshita"
The meaning of ご馳走 - "Gochisou" is basically translated as a feast or good entertainment, so it is only fitting that I end my blog by saying that this year has really been like one long, delicious Gochisou! I'd like to extend a heart/stomachfelt thanks to each and every one of you who have fed me along the way - I enjoyed every bite of it!