Sunday, July 17, 2011

Only in Japan...mostly!

I've really been slacking on the cultural experience well as the traveling. I'm the kind of person who wants to see it all and do it all, and in the 5 months that we've been here I have done quite a lot, but not as much as I would have liked to. I feel like 3 years is slipping away and I'm running out of time! A bit dramatic, yes. So I have emailed a lady about taking Japanese language classes, I'm making it a goal to get my hiney into some of the local shops, try random places to eat that I didn't read about on OkinawaHai, and go to some historic sites and festivals. First on the list is a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, an island Battle Sites Tour, and a festival. Good luck to me :)
However, I have been able to see and experience a few things unique to Japan/Okinawa and thought I'd share, with pictures of course (another goal to amp up this blog. Total side note-how can I become famous just for blogging? I'd really like to! Bahaha!)

Dr. Fish: Okay, so maybe this is done in the states, but I had never heard of it and its a big thing over here! These little fishies eat the dead skin off your footsies and its quite the strange experience!

Coco's. I LOVE Coco's. If you've ever heard me talk about it you've heard me say that is has some sort of addictive substance it is made with. The first time I had it I thought it was alright, and now I'm hooked! I get the chicken cutlett curry, spice level 2 (I'm working my way up on the spice levels, which go up to a 10. To eat a 10 you have to have successfully made it through at least a 5), and cheese naan bread. How I will miss this when we leave! I have heard there is a Coco's in Hawaii...

Habu Sake: Yep, with the snake in it. Now, the snake in the sake varies in size. Turf is petrified of the stuff, but my friend Kendall and I took a shot of it at lunch one day just to try it out. It wasn't bad, but the waitor was laughing at us :)
Blue Seal: Okay, so apparently this was "Born in America, Grown up in Okinawa". Again, never have I seen a Blue Seal in the states, although I'm sure they exist. BUT, the greatest thing apart from Coco's is Ube Ice cream! It is a delicious purple ice cream that I also find myself craving. Now, to be honest, I had no idea what Ube actually was (my guess was it is some kind of potato? Beni-imo is popular here, also purple, and it is a potato), so I googled it!
Ube is a purple yam and is used to make all kinds of foods: ice cream, cakes, breads, pies, etc. Cooked, it is supposed to taste just like any other yam. I have yet to try this, as I prefer the ice cream version. It is not overly sweet, but to me it does not taste like a yam. YUM!

Ramen: (This particular picture is from a place called Ten Ten Man) Soy based, noodles, bean sprouts, sometimes pork. The real thing is SO much better than stove top! In Japanese culture, it is impolite to leave food uneaten (another side note: good thing I teach kiddos about the importance of editing and grammar. I just corrected this word; I had originally typed "uneated" OY!), so slurping is encouraged, as is bringing the bowl directly to your mouth to drink the broth.
My dear American husband, becoming proficient at the use of chop sticks!

Pineapple Park: There is a pineapple park on the Northern part of the island. You can take a trip on a little pineapple cart and find out all there is to know about pineapple. For example, did you know that "pineapple" means "pine and apple"? Yeah, so some of the information and the general cartoon presentation was silly, but you wouldn't believe how many Japanese tours come to this place! Its also Jess' favorite :)
At the end of the tour through the pineapple field there are all sorts of pineapple treats and wine to taste!

Karaoke: BIG deal! There are karaoke bars here, but the Japanese actually have these karaoke places where your group can rent a room, order food, and sing your hearts out. The first time was a bit awkward, but still enjoyable.

Japanese Veterinarians: The base vet is not ideal in that its difficult to get an appointment. When Boomer had a yeast infection in his ears (the first of many, I'm told to expect), I had to venture off base to find help. Animal Hospital 22 was very helpful, had English translators, excellent hours (365 days a year, and open until almost 10pm!), and was very clean. They may be a bit pricier, but once I find a place I like I tend to stick with it. Even the veterinarians use cute little cartoon characters! This is the bag they gave me to carry his medicine, along with written instructions on the front.

Carp and Koi fish: Okay, so there were a few Koi in here among mostly Carp. These again are a big deal in Japan. I didn't know a lot about the fish either, aside from what I had experienced with my grandmother's koi pond growing up and these little guys who tried to take my arm off for some food! Here's what I found out:
1. Koi are omnivorous, and will even eat peas, lettuce and watermelon.
2. The oldest koi was named "Hanako" and reportedely lived to 226 years (they removed her scales to determine her lifespan). Read about her here.
3. Koi will produce thousands of "unacceptable" and genetically deficient offspring in one single spawning.
4. Koi actually means "carp" in Japanese, and the homophone "koi" means love and affection.
5. You can breed a goldfish and a carp, but their offspring are sterile. Why you would try that is simply put, awkward.
6. Koi were first bred in Japan in the 1720's.
7. Koi have interesting barbel on their lips.
8. There are no Koi fish in Antartica. Lucky for Koi, no Koi-sicles.
9. Good places for Koi feeding frenzies are the Okinawa Zoo, Fukushu-en garden ,and the Comprehensive Park .
10. Buying pirated Koi is a criminal act.

So that's it friends! Until next time, Sayounara!

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