Friday, December 28, 2007

"For Relaxing Time, Make it Suntory Time"

Although the Japanese seem more advanced than Americans in many areas, they don't come close to Americans when it comes to the demand for modern convenience. For example, they do not generally use clothes driers, but rather prefer to hang their clothes on their balconies to dry. I've only seen one McDonald's, and that was in the touristy part of town. There are no take-out restaurants near us, and when you do eat in a restaurant, the meal will be served anywhere from 5 minutes to 60 minutes later. I think this easy-going way of life has more to do with the fact that we are not in Tokyo, but on a tropical island. This is akin to trying to understand New Yorkers by visiting Maui. I'm betting that all Japanese are not the same.

However, one thing they do love is easily accessible vending machines! And I mean, walk-out-your-front-door, stop-on-the-way-to-the-car accessible. I have no idea where this need for zesty beverages at every turn came from. You cannot walk down a residential road without seeing a Coca-Cola or Suntory Vending Machine. On the highways, cars can pull off to the side of the road to stop at a vending machine (on the left hand side, which is very disconcerting to me). I am not exaggerating, they are in the most random spots. The drinks, are of course, way more exciting than American vending machines (and more enticingly packaged). They offer iced coffee, hot coffee, apple tea, cream soda. Perhaps having a vending machine by your front door supplies a little extra income? If only I could figure out a way to hook up a Pinkberry frozen yogurt machine in my garage....

Check out the large wooden skunk...

And for those Bill Murray fans out there, who wanted to see if he was truly the face of Suntory Beverages, I'm sorry to disappoint....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Found Objects

Look what I found down by the sea shore today! Okay, full disclosure, it took me 3 trips to the sea shore to find these, but I did limit my scavenger hunt to the little slice of beach right by my house. I took great care to select the shells that weren't....occupied.

Season's Greetings

We had a dandy island Christmas. The East China Sea skies opened up and drenched us as we were running home on Christmas eve, but then we awoke to a gorgeous and sunny Christmas morning. We were graciously invited to not one but two Christmas feasts. I made some tasty apple crisps and John busted out some delish homemade pumpkin pies. Boy did I hit the jackpot with this one! The second party took place atop a high rise on the beach, with views of the entire island. Really breathtaking. Hope Santa was good to you!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tonight, we swung by Sushi Zen, the Okinawa equivalent of Cheers. You can pop your head in any night of the week and always see someone you know (or someone John knows...but then, he knows a lot of people). The head Sushi chef used to have a restaurant in NYC till his mom got sick, so he moved back to his native Okinawa and opened up a hole in the wall with fantastic sushi and edamame. It's hard to have a distinguishable edamame but let me tell you, it's the best I've ever had.

So as we were wrapping up our meal, John's friend Heather came in Sushi Zen with 3 very large, shiny, practically still squirming tuna from an afternoon fishing trip. She gave them to the chef, and then we got to watch him fillet and serve. What a great community!

Okay, so John may have the best law job ever. Get a look at this gorgeous photo. See that white building closest to the camera? Yep, that's where he works. It's about 1.5 miles from where we live (read: 5 minute commute). His office window looks out over a golf course (noon tee time, anyone?). Every Friday, one of his job requirements is to play Ultimate Football on the lawn by his building. People he doesn't even know salute him on sight. He works everyday to maintain the integrity of our armed services. Oh yeah, I'm drinking the kool-aid, and it tastes niiiice.

Friday, December 21, 2007

There are only about 10 television channels in English here. There are lots of syndicated sitcoms and the occasional good chick flick. My favorite parts about these channels are the Military TV commercials peppered throughout. John and I like to make fun of the many ridiculous topics they cover, the kind of basic stuff you'd see on Sesame Street, like "When you work out, be sure to drink lot's of water." Good thing I went to a Montessori Pre-K where we were well versed in topics of hydration. There’s lots of animation, CG and impressive acting….your tax dollars at work.

Although, upon reexamination, (and smugness aside) perhaps those 30 second sound bites of wisdom have value for even the most urbane city folk. Some of whom are my nearest and dearest.

For Example:

"Coffee and Cigarettes don't make a balanced diet, DON’T SKIP MEALS"....Vic

"I will stand up against wrongdoing and abuse in the workplace"...Camilla

"Fad diets, like calorie-counting forks (seriously?), don't work. Eat sensible meals"... Mom

"When in foreign lands, you are subject to both US laws, and the laws of your host nation, so respect both."....John Golden

"Never shake a baby"...Lu

“Don’t beat your family members.”…well that one’s and important message for all of us, isn’t it?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This is a map of Miyagi Chatan Cho, where we live. We are actually situated next door to The Beach Hotel, indicated in the photo. There are no street names here, and streets don't run in a is more like a rat's maze, which is great fun to navigate when you're brand new to the island!


I rode my bicycle down to "American Village" which looks like a cross between the Jersey Shore and Third Street Promenade, complete with tchocky boutiques, food court and supersized ferris wheel. There's a large department store-style place called Jusco that carries eveything from food, pets, electronics, furniture, beauty-supply and the latest fashion. Shopping for necessities provides a difficult task as you are left to rely on what you THINK a shampoo bottle should look opposed to a conditioner bottle, hair gel, hair serum, body lotion, etc. Often, not a word on the label is in english, but rather in Kanji. Or it may have one word with actual roman characters saying something like "Super Shiny!" which again, begs the this shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, hair serum, or body lotion???? One American woman in the supermarket asked me if the small package she had in her hand was tofu, and we spent a considerable amount of time examining it in order to discover that there was absolutely no way to know for sure.

Oh and Jusco has a bakery section which has AMAZING french bread, pizzas, croissants, apple crisps...anything made with dough. Crusty, buttery, scrumptious. Vic, I think it's time to buy your plane ticket.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sumeba Miyako

Welcome to my blog friends, family and random internet daytrippers. "Sumeba Miyako", the perhaps temporary title of my blog, is a Japanese idiom meaning "Wherever one lives, one comes to love it." Through the process of sharing my experience in Okinawa with you, I hope to uncover beauty in the details. By photographing and documenting all that is different about this place, I can stop myself from clinging to searching for what is the same as what I know. Thanks for viewing, and perhaps this blog can inspire a visit! Love, Jenny