Hello there blog world, I thought I would give you some insight on my current whereabouts. I am currently living in Osaka, Japan for the next 5 weeks. My husband was chosen for a summer grant fellowship through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to do research with a professor at a university in Osaka for 11 weeks. Lucky for me, my employer allowed me to take 5 weeks off (half vacation, half unpaid) so that I wouldn't have to be apart from Nick for too long. Therefore, I planned my visit to be smack dab in the middle of his stay. So far it has worked out perfectly because Nick had a little over 2 weeks to take part in his orientation with NSF in Tokyo and to get settled in his apartment in Osaka and with his professor at the university. Plus, I got here just in time to celebrate my birthday with my hubby in Japan. My plan for the next couple of weeks on this blog is to share my experiences living in a new country. I will do my best to share the differences, and the things I am learning, especially as it pertains to food since it is so very different.
To begin, I must mention what I have found to be food staples in Japanese cuisine (washoku): all kinds of seafood(including squid, eel, etc.), rice, noodles, pork, pancakes, "European" breads, soybeans, waffles, breaded things with tempura or panko, eggs, root vegetables, apricots, green onions, sprouts, curry, sweet beans, seaweed, etc.
I have a few items already to share by photos of course (please note these are from my experiences in Osaka, a very very populated area):
A local grocery store, there are grocery stores and/or convenience stores on practically every corner. Most people go to the store everyday, buying just the groceries they need for that days meal and/or for the next day. A majority of the population also travels by bicycle and so most bicycles have baskets. The picture above is of bikes at a subway stop.
One thing I didn't realize until moving here is that in Japan they drive on the left side, therefore you are supposed to walk on your left too (I haven't gotten used to that yet). This photo is of a political propaganda car, nothing but loud words for me came out of this vehicle ( I have no idea what they were saying but because of the van being covered in head shots, I was led to believe it was political).
One of the many "European" style bakeries. It is funny because to me these bakeries are Japanese but they label them as "European." They most resemble the bakery in Irvine, CA called 85C located in little Tokyo (as I like to call it). Either way, the bread is so delicious, light and fluffy (I will post more photos later, I have yet to photograph the items I buy because I consume them too fast).
Of course there is an endless supply of sushi and sashimi. This photo is from our dinner at a local conveyer belt style sushi place, each plate cost 130 yen (basically $1.25), we finished our meal with a whopping 15 plates, which in the end consisted of at least two pieces of sushi per plate, therefore resulting in a very full Liz and Nick for a mere $16 with hot green tea. Pretty sweet. Sushi can also be bought in the grocery stores and on average one roll costs just shy of 300 yen ($3), you can't beat that.
Another thing I did not realize was how much they love soybeans here, I mean I knew they loved edamame and tofu, etc. but the beans themselves as mushy gook. They process the beans to make them sweet and use them in many many desserts. I bought this item thinking it was something else, but it turned out to be manjuu, a sweet bean paste bun...yuck! I don't know if I can get on board with the whole using beans for dessert thing.
Chopsticks (hashi) are the preferred silverware in Japan. If you have chopsticks then you have to have chopstick rests (hashioki), I bought these because they remind me of my childhood cats plus they are awesome (cartoon cats are pretty popular here).
These are udon bowls, nothing better than udon noodles, sweet beef, bamboo shoots, and green onions to make a delicious meal. These cost us a total of 1000 yen ($10), not too shabby for a delicious and filling meal for two. We will definitely be eating a lot of udon noodles, they sell them in the market too, it makes for a quick fix meal.
These beverage vending machines are all over, the funny thing is they aren't filled with sodas but instead there is a variety of cold water, green tea, coffee, flavored waters, and a few soda choices. These are all over town, which makes it easy to quench your thirst at a moments notice, plus their iced coffee is delicious, beats going to Starbucks anyday.
Well that's it for now, I will share more as it comes.