Wednesday, November 28, 2007

These People Can EAT (But what are they eating????)

A tea box awaited us in our room at Shimoda which is an area famous for it's tea growing. I have posted pictures of that box along with photos of our dinner. Shimoda is also famous for Ume, pickled plums, I usually enjoy them. Shimoda plums are about $3.00 each and very sour even though honey is added to the brine. Chizuru san thought I should show you some before and after photos. At dinner we had something like lemonade but made with very small mikan or tangerines, it was delicious. When we were returning to our room Chizuru said she hoped the futon boy had come and indeed he had. The last photo is what we ate for breakfast, you are correct in thinking it is staring back at you.
On one of our yukatta clad excursions from the onsen to our room we heard Karaoke coming from the bar. Motoyo told me that Karaoke means literally, "only orchestra"; "Kara" means only and "Oke" is shortened from Orchestra.

Once Upon a Time an Alcoholic Hairdresser Lived in Japan

Maybe two.
For our one year anniversary my Japanese friends took me to a hotel in Shimoda. When you stay at a Japanese hotel that has an onsen (hot spring) you stay in a room that seems nearly empty, they provide you with a yukatta, a cotton robe, which you put on and wear for your entire stay. That's right, everyone eats, sleeps and walks around in their robes when they are not naked in very hot water. If you have a tattoo you cannot go into a public swimming pool or an onsen. That is because the Japanese Mafia,Yakuza, ( wear tattoos and the ban on tattoos is to keep public baths free of crime.
So anyway, the first consul from the US to Japan, Harris, came to Shimoda (,9171,501021111-386980,00.html) and was given a Geisha, O Kichi-san.
O Kichi was an uncommonly beautiful girl whose family sent her away to be a Geisha, she had a childhood friend with whom she later fell in love and was betrothed but then Harris (portrayed by John Wayne in the movie version; The Barbarian and The Geisha saw her asked for her as part of his deal with Japan so she left her true love for the good of Japan and started to drink to deal with her sorrow. Harris went back to the US, her former love wanted nothing to do with her so she opened a hair salon. She drank heavily. lost the salon, opened a brothel, drank more, lost that and drowned herself at the age of 51. It sounded a lot like Madame Butterfly but when I googled Madame Butterfly the story on which it was based was written before O Kichi- san's death. Today I visited her house and her grave and saw the actual palanquin upon which she was carried to Harris. There was this really drunk guy praying at her grave so I think maybe she is the unofficial Shinto patron saint of drunks.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kawaii (cute) Thanksgiving

Our most recent Thanksgiving adventures have taken place in Reykjavik, Vienna and Japan.
As I write this our Thanksgiving has just ended and yours has not yet started. I hope yours is as much fun as ours was. I doubt you can even come close unless you have three fun Japanese women, an overwhelmed Japanese man who may be one of those competitive eaters and Capt. Mike McCarten at the head of your table. When dinner was over Ryoko san said "Wait a minute, isn't there a wishbone?" Our guests had read about Thanksgiving and had only seen Turkeys on TV. Maiko san won the wishbone pull and said we all know she wished for a husband.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Maiko Wants a Husband

Maiko is one of my co workers, she is smart and very funny. She really wants to get married and said she was recently told that you should not tell a man you are dating that you want to get married. She figures maybe that's what she was doing wrong. She has lived in Vancouver, Brooklyn and Harlem. In Harlem she lived with a few members of a women's professional football team and wondered why no men were invited to their parties.
I invited Maiko to Thanksgiving here and she happily accepted and asked if she could bring a friend. She called to tell me she is bringing six people, maybe more, like here entire English as a Second Language class. Not to worry she said, they will employ the Amrican tradition of "pot luck".
If you know any great guy who may want eventual matrimony please forward this to them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yarn and Chocolate

In the past three years Mike has gained a wife, a dog and this sweater that I just finished knitting in a merino/ silk combination yarn. He may have also gained a pound or two because of this fudge recipe. Try it and you will agree, it calls your name before breakfast.

1 1/2 packages of chocolate chips (3 cups)
1 can of low fat condensed milk (it's a medium size, about 14 oz)
Melt together over low heat until smooth add nuts if you like. Pour into an 8 or 9 inch pan covered in wax paper. Chill. How easy is that?

Friday, November 2, 2007

One Year

My Japanese friends told me that yesterday was our one year aniiversary so they took me out to lunch and at the end of the month they are taking me to a fancy hotel in a hot spring area. Women are so much better at these kinds of things than men are. A: They remembered our anniversary (OK ,I didn't). B: They fed me. C: A fancy hotel.
We had the "lady's lunch special" at a crab restaurant, with the exception of the salad everything on the tray was crab. On the dessert tray everything except the kiwi was grape. The grapes here are amazing or as Katie McCarten said. "they taste like grape!".