Japan Time

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Toyoda of Toyota in America...and the culture clash that could ensue.

This is an interesting article from CNN about today's upcoming appearance by Akio Toyoda (president of Toyota Motor Corporation) in Washington to answer questions about the Toyota recalls and issues.

Toyoda in Washington: A Clash of Cultures?

The article mentions differences in American and Japanese body language and English and Japanese direct/indirect language. These are things I encounter every day living and working in Japan and I'm interested to see how America handles Toyoda's visit.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A fun night with a fellow foreigner, Mexican food and (of course) - purikura!

Tonight Nikki, a new (well, new-ish - she's been here for two months) teacher in a nearby city came to Fujieda for some Mexican food and hanging out. Of course, I had to introduce her to purikura - we had so much fun that we went twice, once by ourselves and then again with Aya. Then me, Nikki and Aya came back to my place, hung out and chatted about life in Japan and all that good stuff. It was really fun and I hope we can hang out again soon! Next time I'll go to Nikki's town where apparently, they have a garlic restaurant - amazing!

This purikura photo has our zodiac signs, Chinese zodiac signs, and the type of men we like! The little stamps near our faces with hearts say our types - we could choose from lots of different ones. Mine says I like "carnivore men," the opposite of "herbivore men" (in Japan, they are the current trend...guys who are intimidated by women and don't want to make the first move), Nikki's says she likes "monkey face" men (seriously, that's what it says), and Aya likes "skinny macho" men. Other options included stupid men, men with dark skin, and also "half" men - half Japanese, half Brazilian. Yeah. Definitely couldn't say that in the US without offending some people. Oh, Japan.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Latest プリクラ! (purikura!)

I have just informed Aya that next month is Purikura Month. We will go to purikura every day (minus the weekend) for one month. I'm super excited...she's not quite sure about it.
But thinking of poses and props is challenging, so if you, dear readers, have any requests/suggestions, please leave a comment. And to my students who read this: if you want to join us, please do! We welcome any company.
がんばります!! ("We'll do our best!")

Monday, February 15, 2010

A day off in the middle of the week!

Thursday was a national holiday in Japan, so my school was closed and I had a wonderful day off in the middle of the week. My co-workers and I (minus Noriko, who was sick) met in Shizuoka for dinner. We went to a restaurant owned by my student's husband called Cocina. The food and drinks were excellent and the atomosphere was really warm. We had a good time.

And after dinner, purikura (of course)! I've been wanting to go with the other staff members for a while and on Thursday, they were gracious enough to entertain me and my love of those crazy Japanese photo booths.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Trying new restaurants in Japan - always a gamble.

Now that I've been living in Fujieda for over a year, I have established a few restaurants that I like and have become a patron of. There's a Mexican restaurant that is really cheap and is a favorite with foreigners (especially since Mexican food is really hard to find in Japan), a Bangledesh restaurant that serves curry and has a really nice owner who always gives me and Aya free Cokes, and an izakaya that has good bonjiri (chicken tail). Living thousands of miles from home, it's nice to have familiar places to frequent. It's like Cheers - sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name. And they're always glad you came.
But recently Yu, Aya and I decided to branch out and try some new places. The first is a Chinese restaurant just across the street from our school. I went there once when I had first arrived in Japan, and I remember the restaurant being dingy and the menu limited. So I never went back. But a while ago, I noticed that the outside of the restaurant had been renovated, so we finally decided to check it out again a few weeks ago.

The inside had been redone, too - it looks much nicer now.

We ordered lots of food, including shrimp fried rice and cashew chicken.
The food was really good and the drinks were cheap. Also, we could take home our leftovers, which isn't usually allowed in Japan! I think they made a new menu when they renovated the restaurant. I've really been craving Chinese food since moving to Japan, and the nice thing about this place is that it's not nearly as greasy as American Chinese food.
On Monday, Yu and I helped Aya move into her new apartment, and she treated us to lunch as a thank you. We decided to go to Big Boy...I've been passing it on the street for over a year now and wondering how similiar it is to the original American version, and I finally got to try it.

The most surprising thing was that the entire menu was meat! Page...
after page...

after page...

after page of meat!
Apparently, when Japan imported Big Boy, they decided to change the menu to only include chicken, steak and hamburgers because it's an "American restaurant." AND, the worst part is that the "hamburgers" are not actually hamburgers at all - more like what we in the States call salisbury steak. No bun, just a hot place with a burger patty, a few steak fries, one or two broccoli stalks, and maybe some other little Japanese-y food. This type of dish is so popular in Japan, but it just makes me crave real hamburgers!

Like the American Big Boy, there was a soup and salad bar, but not nearly as big as in the States. And no ranch dressing (pretty much impossible to find here).

I decided to forgo the "hamburgers" and have chicken instead. With a random spring roll and Japanese style pork with bean sprouts.

Thankfully, there was dessert. A strawberry parfait with the ever ubiquitous corn flake and ice cream combo that plagues Japan.

I don't think I'll be going to Big Boy again. Nice try, Japan, but you just didn't impress me with your hamburgers that aren't actually hamburgers and other strange hybrids of Japanese and American foods. Where were my chicken strips and ranch dressing and American breakfast that is served 24 hours? Bring a restaurant like that here and I will never leave it.