New Year in Japan

Posted December 30th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

Just like Christmas is the biggest event of a year in many countries, New Year’s Day is the biggest day of a year in Japan.  There’re many sales and events around the end of the year, and people go last-minutes-shopping to prepare for the coming year.  You can hear New Year’s song everywhere and feel that New Year is coming.

Before New Year’s Day, people usually spend busy by cleaning the house and finishing all the chores they have to do within the year.  But once New Year’s Day comes, people stay at home relaxing, eating, and spending time with families.

This year, I could experience white Christmas and normal Japan’s New Year with families.  Everything are not the same as before (e.g. Now I can’t stay awake until late because I’m very tired from looking after Hiro all day), but I enjoy this homecoming trip pretty much.  I just remembered how funny Japanese tv shows are!  Especially around this time of the year there’re many comedy shows on tv and they’re seriously funny.  I’ve been laughing as if I’ve gone crazy!

2011 was not a happy year for Japan.  Big earthquake, tsunami, and many people lost their families.  But, because of the event, people could realize somethings – importance of ECO (saving the power), and warmth of people.  We appreciate people who came and supported the victims from outside this country. We felt so close to each other.  Families are important.  Friends are important.  Mates are important.  And, “life” could be so short and fragile.  Now the things are getting better and we are about to welcome a new year in few days.  I appreciate all that, and hope 2012 will be a happier year.

Now, snowing has stopped and I can see blue sky during the day.  There’s still big chunks of snow on the side of the roads, but it seems that it’s not going to snow for awhile here.  I hope the New Year’s Day is going to be a sunny day.  We will go to a shrine to celebrate and pray for the new year (hatsumode) as an annual event, and I think there’ll be many people.  I slipped on the snow on the road and hit my head last time (2 years ago), so I hope it doesn’t happen this time!

I hear it’s around 40 degrees in Perth these days.  Being here made me realise that I prefer cold climate to hot climate.  I love winter in Japan.  I love snow, I love the clean cold air, and I love taking hot bath in a cold night (and day).  I can’t wait to go to Disney Land or Universal Studio Japan, onsen trip, and play with snow when Hiro is older.

As there is one more day to New Year’s Day, and I’ve pretty much done all the shopping.  I think I will stay home tomorrow trying to clean the house so that we can welcome a new year with clean mind and clean house 🙂

Japanese Sausage

Posted December 27th, 2011 in Food | 1 Comment »

Finally…..  I’m eating Japanese sausage!  I was having craving for Japanese sausages since I was pregnant.  Japanese sausage is processed food (smoked), and has crispy skin.

Normall sausages outside Japan are usually raw meat.  I was surprised to see them in Perth the first time, because the sausages I knew was like the photo above.

Because they are processed, you can eat Japanese sausages as they are.  But people usually grill them to add flavour and texture.  I, on the other had, love boiling them.  It’s healthier, and makes the skin crispy.

When I broke the sausage, you can almost hear the sound of breaking the skin.  Although I boiled them for 3 minutes or more, the meat inside was still juicy thanks to the skin.

Sometimes I just boil sausages and eat with seed mustard. Ummmm… yum yum.  Goes with beer, chu-hi, and even hot Japanese tea! ♨

Japanese Pickles

Posted December 26th, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

Few days ago my dad bought few kinds of pickles from a pickles shop.   He knows I like pickles.  I remember eating whole takuwan (yellow, pickled daikon radish) by myself when I was a teenager. The combination of takuwan and hot Japanese tea was addictive, and I couldn’t stop eating takuwan once I started.  Pickles got lots of salt (sodium), and it’s not a good diet….  besides, one whole takuwan is about 30cm.  I don’t know how my body survived….

People make pickles so that they can keep the food edible longer.  The salty pickles goes with steamed rice, and Japanese people (in old era) used to eat just rice, pickles and miso soup.  To think about it, Japanese food contains lots of salt.  Miso is also salty, and so is soy sauce.

Back to the subject….  Here is pickled cucumber.  You can also buy it in Perth.

Rakkyo – pickled onions.  People eat it with Japanese curry rice.

Takuwan – pickled daikon.  You see it often in a bento box from Japanese restaurants in Perth, too.

Nasu-no-asazuke (lightly pickled egg plant).  Looks bit weird, but I love this.  One of popular item at  izakaya.

Gobo (burdock roots) and aka-kabu (red radish).  I never seen pickled gobo before!  It’s new….

It has vinegar-like taste, and not salty.  I love the texture.

There’re many more kinds of pickles in Japan, including cabbage, Chinese cabbage, mushroom, etc etc ……  Kyoto and Nara are famous for pickles.  If you love Japanese pickles and enjoy soshoku, try some unique one there 🙂

White Christmas in Japan

Posted December 25th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

When I woke up this morning, outside was like this.


Hiro enjoyed his first Christmas in snow 🙂

Merry Christmas to everyone!!!

An Early Christmas Date

Posted December 24th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

Yesterday, D, Hiro and I went to Hikone city area.  Hikone is one of famous old city in Shiga, and it’s just 10 minutes from my house by car.  There is famous Hikone castle near Biwako lake, and many restaurants and shops around the castle.

It was suposed to be snowing yesterday, but it was actually a sunny day (still cold though).  There’re many tourists around the castle.

First,we came to this cafe with D which I went with my friend the other day.  This cafe is a bakery/cake shop with nice dining area.  Because the shop opens at 11am and we arrived there 15 minutes early, we went driving inside the castle first.  You can drive around the castle and moat.  We could easily kill 15 minutes by enjoying the view 🙂

I love the interior of the cafe.  No, I love the building itself.  Looks like someone’s house with lots of tabels and chairs.

They serve lunch menu and nice drinks too.

We ordered sandwich lunch plate to share.  It’s Campagne bread with prosciutto, cream cheese and salad. The plate came with soup (it was carrot soup yesterday), cold chicken salad, salad & hot chips, and a choice of drink.  (¥1050)  I LOVE the Campagne bread.  Inside is moist, soft and chewy, but the crust was very hard and crusty.  All the food on the plate was delicious.

Then we ordered strawberry tart, and Monburan (Mont Blanc).  It took me 10 minute to chose the cake because all the cakes and bread looks so cute and delicious.  I had cheese cake last time, so I chose different one to try.  They’re both DELICIOUS. (>v<)

cheese cake I had last time

(cheese cake I had last time)

Hiro was happy too.

Then, we walked around “castle road”.  It started snowing and so freezing cold…

All the buildings around “Castle Road” were refurbished to look old few years ago in order to attract tourists.  Even a bank looks like this.

We strolled around the street, and bought few souvenirs.  It was windy and the air was spiking our faces, so we decided to head home.  It was a lovely day – we had early Christmas cake together, and had wonderful time 🙂

Chicken Tazta Burger

Posted December 23rd, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

As I mentioned on the earlier posts (here & here), I had an opportunity to eat McDonald’s chicken tazta burger while I’m in Japan!!!

Chicken tazta burger is one of my favourite 🙂  I love the combination of tazta-age, cabbage and the sweet sauce.  They took it off their menu few years ago, but this burger is back on menu for a limited time.

This time, there’re two types of chicken tazta burgers – normal one, and wafu oroshi (with grated daikon radish & ponzu sauce).  I had to eat both of them!

The new flavour, tazta oroshi had tansy kick of yuzu.  I loved it.  The daikon oroshi (grated daikon) and ponzu went very well with tazta-age.  The only one thing I noticed was that the bottom bun was bit soggy and soft because of the ponzu.  Maybe they put too much ponzu sauce?  It was bit difficult to eat, but I enjoyed the flavour.  Japanese mayonnaise is so good on burgers 🙂

Hikone Friends

Posted December 20th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

We visited one of my friend’s house the other day to meet her baby.  She and I used to go to the same high school in Hikone, Shiga.  She gave birth to this beautiful boy on May (just 2 month later Hiro was born).

They live by themselves in apartment, and the house was filled with toys and baby’s photos 🙂  It’s been awhile since I met her last time, and we have many things in common (including having a baby), so we chatted for quite long time.  D came along, and there was her husband at home as well, so it was fun.

I brought some souvenir to them – just some English baby books and Tim Tam.  I didn’t expect anything from them, but they had bought souvenir to us too.  Hikone city is actually pretty famous tourist destination because of its old history, and also Hikone castle and beautiful castle road.  Castle road has many old & new shops on its side selling souvenirs and foods.  Hiko-Nyan, a name of character of Hikone city, is very popular for its cute & relaxing figure.

They gave us Hiko–Nyan goods…

The dorayaki was from famous wagashi (Japanese sweets) shop in Hikone.  I’m surprised that they have Hiko-Nyan dorayaki.  It was fluffy, and very delicious.

It’s got Hiko-Nyan sticker at the back too.  Sugoi…


Posted December 19th, 2011 in Eat out in Japan | No Comments »

Betokon is name of a small stall selling ramen noodles, gyoza, etc near my house.  I don’t know if I can call it “a stall”, or should I say “a shed”.  The place looks just like a small shed, really.  They open only at night time, and there’re only 2 staff (son & mother) working.

My dad and brother likes going there because it’s very close to home.  My dad always have one or two glasses of beer when eating out, so being close to home is very convenient for him.  (even though my brother who doesn’t drink usually drives)   Penalty for drink driving is severe in Japan too.

Another reason for them going there is, of course, the food.  They don’t have much variety on thier menu, and the place is awfully small (just counter table + 10 chairs), but they serve pretty good food.  Some say the food is bit oily, but it fills you up when you are really hungry and want to eat FOOD.

Son is in charge of cooking, and mother serves customers.  Oden is ready in front of the counter, and customers usually eat oden while waiting for other foods they ordered.

They mostly serve Chinese food, including Changhai fried noodle, but most of them are “Japanese Chinese” food.  Cha-han (fried rice), tenshin-han, gyoza, chicken karaage etc…

It was Wednesday night, and we didn’t expect to see any other customers there.  And, so did the staff.  There was only son in the shop/shed, relaxing on a chair.  He said mother’s coming at 9PM.

My dad ordered 3 x gyoza, 3 x oden, and 2 x fried rice to start.  Yes, we eat A LOT.  The staff was moving around very fast, cooking all the food we ordered and serving us at the same time.  His speed became much faster when other customers came in.  After 30 minutes we arrived, the place became full.  And, there was only one staff!  I felt sorry to place order to him… :p

I love their gyoza.  The skin is crispy and chewy, and inside got juicy meat stuffing.

Fried rice was ok.  Not the best…  but still tasty 🙂

We ordered 1 x omelet and 2 x ramen noodle too.

Their omelet contains stir-fried pork and vegetables inside.  Bit too much tomato sauce to me…

By the time ramen noodle was served, I couldn’t eat anything already.  I just watched my dad & bro eating the noodle.

Oh, I forgot to mention that D was staying at home looking after Hiro.  Hiro was sleeping tight, and we didn’t want to wake him up just to go to the narrow space.  D said he’d stay home, so we bought souvenir to him – chicken karaage and Changhai fried noodle.  Karaage was stir-fried with garlic and spring onion after being deep-fried to add aroma and also drain excess oil.  It smelled so good.  I will try it next time !

Teriyaki at McDonald’s

Posted December 18th, 2011 in Food, Japan | No Comments »

We went to McDonald’s the other day to have lunch.  Right now they are doing this campaign “buy value meal LL size and get a coke glass”.  Coke glass looks just like can of coke.

We were both hungry, and bought 2 teriyaki burger sets LL size.

Coke glass…

Ummm, yap, LL size is very big….  I couldn’t finish the potato and drink.

There’s power point for Nintendo DS.  (McD de DS)

Hmmmm  I haven’t had teriyaki burger for awhile!!  The combination of sweet teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayonaise is the vest match.

The new “Chicken Tazta Burger” starts selling from tomorrow! (related post)  I must try it…

First Snow ♥

Posted December 16th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

We had first snow today!!!  🙂

I was inside a building until 2PM, and when I went outside it was snowing.

I haven’t seen snow for 1.5 years.  I’m excited!!!

The snow stopped after awhile, and the sun was out.  The air was chilly, but I didn’t think it’d snow again, so I went out to a store nearby.  After shopping at the store, the sky looked like this ↑  The sky was dark, and it was very windy.  I got home straight away.

At 6Pm, my dad asked me to drive him to Nagahama train station which is about 15 minutes by car from my house.  He was having bounen-kai (end of the year drinking party) at a restaurant near the train station.  We left home, then it started to snow again…. pretty hard!

You can’t really see it, but some cars were carrying thick snow on their roofs.

Ummmmm  I couldn’t take nice snow photos.  It looks like raining, but it was snowing.  I hadn’t driven in snow for 8 years, and it was very scary :p

This snow isn’t gonna stack up.  Fine powder snow will, but the snow today was big, fluffy one.  It will be next year to see white world, probably.