Our Arrival to Japan and 2012!

I’m writing to you with a belly full of traditional Japanese New Year’s foods and a sake induced headache.  The past few days have been full of meeting new people, trying new foods and learning about a culture that is fascinating and very different from our own.

When Chris and I boarded China Airlines I still don’t think it had really set in that we were headed to Japan.  The days before departure were crazy.  We were shipping enormous packages back to Indiana with all the things we didn’t want to replace, taking loads of stuff to Goodwill and friends’ houses.  We had numerous calls to insurance companies, banks, cell phone providers, etc.  Even at 5am on the day of our departure we were doing last minute cleaning before loading up our rental car.  (Oh and somewhere in there we sold our car and most big items.)  Somehow we were able to both get everything we need for 2 months into two suitcases.  It helps that Apryl and Edgar have everything we need day to day so we were able to save room by leaving out my hairdryer, etc.  I am sure someone at Goodwill will be happy with my pink hairdryer 🙂

Our 9 hour flight went really fast.  Both Chris and I read the entire time.  I read the first book of the Hunger Games and got half way through the second.  Chris, being the intelligent one read books on Japanese culture.    I am glad he did because a lot of it came in handy.  One thing we want to do is go to an onsen (hot spring) which are very popular in Japan.  However, we found out that most of them don’t allow you to enter if you have a tattoo.  I told Chris that I will just wear a bathing suit that covers mine.  Buuuuut most onsens you get in naked.  So we either have to go to one that allows me to put a bandage over it or go to one that allows bathing suits.  I really want to go to the authentic onsen so hopefully I can bandage it.  We had two really good meals on the plane and before we knew it… we landed in Tokyo!  We were nervous about immigrations and customs because we haven’t bought return tickets yet and I was carrying all my medicine.  But we got through faster than any other country I have visited.  We even had a piece of paper that each place time stamped so they could evaluate how quickly and efficiently they were in getting us through.  Next thing we knew…

We were greeted by Apryl, Edgar and their friend Kayoko!

They even brought us winter coats since we left 80 degree weather. Chris getting yen at the ATM.

Apryl and Edgar have a beautiful home in Yokohama.  And we are close enough to everything that we can walk everywhere.  On our first night we went to get sushi.  This was not like the American sushi or even the Hawaiian sushi that I was used to.  They really threw us off the deep end.  🙂  The next day Apryl showed us the city.  We had a great time checking out all the shops, restaurants etc.

Here we are eating at Kei's restaurant. This is a dish called okonomiyaki. We mixed up the bowls then you cook it on the flat surface of the table. In the bowl was egg, batter, cabbage and other vegetables. We had three different kinds.

It was so good!

View of Yokohama as we walk across a Skywalk.

The temple close to Apryl and Edgar's home.

At the temple.

We have to go here soon! We did go to Mister Donut. The donuts had a really cool filling that was made of rice. It was soooo good. A lot of things are made from rice. Just like we make a lot of things from corn.

After a long day of shopping we had dinner with Yasko and Aya! They came to stay in Hawaii and we got to show them around. It was really good to see them! We had yakitori (meat skewers).

Apryl (and baby 1 & baby 2) and Chris enjoying dinner.

After dinner Aya and Yasko came over for dessert and some Wii!

New Year's Eve! On the train for the first time heading to Yokohama to eat at El Torrito.

Corona

Riding the train back home to open some champagne.

Champagne toast! Apryl with her non alcoholic beer 🙂

At the local bar Common. One guy told Chris he looked like he was from Spain. It must have been the hat.

We had a great time!

Pot leaves are used a lot for decoration. It isn't common for people to smoke it but they sure love the print.

DJ booth. They played some early 90s music which of course we loved!

The photographer took many pics of us. He couldn't understand why I wanted a pic with him.

Happy New Year!!!! Bring it on 2012!

Common Bar. One guy told Chris that he would teach him Japanese if he would teach him how to touch girls. Chris was like 'uhhh I don't think that translated right?' We couldn't stop laughing.

There were lots of these American guys on the walls in the women's restroom. Hmm...

After we left Common we went to a smaller bar.  They gave out free sake in square wooden bowls.  Chris was a social butterfly and talked to many of the local guys.  They loved trying out their English.  Chris even walked away with an email address so we could meet up for dinner.  Everyone was so friendly and we had an amazing time!

After eating our rice and curry bowls, it was time to go home.

Happy New Year! New Year's day Kayoko's mom made traditional Japanese New Year's food. Each food had a special purpose. One was to help cleanse the dust from your lungs. Very cool. I tried each one... some I liked more than other 😉 New Year's is a very big deal in Japan. Most people celebrate for an entire week.

Yum! During lunch we felt an earthquake. It had a magnitude of 6.8 which is pretty large. It was off the coast from the next town over. Everything is fine, so no worrying! We did see that it was a top story on Google news so I thought I should mention it. As devastating as earthquakes can be, it was pretty cool to experience.

Since I live in the future for most of you, I can tell you that 2012 is great so far!  We had so many amazing things happen in 2011… I am so excited to see what 2012 holds for us!

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