Saturday, May 28, 2011

Puro Yakyū or Professional Baseball

Yokohama Bay Stars vs. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Professional baseball, or Puro Yakyū is a very popular sport in Japan.  Baseball was introduced to Japan over a century ago and has fans countrywide.  Nippon Professional Baseball has two separate leagues: Central and Pacific.  Each league is comprise of six teams that play yearly from April through October.

This week we went to see our first Japanese baseball game.  We went to The Yokohama Stadium (or Y Stad) and watched the Yokohama Bay Stars play the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles with some of Justin's co-workers.  Luckily, Japanese and American baseball rules are similar so it was easy to follow the game.  The stadium was outdoors and not as big as the stadium back home.  We had pretty cheap seats in center field so the view was good.

There were food vendors (popcorn, drinks, obento, etc), a smoking area, cheerleaders, a mascot, vending machines and music.  The one difference was that there are fan clubs or cheering sections for each team.  The cheering sections chant during the entire game,  have a song or chant for each player up at bat, and use noise makers such as hard plastic bats that are tapped together during the game.  The fan clubs only chant for their own team and are quiet when the opposition is up a bat.  

We were rooting for the Golden Eagles at the game.  The Golden Eagles are based out of Sendai, Japan where there was a lot of damage from the earthquake and tsunami.  We were told by Justin's co-workers that we need to cheer for this team because they have suffered so much and it's the Japanese way to show support of the Tohoku region. 
Our first baseball game in Nippon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Interesting Things In Japan

Living in a foreign country is always full of surprises, or doing things differently.  Even though some of these items are probably in the United States, I never saw or used them regularly.  There are so many things I could blog about, but here are just a number of things I think are practical or worth talking about:

Umbrella (Kasa) Accessories

Even though we moved here from The Pacific Northwest, we rarely used an umbrella.  We had them, but we usually wore raincoats, or Gortex rather than toting an umbrella around...unless it was soccer season.  In Japan, umbrellas are an accessory.  Almost every man, woman, and child carries one with them when it is raining, or not.  When it isn't raining I've seen many women using the umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun.  There are umbrella stands outside of convenience stores, malls, etc.  You can also find plastic bags to cover your umbrella with so that you do not drip mizu (water) all over the ground.  What a smart idea.  We got with the trend and bought a really cute umbrella stand with some colorful umbrellas for our entry way at our house.

Bags for your wet umbrella!
Our umbrella holder.

 Drain Cover/Basket

I think the most interesting thing about our stainless steel sink in our house is the drain cover.  I hadn't thought much about this item before, except the one we had back home was very small.  The one here in Japan not only hides the food, but the basket that contains the food remnants is very large.  My friend told me yesterday that the 100 Yen Shop has liners you can buy for this type of drain.  The Japanese really do think of every last detail.

  No more looking at all that old food you just washed off your dishes.

Tote Bags When Walking The Dog

There are tons of dog owners here in Japan.  What I noticed most when going to the park closest to my house is that almost all dog owners (both male and female) carry a small tote bag with them when they walk their dog.  At first, I didn't really pay much attention to it, but then realized that the Japanese carry these totes to keep clean-up supplies, etc in these totes.  I think that's because there are virtually no public garbage cans to dispose of animal waste and the Japanese don't want to walk around carrying their dog's business in a plastic bag for the whole world to see.

An example of a type of tote a dog owner might have.

Rice Cabinet

They have special pieces of furniture in Japan to store, dispense and cook rice on.  We just got a used rice cabinet last week from one of  Justin's co-worker's.  I was hesitant to have one more thing in my tiny kitchen, but this cabinet has turned out to be very practical for us.  We no longer have to measure out rice for the rice cooker because it's done for us, plus we have more storage space which is a bonus! 
The rice cabinet.  Left side stores/dispenses rice.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Ramen, originally from China, is a very popular food item in Japan.  You can find it on most menus, made with a variety of broths, and at Ramen-ya restaurants whose specialty is this delicious wheat noodle soup.

We've had ramen a number of times since arriving in Japan.  My favorite broth is miso, but you can also get curry, shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), and tonkatsu (pork bone).  There are also other varieties of broth you can find at Ramen-ya restaurants.  On our third night here we were taken by our sponsor to The Red Door Ramen (Mitsumiya)  restaurant in town.  I had #5 and it was fantastic.  It had a creamy broth that tasted like it was made with coconut milk.  Oishii desu! 

In 1958 instant noodles were invented by a Japanese-Taiwanese man.  There are many choices and flavors of noodles to choose from.  We've had some good and bad tasting instant noodles, but they make a convenient and quick meal.

Ramen noodle machine
Raumen Museum in Shin-Yokohama

There is a ramen museum I really want to go to in Shin-Yokohama.  My youngest son and I were supposed to go on a field trip back in March, but it got canceled due to the earthquake.  This museum has a 1950's replica of an old street in Tokyo, the history of ramen, demonstrations on how it's made, restaurants, and dishes used to serve ramen over the years.  It sounds like an interesting experience and worth going to at least once while we're here. 

Ramen vending machine.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I think because we spend so much more time walking to and from the train station, that more time and attention is spend enjoying our surroundings.  I've noticed plants and flowers here in Japan that I have never seen back home, get to people watch more, and can just enjoy the experience of living in a different country.  I always tell people that Japan is so kawaii-ne or cute.  The people, the customer service, kids' school uniforms, the details when wrapping a gift.....the list goes on.

I even find signs here so kawaii-ne and funny.  The road signs aren't funny, just the ones that give you information or warning.  They are so childlike, and often written as a characture.  I love this small piece of living in Nippon.   

Watch out for the train.
Do not litter.

Crosswalk sign.
Priority Seating on the train.
On the escalator at the mall.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gōruden Wīku (Golden Week)

It's Golden Week......or vacation time here in Japan.  Most Japanese will be off work and school between April 29-May 5th to celebrate the many holidays that fall between these special dates.  I've read in travel books, and heard from the locals that this is not a good time for Gaijin (foreigners) to travel to or within Japan.  It can be very difficult to find accommodations or to get around during this time.  The roads, local attractions, and the trains are often more crowded than usual.  I really wanted to go to Tokyo Disney last week when most of the boys were off school.  Needless to say we didn't go because it was the beginning of Golden Week and it had recently re-opened after being closed  for a month after the earthquake.

I love the idea of having many holidays in one week, and that each holiday has such a significant meaning to the Japanese.

  • April 29 is Showa Day or 'Showa no hi'This is the birthday of the former Emperor Showa.  April 29th was the original Greenery Day until 2007 when it was switched to May 4th. 
  • May 3 is Constitution Memorial Day or 'Kenpo Kinenbi'. A national holiday remembering the new constitution, which was put into effect after the war.
  • May 4  is Greenery Day or 'Midori no hi'.  Originally celebrated on April 29th.  This day is to celebrate the Emperor's love of nature and plants.  
  • May 5 is Children's Day or 'Kodomo no hi'.  This holiday was established in 1948 to celebrate the uniqueness and happiness of children.  This day has also been known as Boy's Day.