Thursday, May 31, 2012

Military Spouses

I mostly write about our Japanese Cultural experiences, but my sentimental side is in full-swing at the moment, so I'd like to dedicate this blog entry to military spouses.  Although we are civilians,  I am not completely immune from being a part of a military community. Previous to coming to Japan, we lived in a Navy town for many years. I have had many co-workers and friends whose spouses were deployed at one time or another.

Back in 2003, my friend's husband was on a 9 month deployment on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.  She had 3 young children ages 3-8 to contend with and I watched her as she held down the fort, dealt with all the emotional issues with the kids not having their dad around, connected with her friends in her spouses group, and utilized some of her civilian friends for additional support.  I was amazed at how she handled everything, even though it was a daily challenge.

This was my first real taste of being around a military spouse.  Now, on a daily basis, I'm surrounded by these amazingly strong women (and some men too).  They are the most flexible and independent people I have ever met.  Having to deal with everyday issues, regular moves, changes in orders and often doing these things with a deployed spouse is commendable.  Many of the Navy spouses here have "deployment wives", playgroups, social groups, sports teams, their jobs, Command spouses groups, and do volunteering for support, personal enrichment, or stress relief.  

As a civilian, I can't completely relate to having a spouse who is deployed because my spouse's job is here. The one area I can help is to offer my support.  I can help with carpooling, babysitting, shopping and to be a good listening ear.  My offers are sincere, and I am more than willing to help.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Curry カレー karē

Never in a million years did I expect to come to Japan and find curry. Justin and I have been fans of Indian Curry and yes, even "Golden Curry" in the box for over a decade. One of our date nights, especially when we lived in Seattle, included going to our favorite Indian restaurant by Northgate. The kids also love curry. Having the entire family like the same type of food is a bonus.

Popular Curry Restaurants in Japan.
Come to find out, curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It was first introduced to the country back in the 1800's from India. So, this dish is anything but new to Japan. There are tons of Coco Ichibanya (Coco's Curry House) restaurants. They are hard to miss with their bright yellow signs. I have been once. They sell curry over rice, and you can order varying degrees of spiciness. While I thought it was good, I have found other restaurants that serve a better tasting curry ( so to all the Coco's fans). You can order Japanese curry with a variety meat and vegetables. They have curry with sausages, fried pork cutlet, curry with an egg on top, cheese curry, and the common beef and chicken curries. Also, depending on which region you are in Japan, can determine the type of curry you will get. So far, the absolute best curry I've eaten was in a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Hiroshima. I had beef curry in a slightly sweet curry sauce. Oishikatta.

Katsu kare (pork cutlet).
While we do enjoy Japanese curry, we have also been to numerous Indian restaurants in Yokosuka that we like. I am veering away from my usual Tikka Masala, and am enjoying the Butter Chicken...thanks to my friend Rylynn. We tried "Nirvana" On Blue Street last night. I found it especially good, and not too expensive. Yokosuka also has a yearly Curry Festival at Mikasa Park where you can try many different types of curries. We've missed it both times, but hopefully next year we will be able to go.

Lady Gaga in Japan

One of her many costumes.
We found out a couple months ago that Lady Gaga was going to be in Tokyo for her Asian tour.  She had 3 dates, so we were lucky enough to get tickets for Mother's Day.  I went with a friend and my oldest son.  We made the trek up to Saitama Super Arena and the place was bustling both inside and out.  We bought  standing tickets on the floor of the arena. It was jam-packed compared to the Linkin Park tickets I went to last September.

Standing tickets were not cheap.  
Gaga put on a great concert.  She had multiple costume changes, and had the most energy-filled show I have ever seen.  The crowd was pretty calm, but maybe it was the genre of music, or the lack of space to jump around.  Gaga had a real connection with the crowd, and has a huge fan base in Japan.  She calls her fans her "Little Monsters".

I loved seeing everyone dressed up at the concert.  So many wigs, a lot of makeup, sparkles, etc.  It was a great place to people-watch and a fun-filled night.

These girls were so cute!

Crazier costumes.