I've been in Japan almost three weeks now and I am still yet to have a single piece of sushi. Perhaps that's testament to how strongly Okinawan cuisine differs from standard mainland cuisine? Almost everywhere I go offers the ever ubiquitous taco rice, a selection of bento boxes and curries, Okinwa soba (not to be confused with mainland Japanese soba), sea grapes, goya champuru, a bewildering array of pork dishes, sweet-potato-flavoured-everything (even ice cream), and more.
Yet the sushi section at the local supermarkets is barely the same size as that of Woolworths or Coles (in fact, they are probably eclipsed by the made-to-order sushi bars found in some Woolworths stores).
To be fair, we did pass one ¥100 sushi train near Chatan, and a small selection were sold at Ajijiman izakaya but apart from that I've rarely come across any. Ah well. I still have plenty of time ahead in mainland Japan.
Apparently Japan is battling a butter shortage emergency - this explains why it's been so difficult to find butter the past couple of weeks!
You can buy eggs in cartons of 12, 6, 3, or even 1. Yes, you can buy a singular egg if you are so inclined.A single egg in FamilyMart
Frozen must have become really massive over here. Almost everywhere you go, you see Frozen related merchandise, from stationary and books to unrelated confectioneries that decided to forgo their own packaging and logos and instead capitalise on the Frozen characters. The Frozen section in Daiso even manages to overtake the Hello Kitty section, which is no mean feat.
Frozen merchandising everywhere
I think I'm becoming a little too used to the heated toilet seats. The other day I become unreasonably annoyed when I sat down and discovered the toilet had gone into 'energy saving mode' (a cold toilet seat?! How utterly offensive). In any case, China/Mongolia/Russia will be a wake up call to my elevated toilet standards.
I didn't realise how truly massive the American presence is here, until we accidentally almost entered a beach resort reserved for American servicemen. As there are more than 20,000 Americans stationed here, the Kadena Air Base is almost like an exclave of the US itself, with schools, libraries, restaurants, bars and more, all accepting US dollars and having US telephone numbers. This even leaks into Okinawa City and Chatan slightly, with business there readily accepting US dollars.
Oh, and I recently discovered that not only is Okinawa the home of the worlds greatest pineapple themed amusement park, but it is also the home of Goya Park - perhaps the only theme park with the ability to match - nay, eclipse - Pineapple Park. (For those confused, Goya is the Okinawan word for bitter melon, an extremely bitter fruit that is also a local delicacy.)
If you're still unconvinced, check out their theme song:
At 1:46 they even give you directions from Naha in the form of a rap (yes, rap) song. How great is that?!
Loudspeaker public service announcements. Everyday, at 7am (ugh), 12pm, 5pm, and 7/8pm. They are extroadarinily loud, and even though I have no idea what they are saying, online searches lead me to believe they are beyond trivial. (Good morning, it's the government. The weather today will be perfectly pleasant. Burnable waste will be collected today. Also the Okinawan Baked Goods Society is having a bagel sale in Ishikawa. Please talk kindly to children. Thank you.)
On the topic of things I haven't noticed (a strange deviation, but bear with me) is the 2014 Japanese National Election. This took place today, and apart from numbered election poster boards springing up all over the island - providing a very clean, logical and bureaucratic method of political advertising - I've barely noticed.
Perhaps it's because I don't have access to Japanese TV and radio (we've been listening non-stop to AFN, the American Forces Network, live from Kadena Air Base!), our rural location, or the fact that more than half of OIST is composed of foreigners. Or you could argue it's my complete lack of comprehension of Japanese (probably mostly this).
... okay, I'm starting to realise why I feel out of the loop regarding this election.
- May January
- Mon 29 December 2014Temples, shrines, and Irish pubs (oops)
- Sun 28 December 2014Temple run and too much sake
- Fri 26 December 2014Hiroshima
- Wed 24 December 2014Things I've noticed since coming to regular Japan
- Mon 22 December 2014Last day in Okinawa
- Mon 22 December 2014A very Okinawan Hanukkah
- Sun 21 December 2014Onna Industrial Festival
- Sun 21 December 2014Last week at OIST
- Tue 16 December 2014A surprisingly good time to go to Russia
- Mon 15 December 2014Cape Hedo and Hiji Falls
- Mon 15 December 2014Vires Acquirit Eundo
- Mon 15 December 2014Chicken skin (and other assorted delights)
- Sun 14 December 2014Bread 1.0
- Sun 14 December 2014More things I've noticed since arriving in Okinawa
- Tue 09 December 2014The Heart Attack Murder Burger
- Tue 09 December 2014Spongebob and the birthday pig
- Mon 08 December 2014Kourijima
- Mon 08 December 2014Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
- Sun 07 December 2014Americana teppanyaki
- Sun 07 December 2014Searching for yeast on a Friday night
- Mon 01 December 2014Pineapple Park
- Sun 30 November 2014Castles, pancakes, Naha and more
- Fri 28 November 2014Attempted drive to Ishikawa
- Thu 27 November 2014Walk through Tancha
- Tue 25 November 2014Things I've discovered since arriving in Okinawa
- Tue 25 November 2014Settling in at OIST
- Mon 24 November 2014Accidental business class
- Sun 23 November 2014Delayed in Hong Kong
- Sun 16 November 2014A Siberian adventure