Reflections Abroad: Sep.13-Sep. 19

My first… Actually, no. Not my first udon in Japan. I had udon before my returning flight five years ago. But that was in an airport. So… I consider this my first official udon in a true restaurant.

Okay, more food.

But good food.

Good udon.

September 13, 2015: Udon Taka

It’s a small restaurant where they make udon by hand.  Next time, I’d like to sit at the counter to watch them.

I had the kitsune udon, which has noodles, pieces of fried tofu, green onions, spinach, and a slice of naruto (fish cake).  It’s one of my favorite udon dishes–salty, warm, and sweet.

I don’t think I can choose between udon and ramen.  They are each in their own class of dishes.  If I crave a certain ramen dish, I’ll get it.  If I want udon, I’ll get it.

It’s much easier to do in Japan.

September 14, 2015: Half-Off Breakfast

At my university, they had a half-off breakfast campaign to promote eating breakfast int he mornings, since so many people skip it.  Throughout the week, I got to try several large breakfasts that were more traditionally Japanese and western with Japanese flare.

For example, there was rice and miso and salad most of the time on each plate, but the entrees and sides would be different.  Sometimes, there was chicken or salmon, or eggs and a slice of ham.

My favorite side was the sweetened pumpkin.  I could honestly eat a whole tub of that stuff, way more than just the small dollop they gave.

September 15, 2015: Ito Yokado, i.e. Mega 7-11

On Tuesday, after class, my roommate Ni and I went to what she dubbed as “Mega 7-11”.  Well, it turns out that on the first floor, there was a 7-11, but below was the grocery store Ito Yokado.

And I’m so glad we went.

I’d been craving vegetables, and the 7-11 I’d been going to across the university only had a few things in stock.  So I could buy a whole lot more: vegetables and fruit, soy milk, almond milk, cheeses, mayonnaise, yogurt, deserts galore, frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, you name it.

Of course, I didn’t buy all of those things.  But the selection was very impressive.

Seriously, if you ever go to Japan, go to an Ito Yokado.  There is likely to be a 7-11 inside that has ATMs to withdraw money as well, if you’re an international resident, like I am, and way more food that you can get.

September 16, 2015: Tampopo

My Japanese sociology class is quickly becoming my favorite class here, and last Wednesday, we were shown this hilarious clip from Tampopo, illustrating how the lowest member of the room knew the most, and defied traditional Japanese expectations of following his superiors:

I just thought I’d share this with you.

September 17, 2015: Frustration

Frustration in my Japanese language class had been starting to build.  My ability to express myself felt stilted and unnatural.  I thought that I wasn’t getting better, even though it had only been the second week of classes.

How could this be? I’d been studying for nine years.  Why did I feel like a child?

Thankfully the frustration abated after talking with my classmates who felt the same way, and getting a good night’s sleep.

September 18, 2015: Elation

Once Japanese class was over on Friday, however, I received a great surprise from my sociology teacher.

In some Japanese classes, rather than raising your hand and asking the teacher a question to elicit participation, students write their questions and comments on the distributed comment sheets.  So, one day, on my comment sheet, I wrote that I really liked the author of one of the readings, and wondered what she had to say about the Ainu and Okinawa.

The next class, he lets me borrow the author’s book on my question.

He actually reads the comments sheets, knows my name in a class of 40+ people, and encourages learning outside of class.  That’s awesome.

My favorite class just now included my favorite teacher this year.

September 19, 2015: Tokyo Game Show 2015, Part 1

At the start of Japan’s Silver Week (five-day weekend), my roommate and I went to Tokyo Game Show.

It was… fun, but had we known the layout of the place (and not got separated), it would have made things a bit more enjoyable.

There were a lot of people, as expected.  But it felt like most of it was getting inside to standing in more lines.  And since this was a gaming only convention, unlike Anime Expo, there wasn’t much else to do other than buy merch, stand in lines to play previews of games, watch game trailers, and do some Nintendo 3DS Streetpassing.

My roommate always laughs when I tell her that I give Tokyo Game Show 3/5 stars.  But I’m glad that I went, just so that I can say I could.

What happened after we left Tokyo Game Show, however, will always stay in my mind.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait next week for that.


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