All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Side Note on Japanese Dining

Before we left for Japan, the kids had three major points of anxiety: 1) AH! I don't speak Japanese!; 2) What if I get lost??; and 3) What on earth am I going to be expected to eat?!

I'm happy to say that for the most part, they did a wonderful job of being open to trying new foods. Nobody starved, anyway. Here are a few of their favorites (sometimes favorite foods; other times, just favorite stories about food):

Takoyaki shop

In Nagasaki, we finally had the chance to get our hands on some takoyaki, or "octopus balls." My research shows that five out of six American teenagers understand "octopus balls" to mean little balls of batter containing octopus meat that are grilled (as shown above), smothered in sweet soy sauce, and absolutely delicious. The remaining one out of six American teenagers will interpret this as "octopus testicles" and will turn green and ask for permission to sit outside the shop while her comrades chow down on the scrumptious little morsels. I might be a bad teacher for not explaining this more clearly.

My kids at an izakaya

I was delighted when I finally managed to get my kids into an izakaya on one of our free evenings. Izakaya, which are like Japanese pubs, serve a wide variety of munchies, most of which are greasy and delicious (and the reason my jeans went up a size when I lived over there). The kids particularly enjoyed the yakitori (grilled chicken bits, including not just meat but also cartilage) and the horse sashimi (yes, yes, that's raw horse meat).


Chanpon, the most famous Nagasaki food, is a hearty noodle dish with cabbage, pork, and a variety of veggies. Not a big hit with the kids, but I really like it.

If I'm ever mad at you, these are the key to your redemption.

One of my favorite Japanese snacks is Meiji chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Since our return home, the kids have found them in a local import shop, and I'm looking forward to some highly-effective bribes next school year.

Josh is a Tafu Man

Among the kids' favorite discoveries were the various types of Yakults. They started with the basic yogurt-shots and progressed from there to the boys' favorite: Ta Fu Ma N, or "Tough Man," shown with Josh above and in this sexually-suggestive ad below.

Ta Fu Ma n = Tough Man

Kat & a vending machine

They also quickly mastered the vending machines, which are plentiful and stocked with an exciting variety of treats.

Vending machine restaurant

We even had dinner one night at a restaurant where you order via vending machine. You put your money in the machine and select a meal, and the machine gives you a little ticket and tells the folks behind the counter what you want. When your number is called, you simply trade your ticket for a delicious plate of curry (like that shown below) or whatnot. Way to reduce human contact as much as possible, Japan.

Mmm, nummy!

We also went to a pretty typical Japanese fast-food joint for burgers. The kids expected it would be like the fast-food they were used to at home. Sorry, guys! Eggs and teriyaki sauce on your burger with a melon soda on the side!

Japanese fast food

They liked the burgers pretty well, but RJ was a little unnerved by the melon-flavored soda.

RJ is uncertain about melon soda

On the whole though, not only did we not lose anybody, but we also didn't let anybody go hungry. Well done, kids!

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