It has been exactly one year since I moved to Japan – and what a year it has been! This has been a challenging year, but one that I am very grateful for. I’ve learned so many new things, both trivial and very important things about how to live in Japan as a foreigner.
I remember going food shopping at Aeon for the first time and just walking up and down the aisles looking for anything familiar. My Google Translate app was the most helpful tool that day! Even with my app in hand it took time to figure out what I could and could not eat as a vegetarian.
I remember walking around Tenjin during my first weekend here and admiring the stores, cafes and all of the people. I had so much fun looking at the cool Japanese clothes that are so different from any I’ve seen before.
I remember celebrating the Sakura season at Ohori Park. It was beautiful to see all of the cherry blossoms and so many people having fun with their family and friends. I’ve never seen so many people picnicking until the wee hours of the night.
I remember surviving the summer heat and wondering when it would ever end.
I remember going to Hiroshima and trying Hiroshima style okinomiyaki for the first time. The pancake was good, but the sauce was the best part for me.
Overall, I have had an amazing yet challenging time here in Japan. I am happy that I took the risk of living in a foreign country so different from my own. But now it is time for me to return to the United States after 4 years living abroad. Thank you to everyone I have met at Global Café and I look forward to the next time we’ll meet!
Running late to the airport with my backpack, sandals and sense of excitement in tow, I was sure that I would not miss my flight …I COULD NOT miss my flight. This was my first travel experience outside of Fukuoka since moving to Japan five months ago. I was traveling to Naha, Okinawa with my friend for a long weekend full of beaches, sunshine and delicious ben-imo sweets.
We reached Okinawa late Friday night and quickly checked into our Airbnb. The sun filled my room on Saturday morning, waking me up at an early hour. My friend and I ate breakfast and then walked to Naminoue Beach. I was a little underwhelmed by the beach. It was small, crowded and had an overpass obstructing the view. Despite these small upsets, I enjoyed swimming in the ocean and soaking up the sunshine.
The next day my friend and I decided to go to Chura Sun Beach. We took the monorail and then a taxi to reach the beach. The monorail was really simple to navigate and provided a great view of the city. This beach was large, crowded with people and barbeque grills, and the water was very warm.
On our last night in Naha my friend and I walked up and down Kokusai Street, also known as International Street. We tried many ben-imo treats including cakes, tarts, chips and ice cream. I was happy to try traditional Okinawan food as well as eat fresh tropical fruits. My favorite part of the night was when we found a small bar on a side street. The bar was cozy and had many games to play including Nintendo. My friend played Nintendo while I sipped on a cold Orion beer.
We left Naha on Monday morning a little sunburned, but with great memories of the beaches, the people and best of all, the food!
My Love Affair with Sushiro
For most people, the restaurant Sushiro is just another cheap place to eat sushi with friends and family. What Sushiro lacks in formality it makes up in ease and accessibility for me: a vegetarian, sushi loving, non-Japanese speaking foreigner.
I was introduced to Sushiro a few weeks after I arrived in Fukuoka. It was exciting to tap the screen and order all the sushi that I wanted. What was even more exciting was that with a touch of a button the screen converts from Japanese to English. I am now able to conveniently order the sushi that I want and I know exactly what I am eating.
Being a vegetarian in Japan is difficult. I enjoy eating Japanese food, but find it hard because I don’t always know what the ingredients are in the food. What Sushiro offers is a straightforward approach to vegetarian sushi that both tastes good and is easy on my wallet.
The next time you’re at Sushiro try switching the menu to English and see how you do!
The Sushi Lexicon
Nori・・Nori Seaweed harvested primarily off the coast of Japan, that is dried, roasted and pressed into sheets.
Sushi-zu・・ A special vinegar, with added sugar and salt, used to season the rice before making sushi.
Sashimi・・ Sliced raw fish without rice, sashimi should be eaten with chopsticks rather than fingers.
Nigiri sushi・・ A bite-size mound of rice with a similar-size piece of fish, shellfish or other topping.
Maki sushi (Rolled sushi)・・ A sheet of nori wrapped around rice and raw fish (or other fillings).
Temaki sushi (hand roll)・・A type of rolled sushi, where the nori wrapper is rolled around various fillings into a cone shape.
Chirashi sushi・・ Literally, “scattered sushi”; raw fish, vegetables and other toppings served over rice, most often in a bowl.
Omakase・・ The root word means “to trust”. The chef serves you whatever he or she recommends. No menus.