Born in 日本. Raised in Los Angeles. Frequent travel enthusiast and foodie. My journeys and discoveries of the homelands I love. 日本 and Los Angeles, good, bad and everything in between as well as finding out where I belong along the way. よろしく!
Changing the subject for just a second....I just want to say how much I love my little hamster. My roborovski hamster has been with me since February of 2011, before I even got married and was living on my own.
I've loved pets since I was I was little. I've always had bunnies, like all my childhood. My grandma had a dog too, which they rescued actually the day I was born. So my love for animals has always been strong. They are not only friendly companions, they are sometimes better listeners and friends then humans.
My little Hammy has been with me through ups and downs of my life. He's been a great friend as strange as that may sound. He's so reliable. Always wants food from me, nothing else. Always wants to play at night. He's such a little creature with so much personality. He amused me everyday with his little tricks and facial expressions. As he gets older and slower, I think how lucky I have been to have such a cute, special little guy in my life. My little baby ハミー
I just went on a 散歩 with my husband. I love summer. I love summer time anywhere but especially in Japan and LA.
In LA it's light out till about 8:30pm during the summer! How fantastic is that?! You get to do so much more.
However I do miss the おぼん祭り and other summertime festivals that Japanese people throw. And my goodness, do they know how to party. I remember the 花火 in 三田, 芦屋, 三木, all places I grew up. The fireworks were phenomenal. I do miss that spectacular sight.
As for tonight though, this is the beautiful dusk of LA and palm trees....
Once we actually got to Namba, it was a mad house. People everywhere. Food and restaurants everywhere. Shopping everywhere. If there's one thing Japanese people are good, it's food and shopping. Okay that's 2 things.
Dotonbori is actually a long street, with shops, restaurants, food stands, and arcades on both sides. It runs parallel to a river or canal that makes for a nice deck area to hang out and eat your street food aka たこ焼き takoyaki (canal seen below).
We didn't get a chance to eat takoyaki たこ焼き just because I knew my おばあちゃん was making some that night. So we meandered through the crowds, checking out some of the gift shops, going into the arcades and trying out the UFO catchers (which is a totally different subject I will write about but my 外人 husband had never experience this and was totally hooked on it). Dotonbori is a crazy touristy place but we saw a lot of Japanese people there too, hanging out and meeting up with friends. If you don't like the crowded hustle bustle, this is probably not the place. Demographics consists of mostly young adults. Definitely not a place to bring your grandparents.
Come lunch time we were pretty hungry. One of the difficult things to do in Japan is trying to decide what to have for lunch. First of all, there are just way too many choices!! Damn it!! It's overkill. Seriously. I couldn't decided if I want to eat at this お好み焼き restaurant or the one a few steps away. Not only does the Dotonbori area have お好み焼き, they have the usual suspects like カレー，豚カツ，ラーメン，焼き肉，天ぷら and so on. It's really a foodie's paradise. I wish I could stay a month just to try out one area's restaurants. So finally we decided on お好み焼き at creo-ru くれおーる(http://www.creo-ru.com).
I guess being a foodie from Los Angeles I kind of expected alot. It was so so. I think my mom or おばあちゃん can make better お好み焼き. We actually had to wait a good 30 minutes or so because it was crowded during lunch time. Strange. I've never really waited for a restaurant in Japan. So finally we are seated upstairs at a small table with a high tech menu and a large basket underneath the table. Apparently the basket is for the ladies to put their purses in... I'm only assuming so the purse bottom doesn't get dirty?...Anywho, the menu in itself was another crazy thing. You selected your orders with a talking electronic pen which reiterated your orders. Hmm. No actual person taking your order. We weren't the only ones having a hard time with this thing. Other natives were actually having a hard time with this thing. We actually had a waitress help us out with the ordering.
Service was godly slow. Ugh. Again with my LA expectations. We usually wait no more than 15-20 minutes for our food maybe. However we must've wait at least 30-40 minutes for our food. Oh yes, another Japanese norm. Smoking in the restaurant. Totally allowed. That was strange. However, strange as I am, I actually like the smell of smoking. Probably because it reminds me Japan. I don't really mind it. If I smell someone smoking in LA it actually makes me feel nostagic and reminds me of Japan.
And that's the verdict of the Okonomiyaki. There were plenty of places that also looked good, but again, we only tried one off the main street in Dotonbori. I occasionally make this at home so it's not something too special for us. I would much rather eat sushi!
Let me reminisce today so I can escape the world of work, chores, family drama and boring life....
今回の旅行の highlight は道頓堀と難波でした。Or let me say, one of the highlights of our most recent trip was Dotonbori and Namba. We went back at least 2 full days and maybe half another day. Coming from Hattori 服部, we took the Hankyu阪急 to Umeda 梅田(another favorite place of mine), walked past the new and beautiful JR station, to the Midosuji line 御堂筋線 。From Umeda to Namba which I believe was only 230 円 (安い！), was stop M20. Easy peezy. Even a 外人can understand that!! Everything is said and written in English too, making it very easily. The only difficult thing might be navigating between the Hankyu and Midosuji Subway as well as getting on the right Platform. You could easily be on the wrong side of the platform going the opposite direction if you're not careful.
Before coming to Japan I had this preconceived notion that I would not be able to navigate the train system and subways. Now that I look back, that was silly of me. All the times I followed my mother or aunts through the subways and transfers, I always felt so overwhelmed like I could easily get lost. But because I had to do it for myself and my husband for the first time, I was extra aware of my surroundings. Lo and behold, it was not as daunting as I expected!! Everything was written in English and all the signs and maps were easy to understand. Really. You don't have to be able to read かんじ which I have minimal knowledge of.
So don't be afraid!! Just go out and be adventurous. It is honestly the best way to see a city. Get lost. It really does height senses and makes for some great discoveries. One thing I love about my husband is he's adventurous. Whenever we go on a new vacation, we always take trains or drive somewhere unknown to explore. I usually am tedious with my vacation research and have all our itinerary down to the nitty-gritty, but sometimes it's refreshing to not have a plan and just explore. Just let loose and discover. We discovered some amazing pizza in New York doing that last year.....just saying.
But thank goodness for technology. We were fortunate this time around to have our iPhones with wireless hotspot (pocket wifi) so we could easily look up directions or where trains stations were in case we got too lost. I would say from Hattori to Namba, without waiting too long for trains (maybe 2-3 minutes), took about 40 minutes on a regular weekday.
My おばあちゃん is actually here with us for a couple of months. She came home with my mom and our most recent trip a couple of weeks ago. How blessed am I?!? So blessed. Having my ばあちゃん over is like heaven everyday. Just wish I could live with her the whole time she's here. She's made me lunches and dinners that only she can make, flavors that remind me of her.
Today she made some ダンゴとあんこ。She loves あんこ。life does not get any better than her home cooking.
The very definition of mothers and grandmothers out there. Mothers and grandmothers constantly sacrifice themselves in all different ways; their time, lives, hobbies, self esteem, needs, wants, pretty much everything.
I watch my mom and my grandma who are the most wonderful people on this planet. I see what they have sacrifice to make their children's lives better, richer, fuller, even if it meant pain and suffering for themselves. Unconditional love like that only comes from moms and grandmas (of course dads and grandpas as well).
My mom came to LA 24 years ago with my dad and us as little ones and her life had completely changed. She left the country she knew and loved and left it so we can have a better life in the US. I can't imagine what it must of been like for her. I can't even stand being away from Japan after a two week visit. To leave Japan forever to start a new life, that is sacrifice. I knew it was hard for her. I admire her strengths and I don't know how she got through it. Same with my grandma. I know it broke her heart and it still honesty breaks mine to not be so close to her. She had to just let go, let it be. She lost her daughter. I also can't imagine that feeling. She'd come to visit often but it was never the same as before. When we lived in 芦屋 myおばあちゃん used to jump on the 阪急 電車 and come see us in a heartbeat from 三木 (兵庫県)。Oh those days 懐かしい〜
This Mother's Day, I want to honor my ママとおばあちゃん for everything they put up with in life. No matter how tough people are on them or how rough life is, they have always sustained and kept their heads up.
I love you ママとおばあちゃん。You guys gave me the life I so wonderfully live today.
Anyone out there ever get depressed about not being in Japan? Like so 恋しい of the country? Every time I come back, I get this awful sinking feeling like Japan is calling me back or something.
More the reason to get back to the country. If anyone out there has any suggestions on how I could get a working visa to live in Japan for a while, I'd love to hear from you! Even your own experiences or memories of missing 日本
This blog may reference rants and opinions, experiences and memories and anything in between. If you enjoy reading my blog, follow me or leave me comments! Especially all the gaijins living/working in Japan. I have been browsing through a lot of those blogs recently. I would appreciate it.
As a Japan-born, LA native, I find myself recently feeling like a fish out of water in both countries. I recently got back from an ever quick trip to Japan and I feel all sorts of lost. What has become of my identity? I sorely miss Japan already, every single part about it.
I was in the Osaka and Kobe area for about a week and half. It was the quickest week and half ever. This was the first time taking my husband. It was different from all the other times I've been with my family or just solo. I experienced Japan in so many different ways, saw it in a different perspective -- I would say I saw it in a gaijin's perspective. I tried to think and be on the same wave length as my husband, as he experienced all the senses of Japan for the first time.
Like how strange the washiki （和式） toilets are in Japan, how every girl wears stockings, how busy the shoutengais （商店街） are. To me, those kinds of things always seemed normal. But I guess to a foreigner, it is all new.
Which makes me wonder, am I of two identities? I was born in Japan, raised there till about 6, and have gone back almost every year or so during summers and winters to visit my grandparents and other family. However, I was raised in LA. Went to school, college and got married in LA. I know LA like the back of my hand and as I live here longer, I have learn to appreciate the little gems of LA. But a part of me can never let go Japan. It shouldn't have to, but I feel like there is a calling, a larger presence calling for me to come back to Japan. Know it better, appreciate it better, love it even more.
Believe me. I desperately want to. I would live in Japan for a couple years if it were all up to me. How lovely and how eye-opening would that be. Circumstances prevent me of course, jobs, husband, etc.......so how does one just take off for a year or two and enjoy their motherland? How do I even find of job or means of living in Japan? Can't just sit around at Obachan's house all day every day.....how does one convince her husband to leave our stable and well paying jobs so I can fulfill and answer that internal calling I am getting from Japan? How how how......