I’ve been here for a while. I’ve been to the supermarket, and I have to go back to get some more stuff. I already picked up basic materials for onigiri, miso soup and udon. First batch of rice in the rice cooker (I’m used to a regular old pot on the stove) made more rice than I expected. Furthermore, the “stoves” we have here are induction-heating coils — that is, magnets that magnetically heat the cookware. So it won’t work on glass or what not. Cast iron frying pans are ultra-expensive here, so I’m either looking at pre-coated flimsy crap or getting a cast-iron pan shipped to my house in the US and then having it shipped from there to Japan. Or shelling out at least 100$.
We’ve been doing orientation-like things at Chubu University. So far, we’ve traveled to city hall and registered for health insurance, signed up for various upcoming events, and taken a placement test. Not very interesting.
The highlights have been eating in restaurants. Food here is “expensive,” but with the current exchange rate at 120 JPY to 1 USD, it’s not that bad. Furthermore, it’s only slightly cheaper to prepare food yourself as it is to eat in a restaurant. I got okonomiyaki for 380円. That’s about $3. I got some ramen for 480円. That’s about $4. You can’t even get a decent Subway “$5 footlong” in the states for less than $7. Granted, some people take half of it home for later, but the quality of food here is miles above a Subway sandwich.
Yesterday, while waiting for the city hall stuff to process, we went to Sushiro, a kaiten-zushi (conveyor-belt sushi) restaurant. I shared my table with my two American OU friends, a Chinese OU friend, and the dorm RA (American). 100円 (+8円 tax) per plate, usually 2 pieces of nigiri-zushi per plate. By the time my friends had filled up their cups of tea, I had already grabbed a plate of tamago-zushi (egg) off the belt and made it disappear. Every half-minute or so I saw something I liked and pulled it off the shelf. Having been to sushi restaurants in America, I recognized the look and names of pretty much everything, which expedited my dining experience. Of all the sushi I ate, I had to pass up the aji and saba (two kinds of mackerel, my favorite), the unagi (eel) and the baby ika (squid) — I could have ordered them specifically, but by the time I though of doing so, I would have held up my fellow patrons. Besides, I was having too much fun waiting to see what appetizing dish would come around next. In the end, I had eight plates of sushi and a plate of chocolate cake. Let me tell you, that place is dangerous. I would totally set up shop there from dawn til dusk, hanging out and grabbing sushi off the belt every so often.
Last night I went to Ganko-en, a yakiniku place, with my American OU friends and two Chubu friends. It wasn’t cheap, but one of the Chubu students had a 20% off coupon. All-You-Can-Eat-For-One-Price (about 2500円 or $20, after the coupon). We got the second tier (three tiers in all: 2500円, 3000円, 3500円). There was a ton of stuff — the usual beef muscle meat, beef tongue, various beef organ meats, cockscomb, squid, shrimp, shiitake, hot peppers, green onions — I don’t remember all of it but I definitely ate all of it. There were also soup offerings, rice dishes, kimchi, and more stuff I can’t remember. Dessert was vannilla-caramel-malt ice cream, strawberry ice cream, some flavor of pudding (kind of citric with a strawberry glaze) and cream puffs. Continue reading Japan — Day 006