Japan

My sister has been in Japan for the better part of a year now. It’s hard to believe. She left last August to teach English in a small town two hours outside of Tokyo and has been in Japan ever since. I was so excited to return to Japan, mostly to see Laura, but also to be able to experience this place again (this time with a fresher eye) and to truly savor my last days before returning to work.

We spent 3 nights in Osaka, 5 nights on Ishigaki – at the southernmost tip of the Japanese island chain, and then I spent 3 nights in Hiroshima. As you’ll see from the photos I was most taken with the cherry blossoms and the coastal scenes, which left me feeling recharged. Ishigaki was the highlight for me, as it’s on a similar latitude as Hawaii with the same tropical feel, not to mention the bed and breakfast where we stayed was absolutely charming. Hiroshima was a close second due to the proximity to the water, the manageable size and general nature of the city as well as its location next to the hills.

I am so grateful to have been able to visit Laura during her year abroad just like she did for me. I realize these are not experiences that everyone gets to have with a sibling and to understand this place a little better with her was priceless.

 

OsakaIMG_0923IMG_0978IMG_0980IMG_1027IMG_0951IMG_1007IMG_1010IMG_1842

IshigakiIMG_1165IMG_1200IMG_1181IMG_1844IMG_1232IMG_1250IMG_1254IMG_1324IMG_1419image1IMG_1356IMG_1400

TaketomiIMG_1433IMG_1454IMG_1455IMG_1475

HiroshimaIMG_1523IMG_1840IMG_1556IMG_1579IMG_1580IMG_1841IMG_1533

MiyajimaIMG_1613IMG_1618IMG_1640IMG_1643IMG_1655IMG_1663

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Making of a Chinese Crepe

Remember  I went to China? I told you about my cooking class, but the things that happened every day like ordering a single sesame ball by eagerly pointing to what another customer had in her bag, or ordering what I thought was tapioca pudding and getting lord knows what (curdled milk?) seemed kind of trivial and not worth mentioning. I had some good food while I was there, and I was surprised how it was not too far off from what I expected. Sure there were weird things, like scorpions on sticks (though I’m still sure that was mostly for tourists) but at the end of the day I didn’t end up going to super fancy restaurants, and for the most part it was just Chinese food with the bigger difference being the customs – like the spitting bones on tables in restaurants customs…

That said, I did witness something facinating. I must have watched this girl make 3 or so crepes becuase I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. For a couple reasons a) crepes in China? You’d better believe it! b) the  griddle moved instead of the wooden tool. Unlike French creps where the crepe-maker spins around the batter on a stationary hot griddle, this girl only subtly moved her tool along a circulating griddle. And just when you think it’s almost done, she cracks an egg right on there! Watch it here:

After she creates the crepe she folds it in thirds and passes it to the guy who spreads lightly with chili/dried shrim paste, adds herbs, lettuce and a fried won ton and you’re good to go. A street snack that was fresh, spicy, crisp, and warm. And on a side note, while trying to pay for this mid-day delight, I was thrown a hangloose hand gesture and yelled at in Chinese. Apparently that hand signal means 6, and my 5 yuen just weren’t cutting it. The cashier finally had to print the ticket from the reigster and show me how much to pay – oh, China…

assembling the crepe