Sunday, August 3, 2008

We have landed

...and I have finally had real sushi!

Let’s get the basics out of the way: Josh and I arrived safely in Japan on Friday, August 1 at 1:30pm, or 12:30am on the east coast. The flight and the airport were both fine – we were lucky to have discovered a week prior that our original July 31 flight was cancelled, since there were more than a dozen other servicemembers at the USO who were unexpectedly stuck in Seattle for an extra week. The Navy had already rebooked us on a commercial flight, thank goodness. Once we arrived and cleared customs at Narita, we waited for two hours before hopping on a military bus to Yokosuka Navy Base. All in all, we were traveling for about 24 hours.

Five people from the Navy Band met us at the Lodge on base, including the new bandmaster, Lieutenant Wrenn. Our sponsor, Alex Ivy, and his wife Beth brought us a goody basket with some supplies and some funny Japanese snacks, and they took us out for dinner on base and a driving tour. They even leant us their bicycles so we could get around a little more easily.

We have spent the last couple of days getting lost on base, checking out the gyms, food courts, and facilities here on Yokosuka. Our room at the Navy Lodge is adequate, with a tiny mini-kitchen that allows us to forgo eating at Chili’s every night, thank heaven. The band played yesterday at an on-base theater, so we got to hear some smokin’ big band music and get introduced to some of Josh’s coworkers and their families. I think we’ll fit right in here.

Now for the fun stuff! This afternoon, for the first time, we took a loooong bus ride around the whole base to get to the main gate, and walked off American soil and into Yokosuka! It was so much fun, y’all. I was a little nervous at first since we don’t speak the language, but you’d be surprised how far “sumimasen” (excuse me), “dozo” (please), “gomen nasai” (I’m sorry {I used that one a lot}), and “domo arigato gozaimashita” (thank you very much) will get you, especially when combined with hand signals and a lot of pointing. The town is set up pretty well to welcome Americans since the base is here, that is, there are photos of a lot of the food and some romanji (Japanese words spelled phoenetically in the Roman alphabet) and English descriptions on signs.

We went to a yarn shop – hooray! – but didn’t buy anything yet. We stopped into a 100 yen store, like a dollar store here, hoping to find some trinkets to send back home, but all they sold were household goods and little food items. *Side note: a surprising number of the little bags of snack mix have little dried fish, eyes and all, as a featured ingredient. Guess I’ll be making my own snacks from now on.* Vegetables are MUCH cheaper on the local economy than in the commissary on base, so we bought some gorgeous baby eggplants, cherry tomatoes, and onions to have stir-fried with local soba noodles, shoyu, and olive oil tonight. Wish us luck! Fruit is crazy expensive everywhere though - ¥500 or more for two apples. That’s almost $5.00.

The best part of all, though, was the sushi. We stopped in at a sushi bar with a conveyor belt The Conveyor Belt of Bliss, which kept bringing us plates of nigiri, which is a slice of raw fish on top of a little mound of sushi rice. We had maguro (fatty tuna), salmon, some cold edamame, and tekka maki, which is a small sushi roll with tuna. It was far and away the best sushi I have ever eaten, bar none. The taste was wonderful, the fish was at room temperature and incredibly fresh, and the whole meal included miso soup for us both and cost less than ¥1200!

I’m going to like it here.


Jessica said...

Woo! Glad you made it safely! I can't wait to see more pictures (not that the airport photo wasn't thrilling....but, you know)

I hope you get adjusted quickly, but if you do have any crazy misadventures at least they'll make for some good posting here.

We miss you!

clembo said...

Hurray! Sushi at last. So glad it met expectations. Not so sure about the little snack fish...
Great work on the blogging. Looking forward to many more!

jatwood4 said...

Hi, emily and Josh! I can't believe you guys are there! give my regards to Japan, okay? So great that your first experience off-base was great -- you'll be running the country in a couple of months! Thanks for setting up this blog, so we can all keep time with you and Josh. Love to you both!

Sharon said...

AWESOME!! What a great idea to start a blog! So glad that you are having a great time! (Fish eyes and all!)

Miss you and can't wait to see you back in Seattle!

Love Sharon, Joe and Erika

Em's Wedding Extravaganza said...

Ha ha, I know about fatty tuna from Kerrie's t-shirt!

bjhtsawyer1 said...

Hey, Em and Josh -

I'm sending my brother (your dad) a book -Dave Barry Does Japan. Wish I'd thought to send it to you before you left. Dave says, "...the Japanese routinely eat things that have eyeballs o suckers or other flagrantly unacceptable organs still attached to them." So you found out for yourself. I'll have your dad send it along. Enjoy exploring!
Tnua Arabrab

morningglory said...

Hey Em and Josh - So glad to hear that your trip was safe and uneventful. I love the photos you've posted along with the text. Thank you. Many happy, happy days to you both! Aunt Mary

Melanie said...

So fun reading about Japan. Sounds awesome. I can't wait to come visit. The food sounds so good. Now I want some shoya sauce and soba noodles with veggies. I have seen those little fish in a Korean restaurant here, they serve it with all the dinners as a side. Interesting. I love you and miss you. Hope your butt isn't too sore. And I'm glad you are going to follow the law.
Love, Mel