“Good Smell, Good Curry”

CoCoICHIBANYA (“CoCoIchi” to fans) is a popular Tokyo chain restaurant specializing in Japanese-style curry rice where you can customize your meal by the size of the rice portion, spice level, and nearly 40 optional toppings.

Keiko and I had lunch at our local curry joint yesterday.  I had mine with fried oysters, Keiko with pork cutlet.  Offering  counter service, the curry is fabulous, the service fast, and the price is right (cheap).  They also deliver.

A Japanese Jigsaw Puzzle?

We have been informed that our container shipment of personal goods has arrived in Yokohama Japan weeks ahead of the estimated arrival date.  Assuming normal customs clearance formalities, a delivery during the week of December 2-6 is anticipated.  We prefer Friday the 6th to have a 3-day weekend to get everything unpacked and organized, no small undertaking given the extensive nature of the packing entailed.

It will be wonderful to be settled in the condo for the New Year.

That’s the good news.

It remains to be seen if everything will comfortably fit into our condo?  The unpacking and organizing process will be like solving a life-size jigsaw puzzle!

Since we shipped little furniture and have purchased needed items in Japan, the arriving bookcases and small pieces will fit nicely in the condo.  We are trying not to crowd the living area and tatami room.

Our bedroom has ample space for daily seasonal clothing.  It will also accommodate a small desk.  The question of sufficient storage space for other clothing and shoes, books, art/decorative items, a variety of other “stuff” and cooking/dining items is however one primary concern.  The organization of the kitchen in particular will be a major challenge.

Another concern is space for my RC models and hobby tools that made the journey.  Despite my successful sale or gifting of a large portion of the collection, it will require space for storage and a small work area.

Nonetheless, I am confident that our second bedroom is large enough to hold the complete 20′ container shipment with some room to spare.  This will allow us to use it to store and stage everything without disrupting the other areas of the condo as we unpack and decide how to proceed.

Toma can’t wait for his missing toys to be unpacked!


Happy Thanksgiving

I post this as Thanksgiving nears and I prepare to celebrate my second Thanksgiving in Japan.  It is a different experience.

I have many fond memories of family Thanksgiving celebrations.  Food, drink and song!  For as long as I can remember as kid through adulthood, It was for me always a wonderful family time.

I still relive the year I took my four daughters to New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I was working for ABC and had arranged for us to stay in the Plaza Hotel penthouse suite (of Eloise fame) –– it was leased by ABC –– the night before the parade.  We watched the balloons being prepared in Central Park and the next morning, courtesy of NBC friends, had front row seats for the parade.  In my mind, a proud father’s best Thanksgiving memory ever!

I have many reasons to be thankful; grateful for so many people who have enriched my life with their love, friendship, and support.  For now, I am healthy and happy; life is good and I am living a dream-like adventure in Japan.

However, sentiments about family memories and giving thanks aside, Thanksgiving is a unique American holiday built on a fictional notion of Native Americans and the Pilgrims dining together in peace where the central character is a turkey supported by a pumpkin. For most Americans the holiday is really about food (and football).

Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Japan and turkey is not available in food markets.  Therefore, Keiko and I will quietly dine with a food substitute that you also find on Japanese tables on Christmas ––  Kentucky Fried Chicken!

That is not a joke.  As noted in an earlier post, the Japanese do celebrate Christmas in their unique way.  On my first Christmas in Japan some years ago I was surprised to see a box of KFC on the table along with sushi and many other Japanese dishes.

When I asked about it, thinking it may have been purchased for me, I was told “no; it is in place of customary American turkey.”  Many Japanese families actually place orders with KFC to insure its available for their Christmas holiday dinner table.

Keiko will need to work and I, without the distraction of NFL football, plan to spend Thanksgiving with a visit to a temple or shrine to reflect on my good fortune.  I will miss watching the Macy’s parade but will prepare to hunt for Black Friday sales at the local shopping mall.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

(Speaking of Christmas, stay tuned.  We are having the Fujikawa clan for a holiday celebration on December 22 and I will prepare my traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes.) 

To learn more about KFC as a Japanese Christmas tradition, click here: How KFC made Christmas all about fried chicken — in Japan

Time Flies

It is hard to believe all that has changed in my life in the space of one year.

Keiko and I had long planned a 2018 fall season trip to Japan to visit family and friends while enjoying the mountains and valleys of Japan dyed red with the changing foliage.  Over the summer, we decided to sell our Crystal Lake home and seriously consider a possible relocation to Tokyo.

By the time we departed for Japan on November 10, 2018 we had a contract pending on our Crystal Lake property, had signed a one-year lease on a Falmouth condo and were heading to Japan to, in addition to our original purpose, also explore the job market, see potential places to live and think about many details related to a possible relocation to Tokyo.

Upon our return just after Thanksgiving, we had just three weeks to plan and execute a move to meet the December 14 closing date!

Once settled in our condo, our just hopeful relocation plans quickly became reality.  Everything seemed to come together at an unexpected accelerated pace.

In January we had initiated the lengthy Japanese veterinary protocol to have Toma exported without quarantine and in March Keiko authorized the head hunters she had met with on our recent trip to proceed with job applications.

Although hopeful, we did not anticipate the quick positive response.  On June 19 she was off to Tokyo with a July 1 start date for her new accounting management position.  Toma also cleared the protocol requirements and we only needed to satisfy an 180 day waiting period.

While Keiko worked on her entry requirements, my Certificate of Eligibility for a spousal resident visa and possible living accommodations, I handled finding a container shipping company, Toma’s veterinary and transportation needs and the continued disposal of vehicles, furniture and personal goods that would not make the trip to Japan.  It was a busy, difficult time for both of us made tolerable by daily FaceTime calls.

Within a period of four months our mission was accomplished.  On October 1 Toma and I departed Boston to join Keiko in our new Tokyo condo.

Tokyo: A Food Lovers Delight!

Tokyo is a food lovers delight! With more than 150,000 restaurants, the city offers a staggering number of places to eat. The options range from simple, fun, cheap and fabulously good neighborhood eateries to Michelin stared fine dining establishments.

Dictionaries generally define the term “foodie” as ‘a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.’ Keiko and I are dedicated “foodies,” we simply like to eat!

With our cooking utensils and dishware still on a boat making its way to Japan from Boston, we have been either enjoying pre-made meals from the local food market or eating out at a wide variety of restaurants.

You may be surprised to learn that you can enjoy the culinary delights of Tokyo on a budget and also lose weight! You walk a lot in getting around Tokyo and that alone is a health benefit. (But, we also joined a sports/wellness center to say fit!)

Frankly, we are enjoying our eating routine so much that we have decided to continue the practice even after our container shipment arrives, cooking only on a weekend night or when we entertain.

Our choice of a place to eat varies and we are exploring a variety establishments in our immediate neighborhood area. I have roughly calculated that we could eat at a different place every night for a month without a repeat visit.

The Japan Times does a great job covering the Tokyo food scene and I was taken with a recent article titled “2010s: The decade Japanese food took over the world.” It tells a wonderful story of the popularity of Japanese cuisine with special attention to the food that is a staple of everyday life in Tokyo –– the convenience store egg sandwich!

Click here to read it now: Japanese Food