This post is the first of few as I look back on my stay in Japan. I feel my time there was way too short and has left me searching the calendar for a return date.
Could it have been the fresh food and unlimited amount of tea options? Maybe it was all of the kind people with their gentle demeanor. Possibly a balance of all of the above in combination with the perfect host.
Meet my exceptional cousin Brandon. A man with a huge heart, a positive attitude, and a sense of humor that left me tearing up as the locals stared in confusion at our ability to laugh without breathing for minutes at a time.
He’s here starting his 6th year in the Navy as a Seabee construction electrician, which is just one example of his strong drive and self discipline.
Our grandmothers are sisters and have lived nearby one another for most of their lives. This means, that although Brandon and I weren’t raised side by side, we’d randomly connect over summer breaks and family holidays. Unfortunately I don’t have any embarrassing childhood photos of us on hand, but here we are now!
First category, edibles! We had way too much fun snooping around the local shops checking out what was lining the shelves. From confusing items (that to this day we still can’t figure out) to food that found us curious enough to purchase and try at home.
From the hundreds of food photos I snapped, here are a few from each section.
This first one took me for surprise since I assumed everything in Japan was tiny. Check out the size of this apple next to a lemon!
Pickled everything! This is flavored garlic with some type of herb. We both love garlic so we chose the pink one (you can see it in the background) to take home and try. I wish I could of captured the look on our faces with the first bite. Not only did it taste far from the distinct flavor of garlic, but we were left questioning if this was indeed even what we thought it was! Him and I spent the first half of my trip trying it everyday with high hopes that some new flavor would jump out all of a sudden. “No, I really don’t think this is garlic”, was the common response.
Care for a baked sweet potato? Here, we’ll just keep it warmed up over hot stones at your local grocery store… Love it!
As far as convenience is concerned, they’ve got snack size options dialed in. From fish jerky to pretzels, nuts, single packaged hard boiled eggs, a slice of raw salmon paired with cucumber, rice wrapped tuna and flavored seaweed kelp packs.
I may have went a little over board when I saw all of these individually wrapped snacks at a specialty store. Each time I visit home from abroad I bring my siblings a variety of treats from around the world that (especially being from a small town in Oklahoma) they’ve never seen and generally wouldn’t try.
Side note: This is a surprise, so if you know my family, shhh….
I wish I could tell you what all of these are, maybe after we try them I can give you my best guess. I know a few are fish based and some are sea greens. We found a tiny jar of marshmallow cream with a wooden spoon and several different chocolate treats.
I have no idea what these are. The circular item on the left has the texture of tofu or pressed cat food with no picture on the wrapper indicating what it might be. The other is a tube of liquid with what appears to be soggy meat, fish, tofu or dog food. Hmmm, we’ll see!
The first is an extremely popular item here that comes in a range of flavors. This is the original chocolate. The second photo is green tea and green tea with cherry blossom Kit Kat’s. Both along side a box of dark chocolate swirled with green tea flavored white chocolate.
If there is one thing I must add to the list of all countries have in common, its sweets! I suppose we should face the simple fact that most humans love sugar. At the stores in Japan, you can find a huge variety of desserts ready to be taken home and consumed with a small side of guilt… hold the regrets.
This is a sample of the red bean ice cream, delicious! So was the green tea, cherry plum and my favorite… sweet potato!
The white and green items are rice balls filled with a sweetened red bean paste and next to them is the brown bean paste coating the outside of a rice ball.
Oh no he didn’t… yes he did! This is a hotdog, sandwich styled, banana stuffed Twinkie!
A soft chocolate bread, slightly crispy on the top filled with some fudge like frosting.
The item at the bottom of the plate is a real baked sweet potato, coated in sugar dust. The other is the same rice balls from above except this time covered in sesame seeds.
After all of the store adventures, we’d often find dinner being an assortment of “Ooh, that looks weird” next to “Yum, let’s share that!”. Here is a sample spread… Can you spot the pink garlic that didn’t taste anything close to what it looks like? Its near the black stuff that pleasantly tasted like the ocean. Not to be compared with the sweet teriyaki flavored omelette or fresh salmon slices on Daikon radish. How about out the banana dog-o-twinkie?
This wraps up the grocery food to go. Next post… Restaurants!