Sunday, October 14, 2012

BBQ Grill Raccoon Style!

Zack is a huge Resident Evil fan and he was pretty excited to hear that there was a Biohazard Cafe & Grill S.T.A.R.S (Biohazard is what they call Resident Evil over here) near Yokota. One of my friends I met at the Enlisted Spouses Club invited us our for her hubby's birthday where they were going to Biohazard! As this is not a Sawyer friendly place we found a sitter, bought our Suica cards (cards you load money onto to ride the trains instead of buying a ticket every time!), got dressed up and headed out!
Making our way to Shibuya Station was a little over an hour and we had to switch trains twice. We had to switch trains in Shinjuku which is the busiest train station in Japan! Once we got to Shibuya I was amazed, its more like the Tokyo that everyone thinks of with all the lights and tall buildings!
Shibuya Crossing from the Station
Shibuya crossing has been in many movies including the 3rd Resident Evil and Tokyo Drift!
The walk from the station to the restaurant was about 10min and we saw a Ferrari, a couple McDonald's, a Disney Store and a Forever 21 just to name a few awesome things! I will definitely be going back to check out the shopping scene! The restaurant was on the 7th floor of the PARCO building. When we finally got there Zack was in love! 
All of the employees are dressed in S.T.A.R.S gear and short shorts. The only male employee was dressed in all tactical gear, we were escorted behind a closed door and told no videos only pictures could be taken. Once the door opened we were greeted by a HUGE Tyrant, the boss from the 1st video game!
There was nine of us so when the reservations were made we had already been put down for the BBQ Grill Raccoon Style Meal, an all you can eat buffet style meal brought to your table!
Our meal on the menu

 The meal was 7000Yen per couple but that included a short dance show which involved Tyrant coming alive and the "S.T.A.R.S" agents killing him and all the food you could eat! First they brought out Miso Soup and Salad with dressing and "health spray" :), then they brought out rice in metal canteens along with curry in gravy boats and bread, and then they brought out the meat on large skewers and cut pieces off, they brought out 3 sauces to dip the meat in that enhanced the steak very well. About mid way through the meal they brought a squid/octopus/scallop platter! Yes, I tried a squid! Very rubbery and not something I would order but I can say I tried it!

Part of the spread!

Serving up the meat
Squid, Octopus, Scallops

Then we were entertained by a dance to "Spice Up Your Life" after the fun little dance the music got dramatic and Tyrant started to try and break out of the cage. They were quick to pull out their guns and even some audience members to help shoot down Tyrant! After they killed Tyrant it was high-fives all around the table and then another short dance.


Killing Tyrant
After the show they brought more rounds of meat, more steak, some hamburg (meatloaf), and lamb. We were also served steamed scallops. For dessert we got a mango puree served in an "ink ribbon"- for non Resident Evil fans its what you need at a save point to save the game!
Ink Ribbon Dessert
The whole experience was awesome. 7000Yen ($85) is a lot for dinner but I would say it was well worth it for the all you can eat food and show. The menu does have other items that you can order if you would prefer not to spend the 7000Yen. They do charge a 500Yen fee for the "show" if you order something else off the menu.
The train ride back felt like it took way longer than an hour and a half! No "pushers" were out but one of the trains had so many people on it you couldn't move and there wasn't enough handles for everyone to hold on! Just another thing we will have to get used to living here.
We had a great night, met some awesome people and enjoyed our first Sawyer free night in a couple months! Thankfully Sawyer loves people and had fun with the sitter and didn't cry once, makes me feel better about hiring a babysitter! I think date nights at least once a month will happen for our sanity!
Until our next adventure.
About to eat Squid for the first time!


Monday, October 8, 2012

First Yakiniku Experience!

Well its official, we survived our first month in Japan. Thought we might get to experience a Typhoon but it ended up only being a Tropical Storm by the time it reached us! Since my last blog I have been just hanging out around the base lately, we did check out HOOP, a bagel shop with a friend. A super delicious place I'm sure I will frequent for lunch! But onto the real delicious story of our dinner...

Last night we were invited out to dinner with one of Zack's co-workers and his wife. They took us to Haikara Tei Yakiniku Dining!

Yakiniku means grilled meat in Japanese. You order different cuts of meats and grill them yourself at your table! The menu is a little overwhelming at first because nothing is in English (until they bring you the one menu they have some-what translated), the menu consists of raw meat cuts anywhere from Prime Rib to tongue and intestine! One thing that caught our eye was Dragon Steak, of course Zack had to order it to see what it was! 

What Zack Ordered!
Pork and beef were the only options, we are still assuming that Dragon Steak is beef, but there was every kind of meat off a cow and some insides as well! They also served noodles, meat and rice bowls and kids meals in case ordering and cooking your meat isn't your cup of tea. In the middle of the table is the grill, after you order (which consists of many head nods and pointing to try to get the waiter to get your order right) they turn the grill on.
Grill in the middle of the table.
I ordered a set, sets mean you get the main dish with salad, soup and rice, with short rib and loin cuts. Zack ordered a the huge meat plate with a side of rice (next time we will be splitting the large meat plate!) and a coke. We got Sawyer a noodle kids set since he loves noodles so much with a melon drink, which ended up being like a melon flavored sprite.
Family Picture!

Once the food hit the table we realized we had WAY too much food but wasting food is not an option and since you don't get to take anything home you just got to dig in!
Sawyers meal. He LOVED the noodles!
Ate some of the sausage but
Wasn't a fan of the egg or edemamme!
My meal on the left, Zack's on the right!
It was really awesome getting to see how the different cuts of beef all tasted so different even though it all had the same seasoning on it. I really like the loin the most!
Dinner cooking!
When they brought out the silverware I was wondering why they brought a pair of kitchen scissors, once the guys started cooking their dragon steaks I realized what the scissors were for. Since you eat with chopsticks (this was the only restaurant so far that hasn't brought out western utensils and only chopsticks!) the larger dragon steak has to be cut somehow:

Zack using the "knife"
With the set you also get a dessert, Almond Jelly. I only tried one bite as I was overfull, but it was good. Sawyer ended up eating the entire dessert before I could get a picture of it. All in all it was a delicious dinner! And I would hope that it was for the cost, because it was over $60 for the 3 of us to eat! We will be going back but now we know that the larger platters of meat are more than enough for me and Zack to split and get two small sides of rice or we can both get sets and eat for about $40. 

Until our next adventure.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hachioji Hard Off

After coming home from my volunteering gig, Zack surprised me by taking me to lunch at the same place we had our first dinner off base, Ootoya. Again Sawyer ate all of his Udon Noodles and some of my rice. The soba noodles sure did hit the spot on the cloudy dreary day.  After lunch Zack told me it was time to explore and direct him to a Hard Off-- he is on the hunt for Anime stuff. Hard Off is a chain of secondhand stores. These stores have EVERYTHING and its all affordable, although the collectibles can get expensive if they are rare! After checking out the Hard Off close to base that there was a huge one in Hachioji. We decided to go find it and check it out and we are soooooo glad we did!!!

My navigation skills were decent, especially since the map I had was not the best. Parking as usual was a little nerve racking because there isn't a big parking lot instead there are many little parking areas in between houses. The Hard Off stores are split up by Off House, Hobby Off, Mode Off, Hard Off, and Book Off. Off House has clothes, household items, baby items, shoes, accessories, and outdoor recreation items. Hobby Off is your collectibles, games, DVD's, and toys. Mode Off is the name brand and expensive! Hard Off is the electronics portion with musical instruments, video games, gaming systems, cameras, computers and some DVD's. Book Off is just books and movies.
In Hachioji they are not all in one big store and building its split up and HUGE! Our first stop was the Off House. Two separate buildings both two stories, I cannot wait to go back and clothes shop, they even had Kimono's! Also once baby Smith #2 decides to come I will be getting a lot of items from these stores as there stuff is like new with very decent prices!
Hard to get it all in the picture!
The small toy section in the Off House
Zack was itching to get over to the Hobby Off to start looking at "the cool stuff". The remaining four "Off's" were spread out round the department store across the street.
We had no clue where we were going but we saw signs!
Words and pictures cannot begin to describe how AWESOME and AMAZING Hobby Off is! When we walked in we were speechless, it was everything that Zack was wanting in a store. We were able to find Sawyer a plush Elmo for 100Yen(that he hasn't let go and took to bed with him) and Zack found a CD and two Super Famicom games (Japanese version of Super Nintendo). Next payday we are buying the Super Famicom system! Pictures will better explain the store:
1 of 4 car aisles.

"Junk" Games most 100Yen
Zack picked up two Final Fantasy Games

Rows and rows of Pokemon cards!!!
Final Fantasy Section
We are finding that the anime stuff that is in the stores isn't too much of what Zack is familiar with. We haven't seen any Classic Sailor Moon, Clannad, or Witchblade. Our next stop was the Hard Off to look at game systems and more games, oh and you cant forget the music equipment. Again these stores can just be overwhelming when you step in!
In awe of all the games (maybe 1/3 of the store)

Yes these are all game systems!
Some only 3000Y but would sell for $1000 on Ebay!

1 of 4 aisles of guitars
Then we checked out Mode Off. Very high class secondhand stuff. There was a sweatshirt that had holes and stains that was still 45000Yen ($576)!!! We also found old US Armed Forces field jackets, Coach purses, and name brand shoes. We decided to skip the Book Off today because Sawyer was ready to head out as he had already been a trooper the whole day.
We will be making this trip often! Can't wait to see what kind of treasures we will obtain!
Until the next adventure, XOXO.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tachikawa Tour Results in Black Eye

The Airmen and Family Readiness Center does a few free tours, luckily someone was able to set up a trip where they allowed strollers! Kind of strange they are supposed to help families but wont allow strollers on their tours. Our tour was to Tachikawa, seven stops from Fussa. This was our second train ride and I'm not to scared to ride the trains anymore!
Train Ticket

On the tour we visited 2 of the major department stores right by the station as well as BIC Camera, which has 2 floors that are a craft store.
One of the Department Stores

In UNI QLO- US College Sweats for kids
Florida Gators, Michigan, and CAL was all they had.
We just looked around and tried to keep up with the tour guide, who seemed to not really know what to do with people with strollers. After exploring UNI QLO we went to the next department store to ear and look around. I didn't get a picture of my lunch but it was Tempura Shrimp and Soba Noodles, again another delicious meal! Afterwards we went to a kids play area. Sawyer takes after his Mom in the accident prone area, got pushed by another little kid trying to go up the slide, and his face met the slide stairs. Thankfully he didn't start bleeding but he screamed and there was a lot of tears! Our tour guide was translating with store employees who were trying to tell me I needed to take him to a doctor but I just wanted an ice pack! After about 30min and 4 employees later we finally got some ice packs and decided to move to BIC camera!
Sawyers Start to his First Black Eye!
BIC camera was neat the top two floors were a craft store a lot like a Michael's. I didn't get too many pictures since I kept checking on Sawyer and just taking everything in, going somewhere new can be very overwhelming here but I'm trying to get better about taking more pictures, I also know we will be here for four years so I can go back and take more pictures later :)
On our way back to the train station we found a few familiar places:
Krispy Kreme!
On the train ride back I came to the conclusion that I need to carry the Kindle with Sawyer-friendly apps or get some apps on the iPhone because he doesn't like not being able to be up on the seats. In Japan they view shoes as dirty objects so kids feet aren't supposed to touch anything but the ground (no standing on the seats). Keeping him in his stroller is a little easier when the train isn't crowded but can still lead to kicking so we will be working on that! Hopefully next time I head to Tachikawa I will have more pics and find more fun stuff to share with everyone!!!
Until the next adventure, XOXO.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Out for a Saturday Drive!

This last weekend Zack decided we'd venture off base on his day off.

We chose to revisit Joyful Honda and the Diamond City Mall. He wanted to get some off base driving experience and those were the two places we knew how to get to already!

First Stop was Joyful Honda! The best way to explain this store is well they have EVERYTHING. Its like a Super WalMart, Home Depot, Ikea combined! We decided to try the food court again but this time try something new! I couldn't take a picture of the place we tried as they ask no photography in the food area but I got a picture of what we ate :)

The black portion of the bowl is sizzling hot! It was rice with I think pork, bean sprouts, and kale. I thought I was trying lemonade but it turned out to be some Lemon Pop that tasted a little weird. Another amazing meal! Sawyer enjoyed his KFC Kids Meal, which was 1 chicken strip, very small fries, and a biscuit with Maple Syrup(guess that's their honey alternative):

After lunch we walked around the store as I was looking for wreath making materials, our door needs a little something! Came out empty handed but snapped a few pics inside the store:
 Wooden Temples to build!
 Umbrella Wall!
Bike in the Antique Section
After roaming around Joyful Honda checking stuff out we went across the street to Toys R Us
Doesn't look any different on the outside but inside it is 98% Japanese toys! Way cool to see. I have a video up on my facebook of Japanese Woody from Toy Story. The thing I found the most interesting was the sideways car seat:
Guess with their small cars this helps take up less space!
After checking things out in Toys R Us we headed to the mall. The Diamond City Aeon Mall is three stories of awesomeness! They even have GAP and H&M.
We walked around the mall checking out all the stores until Sawyer got fussy. No naps for the kid makes a rough afternoon!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Old Navy Flip Flops are NOT a Good Choice of Exploring Shoes!

There where two good reason to leave the house today:
  1. I've been needing wanting a pair of white walking shoes, I know they wont stay clean but they look good the first time you wear them! I already have a blister from my black wanna be vans so my only shoe choice is my flip flops.
  2. Meet up with someone off our base yard sale page for a $5 stroller :)
We have walked the wheels off the umbrella stroller and its not tall enough for Zack or I to push comfortably, so I've been on the hunt for a compact stroller suitable for the streets and trains here as our American Graco travel system wont be leaving base! One night I saw a compact Jeep stroller for $7 and thought it would work good. Today I met with the gal and its perfect! Its just as light as our umbrella stroller, has a basket under his seat so now I don't have to hang bags from the handles, it folds up in half so I can stow it away easy on the trains or in the trunk, its got a sun shade for Sawyer and its tall enough it doesn't hurt my back to push! Best part of it I bought it for $5!
Sawyers New Ride

Next stop was the BX because my friend tipped me off that they had some Nike's on clearance. Lucky for me and my small feet I was able to grab a pair for $20 since I fit into kids shoes!
My New Kicks

I have been wanting to do this walking tour of Fussa I found on a website, but everyday it seems to be too hot to go anywhere. When leaving the BX that's when the wild hair got me. It was already 2:30pm and starting to get cloudy with a breeze and since I was right by the Main Gate I should just start walking. Sawyer had a full water bottle and with the breeze I figured we would be fine, so off we went!

With my camera and phone only halfway charged I figured I would walk until one of them started to die or the sky started to look like rain. From our first adventure off base I remembered our friends driving by this little park. Letting my photographic memory take over I maneuvered the stroller through the streets and on the small sidewalks with ease, very proud of my purchase! Walking through the streets was really fun. They have informative maps on major roads and paths when you are closer to the train station and base. I noticed as I got farther from base stuff was not in English as much!

Map near the Train Station

The architecture and way they utilize all spaces amazes me. I had not thought about where they had cemeteries until I ran across one today. It wasn't in the middle of down town but nestled away by one of the creeks. I would have walked right passed it and not noticed had I been on the other side of the road. Of course I couldn't just walk by and not peek around. I plan on doing a little research to see the significance of what gets placed at the burial sites.

Once we did a quick walk through of the Cemetery I knew the park was just around the bend that I had remembered. Its a cute little park with a fountain and small play structure which I figured would be perfect for Sawyer. There were many adults at the park sitting there meditating and relaxing as well as children fishing in the small pond. I will be taking Sawyer back there!
Park #1

There was a small picnic area by the pond so I might take a lunch out there one of these days as it starts cooling down! Sawyer set the tone here and instead of wanting to play he starting walking back towards the road so I put him back in the stroller and continued on. My new goal was to find a temple. I knew my phone didn't have enough battery to keep the map up so I started walking towards the river! We eventually came to the river and found another playground! Sawyer was excited to get out and run around. This park had a jungle gym that looked like a rocket ship, a zip line, and teeter totter! Sawyer also found a Whale to rock on :)
The river from park #2
Rocking away!

I knew we had to be getting close to the temple, since I kept sneaking a peek at the map on my phone, and since it was already 4 o'clock we continued on. Not long after leaving the park we found this:

Not quite sure what it was, but it was very cool to look at. Then the clouds over in the direction of the base starting looking a little too dark for my liking especially since the umbrella was sitting in the apartment! I made our way to the nearest main road and once I saw signs for Fussa Station I knew we weren't lost!

Sawyer and I started a decent pace back and my feet were already screaming at me! I wandered back through main street Fussa and contemplated a Mister Donut treat but decided that a stop at 7-Eleven for a Pacori Sweat was a better decision! With the Main Gate in sight, I decided that since it was only a little after 5 walking to the supply gate and past all the shops you can see from base would be more fun than the same base scenery we see daily.

Not 3 blocks away was yet another playground, which prompted "play, play, play" to be coming from inside the stroller. So being the coolest Mom around, we stopped to play some more!
Playing at Park #3
One thing is for sure, they have some awesome play equipment around here! After two and a half hours of exploring, and three playgrounds later we made it safely back to base!

According to my phone we are about 1.8km from the park by the river but that is the shortest distance and I know we didn't go that way!!! Boy did I learn a lesson today.... when you buy walking shoes put them on!!! My feet are screaming at me and I have blisters to show that rubber flip flops are not a good choice when adventuring through Japan (no wonder I didn't see anyone else wearing sandals)!!!

I will put more pictures up on my facebook since it takes forever to upload them to my blog!

Until the next adventure!