1. Chopsticks and Dishes
I must admit, I am OBSESSED with fun chopsticks and gorgeous little dishes - two things that the Japanese are known for! Being that they sell them almost everywhere, I haven't been able to resist taking up little collections. Most of the dishes are hand-made and have the cutest, most intricate little designs on them. I am thoroughly in love with their mini dishes made for dipping sauces - I think we own about 20 of these alone - guess we need to start eating meals that require more dipping sauces! We don't use chopsticks at every meal, but our collection does seem to get some use (mostly by Matt!).
1. The Sea Wall
One place that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine is the Sea Wall (or the Sunabe Sea Wall to be exact). The Sea Wall is exactly what it sounds like - a break wall that is along the ocean, but it is also so much more than that. Located on the west side of the island (East China Sea side), the Sea Wall is only a 10 minute drive from our house. It is painted and graffiti-ed with colorful pictures and names, and has a ledge and sidewalk that you can walk along and look out at the ocean. I've been told that the tradition is for Americans stationed here to write their names on the wall right before they leave the island - (and this is legal). Not only is the wall something to see (and is sort of a "river walk" type experience), there are a ton of hidden little shops and restaurants along the strip as well. The Sea Wall is calm and relaxing, not at all glitzy and showy, but we've been to some of the best restaurants right there and watched some of the best sunsets there as well. This is also the location of our last 3 ocean dives for our scuba certification. I look forward to spending more time down there at the Sea Wall and finding more fun places along its strip.
3. Japanese Candy
Instead of going to get ice cream for dessert after a great meal, we have in the past, gone to a Japanese convenience or candy store and picked out a bunch of fun candy that we have no clue what is inside! Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised, and sometimes, we learn never to buy that one again. I've learned that just because something looks like it is candy, doesn't mean it is - I was pretty sure I had bitten into an air freshener at one point, but we found out later it was something called a "pickled plum"... NEVER AGAIN... Matt and I both avoid those like the plague!
I thought this was going to be more like "pop rocks", but it turned out to be more fizzy & foamy...
White Cookie is one of my favorites:)
4. 100 Yen Stores
Move over American dollar stores! The 100 Yen Store is an American dollar store times ten! While the size of the stores are about the same size as dollar stores, they seem to cram SO much more into them. It takes hours to thoroughly look through this whole store, and the items aren't just cheap finds - they actually have some great stuff! Some of my favorite things to get at the 100 Yen Stores - cool gift wrap, office supplies, storage containers, dishes, chopsticks, and candy. Their selection is unbeatable, and I could spend all day in one! Moral of the story: if you ever need anything - no matter what it is - check the 100 Yen Store first!
5. The Rosegarden
The Rosegarden is actually a little restaurant right down the street from our house that serves one amazing breakfast! I had heard great things about this place on an Okinawan website that I frequently check, so Matt and I decided to check it out for breakfast one weekend and were so glad we did! Although tiny, the atmosphere is quaint and cozy, and all of the guests (at least at the time we were there) were American. The Rosegarden offers a pretty large breakfast menu, and Matt got eggs, fried potatoes and a huge pork chop! I got the scones and tea, and didn't expect much. However, they brought out the cutest tea pot with Earl Grey Tea and a plate with scones (they were more biscuit-looking than scones like we have in America) accompanied by butter, whipped cream and my choice of jam. The scones were to die for - I can still taste how moist and sweet they were right now as I'm writing this! I've also been told the French Toast is amazing as well at the Rosegarden - We will be back again soon!
This is actually a shot of the waitress running out the door trying to tell me that I left me phone on the table!
6. Japanese Fashion
I've been fascinated with Japanese fashion since arriving here, and in some ways, it reminds me a lot of LA fashion. My friend Rachel out in LA would be the person I think would fit in here the best as far as style goes. It didn't take me long to figure out that the Japanese don't wear a lot of color - they love their black & white, and if they do wear color, it's usually one bright pop of color. They love their leggings, boots, graphic and over sized t-shirts, strings of beads and HATS! The Japanese are wearing all types of hats, some of the most common being newsboys and fedoras. I know these are all popular things in the United States, but it is different over here somehow - I think its that the majority of people dress this way. In the states (unless you live in LA maybe), you might see a few girls at the mall or maybe a photo of Britney on a magazine wearing a fedora, but do you really see the majority of people doing it? While it bums me out a little that I don't have too many places to wear such fun clothes every day, I am still loving them!
7. The Locals
I can't stress enough how nice and happy everyone here is (or seems to be at least!). From the guards at our base gates, to the cashiers at a convenience store - even all of our time spent with the Japanese Coast Guard ended up being a nice experience (more about that in an upcoming post!). Females always speak in a high, happy voice, everyone is extremely attentive and customer service-oriented, and I'm starting to get used to the mass amounts of "Irasshaimase! Irasshaimase!" greeting us when we walk into any store. Even if you are in a bad mood, you can't help but be happy when being around these happy locals! It also seems like the Japanese people like to take ordinary things and make them "happier". Take for instance - worker signs. You know, signs on the street that warn you that there are workers ahead. These signs are everywhere, because it seems like the Japanese are always working on the streets here. Anyway, they must have thought to themselves, "why have an ordinary sign that just says, WARNING WORKERS AHEAD, when we could "happy-it-up" a little by adding, i don't know, say... a picture of a flower? or a picture of a field? or a picture of the ocean?". And that's exactly what they do - they take every day things and try to make them happier, even if it seems a little unnecessary to us Americans. I think it works, because it makes me smile every time I pass those worker signs:)
I hope you enjoyed!