A Travellerspoint blog

Letting It All Hang Out At Dinner

Word of the day is "Tanoshimu". It means "Enjoy!", like what you might say before eating dinner.

7 °C



Eikosan and her two daughters invited Ana and I to help cook a traditional Japanese meal and enjoy it in the comforts of their home. This was a pretty cool offer, except i'm a picky eater and a big wuss when it comes to trying new foods. Although my appetite and ability to try new foods state side has matured plenty, foriegn food remains my nemasis. Is there a phobia out there for those afraid of foods they fear or just don't understand? If not, there should be.

When Eikosan passed me a mysterious gray jello, I felt a shiver crawl up my spine. This gray jello gave me the willies. I'm pretty sure I saw it move on its own just before I picked it up. This little indgredient was not to new to Ana. I glanced at her just before picking it up and she gave me the look that says "Don't do it Keith."


But it's hard to put the jello down and step back when the head chef (Eko San) is giving you the eye. It was like she could read my mind. As transparent as my hesitation may have been, I smiled brightly for the camara and followed orders. I tore it into little pieces and tossed them into the soup.


Once dinner was ready, we prepared the table and snapped a few pics. Someone was definitely watching out for me. This became obvious when they set the plate of fried chicken on the table. "Yahtzee!" We politely passed plates around the table as our eyes began to dig in. For all the non picky eaters out there, allow me to share the experience with you of trying new food. When trying a new food (i.e. vegetable, fruit, meat, etc) you need to mentally prepare for the worst. In this case I was sure the worst case scenario was a projectile vomit across the table followed by people screaming at me. Knowing this would probably happen I closed my eyes, tensed up and opened my mouth.

Drum roll........................delicious. The salad was fresh and crispy. The gray jello mold some how evaporated into the soup, leaving behind a light broth with thinly sliced veggies and a warm coating in my stomach. The rice was cooked perfectly and just sticky enough to make for easy handling with my chop sticks.

The fried chicken was just as one would expect, heavenly. Who knew this fried animal (sorry Kelli) could bring me back to America. Cornel Sanders didn't even compare to this chicken. Here I am enjoying this tasty meal, when the keeper of the house (Eko San) puts a small dish of sauce next to my plate. Its thin base and tan color made me think spicy, authentic Japanese sauce. I'm in. I firmed up a piece of chicken between my sticks and reached for the sauce only to hear a gasp of breath around the table. The two younger daughters and Eko San were clearly not agreeing with this move. "What are they trying to say?", I thought. They all sat motionless for a few moments before Eko San gave me the clue I was after. She made a drinking motion with her hand. Then she whispered the word "TEA". Ahh... tea, of course. At this point we had a good laugh around the table as the ice had finally broken.

The night ended well. Ana and I left with food in our stomachs and new cooking strategies for our next meal. On our way to the subway we had good laugh about the gray jello and spicy chicken sauce. It was a successful night of breaking down the barriers between cultures and managing beyond the limits of my comfort zone. Kan Pai!

Until the next time,

Hope you are all doing well and enjoying your holiday!


I found the gray jello like substance in the produce section of the super market. I'd like to share more about what it is, but I have no idea what it's made of or what it's uses are. For now it will have to remain as the mystery jello.

Posted by Sr.curtissan 15:35 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Welcome to Yokohama, Japan!

Word of the week is "Kan Pai". This means cheers!

10 °C


This marks the end of my first week with Ana in Yokohama, Japan. It was been a great week. We've had full sun everyday and temps around 10C, which is about 40F. Today's high is going to be about 50F and I can see one cloud out in the distance. In general Yokohama appears to be extremely safe and very friendly. We have a few neighbor's that are from the states and have helped is figure out the simple things like what to do with the trash and how to start the washing machine. I realize that sounds easy, but imagine using the Japanese alphabet for a guide and it becomes much more difficult. When all else fails, I use the old stand by approach and just start hitting buttons. Believe it or not that still works!

Several of you asked that I send photos or updates of my experience in Yokohama. Thanks to my buddy Nate and his recommendation to check out this blog, I can do that.

A few highlights until this point include the following:

  1. 1 It's been great spending time with Ana. She's been a terrific guide around Yokohama and found us a beautilful neighborhood to rent an apartment. The entire apartment is about the size of my living room, at best. That includes our bathroom, kitchen, living room and bedroom. Also, we sleep in a small cubby hole about the size of a tent that is accessible by a 10 foot ladder leading into a "loft" space. Put it this way, I have to sleep at an angle to compensate for the width of the loft. As small as the apartment is, it hasn't even been an issue. We're having a blast making it our apartment making it work.

  1. 2 The earth quake was a trip. It appeared to be business as usual for people around our apartment. I didn't hear one scream or see anyone panic. I half expected it to be like a scene from the movie Airplane when they thought they were going to crash. It was nothing like that. We just stood there looking at eachother wondering when it was going to stop. Aside from feeling a little sea sick afterwards it had almost no effect on either Ana or me.

  1. 3 I've finally experienced both jet lag and culture shock. It took all of last week to get over the jet lag. I was going to sleep at 6:30-7:30 pm and waking up at 2:30am. Although I'm pretty sure that's over now, the culture shock is still lingering. The simple things are incredibly hard. Take ordering lunch, buying subway tickets or just buying dish soap at the store...it's anywhere from slightly different, to feeling like your living on another planet. For just once i'd like to know what people are saying when I walk around the grocery store. I'd also like to know what all the signs around town say. There are moments of frustration, but over all it has been a lot of fun and exciting.

I wish you all a safe and warm holiday!


Posted by Sr.curtissan 15:44 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

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