Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Scenic Cafe

I am sitting in the world's second largest aquarium, drinking coffee, and surfing the net.

This is my view:

Need I say more?

Oooh, here comes a whale shark.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Price of Gluttony

Today for lunch my coworker, M, and I joined another JET, J, for a long lunch out a local diner, Charlie's. I ordered a delicious seafood pasta and it came with salad, soup, AND bread.

When the pasta arrived, I was shocked at the size. I didn't think I would be able to finish, but it was so delicious! Besides, there are no take-out boxes in Japan, and I didn't want to waste!

To top it all off, the waitress brought the coffee I ordered at the end of the meal, and it was topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. Mmm

By the time we walked to the cashier to pay, I was so stuffed I couldn't stand to look at any more food! But then... I saw the apple pie.

Real, delicious, flaky-crusted, homemade apple pie.

So, I ordered one to go.

That's when it happened.

I picked up my apple pie, handed over my money, and took the change.
The cashier leaned across the counter to pat my belly, smiled, and said "bebe?"

I smiled back at her, turned, walked out the door, and collapsed into laughter and a few hidden tears.

No.. that's just my food baby, I thought.

The lack of doggie bags in this country will be the death fat of me! Or at least that is my excuse.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I've mentioned before that one of the positions at our school (and most Japanese high schools, I believe) is "tea lady." At Koyo, the woman who fills this position has other duties, as well, but I think the task of keeping all these thirsty teachers in freshly brewed (from her own mix of leaves) tea is a full-time job! There is almost always a fresh pot of hot tea in this area of the teacher's room, and I know it's the same all over the office.

Lately, we have had a lot of "office days" in which we (ALTs) don't teach any classes, aren't given any responsibilities (even if we ask, and believe me, I do.), and must only be present. From 8:40 to 4:40. Just present.

These days get terribly grueling. I've been planning next term's classes, studying Japanese via the Rosetta Stone program, making paper lanterns, designing holiday cork boards... and that only takes up the morning hours. When the other teachers are in meetings (to which we are not, understandably, invited), it can be particularly maddening.

Tea Lady to the rescue!

Our lovely tea lady has been suprising us with special treats during these times. I don't think she gives them to everyone, because she always pops in when the rest of the staff are in meetings. Last week she poured us piping cups of hot coffee, and today she came armed with a tray of these:

Just the sugar rush I needed to tide me over to lunch. Thank you, Tea Lady.

How will I ever function in a work environment that doesn't provide constant, free caffeine and sugar? I shudder to think.

nom nom nom

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tour of Okinawa: My To Do/To See/ To Eat list!

It's a slow day at work. Rainy, grey, uneventful.
So I am going to post not one, but TWO blogs!

I have been thinking a lot about my parents' arrival here in Okinawa (only 3 more weeks! Yay!!), and my freshman roommate Sarah's arrival in April (though she isn't coming just to see me ;)). So, I am now compiling a list of Must-See/Must-Do attractions that either I have seen, want to see, or think guests will like. :)

To Do:
*****Snorkeling (maybe on an outer island if we can get out there!).
Okinawa is known for it's incredible scuba dive spots, but you don't have to have a license to see the marine life. There is plenty to see near the surface of the water, if you have the eyes and mask to see it!

**** Shopping on Kokusai Dori/ Makishi Market
The perfect place for all of your souvenir needs! Plus, there are always interesting performances and such during the weekend.

? Whale Watching Tour (dependent on weather)
Check out my friend, and fellow JET's, blog about whale watching. He lives on an outer island with direct access to the whales. Lucky!


Photo by the incredibly talented Dave Sensei.
To See:

*****Churaumi Aquarium
The world's 2nd largest tank, whale sharks, free dolphin shows, manatees, and beautiful views?

Well, this is just an obvious choice.

****?Ocean Expo Park
This is actually the park that contains the aquarium. It is pretty extensive so I haven't checked it all out yet, but what I've seen is gorgeous.

***Okinawa World
I think this is a must-see at least once, though I'm not sure I am too keen on going back again. I would like to take some photos of the cave, since my lens immediately fogged up last time and I didn't have my un-fog wipes with me. At any rate, it is a good way to get a full dose of Okinawa culture in a hurry, though it is pretty commercialized.

And the habu show? just sad.

**** Hamahiga Island (and friends)
Gorgeous islands accessible by a scenic sea road just full of things to do. Pristine beaches, jungle hikes, breath-taking views, delicious food, and the birthplace of the first Okinawan.

*** Katsuren Castle
Interesting castle ruins near the sea road to Hamahiga. I arrived here just in time for the sun to set and it was beautiful to be surrounded by water on both sides while the sky lit up on fire. Will aim for sunset again. :)

Speaking of castles:

There are many castle ruins all over the island. Let's explore!

*** Pineapple Park
Take a pineapple-shaped car on a tour of the pineapple garden (with interesting commentary), sample pineapple-flavored everything (mmmm...), and check out the extensive shell display. I thought it was definitely worth the entrance fee, and a great rainy-day alternative. :)

**If we don't make it to Pineapple Park, we can just go to the Pineapple House in Naha instead! It is much smaller than the Pineapple Park, with no cool pineapple car tour, but they also have samples (though fewer) and their pineapple ice cream is delicious!

**** Fukushu-en Garden
A Chinese style garden which is a lovely oasis in the middle of the busy city of Naha.

***??Outer Islands!
I haven't explored all of the islands yet, of course, but I love what I've seen. There are some great islands close enough for a day trip, too!

To Eat
? Pizza in the Sky
While we are up at the aquarium, we have to get the island's most praised (and most elusive) pizza! Apparently the views and the food are worth the attempt to find this place when it's open (though I have been three times unsuccessful... CLOSED on mondays and tuesdays and after sunset? Hmph.)

This is a view from the restaurant next door. I assume Pizza's is similar.

*****Hamabenochiya Cafe
The name's a mouthful and the views' an eye-full.

****The restaurant near Hamabenochiya Cafe (er...what's the name again?)
This place is built right into the rock and also boasts gorgeous views of the ocean with similar seating to Hamabenochiya. They serve some delicious traditional Okinawan meals!

Used a point-and-shoot for this one. Sorry for the quality.

***Naha Harbor Diner (plus one more * for sheer coolness)
You can't miss eating in a tree (even if it is made of concrete)! Lunch is best because you get a salad/drink/soup/desert bar to make the prices worth it. I don't recommend the uni (sea urchin) salad though.... >_<

Other Places I Have Yet to Explore:

Photo by Shoshana. Not at the actual pottery village.
? Hiji Falls
I've heard these waterfalls are amazing, but the trip is quite a hike.

? Glass Bottom Boat Tour
I know you guys, Mom and Dad, liked your glass bottom boat tour during your cruise, and the launch point is just down the road from my house. :)