A List of Things I Now Find Socially Acceptable After 6 months in Japan

Please note that I do not condone any or all of the following behaviors. I do not necessarily participate in these habits. These are things that once upon a time 6 months ago would have really floored me, but now barely phase me at all.

- Riding a bike in the rain, while holding an umbrella
- Riding a bike in heels, a dress, or a skirt
- Wearing socks with heels, wedges, sandals, flats, or just about everything
- Flatforms (Really horrible shoes, google it if you need a visual.)
- Guys in really really skinny pants
- Murses (AKA man purses)
- Really really elaborate phone charms
- Grown women wearing Hello Kitty
- Grown men reading comic books in public
- Having no regard for other people while walking
- Not giving up your seat for a woman, no matter how old she is, or how painful her shoes look
- Wearing high heels and full makeup to the supermarket
- Guys with multiple visible Louis Vuitton accessories
- Seeing people eat any type of raw food including beef, eggs, and chicken
- A bathroom with no paper towels, no hand dryers, and no trashcans
- Smoking in any public place
- Elaborate bicycle accessories, like facial wind shields and built on hand warmers
- Any type of cat themed accessory you can wrap your mind around
- Going to a restaurant and cooking your own food
- Nail art
- Unedited, profanity filled music played in public
- Using a rolling suit case as an everyday tote bag
- Public sleeping

The Real Deal on Sushi in Japan

Sushi is the food that everyone immediately thinks of when they think of Japan. I would say about 99% of the times I mentioned that I was coming to over here, it was immediately followed with a "hope you like sushi!" comment. So I am going to go ahead and begin this post by clearing up a major sushi related rumor:

Sushi is NOT the only food they eat in Japan. Not even close. I would say that the ratio of sushi restaurants to other type of restaurants in Osaka is pretty comparable to Houston. If you want sushi, you have to actually go to a sushi restaurant. This is popular to contrary belief that sushi is available 24 hours a day at any establishment on any street corner.

Everyone assumes that if you enjoy eating sushi back home, you will love sushi here because it is so much better quality. The truth is, American sushi and Japanese sushi is so completely different, so that may not be true. You could very easily like American sushi and hate sushi in Japan. In fact, we went to eat sushi during my first week here and I was extremely disappointed. Of course, now that I have learned to appreciate sushi here and tried different things, I really love it and crave it all the time. But, the point is that it takes completely different tastes to appreciate the two.

The picture above is a typical plate of Japanese sushi. Sushi here is simple. They dont have fancy sushi rolls. There is no "crunch," no cream cheese, and I have never ever seen avocado at any Japanese sushi establishment. Sushi in Japan is a small piece of raw fish, delicately sliced, and placed on a clump of white rice. Sometimes it is held together with seaweed, and sometimes it comes with a dab of wasabi on top or in the middle. That is it. Simple, clean, healthy, and delicious. 

Sushi is also commonly served on a conveyor belt. This pictures below are of our favorite sushi place in Osaka. 

We brought our parents here when they came to visit, and I have to give them all props for it. With little to no sushi experience, they happily ate (and enjoyed) all kinds of raw fish. 

Nathan and his Dad eating raw squid. 
At the end of the meal they come to your table and count how many plates you ate. That is how they charge you for your meal. Our all time plate record is 42 which we hit with me, Nathan, and Nathan's teammate Rick. It is going to be a hard one to beat!

From left to right: Nathan's stack, Jacy's stack, Rick's stack

Subway: Japan vs. US

I avoided Subway for a long time after arriving. Nathan, as well as some of the other imports living here had ate at Subway earlier in the year and they all warned me that it did not live up to the taste of Subway in the US. I took their word for it for about 4 months before I gave in. A girl can only go so long without a turkey sandwich, and Subway is one of the ONLY places in Japan where you can get one. So maybe it was the fact that I was deprived from one of my favorite things to eat for so long, but when I finally went to Subway that sandwich tasted like heaven. Since then I have been back about once a week and I have not been let down even once. 

Like most other things I blog about, there are some key differences between Subway back home, and Subway here:

- In Japan "foot longs" are not advertised. There is no $5 foot long promotion. In fact, the menu doesn't even mention that there is different size sandwiches available. When you order, you simply say, "turkey sandwich" and they begin to construct a "6 inch."

- A few of the different sandwiches you can order here include the shrimp and avocado, prosciutto and mascarpone, Iberian pig bacon, and egg.

- In addition to soft drinks, Subway restaurants here serve fresh brewed hot and ice coffee, flavored teas, and fruit smoothies blended in front of you.

- No chips! Chips really aren't a popular food item here, but I was still surprised by the fact that they aren't even available at Subway. However, they more then make up for it with the fact that they serve.....

- FRENCH FRIES! That's right. Instead of a 6 inch and chips, you get french fries! Not just any french fries either. You can get cheese flavored, herb flavored, bbq flavored, or original. And they are dang good.

The Winner:

Surprisingly.....Japan! I mean, did you see that last bullett? French fries! Come on America, step up your game.

Bizarre Japanese Beauty Products

Japan definitely knows how to do makeup and beauty. I rarely see a girl looking less then perfectly made-up. It is like everyone here is born knowing how to apply fake lashes, accentuate their cheek bones with the right amount of blush, and achieve the perfect foundation glow. The selection of cosmetics found in any beauty store here is easily overwhelming, especially to a little tourist like me who can do none of the things mentioned above. So even though I am borderline clueless when it comes to makeup, browsing Japanese makeup stores quickly became a fascinating way to pass some time. 

In between the hundreds (and I mean literally, hundreds) of fake eye lash options, extravagant nail art displays, and every type of mascara you can dream of, I started to notice some peculiar products. Some of these products are interesting because they are so different then anything you would ever find in the US. Others are downright scary no matter where you are from. See for yourself below. Bare in mind these are all ordinary, over the counter products** that can be found at any drug store or beauty store. 

**The term "products" is used loosely here. Some of these items are better described by the term "contraption" or "torture device." 

The eye lash asile 

Even more fake lashes 

Whitening body cream. Bronzer is impossible to find in Japan, but they have all kinds of products for "whitening." 

"Nose Ball Roller" 

"Neck Soft Liner"

OPI nail polish. Normal product, outrageous price. Approx. $22 USD. 

"Double Eyelid Tape" 

"Nose Shaper" 

"Shampoo Massage Brush" Actually, this one might be nice. 

Alright, this is where it gets a little weird. 

I believe this is some sort of mouth shaper or possibly a wrinkle reducer for the mouth. 

Same product, this one is for guys.  
"Skull Ball Bone Adjuster." I cant. 

Nose pincher? The caption on this box reads, "For your beautiful nose" 

"Wrinkle Smoother" 

"Slim Mouth Piece" 

"Shapeface" with 2 difficulty levels, normal and hard

Now I am not one to say that these products aren't legit. The Japanese seem to have mastered looking young much longer then Americans, so maybe they are on to something. Either way, I am not signing up to sample any of these contraptions.

April Wrap Up

April, by Jacy. 

Oh April. What a month! We have officially done it all, seen it all, and ate it all. The month began with my Dad spending about a week with us. About a week after he left, Nathan's parents came and stayed for about a week also. We sprinkled in 2 trips to Kyoto, 1 trip to Kobe, 8 trips to the airport, 6 home games, 4 Korean bbq dinners, and 6 temple tours. Like I said, what a month! 

Nathan's last game was bittersweet. We are happy and relieved to be one step closer to going home, but sad to be saying goodbye to everyone. In case you haven't heard, we will be back in Texas at the end of this month! Nathan has to hang around and finish up some last minute team duties, so I will be home about a week before him. It is a weird feeling that this little chapter is coming to an end. This will be the last monthly wrap up that I write from Japan! It is surreal. I am very proud of us. I was petrified before I got here, and now I feel like I conquered it! Forget New York, if I can make it here I really can make it anywhere! 

April, by Nathan. 

April was a month full of excitement. Jacy's dad came to visit at the start of the month and then my parents came a week after him. So we had more than 2 weeks filled with tourist activities. We ate at all of our favorite places and saw all of the best that osaka and the surrounding areas have to offer. I know they had a great trip and that they enjoyed all of what we showed them. So glad that they could experience Japan with us.

As far as basketball, we ended our season in 7th place in our conference and the top 6 make the playoffs. It stinks that we didn't make the playoffs, but I think my body is ready for an off season of rest. It was an awesome experience and the fans were great all year. The off season is always slow without basketball, so I am sure I will miss it sooner then I think. 

May is already flying by and it won't be long til we are back home in the good ole US of A!

Favorite place we visited:

NGoing to a professional baseball game here in Japan was the neatest experience I had.Seeing the differences from Japan baseball and American baseball was really interesting and I had a great time at the game.

J: Too many to choose from this month! I am going to take the simple route and say it was our picnic we went on. Even though the park was only right down the street from our house, it was so nice to finally be outside enjoying the outdoors without freezing. That was the first time my legs have seen the light of day in Japan! 

Favorite food we tried:

NMy father and I tried a both squid sushi (like a whole raw squid with legs and everything) and an octopus sushi (octopus leg). Neither one was good, but they tasted better than I thought they would.

J: Mango jelly from the dessert basement at Daimaru. Technically I don't think that is a Japanese dish. I think it originated in either Singapore or China, but it is SO good. I will definitely be bringing some home. 

Biggest surprise:

N: My biggest surprise this month was that our parents liked all the Japanese food they had during their visit. It is so different from the food we have in America, but all 3 of them were great sports! They tried everything we threw at them, and liked it all. 

J: As the weather gets warmer, everything gets more crowded! I didn't know that was possible. There were already millions of people everywhere we went, and now there are more and more every time we leave the house. Where are these people coming from? Where do they live, and where have they been hibernating? Now, almost every time a train pulls up I think, "Wow there is no way we are getting any more bodies on that train." Even though people are packed in all the way to the doors, and only 2 people get off, somehow 15 more people always manage to get on. It is a pretty entertaining sight to see. 

Biggest challenge:

NDealing with Jacy's visa. There are so many rules and different time durations, and we get different answers no matter who we ask. Dealing with visas a big headache.

J: I am going to borrow one of Nathan's favorite lines for this one: "I can see the beach." He uses it for basketball when the season is close to being done and you start picturing yourself relaxing on the beach. I am using it for the fact that home is so close I can taste it, but we're still here for about two more weeks. We love you Japan, but now you are just teasing us! 

New words learned:

NOh I learned a TON of new words this month from my teammates. But for so long I have forgotten how to say purple, but now I know: mudasaki. This is the one word that I have struggled to remember all year and now for some reason, it finally clicked! 

J: I can't recall any new words from this month! I am ashamed! I guess at this point my mind is back home. I should probably be brushing up on my Spanish vocabulary like, enchilada, fajita, and margarita. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Missing most about back home:

NSeeing my parents last week was awesome. It had been 8 months since I have seen them so it was amazing. I am really missing my brothers and friends, but it is so close, less than a month now. Also, quality mexican food and Chic-fil-a.

J: Just having conversations with people. My parents, my family, my friends, or even strangers. It is just nice to be able to strike up a conversation, or ask a simple question when you need to know an answer. I am apologizing in advance if I am a complete chatterbox this summer.

Favorite memory from this month:

NSeeing my parents walk through the "International Arrivals" door and giving them each a big hug! I have really missed seeing everyone in my family, and to get to experience a week here in Japan with them was just awesome.

J: Showing my Dad and Nathan's parents all around Osaka. Hearing them say how impressed they are with the life we have created here, and everything we learned made me so proud! We got some great pictures together and I know that those are once in a lifetime memories. 

Looking forward to next month:

NTHAILAND AND AMERICA!!!! We have a week long beach trip in Thailand planned and then of course MAY 26th is the day I arrive back in America! It has been a long 9 months but the end is near!

J: THAILAND!!!! We are leaving Osaka and heading to Phuket for 6 days! Thailand is warm, relaxing, tropical, inexpensive, uncrowded, and basically the opposite of everything we have known for the past 6 months. I can't wait to put away my coat, break out my bikini and do nothing but soak up the sun! 

The Hep 5 ferris wheel, which we conquered this month

The Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto

Finally, the Cherry Blossoms!   
Nathan's parents and us in front of the beautiful scenery in Kyoto, Japan.  
Flowers and picnicers AKA signs of warmer weather! 

View of the city from the Hep 5 ferris wheel

Korean BBQ was a favorite from all of our visitors

Nathan's parents got the pose down

I love this pic of all the umbrellas on a rainy day. Ah, city life. 

My Dad and I in front of Kiefer Cafe. What are the odds?

Our first baseball game in Japan

Dotonbori Canal during Golden Week

My Dad and I in Kyoto. One of my favorite pictures from the trip. 

Japanese Baseball

Attending a baseball game was one of the first things we put on our bucket list when we found out we were coming to Japan. Baseball is huge over here. The Japanese baseball league (NPB) is one of the largest and most talent-filled in the world. Since arriving we have been told many stories of the die hard baseball fans and how crazy they can get. Some of the teams you may have heard of already include the Tokyo Giants, the previous home of Hideki Matsui, and the Orix Blue Waves, previous home of Ichiro Suzuki. There are two teams located here in Osaka, the Orix Buffaloes, and the Hanshin Tigers. The two teams have quite a rivalry, but the Tigers seem to be the local favorite from the people we have asked. Obviously it would have been exciting to see the two teams play each other, but that happens later in the season while we will already be back home and cheering on the Astros, and hopefully all of our nephews!

April 25: Orix Buffaloes vs. Rakuten Golden Eagles at Hotto Motto Field in Kobe, Japan. 

So, just like Nathan's basketball team, the baseball teams here also import players from around the world. Each team had a couple of players from outside of Japan. We were so surprised to look up and see Andruw Jones warming up. As in, Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves. Actually he is no longer of the Atlanta Braves. Now he is Andruw Jones DH of the Rakuten Golden Eagles. What a surprise! 

There were some major differences from an MLB game that are worth pointing out:

First of all, they had cheerleaders. They weren't on the field during play, but they came out before the game, and in between innings. 

The lower level seats had plexi glass guards on each seat to protect you from surprise foul bowls. You could choose to leave your guard up or take it down, but since they were clear, it was easy to watch the game with the guard in place. I thought this was genius! 

The beer guys served beer on tap directly at your seat through their backpack kegs. 

The 7th inning stretch did not involved peanuts, "Take me out to the Ballgame," or stretching. Instead, before the team started their 7th inning at bat, a song played, and everyone stood up to sing along while inflating their respective team balloons. The balloons were left untied, and at the end of the song everyone released their balloons into the sky! 

A fan in front of us was nice enough to share his balloons with us! 

Although the Buffaloes fell short that night, we still had a great time cheering them on. If we were here longer in the Spring we would definitely be attending more games! 

Osaka Evessa 2012-2013 Season - That's A Wrap!

The season has officially come to an end! Although Evessa fell short of the playoffs this season, they still have some of the best fans around. I know the team has had their opportunity to say thank you to all the fans, but I also want to say thank you to everyone who went out of their way to make me feel at home. Although I am in a foreign country, and dont speak the same language as most of you, you still made me feel warm and welcome at every single game. For every hug, every treat, every picture, every simple hello, and every broken Japanese/English conversation, I cannot express how much it meant to me. Thank you for making me feel welcome, and thank you for never letting me feel like an outcast. The kindness I received from the people in Japan is something I will NEVER forget. You are all amazing.

Me and Maido, the team mascot 

Nathan's parents got to attend the last weekend of games

Some of Nathan's younger fans who were absolutely giddy to take this picture! 

Some small treats we made to say thank you. It took me forever to write my name on all of those in Japanese! 


Hiro is amazing! She is so friendly, takes great pictures, speaks great English, and is such a devoted fan. So glad I got to meet you this season Hiro! 

My partners in crime here Osaka! Don't know what I would have done without these two!

All the imports and Sho, who had to put up with these guys every day, and translate for them! Not an easy job! 

Sada and his beautiful wife! Thanks for supporting Nathan all season! 

Nathan appeals to the younger crowd, aren't they cute!?
Vicky and Junya, our neighbors, chefs, and good friends. They have helped us so much this season, and introduced us to so much good food! 

Nathan's coach, Bill Cartwright.