Monday, October 31, 2011

Night Kagura

After collecting some food and drinks we found a corner near the stage to watch the Night Kagura, Japanese sacred music and dance. The story was very interesting and the quick changes for costumes was great. For more information on the history or folklore behind the story go here.

The video is kinda shaky, but you can see a little of our adventure.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hiroshima Food Festival

We traveled up to Hiroshima for the Food Festival on Saturday afternoon. It was a gross rainy day, but we were dedicated to the food. Have you noticed we like to eat?

For some scale... these flowers were the size of my head.


The vendors were each selling their foods. Yelling to get attention (hawking?) is big here and each vendor was competing to get your attention and ultimately your money. We got a lot of food for very little yen. This first tent was very nice and gave us a free sample before we bought. Sesame donuts with a sweet bean paste inside. Their donuts are different than American donuts.... not sure how, but they taste just a little different. Also we bought a small donut with curry inside! Talk about the best of both worlds! Sweet donut and delicious Japanese curry!
Sesame donut with bean paste & curry filled donut

Cooking w/blow torch

Whole fish w/salted fin

Donut on a stick!

Purple sweet potatoes and chicken/onion skewers

Prawns anyone?
So much great food, flowers, and music!

The record is ALIVE!

On our way to the Hiroshima Food Festival we stopped at an album sale. That's right... a record album sale. Who says the record is dead?

There were rows after rows after rows of records!


Friday night brought us pretty nasty weather. We had planned on walking out for some Japanese curry at CoCo Ichibanya, but after looking at the rain coming down we opted to stay closer to home. We haven't eaten at any of the restaurants on the main road outside the Main gate so that became the plan.

There are a few restaurants but the one that I have been wanting to try is Kin-nan. It is a tiny little restaurant with a drop kitchen on one side of the room and a few tables on the other. It is considered a "Japanese steakhouse." And no, it's not comparable to the local Outback. Nothing is comparable... every course was amazing.

We decided to go with a set because it comes with multiple courses. Our first course was soup. It was a creamy broth with a slight potato taste. I honestly have no idea what the soup would be called. I asked Dustin what he thought it was and his response was, "I don't know. Delicious?"

Potato-ey, brothy goodness
Our next serving was a cabbage salad. As always, Japanese food doesn't disappoint. The salad dressing was a house made dressing that was sweet and tangy. Maybe a thousand island type?

We opted for bread instead of rice with our meal. We each got one piece of bread and butter. It was pretty good too. But the best was yet to come.

Steak! We aren't big red meat eaters, but when we do we want the good stuff. So we got a small fillet mignon wrapped in bacon with vegetables. Everything was cooked perfectly and the seasonings were quite tasty!

Fillet Mignon and veggies
I've never had steak be so tender. I think I could have swallowed without chewing! The carrots were nice and soft and reminded me of Thanksgiving. Absolutely one of the best meals we have had here. I couldn't remember how to say the food was good so I wrote my thanks on a napkin and gave it to the owners. Sometimes a smile just isn't good enough.

Definitely adding Kin-nan to our favorites list.

Monday, October 24, 2011


This weekend we were very lazy. I was super tired and just wanted to hang out around the house. It helped that Dustin has been battling a viral infection for about a week. But then a friend sent me an invite to a bazaar down at the gym.

We walked over to the gym and found some really cool things! Amazing furniture, carvings, crafts, jewelry. All sorts of things from area vendors. The base does it once a year. They invite the local companies onto base and have a huge two day bazaar. We spent a good fortune and found some Christmas gifts.

I forgot to take the camera so these pictures are pretty fuzzy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I finally made it home! After four weeks on the road I am glad to be back in our tiny home in Iwakuni. I've missed Dustin and Zero! And as much fun as exploring Tokyo and Okinawa was it just wasn't the same without Dustin. Work sent me all around Japan and I was forced to "sink or swim." I learned how to travel by multiple trains, buses, taxis, planes, and the shinkansen. It was exhausting!

But, as always, the food was delicious. Which brings me to today's post.

Last night we explored out a different direction from base. We walked out the gate closest to our housing area. This whole side of base is surrounded by lotus fields so it took some walking to make it out to the main roads. We found a 100 yen store. Unlike dollar stores back home these actually have very good things in them. The quality is really good too. We saw some sushi-go-round restaurants, but didn't try them. This is where you sit around a big circle and the sushi comes around on conveyor belts and you take what you want. The price is calculated by the color of the plate.

But we didn't eat there.

Instead we kept walking until we got to a very busy bridge. Rather than try to cross we decided to walk into a restaurant on our side of the river. It had no kanji signs we recognized and didn't display any romanji. We weren't sure what kind of restaurant it was, but we were starving after all our walking.

So in we went.

We were seated and found out it was a yakiniku restaurant! Yum! Yakiniku means 'grilled meat' and is similar to a fondue restaurant without the broth. Instead a large grill is at the table and you cook your meat and vegetables on it.

Now I have a confession to make. We've eaten at a yakiniku restaurant before, but I never sat down and posted the pictures from it. I know! I'm sorry! Last time we ate it we tried cow tongue. It was not to my liking!

This time we opted not to eat yakiniku and order other things off the menu.

We started with their house salad. It had lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, boiled eggs, and sausage. It also had some spindly white things on top that were sweet. Not exactly sure what they were but they were good! Side note: ever tried eating a slippery tomato with chopsticks? Tough stuff. As we were enjoying our salad they brought out our soup. I love the seaweed soup in Japan. It is phenomenal! We both ordered beef bowls. It's a cold dish with rice, ground beef, green onions, and chopped egg.

You mix it all together with the spoon then eat with your chopsticks. It was really good. Almost a sweet taste. The ground beef has no seasoning, but I imagine some taco seasoning would have made it pretty good!

Our dinner was so good! We finished off with some soft serve ice cream. I was so excited for ice cream that I forgot to take pictures! Dustin got custard pudding and I got dark chocolate. The Japanese love their ice cream... I am in the right place!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


What do YOU want to know?

Send your questions to natalieltice@hotmail(dot)com

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blood Type?!

Japan has the largest elderly population than any other country in the world. This generation still has a great influence on the culture even with Western influence making changes every day.
One thing that I found interesting was the way you introduce yourself. A Japanese person may introduce themselves by name and then ask you where you are from, how old you are (which takes some getting used to), and your blood type.

You read correctly. Blood type. The Twilight influence has reached Japan! The horror!!

Actually, the Japanese believe that a person’s blood type can tell a lot about someone. It’s not a blue-blood question regarding some caste system, but rather they will use the information to immediately “size you up.”

I searched the internet and found a couple fact sheets regarding blood type personality profiles.

I couldn’t find any science behind the research, but it is big business here in Japan and can be used in dating or match-mating services to being hired by a company.

I guess this would replace the fortune-telling aspects of the zodiac used in Western cultures. Often when we visit shrines there will be little booklets with blood types on the front. Inside they have a fortune for every day/week/month.

I asked around and some people swear by it while others think it is pretty silly. Either way it makes for an interesting pickup line. “Hey Baby, what’s your blood type? I’m O Postive.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I'm trying not to have too much fun while spending two weeks in Okinawa for work. But it is so hard...

It's a tropical PARADISE!

I've been working all week but hope to get out and explore a little more this weekend.

Until then enjoy this picture of the biggest snail I've ever seen.

Yeah, that's right.

The spiders are as big as my hand... and they don't run away. They run at you. Yes, AT YOU.

Paradise, indeed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Travel and Training

Sorry for the blogging hiatus!

Dustin and I have been trying to explore, but we have had a harder time with conflicting work schedules recently. I spent two weeks in Tokyo training for my new role with Community Bank. Then I found out that another training session was starting immediately afterwards in Okinawa. Rather than let it pass by I decided to take the opportunity.

That's a whole month away from home! I did get a long weekend home with Dustin and Zero, but tomorrow I go back on the road.

We will be back exploring this wonderful country soon!