A couple of nights ago, I had an opportunity for the second time to meet members of my new family that I have had yet to meet. The first time was in Guam, summer of '05, when I met some of Melody's family who live there. This time, it was Melody's cousin and her husband and two new babies (twins) who live in Kobe. I hopped on a train and went over there for supper after work. Also there were her parents, my mother in law's sister and husband (though it would have been easier to say Aunt and Uncle, I guess...). We had a really nice time, and I'm just constantly amazed at how welcoming Melody's family has been to me. Essentially a stranger, by the end of the evening, we were all chatting like old friends. It was wonderful. Another good part of it was the food...Sinigang, a Filipino sort of soup, rice, and fresh fish that my new Uncle caught earlier that day. I don't get much Filipino food, so any chance is a great thing.
Last night, I had a chance to spend time with another family, that of a young officer that I sponsored a few months ago. He lives here in the town where we're working, and he invited me out to meet his wife and kids. We headed a short distance away to an izakaya restaurant for a diverse meal of Japanese specialities. We started with bacon wrapped around cheezy mochi cakes (sort of chewy rice cakes), potatoes, and shrimp. Then, there was chicken, pickles, tempura...it seemed like the food just kept coming. But, that's the way Japanese are. Generous to the nth degree.
The night before, I went out to eat with a new friend of mine from up in Tokyo, a mutual friend of one of my JGSDF buddies. We ate some delicious sashimi (including not so delicious uni - sea urchin...why...who first cracked open a sea urchin, looked at the mush inside and said, "I wonder what that would taste like?"), grilled tai, grilled oyster, rice and soup, beer, and a bit of shoju. It was a delicious meal...
Now all that eating out make me feel that I need to take a breather every once in a while, so I'll pick up breakfast at the Lawson convenience store across the street. For breakfast the other morning, I had a muffin cake, which, as you can see was pretty good...no, "This cake is delicious." That's what sold me, frankly. Nobody wants to eat a nasty tasting cake...I personally only go for the ones that are delicious.
Yes, your taxdollars at work...sending me out to eat and travel around Japan.
And here's your reward...a funny sign I saw last night at the restaurant. It was on a cigarette machine, and when you compare what is put on cigarette machines in the US (if you can even find them anymore), just made me chuckle. No warnings of a long, lingering, horrible death here. Just a gentle, easy feeling.