Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Toguchi Beach re-do

Well, the weather was absolutely beautiful today, but a nasty case of terrible-two-ititis struck us down.

At least this time we got down onto the beach and did a little bit of walking.  (I think there even might have been a habu sighting.  A police officer and some serious looking fellows were directing people away from a grassy area.  All I understood was あぶない (abunai - danger).)

The great thing about Toguchi beach (渡具知ビーチ): it's only about 10 minutes from Kadena's Gate 3.  There's plenty of covered picnic tables - by the play ground, up the paved trails overlooking the beach and ocean, down at the beach.  The parking lot is easy (I'm the worst about parking in Okinawa!  I swear it takes me about 5 minutes, several three point turns and plenty of f-bombs to get out of the Hotto Motto parking lot).

We were lucky enough to be there at low tide today and the rocks were amazing.  (I use this website for the tides.  There's a page specifically for Toguchi, which should also work for Torii Beach, or there's also one for Ishikawa, which I check for Courtney or Uken.)  I could see people walking on the rocks quite a ways out from the beach.

A very pretty area and close enough to Kadena that we can stop in after running errands.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Clothes shopping

Uniqlo is awesome!  Finally found some cute shirts for summer (IMHO the BX is overpriced with a selection of clothes for going out clubbing or a granny in a business meeting and very little in between).  Plus, Orla Kiely collection - squeeeee!

I'd heard that finding clothes bigger than a size 8 off-base is difficult.  Thankfully, me and my 10+lb of lingering baby weight were able to find tops that fit.  Although the small is more like an XS, I'm a size 10 and fit comfortably into the larges.  (I didn't try on any pants, but I've heard Uniqlo will hem them while you wait - genius!)

A few things that would have been nice to know yesterday:

- Shoes off in the fitting room (of course, I realized this as I was leaving the fitting room.  Now I feel like I've sullied the carpets with dirt and gaijin shame).

- What seems to be a box of toilet seat liners in the fitting room is to cover your head (I don't generally wear make up/hair products, but I've tried on clothes at Old Navy that were streaked with someone's else make-up.  Definitely gross).

- Just because a shirt is pink, with a cute little fishy and some swirly waves don't assume it's a woman's shirt (figured out I bought a man's shirt when I got home and noticed the size was written with チェスト(chest) instead of バスト(bust).  Also, after looking up the logo online, see that it's a shirt for a fish paste company.  Not sure if I'll actually wear it while in Okinawa or not).

Who knew a little shopping could be such an adventure!

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Japanese laundry

While the kids were napping, I decided to take advantage of our wonderful spring weather and get some laundry done.

Our washer and dryer

First, I check the forecast:

洗濯指数 (sentaku shisu, laundy index) on

Because most Okinawans dry their laundry outside, checking the weather is a good first step (unless you like dashing out in the rain to get your clothes off the line).  We do have a dryer but it's not very efficient and the cost of electricity is crazy.  So line drying it is!  ( only has the forecast for Nago (名護) and Naha (那覇).  We live in central Okinawa, so I just average the two.)

At first we tried the wooden clothes pins from the commissary, but those quickly molded.  (Seems most household chores here are about avoiding or cleaning up mildew.)  Then we picked up some plastic clips from Nitori and those have been working well for the past few months.

Sunny and windy - perfect!

Another difference between American laundry and Japanese laundry: no hot water.  We don't have a hot or warm water setting on our washer, just cold water.  Besides our cloth diapers, we really don't miss washing with hot water (but here's some instructions if you want to get something washed with hot water).

Some vocab from our machines:

電源 - power
入/切 - on/off
スタート - start
一時停止 - pause
標準 - standard/automatic
分 - minute
弱 - weak, low
強 - strong, high

倍速 - double speed
コース - course
おまかせ - automatic
念入り - gentle
しっかりすすぎ - extra rinse
大物 - blanket
ふろ水 - bathwater
洗い - wash
すすぎ - rinse
脱水 - spin
注水 - flooding? (pouring water?  irrigation? Couldn't find a good translation for this)
#回 - # of cycles
予約 - set timer
水量 - water level (in liters)
残り - time remaining
ソフト仕上剤 - softener
液体 - liquid
粉末 - powder
洗剤 - detergent
漂白剤 - bleach

アイロン - iron (dries half way so the clothes are ready to be ironed)
おこのみ - options
セーター - thick
除菌 - decontamination (germ/fungus removal)
毛布 - blankets
ズック - canvas (shoes, hats, ect)
ヒーター - heat
ふんわりガード - wrinkle guard
進行表示  - progress display
乾燥中 - drying
節約ハッチ開 - hatch open
フィルター目づまり - check filter

There's more washer/dryer terms on this page.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Toguchi Beach

Our play date with the Adventure Moms got cut short because of cruddy weather (and I didn't actually get to see the beach), but we still had fun at the playground and we'll try again next week!

Caution - falling rocks

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pot of Gold 5k/Lord of Tengan 10k

This weekend was party time!  I did Kadena's monthly 5k on Saturday and Camp Courtney's Lord of Tengan 10k on Sunday.

The 5k went well.  I was slower by about 30 seconds than the Operation Tomodachi 5k on the 10th (30:39 vs 30:01), but this time I ran up the final hill without stopping.

Start of the Pot of Gold 5k (I'm on the left of the guy wear plaid shorts)

I'm on the right with the braid
The 10k did not go so well.  1:06 - ug!  Almost a PW (personal worst).  I was tired (really had to fight not to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep), the weather was sunny and warm (so far this year, I've only been running indoors or under gloomy skies), and the course was pretty hilly.  But at least I got to meet some of the Stroller Warriors.

A little nervous for the Ayahashi 10k - not sure if I'm going to be able to met my goal of a 10k under an hour.  Just gotta keep training, hit those hills harder, and hope for the best.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Zombie apocalypse playlist

Stole this idea for a new playlist from Music Fails.  Songs are from Jobber (my iPod/faithful running sidekick since 2007 with a horrible taste for guilty pleasure pop):

  1. The first song is the overall theme for the Apocalypse - The Middle, Jimmy Eat World
  2. The second song is the one that plays during your first zombie kill - Ignition Remix, R.Kelly
  3. The third song plays while your getting chased by a Horde - Can't Stop, Red Hot Chili Peppers*
  4. The forth song plays when you're forced to kill your loved one - Son of a Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield
  5. The fifth song plays when you find your new love interest - In Between Days, The Cure
  6. The sixth song is plays when you make your final stand - Everlong, The Foo Fighters
  7. The seventh song plays when (you think) you make it through it all - I Believe I Can Fly, R.Kelly**
  8. The eighth song plays when you discover a bite mark - Bubbly, Colbie Caillat

* btw, this was the second to last song Jobber played as I finished the Portland Marathon in 2008
** did not realize I had this much R.Kelly in my jams

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More vending machine adventures

Strolling along Araha Beach, Chris and I found some interesting drinks.  And they were hot!  Nice way to warm up the hands on a chilly night but not so much for drinking.

Red bean+milk and creamed corn drinks

First up:  Pokka's じっくりコトコト とろーりコーンポタージュ (Slow Boiled thick corn potage).  (Google translate calls it "roughing slowing corn carefully".)  I think it's supposed to be more like a prepackaged soup than a drink.  Either way, if you're thirsty for some creamed corn, this is the drink for you.

Next:  あずき オレ(red bean au lait).  I love red bean treats!  Azuki is mildly sweet (similar to the beni-imo flavor).  I though this was a tasty drink - almost like red bean ice cream - until I got to the whole beans at the bottom.  Don't like chunks in my drinks, sorry.  (Anyone else remember the Orbitz drinks?)

(btw, Gen is ridicuously good!  On our date night we shared the Godzilla Roll and the grilled Mahi Mahi roll, and I got the teriyaki beef bowl.  Yum!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Remembering the Tohoku earthquake

My brother was teaching at school when the earthquake struck.  We are very lucky that he and his fiancee were not hurt.

All those who were not as fortunate are in our thoughts.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Agena Central Park

We went looking for the ancient ruins of Agena castle and instead found some modern ones.

Our short cut to Camp Courtney takes us right past Agena Central Park (安慶名中央公園) and Bullring (map).  After seeing some blog posts about the Agena Castle ruins (like this one and this one), I decided to stop one afternoon and do some exploring with the kidlets.

This park has definitely seen some better days.  Maybe it's in disrepair from winter and some improvements will be made as the weather improves, but it definitely had the feeling of an abandoned area.  Wishing I would have gotten some pictures of the especially creepy broken clock.

Right in front of the parking lot was a large open field and the path to the ruins was supposedly on the left.  I didn't see any clear paths to the castle ruins and I wasn't about to start bushwhacking with a toddler.  We circled the park counter-clockwise to see what else we could find.

Owen climbing up the hill

A memorial?

Near the bullring, castle ruins?

The play ground

Baby Thunderdome!

Fountain that led to a pond

We eventually found this map, but nothing was marked:

Although there were covered areas for picnics, a lot of benches were broken or missing.  There were also a couple of homeless men and a police cruiser pulled in as we were leaving.  I don't think we'll be coming back any time soon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Oki sodas

You can't be in Okinawa without seeing vending machines everywhere (I've heard there is one machine for every seven people on the island).  For some reason, they only stock soft drinks, water, and coffee (and maybe the occasional cigarette machine), but no food or liquor (or the other strange things, like underwear and live seafood, I've heard about mainland Japan).

I've been slowly trying out the different local flavors from the Okinawa Bottlers company.  Although the sodas are a little heavy on the syrup, I love the Shikwasa (シークヮサーソーダ) and Peach Water (ピーチワター).   The Cream Soda is different (more like Dr Pepper than cream soda) and the Mistio White Soda (ミスティオホワイトソーダ) is a good mixer with lemon vodka but a bit strange on its own.  So far, my favorite is Peach Water (and the can has some of the best Engrish I've seen - "The taste that is felt the refreshing fruit which the neat peach is easy to swallow").  But over the past few weeks I can't seem to find the Peach Water any more.  Not sure if the flavors are changing with the season or if it was just a promotional flavor (like the Big American burgers McDonald's is currently selling).

A few days ago, I stopped by the vending machines just down the street to grab a drink for lunch.  Still no Peach Water - and in it's place is now Honey Lemon Soda (はちみつレモンソーダ).  I had a sore throat, so I figured the honey ought to be helpful.  I'm glad I did because now I have a new favorite!

When I went to buy more Honey Lemon yesterday, it was sold out.  The next vending machine I see with the Honey Lemon display was also sold out - curses!  So while we've been out running errands, I've been keeping an eye on the vending machines for more Honey Lemon.  Finally - jackpot!

Mmmmm ~ honey goodness for me!