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Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Tamagokake-gohan

I mentioned the other day about tamagokake-gohan. When abbreviated TKG. I just couldn’t wait to give the garlic soy sauce a try and it was delicious. It was completely different from the plain one. I totally recommend it! It raised the level of this simple dish times 10!

The one in the photo is a bit frothy because I didn’t have enough rice in it but delicious all the same.

**WARNING**

Some countries tell you not to eat eggs raw but in Japan it is normal. Please be safe and follow the guidelines of your country and know what eggs you can eat raw and which you cannot before trying a recipe like this one.

  

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Garlic soy sauce

I got my hands on some raw garlic. Usually the ones at the grocery store have been dried a bit. These were not so they stank. Let me tell you! I’m a huge garlic fan but Wooo!

So I was thinking about ways to use it and my coworker said her favorite for garlic that was just pulled out of the ground was to soak them in soy sauce so I can make garlic soy sauce! I don’t know if I’ll be able to use the cloves I put in there or just the soy sauce but I’ll update you and let you know.

I’m excited to use it in a number of ways, but my number one way might be with tamago-kake-gohan. This is where you take rice, crack a raw egg in it and add a drizzle of soy sauce. In this case I would use my garlic soy sauce.

Now,  I realize in some countries eating raw egg is dangerous. But in Japan, it is normal. Please make sure you use the proper eggs before trying that particular recipe at home.

i added a bit more soy sauce than in this picture.

There we go!

A tough journey

So yes, it has been a long time since I have posted here. About three years. What have I been doing in all this time? What happened to my hobbies of cooking and nail art? Well to put it simply, I had fallen into a depression and I am now coming out the other end of it.

On March 11th, 2011 there was a huge earthquake in Japan. I was here for that. I was on the 7th floor of a department store in the middle of a lesson and we felt a small shake, and then the world turned upside down. My student clung to me and was wailing. It was then I realized how big and serious this was. I was working in the Shonan area and we are known for having awesome beaches. After we cancelled classes for the rest of the day, we were told to evacuate the building and to find high ground because there was a tsunami warning. None of the trains were moving and the buses that were moving were packed. There was no way to reach my home that was over 45min away. Thankfully a student’s mother saved me and my friend and allowed us to stay with her and her daughter while we waited for the father to get home (He literally walked all night from Tokyo to get home).  I remember laying down in the futons the mother had laid out for us and trying to call my aunts to see if they were ok. No calls got through, everyone was calling loved ones, the lines were all busy. I was able to call my home in the states. My younger brother answered because he was awake at this odd hour that I called. I told him not to wake up my parents and to leave a note on the counter that I was ok and to contact me on Facebook. I am so grateful for Facebook. It was the only way I could communicate to anyone that I was ok, and for me to check if all my friends were ok. I remember freaking out as I watched my iPhone battery dying. I had to conserve it’s battery and watch how many times I checked Facebook to check on my friends. (I now carry power cords and a portable battery with me everywhere)

I tell you this all in detail because this was the cause of my depression. My PTSD. I didn’t even know you could get PTSD from an earthquake. I always associated it with soldiers fighting in a war, or a trauma from something that happened from a person’s childhood or horrible experience. I was very naive on the many aspects of it. It’s still hard for me to think of it this way. I like to call it my PTESD (post traumatic earthquake stress disorder). But it wasn’t only this that had contributed to it. I am a person who likes habits. I like to know what to expect from a situation. The unknown scares the crap out of me, and I don’t trust people for a long time. Unless you know me really well, I would seem the opposite. Completely open and trusting of everyone. NOPE, not me. Maybe when I was five.

The thing is, I was supposed to move into my new apartment on the 13th. I had packed everything away, I had eaten or thrown out food  (I wouldn’t have a fridge or stove for the first 2 weeks), most of my stuff was inaccessible. I was also getting ready to leave the job I was working at and starting a new one in less than a month. For me, these are two huge changes that cause extreme stress. And to throw an earthquake/tsunami and then a couple days later a nuclear scare on top of it all. It was just too much for me. I was able to keep it in for a few years. I busied myself with making lessons for my new job and decorating my apartment etc. But about the end of the second year, I started to notice a huge change in myself. I was extremely moody, didn’t want to talk to people and sleeping a lot. I started to order pizza 2-3 times a week because I didn’t even want to talk to the people at the cobini (convenience store). No human interaction was ideal.

Of course I gained about 25lbs since 2012. All that pizza… I still order pizza pretty regularly. I feel like I have forgotten how to cook. It takes forever to put together something I used to throw together. But I am slowly reteaching myself, and rediscovering my love for cooking.

This past year has been a year of healing and rediscovering myself. I am so lucky to have friends and family who loved me even though I am really good at shoving people away by jackhammering (push seems too nice) the right buttons. I tried to reach out to a therapist at the end of 2013 but the guy, while certified in the states had to collaborate with a Japanese doctor to write scripts for him. This made him very expensive. $180 per hour and he was all the way in Tokyo. I couldn’t afford that and was feeling desperate. He tried to do what he could through email. I think even from my messages he could tell how low I was. I was so embarrassed but I knew I needed help and I called my friend. She found me a doctor and went with me to my first appointment. When I met her I was hyperventilating just from the train ride. I think I really freaked her and myself out. At this point I had to take two weeks off of work, but I was stressed because I couldn’t afford that. I was put on medication and was slowly recovering. I had a goal to get off the antidepressants before my trip home. I didn’t want my family to see me at my worst. They saw bad but not worst. They gave me what I needed and what I always know I have from them. Unconditional love. My mom chanted with me, we are buddhist, and renewed my faith. I knew I had the strength to overcome this hurdle. My dad chatted with me, and actually helped me to uncover the timeline of my feelings. He was the one who said the depression could be a result of the trauma from the earthquake. I brought it up to my doctor, she looked at what I had talked about in the past and agreed then told me about PTSD. My poor brother took the full force of my anger multiple times and never fought back. Just allowed me to get it out. I feel so bad for this now, I know I must have seemed crazy. I needed an outlet. It was the wrong one but he let me have it. I am so lucky to have the family I do. No one else could have gotten me through this. I returned to Japan, with a better understanding of myself and my emotional triggers. My true healing started from this point.

In Japan, in my Japanese class I had made two instant friends. They met me at one of my lowest points, and they also loved me unconditionally. They got a lot of my crazy while in Japan. Again, I’m good at pushing people away, but they just pushed back and let me know I wasn’t alone. When these two people can love me when they met me at my worst, I knew I had made friends for life. I hope someday I can show them the better parts of me. I love them and recognize them as family.

Another person who has helped me heal, is my chiropractor. I threw my back out and my friend who took me to the doctor recommended him. His office is a 5 min walk from my house. I started to go to him regularly and he explained to me about how my body works, and how it deals with stress and anxiety. I’ve had a problem with my hip feeling like it dislocates sometimes when I walk, for about 10 years. I went to several doctors before but he is the first to give me a reason why this happens. I have learned about my body and stretches I can do to help myself when I am unable to see him. In Japan, Chiropractors are not covered by insurance. I pay 6,500yen for each hour. But I will happily give him my paycheck, because what he has taught me about my body and my mind, and how it is all connected is priceless. Also, he has doubled as a second therapist and his English is very good. He also accepts my American side and when I broke down crying realizing what I was doing to myself and that my pizza diet only contributed to my downward spiral, he surprised me by giving me a hug.  You may be thinking “so what” but in Japan you don’t really hug. As an American who needed comfort he adapted to help me. It’s one reason I love the city I live in. It’s a mix of culture, just like me.

One more person who has helped me is my coworker. For as long as I can remember my mother told me don’t say negative things. The karma will come back around. I was always like” yeah whatever” until I was in college. Then I finally understood this. But I only understood half of this. My coworker tells me it’s human nature to think negatively about yourself and your situation, but don’t speak the words out loud. You are listening to yourself. You must tell yourself, “you are enough” and things “couldn’t be better.” My mother texts me guidances everyday, but it’s not the same as having her there with me by my side. Because I see him almost everyday, through him I understood another layer of what my mom had told me. It’s not just about other people. It’s about myself too.

Why did I feel the need to poor my soul out today. I thought about how I haven’t posted in this blog and realized that it was one of my interests that just stopped being fun to me. Another sign that I was falling into depression. I felt like it would be therapeutic and I hope if someone needs help they can find some comfort in my story. I feel like depression is such a negative thing to talk about. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t gone through it or lived with someone who has it. I thought I knew because my friends had it, but people with depression can be pretty good at covering up how bad it actually is. I’m still on sleeping medication because of insomnia, but I am at a point where I’m not shy about talking about what I have overcome. This topic needs to be talked about more. I remember feeling so much shame. I should have gotten help months before I had my breakdown. Even in Japan like back home in the US, depression is whispered, ignored, and shameful. You can’t just choose to be happy. It is not a choice that you just switch on. It is a war, not a battle that goes on in your mind and body. The chemicals in your body are literally out of whack. It is not a choice. It is a serious medical issue that needs to be recognized and openly talked about and accepted.

A year ago I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and now I am basking in the sun. I still have struggles, but I know how to handle it now. I feel like I have turned poison into medicine. My first true understanding of what this saying I’ve heard since I was a kid really means. I have grown from this hard experience and have come out stronger. I don’t know if the war will ever end, but I know I can win each battle that crosses my path.

So now that you know my tough journey, I hope if you see the signs of depression in someone you love, just be there for them and know it means the world. It is life.

Sleepless in Japan

Ok, so ever since I’ve moved into my apartment back in the end of March I’ve had issues sleeping. Why? Because I’m stressed? Because I’m in a new surrounding? NO… because of my crazy bitch neighbor who lives above me. She looks like she’s in her late 30s and I’m sure she is insane. The first week I moved in I went to go “meet the neighbors” I brought expensive sweets and everything. This crazy woman doesn’t even say thank you! She just stares at me with her mouth open. She took the sweets but not even a bow of the head. I almost asked her if she spoke Japanese cause I know what I said was perfect!

Anyway, the first month and a half I hear loud thumping noises in the middle of the night and I can’t take it. I also hear maniacal laughter. I saw her twice in person after I met her in her apartment and saw that she walks like a F**cking dinosaur! I’m talking bad posture and everything, a real T-rex man!! So, I know she stomps when she walks but I couldn’t place the other heavier thuds I heard in the middle of the freaking night. It starts at midnight and ends around 4:30a… yes thats right AM!!!! I wake up at 5am for work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve contemplated her removal (to put it nicely.)  So a few months pass, I go in again to complain and nothing. Another couple months and I’m starting to look really haggard, and my temper is getting shorter and shorter. This is not good because I work with teenagers… I walk in again and complain and they said they will send her a letter. The next week it gets worse! Instead of stopping at about 2 or 3 she goes all out til 4:30a! I don’t know when this bitch sleeps! So I go in again and I look like death… many people have commented on the HUGE bags under my eyes. And I tell them look ,I can’t sleep, I want to talk to the cops and file a complaint of noise pollution. Apparently they don’t really have a system like that here. But the real estate dude FINALLY took me seriously I think he could tell from the tired lines on my face that I wasn’t messing around. He told me no one else has filed a complaint. I told him my apartment shakes whenever she does whatever she’s doing up there and that I was shocked there were no other complaints. I told him i tried to record it, but it doesn’t pick it up very well. I told him I’d rather they hear for themselves but the office is closed when she does it. So he called the manager and apparently they made an appointment to talk to the dinosaur.

I get a call the next day and he asks me if that night things were better… I said yeah! He said it turns out she is a college student and she is in a Ballet club. She is practicing her F**CKING JUMPS in the middle of the F**CKING night! Unbelievable!!!!!!! You know what, no matter how hard she practices she is still going to suck cause her posture is horrible and her walk is way too heavy. Nothing about this girl screams grace. I wish she would save everyone the stress and quit cause ballet dancing is never going to happen for that girl. She still practices after 11p but if she goes past the midnight mark i’m going up there and I promise all hell will break loose. I’m a different human being when I lack sleep.

**update… wow… looking back at this I see what an angry grumpy person i was when i don’t get decent sleep for a few months… Still the situation is unbelievable but I have energy now and I’m my old self again!! I missed being a happy upbeat person! it’s good to be back!

**Second Update (is this a thing)

I have gotten to know my neighbors pretty well, and we talked about how the neighbors often change in my 4 room apartment building. Most have been college students… so too many parties in my opinion BUT I got confirmation! I was not crazy! The neighbors I spoke to all said she was weird, and had a creepy laugh, and was a strange person in general. I wish they would have spoken to my realtor so I wasn’t the only person complaining. Maybe she would have left sooner. Oh well, at least I know I wasn’t the only one who thought a crazy was in the neighborhood.

Also! It wasn’t ballet. In Japan, Volleyball and Ballet use the same katakana/pronunciation. They shorten volleyball to just volley and because the V sound doesn’t exist it becomes a B sound. I knew ballet was impossible.  There was no way she was a dancer of any kind. She was practicing her volleyball jumps in the middle of the night. Ballet would never be so noisy. So glad she is gone!

Bento

So, here’s the thing. I’m broke… I wasn’t expecting the big resident tax bill you get slapped with here in Japan, because my first company didn’t tell me to expect it. I’m still paying it off. But I’m out of time. My visa is up for renewal and I have to pay it off by the end of the month. So I’m in money saving mode which equals me packing my lunch for work.

There are of course other benefits. It’s way way healthier for me to pack my lunch. Every time I walk into a conbini I get tempted with their goodies. I know they design the store that way but I still fall victim to a good ole’ chocolate bar or bag of chips… or both. Also, I’ve recently gained weight, read the previous sentence for the cause. So yeah it’s getting colder and I consider my winter weight gain my extra coat but I’m not liking how my clothes are fitting me.

So about my bento. I’m not interested in those crazy character bentos you see when you google bento.

Here is a picture of a cute Winnie the Pooh Karaben made by a fellow wordpress blogger!

Why is that? 1) I’m not that creative and 2) I make my bento at 5am do you really think i care if it’s cute.

So I will post practical looking bentos on my site. I will warn you though I am a beginner. You may see many burnt, misshaped, dry food. Again I’m cooking at 5am, and anyone who knows me is fully aware that I am NOT a morning person. I often get made fun of because of how grumpy I am.

So why am I posting about this now? I was a cooking machine tonight! I decided to get a lot of prep done tonight (sunday night) and then just throw my bento together in the mornings. So I wanted to try my hand at kimpira gobo, it is a very popular dish here for bentos. I also salted some cucumbers and cut up some takuan its a type of pickled Daikon radish I think. I’ll post pics—->

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Also, here are a few bentos i’ve made —->

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Palm Reading

In Japan, fortune telling is a big deal. You can find it anywhere!! People will randomly walk up to you at the station and ask to read your palm. (I always avoid those people though…)

So yeah I don’t really rely on fortune telling. I feel that I control my own destiny, but I do enjoy seeing what they can “get” from my palm.  If I don’t like what’s said, I’ll change it. So anyhoo, I went to China town with two friends because one of them was going to Fiji to study English. We were having a sort of farewell dinner. We decided to get our palms read since Chinatown is the perfect place to do so.

Here’s what the lady said about me…

1) I will live a long life.

Dude I hope this one is true

2) at work, people rely on me to do things that are outside my job description. I am a capable  and independent worker. The company is lucky to have me.

I would say HELL YES! This is true with a capital T! I won’t go into detail because I’d like to keep this somewhat private but yeah… I’m doing someone else’s job and I was lied to about it in the beginning. I’m getting paid the same amount as people who do ZERO planning… its BS.

3) I am a human treasure.

Dude I know this to be true (haha)

4) I should start my own business or join in with a friend.

I’ll be joining a friend next year, at first part time… it’ll be epic!

5) I worry about other people’s feelings and think about other people too much. To the point it causes me stress

Yeah, thats me but thats my personality and it won’t change

6) I have poor blood circulation and get cold easily

Yup this one is true too

7) I have a weak stomach. Take care of my health

This is true too. The people around me know I get food poisoning at least twice a month

8) She asked if I had a boyfriend, on my palm it looks as though I do

I told her to point him out to me cause I’ve been single for a while

9) She said I would marry at 32 or 33 to a guy i’ve continued to have a friendship with even though we don’t stay in contact regularly

WTF, I have no idea.

So there you have it guys… my very first palm reading! She got my personality traits right on. But i believe these are easier to read because if it does show in my palm, then i’ve been that way for a while. The future can change based on my decisions so for the future, well we will just have to see!

They’re coming to take me away (reader beware, not for those with weak stomachs!)

Yesterday I had an awesome day. I went to the festival, I had great beer, a delicious gyro and got to spend time with great people. Today I’m going to an onsen (hotspring), so I had a lot to look forward to. The only downer was that I had a bad stomachache last night. Well, shit hit the fan people. At about 1:30a I started to feel nauseous and at 2:30a everything I had left was coming up. Now, I’m used to getting food poisoning, I unfortunately have a weak stomach, but I puke and go back to sleep and it’s like nothing happened the next day. Maybe my throat is a bit raw. But last night’s food poisoning was coupled with severe, and I mean a severe stomachache. I normally avoid the hospital, I hate needles, I can be on my death bed and i’ll still try to argue my way out of going. Well I was alone in the house and I was really worried that if something happened no one would know if things went from bad to worse. I called my friend to see if she had any problems since we ate the same food. She was ok, like I said I have a weak stomach. But I was crying from the pain so of course she worried. She’s my big sis. So anyway she told me to go to the hospital I said no a few times, then decided there was no way I could not go. I was scared to go to sleep. Like I said if it wasn’t food poisoning like i’m used to what could it be? The unknown is a scary thing.

She called the ambulance for me at 2:30a, I love her. Anyway, I was so embarrassed, I’m sure my neighbors heard everything. (Side note: One neighbor did hear. The nice lady next to me asked me if i was ok the next day when we ran into eachother… EMBARRASSING!) But I also felt relief. Right before the ambulance came my stomach was emptied. EVERYTHING came up! They found me on the floor of my bathroom. I was able to walk onto the ambulance. I was still dry heaving, but the pain was finally getting better.

The hospital is a 5 minute walk from my house. I was going to attempt it at first but decided against it. Anyway we got there in no time. The first hour I was there, I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. I had to run to the bathroom a few times blah blah blah. They put an IV in me… ok pause… I have to talk about this. Normally when I get an IV they put it in the inside of my elbow. Well this old lady was putting it in the inside of my forearm. Is that normal? Not to mention she stuck me like 10 times!!! I was crying like a baby cause it HURT!

My bruise courtesy of the ill attempts at giving me an IV.

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Then the cutie doctor said to put it in my hand. That hurt too by the way. So anyway, this is when I noticed my doctor was kinda cute. impeccable timing i know. He spoke some English which is why he was assigned to me. So yeah had to answer all those REALLY embarrassing questions to this cutie doctor. I’m never going to the ER again! And I really really hope I don’t see him around cause my house is seriously 5 minutes away.

Alright I got to go catch the train for my onsen trip. But I got home at 6am slept for a few and feel well enough to go so i’m off!

Question: Have you ever had to be carried away in an ambulance?

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