Monday, August 23, 2010

Misawa Summer Festival

The Misawa Mikoshi Festival was an amazing experience for me because I actually got to participate in a festival! The Misawa International Association was looking for people to carry their Mikoshi float in the parade. It was 1500 yen to sign up. I was a bit skeptical at first, I thought it was a pretty high price to pay to carry a float. I thought maybe we would be able to keep Happi Coats or something. Unfortunately, I did have to give my Happi Coat back but we were able to keep our headbands. Also, there was a lot of food before the parade. And beer, and a truck full of beer behind us! one of the three grills full of yummy goodness!  Because I am so short, I didn’t really get to carry the float. But I did do a lot of cheering and became one of the many beer wenches. (When teams switched shifts, somebody had to hold the beer). There was a lot of camaraderie and a lot of fun!carrying the float
We found out that we actually had to perform in front of judges! We actually performed twice (second time was for finals)  So we got all hyped up, were completely unorganized, threw that mikoshi in the air like it was our hero, made a lot of noise and danced around wildly…and won first place.
It was an great experience and totally worth the 1500 yen!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shanghai Ryu and other Ramen-ya

Shanghai Ryu
We went to Towada Friday and Saturday and both times we decided to stop at a Ramen restaurant. (two different restaurants). The first one is called Shanghai Ryu 40537_1573109650357_1314019772_1543717_3737187_nChinese Restaurant. They have mostly ramen and a few other dishes. Ramen is considered Chinese because they use Chinese noodles. Don’t be fooled by the outside of the building. Looking inside from the outside it doesn’t look like a great place to eat but once you are inside, it really has a nice atmosphere. They have seats at the bar, tables, and tatami sections. The ramen here is very good too!   
white dragon ramen from shanghai ryusalt ramen from shanghai ryu
The next Ramen shop I unfortunately don’t know the name. It is along route 10 (as is Shanghai Ryu) and next to a Lawson’s. the ramen shop next to Lawson'sThe menus are all in Japanese. I was lucky enough to go with someone who could read Kanji. I didn’t ask if they had an English menu so I don’t know if they have one or not. This place was really small, regular tables and seats at the bar. The walls are just plywood, but don’t be fooled, the ramen here is really good as well!    salt ramen
soy sauce ramen

Directions to the ramen shops from POL gate: go straight  toward Towada City. You will see Shanghai Ryu first on your left (about 10-15km) and the other shop is after it  on the left next to a Lawson’s. A long blue building is behind it (I think they have batting cages there). 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nebuta Festival

The Nebuta Festival is in Aomori City. We made the mistake of going on the very LAST day of the festival so it was extremely crowded! Not only the festival was crowded but we went there by train and it filled up FAST! We went home on the speed train and it
My first train ride in Japan!                         the very crowded train...   
was much more comfortable. (less people, air conditioned, personal seats). The floats went by but I couldn’t see anything because there were so many people. BUT afterward they did have them on display so I could at least see them! One of my favorite floats at the festivalI felt like I didn’t do much at the festival, I spent most of my time waiting in line for the restroom. (which was inside the triangle building). the long line to the restroomWe had some fried chicken and chicken skin and that was a bit of a mistake on my part. Waaay too greasy for my weak stomach. Well, lesson learned. I do love festival food though, it seemed they lacked variety at this one , but  we did only stop at one food stand. (I didn’t see too many.) Of course, there was a spectacular fireworks display as well. the spectacular fireworks displayWe went on Saturday and I heard that on Tuesday evening it was not as crowded. Next time we’ll go earlier. If you want to beat the crowd for a festival, go early in the week! That’s all for this post. Ja-ne! The JAFC gang

Friday, August 13, 2010

44th Annual Homestay Program

The class and I outside the school.
I started working for Tohoku Academy on June 30, 2010. When they told me they wanted me to teach a workshop for the homestay students, I was absolutely delighted! We had six students this year from Sendai and they spent Friday night, Saturday and Sunday (until late afternoon) with people on base who signed up to be homestay families. We had a lot of fun learning useful phrases and even did a funny skit about homestay students who only learned English from American movies.My calendar and gift for teaching the workshop (performed at the
luncheon on Sunday).  
I can’t wait until next year, I plan on signing up to be a host family since our furniture is finally here. I’m so happy to be teaching English in Japan, it has been a dream of mine since college. ^_^
Homestay 2010 in the classroom

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


gigantic naan
Delhi is an Indian Restaurant chain. It is really good, but be warned, the portions are gigantic! I would order one set and  share it with someone and if you are still hungry, get some more. The naan itself is huge!

Directions to Delhi: From The main gate go straight and take a right at city hall. you will go through 3 stoplights and at the fourth stoplight bear left. You will go through 2 more stoplights. Delhi is just before Coco's restaurant.


Yamakura restaurant

The entrance at the top of the stairs
I had passed Yamakura restaurant several times and always wanted to try it. They have pictures from their menu outside. And there was always the issue of where to park? It looks like they have a sort of "garage" that maybe 2 cars an fit in. Well, parking is across the street next to the Pachinko Parlor.  You have to go up the stairs to get to the restaurant and it is in a very traditional Japanese style. You can sit at the bar, a regular table or a tatami room The tatami room has an indent around the table so you can sit upright and don't have to kneel or cross your legs. I love this style because it is easy for me to sit but it is still in a traditional style! Their menu consists of hot and cold udon, hot and cold soba and various appetizers (meat on a stick). It was wonderful. I love ramen but I prefer udon. I was definitely happy after this meal!
view of the restaurant from the entrance
The tatami room
my delicious Udon!
Another racoon dog statue. This one sat next to me. 
 Directions: from Main gate, take a left and take your first right. Go straight through all the lights until you get to a T. There should be a Lawson's on your right. Pass Universe and the furniture store,  keep going straight past J-Boys car dealership. Jam Friend Pachinko Parlor will be on your right and the restaurant is on the left. (there are photographs of the menu posted outside). There are two parking spaces under the building and a parking lot on the other side of the street. Enjoy!

Un Cafe & Couverture

outside the Cafe

I pass Un Cafe & Couverture every day when I go to work. One weekend I decided to try it and it is pretty good! I have been trying to find a cafe around here. Un Cafe & Couverture has a very rustic feel to it. They even have a heart shaped window! There is also a shop inside the cafe. They sell purses, jewelry and clothing. I went for lunch and had lamb curry with rice and tea. It was delightful :)
blue hydranea's in a metal tub outside the cafe door
The pavement has seashells and marbles embedded in it. 
cream chicken
Directions to Un Cafe & Couverture: from main gate go straight and take right at the City Office. Go through four traffic lights. take the first left after the 4th light. (you will be able to see the cafe in front of you at the 3rd light.
lamb curry
The kitchen inside the cafe

the heart shaped window


The sign for Viking's restaurant. 
Viking's restaurant is right next to Yumeya. It is the first restaurant I tried in Japan. I would suggest going during lunch hour on a weekday because it is all you can eat for 1 hour and it is cheaper than other hours. At Vikings, you take your plate, and pick  your own raw food. (Raw meat and vegetables) and cook it over the grill in the middle of the table. There are regular tables and a Japanese style tatami section where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor.

grill your own food!
Directions to Vikings: From POL gate go straight. At the first light take a left. Viking's will be on your third left. It is right next to the ramen shop with the picture of the kitty.


Sukiya is one of my favorite restaurants. The food is simple, inexpensive, filling and tasty! It is a fast food restaurant chain that sells mainly beef bowls. They also have curry, unagi (eel) bowls and other food and some desserts. Picturesd here is an Unagi bowl with a set containing tofu and a bowl of Miso soup. Delicious!

Directions to Sukiya: from POL gate go straight through 2 traffic lights. after the second traffic light take your first right. Sukiya is behind the Docomo/black ramen house plaza. It has a red sign with yellow lettering. Enjoy!


beef hot plate with croquettes
Coco's Restaurant in Misawa is great because they are open really late.(from 10 or 11am until 2am). I love coming here for the drink bar and dessert! Their menu is mostly American style. A lot of hot plates, pasta, and ground beef dishes. It can get a little pricey if you are here all the time but it is great to go to if you want to hang out and chat with friends. You can also use debit/credit card here or yen. I'll update with a picture of the outside of the restaurant at a later date.
icecream parfait with flower
green tea "fondant" cake

a hotplate meal with a set
green tea ice cream, mochi and coffee jelly
fruit parfait
Directions to Coco's: From the main gate, go straight and take a right at the second light (at City Office). Go through. You will go through 3 traffic lights and at the 4th light bear left. You will go through 2 more lights and directly after the second light is Coco's. (Across from McDonald's).

Cocoshe. Its like a waffle with icecream and syrup


One of the best things about living in Japan is all the ramen shops! I love love l-o-o-v-e noodles! Here are three good ramen restaurants I've been to in Misawa.

Ramen with a set
Gyoza at the black ramen house. It is so good!
salt ramen with vegetables
side order of rice with seaweed and pork
The first Ramen shop I don't know the name. It is a large black building in the same plaza as Docomo and it has a yellow sign with red kanji lettering. I

just call it the black ramen shop. This shop is a chain and they have one in Towada city as well.

This was the first time we had ramen. I like this place because you can choose a soup base (salt, miso or soy) and  whatever fillings you want (vegetable/pork etc) and you can have a set to go along with it (gyoza and pork bowl). 
Miso ramen with pork

Directions to black ramen house: from POL gate go straight through 3 traffic lights. After the third traffic light there will be a white building with pink letters that says "Docomo" in that same plaza is the black ramen house
pork ramen from Sapporo
The next Ramenya is my favorite. It is called Sapporo. It is a really small restaurant but the portions are huge and quality is excellent! You can order takeout from here too, but you need to bring your own container. How convenient! I will bring my own container next time, I always have a tough time finishing ramen because the portions are so big! There were three ladies cooking here and there is a bar and a section to sit down (shoes off, Japanese style). 

Directions to Sapporo: (from Misawa Life) Exit the POL gate and continue going straight thru about 4 lights. You will be looking for the Lawson's on the right and the ramen shop will be on the left. If you make it to the Universe Market you have gone to far. 
Even vegetable ramen comes with meat!

Raumen Yumeya

The last ramen shop we went to is called Yumeya. It is right next to Vikings and is hard to miss because their logo is a cat with balls and he is flexing. It is smaller than black ramen house but bigger than Sapporo. They also have a place to sit Japanese style. They also have regular tables and stools at the bar. You can have ramen here and they also have rice bowls. Here's a quick look at the menu.

Directions to Yumeya: From POL gate take a left at the first stoplight. Yumeya should be on your third left. You will see the sign.