365 photos in 365 days: Photo #8

Location: Chibu, Shimane-ken, JAPAN

365 photos in 365 days: Runners up Week #1

Because sometimes Khoa can’t choose just one.
For Khoa’s 365 photos in 365 days challenge, he can post only one photo per day.
Here are a few pictures he took this week that he had a hard time not using.
Every week on Thursday morning we’ll upload Khoa’s runner up photos.
We hope you enjoy them!
Day #1 runner up
Day #2 runner up
Day #2 Runner up
Day #2 runner up
Day #3 runner up
Day #3 runner up

It’s the little things in life

Living in a foreign country makes you appreciate the things you took for granted in your home country.

For example, we used to expect all houses to have central heating and insulation and most to have central air conditioning. Now a warm house on a cold day has turned into a fond memory as we sit in our freezing apartment in the winter months of Japan.

We used to stand in a hot shower for as long as we wanted to, but now the fear of running out of kerosene to heat the water and having to walk 30 minutes to the port and carry 10 liters of kerosene all the way back cuts our shower times to a minimum.

We used to freely lounge around in our house at night, never checking all corners for giant bugs before entering a room, but now the fear of a poisonous centipede walking on our face at night has us huddled in a mesh tent after dark. ***three people we know have had a centipede crawl across their face at night***

We used to eat huge, thick, juicy pieces of steak whenever we wanted to, just pop on down to the store and a whole mess of meats were there for the buying. Now we savor even the thinnest, saddest looking piece of beef.

We used to be able to find almost any vegetable we needed at the grocery store. Now we cultivate our own squash, zucchini, artichokes, red onions, sugar snap peas, and bell peppers because we can’t buy them easily/at all.

We used to have hundreds of restaurants to choose from, thousands if we were willing to drive far away. Now we take trips to the mainland with nothing planned except eating at restaurants.

We found some Planter’s Honey Roasted Peanuts and Dad’s Root Beer at the foreign foods store during our trip to Matsue.

When we lived in the US, we could go down to the store at any time we wanted to (24 hour supermarkets galore) and buy these two items. Now that any brand of honey roasted peanut and root beer is hard to get, it makes them all the more delicious. Not having the things you’re used to at home can be tough, but it makes you appreciate those things you used to take for granted.

Living in Japan has afforded us very unique opportunities and experiences that we couldn’t have had anywhere else in the world. It has also made us a lot more humble and a lot more appreciative of the things we had in America. Hopefully this experience will cause us to not take even the smallest things for granted once we return to our home country.

American Gyudon

Khoa: I want beef!

Michelle: I want mashed potatoes!

…And so the American gyudon was born.

The original Japanese gyudon (beef bowl)
Beef and onions over rice.

What Khoa really wanted was an actual steak, but that is impossible to buy on the island.  Taking a look around the general store produced even more disappointing results.  We only had three options for beef and none of them all too appealing.

Option #1: freezer burnt thin slices of meat @ 1550 yen for around 500g.  Who knows how long it’s been kicking around the general store freezer.

Option #2: frozen ground beef/pork.  Not even close to the steak Khoa’s been craving.

Option #3: frozen, thin (see-through) slices of beef (the kind used in gyuudon).

We decided to go with Option #3, buying the frozen beef without any ideas on how we were going to prepare it.

Our cravings and lack of options at the general store turned into the makings of an unconventional, but delicious dish.  We prepared the beef as you would a normal gyudon, but instead of adding it over rice, we added it to roasted garlic mashed potatoes with butter, whole milk, sea salt, and pepper.  I guess you can’t really call this dish a gyudon, but at first glance, that’s what it reminded me of.  To add to the wonderful meal, we enjoyed a Anchor Steam Beer from San Francisco, bought from an international foods store in Matsue.  It was the perfect meal for the end of a great weekend.

American Gyudon!
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes, beef, asparagus

Kaitenzushi 回転寿司

Yesterday we headed out to the mainland for a little break from island life.  We both agree that the hardest part of living in Chibu is not being able to go to a restaurant whenever we want.   We had a very pleasant, albiet short one-day trip, but we managed to fit in a lot of restaurant visits.

Our favorite place was definitely kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi).


There were the usual suspects; nigiri sushi of tuna and salmon, inarizushi,  and gunkan maki filled with fish roe to name a few.

But there were some unusual sushi options as well:

Squid Sushi
Fried chicken sushi with mayonnaise
Roast beef sushi with horseradish
(anxiously waiting to dig in while Khoa takes the picture)
They even had ginger ale and coke in a glass bottle!
Doesn’t Coca Cola always taste better from a glass bottle?

In case you wanted something other than what was coming on down the conveyor belt, you could use the small touch screen next to your table to order:

Once your order was prepared, the screen started flashing and began to play a nice little jingle, alerting you that your sushi would be coming by your table.

Order up!

The order also came on a special elevated platform with ご注文品 (ordered good) written on the side.

It was our first visit to this particular kaitenzushi restaurant and our first experience with the screen ordering system.  We landed up missing our first order item because we were  wondering whether or not we could take the plate.  As we debated, our sushi continued to chug down the line and out of reach.  Oh well 😛  We learned from that miss step and continued to order, pick up, and enjoy sushi to our hearts’ content.

365 photos in 365 days: Photo #4

Star Fishing
Location: Matsue, Shimane-ken, JAPAN

We’ve found a problem with the 365 day photo challenge.  Since we post a daily photo at 9pm every night, we lose 3 hours of photography time.  So here’s a caveat to 365 photos in 365 days: one day is from 9:01pm until 9pm the next day.

Please enjoy this night photo taken at around 11pm on May 26th at Lake Shinji in Shimane prefecture.