365 photos in 365 days: Photo #69

Location: Chibu-mura, Shimane-ken, JAPAN

365 photos in 365 days: Photo #67

Sorry for the late post, yesterday was Chibu’s  biennial festival and we were out late last night.  Khoa was participating in the festival by carrying the mikoshi (post to come soon), so Michelle was on photo taking duty.  Here’s one she took of the mikoshi:

Location: Chibu-mura, Shimane-ken, JAPAN

Thank you for your time

I love blogging.  I used to hate it. 


Blogging is such a personal endeavor.  I feel like I’m exposing myself, my feelings, and my thoughts to the world every time I click the “publish now” button.  It has the personal touch of a diary and the permanence and revealing nature of….well, anything on the internet.  Anyone could be reading this entry now, friend or foe (although I’d like to think that I don’t have many of the latter), all of whom have the potential and right to agree with, disagree with, and judge my every word.


Now that I’ve entered an essay contest, that level of judgment has increased tenfold…because people are literally judging my writing.


I wrote an essay about Khoa and my experience as a married couple on the JET Programme for a new JET-related website.  If my essay gets the most likes on Facebook, I will win the contest and gain the feeling that “you like me, you really like me.” 


So please, if you have a few minutes to spare, head on over to JETprogram.me, read my essay, and if you enjoyed reading it, please click the little “like” button at the top.  It would be greatly appreciated. 


Thank you for your time and effort in helping me in the contest! 


And thank you for taking the time to read our blog.  We really appreciate all of our readers for taking time out of your day to read and care about what we write.  Also, thank you to those of you who click the “like” button or comment on Khoa’s photos.  It really means a lot to us and we get really happy every time the little jingle on Khoa’s computer rings, telling us that we got another comment, like, or follower.  


So in summary, THANK YOU! 


-Khoa and Michelle

Bringing American Barbecue to Japan


Khoa grilling up a storm
(I kid you not, Khoa’s ability to grill delicious meats is one of the things that attracted me to him)



We’ve been busy.  Very busy.  But it was all worth it because we were able to bring American BBQ to 75 (of the 600) people on our island. 


Last Sunday was a PTA beach day for the elementary school and all 29 elementary school children and their parents came to enjoy the event.  We were also in charge of feeding those beach goers and this was going to be their first time eating American barbecue.  Talk about pressure! 






Here’s the menu that we created for 75 people:

Pork ribs smothered in Khoa’s homemade BBQ sauce
(notice how many guys are crowded around the grill, checking out what Khoa is doing)


Marinated vegetable kabobs



Avocado and tomato parmesan pasta salad
(yes, I made up that horrendously long name)


On Saturday we spent 5 ½ hours in the kitchen prepping food, another 3 hours on Sunday morning, and then another hour cooking on the barbecues at the beach.  It was a lot of work and extremely hot (32 degrees Celsius with 80% humidity), but it was great to see everyone’s reaction when Khoa brought out the racks of ribs and plunked them down on the barbecue grill.  Everyone was really impressed by the size of the ribs.  Big cuts of meat are hard to come by in Japan, so you can imagine everyone’s surprise when they saw the huge hunks of meat sizzling away on the grill.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  We then took out Khoa’s homemade BBQ sauce and began coating the racks with it.  All the dads clamored around as these two crazy Americans drowned the meat in sauce while it was still on the grill.  Japanese-style barbecue consists of thinly cut bite-sized meat and vegetables grilled on an open BBQ set [no lid], taken directly off the grill, dipped in sauce, and eaten as you go.  Us Americans were doing it backwards!  Sauce and seasoning on the meat before you grill it?  Say it ain’t so!  But, I think this style of cooking delicious meats caught on as a few people, in true American barbecue fashion, decided to cover their Japanese-style meat with Khoa’s barbecue sauce and then grill it.   


Japanese-style Barbecue
(You know you’re in Oki when they bust out the sea snails [top left corner of the grill])


Khoa’s BBQ Sauce
It’s goooood!



I don’t think Khoa is willing to part with his special barbecue sauce recipe, but just take my word for it, it’s GOOOOD!  (it is, in fact, the best BBQ sauce I’ve tasted, but I might be a sliiiight bit biased :P).  However, everyone at the barbecue at least mildly enjoyed the sauce, coming back and slathering their ribs with even more of the vinegary goodness. 





The barbecue, although stressful and time consuming, was a very nice way to share our culture with the people of Chibu.

Salty Watermelon Pepsi

Salty Watermelon Pepsi

When we saw this drink at the conbini (convenience store), we just had to try it.  Salty watermelon flavored anything would be interesting in itself, but salty watermelon pepsi?  How could we pass that up?  Purchasing this weird beverage and handing over the required 150 or so yen, I was aware that Khoa and I would probably take one sip, shrug our shoulders saying, “huh” and be done with the pink liquid.  I don’t even like salt on my watermelon (even though my sister and Khoa both think there’s something wrong with my taste buds), but the oddness of the drink beckoned me to buy it. So we drank about half of the Salty Watermelon Pepsi, all the while not being able to decide whether we liked it or not.  My first sip had me exclaiming, “that’s a salty watermelon!” but I’m still not sure if I actually liked drinking a salty watermelon.  It was a nice beverage to try, but I don’t think I’d drink it again.  I’d rather just eat a slice of watermelon…hold the salt.

Japan is infamous for its seasonal and bizarre drinks.  I’ve seen yogurt-flavored and Caribbean Pepsi make an appearance and just as quickly disappear.  My beloved “Za Supakuringu” (the Sparkling) has completely disappeared from store shelves despite my love of the unsweetened, carbonated green tea sold in summer 2011 only (hey, don’t knock it until you try it…or don’t try it…because you can’t….because it’s gone forever!).  It seems like every time Khoa and I go to the mainland, there’s a new drink out and then the next time we make our journey off the island, it magically disappears from store shelves, never to be seen again.  I have a love-hate relationship with these seasonal drinks in Japan.  I love it because I always get to try something new and strange that makes me smile, shake my head and think, “oh Japan.”  I hate it because sometimes I actually like the seasonal drink and as I enjoy the newly discovered beverage, there’s always a feeling of sadness as I sip, knowing it’ll be gone with the changing season. 

So rock on Salty Watermelon Pepsi and enjoy your frolic in summer 2012!  We hardly knew ye.