February 20, 2009: “Day #3: Night Out in Machida”

Yesterday was a leisurely day while we adjusted to jet lag. My hubby has been doing remarkably well and has hardly suffered any jet lag! I on the other hand am adjusting much better than last time but still have moments of exhaustion.

Yesterday we went to the Post Office ATM to withdraw yen. Lisa and Bill discovered the Post Office gives you the best yen exchange rate. Afterward we went to a noodle house and had lunch. My hubby is maneuvering his chopsticks like a pro! All the practice eating Thai food prior to leaving for our trip really paid off! The Japanese locals were busy staring at us while we ate with our chopsticks. I think they are in awe that Americans know how to use them properly.

We then visited a local grocery store. Again, their grocery stores are one of the most amazing cultural experiences. My hubby, Lisa, and I perused the aisles and everything was so beautiful. This time around I took pictures of some of the unusual packaging because it was so adorable. I’ll try and send out photos later. There was a small boy in the grocery store that was in absolute awe of my hubby. I think he thought he was a curly-haired, blue-eyed American giant! We purchased some select ingredients in the grocery store. Their sesame dressing is amazing and this time instead of only buying two bottles, I think I bought about 10! I think I’ve become a sesame dressing addict. We then went to the bakery in the grocery store. I am telling you – I never have a sweet tooth except in Japan! I bought four different pastries and my justification was that we would spread them out over the next two days. Their pastries are a bit of an adventure because you never know if they might be filled with some type of bean-based paste so we were very careful with our selections. Reading ingredients, labels, and menus are definitely an experimental, learning process here.

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Afterward we went to an ice cream store and I tried green tea ice cream. The first bite was a bit odd but after the second bite it grew on me and now I absolutely love the complex flavor of this unique ice cream.

We met Bill in Machida. We went to an unusual store that sold costumes – some of which I took pictures of. It was an odd store. Downstairs was a small convenience and liquor store and upstairs was a costume store. Now that I think about that, perhaps those two do go well together!

We then walked around the streets of Machida – which is known as the party district outside of Tokyo. We purchased some chu-hi’s from a local store. Chu-hi’s are THE drink in Japan. It’s a flavored alcoholic beverage in a can that has approximately the same alcohol content as a pale beer. The only problem is that it literally tastes like juice so they have the potential to be quite dangerous.

We ventured into the 100 yen ($1 USD store) and as my hubby described it, “Who knew you could sell this much stuff for a buck?!” It’s completely different from our dollar stores in the states and they actually have some really good “finds.”

We then decided to eat at an Irish Pub that serves delicious fish and chips. We drank Japanese beer (We love our porters and stouts) and tried an iced oolong tea with vodka. It was definitely interesting, not overly sweet, but what can I say? I’m a dark beer girl.

We stopped for dessert on the way home and then made our way to the subway. The subway was completely packed with limited standing room but we only had a few stops before we arrived back in Zama and then a short walk back to Lisa’s car.

My hubby and I walked around the neighborhood by ourselves and it’s so amazing to see how the locals live. Everything is so small, yet clean, and the Japanese are so friendly! It’s polite to bow and say, “Konnichiwa!” which is the general greeting for “Hello” or “Good Afternoon.”

We are going to get ready this morning for our journey to Hakone. We are so incredibly excited to see this beautiful town.

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