I’ve Squeezed in Some Fun, Too

As I say time and time again, I am kept pretty busy here.  But, being a 20 year old college girl in one of the best cities in one of the best foreign countries with lots of great friends, I have fun when I can.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve done fun stuff including…

A weekend in Kichijoji – Kichijoji is a nearby town that has a lot of good shopping, food, entertainment, etc.  It’s fun both during the day and at night.  I went one Saturday to get lunch with some friends and do some shopping.

We got curry at this well-known place, and it was unbelievably amazing.  There was all-you-can-eat naan, too!!
My two curries were butter chicken (the orangey one) and saag mushroom (the greener one).  I also got this Indian yogurt drink that grew on me pretty well.
We didn’t get so much shopping done as we did Purikura and walking around, but it was fun.

So the next day I went back again, with a different group of people.
We found this really cool park area with a giant pond where you can rent boats.

And there were all kinds of performers doing strange things, and people selling stuff.  This guy had this contraption that sensed movement and played music based on how he held his hands over it.  It was really cool.

We ended the day with more shopping, and this store had a staircase that was too cool to pass through without taking a picture.

Then a few days later (I forget what day it was) I had a dinner with my unit.  We made a dish called sukiyaki.
Let me just say, it’s absolutely delicious.  I would try to make it when I got back to America, but you use a special pot that boils everything for you correctly that may be expensive, and you also use raw egg, which is a big no-no in America.  Did you know that Japan doesn’t have salmonella?  It just doesn’t exist over here.  I now understand why they have those laws about bringing foods and animals from country to country.  If people brought their farm animals or foods from America over here I wouldn’t be able to enjoy raw egg on all my food.  I have really grown to enjoy mixing raw egg in with a lot of my dishes.
But anyway, for sukiyaki you start it out with a broth of soy sauce and sugar.  A LOT of soy sauce and sugar.  Once that boils, you throw in all kinds of vegetables and meat.

We used some sort of lettuce/cabbage hybrid thing, what I think was leek, carrot, onion, tofu, and later added konnyaku, which are tasteless, firm, jelly-ish balls that supposedly help with digestion and are very good for you.  Once you get over the strange appearance and taste, they can actually be quite fun to chew because of the strange texture. They are a common addition to sukiyaki.  I was amused when Emi brought these over to add to the pot because I knew where she had gotten them.  Mariko had been doing the red paperclip project for her class (look it up if you don’t know about it, it’s actually quite neat) and received a bag of these in one of her trades.  She tried to trade them with me but I didn’t want anything to do with them.  So apparently she traded them to my unit mate instead, and I was forced to come into contact with them anyway.

We added beef after the vegetables had started cooking because if you leave the beef in for too long it starts getting tough.  But, the beef releases some sort of bubbly fatty not-good-for-you stuff when it starts boiling, so you throw this circle of cloth over it that is meant just for this purpose and it soaks up all the bad stuff but doesn’t soak up any of the broth, strangely.
I took these pictures after we had eaten most of it.  So even though it looks like it, I promise it doesn’t soak up all the pieces of vegetable and meat.

Then you grab pieces of whatever you’d like out of the pot and put it into your own bowl filled with a scrambled raw egg.  The final step is to swish it around to make sure there is a lot of egg covering your food and ENJOY!
Once you’ve eaten all the stuff in the broth you can add cooked rice to it and make a sort of rice stew, which is also amazing.  This also helps you to eat the rest of the tofu that turned into mush during the cooking process (tofu is too delicate for this dish, but it tastes good anyway).

This is my unit!!  Olivia, Saori, Emi, and me!

The whole next week was spent studying, so I didn’t do anything really, but I still managed to fail my test so my friends and I all had a girl’s night to wind down.  I didn’t take pictures but it was really nice to have friends to bake cookies and brownies with and then watch chick flicks with on the living room floor with blankets and pillows all night long.
The next weekend I went to watch fireworks with my friends and then walked around Harajuku and Shibuya.  I took lots of videos of the fireworks, but I’m still having trouble figuring out how to do anything with my video files, so I will put up the video when I get that sorted out.  But here are a few pictures of us in Shibuya at night:

This is the statue of Hachiko, the super loyal dog that they made a movie about.

This picture explains my friend Mariko pretty well.

Well, I have finished my test (unsuccessfully) and the first two essays.  I have another essay due on Monday, so I can’t have any big adventures just yet, but as soon as I have some free time I will be back on these blogs, and I am working on figuring out my video situation.  So, until next time, I love you all very much and I wish you were here.