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Turning Japanese

How do you spend two weeks travelling Japan, with a teenager in tow, during the season of the ‘Crimson Leaves?’ By seeing incredible nature and having numerous experiences, good, bad, funny and serious, but all of them, unique. In fact, sometimes I felt like this old eighties song:

Leaving Australia

I was a little unsettled by a shaky start when we arrived at the check-in counter at the airport for our departure. Miss Teenager Now Adult suddenly realized she had left her passport at home.

“Why didn’t I check this myself?” I chided myself inwardly, as we made a frantic phone call to a family member, who lived nearby.

They came to the rescue with a hasty trip to the airport ‘drop off’ zone! Lucky they live so close, I thought! Apparently even flight attendants occasionally forget their passports, (and it’s usually at Christmas time), at least according to the Airport Ground Steward we chatted to.  He did not seem especially sympathetic to forgetful Staff, but was a tad more reassuring for Miss Teenager Now Adult. She responded to this kindly reassurance by slipping back into the standard mode of ‘parents are so embarrassing / awkward teenager,’ reproaching me sharply with a instruction to, “Stop Talking Mum,” albeit in hushed tones, so the Steward would not hear.
However, her surly adolescent mood was placated when confronted with a chirpy and upbeat check-in clerk, who offered us a Business class check in, as a thank you for trialing their new facial recognition software. “I hope this new software isn’t costing jobs,” I gently admonished as we zipped through passport control.

First Impressions

This wasn’t my first trip to Japan; although it had been some time since I had been in Tokyo itself, so I was anxious to see how much had changed since my visit 14 years before.

On touching down in Narita, we were escorted to a luxury limousine electric van, the comfy, serene interior of which made for a silent sixty minute glide/drive to Shinjuku, our destination for the next three nights.

As bedazzling as the metropolis outside the window was, I felt certain the quiet interior of the limousine belied the sounds outside. Endless streets of high rise skyscrapers, a sea of commuters on the streets and buildings lit up like Christmas trees wizzed by our window, in a never ending parade.

Inside the glass encased megaliths, I could see Japanese citizens still working hard at their desks, even though it was 8.30 in the evening. A diligent population!

Food


Miss Teenager Now Adult was not at all keen to eat anything for dinner. For some reason, she seemed to have lost her appetite on the plane. Rationalizing that she needed to eat something to sustain her energy levels for the following day of planned walking, we ventured down to the main streets of Shinjuku, and found convenience stores variously called: ‘Family Mart’ or ‘Ministop’ or a little ironically, ‘Lawson.’ I let out a sigh of relief when we bypassed the temptations on offer in the street vending machines. It seems that Japan has brought that range to an absolute art form, as you can see in the photo.


Little Miss chose to eat noodles and potato chips, [surprise, surprise], which certainly required her to use a few detective skills to discover which flavour might be similar to her Aussie preferences. Of course, she remained unconvinced Green tea flavored Noodles or Matcha Potato chips would be welcomed by her thoroughly Australian digestive system.

To our surprise and delight, she was so impressed with one flavour, (something akin to sour cream and chive flavored potato chips), she promptly posted a ‘Two minute noodle and chip review,’ on Snap chat, her favorite social media platform. They must have been impressive, I guess.

It is all about the Lettuce in Japan

As for me, I grabbed a humble ‘sanger,’ featuring a large amount of lettuce. Being a former vegetarian, I loved the tribute to green matter on the Family Mart sandwich. Basically it was a lettuce sandwich with a tiny amount of ham and cheese, rather than the reverse! Yay for lettuce! I was later to discover lettuce and greens were a recurring culinary theme on this vacation. No wonder a Japanese diet is considered healthy.

Hotel Shinjuku Washington

Our Hotel room was most likely large by Japanese standards, but adequate for two of us. We were perched on the 23rd floor, so the view was nothing short of spectacular.

Our view

As with most hotels and indeed traditional Ryokans, Japanese accommodation comes with almost everything one needs, so you can ‘go light’ with your luggage. As well as complimentary disposable guest hairbrush, hair ties and toothbrush, Q-tips, Nail files and other hygiene tools for personal use, we were supplied with complimentary slippers and Pajamas.

But be warned the pajamas/yukata, supplied, are unlikely to feature in a fashion magazine any time soon, so they ARE for personal eyes only…. hence the reason I didn’t take a photograph of me wearing them! [Think time warp to retro hairdressers of 1950’s and you would not be too far off].

Having said that, the pajamas and the Washington hotel itself, was extremely comfortable and provided us with a good dose of our required beauty sleep, only surpassed by breakfast the following day. But more of that, another time.

Washington Hotel Shinjuku

Close to Shinjuku station, Meji shrine and Gyoen National Garden and Metropolitan Government Building

Chome-2-9 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan

Described on Google as a “straightforward hotel offering a refined steakhouse & a posh restaurant with city views.”

Fancy that: We had breakfast in a posh restaurant. Something to ponder about.

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Weekend Writing Prompt – Heartbeat

smoking
Can you smell that? I questioned my husband. More interested in the television screen, his reply was an inaudible mumble.

“Those kids are smoking,” I hissed. “The rules were the rules, after all.” I’d had misgivings about hosting a party for my daughter Kim and her teenage school friends, but she’d convinced me they’d stick to the rules – No smoking, and no bad behaviour.

I peeked outside to where the dozen or so adolescents were sitting and saw one of the boys drag heavily on a cigarette. With my heartbeat hammering in my eardrums, I stormed outside just as one of the lads hit Kim squarely, on her back.  “Right you, get out,” I snapped to the boy with the cigarette still hanging from his lips. Then, turning to the boy who had hit Kim, I blurted, “And you can get out, too! You never hit a girl.”

“It’s alright, Mrs B.” explained one of Kim’s young friends soothingly. “That’s my brother Daniel. It is his way of saying ‘Hello’, because he doesn’t speak. He’s got a disability.”

178 words

Linking to Sammi’s Prose ChallengeIn less than 175 words, write a story that uses the sound of a beating heart for dramatic effect.

My first prose challenge….. three words over is okay, isn’t it?

 

 

salmon pie
Community

What’s for Dinner? – Salmon [Fiesta Friday]

I think it must be a common family scenario, but I’m not sure?

Location: A suburban family kitchen. Time: 5pm, any day of the week. The pantry door swings open and shut several times; a low groan is emitted from a junior family member, quickly followed by a, “There’s nothing to eat,” kind of mantra.  As the cook of the house, my first reaction, to hearing this mantra, is to ignore it and keep working. I find that is best.

But as each family member wanders into the kitchen, clearly starving and desperate for a crumb of sustenance after a long day at work, my resolve wavers.  Collectively, their next move is to inspect the pantry, a second time, with the due diligence of police detectives at a crime scene, and it is then they hit me with the ‘kicker’, that eternal question, the one that makes me inwardly cringe………..

This is me inwardly cringing
This is me inwardly cringing

“What’s for dinner, Mum?”

And it is not only them. So attuned to hearing the ‘What’s for dinner?’ mantra, the canine members of my family become edgy at this hour too, and begin to pace up and down at the kitchen entrance, chiming in, in their own special way, to pressure me for food.

It is at this point, I have to steel myself and feign deafness, [clearly unsuccessfully], as I am always asked a second time, a little more urgently, “Hey, Mum. What’s for dinner?”

“Salmon,” I have to say, on this particular day, albeit through slightly gritted teeth, to which the response is anything from a contorted grimace, (coming from the fish-hating child), to unenthusiastic moans/yawns from the adolescent man-child/children.

canned_salmon_l1
Source:http://img.thrfun.com/img/089/862/canned_salmon_l1.jpg

Salmon!

It may be the ‘Steak and three veg’ of the hipster movement,  and it’s almost certainly still a popular dinner for both the weight-conscious and the seafood lovers of the world, but in my family, salmon is, ostensibly, boring and unappetizing, for dinner. [I can’t understand this, myself.] Now, thanks to a dear friend sharing her treasured family recipe with me, I can serve a seriously good Salmon Pie, that effectively nips the ‘What’s for Dinner’ groans, in the bud.

I hope you feel tempted to try it for yourself. It may just be something you ponder about for dinner.

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Salmon Pie

[Salmon is considered by some to one of the world’s healthiest foods, and contains Vitamin B12, D, Niacin, Omega -3 fatty acids, Phosphorus and Vitamin B6]

To make the Pie Crust:

1 and 1/2 cups of Plain All Purpose Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Paprika

1 cup Grated Cheese (I use tasty)

125 g Butter

Method:

Rub butter into flour, until it is well mixed. It should still be crumbly at this point, not mixed up together into a dough*

*[A food processor is the easiest way to do this, especially if the butter has not yet softened].

Press 3/4 of this mix into a greased pie dish with your fingers, to form the base and sides of the pie. Reserve the remaining 1/4 of the mix for the topping.

Pie Filling:

220 grams Salmon (flaked and boned)

I Onion, finely chopped

3 Eggs

375 g Sour Cream

1/2 cup Grated Cheese

2 drops Tabasco Sauce (optional)

Combine all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl and pour on top of the base.

Crumble the remaining 1/4 of  the pie crust mix over the pie filling.

Bake for 40 – 50 minutes at 180° Celsius or until slightly browned.

Allow to cool and serve warm with a Garden/Greek salad or cold.

 

 Linking to FiestaFriday.net

For more fantastic menu ideas visit:

hostessatheart

toozesty.wordpress.com