Monday, August 20, 2012

Deployment 2012, Round 2

The USS George Washington pulled out of port this morning to continue its 2012 patrol in the 7th Fleet Area of Operations.  I have lots to blog about from the past three weeks that J. was home, but it's not going to happen today.


I hope you all had wonderful weekends!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Roppongi

Ever since we arrived, we've heard talk of nights out in Roppongi.  Roppongi is one of the nightlife districts in Tokyo.  The trains stop running around midnight and don't start back up again until around 5:00 in the morning.  So, if you want to do a night out in Roppongi, you either have to go early and be on one of the last trains back to Atsugi or you take the last train to Roppongi (which gets you there around 1:00 a.m.) and then take the first train home in the morning.

Some of the guys in J.'s squadron did a night out in Roppongi before deployment but I've been scared to try it.  What if I get there and I want to go home at 3:00 a.m.?!  I knew I would try it once during our time here, I just didn't know when.  

We decided on a whim to go last Friday night.  We had dinner, took naps and met at the Ebina train station at 11:40 p.m. to get on the last train to Roppongi.  (I should also note that we did try to get a hotel room at the New Sanno but they were booked).  Once we were on the train, that was it!  There was no turning back.

Excited and scared

Mr. B. is pumped

We made it!

At Geronimo's Shot Bar

J. + Me

Bar #1

Bar #2

We successfully made it through a night in Roppongi!

Roppongi at sunrise!

We actually had a really good time!  We started a countdown on a our iPhones to help us stay motivated and I really didn't feel like I was ready to go home until around 4:00ish.  At that point, I knew I could make it one more hour!  We even tried to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market auction on our way home, but they had already let in the maximum amount of guests by the time we arrived.

My advice for a night out in Roppongi:

(1) Get a good nap in before you go.
(2) Take the last possible train there.
(3) Drink a lot of water!
(4) Do it on a night when you have nothing planned for the next day so you can go home and sleep!

I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Japanese Baseball - Game 2

During J.'s "summer break" we found ourselves on a train headed to Yokohama to cheer on the DeNA Baystars once again!  

It was a night game, so we stopped by Bashamichi Taproom on our way to the game.  And, once again, it did not disappoint!

I like Belgian beers so I opted to try their seasonal Belgian

We also feasted on BBQ Pizza, Brisket sandwiches, Pork sandwiches, macaroni and cheese and potato wedges.  I've been to the Taproom three times now and have never been disappointed!  If you have a large group, you might want to make a reservation.  The staff is English speaking so reservations are not hard to make!

And then we were off to the game!

Better seats this time

Fans

More fans

They had a bubble half-time show ... this was the best shot I could get with my iPhone

We bought "first come, first serve" tickets so we changed seats mid-way through the game

We think it was one of the last regular season games ... it was "Star Night."

Everyone received a blue glow stick on the way into the game ... after the game, everyone broke theirs and was waving them around (even though the DeNA Baystars lost).  Sometimes, the language barrier can be frustrating ... I would have liked to know what they were doing!

The crowd with their glow sticks

Take 2

I think the regular season is over now, we will have to find out if the DeNA Baystars made it to the play-offs!  If not, I guess we are done with baseball until the spring!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shadowhawk Kokeshi Dolls

The Atsugi Officers' Spouses Association runs a really cute Japanese shop here on base, called Ichiban Collectibles.  They sell all kinds of things - from small trinkets to pieces of furniture that they find at shrine sales.  My favorite purchase from Ichiban (so far) has been my flight suit Kokeshi Doll!  We don't have a lot of Navy or Aviation flair in our house, so I picked one up to put on our bookshelf.

How cute is this little guy?!

I love the detail, especially the wings and the American flag patch

Kokeshi Dolls are traditional, hand carved, wooden Japanese dolls.  The traditional dolls are handmade and the decorations on the doll are symbolic of the region they are from.  In recent history, more "creative" Kokeshi Dolls have emerged.  The creative dolls aren't specific to any certain region and there is more freedom in the designs and decorations that are placed on them.  I've seen several antique traditional dolls for sale at bazaars, but the ones we've purchased so far are creative Kokeshi.  Along with my flight suit Kokeshi, I also bought a set of three Santa Claus Kokeshi for Christmas!

A Japanese man makes the flight suit dolls specially for Ichiban and also makes custom squadron dolls.  Our squadron worked with him to have dolls made and I LOVE the way they turned out.  

Shadowhawk Kokeshi Doll

Back (you can kind of see the artist's stamp on the left side of the doll)

I think the doll is so cute - and what a great souvenir to keep as a reminder of our time here at NAF Atsugi!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Japanese Baseball - Game 1

Or J. Ball as we like to call it. 

J. Ball is modeled after American Baseball - there are only a few small differences:

(1)  Tie games are allowed in Japan. 
(2)  There is a limit on the number of extra innings that can be played.
(3)  There are also small differences between the size of the baseballs used and the size of the baseball diamonds.  

There is also a major difference in the fans!  The Japanese are very serious baseball fans.  And polite.  Much more polite than American baseball fans.  They only cheer when their team is up to bat, they have cheers and chants that they use and the entire stadium joins, and they do not boo or taunt the opposing team when they are up to bat.

We went to our first game before J. left on deployment.  Our "home team" is the Yokohama DeNA Baystars.  We decided on the Baystars because Yokohama is the closest major city to us.  So, Baystar fans it was!

Yokohama Stadium

We had a small language barrier issue ... we bought standing room only seats thinking that those were the only tickets available.  Not actually the case.  They sell different types of tickets at each ticket window, so we made a note of that for our next J-Ball adventure!

I love this pitching sequence:

 #1

#2

#3

Fans

Chu-Hi Girl!

All of the beer and Chu-Hi girls wore these neon outfits ... makes them very easy to find!  They also had several girls assigned to each section so they came around fairly often.

Most of the fan had these bats that they hit together during the chants

Mr. B. + Asahi Girl

Mr. B. + J. + Asahi/Chu-Hi Girl


Me + J.

Me + the snacks Mr. B. brought back for me ... slivered almonds and dried fish.  YUM!

The chant leader ... he led the fans in all of their chants/cheers

video

I had to take a video of the chants/cheers that the fans do while their team is up to bat.  I just can't get over how coordinated they are - it's impressive!

After the ball game, we went to Bashamichi Taproom - a local brewery and American BBQ joint.  It was delicious and I highly recommend it to anyone in Yokohama who needs some American comfort food!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Mt. Fuji

Happy Monday Friends!

If you are reading this and it's Monday, August 13th then I am doing this:


Up the side of this:


And I am probably saying this:

"WTF was I thinking?!"

or

"Are we there yet?!"

or 

"my legs hurt."

If I make it home, I will let you know how it goes :)


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hong Kong - Day 5

Our last day in Hong Kong was bittersweet.  I was ready to get back home, but not ready to leave the city or J.!  We ventured out to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch and then Mrs. S. and I headed back to the Jade Market while the boys headed back to the hotel to get some pool time.  We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and then met up with the A.'s for dinner.

We rode the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor and then tried to go see the Central to Mid Level Escalators.  However, our cab driver could not understand us so we went straight to the restaurant.  We originally had reservations at The Steakhouse winebar + grill in the Intercontinental, but after friends went and had a $600.00 bill, we found a new restaurant :)  Craftsteak came recommended to us by Mr. and Mrs. D.


We enjoyed ourselves, however before we had even ordered, a giant cockroach came crawling down the wall.  I was *SO* creeped out for the rest of the meal.  We have giant cockroaches all over Japan and Hong Kong is very densely populated so I know it probably wasn't a cleanliness issue, but I was still grossed out.  The chef did send two desserts to our table at the end of the meal so that was a nice gesture.

Our bottle of wine

My filet with herb butter

We stopped by an Irish Pub so the boys could have one last beer (they can't drink when they are on the carrier, so they needed one last beer to tide them over) and then we sent them back to the boat.

We had one last night at the Harbour Grand Kowloon and left early the next morning for the airport.  

Mrs. S. and I were obsessed with these McDonald's employees Hello Kitty t-shirts:




Where can I buy one?!

We flew from Hong Kong back to Taipei, Taiwan, where we were delayed several hours.  The airport did not have the best selection of food (and our airplane meals were less than ideal) so I purchased Godiva Chocolates at the duty free store in the airport.  

This is what $7.00 will get you from the duty free:


Yikes.  Well worth it though when you're hungry!

We made it back to Narita and back to base, where Miss Lucy was waiting very patiently for me to get home.

We had a wonderful time in Hong Kong and I highly recommend putting it on your bucket list.  I did spend more money than I had originally planned, but I wouldn't say that Hong Kong was an expensive city.  I thought it seemed pretty reasonable, especially if you planned ahead and took advantage of the cheap modes of transportation and the happy hours offered at almost every bar.

I did very little research in advance of our trip.  I knew the main things that I wanted to see while I was there and used Frommer's Hong Kong the whole week.  I was very happy with the book and would highly recommend it.  I liked it so much that I've already ordered the Frommer's Guide for our next port call!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hong Kong - Day 4

On our fourth day in Hong Kong, I got up and had lunch with Mr. and Mrs. S. while waiting for J. to come back from duty.  After lunch, we headed to the Jade Market in Mongkok.  

There were rows and rows of vendors selling all kinds of jewelry and trinkets:




We made a few purchases and then headed north towards the Ladies Market:


The Ladies Market was booth after booth of stuff (junk).  I purchased two iPhone covers and that was the extent of my shopping at the Ladies Market.

We passed Mongkok Stadium:


And then strolled through the Flower Market before heading back to our hotel:



I loved this whole store full of cacti!

We had dinner reservations at NOBU that evening and made plans with the A.'s to go early and see the Light and Laser Show over Victoria Harbor.

J. is the photographer in our family .... I assume that this picture was taken on a different mode than the pictures below


I really like this one with the boat

My favorite building is that one with the white diamonds on it


And this picture is blurry but I like it :)

The S.'s

A junk sailing through the harbor

Avenue of the Stars

NOBU made J. and Mr. S. wear socks with their flip flops ... apparently flip flops are not appropriate dining wear, but it is okay to wear gym shorts and Nike's or Chuck's.

:)

I really wanted to try NOBU, but I can't say it was the best meal I have ever had.  We had the rock shrimp which tasted a lot like the rock shrimp at Sunda in Chicago and we also had a few sushi rolls.  They were good and I was *SO* happy to have an actual sushi roll, since you rarely see that in Japan.  I hate to say it, but I miss American sushi!  And I feel 100% okay saying that, because my favorite foodie friend (who is also an amazing chef) says the exact same thing!