Posted in Choco-chan, Family, Feelings, Food, International Culture, Japanese Food, Surprise

The Last Day of Long Weekend

First, I taught UNO to my niece based on rules that I remember.

However, I worried what if I taught her wrongly and she gets confused when she plays the game with friends.

I checked the official rules practices by Japan UNO Association and I changed rules; yes, to my surprise there is Japan UNO Association!

She is only 5 years old and can play with adults by remembering many rules such as same Colour, same Number, Skip, Reverse, +2, +4 and WILD Card and according to the packaging, the game is designed for 7 years old and above!

I am proud of her!

We were so full from lunch the previous day so we skipped dinner and souvenir – Panda Baum (Matcha Baumkuchen or layered cake) .

After playing few games of UNO and having a light breakfast, we opened the box….there is a cute Panda!

The cake is in Panda shape!

We decorated our Panda Baum with Macarons.

It’s cute and delicious!

We all got excited, regardless our age!

It’s fourth day and last day today.

While she was packing, she asked me what date would it be her next visit?

She is asking for DATE!

I told her we should plan again on her school holiday.

I’m glad to know that she enjoyed her stay at my condo and she is looking forward to visiting me again.

On the other hand, Choco looks happier to get attentions and his quietness after guests leaving.

Yes, we finished our roles as host and we shall get some rest.

Posted in Family, Feelings, Food, Hotel, Japanese Culture, Restaurants, Tokyo

New Normal: New Style Buffet Lunch at Cascade, ANA Intercontinental Tokyo

I had JPY 20,000 (USD 200) worth of vouchers from ANA.

I’ve decided to take my niece for lunch buffet at Cascade, ANA Intercontinental Tokyo.

It’s new style (New Normal) because some dishes are ordered base and cart delivery base to control Mitsu (crowd).

We all enjoyed food and desserts

We all also received Panda Baum (cake) for a souvenir.

My niece enjoyed it very much.

I think I used my voucher wisely.

Posted in Books & Magazines, Cooking, Family, Feelings, Food, Health, Japanese Culture, Tokyo, Travel

Supposed to be Tokyo Olympics’ Opening Ceremony Day

It’s Japanese National Holiday, Health and Sports Day, today which I believe it was created for Tokyo Olympics.

It supposed to be Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony Day today.

It was National Holiday, Ocean Day, yesterday making this weekend long (4 days) .

I thought the town would be crowded with visitors and I would be glued on TV.

Japanese government launched Go to Travel Programme on 22 July 2020 to stimulate tourist industry by excluding Tokyo residences.

The government subsidies traveling cost for transportation, accommodation and coupons to use in the visited area.

However, the policy is changing even after launching.

On the other hand, the number of new case is shooting, recording 366 in Tokyo yesterday.

And the number increased not only in Tokyo but also other areas such as Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and many more.

All governors are worried after this long weekend coz many people are traveling with Go To Travel Programme

I’m enjoying long weekend with my niece and we don’t mind to stay in because we haven’t seen since New Year due to the COVID and we have so many things to do!

We’ve been playing games by creating and changing game rules.

I want her to eat healthy so I try to cook as many as I can and she volunteered to help me making dumpling!

We are having so much fun staying in!

I’m not qualified for Go To Travel Programme and it’s better to avoid crowd.

We decided to stay in but we are having so much fun!

I’ve never thought we would spend Olympics Opening Ceremony Day like this.

I like how I’m spending today though it’s different from what I imagine last year – being with family.

Stay Safe!

Posted in Family, Feelings, Food, Friends, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Restaurants, Tokyo

Totally Eel Day

21 July 2020 was this year’s Doyo no Ushi.

Doyo no Ushi is a date for Chinese calendar; therefore, the date for western calendar changes every year.

On Doyo no Ushi, we have a custom to eat Unagi (Eel).

We believe eel is energy food and we encourage to eat eel during summer when we lose energy.

I had my belated Doyo no Ushi (Eel’s day) on 22 July 2020 at Chikuyotei, Ginza for lunch.

It was nice and surely I gained some energy.

When I returned home, Mom reported she bought Eel Obento (take away) for dinner at our family restaurant, Shojikiya, Roppongi.

It reminded me of my grandpa.

We talked about him and memories with him while having our dinner.

I like eel so I don’t mind to have it for two continuous meals.

Each restaurant has different taste (character) on food even though it’s the same dish.

I think I managed to gain energy which I need it for now.

Posted in Cooking, Family, Feelings, Food, Friends, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Place, Shop, Shopping

Furusato Nozei (Home Town Tax Payment Programme)

In 2014, Japanese government introduced new tax incentive system to support local areas: Furusato Nozei (Home Town Tax Payment Programme).

We can purchase local products and services (hotel stay, experience such as diving, etc) to support the area.

We pay for products and services and the government provides incentives for income tax deduction.

There are few Furusato Nozei service providers such as Satofuru, Furunabi, Department Stores, etc.

This time, I purchase Nama Katsuo no Tataki (lightly roasted bonito) from Katsuura-city, Chiba via Satofuru,

My mother side are originally from Katauura; therefore, YES, I would like to support the city and this has sentimental value for me.

I will purchase more products and services from the areas that I would like to support.

This was my first purchase and I’m glad that I was strongly recommended to use this system to enjoy products and services AND tax deduction.

Posted in Daily Life, Experience, Family, Feelings, Food, Health, Hotel, Japanese Culture, Restaurants

New Normal: A Table for Three

I took out my parents for dinner at Satsuki, the Hotel New Otani Makuhari.

It’s Father’s Day today, but we missed Mother’s Day due to Stay Home Request so we celebrated both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day today.

We had a nice Italian dinner.

The dinner was nice but when we were ushered to our table (for three), we were all surprised to find the arrangement.

We knew restaurants are recommended to seat customers next each other, not facing each other.

The restaurant was not crowded at all; there are only two couples occupying two corner tables at that time.

Nonetheless, the restaurant arranged our table (for three) to sit next each other.

We were surprised; simultaneously, accepted and make a humor out of the situation.

We are family so we don’t hesitate to talk; we chatted and enjoyed our dinner even we were seated at funny table seating arrangement.

This is one of New Normals that we need to accept from now on.

It became a memorable dinner that we won’t forget.

Posted in Experience, Family, Feelings, Health, Japanese Culture

Masks Have Arrived

I received this talk of town masks.

This is one of Prime Minister Abe’s counter measures against COVID-19: to deliver 2 masks per household.

Why 2 masks?

The average size of Japanese household is 2.47 persons.

Yes, our birth rate is low as 1.42 in 2018 (the latest statistics available).

I understand the budget is limited so it’s difficult to provide more; nonetheless, these masks are recyclable/washable.

The size of these masks are suited for women or children so it’s fine for me; however, I’m afraid these could be too small for men.

I still cannot find masks easily in the market so I’m thankful for these masks that I can get for free (well, technically paid by tax).

Posted in Choco-chan, Family, Feelings, Flower, Food, Hotel, Japanese Food, Nature, Place, Shop, Shopping, Tokyo, Travel

Short Trip to Hokuto, Yamanashi

I don’t have any social life for past three weeks.

The weather is getting better in Tokyo, reaching over 20C.

Sakura starts blooming.

I decided to plan a short trip with Choco for refreshment.

Well, Mom followed us.

I thought it would be nice to take Choco for a walk in fresh air in woods.

I still need to avoid contacting people so I decided staying at cottage, Pension Gin No Michi, Hokuto-City, Yamanashi.

The Pension serves dinner and breakfast at cottage so we can avoid people and be with Choco.

Choco doesn’t like to be left alone.

It’s 160 km away from Tokyo and it should take 2.5 hours to reach there.

However, traffic was so heavy….. to go out Tokyo, it took more than 2 hours.

I took a break at highway Hatsukari service area.

I bought Shingen-Mochi and Premium Shingen-mochi Ice Cream and Matcha (Green Tea) Shingen-mochi Ice Cream.

Shingen-Mochi is Kofu (Yamanashi) local confectionery combination of glutinous rice flour mochi, soybean powder and brown sugar syrup.

There are many more products developed by this original Shingen-mochi.

After taking a break, I continued my journey and it took me 4.5 hrs to reach the pension.

We finally reached the Pension.

There are flooring living room connected to a small tatami room (tatami mat room).

Living room is equipped with kitchen.

Then wash room

Bath room

And toilet.

As mentioned, I wanted to take Choco for a walk in woods; however, it was too cold.

In Tokyo, it’s over 20C, so I only brought leather jacket.

It’s only 4C here…

I decided to stay in.

Choco had so many to experience and learn.

I enjoyed home cooked dinner at the room.

The next morning, it was a nice sunny day.

Hopefully, Choco enjoyed fresh air.

I enjoyed home cooked breakfast.

They also baked these breads.

It was a brief stay but very refreshing.

We headed back home.

On the way back, I stopped by at service area for one last glance of Minami (South) Alps and shopping.

The local flower farmer is selling flower bouquet for JPY 1,200 (USD 12) – very reasonable!

Currently, Japanese government encourages people to buy flower because flower business is affected by corona virus.

March supposed to be high demand period for flower for graduation ceremony; however, now almost all schools cancel the graduation ceremony.

I love flowers so I bought one.

I also looked for souvenirs.

There are many Shingen-mochi products.

I bought Shingen-mochi Pudding, Monaka (Wafer and Shingen-mochi (glutinous rice powdered mochi)) and Kit Kat.

I love the original and these are all nice, especially pudding.

It took only 2.5 hours to reach home, meaning there are so many cars on the road yesterday.

I think many of us got board. ahaha

It was very relaxing trip for me.

Posted in Choco-chan, Family, Feelings, Food, Friends, Japanese Culture, Japanese Food, Shopping

Hinamatsuri (Dolls Festival)

It’s 3rd March.

The day for girls.

Once a girl, always a girl.

My house is decorated with Hina Ningyo (Emperor and Emperess/ King and Queen).

These are collection of Mom and I.

Actually, there are more.

Perhaps, next year, we decorate all.

I bought Hinakamaboko (Dolls Surimi/Fish Cake) manufactured by Kagosei because I thought it is cute.

I’ve been hearing bad news but at least it is a nice springy day today on my birthday.

I cannot ask my friends to go out to celebrate my birthday due to COVID-19; but Yes, I’m having my red wine and cakes and Choco is celebrating with me. Yeah!

Posted in Family, Feelings, Food, Shop, Shopping

Starbucks Rewards Voucher

Dad gave me Starbucks Rewards Voucher worth JPY 700 (USD 7).

I went to Starbucks to buy seasonal Valentine coffee beans, Guatemala Casi Cielo – Bright with a Smooth Cocoa Finish.

According to a staff, it is light comparing to Starbucks Pike Place with a slight chocolate flavor.

I cannot wait to try it!

I will serve it to you too, Dad.