Sundays are for Japanese Breakfast

When I first moved to Japan, I initially struggled with what to eat for breakfast. Having visited once before on vacation, I knew of the elaborate multi-plate breakfasts served at ryokan, but I had no clue what the average person fueled herself with every morning.

Wandering down the aisles of a Japanese grocery store for the first time, I realized my choices would be limited if I wanted to eat familiar foods first thing in the morning. Cereals and the like were few and far between, not to mention woefully expensive. At the time, the choice seemed obvious: toast! Most stores carried several varieties of super-soft, thickly sliced white bread along with a variety of jams, spreads, and flavored “creams.”

Yet it soon became apparent that this option was simply not satisfying – it was January in the Japanese alps, and I craved something warm, something to soothe the ache of being far from home. Oatmeal was, to the best of my knowledge, unattainable, so I bought the next best thing. Thus began the winter of barley and bananas. Let me spare you the details. It was bleak.

Continue reading…

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity

Summer in Japan is, to put it bluntly, brutal. This is particularly true where I live, in Saitama prefecture, just outside Tokyo. Thanks to Saitama’s geography – it’s essentially a giant, flat plain – the residual heat and smog of the city get trapped in its valleys and lowlands, with no promise of relief from the cooling ocean breezes that reach Chiba prefecture to the east.

This year, with everyone doing their best to conserve electricity after the accident at Fukushima, the need to stay cool is more pressing than ever.

Continue reading…