There is a town in Japan called Obama. And let me tell you, the people of that town take every advantage to play up their namesake President Obama. One of my students parents brought me back a souvenir from Obama.

Obama cookie

Kind of looks like Will Smith with those crazy ears if you ask me.


A Man from Down Under

Last night Jenny, Joyce, and I decided to go to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. Since coming to Japan I had only been to Outback once before last night. It’s not my favorite restaurant, and certainly not a place I would ever choose to go, but last night we were in Sakae and I had a mad hankering for a salad. Surprisingly enough, as health-conscious as Japan is, salads as meals are just not common, and in fact, are quite rare to find. So, we went to Outback and discovered that our waiter was not only a foreigner, but an Australian, ironically enough.

We were further surprised and delighted to find that he was nervous as all get out. We decided that he must have been new because we secretly saw him with a script of things to say in Japanese to the customers. We had a great time at dinner with our interactions with our server, especially when he did slightly strange things because of his nerves. For example, we had ordered an appetizer and had all decided to order the Steakhouse salad because it sounded extremely delicious. After bringing out our salads, he asked if we needed anything else and were ready to order our main. I waved him away. After he had left, we all had to laugh at the fact that he thought that the salads were just a warm-up for the main course. Or the time when I asked him for more water and he instead brought me a cup of hot water. I felt sorry for him, so I pretended that I had totally wanted a mug of hot water after my meal and actually drank the whole thing.  He did make up for it later by bringing us all new glasses of ice water.

But though his hands shook and he looked pretty sweaty throughout our meal, I think he actually made our dining experience really awesome and now we have a great memory of our time at Outback Steakhouse.

A Sunday Celebration

Yesterday Jen, Jenny, and I celebrated Jenny’s birthday! We decided to take the pampering route for Jenny and treated her (and ourselves) to hand and foot reflexology massages. Jenny had never before had any kind of a massage and I think it was the perfect introduction to that world for her. I must say that a reflexology massage is the way to go and I take the time now to recommend it. But let me backtrack and give you a better glimpse into our day.

Our day started at 11:30 in Ikeshita. We had never been to this reflexology place before, so we first made sure that we knew where it was. The place, Raffine, had been a recommendation from a friend, but our friend wasn’t sure how to find it from the subway, so we were a little worried that it would be hard to find. Expecting a bit of a wild goose chase, we were more than a little surprised to see Raffine immediately after we exited the subway.

Our next adventure was to find somewhere to eat lunch. None of us are that familiar with the Ikeshita area, so after walking around for a while and waiting at the world’s longest stoplight, we stumbled across this restaurant called Hiro, which actually, Jen’s boyfriend Hiro had recommended to her a while ago. We decided to try it out and found ourselves in a very cute, hometown family restaurant style place. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful and the lunch set was really delicious. We had soup, salad, bread or rice, the main meat, dessert, and coffee for about $10. It was a great deal and I’d love to go back there again sometime. After finishing our lunch over many funny stories from our childhoods, we made our way back to Raffine.

The staff at Raffine were also extremely kind and helpful. We had decided to get 20 minute hand and foot reflexology massages and it was so relaxing. It was also interesting how accurate the women were. They would tell us that one point on our foot was extremely tight, then ask if we had been having problems with the related part of our body. And it was surprisingly accurate. The whole atmosphere of the place was one of relaxation and care. After our pampering session had finished, they gave us a cup of tea of our choosing, explained what our problem areas were, and gave us each personalized recommendations for our next visit. Having a member’s card to that place is going to be extremely dangerous to my wallet, even though the price was more than reasonable. But I will say that today my forearms are a little tender. I don’t think that I’ve ever had my forearms massaged before, so it’s understandable.

Overall, I think that we gave Jenny an awesome birthday present and, in the process, got ourselves hooked on Raffine. But I must say that there are worse things to be addicted to.