Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Under the Paris sky

My Japanese dance teacher introduced me to an awesome French restaurant in Hachinohe called Sous le ciel de Paris (巴里の空の下で Pari no sora no shita de). Her nephew works as a chef (de partie?) there which is how she knew about it.

She took me, another dance student, and the mother of one of her elementary school-aged students to the restaurant last Thursday. Her niece, who lives in Hachinohe, met us there, making it a party of five. It's in a rather out of the way location so I suspect it's the type of place people only find out about by word of mouth or by reading local restaurant guides/reviews, etc.

It's got a sort of refined atmosphere--the type that makes you automatically lower your voice but isn't so intimidating that it makes you petrified of accidentally clanging your knife against your plate or something.
Since my teacher had made the reservations and chosen the course in advance, I'm not 100% sure, but I think we had the "Diner A".This included an amuse bouche, entrée du jour, potage de jour, plat principal le choix, dessert le choix and café ou thé (and of course "le pain"). I was probably the only one reading the French instead of the Japanese.  =P It made me feel kind of nostalgic, actually. (Strangely enough, one of the things that I occasionally miss is being able to read food labels written in both English and French.) 

amuse bouche (食前の一皿)

entrée du jour - hors d'oeuvre varie(前菜の盛り合わせ)

 potage du jour (本日のスープ)

I chose the magret de canard rôti au foie gras (roast duck Magret with foie gras) for le plat principal and the dessert varié (assorted dessert plate). I felt a little bit guilty about the foie gras, but it was really tasty!! ^o^;;
plat principal -  magret de canard rôti au foie gras (フランス鴨胸肉ローストフォアグラ添え)

dessert varié (盛り合わせデザート)
 apparently, pepper ice cream?! (こしょうアイスだそうです?!)

Everything was delicious, in fact! And the presentation was attractive as well. Even though the portion size for each individual dish was relatively small, I was quite full by the end of the meal.

It's a really nice restaurant and I would definitely like to go back. Compared to "normal" restaurants it's a little on the pricey side, but for French cuisine I think it's quite reasonable. I would especially recommend the restaurant for special celebrations--birthdays, anniversaries, etc. ^_~

Sous le ciel de Paris
Open: Mon-Sat.
Closed: Sun. & 3rd Mon. of the month
Lunch Hours: 11:30-15:00 (Last order 14:00)
Dinner Hours: 18:00-22:00 (Last order 20:30)
Address: 1-14 Babacho, Hachinohe, Aomori 031-0074
(〒031-0074 青森県八戸市馬場町1-14 )
Telephone: 0178-71-3818
Parking: 2 spaces in front of the restaurant; 2 spaces in the parking lot by road entrance (spaces No. 25 & No. 26)
〒0371-1-0074 青森県八戸市馬場町1-14

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Buying a car in Japan

The following is based on my personal experiences with purchasing cars in Japan. In two years I've had to go through the process twice: once when I first arrived and again about a year and a half later after my first car accident. I was also a presenter for the "Driving in Japan" seminar at the 2009 JET Tokyo Orientation.

To Buy or Not To Buy?

For incoming JETs, I highly recommend that you speak to your predecessor and find out whether or not you'll need a car. For JETs coming to Aomori Prefecture, unless you're living in a large city with a reasonably decent transit system like Aomori City or Hirosaki, I highly recommend getting a car for the sake of an improved quality of life.

A lot of great/interesting places are not easily/cheaply accessible by public transit (like Lake Towada, for example), so you really need a car to be able to enjoy all the Prefecture has to offer. (Although I guess if you don't mind being an eternal mooch you can do without...)

It also does snow in Aomori, and depending on where you are, it can snow a LOT, so you don't really want to be walking everywhere during the winter.

Types of Cars

The most important thing you need to know before purchasing a car in Japan is that there are two main types: regular cars (futsusha 普通車) and light cars (keijidosha 軽自動車), commonly referred to as "K-cars." Below is a chart breaking down some of the key differences, and pros & cons between regular cars and K's.

License PlateWhiteYellow
Engine Size1000cc+Max. 660cc
HorsepowerVariableMax. 63hp
SizeVariableMax. 3.4m x 2m x 1.48m (LxWxH)
Annual Automobile Tax*30,000-60,000yen7,200-12,900yen
Bi-Annual Inspection**80,000+ yen60,000-100,000yen
Monthly "Optional" Insurance***6,000-12,500+ yen4,000-10,000+ yen
Monthly Fuel Costs****~8000yen~6000yen
  • more fuel efficient for long distance, high-speed driving (over 60km/h--highway driving)
  • accelerates well/quickly
  • more powerful engine so generally better for mountain/off-road driving
  • generally fairly sturdy & withstand damage well in accidents
  • more fuel efficient for short distance, slower speed driving (under 60km/h--city driving)
  • responsive brakes (because they're lighter cars, they come to a stop faster than regular cars)
  • cheaper tax, insurance and fuel costs (even toll road fees are cheaper!)
  • higher re-sale value
  • less fuel efficient for short distance, slower speed driving (under 60km/h--city driving)
  • higher tax, insurance and fuel costs (even toll road fees are higher!)
  • lower re-sale value
  • less fuel efficient for long distance, high-speed driving (over 60km/h--highway driving)
  • accelerates slowly and struggles up mountains, etc.(due to smaller engine size)
  • easily damaged in accidents (due to lighter build)

* The cost of the Annual Automobile Tax (jidosha zei 自動車税) is determined by car size/weight for regular cars and by age/purchase date for k-cars

** Bi-Annual Inspection (jidosha kensa 自動車検査) is more commonly known as shaken (車検) for short

*** Only "optional" in the purest of technical terms; mandatory insurance won't pay very much if you ever get into an accident, so you really do need to get "optional" insurance (nini hoken 任意保険)

**** These are my actual approx. past fuel costs; I do mainly city driving (40-60km/h) and I mostly use my car for getting to and from work, running errands, etc.--I rarely do road trips or even drive outside of my own city

  • What type of driving do I mostly plan on doing? City driving? Road trips? Off-road adventuring?
  • How long am I planning on staying in Japan/using the car? (If you're only staying for a year or two, the difference in tax/insurance, etc. costs for a regular car won't matter as much, but for over two years, it can really add up!)
  • How much do I think I can I re-sell it for if/when I leave?

  • Does it have shaken? When does the shaken expire? (Since shaken is a bi-annual inspection fee, the closer to two full years, the better!)
  • How old is the car and how many kilometres does it have on it? (Seems obvious, but I sometimes forgot to check when I was shopping around for my first car)
  • Does it have 4WD? (Highly recommended for Aomori Prefecture, which has a lot of snow and mountains)
  • Does it have ABS? (You'll probably get a bit of a discount on your insurance if it does)
  • Does it come with winter tires? (Again, this is specific to Aomori and other Prefectures with snowy winters--winter windshield wipers are also a nice bonus!)
  • Has the car had regular maintenance? Oil changes? Transmission fluid changes, etc.?
  • Has the car been in any accidents?
  • Does the price include the transfer of ownership fees? (more applicable for person-to-person sales since dealerships usually include it in the sticker price)
  • How's the fuel consumption? 
  • How much can I re-sell it for? (If you're looking at a higher cost car from a dealership, they may give you a figure for how much they'd buy it back for after 1 year, 2 years, etc.)
  • Is there any parts and/or maintenance coverage included in the cost? (Again, only if you're buying from a dealership)

  • If price is your biggest concern, I also recommend buying a car from an ALT. Find out if there's a Facebook Group/mailing list or something for your prefecture and join it now! Some ALTs have already started putting up their cars for sale and many more will do so as July rolls around and their departure date draws nearer.
  • If you're thinking about sticking around for 3+ years, you might want to consider paying a little more in the beginning and getting a slightly nicer used car from a dealership. The nice thing about buying from a dealership is that if you have any problems with the car (or get into an accident) you can always take it back to the dealership to get looked at. With a personal sale you'd have to find a mechanic on your own.
  • I personally wouldn't spend more than 200,000yen ($2000) on a car from an ALT--and I would only pay that much if it was a kei car in good condition with shaken; I'd probably look to spend around 100,000yen (~$1000) if it was a white plate (regular) car
  • it *is* possibly to get a car for 200,000yen ($2000) or less from a dealership, but your choices will be very limited and it's mostly a matter of luck/timing
  • if you decide to go the dealership route, it's nice if the dealership has a repair shop on premises; car fairs are also a great place to get good deals--you may even get a case of instant ramen or something thrown in as a thank you gift! =P
  • remember to consider initial insurance costs when budgeting how much you're going to spend on the car itself--not much point in getting a car if you have to wait until you have enough money to pay for the insurance (you may need to pay the costs for 2 months' insurance at the beginning) 
  • it can be a nice bonus if the car has a CD player, ETC card reader, or even a GPS unit already installed (if I'd known at the beginning that I'd end up staying 4 years I would've definitely bought a GPS unit/system--I've got a terrible sense of direction, and Japan roads usually don't have signs/names!)
  • you can bargain at car fairs, with dealerships, etc. (I'm a terrible bargainer but when I was buying my first car, after I asked about the price I simply told them that I liked the car but unfortunately it wasn't within my budget and they dropped the price of the car down to match my budget amount!) 
And this isn't directly related to buying a car, but I highly highly HIGHLY recommend getting a Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) membership if you're going to be driving in Japan. It's the Japanese equivalent to AAA or CAA. It's really not that expensive--2000yen (~$20)joining fee plus a 4000yen (~$40) annual membership fee--for the peace of mind you get. And speaking from personal experience, if you ever are in an accident and need a tow, you'll be extremely grateful that you joined! (You can also get discounts at some museums, restaurants, etc. with your JAF card.)

Hope this information is at least somewhat helpful! If you have any questions/comments, as always, feel free to leave a comment on the post! ^_^ Happy driving!

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Towada Music Festival & Street Festa

    Another random event discovered during one of my regular visits to the Yururira Towada website:

    Outdoor Slow Life Towada North Village Presents
    Towada Music Festival (Jun 26-27)
    (PDF Pamphlet)
    Location: 宇樽部キャンプ場 (Utarube Camp Ground--by Lake Towada)
    Opens: 26 Jun (Sat) 12:00
    Starts: 26 Jun (Sat) 14:00
    Ends: 27 Jun (Sun) 15:00
    Tickets: 4000yen
    Live Performers: カジヒデキ・→Pia-no-jaC←・いぶき・kuh・KIKURI・Free Sound Orchestra, etc.
    DJ's: HALFBY・Twee Girrrls Club・BLUE BOYS CLUB, etc.

    And this is an event I just happened to see a flyer for on a teacher's desk at the school I was visiting today:

    Towada Street Festa 2010 (Jun 27)
    (PDF Pamphlet)
    Location: 十和田市稲生町 八丁目街区 国道102号(旧国道4号)Inaoicho Hacchome Gaiku National Highway 102 (Old Rte 4)
    Time: 11:00-16:00
    Selected Events: 50m Norimaki Making 11:00~; Yosakoi (Kitazato University Group) 12:00~; (Children's) Jump Rope Contest 13:30~; Street Dance 14:30~

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Random thoughts for incoming ALTs & future JET applicants

    After spending almost three years working as an ALT on the JET Programme, I admit I've gotten kind of crotchety. Keeping that in mind, here are some things I'd like to pass onto people who are coming to Japan this summer as ALTs and/or are thinking about applying for the JET Programme.

    • please remember that the JET program hires people to **teach English**--NOT to study Japanese, learn about Japanese culture or to travel around Japan/Asia (the ability to do so is a nice side benefit, but that shouldn't interfere with/take the place of doing your job)
    • use English as much as possible on the job (this is one I still really need to work on); it's easier to be friendly with students if you're constantly speaking in Japanese outside of class but it's invaluable for students to get exposure to real English so try to talk with them in English even outside of class; and if teachers/co-workers speak with you in English, I think it's only courteous to respond in kind: it seems kind of insulting to insist on speaking Japanese when people are making efforts to communicate in English--like you're saying "I don't understand your English, so let's just speed things up and speak in Japanese (although I *do* switch to Japanese when I feel like it better conveys the nuances of what I want to say...)
    • there are many things you can't control in the JET Programme--where you live, where you work, who you work with, etc.--but you CAN control your own attitude/response to situations; thinking positive really does make a difference
    • students are, for the most part, very well attuned to teachers' moods/attitudes; if they realize that you genuinely enjoy being with them and are happy to see them, they will generally respond in kind 
    • if possible, please consider staying for at least two years; since it takes pretty much a full year to get used to the job, the first year you're probably taking more than you're giving back; the second year is when you really start to actually make valuable contributions to your school(s) 
    Money Matters:
    • be aware that ALTs (particularly in rural, cash-strapped areas) are quite highly paid relative to other Japanese city/government employees (e.g. I probably earn about as much as someone in their fifth year working for the city) and make it a goal to do more every year to earn the salary you are being paid; even after almost three years on JET; I still feel like I'm not earning 100% of my salary (maybe only 90%?)
    • our salaries are paid (once) monthly; try to avoid being stuck in the situation where you have to live off of rice and soy sauce while waiting for your next pay cheque; if possible, it's also a good idea to build up a reserve fund that you can draw on when unexpected situations occur (like car accidents)
    • a lot of people get up in arms about their vacation days and get mad when they are requested to only take holidays during certain periods (like when school is not in session); personally I don't understand why people think that being JET ALTs in Japan gives them "rights" they wouldn't even have in North America (or wherever your home country is); I mean, chances are if you were working for an office/company you'd have to make a request--which might or might not be granted--to take time off and obviously employers would prefer you to avoid taking long vacations during busy times at work
    • in my experience, the earlier you make requests for vacation days, the more likely you are to have them granted; I recommend asking as soon as you even think you might want to take the day off--before making travel/accommodation arrangements, etc.
    • it doesn't hurt to request Tokyo or other large cities, but if you seriously expect to get placed there, you're probably going to be disappointed; large cities can have their pick of native English speaker teachers, so they don't need to get random assignments from the JET Programme
    • most of the JET Programme placements *are* rural (I think pretty much all of Aomori Prefecture is considered rural by definition), but there are also varying degrees of "rural"--consider yourself lucky if you have a Jusco =P 
    • there are various inconveniences that come with being in a rural placement, but on the bright side I think you get a more "real" experience of Japan living in a rural community than if you lived in a big city; you can always get the "big city experience" as a tourist, but you can't truly experience rural Japan unless you live in it and become part of the community
    • don't post anything online that you'd be embarrassed to have your co-workers--or students, for that matter--read; you might not think that they'd be interested or that the English is a deterrent, but you'd be surprised...
    • it's really helpful to have friends who will sympathize and listen to you complain about issues you have regarding work, Japanese culture, etc. and it's important to express your frustrations so they don't build up and explode, but you'll probably be happier in the long run if you try to keep a positive outlook on things in general
    • no criticism intended for those who can make it work for them, but personally I've never understood the whole "you speak in English and I'll speak in Japanese" mindset for language learning/exchange; I think language learning is most effective when both people are communicating in the same language, so if people want to practice their English, I respect that and communicate with them in English (using Japanese only to facilitate understanding); if I want to practice my Japanese I find/make friends who don't care to/aren't trying to learn English (although I admit that I don't always reply to text messages in English because I've found that typing in Japanese makes for shorter and faster messages--since I don't have a data plan for my cell, the "shorter" is important as I get charged based on the amount of data I send/receive =P)

    Tamagoyaki chronicles end

    Days until the Chuutairen: 0
    Tamagoyaki made: 10
    Eggs consumed: 20

    Friday was an insane day of bento preparation. It even started in the morning during a spare period at school when I sketched out my bento plan:

    After working hours were finished, I spent about an hour shopping for the ingredients I didn't want to purchase too far in advance (I had already purchased things like carrots, eggs, red wieners, etc. on Saturday). I got back home around 5:30pm and was doing food preparation until 9:30pm. @_@

    It wasn't all bento prep, though. I had some potatoes leftover that I decided to use to make potato salad even though I wasn't planning on putting any in my bento. I also spent about 30min. washing dishes and making/eating my dinner. Dinner was a simple egg salad sandwich, but I had to cut it up to see how much I could fit into the bottom tier/tray of my bento box. (Turns out it can hold exactly 1 sandwich with the crusts cut off and divided into sixths.)

    Specifically for bento prep I...
    - made egg salad & prepared the tuna (i.e. mixed it with mayo) for sandwiches;
    - cut/washed & cooked broccoli;
    - cut red wieners into octopus shapes
    - washed & dried blueberries
    - washed, dried and cut off green part of strawberries
    - made tamagoyaki

    The tamagoyaki I made wasn't the best looking, but it was passable:

    My fridge is usually almost completely empty, but thanks to all the bento prep/food it was almost completely full Friday night:

    Saturday morning I got up at 4:15am, showered/dressed, made/assembled/photographed the bento, ate breakfast and was out the door by 6:15am.

    Even though all I had to do was cook the wieners; re-heat (and let cool) the tamagoyaki & broccoli; assemble/cut the sandwiches; cut the apple & kiwi it still took me the better part of an hour (about 45min?) to get it all done. @_@;; Of course the fact that I was photographing the process at every stage didn't speed things up either. =P

    Here's a shot of all the food before I put it in the bento box:

    The "main dish": ham/lettuce/tomato, egg salad and tuna sandwiches

    The "side dishes": octopus-shaped red wieners, tamagoyaki, microwave steamed broccoli

    The "dessert": bunny apple, kiwi, blueberries and strawberries (Apparently have such a variety of fruit--or perhaps it's the fruits I chose in particular--is considered fairly "extravagant/luxurious.")

    And here's the fully assembled bento:

    Observant may readers may have noticed that not all of the food I had prepared fit into the box. In fact, I had an entire sandwich--2/3 of a ham/lettuce/tomato sandwich, plus 1/3 each of egg salad and tuna sandwiches--and most of the kiwi and apple leftover. The excess ended up being a convenient breakfast. =P

    Saturday night I made タコライス ("taco rice") for dinner. The recipe I used was meant to serve two, but it actually ended up yielding enough for me to have it for two dinners (Saturday and Sunday night), lunch, and breakfast (Sunday morning--the stuff that didn't fit into the bento tier/tray). "Taco rice" seemed like a weird idea to me at first, but it was actually pretty tasty. Plus it was super simple to make--looks like I've got another dish for my "regular" repertoire! =P

    Anyway, since I'd done pretty much all the prep work on Friday night, all I had to do was pack & refrigerate the taco rice ingredients, cut the green parts off the strawberries and make tamagoyaki and I was done with my bento prep for Sunday.

    The final tamagoyaki:

    Sunday morning followed the same pattern as Saturday morning, except that instead of preparing sandwiches I cut up tomatoes for the taco rice (the lettuce and meat were leftover from Saturday's dinner). The rice I just had to take out of the rice cooker and allow to cool--rice cookers with timers are a wonderful thing!!

    The food pre-bento assembly:

    One other change from Saturday's bento: I tried making a penguin wiener using a cutter I found/bought at Jusco!! ^_^ It was cute, but I still like the octopus better.

    The fully assembled bento:

    After this bento-making experience, I came to a few conclusions:

    1) making bentos regularly is probably only convenient for people who also cook regularly; it's easy enough if you have leftovers from dinner to put into your bento, but if you have to make a whole bunch of food expressly for the bento it's a lot of work

    2) Japanese wives/mothers who make bentos on a regular basis would probably be amazing business managers--planning meals/bentos is really a great exercise in resource/time management! Whatever faults a person might have, if they make bentos regularly, I totally respect the amount of effort they put into it! I know that with practice it probably becomes an easier, faster, more efficient process, but still...

    3) "Proper" bentos are great, but I probably wouldn't have the energy to make them regularly; for long stretches without school visits (summer, winter and spring vacations) I'll probably stick to my usual onigiri/raw veggie bentos--although I might on occasion throw in some tamagoyaki or red wieners. If I have time to make dinner the night before of course I'd also throw in any usable leftovers, but except for special occasions I won't make it a point to plan out bentos.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    More chronicles of tamagoyaki

    Days until the Chuutairen: 3
    Tamagoyaki made: 8
    Eggs consumed: 16

    Saturday evening (Jun. 12th) I made my ugliest tamagoyaki yet. @_@;; (It was so ugly I didn't even bother taking a picture of how it looked sliced up!)

    To redeem myself, I made another one. It didn't turn out so great, but it was still much better than the first one.

    Sunday's lunchtime tamagoyaki was also slightly deformed, but it wasn't bad enough to compel me to make a second one to make up for it.

    Monday's 給食 ("kyuushoku" a.k.a. school lunch) had tamagoyaki--dashi based, I believe, so it wasn't sweet--so I didn't feel like eating more for dinner.

    Tuesday I went to taiko, so by the time I got home (around 21:15) I didn't feel like cooking so I just finished off some leftovers (more about that later!).

    Then today I made my best tamagoyaki to date!! There wasn't as much visible egg white and the shape was quite nice! I was so pleased I even cut a couple into heart shapes. It was a nice end to my practice cooking sessions. ^_^

    Tomorrow (Thursday) is taiko again so I'm not planning on cooking when I get home. And Friday is the night before the Chuutairen, so I'm planning on making the real thing then so I don't have to wake up as early on Saturday morning to prepare/pack my bento. (And since I need to be at the school around 06:00-06:30, I'd probably be too sleepy to do a good job making the tamagoyaki on Saturday morning anyway...)

    Even though I'd say that my tamagoyaki are "not bad" or "passable" rather than the "reasonably [decent]" that I was aiming for, I'm satisfied with that. As I was making the tamagoyaki this week I realized that my true goal wasn't to make really nice looking tamagoyaki, but rather to make a nice bento that I would feel happy eating.

    Since my ultimate aim was to enjoy my food more, I realized that it was defeating the purpose to frustrate myself by being too perfectionistic about the shape--and I was starting to feel irritated by my lack of improvement/consistency in making a nice shape.

    So yeah, even though I'd still like to "perfect" my tamagoyaki making skills, I figure it's OK if I let it happen naturally over the course of making many bento for various occasions rather than doing focused "practice/training sessions" like I've been doing for the past week and a half or so.

    Apart from tamagoyaki, however, I have been cooking other things. Saturday night I "made" butter rice. As the name suggests, it's pretty much just rice with a pat of butter and just a few drops of soy sauce.

    It's a popular/common household dish in Hokkaido, apparently. I'd watched part of a TV program talking about Hokkaido families and butter rice before, but I was never tempted to make it for myself until--you guessed it!--reading/watching 深夜食堂 (Shinya Shokudo). The drama in particular made it look really delicious.

    Since I almost always have butter (北海道雪印バターHokkaido "Snow" brand butter, no less!) in my fridge--leftover from cookie baking--it's a super easy and convenient "dish" for me to make. It's not so delicious that I would want to eat butter rice instead of regular rice all the time, but it was definitely tastier than I expected it to be. =P

    Sunday night for dinner I did a quick pan fry of red and yellow peppers with bacon (using olive oil). (The idea came from my 3min bento magazine.)

    And for the main dish, again taking inspiration from 深夜食堂, I decided to make ソース焼きそば目玉焼きのっけ (sauce yakisoba medamayaki nokke, i.e. with a fried sunny-side up egg on top).

    Unfortunately I didn't have the recommended 四万十川 青のり ("Shimantogawa aonori," i.e. seaweed flakes made with seaweed from the Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture), but it was still tasty. I love fried eggs on rice, etc. so I don't know why I never thought of throwing one on top of yakisoba (which I frequently cooked in my first and second years in Japan) before. It's such a simple thing, but for me it makes the yakisoba ever so much tastier.

    I also did a quick pan fry of tuna and komatsuna (小松菜) a leafy green vegetable also known as "Japanese mustard spinach" apparently. (I had no idea!) Unfortunately I'm not sure if it was a problem with the vegetables or if it was because I overcooked them, but it ended up tasting kind of bitter... I'll probably try making the dish a couple more times in the future to figure out the cause of the bitterness (the veggies or my cooking).

    I guess I was trying to make up for my mostly protein (i.e. just tamagoyaki) meals over the past week by cooking lots of vegetables.

    I had the leftovers (yakisoba and tuna komatsuna) for dinner again on Monday and Tuesday.

    Then today I had a very "breakfast-like" meal for dinner: tamagoyaki, potato & bacon saute, and more bell peppers with bacon. The dishes themselves (apart from the tamagoyaki) weren't "breakfast" dishes per se, but the ingredients were: eggs, bell peppers, bacon and potatoes--think omelette with bacon and hash browns/home fries!

    It reminded me of the "breakfast for dinner" small group night we had so many years ago--not to mention my tradition of breakfast with "the girls" pretty much every time I go back home (to Canada) for vacation. Ah, the memories...

    Oh, and in other food/bento-related news, the Ojue 63010 bento box I ordered on Tuesday arrived as scheduled on Saturday morning. Usually I'm good about timing my morning shower to avoid conflicting with the delivery person's arrival, but this time I slept in a little late and I ended up having to yell through the shower room window (which is conveniently next to the door) for the guy to please wait for me. I was pretty embarrassed and couldn't stop apologizing because I mean, I was expecting the delivery so I really should've just waited until after the delivery to take my shower... @_@;;

    Anyway, I'm really happy with the bento box, although since it's tall rather than wide I'm not 100% sure what I want to do for my main dish. With my 100yen shop bento, two onigiri (made with my super convenient onigiri mould) fit perfectly in the larger section, but they'd be too big for the new box.... I suppose I could just make the onigiri by hand, but right now I'm thinking that I'll try sandwiches since they can be cut/squished to fit in.

    Anyway, here's my new "pride and joy" in the packaging:

    Close-up of the label:

    Outside of the packaging:

    Disassembled--notice how the chopsticks fit in the lid? Brilliant!

    And the chopstick case also turns into a chopstick rest!! I love it!!

    With my new bento box, octopus-shaped red wieners and "not bad" tamagoyaki, I'm really looking forward to making lunch for the Chuutairen on Saturday! I think, though, that I'm going to have to get up extra early to ensure that I have enough time to take lots of photos of the finished product!! =P