Monday, November 7, 2016

Allie Goes to Japan, Part 1!

Osaka was really the main destination for my trip to Japan. It was just added bonus (/convenience) that I got to go to Kyoto and Tokyo as well.

After a verrrryyyy long day (two days?) of travel, I touched down in Osaka in the early evening and met up with my boss, who had already been in Japan (Tokyo) for a few days. We checked into the hotel, and because it was already kind of late in the evening and neither of us were familiar with Osaka, we decided to get sushi at the hotel's restaurant. My first taste of real, non-American sushi! (Not my last, either.)

I already ate at least one before I remembered to take a picture.

Did you know that in Japan, they put the wasabi on the sushi before you get it? When Matt and I go out for sushi, I generally avoid the wasabi and ginger (it just ain't my thang), but there was no avoiding that sinus-clearing spice here! Thankfully they used a reasonable hand with the stuff, and the sushi was really good. I realize that I've never lived in a place super near an ocean, but the sushi was just so much ... gentler, I guess is the word, on the palate than it is in the U.S. It's fresher, and doesn't taste fishy, and is just really nice and light to eat. The plate I got had I think nine different types of fish, and my favorites were the salmon and the scallop!

The morning after I landed was a workday, and we were scheduled to go to a manufacturing tradeshow that our parent company was exhibiting at, so I met a lot of our Japanese staff for the first time. (And can I say that I am so glad I was constantly with people who spoke Japanese, because it was so weird being in a place where you literally can't read the signs for the trains, or understand people when they're speaking to you. It was really eye-opening, and I can't imagine what people go through when they move to a country where they do not understand the language at all.)

I also want to point out that despite everyone in the U.S. telling me that people in Japan all have crazy hair, I saw basically NO ONE with colorful hair. My boss waited until we got to the tradeshow before telling someone "I can't believe her hair is purple," and I was so surprised, because he hadn't said anything about it being purple for MONTHS. Turns out, I was informed, only students and unemployed people in Japan have dyed hair, because the employers don't allow their workers to have bright colors. THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN NICE TO KNOW. Here I am, the only white girl bumbling around this manufacturing event with the brightest unicorn hair! I must have stood out a mile!

After the tradeshow was over, we had not one but TWO dinners! I wish I had known we were going to have the second, so I might have saved room for it, but I was so excited to try Teppanyaki-style soba noodles that I ate a ton. No regrets!

Noodles cooked on a hibachi-like plate! Sizzleeeee!

The finished product. Nom.

The rest of the company staff that was at the tradeshow joined us for dinner #2 (the after party). I ended up just sipping on some wine and trying random bites of things as people told me I had to try them. Mostly weird fishy dishes. :) But it was interesting because everything was basically served tapas-style, where there was a button on the table to call in the waitstaff, and you'd just order a couple things at a time and everyone would pass them around. It was a cute little restaurant and you had to put your shoes in little lockers by the front door when you walked in. (This was true of several restaurants we went to.)

The next day was more work things in the morning, so we'll skip straight to the good part: lunch. More noodles!

But here's where it also got a little weird. These noodles were from an Italian restaurant. But before I got my noodles they delivered salads and soups to everyone, and the salad plate was broken up into segments, with ham-and-pasta salad on one side, and lettuce on another, and beans next to all that? And the soup was a cup of chicken broth? It was unusual, but the shrimpy pasta was excellent!

So, one of the things that I love about having been a Weddingbee blogger is that there are literally women I know all over the world. I think my boss was shocked before we left for the trip and I said that I would like to have dinner with a friend that lived in Japan. He was like, how do you know someone from Japan, and that was an awkward little conversation. :) But it was good because I got to hang out with Cici/Mrs. Gondola, and it was a blast and she showed me a bunch of cool things in Osaka!

Dotonburi Bridge, and all the advertising! I loooooved seeing all the different types of ads in Japan. #adnerd

The famous Glico man! Which I hadn't heard of until planning this trip, but I had to get a picture imitating anyway, because obviously.

Purikura photo booths! (They're photo booths that make your eyes all big and then let you pick ridiculous backgrounds and digital stickers to put over the images.)

Or in this case, stretched our legs out insanely long and made us look like leopards!

Osaka was a really cool city and I wish I had had more time to explore, but the next day it was off to Kyoto!

Do you like sushi? What is your favorite part of traveling to a new place?

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